Pamela Llano Zesty Mom
Lazy. Entitled. Whiners.
These are a few words I’ve heard referring to the current generation of young people, and it’s a pretty dismal outlook on the future.
The theme of cry baby youth is all over social media, it’s in 12 million memes and it’s a conversation I’ve heard in real life over and over.
There’s always an overtone that kids these days will not only never survive~ with their need for participation trophies and safe spaces~ but also that their parents and society will have to support their helpless butts forever.
I’m old enough to see that there are plenty of cases where yes...this is true. Yes, there some lazy young people who whine and are fairly incompetent.
BUT, I’m also young enough to remember “old people” (who were probably around 40) blasting my fellow Gen X-ers and I for being slackers, negative and unmotivated, and blah, blah, blah. (I’m sure they droned on with more ways of how we didn’t measure up, but I, and probably most of my peers, tuned it out.)
Decades before that, my hard working Grandparents were most likely also horrified by my parents hippie culture (which later turned into a yuppie culture that created plenty of problems in itself and mortified me) but I don’t know how many of those former hippie / yuppies remember being on the other end of that parental judgment.
The the thing is, it’s easy to blame the youth, but doesn’t everyone know people of ALL AGES who make excuses and have a victim mentality? Even if we grew up before “You Are Special” ribbons became a thing, there are still people who want someone else to fix their problems and don’t take responsibility for their own life choices.
When I stop and look at the young people that are actually around me in real life, and not on the internet~ the kids I see these days are actually pretty awesome.
I spent a recent weekend taking a dozen of them up to a small mountain town that had been devastated when a fast spreading wildfire destroyed 150 homes two years ago.
The burned houses weren’t second vacation homes, but primary residents, many were low income and uninsured people and most of them lost everything~ from irreplaceable baby pictures and pain in the rear important documents to every last pair of underwear and socks. Many also lost their pets.
It was definitely a disaster, but the area didn’t qualify for FEMA funds. Apparently, that turned out to be a good thing because it allowed volunteers to help, and things are actually getting done. Between Habitat for Humanity and other private and religious groups, new homes were being built.
Anyhoo, back to the kids….about half of the 12 kids we took were familiar to us, and we have taken them on trips to work and play for years. The other half were new to the group~ unknowns, and several were pretty young~ like barely in junior high. In hindsight, this could have been a disaster in and of itself, but as it turned out, they were all great.
We spent a long day working on building two different homes. My group of kids marked and loaded sheet after sheet of roofing plywood and painted almost an entire house. Every one of them worked hard, and complaining was little to none. They were tired and slightly sunburned, and at some points, I would assume a bit bored, but there was no complaining or whining. They just helped.
We met the future owner, whose son and husband helped throughout the day, while she brought us homemade food. Her gratitude was huge and she talked to me about immigrating to America, about the hardships of separating from family, being lost in a foreign culture, and of how lucky they were to get their passports and legal papers out in time.
All I could think of was how hard it would be for me to rebuild in an event like that~ and I have family, friends, community, a shared first language and citizenship that would all be on my side. This lady had a serious battle.
The kids didn’t know any of that when they were working. They just did what they saw needed to be done.
In talking to some of the parents later, I realized that most of the young people probably worked much harder that day than they typically do at home, but the same could be said for me. I’m much more cheerful when picking up groceries or making a meal for a sick friend or new mama than I am when doing these chores for myself. I guess people just like to help.
We all need purpose and perhaps that's what the trouble is with all of the generations of youth since laws and culture changed the helpful and important contributions teens made to society and left them them to just be economic liabilities and consumers. When people have good things to do, they generally do them.
The same group of kids helped again a week later when we made up hygiene bags for displaced people and filled backpacks for kids who wouldn’t otherwise have back to school supplies.
But these aren’t the only awesome kids I see. My Oldest Girl Child is off on her adventure with Global Citizen Year~ spending a year immersed in a cultural exchange internship in Ecuador. One of her best friends is working with the same program in Senegal. At just 18, these kids are out ~ not just exploring, although that’s a huge part of it~ they are actually doing things in the world and trying to make it a better place.
Closer to home, I see other kids who might look like they are just goofing off and making videos with their friends, but really they’re learning about technology and communication, and perhaps most important, they’re making people laugh. Some are learning coding and 3D printing dustable things, some are making music or dancing or playing sports, some are making awesome baked goods or painting or making fantastic costumes, and some are playing with little kids and being cool older role models.
Looking around, I don’t feel all that concerned at all.
All of these young people give me hope and make me smile. From what I’m seeing around me the kids these days are going to be just fine.
And the world will be a better place because they’re in it.
While yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the US, and I did see some commemorative Facebook reminders and one display of patriotic women dressed in red, white and blue waving American flags on horseback that took me a day to connect, my day was full of other busy-ness that I was caught up in, so it wasn’t until this morning that I really stopped to think about it.
A friend who is a few years younger than me had mentioned that she would always remember where she was that day, and I thought how old we sounded because that’s one of those kinds of things old people say….”I remember the day….”
But I do too. I recall exactly where I was~
In bed in my little off the grid cabin in the mountains with a baby and a toddler curled up beside me. My mom called in hysterics telling me to turn on my generator and see what was happening on TV and something about people blowing up planes and buildings. I could tell it was urgent to her, so even though I was a little annoyed to leave my cozy nest and go outside because I didn’t know what it had to do with me, or what I was suppose to do about it, I dutifully got out of bed, went downstairs and out of the house, yanked a chain until my arm hurt and a motor fired up and I had electricity in my house to connect to the world and see what was so important.
I turned my little 13” TV on and the first thing I saw was a plane crashing into a building. While I’m standing there confused and wide eyed, my barely 3 year old daughter, who apparently saw it too asked “Mama... are there children in that building?”
Today, I came across a post from a schoolteacher who talked about teaching his high school students about 9/11~ what led up to it, the politics going back to Jimmy Carter and why the hatred. But the thing that struck me most was what he said about the people jumping from the towers.
Like 200 of them.
I guess maybe I knew one or two had, but I had no idea the number was that high. I was also surprised by how long it all took between the crash and the fires and the collapsing~ my view from my tiny TV made it all happen so fast, and I hurried to stop my little ones from seeing or hearing anymore about it, but for the people there living it, the fires were burning for over an hour and a half with people trapped inside.
So today I’m pondering while my teenagers sleep in just how I want to talk with them about this part of it.
In years past, I’ve shared stories of helpers, like the ferry boat captains who helped people out by water, and the dogs who rescued people~ stories of hope.
We have a young friend who has a September 11th birthday and another friend whose wedding anniversary shares the day. We usually think about them and the good things that happened in the world on that day.
But today I feel like I need to say something about the people who were trapped inside those towers for so long~ to remember that it wasn’t crash, boom and over for them~ they were crowded in extreme heat and flames and smoke so they couldn’t see or breathe~ it was so horribly long and had to be terrifying~ enough so that some people had to jump, if nothing else so they could breathe one more time in the ten seconds while they flew a hundred stories to the ground before it ended in an instant.
It’s gruesome and awful, but that’s the story I feel like I need to share with these kids today.
I don’t know how or what I’ll say, because how do you talk about something that awful?
In some ways it’s always like that with hard topics. When they were little, I shielded them from violence and towards solutions, but now they are too big to shield. They have access to media I don’t always like, some of it is with senseless made up violence, and that makes seeing and hearing about the realities of violence feel even more important to me.
They still need solutions, but sadly I don't have them. I'll just do my best to share what feels important and hope I don't scar them. Those people and their story deserve to be remembered...
If anyone has words of wisdom, please share. Otherwise, at least wish me luck.
The days are winding down until my Eldest Girl Child heads out into the world for her 8 month adventure in Ecuador~ to live with an unknown host family in an unknown part of the country and work an unknown internship. I’m realizing as I type this just how many unknowns that is, and what a brave and amazing young woman I have been blessed with.
A number of our young family friends are also flying from their nests this fall, but most of them know exactly where they are heading, where they’ll live and who with and for the most part, how they will spend their days. Most could also drive home for holidays or even long weekends.
My Girl has none of these cushions. But even though it’s a lot of trust in the unknown, as her mama, I know in my heart she will do great.
At 18, my Girl Child has already been navigating young adulthood pretty darn well, but all of the prep work, paperwork, bureaucracy, and loose ends she has to deal with to make her upcoming adventure happen are like adulting on steroids. Understandably, there’s been a bit of stress and emotion permeating our happy home life lately.
On a recent random day, I noticed that she was terribly frustrated and annoyed ~ and if her burning glare and verbal barrage were any indicator, she was about to karate kick her brother in the throat. Around that time, something in my mama instincts revved up and told me that I needed to get my family out of the house and into some nature.
We have lots of nature, quite literally in our backyard, but there is also wifi and the view of the home and the impending feeling of all the things that need to be done.
I knew that wasn’t going to cut it this time. I needed to get her away from all of it, someplace where she literally couldn’t do anything about all the distractions and where she could sleep uninterrupted and under the stars. In my vision, we would preferably be next to running water.
So, I posed the idea of taking her and her brother camping~ just for a night to someplace nearby~ a little last rendezvous to the woods.
