The World

Kindergarten, Naptime, Cookies and Milk

Twenty-five years ago the world rotated in a different direction.

Now you think I’m crazy. You’re thinking I’m like one of those “flat earth society” people.

(Have you ever seen that show called Honey Boo Boo? I rest my case.)

Naptime

Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but I think some basic common sense stuff isn’t getting taught anymore, by parents or by teachers, or by society. It worries me a bit. Okay, more than a bit.

If you don’t believe me just read this short list written twenty-five years ago by Robert Fulghum.

“These are the things I learned [in Kindergarten]:

1. Share everything.

2. Play fair.

3. Don’t hit people.

4. Put things back where you found them.

5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.

6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.

8. Wash your hands before you eat.

9. Flush.

10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.

12. Take a nap every afternoon.

13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

15. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.

16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”

— From the book by Robert FulghumAll I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Isn’t this guy brilliant? If you like this list, you’ll love his book.  If the list seems like a bunch of foreign concepts for you, then you should read this book. If you wish for a kinder world, a more logical planet, read this book.

Milk and chocolate chip cookies, with puzzle i...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I guess what I’m trying to say is you should read this book.

In the meantime, I’m trying to “hold hands and stick together” more often. (Mom is giving me the opportunity to do that.) Numbers four, eight and eleven seem like areas I need to work on, as well.

I really like eleven. In fact, I think that’s my new affirmation for the next month. “Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.” (for those of you who don’t want to have to scroll up to reread what number eleven is 🙂

And today I’m going to put extra effort into the warm cookies and cold milk thing. I’m pretty sure I could use that one. Right after number twelve.

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Don’t Forget Snowballs For Memorial Day

Memorial Day conjurs picnics, boating, family get-together’s, barbecues and the launch of another summer. Hopefully, after you read this post by a fellow blogger, you’ll include, if not highlight, the real gifts and reasons behind this holiday.

Gina left the mall

Burgers, beer, sunscreen…on Memorial Day Weekend there’s shopping to do, beaches to umbrella and pools to cannonball. Even so, I’d like to suggest one more thing to the list: snowballs. Specifically, Snowball Express, a charity that serves the children of men and women who died serving our country. Since Memorial Day is meant to honor these men and women, doing something for their loved ones seems like a fine idea.

A Snowball’s chance

Snowball Express, “creates hope and new memories” for children of the fallen by organizing special events for them. It’s a chance for these kids to have fun and be with other kids in the same situation. Also, the families get to see that they are not forgotten or alone. Past events include baseball games, magic shows, and concerts.

Now you know

The number of people in active duty is small, about 1% of the population. So not…

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Categories: Death, Gratitude, Love, People, The World | Leave a comment

“It Has Its Ups and Downs”

Elevator Operator.

How many people do you know can list that on their résumé?

I can.

Yeah, I know, totally cool.

Or Not. Depends on your perspective.

I was in college. The summer between freshman and sophomore year I decided to stick around campus, get a couple of part-time jobs, take a summer-sized load of classes (very few, but daily) and hit as many parties and social events as I could.

The copy/print shop job I really wanted went to someone else. I ended up applying for anything and everything that was left.

Summer Jobs

I got hired for two positions on campus. Not sure the first job had a real title. Basically I either rubber-stamped the glow-in-the-dark ink on the hands of students going into dances, or I held the fluorescent light that showed they’d already been stamped. Dances were always on the weekend. It kind of cut into my plans to go dancing myself, or going out much at all.

English: LED elevator floor indicator

The other job I landed was elevator operator. There weren’t that many floors in any of the buildings on campus, but summertime brought out the bored students, the local teens and the let’s-make-out-in-weird-public-places couples. So they wanted someone maintaining control of the elevator. I usually only worked when there was “an event” in one of the restaurants in the student union center, or if there was a dance. Again, weekend hours mostly.

Fortunately, the elevator stayed busy. Surprise registered on most people’s faces as they stepped on board and saw an elevator operator.

It was a sort of dream come true for me.

