Friday, May 21, 2010

A little bit of heaven.....

In the book Return From Tomorrow, George Ritchie tells of his Near Death Experience and his view of heaven. In describing one part of the next life he compares it to a university campus. He says, “Enormous buildings stood in a beautiful sunny park and there was a relationship between the various structures, a pattern in which they were arranged, that reminded me somewhat of a well-planned university. Except to compare what I was seeing with anything on earth was ridiculous. It was more as if all the schools and colleges in the world were only piecemeal reproductions of this reality.”

I have always liked that view of heaven, because whenever I am on a university campus, I feel a little closer to God. It feeds my soul and lifts my vision. I love the musty smells and the sight of people scurrying around with backpacks. I love being surrounded by buildings full of classrooms. I love the way college campuses combine art, architecture and wide-open spaces with little gardens and fountains. I love bookstores and libraries and laptop computers. I love sitting and discussing the “mysteries of the universe.” I love questions more than I love answers. I hope when I get to heaven I find, like Mr. Ritchie, that it is paved not with gold but with brick and mortar.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Dear Children, All Flowers Remind Me of You"

I always spend Mother’s Day weekend browsing the local nurseries. Even this weekend, which was jammed pack, I could not resist hitting a few of my favorites. It enlivens my soul and awakens me from my “long winter’s nap.” Although I had a little mortality wake up call at WalMart, as I stood in line and looked over and saw some “color bowls” for Mother’s Day sitting right next to plastic arrangements for Memorial Day. (Note to children: please do not put a plastic red, white and blue wreath on my grave. Buy me the living color bowl even if it only lasts a week. Thank you.)

I have a motherhood theory-I think that that mothers fall into two categories—Musician Moms and Gardener Moms. Musician Moms have children who are clean, organized, highly academic, harmonious and usually wear matching outfits to family reunions. Gardener Moms on the other hand raise slightly more disheveled children. Life doesn’t run quite as smoothly at times, Gardener Moms may not even know where their children are, but they just assume they are playing in the dirt somewhere so it is o.k. The children of Gardener Moms would not be caught dead wearing matching shirts—and tell you so! Gardener Moms love diversity and a deep sense of joy wells up inside of them as they nurture their unique plants and experience the variety of blooms, colors, and textures that fill their lives. I am a Gardener Mom and oh how I love my garden, especially now that it is maturing.

In my garden, I have Heather—dear sweet, beautiful Heather. She is very mature now and a gardener in her own right, tending and nurturing her little seedlings. Her love of dance and aesthetic presence brings beauty wherever she goes. “Quiet waters run deep,” describes Heather and you can experience her thoughts and concerns in her “deep” writings at Growing Heather. Watching her become her own unique granola, vegetarian, nature loving, boy-defending self, has brought joy to my soul. Most importantly she is kind and thoughtful.

Jessica has helped me many times to make my garden “pleasing to the eye.” Jessica’s artistic talents have blessed our entire family in so many ways because she is so willing to share. Her love of color is a unique gift that has made me look at the world differently and with a greater appreciation. Jessica can take a shower curtain and turn it into a work of art! Her blogs are also “feasts for the eyes.” Her design principles of balance, harmony, and use of space apply as much to her life as to her home. I can’t picture Jessica in my mind anymore without little James smiling on her hip. Most importantly she is kind and compassionate.

Andy is my gift. Every Gardener Mom needs that special one of a kind plant that no one else has. One that brings a tear to the eye every time you look at it. He has spread deep roots in my heart perhaps because he needs me. Even though of course, “He certainly does not need a Mom!” Maybe it is just because we spend A LOT of time together. Maybe, it is because, at any given hour I am sensitive to where he is and what he is doing. Maybe, it is because, Andy has taught me to be kind.

Zac has taught me to “stop and smell the roses,” (and to “drink the sweet wine;-) My personal Dionysius, wherever Zac is, fun is sure to follow. Every garden needs a party and I have seen them materialize in a matter of minutes when Zac picks up his cell phone. His passion for flying-whether on a motorcycle, a trampoline or a pair of skis has taught me that sometimes being “grounded” is just not all it is cracked up to be. But most importantly Zac is kind—to everyone-even the “very least of these” (whoops except Draper cops!)

Even Gardener Moms need music in their life and for this God sent me Trevortex. Trevor’s love of music has become my love of music. A couple of times of year we are honored to host Trevor and friends as our garage becomes the Hollywood Bowl and some of the finest musicians this side of the Wasatch Front becomes our guests and grace our home with music. Watching Trevor move between the guitar, keyboard, trumpet and drums leaves me in awe. Plus he is a great writer, but you have to proofread his papers to experience that-no blog yet. Most importantly, Trevor is kind-watching him out of the corner of my eye work hard in the “table waiting” industry has warmed my heart at his natural concern for strangers.