The three of us have had so many good times (and some not so great ones) adventuring near and far in a tent. We’ve dreamed and schemed, laughed and planned, philosophized and grown together, and seen so much of our beautiful country with our cheap fabric walls as shelter.
Taking one last trip before the Girl headed out sounded good in theory, but with all the to-do’s and life in general, we were were all a little wishy washy about my lukewarm presentation of the idea.
But as the stress and exhaustion wore on my kid, I knew I needed to do an intervention.
The Boy, had been busy most of the summer, and had just returned from several days of backpacking himself. He was tired and reluctant to pack a bag and leave the comfort of his bed again so soon. But I knew what we needed was to be together~ both kids and me.
So, I gave the Boy a hard stare and told him that we needed to go support his sister. He knows where my hard stares go, so he sighed and repacked his backpack.
I scrambled to finish my work for the day, threw together a random assortment of food, clothing and shelter and kidnapped them both.
Well, I couldn’t exactly kidnap them because they could easily overpower me, but I firmly told them to grab their bags because we were going. I took the dogs too, knowing that they are going to miss the Girl in her absence and that the Elder Dog doesn’t have as many adventures left in her.
We loaded the car, and hit the road~ And as with our 6 state Southwest adventure years ago, our destination was not exactly known~ except this time we’d only be gone one night and only traveling a few hours from home. But still, the feelings of freedom, exploration and escape with my chillens were there, and honestly, they were quite refreshing.
We drove about an hour into the mountains, watching the scenery change as rapidly as our moods. As our car went up in elevation, our stress levels went down.
The first two campgrounds we stopped at were fine, but there were people and other dogs, and realizing that we don’t always like people and our dogs are really rather ill behaved, we kept moving.
Thankfully, the third stop was a charm~ we found a spot along a huge and fast flowing creek and we were the only people in the whole campground.
Just me, my kids, my dogs and nature. Perfect.
We set up camp, hiked around and explored a bit, created a decent dinner from random ingredients, and hiked some more to watch the sunset. Then we roasted marshmallows over the fire and told stories and laughed under the dark starry sky.
The bickering floated away and we were all just happy and together and I was so, so, so very glad that I had followed my instincts on this one.
They were both glad too~ I could see it in their beings, but they said so as well. They exhaled, relaxed and smiled all the way from their inner souls.
We had all that I had wished for. Stars overhead, trees all around, clean water flowing and each other. As I looked at my offspring, I realized how very much things had changed since their younger days of tent life. Now, they could share in the driving and wander off as they pleased, But some things were also still the same. Goofy jokes and a whole lotta making fun of each other and life in general was still a prominent part of our time.
The next day, we ate breakfast and took a short walk along the creek before we packed up and headed down the hill towards home. As if on some GPS location activated system, when we rounded the corner a few blocks from where we live, the bickering started back up.
All I could muster was a sigh and weak request to please don’t. I still don’t know really what was up with this, but it wasn’t how I wanted to spend the last few days with my Girl Child in the nest.
Thankfully, they somehow must have realized they didn’t want to spend their time that way either, and we got back to the business of living, mostly happily.
I am ever so glad for that, but still, there’s a sadness in my heart. As we prep for her looming departure, I can’t really fathom her absence for such a long period of time. I don’t really want to.
I’ve spent her whole life encouraging her to spread her wings and know that she could fly. And she’s doing it. She’s doing exactly what I worked and hoped for, and I couldn’t be prouder of her than I am, but still my heart aches.
I know I have so much to do before I drive her to her pre-departure trainings, but my motivation is fairly non-existent, and a fairly big part of me just wants to stop time.
But I can’t stop time and I know it. I sort of feel like curling up in bed with an alcoholic beverage, but I realize that in the middle of a weekday afternoon, that would be both socially unacceptable, and a bad example for the kids.
Besides, that gives the impression that I’m all sad, and I’m not. I’m more like a big mixed up potion of emotions~ happy, sad, proud, excited~ it's fairly volatile and possibly explosive in what could just as likely be laughter or tears at any minute. The force of either would most likely frighten anyone who didn’t know me.
Anyhow, I realize that the thing I am sad about~ the thing that I’m grieving... it’s that my family will never ever be the same again. It will be beautiful and it will change and grow and do what living things do, but it will never ever be the same. And I will miss that.
My kids and I had a great run, and a whole lotta fun living and learning together. I hope they loved it as much as I did.
Have you ever had one of those days where it seems that just about every single thing that could possibly make your life annoying is happening on repeat?
You know, the kind of day where a dog throws up on the carpet and you spill your coffee on your new shirt and to top it all off, you give yourself a black eye from literally tripping and falling into a trash can?
Yes, that actually happened.
I fell into a friggen trash can.
Like with my head and upper body entirely inside of it. And it hurt. Like heck.
