Decorated With a Found Feather: First Friday Photo

Hi there! You’re a bit surprised to see me pop up with a Friday post, right? I mean, I haven’t done a regular, non-challenge Friday post for….well, I’m not interested in looking up the last time, but it’s been a while.

Today, though, I’m trying something new, in part to support my lifelong friend Eden Mabee as she relaunches a feature that’s been away for a while, and also to play a bit and share a little…

You can read Eden’s introduction to First Friday Photo here. 

Decorated With Found Treasure. Photo of Annalise S. Burton by Shan Jeniah Burton., February 2015. Editing with PicMonkey. Click Image to enter Flickr stream.

I took this picture of my daughter, Annalise, age 10.5, on February 23 (the Flickr tag says the 22nd, but don’t believe it – it’s lying. I know it was the 23rd, because we went to the Oregon Coast on the Monday after my Accomplice’s birthday on the 20th, and that was the preceding Friday…).

We were on vacation in my Accomplice’s neck of the continental woods, from our home in mine (upstate New York). For anyone not in the Northeast corner of North America last winter….it was a rough one. What an amazing thing, to be somewhere beautiful and green, when we had left feet – no, I am not exaggerating! – of snow in our own yard.

One of the things we wanted to show the kids were the sand dunes along the Pacific Coast. So, after getting up extra early and stopping at our very favorite coffee kiosk, we drove out to our favorite coastal town from our pre-child days – Florence, Oregon. We’d wanted to have breakfast at The Blue Hen Cafe, but it’s been closed. One of the waitresses there now had her own place, though – The Little Brown Hen, and we had a lovely meal there, where everyone had just what they wanted.

And then it was time to drive out to the South Jetty, and make our way out to the ocean via trails over the dunes….

Just a little way up the trail, we found all that remained of a seagull – some dessicated bones, and feathers. Annalise fell in love with the feathers, and, after studying the remains, decorated herself with a flight feather before continuing on up the trail…

Annalise, as she was….with feather and best friend, Sheet. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Our kids are homeschooled, so we don’t have year after year of school portraits. Truth is, I tend to like this type of picture better, anyway…she just turned and posed for me, not as one kid among many, with props and a schedule that were predetermined, and maybe had little or nothing to do with her or her life. She posed because she wanted to, and as she pleased…because she likes being, as she puts it, ‘blog famous’.

What we have here is Annalise, at not quite 11, being Annalise as she spends her last few minutes before the glory and wonder of the Pacific was hers to explore…

And a captured image, stolen from time, of a “medium girl” (her term), on vacation, on a Monday when she might have been sitting in a classroom, but wasn’t…

Instead, she was here….

The Pacific Coast, South Jetty Beach, Florence, Oregon, February 23, 2015. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

 

Where’s the coolest place you’ve been lately? Where would you like to go? Have any favorite location-specific photos?

Why not share an image? Click the little linky guy and add yours today!

#LoIsInDaBl Day 18: Siblings At My House

Put a Little Love in Yours!

Put a Little Love in Yours!

 

Today, Bees  prompt is Siblings. I am a sibling, and the mother of siblings. I could, and have, said a great deal on this subject. So, for today, I’m going to stick mostly with images of two happy children who live with me. They live a life far more peaceful and connected than my siblings and I share, even as adults. They’re friends, in a way that’s not often depicted in entertainment media, especially between male and female siblings. Without further ado, I present, with love, a bit of our family life, throughout the early lives of its younger members. 

Itty Bitty Sibs in Matching Duds!

Silliness by the tree!

Cozy Coupe Collision!

Toddler Tenderness!

Peekaboo Pair!

Choreography and Connection – oh, and in inflatable yellow dolphin named Echo.

Summertime Sibs.

Grinnin’!

Skull Sibs!

Siblings and their brother’s memorial tree….

Huggin’ it out!

Metro Kids on the way to Washington, D.C.!

Sweaty and Sleepy at the Smithsonian’s  Sculpture Garden.

Growing up happily together.

An (invisible) brother’s helping hands!

Find more Love Is In Da Blog posts here!

