Not Necessarily Namaste — Lessons from Yoga Barbie

Yoga girl sunset     YAY! It’s Friday and that means it’s Yoga Day in Liz’s world. Fridays, I decided are to be my “down days” from running and hitting it hard at the gym during the week.   It’s a physical reward, like getting a massage after working hard all month.

I’ve been on a roll recently, but I know from past experience if I don’t build in some gentler workout days, I’m liable to crash and burn. So yoga makes sense as an alternative to running everyday. So on Yoga Day, my goal today was to cleanse my seven chakras, elongate my muscles and relax my mind.   At least that was the plan.

This is what really happened:

I awake just before 7 am. I scurry downstairs in a caffeine-deprived stupor because on Yoga Day you should only drink water. Lots of water. No time for the filtered pure stuff. Just rinse out a dirty glass from the sink super quick and guzzle the tap. I feed our three cats and let the dog out so I can begin.

Time to get started. I roll out my yoga mat and live-stream Yoga Now on TV. Ah, so many choices. This one looks good: Total Body Super Core Challenge– 58 minutes.

The first thing I notice is the lovely young serene blond-haired blue-eyed yoga instructor; she is the epitome of tranquility. Her voice is a steady soft low, just a few decibles above a whisper. If I wasn’t being mindful, I’d probably shout, “What’s that?” or “Come again?”

Hurdle one: I will not compare my body to that of a woman half my age who is probably a trust-fund graduate student who’s probably never birthed children and has been vegan and well, stretchy, for most of her life. No, today I will take the hat of judgment off my body, and just keep my eyes focused gently on my teacher for today.

So we start with a few cleansing breaths before easing into Chaturanga Dandasana. Basically, that’s the snobby Indian way of saying planking. And although I was nearly comatose only moments ago under jersey cotton sheets and down comforters, I’m suddenly sweating profusely as I try to align myself parallel to the floor in order to strengthen my core.

The first thing I notice is just how much dog hair is literally everywhere; there’s entire could-be-sweaters hiding out under all the couches and TV stand.   And now thru my Pranayama breathing, I realize my yoga mat actually smells more like a dog than even my dog does.

So as I gently plank myself, I turn my gaze ever so softly towards the TV to make sure I’m still in sync with Yoga Barbie. She’s so peaceful I think. Her eyes are so soft, like she’s just waking from a great dream.

Well, no wonder I think to myself. My gosh! Look at that view!

Her mat floats atop short manicured green grass, that looks soft as carpet. It’s positioned exactly at the midpoint between two magnificent palm trees with an emerald green ocean in the distance, also proportionately placed between two mountains. The sun is just rising. In her world there are no vehicles zooming by, only tropical birds singing their morning songs.

In my world, I hear a humming dishwasher, a distant washing machine, and creaky plumbing sounds. Soon my husband plunks down the stairs before leaving for work. He asks me a question related to taxes and bills in a loud voice.   Talk about a harshed mellow. “Can we talk about this later?” I reply while trying to tune out all distractions.

I press on thru the planking so I can hurry up and get to Downward Dog which would be more appropriately named if it were called Upword Butt. Truly, that’s what it actually is.   You are making an offering, a sun salutation of sorts to the world that silently screams: This is my butt. Consider the view as a double sunrise.  Please deal with it and above all, leave me alone and don’t speak to me while I do this.

I alternate between Upward Butt and Painful Plank while Ujjayi breathing a few dozen more times. That’s where I steal some of the breath from the ocean directly behind Yoga Barbie.   I hear a fire truck siren in the distance that is growing ever closer. I briefly consider the possibility that our house is on fire so that I can wrap this up a tad quicker. My husband lets our dog back in because he’s afraid of fire trucks, so now he comes over to my side to howl closer to my ear. Oh come on! Really?!  Who’s the idiot that burns their house down on a Friday Morning?

Stop! Thoughts are like bubbles I remember. You can just pop them if they become a distraction. I mentally prick at them a few times.   Now my son has come down stairs and is telling me in detail about a video game he was playing upstairs.

I look at the clock. It’s only 7:25 am. “Why are you even up?” I ask. He normally gets up around 8. By now I’m doing some Cobra stretches to make my backbone more flexible too. I’m breathing, but if feels more like the “Ch, ch, ch, ch” I learned in Lamaze class all those years ago. I may not be doing this correctly, but hey, I’m trying.

Next, one of my cats decides to get in on the action. He’s a sweet fellow, just not today. He comes up to me and my nearby dog and bites my wrists while I pose like a dog again. I’m determined not to give up.   He’s happily purring; he just happens to want to snack on what’s currently holding me up.

I plank and stretch and breathe and soar like an airplane and reach my feet and arms far apart from each other parallel to the floor for what feels like hours. I walk my feet that are far behind me all the way to up to my hands on the floor and come straight up. I go up. And then go down again. Breathe. Stretch. Be Aware. Take up lots of space. I feel what my body is doing as my body does it. Relax. Go deeper into it. Release all thoughts. Be still.

Yes, be still

While the dog drops a saliva-covered tennis ball on your throat once you finally get to do a relaxing stretch. While you’re child asks their fifteenth question during a half minute of Child’s Pose. While the phone rings. And the sirens blare. And the door slams. And the dust-coated fur-balls rage under the couch. While your thoughts race as to how to make it all stop just for one freaking moment!