To be honest, it was a green waste can, but that’s only slightly better.
OK, maybe it’s a lot better. It was just dried leaves and twigs that got stuck in my hair and eyeballs rather than actual garbage, but it was still awfully unpleasant and humbling.
To be fair, the can does have a warning on the lid that specifically says not to pull or move it with the lid open. But, that’s the kind of cautionary labeling I normally make fun of~ like the infopic with the toddlers head stuck in a bucket, or the warning not to iron on a transfer while wearing the shirt.
Are we really such a mass collection of morons that we need all these warnings?
Well, apparently this one was there for a reason.
It seems it's not just other senseless fools, but me, myself and I that's the reason they need to put the warnings on products. But, unlike some people, I’m only going to laugh at myself about it, and not file a lawsuit because i was dumb enough to fall in a trash can~ because it’s my own ridiculous fault.
Anyhoo, I was simply trying to clean up some piles of leaves and debris around the yard. It was hot and I wasn’t in the best mood and it seemed unnecessary to close the lid to move the cart 5 feet.
But, when I rolled the can forward, the lid leaned back towards me creating a V shaped tripping hazard, which I neglected to see and promptly stuck my foot in, tumbled over, flipping the can on it’s side and toppling me head first into it.
Did I mention my cheekbone slamming into the top edge and my glasses flying off my head?
It was probably hilarious to witness, but I was living it, which is generally significantly less funny.
I found myself on the ground literally with my head and upper body inside the can~ like a cozy little nest of nature, except it wasn’t cozy at all, it was painful and disorienting.
Apparently, I also slammed my bicep into the can as well because I wound up with a big unsightly bruise, and since it’s too hot to wear long sleeves, I’ve been asked about it by approximately 12 million people in the last week.
And I really need a better story than “I fell in a trash can.”
That’s just plain embarrassing.
Anyway, the bad day mojo continued and leaked into some other days culminating on the morning that I was trying to get my booty dressed, ready and out of the house at an hour that is much earlier than I normally choose to make public appearances. (Don’t judge~ some people are night owls…)
This particular day, I am intentionally trying not to rush around like a chicken without a head because I’m going to be spending the day at a workshop full of smart and successful business women, and I don’t want to be that lady who runs in last minute with crumbs on her face, coffee on her shirt and crazy hair.
No, I’m moving along as calm & steady as I can when I realize that a little food would be a good plan so that I have more than caffeine in my system. No problem, I’ll just toast a bagel.
So, I toast it, forget about it until it’s cold and toast it again. Paying much more attention so as not to burn it, I re-warm it, only to find we have no butter, no cream cheese, no anything that sounds remotely good on this dry hunk of carbs.
Annoyed as heck that I’m going to be starve, I stomp my way around to finish packing my things for the day. Then at the last minute, I remember there is some butter in the freezer. I try to carve off frozen hunks, but they just lay there on my now cold bagel and refuse to spread, let alone melt. I wrap the unpleasant mess into a napkin and throw it into my purse, and jump in the car, now rushing for time.
Before I even get the car out of the garage, the friggen gas light comes on.
I'm not even kidding.
My eyeballs pretty much popped out of my head and thankfully the neighbors were not home because I literally screamed like a wild banshee or possibly an insane asylum patient~ definitely like a crazy lady anyway, and I did it all the way down the street until I reached the stop sign where I paused for breath.
It was a lovely example of composure and healthy emotional maturity.
Actually my throat hurt and I was exhausted. I wanted to gas up my car and just keep driving away from everything and towards an airport where I could fly away to someplace like Cancun or Australia.
But, then I realized that I'd still be making the house payments on the home I drove away from, and that would be really stupid if I wasn't even enjoying it. Then I remembered that I'd probably want to take the people who live there with me, because I actually do love them, and I also like them after all.
So, I used the pause as a cue to keep breathing. I didn't exactly calm down, but I didn't kill anyone either, so that was good. I got gas, and arrived at my destination. I wasn't too late and the rest of that day got better.
There have been some up days and some down days since then. There have been bickering children and foggy airport detours and more spilled coffee and smoke alarms and exceptionally overcooked and uncomfortably chewy corn on the cob.
But I've been trying to focus on the good stuff.
The bruises have healed (although my ego might be mildly scarred) and I'm moving on.
Since then, I've reminded myself a bazillion times that some days are like that. Even in Cancun or Australia.
Do you have a Bad Day(s) story? If so, please share it in the comments below. Laughter, after all, is the very best medicine, and it's so good to know we're not alone.
When my friend and super smart business lady Robin Fator invited me to a workshop for women in business, I wasn’t really sure it was something I could or should spend a whole day on.
