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Through The Looking Glass

October 7, 2012 12 comments

I saw myself in the mirror the other day.

It wasn’t like I do each night before I go to bed when I wash my face and brush my teeth and go through the routine of doing what I do before I sleep. It wasn’t like each morning when I repeat the nightly routine, brush my hair and apply my makeup to ready myself for the day to come, as I stand in front of the mirror either. This moment was not like those at all. I hardly ever take the time, at those times, to really see myself.

This was unplanned. It was different.

Like a rabbit emerging from a dark hole, I was blinded by the light of my own reflection and found myself for first time in a long time, seeing myself, through this looking glass. It was an instant that gave me pause, compelling me to stop just long enough to really be present in the moment and look deep inside of who I am -today- after these last few tumultuous years of growth and change.

I didn’t look away. Instead, I contemplated the glimpse I caught and was content with what I saw. I could look myself in the eye and feel confident with the person I am and continue to strive to be; imperfect but honest, open-minded and willing to do whatever-it-takes to help myself and my kids continue to move in a forward direction.

In that moment also, stood the handsome young man who now has whiskers on his chin where sweet, velvet skin used to be when he was a boy. He doesn’t need me to tend to his bruise or tie his shoes anymore. He’s capable, focused and tenacious now and he makes me so proud I could burst. There too in my mind’s eye stood my beautiful little girl who has managed to outgrow me in shoe size, height and heart. Her endless compassion for others humbles me. Truly.

It gave me pause, this unexpected glimpse, that moment.

Time waits for no one. It has no patience, empathy or understanding. With great determination and complete indifference, it barrels its way through good days and bad, sorrows and laughter. It constantly transforms life as we know it, right before our very eyes; only we don’t always see it as it happens. We’re too busy and often blinded by the blur of our own living.

It’s important to climb out of our holes every once in a while, to take a step outside of ourselves, so we can see ourselves. It’s important to take a moment, pause and contemplate what we see.

What do you see when you stand before the looking glass?

Photo Credit #1 Through The Looking Glass ~ Google Images

Photo Credit #2 Emerging From The Rabbit Hole ~ Google Images

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Categories: Comfort, Family, Life Tags:

Drinking Hot Chocolate Takes Skill

January 1, 2012 10 comments

Everybody has their limits.

After all the build up and anticipation, it’s hard to believe that another year of fancy-feasts and holiday-hoopla with friends and family, attending parties and opening presents have come and gone inside the span of just about two weeks. Throw moving from one house to another into the mix of merriment-making and you may find yourself like me, teetering on the fringe of insanity because even though I am truly 100% exhausted, like that crazy “Energizer Bunny” I seem to push myself to just keep “going and going” until my body refuses to go any further, rendering me motionless, forced to stop and (gasp!) relax. That’s exactly what put me in my PJs and drove me to my bed just shy of 6pm a few nights ago. I couldn’t go on for one-more-minute. With my daughter in tow, we set ourselves up to catch up on all of the Once Upon A Time TV-episodes from the new ABC series that we missed, by being away and being busy.

Just after the first episode, Hannah asked me for “hot chocolate”. Rarely do I indulge in drinking hot chocolate myself, let alone drinking it in my bed but since I had no intention or strength left for making dinner, I figured, it was the least I could do and did what any good mother in my weary position would have and said, “sure”. I put the TV on pause, dragged myself out of the comfort I had just settled into and made us each a cup, the only way I know how; piping hot and piled high with whipped cream.

Toward the end of the 2nd of 4 episodes, I began to feel a lot better, in a jittery-caffeinated sort of way and realized we had both sipped through the white mound of sweetness that lead to the pure-chocolate-heaven that filled our mugs.

“Pause it!” I said unexpectedly, and she did.

With a burst of sugar-ized spontaneity and false energy, I jumped off the bed and ran out of the room to retrieve the red-topped can of Reddi Wip from the fridge in the kitchen.

 “Mom, what are you doing?” she called from the bedroom.

Ignoring her, I made a mad-dash from the fridge, back to the bedroom and apparently, in my crazy, creamy, sugar-filled stupor, I forgot just how exhausted I really was. With can in hand, just as I rounded the corner from the kitchen to the hallway, my slippery, sock-covered feet hit the hardwood flooring at a speeding angle that sent me crashing into the wall and smashing my whole-self down, breaking the skin of my elbow and jamming my ankle awkwardly into the point where plaster meets wood. It was a ridiculous effort to break my fall without letting go of the chemical-laden can containing “REAL Cream” that I couldn’t seem to live without.