Katelyn should also be the name of a flower, a tenderhearted one. Katelyn is my BFF and roomie at this stage of life. In a house filled only with boys now, we have to stick together. My bathroom counter filled with curling irons and open makeup drives me crazy and reminds me I am not alone. I love Katelyn for her genuineness. Katelyn is my soul mate in laughing at life’s absurdities—she gets them! Her new love of photography helps me to see the beauty in a broken fence, my grandchildren’s eyes or an apple blossom. Katelyn has been “Viking of the Month”-twice, somehow I think it is because of the gift she has brought to peer tutoring at Crescent View, because when it comes to kids with special needs-well what can I say-Katelyn is sooo kind!

Last is my most sturdy plant, Jacob--Mr. Abs of Steel. “Passionate” describes every one of my children but “serious,” maybe only Jake. He is Draper Elementary’s top Presidential Fitness Award winner-he can do more pull-ups than anyone! Sorry girls, lips that touch a “Big Mac” may never touch his. (Not that, that is a possibility because he is still totally grossed out by such things). Jake looks out for me-so how can I not have a special place in my gardenheart for him. He is the first to say, “Go to bed Mom, I will deal with this” God gave me Jake for my older mothering years because he is just as happy reading a book late at night-o.k. past 8—as running around. So as the biggest recipient of Jake’s kindness-thank you.

It is impossible to be a gardener without a garden and my sweetheart has made sure that I have plenty of them. He has given me the freedom and fertilizer to do what I want to do and be who I want to be and grow how I want to grow and of course, he helped with planting a few seeds. Besides-he is the kindest man I know!

Happy Mother’s Day to Me!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Male and Female

This is a post in response to a post, in response to another post, about this original post! I love the blogger world-especially if it really makes me think about something. I love the first post, not so much the next one and I guess we had gotten totally off-topic by the last one-even though it was beautifully written as attested to by the hundreds of comments she received. So here are my thoughts, because it is my thoughts that reside here at

The original post at TomatoNation asks the question, “Are you a feminist?” (You can push the pause button here and go and read that post.) In response to Ms. Bunting, I must answer, “Yes, I am a feminist.” 1. I believe in the political, economic and social equality of the sexes and 2. In whatever small way I have been afforded I have organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests—mainly in the form of writing, but hopefully in raising children who are also sensitive and respectful to the social equality of the sexes. As a mother of four boys and as a wife to a wonderful man, can I also say I am a masculinist who believes just as strongly in the political, economic and social equality of men and would fight just as passionately to see their rights defended as I would my daughters. (I have been known to take on a few elementary school teachers over the years in the process.) The English vocabulary has not yet invented a word to describe what I truly am in my core, so for lack of a better word let me say I am a “YinYangist.”

Wikipedia (a source I was never allowed to quote in school) says it best. “Yin/Yang is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn.” Yin/Yang is manifest in hot/cold, east/west, dark/light and in male/female. In looking at a Yin/Yang symbol you will see that each side also contains a smaller portion of the other. Every light, yang, strong, male side also has an aspect of the feminine in gentleness and tranquility. Likewise every dark, feminine, life-giving yin also has strength and courage at its core. I also love this from Wikipedia, “Yin–yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole. A race with only men or only women would disappear in a single generation; but men and women together create new generations that allow the race they mutually create (and mutually come from) to survive. The interaction of the two gives birth to things. Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall.”

To a yinyangist as myself, there are no “archals.” In marriage, church and life there should be no hierarchies; patriarchal, matriarchal or anarchical. Balance is a foundational principle of design. It only makes sense that the “Great Designer” would use this principal in the creation of this world, “male and female created he them.” This point was brought home to me recently, as so many points are driven home, through a work of art. We went to see the performance Mystique by Reperatory Dance Theater as they sought to explore mysteries of East/West, Male/Female, Historic/Contemporary, and Yin/Yang. Most of the works were by Michio Ito, a Japanese choreographer who sought to bridge the east/west divide through his dance. He was a highly sought after dancer in the United States until he was deported in the early days of World War II. Michio Ito developed a form of dance that included both male and female movements, lines and curves, inward and outward movements. It was incredibly beautiful to watch and transcended any discussion of what part of the dance was more important, it was simply wholeness.

So back to the original post-I am a feminist and will speak out where I see continued inequality of the sexes. I have a special place in my heart for those “iron-jawed angels” who fought for my right to vote. I applaud Nicolas Sarkozy and his fight to ban the Islamic veil in France in the name of women’s dignity and I agree with a recent Newsweek article encouraging the Pope to break up history’s oldest and most elite “all male club” that has brought so much heartache to so many children’s lives. I have seen so much progress since I was born in the “I Love Lucy” days, but hopefully my daughters will see more and my granddaughters will only know the beauty of the dance.