Sure, I wanted to hear her speak, but since I’m not actually in business for myself at this point in my life, I filed it away in a rear burner of my mind, and got back to my day job.
But, every so often, Facebook would send me reminders prompting me think about the topics, which I actually did find interesting. Now, for most of my life, I considered the thought of learning about business to be something extremely boring that only old white men did. No offense to old white men, but I just didn’t think it was for me.
But, in the last few years, things like becoming a single mom head of household and buying a house on my own have required some serious figuring out of how to wear my own custom fitted Big Girl Pants, and I realized that learning about business and money really are a valuable part of learning about life~ for everyone.
Anyhoo, it wasn’t until the night before the event that I actually noticed the name of the event: “Women Thrive.”
Now it just so happens that my word for this year is….. Thrive!
And to be quite honest, I haven’t exactly felt like I’m thriving lately.
Life is good, and summer has included lots of the seasonally appropriate fun stuff, but my rhythm has been in a funk, and my atmosphere of my home / office / studio has not felt like the haven of inspiration and creativity that I want it to be.
I think the Lazy Days of Summer theme that has been present was beginning to feel like a way of life that I was terrified would suck the potential out of me and send my potential spiraling into a void of nothingness. Yes, I'm dramatic like that.
So, when I saw the word Thrive, I knew I had to go.
It was a work day, and I wasn’t registered, but once I have an idea in my head, I am pretty good about figuring out a way around the obstacles.
I’m blessed to be able to flex my work hours, so I planned to work Saturday instead. I wasn’t registered, and it was too late to get ahold of anyone. But my friend thought it would be fine to just show up, and she was right.
Actually, it was way better than fine.
Contrary to my initial reservations, it was by the far the best way for me to spend that day~ waaaaaay more productive than trying to work at home when I had been subconsciously feeling like my creative juices were being sucked dry by osmosis.
Being surrounded by a roomful of inspirational, successful and smart women who are out in the world doing things and making things happen~ that filled my empty bucket.
You really are who you are around, and boy did I need that dose of go getter energy.
There were women from all walks of life, and businesses that ran the gamut from traditional to woo-woo. I felt encouraged to refocus and reframe my own energy. There were bankers and metaphysical healers, women in engineering, construction, food service, crafts, publishing, planning, tourism, fashion and more industries that I can’t even think of. The thing they all had in common~ at least from what I could see~ was a ready to learn and put the education to work kind of attitude.
It was awesome. I felt encouraged and motivated to get busy in my current work as well as future projects that are in the dreaming and scheming phase and beyond.
Actually, I found it super interesting how many “business” tips and lessons were equally applicable to life. Seriously, I had at least 4 or 5 “Aha!” moments that apply more to my personal life than my professional one right now.
Since my family has morphed and changed a lot in the last few years, plus I work at home, and my home scene now includes people who are newer to the mix than the longtime tight trio of myself and my offspring, I’ll take all the “Aha” moments and lessons in communication and positive relationships I can get.
So, thanks to JEDI (that’s the Jefferson Economic Development Institute) for an amazing, well filling day. (My family should probably thank you as well since my attitude is a lot better than it was before I went, and I may even be a bit nicer.)
I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.
For folks living and working in Far Northern California, check out the myriad of free resources available to help you succeed at the Women's Business Institute at JEDI. They have goodies galore and you'll be glad you did.
Where do you find support and inspiration to keep you going in business or in life? Please share your ideas in the comments below:
I’d guess most of us have things we make ourselves do everyday~ like work, pay bills etc. Not because we want to really, or because we love it but because we don’t want to deal with the consequences of Not doing these things.
But, what about the things that may not even matter? Do you ever just make yourself do something, knowing that while someday, it might just feel like a brave first step or even an amazing leap of faith, but just as likely, it could be something that makes no large scale impact on your life and you forget entirely?
A lot of the time, you know that you can’t really control whether the chances you take and the efforts you make will amount to anything or not, so you just have to decide if the work involved in the endeavor is worth the possible payoff.
And you can’t possibly know until you try.
But one thing I know is likely~ doing nothing will get me nothing….
Which is why the other day, I forced myself to sit in front of my laptop screen and write and write until I had completed an application for a scholarship to a writing retreat in Bali.
It’s a long shot, a huge long shot and this I know. Even if I did win, I’d still have to get myself there, which is not a small feat since I live a really long ways from there, and air travel is pricey,.
But, in the event that my mini essays were chosen to be awarded the free retreat, there’s no doubt that I would most certainly figure out a way to get there. I mean, it’s Bali for goodness sakes, and it would include free spa style lodging, a bunch of cool classes and good food. That, as the wise Marie Forleo would say is most definitely figure-out-able.
But I knew that before there would even possibly be a need to figure any of that, I would need to apply.
