Not A Pink Girl

Letter to my niece on her confirmation (stay with me on this)

January 3, 2014
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“When you send forth your spirit, you renew the face of the earth.” Psalm 104:30

Dear Katie,

Happy Confirmation! This will be a time you will always remember as a turning point in your life. You may not realize it now (it may take some years of life experience for it to sink in).

There are so many artificial milestones in the life of a teenager. When you turn 13, yippee! No more single digits! But really, what does that mean to your life? Basically that your parents will now be charged the adult ticket price when they take you to the movies, you can’t legally order off the kids’ menu at restaurants, & that now you’re supposed to be able to smile knowingly at all the off-color jokes in a PG-13 movie.

How about when you turn 16? You’ve probably been driving with your mom or dad in the passenger seat for about six months. You have this dreamy idea in your head that when you get your driver’s license that suddenly your life will be transformed.

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Okay, turning 18 is a bit more real. You are considered to be an adult, overnight. You can vote (hopefully you’ll be a lifelong Democrat). You graduate from high school & go to college (none of this taking a year off to Find Yourself; if you ever want to find yourself, just ask me; I’ll show you where you are). You can have a job (but if you’re like me, you would have had some moneymaking racket going on since you were in sixth grade).

But when you get confirmed, suddenly you have all the tools you need to live a good life. This doesn’t happen overnight. For months, you’ve been studying & memorizing for your confirmation day. You’d think that when the Bishop lays hands on you it would be like an exclamation point at the end of a L-O-N-G sentence.

But here’s the important part: in that moment in the church when it’s your turn to step up to the altar in front of the Bishop, the Holy Spirit enters your soul. How lucky & blessed you’ll be at that moment! That’s what’s real. That’s what matters. The gift God bestows on you at that moment can never be taken away from you.

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You’ll be able to use that gift of the Holy Spirit as a “toolbox” for how to live a good life, but more important, you’ll use the gift of the Holy Spirit to help others live a good life, which is the whole reason Jesus came to earth in the first place: to teach us, through His example, to love one another as we love ourselves, & as God loves us.

You’ll learn to recognize when someone is filled with the Holy Spirit, whether it’s a priest, a friend, or a cashier at the grocery store. You’ll also know when the Holy Spirit is actively working through you.

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With me, my guardian angel taps me on the shoulder or gives me goosebumps or tingles up & down my spine. She’s saying, “Yes! It’s true!”

Trust your feelings, Katie. If you learn to do this when you’re young, you’ll have a much longer, happier life. Don’t let anyone tell you that your feelings (dreams, hopes, fears) are not valid. If you’re feeling it, it’s real.

Don’t waste time doing things you’re not comfortable with for someone who doesn’t truly matter in your life. If you find yourself constantly struggling outside your comfort zone to impress a “friend” or to attract or keep a certain guy, then you must heed this as a signal that the person is not right for you. This will make more sense to you when it happens.

You are a beautiful, funny, caring, special girl. You need to look in the mirror every morning, Katie, & tell yourself that! You can say, “Girlfriend, you got it goin’ ON!” Because, Katie, YOU DO. Don’t ever make a project of making less of yourself for someone who just doesn’t matter.

YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE, KATIE.

I’m including the words to a song by Erykah Badu that just about says it all.

I love you! How blessed you are, Katie! Use your toolbox (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord) well & often! Most important, SHARE YOUR TOOLS!

Love, Aunt Kathie

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Appletree

Written by Erykah Badu

from her first album,

Baduizm

“See, I pick my friends the way I pick my fruit

My auntie taught me that when I was only a youth

I don’t walk around trying to be what I’m not

I don’t waste my time trying to get what you got

I work at pleasing me because I can’t please you

And that’s why I do what I do

My soul flies free like a willow tree…

And if you don’t want to be down with me

Then you don’t want to be from my apple tree

I have a hoe, and I take it everywhere I go

‘Cause I’m planting seeds so I reap what I sow

I can’t control the soul flowing in me.”

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Ah-huh, well, good luck with that.

June 7, 2008
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So much for my weekend by myself! My guys decided it was too hot to go canoeing with the Boy Scouts. They were going to Luray Virginia & the National Weather Service issued an extreme heat advisory for that area through the weekend.

Secretly, I’m relieved. I’m such a puss when it comes to my son. He’s 15 but I still worry so much when I know he’s going camping. I know these guys (“adults”) that go on the campouts are great guys & a few of them – I think – actually look out for my son like he’s their own kid. But you know, things happen. See? I’m a puss.

