Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Don't Despair

"When you feel despair, you don't act." Mark Ruffalo



Mark Rufallo's video resonates with me, personally. I felt like an insignificant blue dot after 11/8, in a big red state. Then I realized just how many of us are out there. I started #imabluedot to track my own inspirations to act, and yes, to connect with the dots. I am blue, but there may be teal, green, violet, and as a former red, even red dots equally horrified at the assault to basic rights.

The news is filled with reasons for concern. We have a PEOTUS who sets policy seemingly on whim. We have had an obstructionist partisan politics, who will do anything, including cozying up with cold war foes. It's easy to miss what is happening locally on our state level. Bolstered by the promise of Scalia 2.0, states legislators across the U.S. have taken rash and ill-advised measures that negatively impact human rights and access to healthcare.

Here is my growing list of horrifying bills, all in one. 
Keep this link handy to contact your state legislators often http://www.lrc.ky.gov/Find%20Your%20Legislator/Find%20Your%20Legislator.html

SB 5/CI/LM - An ACT relating to abortion and declaring an emergency. Interpretation: no abortions after 20 weeks; create a litigation fund to defend the law in legal procedings
SB 7 / LM - An ACT relating to firearms; interpretation: allowing concealed carry without a license
SB 8 - An ACT relating to the use of public resources; interpretation: no state or local funding for abortion services. Federal funds funneled to non-abortion providing facilities first.
SB11 / HB90 - An ACT relating to nuclear power; interpretation: changing the law so that nuclear waste facilities need only a plan for storage and not for permanent disposal
SB17 - An ACT relating to the expression of religious or political viewpoints in public schools and public postsecondary institutions; interpretation: allowing teaching the Bible in public schools and other religious/political expression allowances
SB 33 - An ACT relating to wages; interpretation: changes the minimum amount of money business must gross to be required to follow minimum wage laws from $95,000 to $500,000
HB1 - An ACT relating to right-to-work; interpretation: public employees can't strike, no union dues or memberships as condition of employmenth
HB2 - An ACT relating to full disclosure in public safety; interpretation: requiring an ultrasound prior to abortion with criminal penalty
HB3 - An ACT relating to prevailing wage; interpretation: disbanding current Prevailing Wage Review Board. Local governments can't set minimum wages. 
HB10 - An ACT relating to public postsecondary education governance; interpretation: eliminate current Board of Trustees of the Univ of Louisville and replace it with 10 members appointed by current governor. (Ignoring the fact the university's accreditation is already on probation for "undue political influence" over its governance.)
HB 14 - expansion of hate crimes to include LEO & first responders; interpetation: while at first blush it sounds like a good idea, the bill fails muster as career choice is not a protected class. One does not have a choice on one's race, ethnicity, sexuality, sex or disability. 
HB82 - An ACT relating to election finance; interpretation: reducing the number of campaign finance reports required from 4 to 2 - only 1 prior to the election.
HB92/LM - An ACT relating to juvenile responsibility; interpretation: dropping the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 11
HB105 - It says no law or court order shall supersede “a person’s right of conscience” to stand by religious beliefs, which ostensibly opens up discrimination against LGBT patrons from conservative business owners.
HB106 - would require bathrooms in public schools, state universities, and government buildings to “only be used by persons based on their biological sex.
HB108 - An ACT relating to firearms; interpretation: any guns or ammo made and used in Kentucky would be exempt from federal law (exceptions: machine guns, silencers, exploding ammo, and large bore guns)
HB120 - An ACT relating to preserving the right of Kentuckians to own and use firearms; interpretation: would make it illegal for state or local law enforcement of federal restrictions on firearms
HB127 - An ACT relating to freedom of student speech at public postsecondary education institutions; interpretation: would make it illegal for public colleges and universities to restrict hate speech / have "safe zones"