I had the application in an open tab on my laptop for over a week before I started answering the questions, procrastinating that I didn’t have the right things to say, not feeling confident in my answers or my ability to present them coherently. And it’s a writing retreat, so I’m guessing that they might be, you know, judging applicants on their writing.
But, I finally forced myself to accept that the only way I could even possibly have a chance, no matter how slim, was if I took it, and that imperfect answers would offer a better chance than no answers and I started filling out the questions. It took a few attempts before I eventually just committed to continuing to answer them and not stopping until they were all done. I did it, and at that point I knew better than to allow myself to think about for too long~ I just hit submit.
No, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my application and of course, later on I thought of 12 million better ways I could have expressed myself.
But it seems to me that more often than not, later on is never. And if I never sent it in, I’d never have the chance to go this retreat.
And really, even if they don’t like my writing, I mean all they can say is no, right? It’s not like they’re going to call me to tell me I suck if they don’t like what I have to say. I just won’t win, that’s all.
But, there’s also the chance that I could win. And that would be amazing.
I used to work with this woman who was an amazing mentor to me, both in life and on the job. One day, I had mentioned being interested in taking part in an online writing program through UCLA, which looked fantastic, but was not at all in my budget at the time. She, being one of the most positive and proactive people I have ever met, (seriously, this woman gets things done!) suggested I look into financial aid.
I had seen that there were scholarships, but hadn’t really thought too much about it because it was UCLA and I was a homeschooling mom who had only ever studied fashion in college and that was years ago but was now living in the mountains with goats and chickens.
I wasn’t exactly sure that I was the kind of student who they were looking for.
But my wise friend told me to share exactly that~ the story of who I was and where I was living and why this program would be such a good thing for me.
So I did.
And I won. I was able to take classes for a year and a half with that scholarship and I learned so much in the online community of those writers. And it never would have happened if I hadn’t just tried.
I mean really, that’s all you can do is try, but the coolest thing is that I’ve noticed that the more I actually do try for things that I want, the more cool things actually come my way.
I mean it’s basic statistics right? You can’t win if you don’t play.
So, I tried for a chance to write in Bali and I’ll keep making myself try for other things that may or may not ever pay off. And actually, I do think I’ll gain something out of trying~ the practice of being persistent and taking action towards my dreams is worthwhile whether I win or not.
How about you? What are you taking a chance on these days?
In less than 2 months, my newly graduated Girl Child will be on a plane headed to Ecuador~heading thousands of miles from home for 8 months. It’s not the first time the girl has flown far, but this time she will be gone for soooooo long. (I know, I know, some day soon she will move out for good, but let’s please don’t talk about that for now….)
Anyhoo, my Girl, along with a number of other motivated young people will be taking a bridge year before heading to college.
This isn’t the kind of gap year where rich kids get sent to play in Europe and their parents pay for it. She’s taking part in a structured international immersion program called Global Citizen Year. Accepted youth work as interns in education, agriculture or environmental areas, live with a local family, and go much deeper than they could by just traveling.
It’s definitely made for hard working and independent thinking kids who are comfortable taking responsibility for outcomes and shaping their own education and life. That’s My Girl Child, for sure.
She earned a fantastic scholarship to make this goal happen, and is responsible for fundraising for the Global Citizen Year scholarship fund over the summer.
Please check out her fundraising page and if you are inclined to help support young people doing amazing things in the world, please contribute! Every little bit helps, and it’s a much better investment in the world than another round of coffee or fast food meal.
If you aren’t able to contribute, please share to help spread the word and share her link on social media.
Check out Global Citizen Year to learn more about this awesome program~ they are definitely helping launch goodness into the world. Not just in theory, but hands on, actual and tangible improvements to the future.
My Girl has always been a go getter who doesn’t make or take excuses and I know she’ll be stretched and gain all kinds of perspective in this adventure.
Still, that is by far the most stinging blow of parenting correctly~ you worked hard for years so your babies could fly~ and then they do. Just like you wanted them too, but still... the reality of it is mixed.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t be more proud of her than I am. She has dreams, and knows how to chase and catch them. I’m so happy to get to watch her spread her wings and soar!
Thanks for your support and encouragement!
After 3 days of listening to pathetic stories of an abusive relationship that I didn’t really want to hear and couldn’t do anything about, I left my county courthouse to let the other jurors do their job of deliberation.
As an alternate on the jury, my job was simply to witness the load of unpleasantness. I was there just in case I was needed, but in this case, I wasn’t. All I was supposed to do was observe. Not participate.
Just watch and listen.
And keep my mouth shut.
When it came time to actually talk about what we had witnessed, not only did I NOT get to be a part of the discussion (meaning I did not get to say anything at all... not a single friggen word) but I wasn’t even allowed to hear the other thought processes.
