White Moth of Fortune

This moth likes our front door. And we like him/her, too. He/she has been here for weeks now, off and on. Our own personal Florida welcome wagon.


With gold-laced wings
And good-luck feelings
You land upon our door

I can’t help but suppose
You bring luck to those
Who put faith upon your lore

We welcome your visit
And all your exquisite
Purity, truth and clarity

We acknowledge your grace
In resting on this place
And all your unusual rarity

You bring joy
Peace and accord
Light for the impending morn

You bring calm
Soothing charm
Hope is what you’ve borne

We want you to stay
Bring fortune today
And sweep away the storm

If you’re someone I knew
Then know I love you
Especially in this form

 

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Heart for Sale

This heart’s on sale.
Nobody’s buying.
Discounted deeply
Because it’s dying.

It’s been around the block
Beat-up and hard-used
It needs an overhaul
But everyone’s refused.

It needs a careful owner
Someone who knows hearts
Not a casual mechanic
Who doesn’t have extra parts.

I’ve tried to fix it myself
But I’m helplessly confused
I don’t know how to mend
This heart that’s been abused.

If you’re looking for fresh and new
And something that isn’t well-worn,
Then this heart is not for you
Or the love that it has borne.

Wooden Fence is Broken

If you walk this path,
The fence is broken.
Wood is rotting.
Hurt is spoken.

On this side,
Weeds grow tall.
Rails are split.
No flowers at all.

I don’t mind disrepair
And it doesn’t seem to fix.
But love wanders away from me
If I’ve got no tools or bricks.

I’m tired of trying
To mend this fence.
It’s hopeless work.
It doesn’t make sense.

I try again to build it up–
Have something strong.
But people come to kick it down,
Tell me that I’m wrong.

I’m done trying to mend it.
Best to let it fall.
After all, what’s a fence?
If not just another wall.

Now if you walk this path,
The fence has been removed.
The hurt is still securely there,
But the land is much improved.

Tough Love

I hate being the Mom. Being the Mom sucks sometimes.

I love being the Friend. The Goof. The Lollipop Fairy. The Boo-boo Kisser. The Cheerleader. The Philosophy Teacher. But I hate being the Mom.

The Mom–defined as the Law Giver. The Layer Down of the Law. The Disciplinarian. The New Sheriff In Town. The Obliterator of Fun. The Queen of Rules.

When my child comes to me and has a problem, my first inclination is to care for her emotions. Natch. But when the behavior continues without benefit from a pep talk or correction, I have to buckle up and hunker down.

My child is an easy one. She’s open to correction, soft-hearted, fair-minded, vulnerable, caring and intentional. Except when she’s not.

And when she’s not? I’m at a loss.

Lately, she’s been resisting change and challenge. This is a normal sign of teenage growing pains. Right? The urge to resemble a couch. I should know, I was a teenager and very much resembled our living room sofa.

She’s almost 14 and showing all the signs of impending, hard-core teen-tric lethargy. It’s concerning. I’m worried about her slipping off into depression if we don’t combat her lack of motivation.

That was my problem. That is a problem of teens, IMO. My freshman year was my most vulnerable. I tried to commit suicide my freshman year because I felt so isolated. Living by rules, wanting independence. On the cusp of adulthood, but still a child. Wanting total acceptance from EVERYONE, including your parents, NO MATTER WHAT!

These unrealistic desires could make any person frustrated, confused and DEPRESSED! Not to mention dealing with complex societal and peer group issues with a not-fully-matured frontal lobe. Suffering from inexperience, lack of impulse and emotional control, and hormonal imbalance.

With my mental illness history, I feel justified in being, at the very least, concerned. And she herself said, without prompt from me, “I’m unmotivated.” That’s awesome self-reflection and honesty. Great sign for us as we tackle her dissatisfaction.

Honestly, she has no reason to be dissatisfied. She has a nice, cozy home. Food to eat. Clothes (nice clothes) on her back and a good school. She has all the conveniences of modern society. I take her to school and pick her up. I am here for her in the morning and when she gets home. She is emotionally supported. And by Dad as well. But dissatisfaction is lying just under the covers of her more-than-adequate, queen-sized, Princess-and-the-Pea mattress.

Why?

It also doesn’t seem to matter that I remind her of her blessings. Put her life into perspective, in sharp contrast to those who have very little and have no opportunity to receive an education or are shot trying to get one. That has no lasting effect. I realize in my attempt to give her the finer things, I have denied her appreciation and gratitude.