Looking at this list, it's a lot to take in. Don't Despair. Progress comes slow, one knit, one pearl at a time. 
Combating post-holiday blues, knitting the way my Mother taught me. The method of knitting was handed down to her by her Mother who would knit and darn the family's socks. My Grandmother died when I was four, and my Mother died this last September. I took up the knitting needles to knit a pink hat with cat ears as a play on words for some notorious and corroborated admission of our President Elect. I will be going to DC to participate with friends and family in the Womens March on DC.  I will wear my pink hat, and march in the memory of my Mother and Grandmother. I march for all the women who seek pay equity. I march for them to have access to healthcare. I march for their children to have access to education. So while I don't march to change the minds of those who think such acts folly? I march FOR them and for those they love. I march as an act of casting on, and with each step, with each call to my legislators, with each letter, each act for my community to address a human need, I knit the next stitch.
Progress takes all our skill and collective action.
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#imabluedot #beinspired #act #kentucky #democrat #pussyhat #feminism #knitting #yarn #pink #whyimarch #womensmarchondc #wmdc

Monday, December 05, 2016

#Imabluedot


Virginia removed To Kill A Mockingbird from its curriculum due to racist content. This is book burning without the match, censorship by omission. To think going without the discussion on racism and sexual assault, is like saying don't discuss the forest fire in Tennessee. The fire rages and leaves a swath of destruction because of our inaction. At least with a fire, there is regrowth. You can't say that about removal of germane issues removed from curriculum. A better metaphor would be an invasive species filling the forest and killing off trees of critical thinking on matters of social justice.

It's not like social injustice is new, and I can be counted among those who previously never considered marching. I'm a Wife and Mother, care giver to aging Father, sister living with me after her permanent disability, and our mere survival from one day to the next is no longer enough.

Every time I think I can't be more flabbergasted or filled with any more outrage, I mean let's face it, social injustice isn't new...more $/:; hits the fan. The policeman getting off for the Charlotte shooting and a President Elect silent on that but on twitter raging SNL and setting foreign policy in 140 character whims. Bannon on staff?! General Petraeus who literally lived season 1 plot line of House of Cards and narrowly missed being called back to active duty just so he could be court martialed and sent to Leavenworth, needing his Parole Officer's permission to travel, considered as Secretary of State candidate? My worst immediate fear when he won was the decades a Scalia 2.0 would have on the autonomy of women and for my girls' generation (they are just six and seven)? That was days ago, at the time I share this, and I think now I was being naive.

I'm late to the outrage being channeled in action and am grateful for the education on opportunities this group, be the PSN, PSN Kyiana and Kentucky Pages has shared and given.

So, in January, I will march. I will participate in the Women's March on Washington DC; with each step, may we encourage the discouraged, and effect change from every local elected office, place of business, and community's culture that our best form of caring for ourselves and one another is through our democracy. It's who we are. #whyimarch #imabluedot

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Comfortable in uncertainty

My Mother, Jo Gault Moïse (1935-2016)
Taken her Senior year in high school.  It was her
favorite picture of herself.  
Years ago, going through photos, I had an unoriginal realization that wow... when this photo was taken, I had no idea what was ahead.  Sure, I had plans.  Sure, I had some idea of how the adage, "life is what happens while you're making plans."  But I really didn't have a solitary clue what lay ahead.

This photo of my Mother, Jo Gault Moïse, is of the young woman I only got to know through her stories.  She had many dear friends of over her life. She married her best friend, my Father, Leicester R. Moïse. They'd been together for 60 years, and were married 58 of them. Dad is living on his own for the first time as an adult.  The first time he was without family was when he was 9 years old and his parents were having difficulties during the Great Depression. He spent time with all his Father's siblings, and when he went to his Uncle Les', he went to boarding school.  The next time he lived on his own, was when he was 17 and joined the Navy.  When he got home, it was to a house he had purchased for his parents, particularly his Mother, who'd never lived in a home she could call her own.  From there, it was to move to the first place he and my Mom would call their own, a small apartment.  He now calls home the small apartment he shared with Mom, after moving from their farm and home of 30 years. Prior to that, was the 30 years in the home where he and Mom had raised my three sisters and I.
Dad's favorite picture of he and Mom.  It was taken in England,
on one of their many trips.  