#LoIsInDaBl Day 5: Love, Service, and Paradigm Shifts, Oh My!

 

Put a Little Love in Yours!

Put a Little Love in Yours!

How do you show others that you love them? For that matter, how do you know you do? And, while we’re on the subject, just what the heck is this love thing, anyway?

Today, Bee‘s prompt urges us to consider opinionated love – the darker aspects of the feeling. My own idea for the day was to write about love through service. I’m going to combine these ideas.

This last week, I cleaned every piece of the kids’ wooden train set. The kids used it often when they were little, but hadn’t for a while. But when I suggested giving it away, they balked; they still wanted it. So I cleaned each piece with oil soap, and scrubbed the bin, making it usable and inviting again…it was a high-detail, time-intensive activity, and it made me happy.

There was a time, a few years ago, when I saw life very differently. Back then, it seemed that my whole life was wrapped up in maintaining my obligations to my extended family unit. I often felt, hugely taken advantage of, used, taken for granted, and left holding the bag.

My pet peeve was, and, sometimes, still is, cleaning.

All cleaned up! I finished while watching Shakespeare Uncovered.

When I saw so much of life as odious duty, I expected to be appreciated for “getting it done”. When someone made a mess in an area I had just cleaned, I was and furious to have my work “undone”, my limited energy “wasted”, my time “devalued”.

My hard work and constant struggle to live up to standards of cleanliness was in conflict with the realities of my life. And, when it got to be too much, I would explode at the nearest targets.

One night, when the kids were about 5 and 2, my Accomplice came home to find them both sitting on the low steps to our sunken living room, sobbing – and me in the room, screaming and screeching while I gesturing wildly and flung things around. He called me a monster, and I turned on him. I knew what it was to live with abuse; this was nowhere near as bad, and these kids were lucky to have me as their mother.

I thought that I showed my love by being a good mother, and a good wife. I measured my ‘goodness’ by how I kept the house and kids, and by being vigilantly, by instilling values into my children, by doing things that could be easily measured.

But my children were afraid of me when I yelled, and my husband thought I was a monster, and I was echoing things that had been said to me when I was a kid – things I’d sworn I would never say, if I was ever anyone’s mother.

And then I read this amazing post on service.  It changed the way I saw my role in my family. Over time, it’s made a huge difference in the way I approach the matters of home and hearth – what I now call ‘hometending’, to remind myself of what my objective is in doing it.

A new resting place.

Now, I do only the homtending I want to do each day, and, I try to do them with a spirit of service.

I don’t expect things to stay clean forever, once I clean them. Clean spaces are meant for living in, and living, at least here, tends toward a degree of untidiness that can spiral at times of intense activity or intense growth.

Learning how to remain calm when I’m overwhelmed – but I see that learning, too, as a gift of service, not only to my family, but to myself…because it doesn’t help anything to launch into a diatribe about it, and it makes the problem feel insurmountable.

These days, I’m more likely to ask someone to pitch in, when I’m overwhelmed. I accept that ‘no’ is a possible answer – and I accept that I can say no, too. I even do, sometimes, when I can’t bring a spirit of service to my hometending.

And what about the trains? They were almost immediately back in use…after which I found them a new place in my study to live, so that they won’t get grubby again…

Cleaning them was a service – a labor of love, and a way of showing, not that I’m a “good mom” who keeps kids and house clean, because other things didn’t get cleaned while I was busy with the trains – and, let’s face it, it’s rather invisible as efforts go.

I was demonstrating my love, my willingness to go “out of my way” for their benefit. I could’ve left the bin grubby, or given the trains away over protests; there was a time when I would have done one or the other, most likely as a “logical consequence” of some perceived misdeed.

Instead, I cleaned the trains, and got to see the joy they brought Annalise when she was able to use them again. I also got to see her clean them up, without anyone saying anything about it – her own act of loving service.

It’s ridiculously easy to say “I love you.” People say it all the time; they don’t always mean it. It’s not so hard to do things, and say it’s out of love – even when it’s hurting the ones we love.

When I show my love in the form of willing, happy service, magic can happen. I’m filled up by the offering, and again when it’s received. Better, by far, to have a house less tidy, and flowing over with imagination and laughter than one that’s clean and filled with screaming and crying.