Yes be still and know: That life balance is not easy.   That trying to take care of our self is a concept we delude our selves into believing that is reserved only for those who have time. Or energy. We will try harder when we have a little more of each. Time. Energy. Later. We’ll get around to doing this eventually–later.

Except that it doesn’t. Later never comes.

 Our distractions of choice increase exponentially by the day. As moms, all the hats we wear, it actually is hard to do anything at all for our self sometimes. Much less, do it alone in order to do it well!

But as a Master Yoda once taught me: There is no try. There is only do or do not.

So I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to do it scared and I’m going to do it frustrated sometimes.  I’m going to do it busy, even if it appears aadha-gadha . (That’s Indian for “half-assed” ) I’m going to do it tired and frazzled sometimes. I’m going to do it ungraceful and undignified.   Because if fifty-eight minutes of pretzel-twisting mental-cleansing Yoga Barbie taught me anything at all: I’m going to do it FINISHED.  Because that’s what counts.

We have to decide to love ourselves enough to want to cherish what God gave us so that we can serve all those others a little bit longer and a tiny bit better.   Less attitude, more strength.   We’re deciding right now to exchange our whining selves for our winning selves. Gently. One day at a time.

Just breathe, then do.

Press on all my Sisters Seeking Strength and Serenity.


Photo Credit:


A Day with MC Escher: A Lingering Love and Linear Logic


MCE -DrawingHands

“Drawing Hands” — MC Escher 1948

Last month I took my son and his young friend to see the MC Escher exhibit at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh as part of our homeschool experience. First thing I noticed: THE ENTIRE PARKING LOT WAS PACKED! Hundred of parking spaces and not a single empty space. Wait, what? I’m at an art museum and having to drive around and around just to find a space? THIS IS AWESOME!!

We finally parked and purchased our tickets. I soon learned this was the largest exhibit ever in the world on display of MC Escher’s work in one place. It was certainly the biggest traveling museum exhibit I have ever attended. We spent hours looking, but I could’ve spent days. Easily.

In my photography club I’ve been learning about the Elements of Design (line, texture, shape, form, pattern, color). With Escher, he effortlessly expands on those elements and adds things like:

  • logic
  • precision
  • pattern
  • reflection
  • perpetual motion, still life, and sometimes a blending of the two

Perhaps what attracts so many people to his work is his unique gift of mathematically capturing concepts such as:

  • the finite and the infinite
  • the abstract and the obvious
  • symmetry
  • the proof of geometry

These are all awesome. But my favorite? Gravity Tricks!

Escher doesn’t create illusion, so much as bend converging realities. I keep studying how MCE defies gravity in his work. I study Drawing Hands where 3D and 2D overlap Hand or Circle Limit IV where the infinite is captured precisely by proportionately repeating patterns that grow ever smaller around the perimeter of a circle. MCE shows us in in Metamorphosis I how objects morph from collective to individual with no discernable delineation. Time seems fold in upon itself as large becomes small, then large, then small again. How do you even think like this, much less accurately draw it?

I look around. A beautiful deaf gentleman and his sweetheart are beside me. He is smiling, and tearing up and overcome with emotion. Their hands are fluttering in a beautiful synchronicity that speaks of a wisdom and secret language open in plain sight I don’t possess and am not privy to, though I wish I was. They never stop talking. In this beautiful space called silence, they are the loudest people I’ve ever seen! I mean, they just won’t shut up. They can’t. They have delved deeper into this than I even I get to go. It makes me want to cry.

My kids with me have finished up before I have. That’s okay. They are immersed in thoughts on a bench and are silently sketching their own thoughts–their own dreams and realities. Art is such a beautiful thing.   I keep perusing.

Seeing photos of Escher as a young man, a young husband, as well as his self-portraits in spheres and mirrors really moved me.  In this one, he kind of resembles Picasso I think. In this one, he kind of reminds me of Coldplay’s Chris Martin. No wait, I think I see some of me in there. Yeah, that’s me–if I were a man I think.

I look at his self-portrait in Hand with Reflecting Sphere which reflects both himself and the room he’s sitting in. But upon closer inspection, it reveals both reality and non-reality.

MCE Hand_with_Reflecting_Sphere

Hand with Reflecting Sphere” — MC Escher 1935

Those hands!! I look at mine. My goodness! Those are my hands! He has the same creases on the same life line. How is that possible?

 I look at the dates of his work.  I try to recall the history of that time. This one is dated 1924. I envision flappers dancing the night away and families gathered around their radio to hear President Coolidge speak.

Oceans away in Rome, Italy, a young Escher meets the love of his life, Jetta Umiker. While America was mass producing Model T’s, Escher was quietly drawing the beautiful towns and landscapes of Viterbo, Abruzi, Corsica, Calabria, Amalfi, and Sicili.  MCE loved Italy, but then Mussolini came to power. Escher found his fascist ideals deplorable, so he moved his family to Switzerland, and then Belgium and then ultimately settled in the Netherlands until 1941 when WWII broke out. He remained there until his death in 1970.

When he sketched, what was his work environment like? Did he hear music in his head? Did he sip some Italian vino as he drew? How does one so perfectly capture the essence of an ant or a beetle? How do you freeze in your mind the stillness of something so small as if the tiny creature had posed for a portrait? How many hours and days and weeks did he spend when he so meticulously captured the landscapes of Italy?