Mom's plan was to go to college, study early childhood education, so she'd be a better mother, get married, have four children, and grand children.  Life happened while she made those plans, and guess what?  She got what she wanted. She was a wonderful Mother. She was also a early childhood innovator, in what is now called experiential learning.  She started the first classroom for three year olds here in Jefferson County.  With Dad's encouragement, she pursued her art, both Calligraphy and Brass Rubbing.  I saw her as an independent woman, running her own business.  She was a gifted story teller.  I feel like I know the young teenager in that picture above.  Friendly, quick with a smile.  It's not a stretch, since that's who she was to so many people she would meet over the years.

In the end, Mom got what she wanted too. She got to die at home, surrounded by loved ones.  While having decisions made for her, and still able to make them for herself, in the quiet after the din of juggling schedules, working with hospice, Dad turned to Mom, he qsked her, "Jo?  What do you want?"

She sighed and said, "to get out of this bed, though I know I will never get out of this bed again. I remember when Daddy (my Grandfather Gordon Gault), would ask me "do you want to go?" My answer was always the same: "let's go!"  Even now, I want to go, be with family and friends and go live.  I'm ready for what's next, and feel loved...and still have that go gene."  In the weeks as her life wound more and more slowly, going was done by story telling and listening to music, or sharing a favorite movie. Going meant many came to see her.

It's the holidays, and I've missed Mom terribly.  My sisters, my Father all do.  Grief always catches me off guard.  It's a sneaky thief.  It doesn't rob one of joy, but adds a filter that forever changes the view.

I'm like my Mother in many ways, but as for having that Babe Ruth quality of calling what her life would be like? I am not like my Mother.  I didn't grow up knowing that I wanted the life I now lead. In fact, as a kid and young adult, my life today is the antithesis of what I thought my life would be as I skid toward 50. There are many times when I look around and think, how did this happen? I have very strong ideas of what I want today, what I need for  tomorrow. At any given point in my life, take a look at a snapshot, and this girl, young woman, 30-something, now firmly situated in middle age?  She didn't and doesn't have a clue what's next.  Being comfortable facing that uncertainty is something that's only recently become part of my life.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The time to act is now

I have struggled over the last week how to channel my disappointment and concern over. Not only Trump winning the election, but more importantly, the policies he ran and won on, coupled with those he is selecting to work beside him, a calls to change the very fabric of equality and privacy protections guaranteed by the US Constitution. I have had difficulty fathoming the violence that has befallen a friend of mine's daughters. Feeling disspirited, I found ways to act and comfort among all of us who have joined by compassion. That relief was short lived.

I warn you, if you haven't heard this segment on NPR at the link below, it contains offensive words and thoughts. Do not listen unless you are feeling strong to just let it be. We must understand how latent racism got rebranded.

 We must understand how a "white" agenda (and let's me clear, Im a woke white woman who confronts my own bias as much as possible), became dressed in pseudointellectual garb with a message that resonates with a broader segment of our population. It's gaslighting. It's dangerous. And fighting it with normal outrage makes it all the more slippery than catching a greased pig.

At first I couldn't fathom how a nation that has yes, been slow to embrace equality and social justice, with miles to go, could simultaneously take not step back, but step forward into what represents dystopia.

Then it dawned on me. Years ago, my nephew snuck a peek at his Christmas presents. My sister understandably punished him by telling him how she knew he'd done it, since even though the presents were rewrapped, the tape was messed up and only his presents had been disturbed. I laughed with her, and pointed out that she had taught him not her intended lesson to not peek, but by telling him how she knew, he might have learned to make sure not to get caught.

Racism has been here, and for at least the immediate future, is here to stay. When white hooded KKK acted on its racism, it's violence broke the law. They went to court, some and not enough of them, and like the misshapen tape, they learned how not to get caught.

How the Alt-Right came to be is for sociologists and politician scientists and historians to tackle.
That said, racism grew exponentially this election cycle because that lesson learned over the decades: it was worth not getting caught. White supremacy is rebranded and accepted because many who would be horrified at graffiti, or assault, already live segregated lives. They don't want that "criminal element."

And this sells amongst non whites who are tired of being judged as if they were among the "criminals." The blatant racists were ostracized by being defined by what they are against. That wasn't done in polite company.