We as a society are suffering from the same plight. Teenage apathy. Things are so nice that we forget how lucky we are. We are so dissatisfied after achieving some degree of success that we have to buy a therapist to figure out why. I’ve realized this, but my daughter hasn’t achieved any level of enlightenment in regard to privilege. And even so, do we act any differently? Or do we still chase those materialistic dreams of apparent success?

In my own life, I have accepted the ups and downs of luxury and deprivation. Some days you will suffer and at other times you will have plenty. Days with money aren’t stress free. You have to manage that money. No one has a money tree in their backyard. Any amount of money requires management. It helps when there’s enough to manage. I will say that’s less stressful. But having enough is only slightly less nerve-racking.

I try to be thankful for whatever situation I find myself in and remind myself, no matter what, you’re still breathing. It helps when you’ve been near death to frame life in this way. But I don’t want my daughter to experience what I have to know her place and value and blessing. I want to spare her that. But am I denying her an education in the lesson of life if I try to shield her from any pain or suffering? I’m not sure.

Last night, I showed her frustration on my part. I tried to be soft and kind, but I also let her know how frustrated I was. We try to be honest about our feelings. I let her know, “I’m trying here.” This was in response to her growing dissatisfaction with home, school, life in general. I could tell she was checking out. I could tell she was uncomfortable and uneasy. And she was. We are pretty in tune. Our whole family tends to wear our hearts..well, all over the outside, not just on the sleeve! LOL

I let her know, I’m trying to encourage. Prepare. Provide help-physical and mental. Shop for school supplies. Walk her into the office to learn about lockers. Pick up and drop off. Attend back-to-school nights. Be here physically while she’s adjusting. Help with homework. Communicate. Ask questions. Love. Listen. Linger. Snuggle up at night and let our hair down. Let go of the reins, at times. But doing all the right things doesn’t always leave her happy, well-adjusted or satisfied. That’s tough.

My happy, joyful, outgoing daughter has turned into the occasional emotional lump of tears. That makes me anxious, nervous, concerned. Frustrated.

I don’t want to guilt her. But I’m beginning to understand the power of wielding this device judiciously. Ugh. I hate that. But. A little frustration and letting her know how exasperated I might be? May be the only medicine. And it’s a jagged pill for her to swallow. But it’s also a tough pill to administer. You know the old saying, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Now I understand. Except my parents said that about spanking, not tough emotional love. LOL

Sometimes you wanna scoop your kids up. But sometimes scooping doesn’t work. Sometimes you have to be tough and show them, you got it pretty good, Kid. Appreciate it.

*Old man voice* “Back in my day, we rode a cow to school! And we liked it! Thankful to have a cow! And a school! And a butt made for cow-riding!”


NOTE: I did not ride a cow to school. But my mom did. LOL 🙂


What I really want for her is to know God deeply. To rely on him. What I really want is to see her help and work hard and get dirty in the business of God service. I’m hoping after graduation, she and I could find an outreach to really help people. Maybe even overseas. But that scares me. Mission work. Would I be endangering her life with illness or violence?

The Bible says:
Romans 14:8
“for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

I have to trust that God will protect us if we are about his business. He has plans to prosper, not hurt. But she has to decide what’s right for her. I trust her in that. That is a good feeling! And I know, I never want to be separate from her. That much I know.

And I want her to decide what’s best. Not become what Mom wants, not just do what Mom says. I just want to be a good mom and support her in whatever she does, wherever she goes, whatever decisions she makes. She may want to be a full-blown NYC artist or LA Nintendo character designer or international aid worker. Or Floridian housewife. 🙂 Whatever she does, she will change the world, offer kindness and show God through her spirit. That much I know.

I’m waiting patiently for her to make a decision about where she wants to go after school. It’s still 4 years away. Who knows where life will take us. Who knows what she will want in 4 years or what opportunities she will have. We have to be stable for the next 4 years to get to where God will have us. I think she deserves a 4-year period of stability to get through high school. To prepare her. To ride out this rough patch of frontal lobe and heart development! LOL

I’m ready for anything though. So is she. She has such a willing heart at times. She’s up for adventure, as I am, when we have each other to be brave. She’s my best friend. It took courage to get to Florida. Who knows what God wants for your life until you’re knee-deep in it, right?

After our come-to-Jesus moment last night, she had a pretty good morning. Praying that she has a great day. I pray that every day. But this morning I cringed at the thought of tough love after I dropped her off. But sometimes, it’s required.

Les is More

More from Present Tense, Vol. 2


Les. His name is Les–in bright, white, shiny-stitched letters on a red oval just over the pocket. Dark gray uniform.
Mr. Les. Our elementary school janitor/maintenance man.