Success! The can was saved but my body ached as I lay there moaning for a minute, hoping there was no blood and that nothing was broken. Hannah poked her head out of the bedroom, barely holding back her laughter at the sight of me sprawled out on the floor holding the can up in the air.

“Mom, are you okay? What the heck are you doing?” she asked before bursting into uncontrollable laughter; the kind that makes you snort and sends liquid squirting out of  each of your nostrils if  you’ve just taken a sip of something, which she had.

In the throes of pain and hysterics, I feebly got myself back up, limped my way back into the bedroom and wordlessly poured clouds of dairy whipped topping back into our mugs until they were over-filled and the can sputtered, forcing out its last drop of “REAL Cream”. I resumed my position on the left side of the bed and with a great sigh, started licking my Reddi Wip. I was the power of example as Hannah proceeded to do the same and we sat, pleasantly making our way through another mountain of sweet, white fluff, once again, warming our bellies with chocolate goodness.

Silence ensued.

Three-quarters of the way into the third episode of Once Upon A Time, Hannah looked over at me with a huge smile on her face and said with confidence,

“Drinking hot chocolate takes a lot of skill, mom.”

Yes, it does, my dear. Yes-it-does.

I always try to be cognizant of moments like this, ones that end up meaning so much. Had I not been so exhausted that my body forced myself to stop, I’m not so sure we would have found that precious time to spend together. I wouldn’t have shared that hilarious laughter with my girl and I could tell it meant as much to her as it did to me.

It was the true magic of the season showing itself. I got it. I’m grateful.

And it was very simple.

This past year has been chock-full of complicated, unexpected occurrences and while many of the events of the days behind me are a bit of a blur now, the future, even with all it’s imperfection and uncertainty really does look a little brighter, a little clearer and feels a little calmer.

I don’t think I’ll be making any elaborate New Year’s resolutions this year. I think I might drink a little more hot chocolate than I usually do and run a little less in my socks on hardwood floors but mostly, I think I’ll just try my best to simply, keep it simple.

How about you?

May your year be filled with lots of peace, love and joy!

Photo Credit #1 Energizer Bunny

Photo Credit #2: Hot Chocolate

Photo Credit #3 & #4: Reddi Wip Google Images

Categories: Comfort, Family, Laughter, Life, Love Tags:

The King of Birds Has Come To Stay

November 20, 2011 10 comments

There’s an American bald eagle living on my fence. He’s brown and white and has an awesome wing span. He is also made of wood and appeared a day or two after Halloween.

I have NO IDEA how he got here.

At first I thought, maybe this is a mistake, he’s lost and somehow got left in front of our fence. Someone picked him up and hung him here so his owner would see him and could retrieve him.

He is after all,beautiful.

But it’s been nearly three weeks now and no one has come to claim him. His wooden presence is beginning to feel very deliberate and I’m starting to think this is not a mistake. He is not lost.

In fact, I believe this king of birds is here to stay.

Life is a journey, a constant learning experience. I seek meaning and reason for the people, places and circumstances I encounter. I always have. After the second week of “no sign of this bird leaving his new nest”, I started to try to make sense of him. I couldn’t seem to get him and how or why he came here out of my mind. I don’t know much about these birds of prey or what they represent so I decided to see if Google could enlighten me.

Maybe, I thought, there is a connection between this raptor and my life.

Here is the first thing I found, leaving me with no need to look further:

Eagles and the God Jupiter
“Jupiter believed that the Eagle could look directly into the sun, and many stories link Eagles to both the Sun and to Jupiter, as a symbol or sign of strength and courage. Images from the ancient Near East and Iran show the sun with an eagle’s wings, a sign that the bird was linked to the sun god; as well as other symbols in various cultures-usually divine associations showing strength, power and freedom.”  ~ Squidoo

Karma? Coincidence? Fate?

It’s Ironic that a few weeks before I begin the trepidatious process of moving, this lion of the sky has come to rest on my fence.

I’m certain of it now; it’s a good sign and it makes me feel much better about taking Edward. There’s a replacement; something else to watch over this house that no longer feels like a home to me. The eagle stays.

What is the message?

It takes strength and courage to spread your wings and fly but with that, comes freedom.

Photo Credit #1: Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Photo Credit#2: Jupiter (Zeus) King of the Gods

Photo Credit #3:  Rolt Hicker

Categories: Comfort, Eagles, Lessons, Life, Mystery

Note To Self: DON’T QUIT!

October 22, 2011 19 comments

Sometimes you have a week that just seems to drain you on every level. One where you’re pulled in so many directions, you feel like you’re a moving target, unable to zig-zag your way fast enough or far enough away from being wounded by the incoming arrow that seems hell-bent on piercing you right in the center of your heart.

