mamaguru

Intersections

stopsign

There is a side street in my small town that spans less than a mile.  The only stop sign it has is where it ends.  It took me two months of driving my kids to school back and forth, back and forth, back and forth (3 times) everyday to find this gem.  All the other streets are riddled with red octagons as far as the eye can see.

Two blocks before the end of this street, there is a cross street which is also two blocks from an elementary school and three blocks from an arterial.  This is the only street which actually crosses the road I take, because all other streets dead end into it.

Whenever I drive through this cross street, I slow down just a touch and hold my breath.  The other drivers are supposed to stop for me, but this is a small town and streets are usually empty.  Most drivers only give a half-hearted tap to their brakes, not a full, rolled-back stop.  I am cautious because I know even though I have the right of way, I might be blindsided by a crash if anyone is caught unaware.  It’s a little bit terrifying to keep going, but there are already enough stop signs in my commute, I can’t add make-believe ones too.

A week ago my aunt died of a neurological disease.

Full stop.

Last night I found out that my friend (since kindergarten)’s mom has been struck by dementia, Parkinson’s or some other terrifying neurological disease that will require extensive caregiving.

Full stop.

My heart reaches out to my cousin and my friend, both of whom are the same age as me.  My compassion extends to their mothers, because now that I am also one, I can see the world through their eyes, and it must be so sad to leave one’s children so tragically and so early.  And then my mind flies straight across the 3,500 miles that separate my mom from me, and I’m overcome with gratitude for her presence, but also overwhelmed by the pressure of time as it runs down of the hourglass every moment we live apart.  I have no idea when empty is coming.

And I think of that intersection I pass many times a day.

It is good to take caution, but impossible to control all the variables that might befall us.  Out of nowhere someone could miss the stop, or if I stopped anyway, I could be rear-ended by a driver who didn’t expect imaginary stop signs to be recognized just in case the real ones were not.

It takes a lot of courage to live this life.

Spirit helps.  Love helps.  Family helps.  Friends help.  Pets help.

Still, it takes a lot of courage to live full speed ahead when all signs say you are in the clear but you don’t know what’s just out of sight,

and it takes a lot of courage to live when your life has suddenly come to a full stop.

stopsign2

May today, as always, we treat each other with as much kindness as… well, all the kindness in the world.

Let’s treat each other with all the kindness all the time.

Let’s give one another a smile whenever we come to an intersection, whether it’s our turn to stop or go.

And the best dog goes to: Betsy! And the worst owner goes to: me! #easter #cutedogs #bunnyears

And the best dog goes to: Betsy! And the worst owner goes to: me! #easter #cutedogs #bunnyears

Bird’s Nest Easter Theme

What image could evoke Easter more than a bird’s nest?

Aren’t the robin’s blue eggs the inspiration for coloring our own Easter eggs?  Here are a few snapshots from last year’s Easter Brunch, celebrated with a nod to birds’ nests hatching with new life each spring.

Here is the table.  You can run a burlap runner over simple white table cloths for a natural feel.

bridrunner3

I  made birds’ nests with Spanish moss we have all over the ground.  Any natural nesting material in your area would be a great pick,

nest2

Or use a pretty vintage bird fabric and accent with sculptural sticks.

birdrunner

I bought a few ceramic birds at Michaels.  I also picked up some brown cardboard and muted colored eggs.

birdrunner2

For a simply place setting, I shaped a bit of burlap into a nest and put a few candy eggs inside.  Don’t put any natural nests on top of a plate unless you want to wash it before eating.

nest

Robin’s Nest Cookies are impressive looking, but easy to make.  Make a brown sugar cookie dough and press it through a garlic press.  Hollow out the center a bit with a spoon and try to stack the edges.  Bake.  I made amazing marzipan eggs to go inside, but you could also choose jelly beans or another egg-shaped candy.  I topped them with shavings from a chocolate bar make with a vegetable peeler.

nest3

Krishna Das Kirtan Wallah in North Miami Beach. Absolutely amazing.

Krishna Das Kirtan Wallah in North Miami Beach. Absolutely amazing.

Easter Inspiration

Here’s a round-up of all our great Easter ideas from years past.  There are crafts, an Easter Egg tutorial, recipes, decorating, and menu ideas.  Be sure to check back this weekend for a brand new Easter Brunch inspiration.