Back in the Day

I remembered as a kid, only a decade or so earlier than this summer job, riding the elevator in JC Penney. The elevator operator sat on a small metal stool next to the buttons. He’d open the door with a button, and then manually push open the crisscross cage doors, and then we’d step in the elevator, my over-active imagination peering into the miniscule gap between floor and elevator, fearing for my life.  When we were all loaded into the small metal box, the operator would lean out a bit through the open door and holler, “going up?” in a sort of question/statement.

English: This is the controls on a dover elevator

Seeing no one, he’d pull the gate closed, and then push the button that closed the solid metal doors. Then he’d ask, “Which floor please?” To which each person would reply with a number and a “please.” Going down offered the basement level as well.  I’d wait for that swooshy stomach feeling as the elevator pulled up to the next floor or dropped down a level. I loved/hated that feeling for its mixed sense of excitement and dread.

I always wanted to push those buttons, make them light up, be the one in charge of the numbers over the door as they changed. I thought it’d be a great job to have. It came in a close second to candy counter salesgirl.

Dream Come True, Sort of

I wasn’t lucky enough in my new job on campus to have a stool to sit on, or a gate to pull shut. Everything was automatic. I did get to ask which floor, and push the buttons. By time I was in college no one said “please” or “thank you” when they requested their floor, or when they exited the elevator. I earned some spending money, met tons of people, learned to make small talk in a brief amount of time, and became comfortable being around strangers. It was a good experience.

Very Punny

There was one perk to that job that I really liked.  When my roommate or a friend would ask how work had been, I could reply, “Oh, you know, it has its ups and downs.”

I could never resist a pun, good or bad.

What’s the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

Categories: Memory Lane, The World | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Summertime

School’s out today for the next couple of months. No more national anthem wafting across the park every morning at 8:45. No more a.m. and p.m. traffic as parents drop off and pick up their littles. No more playground noises, of tether ball chains against poles, kick ball, swings squeaking, girls screeching, boys in mock battles, girls piled up in little cliques like so many fall leaves blown into a pile.

Ah, the summer freedom of children.

Months stretch out before them in a vast sweeping prairie of waving grasses, unexplored trails, toes in cold streams, popsicles dripping, and entire days spent swimming.

Oh wait, that was my childhood. Do kids still do that?

English: Cottonwood Trees in Lions Park

There’s still a sense of freedom, but I get the feeling that it’s only a pale shadow of the freedom I enjoyed.

I took off running by ten every morning to my best friend’s house. From there the two of us would race to the park, with its open grass fields, a swampy tadpole pond, a meandering creek, a cottonwood tree-filled valley, ivy covered hills, rusty barbed wire fence lines. We spent most of the day there roaming, dreaming, romping, hiding, in imaginary wars with other kids who also played there.

Completely unsupervised.

Yes.

Not an adult in sight. Can you imagine it?

It was a different world. An innocent time. A protected, sweet existence.

A small pocket of pure perfection.

Categories: Memory Lane, Nature, Outdoors, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Without

Pay attention to the without in the quotation below. Sometimes one word changes the meaning completely in a sentence. Sometimes one word can make all the difference in direction, focus and destination.

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

“Seven Deadly Sins-

Wealth without work

Pleasure without conscience

Science without humanity

Knowledge without character

Politics without principle

Commerce without morality

Worship without sacrifice.” 

— Mahatma Gandhi

Look at that.

To the left of each without a list of good things. To the right of each without a list of good things.

Each devoid of the other loses its luster and some of its strength.

Each coupled with the other becomes a powerful force, a better thing.

Imagine a world like that.

 

Categories: The World | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Words Find Us

Been doing a brief bit of traveling this past week. So naturally my camera snapped some moments. Or at least it tried to.

Photos don’t grab the nuance in the breeze as you eat on a balcony with Pike’s Peak behind you. Photos can’t record the pride a parent feels. Photos miss the exchange of love and light in a look between two people.

Strangely, the word photos I took seemed to speak volumes about all the good stuff going on.

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Categories: Love, The World, Wondering | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

My Cousin is only Half Crazy

My cousin ran in the Phoenix Half-Marathon today. She had planned to do so last year, but a broken something in her ankle during a training run sidelined last year’s plans. 2 hours 27 minutes was all it took her to run 13.1 miles. Is that amazing or what? It is to me. She’s my hero and I’m dang proud of her today.