Racist learned to be defined by what they are for. This is far more seductive and palatable by those who now acquiescence in silent agreement, by voting on one issue or another, turning a blind eye. Never forget racism doesn't require intent. It requires racist effect and make no mistake, the alt-right entering positions of power, not just with the administration of our President Elect, but among our intellectuals, and pervasiveness in our culture, is here.

May each of us, act today.

Click here for NPR segment on Richard Spencer

If link doesn't work, here is the URL:
http://www.npr.org/2016/11/17/502476139/were-not-going-away-alt-right-leader-on-voice-in-trump-administration

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

#wearenotalltrump

I'm 47 and voted for Bernie in the primaries and Obama in prior elections. Yesterday, I proudly cast vote for HRC.

This surprises a 20 something still within me, the one that feels more like my 20s was yesterday than 27 years ago I first claimed my second decade. It wasn't just that I had registered Republican a few years before, in 1987. I interviewed and was interviewed for a staff position in Senator McConnell's Louisville office out of undergrad, and took a better paying job at Maryhurst.  I considered myself fiscally concervative and socially liberal. Back then, I disliked HRC from the start of her entering my awareness of her after the first 60 minutes interview. I judged HRC through the Karl Rove spin machine of the 1990s, and faulted her for ambition. I judged her for overstepping the role I expected her to play. I didn't like her political expediency. I didn't like how she would misstep and was unforgiving.

I switched my party affiliation after 9/11. I no longer believed in a meritocracy, where the third sector could meet the gap from government safety nets and those at risk, our friends and neighbors, and their children. I had seen how Maryhurst did good work, and was a drop in. The bucket of the need of these kids.

I saw President Ge. W. hold what appeared to be a pep rally on Ground Zero, where the literal obliterated remains of victimes and debris had fallen. I saw him lead us into a vendetta against, not the perpetrators responsible, but the tyrant his Father, Former President Bush Sr., hadn't defeated.

I voted for Obama, because I liked his policy stances more and, looking back, I was still faulting her for her ambition and seasoned skepticism. I voted for Bernie, well, because his version for America is about as close as me getting back to when I was an expat living in Sweden as I may ever get here in the States.

I bristled at Gloria Steinem chastising anyone who didn't vote for HRC because of her gender.

Then I looked at the policies between she and Bernie, when Bernie backed her at the DNC.

Where he was 100% aligned with what I find important, she was 95%. In the unlucky event you're still undecided, try isidewith dot com. It's a good way to see which candidate's positions align with yours.

I decided after seeing how little the variance between Bernie and HRC was, to stop assuming I knew her and actually learn more about her. I stopped hating her and listened to the Wellesley commencement speech. I read not just about the emails, I read many of them. I read about her harshest critics.

Frontline has a good episode on both candidates. https://youtu.be/s7uScWHcTzk

I was, in fact, confronted with my own misogyny during his election. Now, the gender of a candidate is no reason alone to change my vote. My misogyny against my own gender was latent, but I had to let go of it to gain perspective on just how much of a bad ass HRC is.

This may be different for you. I share my thought process of why when I cast my ballot yesterday, #imwithher #togetherwearestronger

I went to bed not long after 2:31 a.m., when the AP released the news that Trump won the general election for the office of President of the United States.  There is a difference between giving President elect Trump our support and affording him the respect of the office to which he has been elected. Period. I respect the office; not the man.

I've heard and read many people saying, we can live through 8 years of Ge. W., we can do this. This is different that Ge. W. As some who know me know, I was living abroad, some of the time in Sweden, during his term and 9/11.

There is is the old adage: We are governed by those who show up. Elections have consequences. This Presidential election is no exception and the consequences will go beyond the four years.

With a Trump presidency, Republicans hold on the Senate and the House, the filibuster will be eliminated and Obamacare is repealed, most environmental regulations will be eliminated and Scalia V 2.0 is in the Supreme Court.  Roe v. Wade? Obergefell? Destroyed. Expect a recession, expect NATO to either be disbanded or crippled, expect that our involvement in the Middle East will be lead to troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq.  Expect the use of nuclear weapons by somebody sometime in the next four years. Japan is at risk. North Korea is thrilled. Expect a vast increase to the Security State and the deportation of millions of Hispanics as well as the ban of Muslims to the country. Expect a change in libel laws and dramatic reduction of our fourth estate. He will do nothing about climate change. Education will be "School choice" a euphemism  for making private school cheaper for the rich. All the things Trump has said he will do. He will. Congress will pass all of it.