Les has a smiling face even when his lips may not be turned. His eyes are perpetually up/happy/sweet/youthful. Light blue, effervescent, smiling icicle eyes. Mr. Les takes our tickets at lunch. He takes our tickets and gives out winks and smiles.
He pinches the small carnival ticket between his thumb and the fleshy lower section of his curled up index finger. He does this with kindness, gentility and ease; as if he’s softly
offering his hand to a nervous dog.
His job does not diminish him in spirit or in body. He energetically does his tasks even
though his perfectly white hair reveals his age. And his pride does not grimace at the simplest/basest of tasks. He sprinkles magic janitor dust on vomit, pee and all manner of stains. Dutifully.
He is friendly to all. He is especially nice to me. I respect him. I have no reason not to. His humility and warmth are rare. He is decent. He is tender.
He is an uncommon man. Hero.
The air is crisp. The wind is swift. He carries me from the playground when I twist my ankle and can’t walk. He carries me all the way to the healthroom. I’m at least 100 lbs.

The air is warm. The wind is still. He puts his arm around me, pats my back, reassures me that I am loved and respected when a girl threatens my friends and me at recess. “We’re going to miss you around here when you leave.” Tears.


I love you, Mr. Les. I don’t know where you are, or if you’re even still here, but you were/are a good man. And you made this child happier. Thank you.

For My Cowgirl

The picture on the post is Lilli wearing my dad’s old straw cowboy hat.


Before I had a girl,
I thought she’d steal my husband’s heart.
I was scared of sharing,
Expecting battle from the start.

What I didn’t know
Is that she stole my heart instead.
I wanted Dad to heap
Love and kisses on her head.

My daughter is my strength.
She’s taught me more than I could teach.
She’s my tough defender
When I’m sick or sad or weak.

She’s my will, she’s my power.
She’s my endless, eternal drive.
She’s the reason I get up.
She’s the reason I’m still alive.

Before I had a girl,
I didn’t understand
How much I’d love another girl.
I’m her biggest fan.


Love you, Cowgirl.

Schpider!

spiderDon’t look, Dad!
It’s a terrible sight!
If you can’t see him,
It’ll save you a fright.

I’ll protect you.
Don’t worry now.
I can tame spiders.
Mom taught me how.


Lilli and Dad at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in 2009. She was 6. We were being goofy and I thought this would be a funny picture for my black and white film photography class.

Candid

Can I just say, this is one of my most favorite candid shots of my family?

guy and lilli.jpg

Shot on film. Developed in the lab as an exposure test. Scanned in.

So the strips in exposure are from trying different levels in the developing lab, to get the right one, under the direction of my Photography 101 professor. (I had just returned to school for the second time to get my two-year graphic design degree) I never developed a final exposure, so all I had was this one. But it’s my favorite. The looks on their faces are precious. The almost-smiles break my heart.

This was Fall 2009, so Lilli was just 6 years old, Kindergarten. So adorable. Her face is just one big piece of cutie pie. Most of the time, I would just ask for a kiss because I couldn’t resist those soft, suede-y cheeks. She looks like a French child from a black and white independent film. Zut alors! Those bangs!

So glad I caught this moment on film. And I kind of like the strips.

This could be an ad for Nikon with the bag in the background! LOL Live free and Nikon!

And Guy! You’re so handsome! Sacre bleu!

Troublesome

Cities on fire,
Sliding into the sea.
Countries bleeding
From Killing spree.

Forests catch flame.
Humans to blame.
Cars take aim.
Hate makes claim.

To every place your attention settles,
The world will so finely, kindly remind–
No matter where you travel,
Your searching eyes will Chaos find.

Students shot.
Violence wrought.
Journalists caught.
Fraught, taut, distraught.

Children attacked.
Homes blown apart.
Families destroyed.
Bombed-out, cut-up heart.

Crumpled on the ground,
Freedom is downed.
Goodness unfound.
Wicked abound.

With absolute certainty,
One thing I know,
Resilience from tragedy
Is something you grow.

Plant your feet.
Shout from the street.
Pull down the sheet.
Bring love where hate and evil meet.

If your crops are burnt?
If your shores are black?
If your bodies are dying?
We can’t go back.

We can only move forward with knowledge and the rejection of evil. We can no longer passively ignore the bullies of the world. To stay silent is to participate.

Vacay

I must be in heaven

From the look of this.

White clouds, blue water,

Yellow sun and bliss.

I only love you at the beach.

I only love you by the ocean.

I only want to kiss

When you’re wearing suntan lotion.

So slather it on

And pucker up.

We’re finally on

Vacation, Buttercup!!