Month of Paradox…: My ROW80 July Goals for July 8, 2015

ROWing through the currents of July!

Round Three is all about reflection, for me: where I am, who I am, where I’d like to be, and who I’d like to be when I get there…

July, though – July is a month of a different character. Maybe the perfect place to begin, or maybe the worst month I could choose. But here it is...today, my daughter is eleven years old. (Actually, tomorrow, but she and I have birthday-ing plans, so I’m prepping this on Tuesday morning).

On Monday, July 13, our second child would be twelve years old, if he hadn’t died at twelve days old, instead – an anniversary that happens to be four days before my forty-sixth birthday…

So much to reflect on, so many emotionally charged moments…there are gifts in grief, even if they’re not as obvious as the gift of joy.

Presents, and Presence….

And life.

Color-coding key:

  • Goal attained = blue with overstrike.

  • Goal in progress = green.

  • Goal-in-waiting = red.

Floral arrangement by Annalise; image by her loved mother! =)

Writing:

Force of Nature, at the Oregon sand dunes, Florence, OR, Feb. 2015. Image by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Editing:

  • “Slow Jazz Awakening”: Highlight detailed notes for plot, dialogue, setting, character, devices, themes, general impressions, and things for later stories in this or other arcs. Tertiary focus for this round; good for the campground or breaks from more intense projects.

A girl with vision! At Aunt Jennifer’s, in Oregon. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Social Media:

  • ROW80: Submit sponsor post; keep visits up-to-date. I‘ve got a great idea for my sponsor post, but nothing drafted yet.
  • Blog Maintenance: Keep regular posting schedule,  attend to comments, and visits. Continue on-time posting; up the ante a bit on commenting and visiting. A secondary goal for July.
  • Share posts – mine, and others': Share generously and variously as inspired! Get out of my comfort zone a bit with this one, and explore some new ideas… Stay tuned; this is a secondary goal for July.
  • Go on at least one social media adventure each week. I’ve been treating this like a chore – time to have fun with it! I got a little helpful push when Laura Prepon repinned one of my Trip and T’Pol pins (of course I have a TnT board!). Turns out she’s got a really cool and extensive Trek board, which I am now following, and may have immersed myself in, rather than, you know, plotting a novel. Still, I get the goal completed for this week, so it’s all very logical. Really. =D

Nightmare Fairy – oooh, scary! Image by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Hometending:

  • Continue decluttering/beautification projects; in home and/or yard, five days weekly. I’ve got a flow now; ride the waves, and continue making improvements to our home and our quality of life. 2/5; Hometending; weeding; planted beans and carrots.
  • Create General Categories List of Things to Attend to Before We Move to Oregon; add specific items as/if they occur to me. This will be a tertiary brainstorming list, for this round.
  • Homeschool Administration: Submit Annalise’s test results to school district when received; rough draft IHIPs for 2015-2016 (research requirements for Grade 9), create Jeremiah’s Peer Review Panel Form. These are good ‘productive fillers'; secondary goal for July. Test has been submitted for scoring.

She likes dem apples! =D Saratoga Apples, Schuylerville, NY, October 2014. Image by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Lifetending:

  • NNWM local group: Attend write-ins regularly, and check in on the Facebook and Twitter groups as inspired. Complete one critique. This is a great group; time to give back! =) Two critique projects already queued and waiting…
  • Complete the two beta reads I’ve had waaay too long. Tertiary goal for July.
  • Meditation: Practice four times a week. Experiment with two new techniques. Increasing the frequency and variety will provide me with more options, and help create a habit. 1/4 for this week.
  • Starfleet: Fill out application and check on summer USS Albany group meeting schedule. A tertiary filler project.
  • My beloveds: One on one time with each, doing something of value to us both, several times each week. Walks and chats with both kids; chats and couples’ time with my Accomplice.

Rear view stroll along the Erie Canal. Tugboat Roundup, Waterford, NY, September 2014. Image by – well, you know!

Selftending:

  • Make time for physical activity every day; use phone app to track three time a week. 2/7 days, 1/3 with phone (23 minutes, but it was frugal with its measurements!).
  • Practice: Attend t’ai chi regularly; begin consistent at-home practice. Aim to add second class weekly. At home practice will provide even more goodness, between, and count as meditation, besides. Due to travel, car sharing, and nocturnal tendencies; I haven’t been in three weeks.

These goals are a part of Kait Nolan’s  ROW80 Writing Challenge  – It’s also a blog hop – Find more ROWers right here!