Phoenix Marathon 2013 t-shirt

Phoenix Marathon 2013 t-shirt

Since she’s from out-of-state, and I’m the local, I got to do the driving. I also got to do the cheering. I made a double-sided sign to encourage her along the road a few times.

One side of the sign said, “YOU CAN DO IT!” in big block letters, each colored a different bright shade of marker.

The other side of the sign said, “GO KETTIE GO!” and “YAY” along with her race number. I highlighted her name in shiny sparkles, each letter a different shade of bling. This is funny because she is the least blingy person I know.

What she did today was all BLING in my eyes.

I came prepared to cheer. I’d read up on what you should and shouldn’t say to runners to encourage them. I’d looked up funny sayings for signs. I found some suggestions for good places to set up your cheering station. I had my driving route planned to avoid traffic.  I also had brought a camp chair, a book, a drink, some snacks and a warm blanket.

My plan was to cheer for her at mile marker 4ish.  Mile marker 8ish, and for sure at the finish line.

There were police officers at the intersections near where I’d decided to set up for my first sighting of my cousin. (Boy, do they have a tough job directing traffic during an event this big.) I set up my mini temporary campsite, leaned my sign against the chair and waited for the first wave of runners.

It wasn’t long before they showed up. A small, incredibly fast foursome, a long wait, a few more, a wait, a few more and then wave after wave of people. 2500 half marathoners! I clapped, I yelled, I got off my chair and clapped some more.

Then I picked up my sign and waved and cheered. As I did so I caught the eye of a few runners as they read the words, “YOU CAN DO IT!” Some smiled, some said thanks, some did a thumbs up or cheered back.

A little while later I saw my cousin in her neon turquoise shirt and hot pink running shorts and lime green shoes. I flipped my sign over so the words, “GO KETTIE GO” were showing. I jumped and waved and screamed and high-fived her. Then I watched her run down the road and out of sight.

My cousin is on the right, in the pink shorts and turquoise shirt.

My cousin is on the right, in the pink shorts and turquoise shirt.

Time to pack up and head out to the next stop four miles away.

But then I saw the next wave of runners coming. I held up my sign for a minute more. Some had faces that said, “What did I get myself in to?” Some faces looked like pain personified. Some kept their heads down and plowed ahead. Some smiled back and said thank you.

I stood there and cheered another 20 minutes for total strangers. Every face had a story in it. Every runner was suddenly someone I wondered about, would like to talk to, hoped the best for.

I stood there so long that I missed my chance of getting to the 8 mile area I wanted to cheer at. I showed up at the 11 mile spot. I held up my sign again, saw the same red faces, the same tutus and neon socks and sweat soaked shirts.  Were they ever tired. The stories on their faces were more poignant by this time. The pain more prevalent. The wonder I had about each of them more intense.

I wanted to yell, “only 2 more miles” but there is nothing “ONLY” about 2 more miles at that point.

I saw my cousin. Switched my sign to her name. Cheered her on and saw joy and elation and energy on her face.  I couldn’t stay longer for any other runners. I hurried back to my car so I could be at the finish line.

I missed that part. Too much traffic, too big of a crowd. But that’s okay. It was her race and her personal victory. I was just a face in the crowd watching and learning and wanting to know all the stories.

The finish line is just the end of a very long chapter in a story made of many more chapters.

Last night, when I found this quote, I didn’t understand it. Now I do.

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”  Kathrine Switzer, 26.2: Marathon Stories

Putting one foot in front of the other time and again, in spite of it all, is a miracle and a wonder to me.

To all those sore-footed, blackened toenailed, achy muscled persevering half marathoners: Congratulations and Thank You.

The bumper sticker I bought for my cousin which inspired the title for this post.

The bumper sticker I bought for my cousin which inspired the title for this post. Please check out their website www.runnersfeat.com

Categories: Exercise, phoenix, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Little House in the Big World: It’s Not Laura’s Prairie Anymore

We moved when I was in second grade, over Christmas break.  This meant starting at a new elementary school in the middle of the year.  My world suddenly got bigger.  Instead of walking to school, I rode the bus. Instead of a traditional classroom I was in a shared classroom with multiple second grade classes sharing space barely divided by moveable walls, and small reading nooks.  The classes were on a staggered schedule, with different start and end times for various groups in the same grade.