What must it be like to silently appreciate every detail in the vastness of a city by the sea like Atrani, Coast of Amalfi or smaller landscapes like Street in Scano to the intimate portraits of his father George. Even as his father lay dying, Escher’s portrait seems to capture every hair on his head, a visual reminder for himself and others to not forget the beauty of his father’s soul.

When he created, what did he hear? Did he tune out the world’s outer clatter and create in silence or did he immerse himself in the rhythms and melodies found in nature and find hidden symphonies that inspired him?

It’s obvious what inspired him: everything. Escher was not content to draw with flatness, but with depth and dimension. He tapped into his unique gift and learned how to draw in a way that expands and changes the way we look at things.

Escher draws us in to his work with optical tricks but quickly leads us to deeper truths. The longer you stare at his work, the more your mind continuously expands. You can’t help but be blown away when you contemplate the infinite when going around and around an endless staircase or the use of hyperbolic geometry and symmetry as you move from a large central image to an exponentially smaller one in a repeating pattern.   You can feel the deeper truth at work in your own heart the longer you look.

Perhaps it’s the tug of our own inner law of entropy at work: The uneasy awareness that settles in knowing over time, we all become small, then smaller–then gone.

When math marries imagination and memory, well–it’s a beautiful thing. As a person who is often rooted too much emotion and feeling, I feel myself breathe in utter relaxation and find a sense of calm as the linear logic of math and predictable patterns make sense.   Until it doesn’t again. Poof! Mind blown—again!

Like excellent music, I don’t think I could pinpoint a favorite MCE work; there are too many I love! But one that really touched my heart was Three Worlds. MCE explained his goal in this work was to incorporate and connect multiple realities.


“Three Worlds” — MC Escher — December 1955

That struck a nerve. Because this is the world where Liz resides! It’s called:

Nothing is Coincidence


Everything is Connected

 As someone who enjoys creating, I am most inspired by the way Escher refused to live a life of frustration constipation. (Living life doing the things that don’t interest you or motivate you). He didn’t hold back his art, or deny time for it, he let it out!

Escher seems to understand that when we create art, we leave behind something that resonates in the soul of someone else. One’s work easily transcends the length of one’s life when it has the power to connect with others. Something created can make someone else smile, or cry, or think about people or the world differently. The silence of art brings us both revelation and understanding of both the artist and ourselves.

MC Escher was known for restoring order out of chaos, be it one’s external world, or one’s internal mind. He also was a gifted genius employing techniques of beautiful precision. He found a way to visually articulate the ways that art can be composed of both math and science. Science and logic can beautifully coexist with nature and creation. As a creator, his work to me implies an understanding that he too was created. Perhaps in that vast space that lies between love and logic, vision and creation, he too found proof of God.

Official Site of MC Escher to purchase his work can be found here:










Scrolling Past It All: Intentionally Choosing To Be Missing Out

It’s 2016 and time to make those resolutions. Hmmm….which ones should I commit to this year? Which ones will I realistically keep? Don’t think too hard about the ones I might just fail miserably at.   Or just maybe—I may succeed?

I made a list of a few things I hope to accomplish this year, but all of them can be summed up by one desire:

To better live each day and moment with intentionality, purpose, and organization.

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed in 2015 and have been dealing with some anxieties. The problem with anxiety is this; it’s like interest -– it compounds. The more you think about all that makes you anxious, the more your anxiety exponentially increases. Meanwhile, the law of entropy continues to thrive: Things fall apart—continually.  Everything decays as time passes.   Anxiety plus entropy is hard enough, but if you add procrastination to the mix?

Aye yi-yi. The triple threat of the unproductive life has arrived.

Because with each passing moment, our internal time clock knows we have one less minute to sort thru the complexities of life than we had a minute ago.

Are you stressed yet? If you’re still reading this, you’ve already lost one minute of your busy day.   You could’ve plowed thru an email or two, perhaps deleted 8 or 10 junk ones, but for whatever reason you’re still here. So I’ll try to cut to the chase.

I like to write. I’m also kinda-sorta trying to grow a photography business—I think. Or put it this way, my hobby is trying to stretch me in new directions that I’m trying to decide if I wish to pursue. While still homeschooling full-time. And working part-time, minimally, but responsibilities still beckon. Oh, and be available for a mom who is getting older. There’s also time allotted for church, scouts, sports, clubs, groups, and time invested still with grown children by attempting to know their busy schedules and still have time to hear their plans and dreams for the future.   There are chores, emails, voicemails, texts, bills, and requests. Then there are gadgets galore with menus, parts, batteries, and well….issues. It’s all too much.

I’ve been feeling this epiphany brewing in me for some time now:

I actually already know what I need to do. You probably know too.

We have to do less, in order to do more, or at least do better.

       But what to give up?

For me, I know that I know that I know: I absolutely am going to have to get off social media a lot more in 2016. I know people don’t really want, need or care to know my every whimsical thought, opinion about, or plans for “x”.   And though I love sharing so many photos, or even my writing, I have to brace myself with this fact:

       I’m overwhelmed with all that’s out there, you probably are too.

       So here we are. Three minutes gone for you, thirty for me. We have some decisions to make this year don’t we?   How now, do we spend this moment, this day that we’ve been given?

Sometimes we have to just scroll on by it all.   So much information is out there. But we have to just turn away and keep going, if we’re going to get anything done at all.   We have to not look sometimes, and do it fast.

A little less Facebook, Instagram, and Tweets? Oh well.