Let this be your portal!

 

How much she’s grown, in just a year! How much sparkle added to our lives! What a lucky mom I am, to have had the chance to have so many amazing moments to capture that I could have put a hundred here, and still had favorites left over!

 

 

The Sorta Spring Edition: Second Serving Sunday

A weekly peek backwards and a look ahead, from my little corner of the blogosphere…are you ready?

The weather is still a little – strange – but, this week, we’ve had some definite spring…a sunshower or two, with a rainbow; a nighttime thunderstorm with rolling sound and soaking rains; warm days, chill nights; fireflies and nesting birds and little sproutlets raising up their heads, unfurling from the seeds I sowed last week…

It’s also been a time of connection and introspection. My daughter and I have been taking night walks, and chatting in the wee hours, when the male human members of the family are asleep. She’s got lots she’s thinking about, right now, as she hovers on the cusp of growing up, and isn’t quite sure of her balance. She’s reaching a new level of awareness, and she can’t so easily reside in the magical thinking that’s been such a part of her childhood…

She’s unfurling, too, from seeds sown today, last week, last year, when she was a baby…

It’s miraculous and messy to watch. She’s a revelation, again and again, in this time of swift change…

And in her I see my successes and my failures, as a mother.

In her, I see hints of myself, as a coming-of-age girl who lived a very different reality.

In her, I see glimmers and whispers of the woman she will become – sooner than it seems possible, the same way she’s become almost-eleven while I was right here with her, every moment…

The hours are long, but the years are short. It’s dizzying, that she’s so grown…

And then, in a blink, she’s her smaller self again, not quite ready yet to commit to the leap across that threshold…

I see my role as being there for her in both places, neither pushing her forward nor tugging her back, attempting to be like the water to her roots- nourishing whether she’s pushing up with new growth, or resting, and gathering herself for the next surge…

 

Amid all of this attention to here-and-now,

some writerish things happened…

 

Life Stuff:

Last Week’s Edition: Sowing Seeds

  • Click the link for my recent posting history!

Last Week’s Features:

ROW80: The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life.

Eight Sentence Sunday:

Mindful Monday:

WIPpet Wednesday:

  • “So Sorry”:Trip wakes up and feels the need to make a sudden – and rather profane – apology…

Coffee and Conversation:

SoCS (Stream of Consciousness Saturday):

  • Need to Know: Sometimes information is what we really need…and thereon hangs a saucy tale…

Story a Day May: The final two installments of the challenge…

  • “A Watched Kettle”: T’Pol’s got a secret mission from the Vulcan High Command, and only Trip can see how ‘agitated’ it’s making her….
  • Promises and Choices: An unseen witness to a private interlude contemplates its impact upon four lives.

What’s Next:

May Focuses:

June Focuses:

This week, on the blog:

  • For WIPpet Wednesday:  New stuff for April – July. I’ll be sharing whatever I’m writing, when I get to Wednesday. This week….a snippet from Generations….the darkest novel I’ve written to date.
  • For Mindful Monday: We explore Parenting with Intention, Reassessing Paradigms.
  • For #8sunday: Ten new sentences from my Kifo Island Chronicles novel, Generations
  • For ROW80 Updates: My progress on my current and/or long term goals for A Round of Words in 80 Days, posted on or near Sunday and Wednesday.

In the Wilds of Internet-Land:

So, what’s up with you,  this week?  Are your seeds sprouting? Do they look like you thought they would?  Yes, I’m a little nosy. Writer thing. So, if you want to satisfy my perhaps inappropriate curiosity, drop me a line or a few in the box below!

Something Needs to Change: Parenting With Intention for Mindful Monday, Part One

Hi there, and welcome to Mindful Monday! You can learn more about this weekly exploration of personal mindfulness, and access more mindful posts, at Silver Threading.

Some of the wisest pieces of parenting advice my Accomplice and I received, when we were expecting our first child fourteen years ago, came from our midwife, Stacey Haugland.

No matter how well you think you know who your baby will be, you can’t,” she told us. And this gem, as my pregnancy went day after day past my due date, in a sweltering, high-altitude Montana summer, “This is the easy part. Once that baby comes out of there, that’s when the real work gets started.”

A smart woman, Stacey.

Motherhood, the first days. Photo by James B. Burton.

I didn’t get nearly as many things right as I’d thought I would, back during his first years. I got swept away by mainstream parenting advice, the patterns and attitudes of my family of origin, my own ingrained or stubbornly held beliefs of what it meant to be a Good Mother.