You just feel like you can’t do it any more. You’re tired and you want to give up.

BUT, for the Grace of God (and the stubbornness he’s bestowed upon you or in this case, ME – thankfully) you can’t and you don’t and you make yourself get up and you just,

GO ON.

And since I have and I’ve gotten my second wind now, I say,

BRING IT ON! 

This is for my friends and readers who might need a little help getting up……

Don’t Quit

by: Unknown Author

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out:
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Photo Credit #1: Google Images

Categories: Comfort Tags: ,

It’s Not That Easy Being Green

September 25, 2011 16 comments

“It’s not that easy being green …but green’s the color of spring and green can be cool and friendly like and green can be big like an ocean or important like a mountain or tall like a tree.”  ~ Kermit the Frog

So, it’s the first full week back to school and at the end of my work day on Friday, the Director and Fitness teacher ask me to take off my “office” hat so they can speak to me as a “parent”.

You know this can’t be good.

It’s about my 10-year old daughter of course and it seems there was an issue in her fitness class. There are 25 multi-aged children in this class on Mondays and Fridays and my little “lemon drop” happens to be the oldest. Many of the younger kids look up to her, literally. She is also the tallest kid in the school and would perhaps be, by any other standard expected to “set the example” maybe?

“Ahem.”

Okay. So, it seems my little “apple dumpling” is the only one, out of these 25 kids that said “no” and flat out refused to sign a goal oriented agreement that has the following requirements:

  1. Everyone feels safe and no one gets hurt.
  2. Everyone has an equal chance to enjoy each game.
  3. Everyone learns how to be a better team member.
  4. Everyone has fun.

Not unreasonable, in fact when queried, my little “butter-cup” said she had no problem with setting these goals as a group. She just didn’t understand why she had to sign her name to it.

Her argument:

“They know me, Mom.

I just don’t know why my ‘word’ isn’t good enough anymore.

If they don’t trust my word what difference does my signature make?

Either they trust me or they don’t.

Besides, it didn’t  say ‘pacificly’ that it was for fitness only.

I am the biggest kid — in the entire school. What if I hurt another kid by accident?”

They know her, indeed. She was welcomed by this school well before she ever spent her first full day there as a student at the age of three. From the time she was about 9-months old, she would tag along on school trips to the farm, to pick apples, pumpkins and attend theater shows with her older brother’s class. When she finally got there, it was in this fine progressive, hands-on learning environment that she was truly encouraged to be herself, to think, to ask and to imagine. She was the child who wore a communion veil to class every day for the second half of second grade, even though she never made her communion. She’s the kid who never wears matching socks and when I tell her in the morning…

“You either brush your hair or wear a hat to school,”

…nine times out of ten, she chooses the hat.

This school nurtured her, told her in no uncertain terms that she had a voice and helped her to find it, so there was really no disrespect when she said “no.” Her response, in effect was a culmination of seven years of being taught the importance of being your own person.

That day, she was told that if she wasn’t going to sign the paper, she wouldn’t be able to participate in the fitness program. She would have to sit out, and she did. That’s the price isn’t it, of taking a stand or being different, not following the crowd, standing up for something you believe in, even if you’re the only who believes in it? There could be a consequence.

There could also be a compromise, which is why I love this school.

After a few discussions with her fitness teacher (who just happens to be a former student of this fine school) the two exchanged positions and she understood the need for all the kids in the class to know they were all on the same page. She agreed to verbally acknowledge the four points and she did not have to sign her name. A resolution born out of mutual respect.

Many of the younger kids look up to her. Literally. She is after all the tallest kid in the school and the oldest and would perhaps be, by any other standard expected to “set the example”…..

……and maybe, she did just that.

She is her own person and while it may not be that easy being who she is, she’s cool and friendly like, she’s big like an ocean, important like a mountain and tall like a tree.

You can visit her blog at I’m Thinking Happy! if you like.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Photo credit #1: Kermit

Photo credit #2: ©Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Video Credit #1 YouTube

Blink

August 28, 2011 18 comments

And in the blink of an eye, it was over.  

Whether you have the summer off or not, everyone feels its’ end, most likely in a melancholy kind of way. With a slight pang of apprehension, I can’t help but recognize that the season has already begun to show hints of turning. The cycle has begun, again. Yes, in the blink of an eye, the summer is nearly over. That’s how life is though isn’t it? One minute they’re babies, the next they’re in school. Before you know it, they are driving and off on their own. I see it clearly now. Change is going to happen, regardless.

Life is fragile and passes quickly.