I think, in order to truly show my love, I have to live it. I have to be willing to extend myself to and for those I love. I need to see my beloveds, and tend to their needs in ways that honor them – and me.

This post is part of Love Is In Da Blog! Read or join in anytime!

Slightly untidy house, happy train play. WINNING! Photo credit: Annalise S. Burton

#LoIsInDaBl Day #4: What I Love to Do, Snow Day Edition

Put a Little Love in Yours!

Put a Little Love in Yours!

So, what do you love to do? How often do you do it? Do you make yourself to meet some other requirements before you let yourself indulge in it? Why? Do you embrace it, giving it as much time as you are able? How do you feel, when you’re deeply engaged with it?

I love taking pictures. I especially enjoy photographing the simple magic Lovely Chaos, of our lives. And so, today, I offer a bit of Winter Storm Linus, and how it was enjoyed by a certain young Force of Nature at our house…

This post is part of Bee Halton‘s Love Is In Da Blog. Feel free to share what you love in the comments; or in your own post. Join in once or everyday; visit as you will. Spread the love!

JusJoJan Day 18: “That’ll Take Eighteen Thousand Years”

Jottin’ Through January!

So, here we are, back to Sunday again. How are you spending the day, today? Here in America, it’s Martin Luther King Jr. weekend (the official observance of his birthday will be tomorrow, even though it’s not actually his birthday, because government..).

It’s not a holiday for our family – my Accomplice left for work about half an hour ago, because chefs don’t get Saturdays and Sundays off. He will have tomorrow and Tuesday, his regular weekend. The kids don’t have school tomorrow, that’s true, but since school has never been part of the equation by which they live their lives, it doesn’t matter.

What’s relevant to us is that our credit union will be closed, and the Y might be, which will put something of a kink in our usual Monday schedule…

But that’s tomorrow, and, right now, that might as well be eighteen thousand years from now.

Or, at least, that’s what Annalise would have said, when she was four….

Not an 18,000 year wait! Taking the Metro into Washington D.C., September 2008, ages 4 and just 7.

All people have their quirks, and our children were no exception. For reasons I’ll likely never understand, when Lise was small, tired, and impatient for something, her exasperation at any delay always included some mention of the number eighteen.

Always.

“But it’s going to be eighteen minutes before I can see my show!”

Eighteen minutes can seem like a very long time…it’s longer than a human can hold their breath, after all. It can seem like an even longer time, maybe, when you haven’t lived all that many minutes yet, and most of the world you live in is too big for you, and you don’t have a lot of power in your own life…

Maybe, if she’d been treated with respect and parented peacefully from the beginning of her life, instead of from the age of four, she wouldn’t have said it. Maybe she wouldn’t have found waiting so intensely frustrating and discouraging…

When her patience was the most frayed, and she was nearly at the end of her tolerance for something that was unavoidably going to take far longer than she wanted it to – like, for instance, her birthday, she would half-wail,

“That’ll take EIGHTEEEN THOUSAND YEARS!!!”

It’s not easy, this waiting game…

And she had a forceful way of expressing that reality.

It took my considerably longer, if not quite eighteen thousand years, to understand that there were ways I could help her.

  • No, I can’t make time go faster. But we can celebrate her half-birthday, and that makes waiting for her actual birthday a bit easier (and gives us a bit of excitement a week after all the Christmas and New Year’s hubbub is over. There are other things we can do, too:

  • Netflix and Amazon are excellent ways to have many shows she wants to see available when she wants to see them.

  • Lines are a wonderful place to have a chat, with each other or other people in the queue.

  • Long car rides are great for exploring new music, deep conversations, word games, making plans, and reminiscing.

  • Video chats can cushion the wait when friends live too far away to see as often as she’d like.

  • Saying yes to requests throughout the year makes it easier to wait for those extra-special gift-receiving occasions.

  • Free access to the internet means a lot less time spent waiting for answers to all the many questions a ten year old mind can conjure.

  • Doing something else that doesn’t require waiting can help to pass the time pleasantly…and she might even forget that she was waiting!

