Random thoughts from an animal-loving French prof / mom of three on things she finds beautiful, funny, sad, or strange.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Black Cat will be back soon...

I apologize that there have been no new posts for a while. I have been spending time with the orange cat featured in a blog post last summer. He is headed toward the Rainbow Bridge, and I don't want to miss the chance to walk with him on the way. Please send us your thoughts, prayers, and positive energy. We appreciate it.

To keep you company until I return, enjoy the following videos. And remember, a fur baby is the best friend you'll ever have.

My cat went to the neighbours to borrow a tiger plush toy :)

Kittens Do Things For the First Time

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How to Feel Helpless...

Proven formulas for feeling absolutely helpless:

  • Be a friend... Watch someone you care about lose a parent, knowing only time can heal that wound and that even then, things will never be the same.
  • Be a teacher... Sign off on medical leave for not one, but two of the brightest and kindest students you've ever met. They never thought they could get that sick. You didn't either.
  • Be a mom... This is the hardest one of all. The need is in front of you 24/7. You can't make biology exams easier. You can't make the ball go in the goal. And you definitely can't heal a hurting heart.

So what's a friend-teacher-mom to do?

  • Wish for a magic wand that would make it all better. You won't get one, of course, but nothing is lost by dreaming of a brighter, more cheerful world.
  • Once you start dreaming of that world, do what you can to make it happen. Heaven on earth is this, that we bring joy into situations where it seems impossible.
  • If you can't bring joy, you can still bring yourself. As it is written in Ecclesiastes, there is "a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." Your friends, your students, your family need you in all the seasons of their lives. Presence beats presents every time.

Finally, don't forget that to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. Eat chocolate. Listen to your favorite song, fifty times in a row if that's what it takes. Take a nap. Run five miles. Sing at the top of your lungs. Pet your cat. And meditate. Learn to sit quietly with feelings. They are a gift, meant to be experienced fully, in good times and in bad. 

It may be hard right now. It is for me. But remember this: we will not always be in a time of highs and lows. After all, Ecclesiastes also says that everything will be made beautiful in its time. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

What You Find at the End of the Rope

While falling down rabbit holes on the Internet this morning, I ran into this piece from Jennie Yabroff in the Washington Post:

I really love my daughter, but I'm not supposed to talk about that

Intriguing, right? It was to me, anyway. It's a pretty well-written piece that gave me a lot of food for thought. I especially like how she talks about how much easier and more socially acceptable it is to share the negative than the positive when it comes to being a parent. I get that. Our culture has become so jaded that people who wax poetic over sporadic moments of profound joy are seen at best as being naive.

I do think that mindset is shifting, though. Not globally, not in any kind of "gone viral" way, but I am finding more and more evidence of people slowing down, enjoying the seemingly mundane in poetic, even spiritual ways. Consider for example Omid Safi's post in the On Being blog:

Mommy Comes Home

I have come a long way when it comes to everyday joy. I revel in a student's unexpected A, my daughter's rueful smile as she brushes mud from her once-white soccer jersey, the cats purring literally in my face. When the blahs get me down, as they have this rainy and drama-filled week, I've learned to look for reasons to be grateful. I always find them.

That wasn't the only thing that came to mind as I read Yabroff's words, however. I mentioned drama. Said drama came from many sources, not least of which was my trauma-driven, troubled child. Whether it was the full/harvest/blood/eclipsed/supermoon, two therapy appointments in one week, the hospitalization of a dear friend, a rough spell at school, or some combination of all that, it has been all I can do to keep him at least somewhat functioning and contained. I am about three feet past the end of my rope, thankful to be still in one piece... I think.

And yet... If I were to make jokes about alcohol, drugs, violence, or worse, a lot of people wouldn't find it funny. Not at all. A pretty good chunk of the world has decided that we adoptive parents must be above all that. Sometimes, it's because we "chose this" (as if the things we choose can't sometimes drive us crazy! Any of you married? Innkeeper for a clowder of needy cats? I rest my case.). Other times, it's because we're seen as some kind of child-rescuing saints. This is patently absurd. We are parents. Period. End of story. And even if we were in line to be canonized, well I for one am willing to bet that even the saints had their bad days. Think about it. The Bible references Jesus's siblings. You cannot tell me that Mary and Joseph never threw up their hands in exasperation, that they never wished everybody would just be quiet!

I don't know exactly how all this fits together, or what my point is, other than this. Be patient with yourself and with others. Be real. Laugh when you want to laugh, cry when you want to cry. And when you see someone else laughing or crying, don't tell them what they should be doing instead. You'll both be the better for it.

And now, for a little fun. At the end of my rope, I mean week, I found these memes:



It doesn't matter how it looks at the end of your rope. I'll meet you there.