It’s okay if we don’t know it all. It’s not like we can fix it all anyway. It’s okay if we don’t respond to what all seems urgent. No comment does not equate to doesn’t care. It’s okay if we choose to “miss out” on the people’s news sometimes. The world isn’t going anywhere. And honestly, on some days I’d rather not know the news, be it world news or social news. I just want to live in the solitude of my cocoon for a day or so.

Call it weird. Call it antisocial. Call it worrisome. Call it intelligent. Call it rebellious.   I just call it the Liberation of Liz.

May 2016 find you at peace. Be well as you navigate your life this year and all its complex priorities.

F8th — Letting In The Right Light at the Proper Shutterspeed

1Our daily life paces at a break neck speed. Each task is like a large collection of pictures. By day’s end, our heads our spinning as we feel as though we’ve seen 5000 things. Each task, makes up the shutter speed of our life.  Each task is an allotment of our day.  Load the dishwasher, that’s 1/125th of the day.  Check a text, that’s 1/5000th.  Of course, we repeat this task a thousand times!   Got to work, now there’s a long-term exposure.  We stay busy doing many many things, all at different speeds.     We live our lives as if we are in high-speed continuous shooting mode.  But are we creating anything that lasts?

In photography when we shoot at 1/5000 of a second, not very much light comes in, even if we use a big f-stop or aperture–even with a premium lens.

So how do we accomplish all the tasks of the day with intentionality, purpose, and quality?
I suppose some of it depends on how we start and end our day, and more importantly how we transition from task to task through out:

  • Do we start each day with a quick prayer?
  • Lord, Jesus help me get thru this day.
  • Woof down our lunch and forget to pray?
  • Go to bed and rattle off our litany of prayer requests for ourselves, and then others if we have time? Perhaps an occasional utterance of gratitude?  Does this sound familiar? I know I am speaking to myself here on so many of my days.


Living life this way is like going thru our day and taking a whole lot of pictures but not having enough time to edit them. We don’t have enough time to make them meaningful because we have too many to go through. Our clarity (perspective) on the totality of the sum total of all these tasks & images is hazy. When we have too much to do, our purpose for the whole batch seems to not make any sense. We’ve lost sight of the big picture, because of sheer volume of small pictures.

But there IS a better way:


This is our struggle: Like an over-bloated picture library, we have to DOWNSIZE the VOLUME of our tasks and then apply precision FOCUS and INTENTIONALITY to that which remains.

Like editing pictures, we have to PRIORITIZE our tasks into CATEGORIES:

 Must Do

 Ought to Do

 Could Do

 Want to Do

 Definitely Don’t Do (Not worthy of my time , harmful, keeps me from God)


But how do we get to this better way?  Faith or F8th!  Faith in Jesus who can supply all of our needs!

We must pray continuously as we start, move through out or day, and end it.

In photography, a good picture results when these three things work in harmony:  aperture (how much light comes in), shutterspeed (how fast or slow the light comes in), and ISO (your camera’s sensitivity to light).

We can use some of these same elements and improve our daily life:

Son and light – Spend enough “time value” with Jesus and FOCUS on what his words mean.  How can I apply his lessons, not just read words on a page?

Speed –  “Slow down, you move to fast” — Paul Simon -59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)   We all know we have to slow down.  The key is to do it.    Unplug from media.  Take in each moment.  Linger sometimes.  Listen more.  Be present.  Breathe.

Light Sensitivity – Cultivate a teachable spirit.  Pray often.  Ask for wisdom.  Ask for help in being kinder.  Appreciate this day we’ve been given.  Love well.  And ask for divine help when it’s hard to do so.

Transition between our tasks with a gratitude prayer. Let God’s light in. It’s like opening up the aperture to our heart.

Do these things and you may accomplish less, but live more.    You may find an inconvenient truth that even some photographers already know:  Not every moment was designed to be documented, but rather written in a permanent place in our heart and savored in that sacred place.

Life is magnificent, even during the mundane tasks and the overwhelming volume and pace we’ve grown accustomed to.

On your way out the door, look up.  Check the weather.  It’s a perfect day to shoot at F8th!



Back To The Future and Back Again

Liz and Ferarri at 16 1981-2

1980 — Liz likes to time-travel in a  Ferarri 308 GTSi

      It’s Back to The Future Day today!!  And I am totally stoked!

For me, and many of my friends, we remember the genius of the sweet and laugh-out-loud funny 1985 movie classic “Back to the Future” starring Christopher Lloyd as the quirky, creative, hyper-active  mad-scientist inventor Doc Brown and of course Michael J. Fox as the adorably frustrated Marty McFly.  We remember, like it was yesterday how McFly and mad Doc Brown had to go backwards and forwards in time in their time-traveling DeLorean to save McFly’s parents George and Louise and orchestrate their meeting and eventual marriage, otherwise Marty would never have been born.

Oh how I love that movie!  We all intuitively knew back then, we were a generation sitting on the eve of one of the biggest technology booms in history! It was fun to imagine:

Just what will the world actually be like on October 21, 2015?

Lengthy BTF header

     Ah yes, 1985.  These were the  days before I forked over my quarterly savings for an over-priced brand-name  low-fat, extra-frothy latte.  They were the days of my first job at an electronics company where I was mesmerized by a friend who had started her own word-processing business on the side.  She had just purchased an Apple MacIntosh.  I still remember her plastic-encased off-white computer.  She showed me how you can insert graphic images and do all kinds of crazy things like change fonts and the structure of a document.  No more simplified block-style letters for her.  No, she was a mover and shaker and on her way to financial independence.  I had the opportunity to join her.  I declined.  No doubt, that was a Dipsy Doodle ding-dong move.  She probably moved on to Cupertino and changed her very life I’m sure.