Waiting with heart, on her half-birthday.

And perhaps more importantly than all the others:

Having power and autonomy in her own life, the freedom to make many choices for herself each day, and the ability to spend most of her time just as she pleases, means that there is a lot less waiting time in her life these days, because the waiting is seldom arbitrarily imposed. Rather than living her life by the clock, she is free to eat when she’s hungry, sleep when she’s tired, and wake up when she’s rested. If she wants to spend her day reading, or an afternoon on the trampoline, or hours making a movie with her Monster High Ghouls, her guinea pig, or her Furbys, she generally can.

When she was small, and ‘eighteen thousand years’ of waiting was a part of her perceived reality, I didn’t understand these things. I didn’t take her words seriously; I treated them as an exaggeration, and generally pooh-poohed them away, as though they were only words.

I wasn’t until I realized that she meant them, that the waiting really did feel like a long and hopeless distance to her, with no end in sight, that I was able to help her discover that there can be a tremendous amount of living held in waiting times.

I’m glad we’ve made that shift, because the adult world isn’t free of waiting. Someday, when she’s awaiting the birth of her first child, maybe, or stuck in traffic, or living with a four-year-old who finds waiting almost impossible, she’ll be better prepared, and she’ll have tools she can use and share with others.

Are you good at waiting, or do you find it frustrating? Have you ever had that ‘eighteen thousand years’ feeling? Wanna talk about it?

I’ll wait for you. =)

Got a few minutes?  Check out other Jotters here!

Waiting together for The Phantom of the Opera, age almost 10.

SoCS and JusJoJan Day 17: Measuring Up

Merrily down the Stream of Consciousness!

So, you know that old saying about killing two birds with one stone?

That’s what this post is intended to do. I’m continuing on with the ‘rithmetic theme for JusJoJan, and adding in the theme for this week’s installment of SoCS: “heal/heel. Actually, I’m not sure I’ll get that second heel in there, but I’m a feeling a little sleepy, a lot creative, and the house is quiet with the kids visiting their grandparents and cousins, so I just might.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “Measuring Up?”

To me, as a child, it most often had to do with standards I hadn’t set for myself. My parents set very high standards, in many areas. In some senses, they were Tiger Parents long before there was a fashionable name for it. If I got a 99% on a school test, my father would demand to know why it wasn’t a 100%.

The obvious answer was that I missed something, and hadn’t memorized or understood exactly perfectly. Human error. And, after all, most kids didn’t get 100%’s, or even that just-less-than-perfect 99% very often. I happened to be very good at playing the game called school with as little effort as possible expended, so that I could get on with the business of living and learning – on my own terms as often as I could manage.

A less obvious, but perhaps truer answer was that I didn’t WANT to get 100%s. First off, as most people who passed through (or were failed by) the American public school system, doing well may or may not endear you to the teachers, but it certainly doesn’t have that effect on the other, less fortunate, students. I was already a ‘weird kid’. I’m a weird adult, too, but that’s far more socially acceptable, and fits with the writing and the Trekkiness and the unschooling a lot better than it did at Stillwater Central School all those years ago…

There was another reason, too.

I like the number 99 a lot better than I do 100. It’s far more interesting. It’s 3 – 33 times over! And I adore the number three, and have for most of my life. Getting a 100% was boring. But a 99%? Made me smile every time I got back a paper with those magical digits on it!

Of course, I couldn’t say any of those things to my father. When he asked why it wasn’t a perfect score, he really didn’t want my answer; certainly not an honest one. There wasn’t much patience or tolerance for the value of a child’s own priorities or perspectives in my family or origin. I was expected to want to get 100s, because I was deemed capable of doing so. That I hadn’t was clearly, to my parents’ minds, my own fault, because I was lazy, or off in a dream world, or disorganized, or hadn’t worked hard enough.

There was a lot of that, in my childhood – in many, many ways, I was told and shown that I didn’t Measure Up. The stick impacting my upturned hands, or my bottom. The cracking, whiplash-inducing sting of a sudden backhand slap across my cheek. Standing in the corner, holding up the wall, being forced to listen while I was berated at a yell, with no right to yell back, or even attempt to defend myself.

