We woke up to temperatures significantly below zero today. So significant, that school was delayed by two hours in hopes it would warm up a bit. What did our oldest daughter do in those two hours? She started planning out the outfits she would be wearing to summer camp…a veritable fashion show of tank tops and shorts.
My lesson from her: If your current reality does not suit you, start planning the next one.
I was born thirty five years old. I contemplated life as a hobby and took little interest in toys. However, the exception to this rule came on the hottest of childhood summer days in elderly neighbors’ above ground pool. There I spent countless hours with my sister and mom choreographing boisterous water ballet routines. As an adult, I was a little better at playing but not by much. Then I met Aqua Zumba. Five minutes into class, I could not wipe the grin from my face. Flailing about in the water with full abandon, it did not matter that most of the others could have been my grandmother; I was instantly transported to my eight-year-old self in Mrs. Lambien’s pool. Days after the class, I still smile.
How do you play?
Winter is long in Ithaca. It is longer when you use a wheelchair. This fact was proven when I attempted to take out two of my favorite, wheelchair using gals on a walk around the block after not being able to leave the house for weeks. After we slid down the ramp (admittedly fun) we spent quite some time shoveling out a decent path to the sidewalk only to find the sidewalk was passable for three quarters of the block…
No matter who we are we have privilege. Whether it is socio-economic, race, education, gender identity, age or our two feet. We must always remember what we have and make the path easier for others who don’t experience privilege in the same way. Sometimes creating that path quite literally means shoveling the sidewalk.
I recently lost my head over a minor comment from a good friend. After a bit of distance, I realized it wasn’t the comment but rather the overwhelming pace of my life from which the comment came. We spend so much of our lives focusing on the thing right in front of us; whether it be a person, a challenge or the traffic light. Ironically, when we are looking for deep understanding, it is only by considering the background that we will truly comprehend the context from which our subject arrives.
What is in the background in front of you?
The two year long construction project in my neighborhood officially ended a few weeks back. Although I relish the smooth roads and new sidewalks, I miss the hubbub of people and machines that encouraged me to shout out greetings and kept me on high alert as I biked to and from work. While completion is serene, construction is stimulating.
How do you experience the stimulation of “construction” in your life?
Someone recently shared the story of a parent who asked, “Did you ask any good questions today?” in place of the typical, “How was school?”. We live in a society where we are expected to be good students, teachers and family members by following the rules, giving the right answers and doing our work. The irony it that what makes us grow the most as students, teachers and family members is asking thought provoking questions that create a bit of discomfort as well as new thinking. To overtly encourage questioning is to value the unlimited opportunity to grow. What more could we hope for for our children, teachers and family?
So…did you ask any good questions today?
On the drive home tonight my big girls asked if you could change from a boy to a girl or a girl to a boy. We had a beautiful conversation about what it means to be transgender. It ended like this:
Seven year old: Why doesn’t everyone get surgery to make how they feel match what they look like?
Me: There are many different reasons but sometimes it is because the surgery costs too much or it is too painful.
Four year old: I wish I had a magic wand that I could just wave around so people could be who they are and it didn’t have to hurt.
How can we be magic wands for each other, helping people be who they are without hurt?