That made it even harder to swallow, let alone understand, the verdict that this group of seemingly normal people came up with~ I could not (and still can’t) understand how on earth they got to the conclusion they did after observing the exact same things as me.
I’ve been on 3 juries in my life, and started out feeling like I was participating in an important process. Jury duty has never been what I would consider fun exactly, but that last experience left me feeling disheartened, disappointed and confused. My mind was both boggled and dismayed at the world and the people in it.
Perhaps worst of all……. the feeling of helplessness was literally sickening.
(I’ve since read psychological articles advocating for helping jurors process the traumas they see in the same way that police officers are counseled after a gnarly event, but that’s a whole nother topic.)
Anyhoo~ the point is I realized then that I really, really don’t like witnessing~ Especially things I can’t do anything about. I pretty much hate it.
At the time, I thought the universe was giving me a some sort of lesson, like about letting go of illusions of control or maybe about the importance of just observing and allowing or some other load of bummerness. I really did try to understand it and learn, but it really felt more like “blah, blah, blah~ here’s a bunch of depressing poop for ya.”
Over a year later, and many more chances to witness things I can’t do anything about, (which in all honesty felt less like opportunities and more like punishment) and I am still sort of wondering what exactly is the point of all this witnessing?
Not to be negative, but I’m just not seeing any positive in watching train wrecks unless you get your butt out of the car and try to help people out, or at least call 911 or lobby for safer crossings or something….anything.
Just not nothing (I’m sure that double negative breaks some grammar rules, but I’m hoping that some sort of mathematical probability will apply ~ like where the double negative cancels the negativity out, making the whole thing at least a neutral and factual statement.)
The thing is, doing nothing doesn’t really seem like nothing. It seems like it’s allowing messed up things to happen without any deterrent. I know it isn’t always useful, helpful or appropriate to speak up or act out when you see something wrong, but sitting there acting like it’s not a problem just reinforces its acceptance and lets it grow.
In recent months I’ve watched people I know and care about be real buttheads to each other. It was difficult and painful. I tried distractions like providing food and entertaining banter, and I tried communicating my concerns about what I felt I was observing, even if I’m pretty sure it wasn’t heard or understood. Mostly, I felt like I was not able to do anything to stop it, and for my own health, I had to just go on and wish them blessings on their journey.
I realize it’s always easier to figure out other people’s problems and I generally try to not be judgemental, although to be honest, I sometimes fail. As if to remind me that I have a plank in my own eye, a whole lotta instances of buttheadedness happened within my own home shortly after I thought I knew how to fix the splinter in my friends’ family..
More recently, I’ve watched people I care about on painfully obvious self destructive paths and while I want to help and fix things and I have 5 billion potential ideas of how to make things better, it seems that for the most part, once again, all I can do is witness.
It’s bad enough with strangers in a courtroom, but with people you know in real life, the ones who are actually a part of your circle and you love….well, that’s just friggen lame.
And it sucks.
And it sucks further when I try to communicate with all of the best of intentions, but it doesn’t help. At all.
It’s always amazed me to think that some people are actually able to listen to other people’s problems for a living. Like all day long. They must have some sort of ‘anti get involved shield’ that I lack. I can’t even watch the news or scary shows without feeling depressed, panicked and hopeless.
I find psychology fascinating, but I could never be a therapist. Besides the fact that I lack the appropriate degree and there’s probably laws against that, I also have a very low tolerance for BS and time wasting. If things can be fixed, I want to see it happen, not just listen and wait while people process and continue in suffering for a billion years.
There comes a time to quit whining and get busy fixing whatever you’re complaining.
Plus I have no poker face, so if I think something is appalling, or not very smart or just a really bad idea, even if I somehow manage to keep my boca shut, my face will say it for me.
Sometimes though, things need to be said. Not by strangers on the internet who want to crucify and spew venom about people they don’t even know, but by people who care.
It’s a lot easier to call out someone you don’t know anonymously than to speak up to someone who are going to see and interact with again.
Years ago, a good friend and I were talking about some young pop star whose life was spiraling into a chaotic mess in the way that they often do. In addition to pondering why and how, we wondered where this person’s friends were ~ you know, like REAL FRIENDS, and what if anything they were saying to her about it.
Since I’m not in the world of this pop star, I don’t really know if anyone was saying anything, but it seems in the world I see first hand, people often don’t speak up about things close to home. Sure we talk smack about celebrities and people in the media, but when it comes to the people close to us, we keep quiet as they sink.
My friend and I decided back then that real friends are willing to do the hard work of calling each other out. We made a pact that even if one of us became rich and famous, the other would still call BS when we saw it. We would love each other anyway, but we wouldn’t silently witness a trainwreck.