Those were the big ways I knew, but there were lesser ways, too. Humiliating nicknames. Teasing comments. Belittling insults. “Physical Wreck”.”You do everything backwards.” “You couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.”

It was clear.

I didn’t Measure Up.

Fast Forward about four decades. I’m the parent, now. I have a daughter of my own. She’s ten and a half.

How do you measure moments like this?!

Last night, she put her heels as near the hallway arch as she could, and asked me to see if she Measured Up to the mark she put there a few weeks ago.

She’s maybe a quarter of an inch taller, now.

For her, that’s Measuring Up.

She’s never gone to school; never had a parent demand to know why she didn’t do better on that test. We support and mention the many things she’s good at. Nobody’s good at everything, though, and we make sure she knows that we don’t need her to be. We love her, like her, and respect her as she is. Where she flounders, we try to be there to offer assistance and support – and acceptance.

So, to her, Measuring Up isn’t about us being proud of her, or about her winning our love and affection. It’s more important that she be comfortable with herself, and she has our love and affection no matter what – even in her least shining moments.

Measuring Up, for her, is all about those marks on the wall, and what she can do today that she couldn’t, a year or a month or a week or a day ago…

And there’s something very healing in that, for the little girl who still lives inside her mother.

What does Measuring Up mean to you? Does it evoke childhood memories? Make you consider your professional life? Your love life? Your bank account? How tall you’d be in those heels in the store window, and if they have them in your size?

I’m listening, and I promise not to grade your response!

Jottin’ my way through January!

January 11. 2015: Renewed Clarity

Come ROW with us!

So, how’s the weather, one week in?

It’s pipe-freezing cold here, and that leads me to new ways of doing and seeing…many revelations and insights. A half-birthday for my best girl. Many projects, many ideas. Lots to write, not much to say…so on with it!

January Update #2:

  • Goals attained: blue with strikethrough: 14

  • Goals in progress: green: 24.5

  • Goals-in-waiting: red: 19

Focuses:

  • Revisions: Chameleon’s Dish; The IDIC Romance; and “Morning Coffee”.

  • Write1Sub1: Terrance’s Story (for Kifo Island Chronicles);“Morning Coffee”.

  • Oregon Trip: Planning and preparing.

Writing with a generous heart…

Writing:

Write1Sub1:

Write rough draft of Terrance’s story (for Kifo Island Chronicles).

  • Reread backstories for two related characters.
  • Reread Barry’s Cheat Sheet.

Submit “Morning Coffee” to World Unknown Review.

  • Reread draft.

Kifo Island Chronicles:

Sort stories into novella threads; choose three.

Complete background information for at least one, using Cathy Yardley‘s Rock Your Plot.

Star Trek Chronology Project:

Complete current viewing of Star Trek: Enterprise.

  • 11pm Saturday.

Rewatch Season 1; taking notes and beginning story list.

  • 1/31 stories.
  • Several ideas percolating.

The IDIC Romance:

Research fan fiction sites.

Choose one for first submission.

  • Saved Rules for W5C; skimmed.

A-Z travel posts:

Create list of A-Z post topics.

Trueborn Warp/Weft series:

Sketch notes for next volume in each series.

  • Ideas forming for Warp volume.

Write at least 750 words daily:

Use 750words.com for freewriting and to chart progress.

  • 10/31 days.

Where “A Splash of Red” now lives!

Editing:

Chameleon’s Dish:

Revise all plot points for Chameleon’s Dish (6.5 scenes).

  • Completed final resolution scene.
  • .5/6.5 January scenes completed.

  • Began Midpoint scene 1/3.

The IDIC Romance:

Complete revision pass for “Tigress T’Pol” as WIPpet project.

  • Revised “Whatever This Is”, and posted.
  • Extenuating Circumstances”: Rough revision and highlighting.

Combine “Breaking Protocol”, “Mystery Woman”, and “Magical Possibilities” into new rough draft.

  • Combined stories – precursor to rough compilation draft.
  • New, pregnant plot tribble!