When Obama was elected, he was going to make gas prices $6 and take everyone's guns. They were wrong.

I may be wrong on some of my chicken little predictions tonight. I've never wished harder to be wrong.

At 2am and the race hadn't been called yet. It's such a close race. I think of it in these terms: we have all but a few state election laws making Electoral College decisions on winner take all election rules. As such, that means we have two viable candidates, typically from two major parties. I remember when the biggest burn you could lay against a candidate was that they were a centrist and compromised. :shudder:

Now? We have extreme positions and government shutdowns, and the biggest burn we have is they are do nothings.

If you are disgusted when government halts? Join the club. I am too. I have compassion for those who didn't vote or made a "vote your conscience" vote for a third party.

Here's the thing, and tonight's election is no different. With winner take all, and elections being won, after millions of votes cast, by 20-70k votes, that vote is indeed for the winner, and not for the candidate you voted for. We are governed by the winner.

The metaphor I use is, if you wouldn't hand your wallet to a stranger, and forego a grocery list saying "just give me what most get" - then don't do it with your vote. Others choose for you and that lack of choosing between viable candidates has consequences beyond your one vote, but for everyone.

HRC lost by 20K-80k votes. That isn't big everywhere. She lost in a horse race against a bull who tore through the infield, across the finish line and next? It's the grandstands.

I don't look forward to the morning. My five year old threw herself on the floor, bemoaning that a bully should win?!

I'm devastated that fear, bigotry and misogyny won tonight. I explained to my girls that elections aren't the end, but the beginning. Then I read to them - The Paperbag Princess- where a little girl survives destruction of her parents' castle, she dons a paper bag because all her princess clothes were burned to ash by the dragon, cleverly thwarts the dragon and chooses not to rescue the prince the dragon had imprisoned, when he insults her and tells her she looks shabby in the paper bag.

I read them The Emperor's New Clothes, where a child spoke truth, and change everyone's act motivated by selfish self-preservation.

Today is the beginning. No prince will come rescue us. We must be resourceful. I reminded the girls that they can be clever, clear headed, and choose how to put ideas into action. #wearenotalltrump

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

On the level

There's a cooperative push and pull, that some may
see as adversarial element to the game.
What is easily smashed, leaves in its void
the opportunity to create and build.
This is me, Agent Daphnesq,
shortly after reaching L7 in 9 days, 23 hours.
Ten days into playing a game called Ingress, and I now dream Ingress, according to my dear husband.  No one could be more shocked than me.

I have plenty of stress and obligations in my life.  Real world, some seemingly gargantuan tasks (hello corporate taxes), but managed through sheer will, aggressive and fair play, to tackle playing the game in such a way that I accomplished something in the game that made me feel like a powerful monster.

How?  I'm rather shocked at some enlightening realizations that have come my way recently.

Once, I was a gaming widow; willingly and happily indulging my husband JJ as he delved into yet another rabbit hole, using his wits and imaginary braun against foes in fierce battle that translated to his static state, staring at a screen (great company that). When the most recent game took him out of his chair and away from a flickering screen, and seeking, taking, connecting all about town as Enlightenment Agent "Untranslatable", whilst learning about our city's quirky spots and history, I was intrigued.  A week ago last Saturday, I joined him down this bewildering rabbit hole called Ingress.  Our future will never be the same.  We are husband and wife, parents, and now, fellow-agents for the Enlightenment  of our tomorrows.

I now understand my husband a little more, who knew that was possible by just doing something that our two girls do so naturally?  Play.

Go play.  Play hard.  Play fair.  Just get out and move.

I am proud to be Enlightened.  I am Agent Daphnesq.