I was one overwhelmed kid in that arena. I nearly missed the bus home the first day at that new school. Too much noise, too much input, too many kids, too much to keep track of.

Add in the fact that we hadn’t yet discovered that I needed eye glasses.  That made this new noisy world fuzzy at about five feet away in any direction.

Charles & Caroline Ingalls

Charles & Caroline Ingalls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one thing I remember focusing in on very clearly was story time.  The teacher was reading “Little House in the Big Woods,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Mesmerized within the first paragraph or two, I sat entranced, absorbing every word. I lived for those few precious pages our teacher read to us each day.  I was so spellbound that I started reading these fourth grade level books as soon as I could talk the librarian into letting me check one out.

I loved the world Laura inhabited. Even the difficult things she dealt with didn’t deter my desire to live her life in the wild countryside.  It was a small, manageable world with daily adventures and the perils of nature and society ever-present.

Fast forward a few decades or more.

I am not naïve and brainless. I don’t spend my time watching reality TV or sitcoms. I consider myself informed, well-read, educated, literate, book smart, experienced in the school of hard knocks. I’ve lived through more than a few things, survived a few close calls, I know what real life dishes out. I’m no second grader, not any more.

Since I started blogging, my reading and learning has expanded.  It’s as if, once again, I’ve been transported to a new school, with a new curriculum, in a world that never sleeps. I’ve read blogs from all over the world, learned about things I never dreamed existed, followed the rants and responses to topics that amaze and fascinate me. CNN, BBC, NBC, PBS et al have nothing on bloggers and writers and their ability to inform, entertain, enlighten and share and touch raw nerves.

Here’s the thing.  Instead of a lovely, manageable novel or two of a tiny world, I’ve stumbled upon the entire planet. At least it seems like it.  Suddenly I am feeling guilty for the life of ease I live as I realize someone in Pakistan or Ghana or Croatia is reading my words, my life, my wonderland.  I marvel at the audacity of Americans to think they are the center of the Universe and somehow qualified to make decisions for the rest of the planet. I am breathless as I learn of tiny countries and the families and people that live day-to-day, hand to mouth, oblivious to the worries I think are important. The foundational ideas that make me who I am have developed a few hairline fissures as I’ve tried to balance other world views on the same ground.  The ridiculous and the sublime compete for my time and brainpower.

Superman logo

Superman logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hover between two desires. I want to go back to having no eyeglasses, the world a vague and fuzzy place like it was four months ago. And I want to miraculously have laser vision, a flying cape and super powers, endless resources, time and energy to save, help, lift, care for and make an impact.

There I am thinking I have something to contribute having barely skimmed the surface of information.  Silly me.

I want to go back to focusing on my tiny family of six, or my expanded family of sisters and brothers and parents, or even my extended family with cousins and aunts and uncles. I want the ease of worrying over people in my small community and trying to find time for a few friends who need a listening ear or a friendly face.

I barely manage to work, fix dinner, do laundry and keep the house clean. Occasionally I’m able to help out a friend, call a sibling, touch base with someone I feel a responsibility toward.  If I gave up sleep I still couldn’t care for all the people in my life I want to care for, love, share with and spend time around.  How can I possibly do anything with all this new information, this new sense of weight, responsibility and worry I have for the rest of the world?

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The genie can’t be stuffed back into the bottle.  And, unfortunately, I can’t make a wish and have phenomenal cosmic powers.

Here is one itty bitty woman with tiny resources, 24 hours in my day, with a new weight trying to settle in on my shoulders.

Part of me wants to disconnect from the internet, move to a distant, isolated tract of land and simply live a small quiet life.  But I can’t.  Even if I could, I couldn’t.

I’ve heard the stories, I know they’re out there. Reality is too real. I am lost and probably about to miss the bus again.

A good book isn’t going to give me a grip on anything at this point.  Maybe I just need to step back, clean off my glasses and try to pull things in to focus.

Categories: The World, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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