And I patted myself on the back that my kids weren’t brats (Annalise joined our family when Jeremiah was not quite three years old), that I was firmly in control, that I knew how to Raise Good People.

We had Rules, and Logical Consequences, and a Naughty Step

And a LOT of conflict. I was the Enforcer. I watched for infractions, and I, in my own past words, would “come down on them like a ton of bricks” when either child ‘dared’ to commit them.

From the outside, we looked like a happy, loving family, and we were. People commented on how well-behaved the children were, and we laughed a lot –

But I also yelled. A lot. Hit, a lot more than I wanted to. Humiliated, demanded, punished – and congratulated myself that I wasn’t as severe as my own parents were, in raising me.

Parenthood comes with many moving parts….Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

One day, my husband came home, and found both children sitting on the Naughty Step, sobbing, while I screamed and raged at them.

He took one look, and called me a monster.

I was furious- my rage was easily shifted, in those days, and explosive. I turned on him.

But he was right.

The children I was lambasting for making messes and not cleaning them up were 3 and 6 years old, at most.

I wasn’t only being cruel – I was demanding the impossible – a level of attentiveness that neither of these very new humans was remotely able to meet. I was terrorizing them for their perfectly natural inability to comply.

Life in those days was filled with a seething resentment, a feeling of being trapped, of doling out punishments and demanding restitution – even when, more often than not, by the time we got to the end of the punishment, I couldn’t even remember what the punishment was for.

It wasn’t what we signed up for, when we decided to have a family.

I came to know, slowly but certainly, that something had to change.

I had to change.

I had no idea, how, at first- until I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to bring the kids on an outing with a local radical unschooling group. It was strongly suggested that new parents unfamiliar with this way of living read at Joyce Fetterol’s wonderful website, Joyfully Rejoycing, which was a comprehensive introduction to a very different way of parenting.

I remember reading the educational posts, and nodding along. Trust that children will learn, even without lessons, homework, tests, or other forms of educational coercion. We’d never sent the kids to school, and our homeschooling had already been evolving into a far more relaxed form than the lessons at the kitchen table we began with.

I knew kids could learn rampantly, if simply provided with lots of interesting things and experiences, and time and freedom to explore, because we lived it every day.

I was feeling pretty confident and sure of myself….

But then I read the ‘life’ side of Joyce’s page, and my chest got tight and my stomach a little sick. Don’t require chores, set bedtimes, limit foods and technology? Really?! Were these people CRAZY?!?!

Don’t PUNISH???!???!!?!?!

These people HAD to be crazy. Their houses must be an endless free-for-all, with exhausted parents forever cleaning up after and sacrificing themselves for ungrateful, lawless, hedonistic offspring…

No way we were ever going to go THAT far. Because that would be total anarchy, and we were NOT going to raise brats.

Dangerous Delinquents – or Just New People? Photo by Sha Jeniah Burton.

We went on the nature walk, and, during the course of spending the day with some happy families, I met four year old Lily. I’ll have a warm place in my heart for her, because she changed our lives – just in the confident way she spoke to me about her life, her family, and herself.

Lily met my eyes when she chatted with me. She didn’t pause to see if I approved of her or what she was saying. She had things to say, and she said them.

I wasn’t a “mom”, and she wasn’t a “kid”. We were two people interacting.

It was then that I knew that’s what I wanted for my own family, my own children.

But, in order to get it, I was going to have to do something that made me intensely uncomfortable; something that I had no idea how to do.

I was going to have to change.

I was going to have to shift my perspective.

I was going to have to grow…

Next Week, Part Two: Learning How to Change

Potent message, and my ideal….Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

Quiet Growth: May 27, 2015

ROWin’ to the end of May, and looking for June!

Sometimes growth is a rampant, busting out at the seams affair – and other times, it slips in quiet and deep and still….

Know what I mean?

After the tumult of last week, when my daughter’s hormones were running wild and sending her into a growing-up tailspin, things have calmed down. It’s gone from being cool to hot again. The kids had a lovely Sunday with their cousins, with lots of swimming. I had my writing group Sunday, and t’ai chi Tuesday…

And some deep thoughts, some deep connection, some deep creativity.

It’s not flashy, and not so obvious, by looking at my update…but it’s here, within me. It’ll build into progress, although it may not take a form that I’m expecting right now.

Life and growth are like that.