1985 Apple

       Making multiple trips to see that great movie, little did my child-bride twenty-year old self know that someday I would no longer be struggling to thread camera film in total darkness onto a spiral wheel in order to see a picture come to life!  Only a couple years before the movie came out, I first learned about stop-baths and f-stops.  Every camera was a manual camera then.  Whatever picture you took, well it was going to be a surprise when you finally brought it to life in the magical red room of film photography.   While I was fumbling around with film canisters and  laughing with way-ward boys in the darkrooms of high school, young Michael J. Fox was most likely finding his way too on the lots of Hollywood as he perfected his skateboarding and his characterization of McFly.

          Yes, as my love of photography was blossoming, I remember how fun it was to bring twenty four, maybe even thirty-six half-way decent prints to life on a contact sheet.  Then you pick the best ones and print a handful.  In black and white.  Because that’s as far as I got in high school.  Who knew back then that thirty years later, we would all feel like master photographers as we post 24/7 not just twenty-four or  thirty-six, but unlimited amounts of  digital selfies?  Zillions and zillions of daily photographs of our vacations, meals, kids, kittens, and various other adventures are now sent (often unfiltered and uncensored by common sense) to all of our contacts,not  contact paper, to our magical, collective social diary known as Facebook. 

       Of course the secret to the time traveling DeLorean  in the movie,  was the pièce de résistance; the flux capacitor!  I worked at an electronics company in 1985.  We had large contracts with large defense contractors–names like Northrop-Gruman, Sandia Labs, and Lockheed Martin. I figured I must be important simply by job name-association.   At twenty I was learning the process of how to make memory boards that inserted into motherboards.  You add a fan, a power supply, and a floppy 5 1/4″ disk drive, and write some hexidecimal code and VOILA!  Magic!  You now have a computer.  And though I was only two decades past wearing diapers, I thought I was one rad chick.   Never mind the fact I wasn’t an engineer and didn’t even earn $10 an hour.  I was there man!  At the beginning of this magical world that was opening up and would forever change our future.

Flux capacitor

        I remember one particular endearing geeky programmer.  He was losing his hair though he was not yet thirty and had the palest skin I’d ever seen.  I don’t think he ever spent a single hour in the sunshine.  He always had a powdered doughnut and a coke in his hand.  He was so patient with me!  Trying to teach me how to speak binary.  Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing most of the time.  It didn’t matter.  I just kinda relished in all the geek-speak and tried to absorb what little bit I could.  I could feel it, just like  the Tom Petty song:  The Future is Wide Open! The sky really was the limit!

      I couldn’t have possibly imagined then the incredible journey of marriage, three kids, multiple jobs, pets, friends, locations, and vocations I’d experience over the next thirty years.   See back then, we lived in one time zone:  The Present

      Back then, before the future, I didn’t shoot a text to my friends.  I actually picked up a clunky plastic phone and dialed them.  Ok, I admit it.  I was rich kid.  My phone actually had push buttons.  But still, my mom could hear what I was talking about because I couldn’t even leave the kitchen in the 1980s.  Yes, we pitiful ‘80s kids had those spirally leashes that kept us attached to the wall within eaves-dropping range of our parents.  We couldn’t have known then that silly phone cord would eventually serve as inspiration to GE as they would find a way to  quintuple the price of an ordinary light bulb simply by making it take a bunch of hairpin turns.  Perhaps GE executives took Edward Hammer’s CFC lightbulb to the next level because they too were fans of Doc Brown’s DeLorean.

      So here we are.  Thirty years later.  The Chicago Cubs are doing pretty darn good!  Or at least they were until this past weekend.  Don’t know if their odds are actually 100 to 1 yet, but they’ve been living with those odds for a while anyway.  One can hope.  So I hope and pray, cross my fingers, and show kindness to goats whenever I see them, to lift the Cubs Curse, I pray that at least this remaining unfulfilled promise of Back to the Future may actually still happen.

       And here I sit too, at the half century mark.  I know longer feel young enough to actually call myself young.  After all, thirty-somethings now seem like kids to me.  But I don’t feel old enough to justify those damn annoying AARP cards that keep appearing in our mailbox.   I write this as I ponder the next thirty years:

  • Will the Cubs have a World Series win by then?
  • Will people still use Facebook or will we start relating again “old school” with actual face time?
  • What new technologies will be invented that can actually improve, not further clutter our lives?

And most importantly, who will I be?  What will I become?  If I could punch the date on a time-travel DeLorean thirty years forward, what will I see?   So as we get on our daily hoverboard of choice,  and continuously romance our phones, I pray I can live like McFly did.   I”ll get plugged in–plutonium amp like and become part of my experiences.  I won’t always pic and post it, I’ll actually live it.  

When seeing the future as a someday past, it makes me ponder what do I have to do now, to keep my family intact?  Most importantly with all this technology, how do I prioritize my time to live with purpose and have a meaningful life?  How do I live and love now in case one day, I too, get to go back to the future and see it all from a past perspective?     May we all choose wisely and not miss those moments of destiny where our past and futures collide.

Happy Back to The Future Day!!