So far, we haven’t needed it, but it’s good to know someone has your back.
I just got the notice that I’m call for jury duty again soon, and it filled me with more than the usual dread….not just at the potentially long and boring days of waiting around in an unpleasant environment, not just at the lost work hours and pay, but at the thought of witnessing the ugly side of humanity.
Maybe my cynical face will get me out of it. I hope so because I don’t think my heart is up for that.
How about you~ Can you just witness? How do you watch, listen and wait in life without saying or doing anything?
If you enjoyed my rambling, please let me know in the comments below, and share it with a friend!
I’ve spent the much of last week trying to avoid clicking on the video of the young boy who managed to climb / fall into a gorilla pit at the Cincinnati Zoo. We all know how it ended~ not so well for the gorilla.
I tried to avoid reading much about it either because it’s an all around awful and sad situation that I can’t do anything about, but unpleasant things don’t go away just by ignoring them. Especially not on the internet.
Angry mobs formed quickly with burning torches looking for someone to blame.
Years ago, after the death of my own firstborn, I learned that sometimes there just isn’t anyone to blame. Sure, it’s natural to want to find someone to direct our anger and pain at, but sometimes awful things just happen and it’s not really anyone’s fault.
Some rage went towards the zoo, but for the most part, the mother is the one people are blaming. And viciously.
Why do people always blame the mother? (Unless of course there’s a step-mother~then, of course, it’s her fault.)
Of all the negative “bad parent” commentary I’ve come across, a tiny fraction, like maybe 2 comments have even referred to both parents. The rest just blame the mom. The dad doesn’t count I guess?
The thing is, I’m pretty sure all of us could be that mom.
I think if anyone who has actually raised children can say that their kid never got into mischief while they blinked, they are most likely delusional or dishonest.
Kids get into stuff and make mischief. Some are faster than others, and some are smarter than others, but kids exploring the world and making bad choices while giving their parents and the world at large collective grey hair and heart attacks, well.. it’s a pretty natural thing. It happens to all of us.
Maybe the mom was normally super attentive, and this day she was a bit distracted? Maybe she’s always distracted ~ but since I don’t actually know her, I have no idea, and I sure as heck don’t want to judge her.
Although most people are acting like she’s a negligent monster, I did see one writer say she’s a hero~ although I’m really not sure why.
One thing I know for sure is that she could be just about any of us. I could picture at least one of my kids might trying something like climbing into a gorilla cage at age 4.
What I cannot picture is myself remaining calm or even staying on the other side of the fence. I imagine I’d probably jump the barrier myself and use some psychic animal whisperer communication skills to let the gorilla know we were cool. I often connect with animals better than humans so soon we’d all be friends and everyone, including the gorilla would live happily ever after.
Of course, just because I imagine it that way, doesn’t mean that’s what I would actually do in real life at all. I also imagine that I would land my jump into the enclosure gracefully, but realistically, even that isn’t all that likely. I might freeze, I might scream maniacally~ who knows?
I do know for sure that while I’d be super relieved and grateful to have my kid back, I’d also be mortified and heartbroken over the death of the gorilla.
I considered that perhaps if I saw the video, I might have a better understanding of why the people in charge made the choices they did, but really I don’t think so. I think I’d just be bummed.
All I can do is give thanks for my own happy, healthy and sometimes still mischievous kids and know that Gorilla Mom could just have easily been me. Or any of us.
There are no more stories to read aloud, and no real activities to speak of. Games, movies and collaborative household projects are still sometimes part of the mix, but overall it looks very different these days.
Thankfully there are still deep discussions and adventures, and there is still the dreaming and scheming that has always been the heart of it all.
But, what was once our Happy Little Homeschool is now more of a Home Base Camp / Center for Life Learning.
My role may still be as facilitator, but the lessons are different. There's still all the life skills stuff~ lots of time making food and making a home.
And there are plenty of talks about things like money and life choices.
But with teenagers, some of these talks feel a bit like this:
And while I truly believe in the importance of these discussions, they really aren't that fun and at times I can't help but wonder when I became the dad from "That 70's Show"?
Disclaimer~ I would actually only say someone was "being" a dumbarse, rather than that they actually "were" one.
Small detail, but I think it makes a big difference.
Anyhoo, I'm not always as hard as Red Foreman. Occasionally I have a bit of Kitty in me too.
But, even if it's not as easy and light as the days of glitter glue and raising tadpoles, these days have their own goodness as well.
And really, what else is there to do but try to bloom in the season you're in?
So, I'll try not to get too heavy and just enjoy helping some amazing young people stretch their wings and get ready to fly in the world.
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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