Like the spontaneous walk I just went on with my daughter (it’s 10:30pm Tuesday as I write this). She told me it was beautiful and calming out, and she was right – moon and clouds and breeze again…and the first fireflies of the season – and a tiny, few-inches long snake that I fortunately stepped over, not on, because I didn’t see it on the road until she pointed it out and we watched it slither away.

Sometimes, a few minutes of living, of opening, can offer up so much beauty and wonder…and connection, her growing hand in mine, her thoughts shared…

Sometimes, the best parts aren’t on any goals list, but held in our souls and our memories.=)

Have you had any of those moments lately?

My most recent Story a Day tales:

  • Something Completely Different…(as yet untitled and incomplete story for May 22)….coming along slowly, but coming along!
  • Letters Unsent:  In the wake of a huge shift in their relationship, Trip and T’Pol are at the center of a communications breakdown.
  • She’s A Natural”: Trip watches T’Pol with their daughter, and reflects upon her maternal instincts.
  • Born of Us Both:  A private interlude for a new family…shhh, they’re nesting…in a blanket fort!

The Big Scoop on what I’ve been up to this week is at Second Serving Sunday! 

The past week was both lovely and chaotic….Zentangle art and photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

My updated Round 2 goals, and 2015 goals. 

Color-coding key:

  • Goal attained (for the session, or the round) = blue with overstrike.

  • Goal in progress (for the session or the round) = green.

  • Goal-in-waiting (for the round) = red.

Writing:

Continue Kifo Island Chronicles Series:

  • Sea Changes: (KIC#3): Complete all planning and plotting; ready to go for JuNoWriMo. This is a secondary goal for the rest of the month…not happening yet. New goal: Have it ready by the time I finish Generations (KIC#2). Next up: Complete Rock Your Plot Premise Testing Exercises; set plot/pinch points for all.

Draft 31 Story a Day MayTrip and T’Pol stories. Use prompts.

  • 25/31 stories drafted, and over 79,0000K new words since the beginning of May. Still a little behind, right now – the May 22 story is finally moving (second midpoint pending); May 24th was nearly 6K. 25Th and 26th complete; and 27th percolating. Next up, drafting remaining 6 daily stories; completing notes and transcription/development for remaining 16 ideas.

Editing:

  • Complete revisions for “Slow Jazz Awakening” and submit. Rereading scenes and notes, compiling revision planning notes; nothing new this session: 2/16 scenes complete. Organic adaptations to general to-do list for next revision pass. Next up: Continue rereading scenes and notes; create revision pass plan.

Blogging:

  • Complete all sponsor visits on time; visit 3 other blog hop and challenge participants each day, on average. Yes!
  • Clean up/update blog sidebar. Nothing new. Next up: Play with some widgets! =D
  • Beginning May 1, a post for each day’s #StaD story. Post stories,snippets, story sparks; or related essays on progress or process. 25/31. Mostly stories and snippets. Next up: Continue, and develop some update posts…like for Mindful Monday.

Hometending:

  • Continue with hometending. At least 5 days weekly; include decluttering and yard projects minimum of 3 days. 2/5 days; 1/3 yard/declutter. Mellow to moderate activity level here, indoor stuff. Next up: Continue this trend, paying attention to my own needs for activity and rest.

Lifetending:

  • Continue one-on-one time with all beloveds; online and in-person writerly socialization; time with friends; social media. Blogs and comments; a bit of Facebook; write-in; hangout time with each of my beloveds. Much, much time with a growing-up-is-HARD girl. Next up: More of this and more patience and calmness when I state my needs and feelings. Touched-out is touched-out, but I can be kinder about needing a few minutes’ respite, too, and remember how much I would have loved that, when I was a growing-up girl.
  • Expand and extend in ways that feel natural and challenging without forcing. Try two new things each week. Next up….something new (maybe more pansies – thanks, cold nights! =(

Selftending:

  • Continue physical activity and exercise – 3 times/week at minimum. 2/3: Hometending; t’ai chi. Next up: More moving; more tending; more exercise; more t’ai chi.
  • Attend t’ai chi weekly. One at-home practice move per week. This week’s move: Cloud Hands. Next up: Possibly attend Thursday class. Practice. Because practice makes better.
  • Meditate/Intentions journal twice weekly. 1 /2: Breathing meditation, t’ai chi with standing meditation; 2 /2: Intentions Journal exploration and writing. Next up: Cementing Intentions journal habit.

Click the icon to enter the blog hop and ROW away!

Annalise in February, at the Oregon Coast. She’s grown a lot since then! Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

A

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