Double Digit Man Builds an AM Radio

“Single digit years are for learning,

but the double digit years are for earning”….The Wisdom of Tyler at 10

Tyler radio

Double Digit Man and his AM radio

How’d we get here so fast? It seems like only yesterday, I was holding our little peanut, our tiny precious baby boy, this last precious child.  The weeks quickly turned to months, then years, and now here we are: The first decade is in the memory vault now.

Day One:

I still remember your birth like yesterday. You were born twenty minutes exactly after we got to the hospital. Yes, twenty minutes. You were almost born in the car, stuck in traffic between a State-Carolina game and NC fair traffic. Then we went to the wrong hospital entrance, the one for heart attacks, which your dad was about to have I believe.   When asked my name at the admissions desk for cardiac patients, I screamed, “THE….. BABY……. IS…… COMING…….. OUT!!!!”   No further questions were asked. I was wheeled faster than a NASCAR pace car across the hospital campus straight to maternity. I was stripped, pushed down, and not anesthetized. A few excruciating moments ensued. BOOM! You arrived.

We hit the ground running that day. We haven’t slowed since.

Mom and baby Tyler

Day Two:

But you started leaving me a little too. And every day forward, it’s been a little bit here, a little bit there, but always something each day slips away from those first moments we shared, never to return.

Year One through Five:

You changed completely. And then changed again.

You started out speechless, and pooped your pants a few thousand times those first few years. And though it felt like forever, finally, you reached hygienic independence once you saw your preschool peers do the same thing.   Those victories were so huge then. Still–we forget them.

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Many sleepless nights were then followed by you learning to walk, and talk, and then talk back. You also learned to count, say your ABCs, read, write, build, create, and understand.   Like the caterpillars we ‘re currently watching transform into butterflies, how quickly our baby transformed into a little boy.

Punk Rock Tyler DSCF8697

 Years Six through Ten: You became even more of you:

You became my creator extraordinaire.   Somewhere between your starter set of Duplo blocks and your attic room’s current infestation of countless Lego kits, you changed. No longer content to just build a Lego kit, you now can design a Lego Masterpiece from scratch, or take a kit and rebuild it into something extraordinary, functional, and new that is NOT in the instructions either. You do this and don’t even have any pieces left over.

You’re a stroke of genius, and sometimes madness. You are our pint-sized genius who sometimes struggles to write legibly and “stay focused” on school work; yet somehow manage the most complex concepts. As a toddler you didn’t speak until two and a half, and then you went from barely babbling to a string of sentences literally in a matter of a few days. There were few first words, only big ideas.

You memorized complex lyrics to the Phantom of the Opera by age four. You can tell me now who produced or starred in every Batman movie ever, and what year it was made, where it was filmed or who produced it, etc. You’re the king of trivia and Monopoly, but can’t seem to quit using your fingers to do basic math.   Despite ten thousand requests, you still forget to wash your hands after a bathroom break!

Queen Skelly

You are my Doctor Doolittle. You are the sensitive lover of animals who helps me bury and pray for the souls of the severed remains of every creature killed by our Lion King-like cat Toby the Hunter. You have begged (successfully, I might add) to keep all the strays we’ve ever found.   After all, four pets is NOT too many, right? Then there’s the rescued birds, bug collections, and caterpillar hatcheries.  With our four-footed friends, we both giggle and squeal over what we call “cuteness attacks”. You tell me you feel like your heart might explode from happiness when you watch our cats cuddle together, or the dog sneaks a kiss with Toby. I feel the same way when I watch the joy on your face.

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You are my Mr. Business. You are my competitive child who is determined to get Boardwalk & Park Place first in Monopoly. You understand money, and amazingly, how to leverage OPM (other peoples money).   You actually think of things like propositioning your parents to buy raffle tickets for your unwanted toys in order to buy more toys. You beg me to show you how to sell stuff on eBay, and have asked me to teach you how to monetize your own YouTube channel. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know yet how to do these things, never mind the time, you’re willing to wait, or better yet– pester me until I find myself doing that which I really don’t even want to do. I watch you “take over” when in a group of kids, immediately assigning the tasks of the playground, and wonder how do you even do that? Charm and confidence will surely compensate for any lack of knowledge or skill sets,  I have no doubt.

You are My Connoisseur of Culture: You’re my partner in a shared love of history,art,  science, drama, and music. It delights me to no end that you appreciate going to museums and enjoying visual or performance arts with me.   And in our first year homeschooling this year, I like it when we work together—the blissful moments where the whole house is quiet, even the dog and cats are asleep and then our little one room school magically fills with the sounds of opera. Or U2.   Or Vivaldi. Or Lindsey Stirling—YOU introduced me to the music of this amazing violinist. How did you know? You just do this all the time. Telling me things I don’t even know. Wonderchild. That’s what you are.

Forest Tyler

You are the best little brother and grandson ever.  Though you’re growing up mostly as an only child, you are all over the big brother and sister who helped me when you were a baby and who now laugh and revel in your presence when ever they visit home. You’ve found a way to worm your way into their hearts too.  They are like hip parent substitutes around you, alternating playing Santa to your childhood desires and being dutifully annoyed by the little brother who took over one room and then another, claiming more house real estate then they were ever privy to.    You bring them so much joy and laughter, just like us.  You are also the delight of your grandmothers and other relatives.   You are a baby with extra time and toy benefits with them.  You have kept their hearts young with your exuberance for discovery.  Nothing beats seeing life the second and third time around through the lens  of a child.