---------------------------------------

How I chose "Daphnesq" as my screen and Agent name:

My sister Leslie read me Greek myths as bedtime stories growing up.  My fave was about Daphne, a wood nymph.  She wanted to be independent* (insert colorful gender study here).  Daphne got ensnared in a my arrow's bigger than your arrow fight between Eros and Apollo.  Eros was a little sneak, and shot Daphne with a lead tipped arrow so she would be repulsed by Apollo, and he shot Apollo with a gold tipped arrow so he would be OBSESSED with Daphne.  (I argue that her independence would have had her react the same, and Apollo, horn dog that he was, would have pursued her anyway.  He chased, she ran, and it annoyed me as a kid that she cried out for help.  I mean, all that harping about independence, and she ends up being a damsel in distress?  wth?  There are various versions, one is that Gaia (who was smitted by Apollo when he took her Oracles) another is that Peneus her father the river god, rescued her by turning her into a Laurel tree.  Apollo catches her as her skin turns to bark and declares the tree sacred.  His minstrels wore laurel wreaths, victors and Cesars wore crowns of them, Olympians wear them, and our certificates and diplomas are decorated with them still, 2000 years later.

It wasn't until about 9 years ago, when I needed help, that I realized that it wasn't her weakness that had her cry out for help, but a strength.  It takes courage to ask and be willing to receive help.

That's why, Daphne is my Agent name. The esq, makes it an adjective (made up one, yes), but is also the abbreviation of my profession:  Esquire.  It was hard earned, and I never forget that I am nothing more than a glorified hourly employee and advocate for those brave enough to ask for help.

When the game stops being fun, do something novel and stop playing.  When game "trash talk" isn't received as I intend, in jest, I will shush and give you the win of besting me verbally and do something else novel - let the game decide.  It's designed by an amazing team of Google employees.




I owe special thanks to Cowgirl App! and Ingress staff for making such an amazing game that will change not just those who get out and play, but perhaps how we see our world.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When the pendulum swings

Usually the only factor to getting a photo with
the girls is their squirmy ways, factor in Leslie's lack of
strength, and this was a very lucky special moment.
Family has been one of the great constants in the lives of our girls, Greta Jo and Clara Lou.  My parents, sisters, JJ's parents, brothers and sisters, cousins.  It isn't the sort of daily interaction at all levels, but the love runs deep all the same.  The choices one person makes, to show love and support, to have the character of their choices demonstrate who they are, not just to themselves, but also within our family?  Well, there is no real litmus test for defining when that is.  It's born out over time.  We all face strife and joy, and face fears, over-come hardships and celebrate accomplishments.  We either show up, or we don't.  What I know is that we are the type of family that shows up for one another.

I've written about how Gammy Margi is facing a time of transition, wanting to be closer to her three sons, granddaughters, and making the necessary changes to make that a reality.  Below are some videos we took during her stay.

My sister Leslie had similar plans for change, what she hadn't planned was not having the immediate health to not be able to pursue it.  It's just three weeks after we and her doctors can only speculate was when Leslie suffered a stroke.  It's only 12 days after Dad was hospitalized for walking pneumonia.  Mom had her infection that put her in the hospital and rehab for a few weeks last February.  My cousin on my Mother's side facing their hardships and battles with the likes of cancer, and yet they have the courage and support to strive for a chance of being healthy again.  Then there's all those in my Father-in-law's family facing their struggles.  Cast the net a little wider, and throw in heart ache, and job loss, and financial hardships.  Life is just plumb messy and hard at times.

We all have stuff.  Just my stuff recently has been heart wrenching.  Dad's illness threw us for a loop, and yet, his ability to be resilient and find a way to maintain his and Mom's independence sets a high bar.  It's not just that he's 83 a two-time open heart surgery survivor and two-time (that we know of) vertebral stroke survivor, it's that who he is and the choices he makes are ones that put his family first.  His ability to do that is shocking when you consider that he grew up not knowing what it meant to have his own bedroom until he was 16, and even then, it was a cot in the kitchen of his parent's apartment.  His parents granted permission for him to join the navy at 17.  Now, I won't disparage my paternal Grandfather, but let it suffice, Grandpa was of a different generation, and wasn't always a stellar example in how to love and care for a family.  Even so, he managed to raise an amazing son in my Father.  My Dad's pretty terrific, all said.