Write1Sub1:

Revise “Morning Coffee”.

  • Reread draft materials.

Choose at least 1 more story for 2015 revision.

M heart has her name written on it!

Social Media:

Blog Maintenance:

Maintain regular posting schedule, comments, and visits.

  • One late JusJoJan post.
  • Some comments answered.

Build blog queues:

Write at least 1 general queue post:

  • Epiphany! I know how to get this done!

Write 1 “special” WIPpet.

  • Selected snippet; created rough template.

Blogging Action Plan:

Review Blogging Action Plan; highlight for revision.

Review Lovely Chaos Sidebar; make list of desired changes.

Twitter and Facebook:

Visit at least twice weekly.

  • 1 /2 – Twitter.
  • 2/2 – Facebook.

Pinterest, LinkedIn, WANATribe, ect:

Visit at least one weekly.

Share posts – mine, and others’:

Share at least 3 items a week.

  • 2/3: Facebook writer page; ROW80 group with hashtags.

Blog views and followers:

Increase blog views to 25 on a semi-regular basis (at least 10 times this month).

  • 9/31.

I wrote this!!

Hometending:

Family room reset:

Clean the three toy bins (trains; gears; misc.).

Clean the Lego and battle game drawers.

Kitchen reset:

Clean all kitchen counters to left of sink.

  • Did a bit.

Rehome pans and serving dishes to pantry.

Inhabit my study:

Clean and organize floor.

  • A bit.

Replace calendar and candle.

  • Both in use.

Use the space at least once per week.

  • Warmer than my bedroom Wednesday night. Spent several hours.

Personal Administration:

Clean, organize, and backup Desktop and Writing Bullpen files’ sort Leisure Time Reading file.

Maintain inbox below 100 messages at least twice weekly.

  • Yes. Twice this week.

Homeschool Administration:

Complete second quarter homeschool reports for both kids, due March 15.

Photo digitalization:

Scan Oregon travel photos; save in organized files with backup.

  • Nothing new.

ROW80:

Submit sponsor post.

  • Began drafting.

Keep visits up-to-date.

  • Caught up.

Goofy for fries!

Lifetending:

Oregon vacation:

Make list of what needs doing.

  • Developed rough action categories.
  • First steps taken.

Make schedule for accomplishing list items.

Do what can be done in January; evaluate weekly.

Kindle ebooks:

Read and write reviews for 2 books on my Writers I Know list.

NNWM local group:

Continue attending write-ins whenever possible.

  • Attended latter part of Sunday’s write-in.

Interact at least weekly online.

Meditation:

Experiment with guided/unguided meditation at least once a week.

  • About 10 minutes attending to thoughts/experimenting with mantra.

TBR Stacks:

Read 1 book bedroom TBR pile.

Smart Change:

Make a list of goals to focus on, using the methods in this book.

Starfleet:

Reconnect with USS Albany group.

My beloveds:

One on one time with each, at least twice per month, doing something of value to us both.

  • Workout, snuggles, and couple time.
  • Lise half birthday Girls’ Day.
  • Miah late-night snack and conversation while watching Friends.
  • Movie w/Accomplice.
  • 2 /2 for all.

Paying it Forward:

Complete at least two beta reads and promotional blog posts for other writers as requested.

  • Read first scene of beta read 1 /2.

 

Kindle Girl

Fitness and Nutrition:

Workouts:

At the Y or a strenuous activity at least weekly.

  • Done Tuesday.

Wii Fit at least once weekly, for 15 minutes minimum.

  • 17 minutes, Saturday night.

Walk, dance, swim, or physical play:

With children, spouse, and/or dog at least weekly.

  • Workout with Jeremiah.

Practice:

Find out t’ai chi and yoga class schedules.

Intuitive Eating:

Read.

Cooking/ Food Preparation:

Develop a repertoire of 4 self-made food options that support my nutritional goals.

Maintain weekly nutritional quotas; adapt as needed.

  • There will be a post about these tomorrow!

Weight:

Maintain or reduce weight; continue monthly checks.

Take a ride on the ROWboat!

Ten and a half years of this suits me fine!