Fast Forward to Now — The Birthday:

For your birthday all you wanted was a Play Station 3. You said you’d rather have that than then a party. I acquiesced, as after having choreographed thirty-four kids birthday parties for you and your siblings before this one, I woke up this year and realized: I’m toast.

I gladly “traded” a high-value gift for a high-chaos party. We were both happy. You got your Play Station. But you also received a microscope and a Snap Circuit electronics kit.  After eating cake,  instead of zooming to your highly coveted video game system, you did something that surprised us. First you got out your microscope. Then you built an AM radio. By yourself. By following directions with your Snap Circuits. Yes, follow directions.  Those two little words I often say, as though I’m a foreigner from a strange continent, speaking to someone with selective hearing loss.  But these things you’re interested in?   You’re laser-focused and assembled the radio independently like you’ve been doing it forever.

These are the moments where it’s so COOL to be a parent. The ones where your kid just totally surprises you. So hours after the family birthday dinner ended, Daddy and I, couched and tired, watched you create your radio. In a matter of minutes, we were listening to the static-laden AM broadcasts of war in the Middle East that was immediately followed by the soft sounds of 70s singers Olivia Newton John and Kenny Rogers.

Oh son. Life is more like this AM radio world then you know.   We’re nestled inside our cozy little home, but just beyond our walls, lies a darker world of death, destruction, and a multitude of wars for our very lives and souls.  I want to shield you forever from evil, and fear, and anxiety, and worry, and stress and hurt and just blanket you with Olivia and Kenny or musical theater. I want to lay out a blanket of furry critters for you to always be able to cuddle with. I want to spread overhead a sky full of rainbows and eclipsing moons and falling stars.

I want you to grow up, but not at the expense of losing the magic.

I want you to experience all the triumphs and love of being an adult outside the limits of this family, but wish I could spare you the pain too.

I won’t be able to stop it. Loss and hurt and hard are as much a part of life as discovery and wonder and amazement are.

All I wish today is for you to stay awhile. Stay a child a little bit longer.

I kiss you goodnight, and as this decade closes, I silently thank our God for being so gracious. This beautiful baby boy born in the autumn of my mothering years—I am blessed by your presence in our lives, beyond what I ever could have dreamed.  I love you!

Happy 10th birthday. Love, Mom

Cuteness attack

This is what a cuteness attack looks like! 

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Unsustainable Inspiration: Narcissism on Parade

Trump New York Magazine Bobby Doherty

Photo Credit: Bobby Doherty – New York Magazine 09/21/2015

I admit it. I was dazzled by Trump. For about 24 hours. I even liked his Facebook Page and posted a few complimentary things on it, shortly after he announced.  But it wasn’t long before the elephant in the living room (that everyone IS talking about), grew so tremendous, I began to wonder if there was even room for me in here anymore.

Like a rabid sports fan, I anticipated the first debate like it was the Super Bowl. Then the moment of what I call The Big Letdown occurred: Trump opened his mouth. Yes, Trump spoke.   I felt (and still do) like I am watching a slo-mo implosion of epic proportions. It just hasn’t quite happened yet.

He made it clear from the first question, he was a “My way or the Highway” kind of guy. Either America will be smart enough to vote for him, but on the off-chance they’re not (remember Iowa — how stupid are the people of Iowa?), and thus too stupid to realize he should be number one, then he couldn’t (at that time) with absolute certainty promise that he would eventually pledge to support the Republican nominee.

Brilliant move, Mr. Trump, brilliant. By assuming we’d be too scared to have to go with yet another establishment Republican that would say only what’s necessary to get elected, and then do little to no more, many of us flocked to you with ears burning to be ticked with what you said. In so doing, we assured your skyrocket to the top, as long as you kept repeating what’s bothering us.   I give you credit for that: Successfully nailing our frustrations. 

Oh sure, you’ve said the things that frustrated Conservatives like me agree with: Our borders are weak, our economy is a mess with a debt approaching infinity, we’re making deals with countries with horrible human rights issues that think it’s totally copasetic to stone women for charges (even if not proven) for adultery, or people that are homosexual.  We are saddened that the country is actually divided over something as small as and yet profound as the right to and sanctity of a human life.

You’ve resonated with a huge portion of America because you’ve correctly voiced our analysis of what’s wrong with America very succinctly, even if bombastically. However, lately I’ve had a hard time recalling exactly what you said the solutions are. Trump, you say you’ll make America Great Again. But the clear assumption is, “ONLY IF I WIN!”

And there in lies the problem. Trump can’t be the solution, anymore than Obama can be. Nor can any of the other candidates of either party be the entire solution to what’s ailing America.

You see, Mr. Trump, that’s our job! This is our country! You, if elected, as a temporary member of the Executive Branch, along with the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch, are supposed to work for us–We The People.   You can’t make America great, nor should you. But we can.   If elected, we don’t work for you, as your apprentice. You work for us, as our President. 

Your job is to uphold and defend the Constitution, and swear to protect us. Neither of which I’m confident you will. I’m afraid, if the Constitution makes you mad one day, you may just rip it to shreds and say, “Screw this!   You’re fired! Hey, this document is ancient anyway.  Worthless garbage, I’ll show you. I CAN write a better one!”