About a year and a half ago, I resigned myself to living in the moment the best that I could and as painful and beautiful as that has been at times and with all that’s transpired since then, I don’t think there’s much left that can surprise, shock or even hurt me anymore. Life is fragile and passes quickly.

And now, I am resigned to living it to it’s fullest.

The challenge for me, is embracing it in a mindful, peaceful way.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In seeking peace for myself and in effort to make the most of my last week off before going back to work this Monday, my daughter and I drove Upstate to spend some time at our place in the woods. Her teacher joined us for a few days. As we puzzled and hiked and ate ice-cream, Irene was churning away, gaining strength as a category 3 hurricane in the Bahamas. I watched her unstoppable force rapidly move toward the east coast. I debated whether to stay put on the outer reaches of harm’s way for however long it would take her to pass or go home where my son was, much closer to her destructive path.

My heart belongs to two children. I chose to go home. But I leave here, a glimpse of the peace I found, with my girl, in the woods.

Welcome!

She's soooo Hannah!

On Thursday, we headed to the "upper field" for a hike.

A bobcat resting in the high grass interrupted our hike, sending Hannah, her teacher and I scurrying back toward the house! Not peaceful but definitely exciting!

Again, not peaceful but after our near-encounter with the bobcat, this fella was no challenge.

Evening sky....definitely, peaceful.

Before leaving, we baked Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies to eat during the storm ~ Baking always helps me feel peaceful!

Life is fragile and passes quickly. How do you find your peace?

Photo Credit #1: Blink

Photo Credit #2-14: ©Karen Szczuka Teich and http://www.Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Football: Our New Religion

August 13, 2011 6 comments

It seems that while my “Angel Boy” was residing on the Mother Ship all these past months, he was breathing, eating and sleeping Football: his new religion and he’s been returned to me, an athlete.

Face-masks, girdles and pads, Oh My! You would think I was outfitting a girl with a list like that. The only real tip-off that I was buying equipment for a boy was the “cup” mixed in with the rest of the must-haves. And when you have to buy and wash these things, you start paying a little more attention to what they’re for, especially when they’re designed to protect.

Thank God for these manly items made to keep my boy safe from bodily harm and all of the other revelations that come with the-playing-of-football.

The Knights began their “training” this summer and not only was my boy’s name placed on a football team’s roster for the first time, a few of my prayers have been answered to boot! With over two and a half hours of grueling practice, five days a week and scrimmages on the weekends, this boy is EXHAUSTED! I give thanks to the coach, praise his name and confess: I’m happy to witness the transfer of electronic play over to this all-American, out-door, physical play. Gone are the late nights of video chatting, skype-ing and texting. They’ve been happily replaced with what my boy needs most: SLEEP!

Hallelujah!

She's thinking football! After reading this article, click this pic for some of her Happy Thinking!

Making the team requires lots of my driving time. It’s just too far to drop him off and come back and where-ever I go, the girl goes, making this, for the most part, a 24/7-whole-family-commitment.

It’s worth the sacrifice.

I’m getting a crash course in the Pop Warner Football culture. Sure, I was a football cheerleader in high school but honestly, all we really had to know was the boys’ names. Every once in a while we’d throw out phrases like “hold-that-line” or “Defense!” but it didn’t mean for one second I understood why I was saying that. I even went to a few Bills and Giants games in my day. I love live sports. But let’s face it, all you really have to do is follow the crowd to make it look like you have a clue.

And although, I’ve attended my share of Super Bowl parties and hosted enough Monday Night Football gatherings to know it is a big deal, truth be known, I was mostly there for the food and the company of the other women in the same boat. But now it’s my boy that’s playing in the game and although I don’t have to know what’s going on, I want to know!

Plus, I’m grateful for the little things, like the new respect for personal hygiene for instance, that prior to his “return” seemed to go completely unnoticed by the “Alien Child” that was living in my angel boy’s room for so long. Seriously, he is so dirty and smells so bad after practice, even he can’t stand it! Showers abound – daily!

I’m not worthy.

Even his usual grunting that for so long was the norm response to any type of communication directed his way, has been interrupted by a few real, pleasantries like, “Mom, can you please get me…, drive me…, feed me… and wash my…..?” It’s a blessing to hear his voice again! And although the “good word” now comes on the pages of a playbook, at least he’s studying something!

Don’t get me wrong, the boy is certainly not “the Beav” and I’m no June Cleaver.

I still get the occasional …

“Mom, I told you, don’t talk to me during practice!”

But hey, I’m not expecting miracles!

I am however beginning to believe there is a God and I think SHE plays football.

Consider me converted.

Photo Credit #1-4 ©Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Photo Credit #5 Google Docs/TV’s Most Coveted Mom

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