The Thursday before my son goes on a campout, I start feeling that fluttery (not in a good way) feeling in my stomach, a little bit like panic although not as melodramatic. I do some deep breathing & chant a basic mantra (in other words, pray like heck) until I calm myself down enough to get to sleep. Sheesh. I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for over 28 years & still I go through this stuff with myself.

So I went outside tonight at sunset & picked some strawberries from my garden. They are so heavenly. Now I must tell you they’re not these little nuggets of pure honeyed sweetness. They’re so yummy & super-juicy & still warm from the sun when they hit my tongue (I don’t use any chemicals in my garden), but they’re not like dizzyingly, stunningly sweet. But I gotta tell ya, there’s nothing like picking a strawberry from your own garden & popping it into your mouth (okay, I do a quick check for spider mites or bunny bites first).

I heard that the best strawberries you can grow are alpine strawberries. I want to try them someday. You can’t get these in the store because they don’t ship well (actually, they pretty much don’t ship them at all because they turn to mush about 4 minutes after being picked & put into a box).

So since I was going to have to be “on” as a wife & mother tonight instead of in calm, quiet, all-encompassingly-selfish bliss, I took a shower, dried my hair (which is like a wild animal & with a mind of its own & will be discussed in a later entry), watched an episode of Ballykissangel (which I think is sublime), then went out & picked strawberries. & it’s still flippin’ hot as Hades outside, even with the sun down.

More later this weekend!


I’m a proud mom… what next?

May 30, 2008
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When you get to be my age AND you have a teenager for the second time around, it’s tough trying to figure out how to navigate as a parent. I want to guide my son but I don’t want to get in his way. I want to firmly steer him in what I believe to be the right direction, but he’s old enough to put one foot in front of the other towards his own goals, too.

My son received an award at school tonight for being in the top 20% of his school academically. He goes to a small, independent (of the diocese) Catholic school that has 260 students. He & 15 of his schoolmates got this academic award. It’s my son’s freshman (first) year at this school & it is not an easy school. I am so proud of him I could burst. (Heard that before from moms, have you?)

My son also got a letter in academics. The school he goes to is exceedingly sports-minded, but it recognizes outstanding students with the same type of letter that the good athletes get. So we’re walking down the boxwood path from school tonight after the ceremony. As the cool breeze lifts my hair & I bask in the pleasure of being proud of my kid, my son turns to me with the letter in his hand & says, “This is SO dorky.”

Now, I’ve been wondering for a few months now (okay, actually since last summer vacation ended) what the heck I was going to do with my son for the summer of 2008. I don’t want him sitting in front of his laptop IMing & facebooking (okay, I love facebook; if you’re on it, check me out) & generally sitting on his butt. He’s sedentary (he gets that from his parents) & has never been athletic. So I got the idea that I would get him a personal trainer.

I joined the local gym in the fall of 2004. I’ve never played a sport (not in school or otherwise). My father said that girls should learn to cook & clean & that organized sports were for boys (no, this wasn’t during medieval times, it was in the 1960s & 70s). I have 3 sisters & none of us ever played a sport in school. My brother (the only boy in the family), on the other hand, played every sport: football, basketball, baseball, you name it.

I “worked out” at Spa Lady in the late 1980s – early 1990s, but never really broke much of a sweat. So a little over 3 years ago I joined the local gym. Suddenly, my husband decided he wanted to join too (after never lifting anything other than a 12-ounce Coke in all the many years I’d known him). So he took my son – then 11 – & signed him up, too.

My son has been to the gym twice in the past year. His father, maybe twice that many times.

My son balks at the suggestion of any kind of physical activity. But I have a friend at the gym who recently started his own personal training business after getting his national certification. This guy has a great personality & I think my son would respond well to his training. My friend’s name is Dion & he’s also the leader of a gospel choir.

I took my son to see Dion & his choir sing about a year ago. My son loved the service & the music. So he’s met Dion & likes him. We’re meeting this Saturday to talk about my son starting a training program.

I’m nervous!

I was flipping around on the TV last night (ended up on The Andromeda Strain which was rather good – not great – but it was only the first episode; I love Eric McCormack & Benjamin Bratt so the eye candy factor is high which don’t hurt) & saw a bit of Work Out on Bravo with nutty Jackie, the owner of the gym & the star of this reality series. She had some of her very-out-of-shape clients running flat out in a boot camp. Yikes! Is that what Dion’s going to expect my son to do?!

More on this subject later in the week.

 


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