Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Jane Smiley wrote an adult non-fiction book called 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. I didn't actually love the book, but I loved the list of 100 books that she read as a project while writing her book. I have read a lot of these books, and I turn to the list when I'm wanting to read something adult and need direction. She is kind of like the librarian's librarian.
So, I was happy to see that she had written a middle grade novel. And it's a horse book!
The story takes place on a ranch in California during the 70s. The main character is a 7th grade girl named Abby. She and her fundamentalist Christian family live on a ranch where they train and sell horses. Things have been tough for Abby because of some social problems at school and family problems at home. Her 16 year old brother has run away because of a disagreement with the father, so now Abby is up to her eyeballs in work training horses. Her father's business is built around the slogan "we sell horses that a little girl can ride", so it is up to Abby to do the lions share of the training.
This book had some problems.It almost feels like she should have spent a little more time on it. If I could ask Smiley one question it would be: what did you read to prepare yourself to write a middle grade novel? Can I recommend some books I would like for you to read before you try again? And yes, try again, please.
It so didn't. The role God plays in the family's life is never rocked. Smiley shows this family realistically. She shows how strong and good the family is because of God's influence. As a teacher, I was touched by Abby's attempts to hide her school curriculum from her family. I came away with a stronger compassion for religious families who want to shelter their children from certain curriculum. And also a stronger compassion for students who want to shelter their parents from the school's judgement. As a public school librarian I was very nervous about religion being a major element of the story, but Smiley did a beautiful job. Despite some rough language, I would actually recommend this to my Christian students.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
This has been us. Life has been great on the surface, but I have felt the under toad hopping around underneath it all. A feeling of dread, of foreboding. Before I get into the toad, I would like to point out that in actuality the surface is all there is. The world as it really is. I wish I knew this in my heart like I do in my head.
Speaking of hearts, at Ramona's 9 month appointment her doctor heard a murmur. Then they heard it again at her 12 month appointment. Yesterday we went to the cardiologist.
I have felt a dark cloud hanging over my head since her 12 month appointment. The idea that she could be sick, seriously sick, had her dad and me very frightened. At first I wasn't too worried,we made the appointment to see a cardiologist and I neatly put it out of my head. Almost. But then I googled heart murmur and clicked on congenital heart defects, and then it was an all out avalanche of worry.
Yesterday, our cardiologist looked into my eyes and said "her heart is fine". I wanted to hug him. Her heart is fine. He said other things, other things about her heart. But more than anything, he wanted me to know her heart is fine.
More than any lesson I am learning, I am second by second seeing that the present is all there is. Her heart was always fine. Who knows what will and won't be fine in the future. Right now is all there is. And really, if we stop thinking, we will see that every moment really is and always has been fine.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
See why I'm so exhausted all the time! See why we think she's the bee's knees!
Thanks to Brandon and Nicole, we are lucky to know you. Life is impermanent, nothing stays the same. Having these beautiful reminders of our girl is nothing short of an ordinary miracle.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Well, I was busy. And I was crazy. Totally crazy. I tore around the month of May pulling my hair out.
But a lot of things happened to me and I learned things.
Things like this:
I stopped nursing Ramona. My plan was to nurse her for a year and then stop, but I wasn't going to be too hard on myself about when to actually kick the habit. I figured we would just get there. We got there one evening about a week ago. I was nursing her to sleep when I realized I was clenching my teeth. She wasn't exactly biting, but she was sort of grinding her teeth on me. I simply wasn't enjoying doing it. I hated the idea of being done, but I honestly wasn't enjoying the actual event anymore. I walked out of her room and announced that I was done. The next evening, I gave her a bottle. I wrapped my arms around her tight. I put my face on top of her head and breathed her in and exhaled over and over again. It felt amazing. (I still miss nursing her though, but it's ok.)
My mom and I went on a road trip to Northern Iowa to hear a public talk given by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. I took diligent notes. I planned on writing extensively about this teaching. But, then I got crazy and life took over. But it's better this way, because the thing about Buddhism is that there really isn't much to it. I could go on and on with every little quaint/profound thing he said, but I won't. I'll just spit it out:
Soften your heart. Be warm hearted. Teachers, your job is to teach the brain, but most importantly, teach the heart.
And, I met Karen Maezen Miller. I went to a morning workshop led by her and the incredibly sweet and kind, Jill Tupper. Maezen said a lot of things, but two really stuck with me. She said, "this life of ours is hard" and she also said "if I didn't have my practice on the cushion, I would not be able to practice at the sink". I realize now that having a daily practice isn't an item on my "to do list". It isn't something to think about. Buddhism isn't something to think about, or read about. Buddhism isn't something to talk about. Buddha sat, Maezen sits, I will sit. I will sit and sit and sit. I will sit because it is the only way to follow the path. When do we actually have the practice we say we have?
Now, we have it right now. It's all possible, now.