Lemon Easter Eggs

Peter Rabbit’s Easter Brunch

Great Easter Book for Kids

Easter Egg Sort Activity

Easter Brunch Menu

Another Easter Brunch Menu

Spanakopita Baskets

Tips for the Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

Recipe for Perfect Devilled Eggs

Dinosaur Devilled Eggs

View From the Middle

climb2

You know the saying he’s wise beyond his years?

I think it’s a load of crap.

I can only use that word, crap, because there was a time I bought into it hook, line and sinker.  I suffered an early trauma in my childhood and always thought the blessing that came with the curse was early wisdom, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

People often called me wise as a child which bolstered my self-esteem and increased my precociousness.  I believed them until I grew up.

As soon as I had my first taste of adulthood, I realized that it is impossible to be wise beyond one’s years.  No matter what terrific tragedies or wild life circumstances one encounters, there is no extra shot of wisdom to buffer against the general missteps, misunderstandings, and misapprehensions that come from nothing more than getting older.  We all experience heartbreak at the same pace.  We all face the disillusionment of our ideals faltering against reality at about the same time.  We are all proof and product of our age.

Wisdom comes from a wide perspective and there is no shortcut to gain perspective.  The only way to get there is to live through years and years and years.  We often compare aging to climbing a mountain.  You know, people getting over the hill.  Well, no matter how many lions we slay on our path to the top, and no matter how thoughtfully we meditate on the flowers we pass, nothing gives the grand vista of wisdom except trudging upward.

But what about those early traumas or adventures?  Surely some of us have lived lives of more substance and experience than typical of our age.  Doesn’t that show through in some way?  Or what about those calm babies everyone says has an old soul, who become thoughtful children sharing a Zen-like understanding of the world while still counting their age on their fingers?

Amassing experiences and being thoughtful both have the power to make someone an insightful person.  There is definitely an overlap between insight and wisdom, but wisdom contains that extra component of perspective that only time can give.  This is frustrating to young people who are brimming with insights, inspiration, and knowledge.  It can feel exclusionary because they can’t get in yet no matter how hard they try.  There is no way to advance more quickly than your peers.  The mountain of life must be climbed step by step with no special tram for VIPs leading straight to the top.

But that is also the glory of growing old.

As I enter middle age, I am able to understand so much more than I ever did in my youth.  Some of my insights are familiar, ideas I grasped in my twenties, but I now realize didn’t penetrate deep enough back then.  They were simply a hint of what was to come.  I needed to investigate those ideas, try them on for size, toss them aside, pick them up again to see if they still worked, and then sit with them for a while.

At 39 my mind and spirit abound with energy.  They burst with explosions of meaning and connection.  The first wash of wisdom wiped my slate clean.  I am a beginner again.  There is so much to learn!  Each crumb of wisdom I collect makes me hungry for more.  At the halfway mark, I can almost spy the top.  Life is real in a way I could never fully appreciate until it felt finite.  It is a brand new adventure!  Wisdom cracks opens a world that is utterly fresh and exciting, words normally reserved for youth.

Take heart, young’uns.  You too will grow wise if you are lucky enough to have the crinkle of time etch a few marks around the corners your eyes.  Isn’t it at least a little bit comforting to know that life never gets to be old hat?  That there is something around the bend that you cannot yet see?  That wonderful surprises await?  That no matter how much our society worships youth, most middle aged people wouldn’t trade the wisdom that comes with wrinkles for the smooth skin and ignorance we once possessed in teems.

Go meditate on the flowers, slay the lions, forge your own path to the top.  Never stop climbing.

The vista awaits.

climb

Civics lessons every chance we get!

Civics lessons every chance we get!

Make way for ducklings! These cuties came right up to me on my Sunday morning bike ride.

Make way for ducklings! These cuties came right up to me on my Sunday morning bike ride.

Hippity, hoppity, Easter’s on its way! #wreath #Easter

Hippity, hoppity, Easter’s on its way! #wreath #Easter

First spelling test: A++! Just like Mama. I love the kindergarten grading scale. A+ for 0 wrong, A for 1 wrong, B for 2, C for 3 or more wrong. There was a bonus question for the second +. Well done, Max!

First spelling test: A++! Just like Mama. I love the kindergarten grading scale. A+ for 0 wrong, A for 1 wrong, B for 2, C for 3 or more wrong. There was a bonus question for the second +. Well done, Max!