And God help us (and the world) is someone else pisses you off; and I’m sure in short order they will! We both agree there are some really evil people out there.   Still, America is war-weary after years of unclearly defined and ever-changing definitions of who our enemy is, why we’re fighting, what constitutes a win, and perpetually wonder when will our brave loved ones who serve get to come home.  Many have already given their all and more,  and for what exactly? We absolutely don’t want to send more of them because someone gets your boxers (or briefs) in a twist.

I don’t want you to tell us what or how to think (specifically, how great you are, and as a result, that is why America is great). No, I want you to inspire us, and remind us that we are great, because of who we already are, and more importantly, as a team, what we could accomplish and who we could all be if we stand united.  

Because no matter how accurate some of your assessments may be of what’s wrong with America, I pray that the vast Americans are more intellectually smart than sufficiently hypnotized by the cult of personality, although lately I wonder. I’d hate to think that you (or anyone) could win by employing the tactics of personal denigration as a means of taking down the other opponent.

Carly Fiorina’s face, yeah, that whole deal. “Who’d vote for that face?” thus sayeth the Trump. Really, Mr. Trump??   You insult us yet again.     The average second grader knows that is so not nice, and God help us all, if the country doesn’t figure out that is NOT presidential.   You’ve compared yourself to Reagan, but  instead you sometimes act like a guest on the Jerry Springer show.   I know one thing; Carly’s “face” speaks truth, with laser-precision accuracy when questioned on economics or foreign policy. She can answer questions without raising her voice or her eyebrows. Can you?

And then there’s Mr. Carson. He’s a just “OK” doctor you guess, you grudgingly shrug in acknowledgement. He, is just like every other contender, of course, and has “no chance” of being President according to you. Like Jeb and the rest of the gang, he lacks “energy” (Trump translation: balls) or a plan ( Trump translation: yours) you remind us time and again. After all, you are Number One in the polls.

Angry Trump

News Flash:  Narcissism on parade is an unsustainable source of inspiration.

You’re a powerful man.   Many even see you as a respectable man.   Your hard work ethic has the potential to be inspiring, but gets lost in translation by the arrogance of you always being right, without fault.   You may be Mr. Big in New York,  but when the word that echoes most loudly is “I, I, I”, you become smaller and smaller on the list of worthy contenders.

And lately the repeated negative slams against others, from your opponents to those in the media say less about who they are, but speak volumes of who you are.

There’s a slow train looming just beyond the bend. It seems far off, but intuitively I believe it’s gathering steam.  And I have a weird feeling you know it too. It’s the assurance of what can’t quite yet be seen, but the slow tremors are starting to be felt.  It seems to be in the infancy of gathering momentum.  Have you experienced this yet?  Pride going before a fall?  If not, you may be overdue.  We all get humbled sometimes.

I’m not sure those that fully rely on being powerful, can ever understand the mighty power of the meek, those of us who are both conservative and prayerful.

See we’re not pinning our hopes on Number One. We who pray don’t want a win by any means necessary, but a win by changing the hearts and minds of those who don’t always agree with us.   We want someone who can inspire ALL of us.

We prayerful want someone who can speak truth to power, including the man (or woman) in the mirror.    We especially expect you to speak honest truth to us. We want someone who can effectively articulate not just why, but show how conservatism and capitalism and compassion can work together to lift people out of poverty.  

Issues like substance and mental health issues, fatherless homes, and generational government dependency in neighborhoods where quality schools and jobs don’t exist, coupled with infestations of drugs and gangs leave an entire segment of citizens that feel voiceless. Perhaps you could gain the support of some of these citizens if you presented specific plans of real hope, and real change. Would you be willing to leave behind the marble waterfalls of Trump Towers as your backdrop to really connect to those less fortunate and offer encouragement and inspiration?  Inspiration may start with the letter “I”, but it should never start with the concept of “I”.  Good leadership with real power to inspire, always centers around the word WE.

There is a golden opportunity here to connect with those most hurt by the exponentially expensive and decades-lost (by government) war on poverty.   You squander away immense opportunity when you don’t reach out to the hearts and minds of those that feel forgotten or that they have no voice or that there is not equal justice under the law.  It takes courage to see things differently, to vote differently, but it’s hard to offer a relatable message when you’re too busy hurling insults or bragging on your endless accomplishments. They are impressive indeed–unless you’re too busy trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from.

Most of all,  we prayerful want someone who values life –ALL lives, despite all of our differences. We want someone who is up for the challenge of seeking ways to help us as citizens feel united despite differences of opinion, or political persuasion.   What does it really mean to “Make America Great Again”?  Does it start with you or with us?

So we prayerful do what we do best.  We wait.  We wait for the debates and we wait and watch all that you and the other candidates say and do, as we draw closer to making up our minds for sure a year from now.  We pray for our future president, not our king.

But know this:  We prayerful don’t put our hopes in the person who is most powerful. We put our hope and trust in God, who is all-powerful. News flash: That’s not you Mr. Trump. So look out for Number Two. Or perhaps Number Three or even Number Seven.

So keep going and tooting your horn Mr. Trump. We’re all going to be okay.   But you may want to keep one eye on the rear view.

Elephants in Rearview

Liz’s favorite quotes on Trump:

“You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book, he couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him.   And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible.   But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.”– Bobby Jindal 09/10/15

Donald Trump Compares Himself to Billy Graham; Says ‘My Favorite Book Is the Bible’Read more at Christian Post 08/23/2015

Trump believes in God, but hasn’t sought forgiveness