Mom and Dad did a pretty wonderful job raising we four girls to love one another.  Heck, I'll go so far to say we like one another.  That's not to say that my family of origin always gets along, always shows up for one another in the way the recipient wants or needs.  Nope, we get it wrong all the time... it's how we recover when we're a miss that really defines who we are as a family.

My sister Leslie is an strong presence in my life.  Her name was my first word.  Our Mother was calling out to her and I repeated "LOSSH-LEEEE!"  Leslie doesn't have children of her own, save the litany of characters that have struck the page with all the force of freight trains only to swoop into the hearts and minds of her readers.  She has our little Greta Jo and Clara Lou.  She's that second-Mama sort of Aunt Leslie.  She hugs them, comforts them, feeds them, bathes them, clothes them, plays, and just plain loves them, loves on them (not sure the distinction, but I am clear there is one).  Even at their young lives, when such concepts are only mimicked, Leslie serves as an example of compassion and unconditional acceptance.

This has been the longest two and a half weeks since the girls were born.  They've visited with Aunt Leslie, at the hospital a couple of times, and have been to where Leslie is a house guest and convalescing.

The changes in the girls can be striking, one moment to the next, not to mention one day or week.  Leslie noticed immediately and it was hard to witness the pang of loss from not having had the regular contact with the girls the way she had.  Clara Lou is quite the talker recently, kind of like Boo in Monsters, Inc.  Her spark from baby to toddler is complete. It's clear she understands us, and the little wordlets are positively irresistible.  Her quick smile, and giddy laughter are positively the best cure to a down day.  Greta Jo's spark from toddler to a little girl is accompanied by a greater awareness of her world.  She makes up games and jokes, but is also aware of plot in books and stories.  This increased awareness also includes what's going on with their Aunt Leslie.  After saying good night to Leslie who's voice must have been familiar, but was, well, laboured, she turned to me and said "Aunt Leslie's hurt."  I told her, yes sweetheart. Aunt Leslie's hurt, and healing.  That takes time.

I am deeply proud of my sister Leslie.  She is just three weeks after her stroke, and has enough awareness to know what abilities are challenged, and just how much she has to overcome.  She feels abandoned by bits and pieces of her characters.  We've described her stroke as if the connections from her brain to her body were roadways, some highways, other side roads, and still some dirt roads.  The strides in improvement to her health, dangerously elevated blood sugar and high blood pressure now in check, is accompanied by a greater awareness of her world.  Just like Greta Jo, it's a great time of opportunity for thinking things anew.  It's hard to think on it that way for Leslie, but being hurt, sometimes the sting serves the purpose of slowing us down enough to allow for our bodies to recover.

We don't get to keep what we start off with.  I look at the sweet little bodies of our girls.  They are no longer infants, and not only have their minds expanded, but their bodies have lengthened, and skin, although sweetly soft, not the same paper thin skin of infancy.  They leap into their hugs, and jump into laughter.  Every hurt can be healed with a proclamation of "muah!  All better!"

Everybody has stuff that keeps us from enjoying that freedom of being toddlers and little kiddos.  They experience life with a wide range of unchecked emotions that aren't necessarily proportional to the circumstance.  Whether alone or part of a family, however you define it, we impact one another, our health, our choices, and how we show up for one another.  This week, the stuff on my family's plate is waiting on news from Dad's doctor visit tomorrow when we hope to learn whether he can be off the oxygen, and his heart is healthy, and whether he, like Mom, won't be able to drive, and the adjustments to his and Mom's independent living.  Today, I pray for the patience to sit and wait while Leslie musters the courage to face a life forever changed.  Today, I marvel at the girls love of playing, grass between their toes, fingers dirty with mud and sand.

Today has been another day.  I pray that I have another like it tomorrow.


There were many wonderful moments today, whether Leslie working and laughing, or Mom holding both the girls when we stopped by for a surprise visit to pick up some mail for Leslie.  By far, my favourite was when Greta Jo was in the swing in the back garden after lunch. She was wanting more.  "More swing Maman!"  I would wait and she would cock her head, and say "plaît"  -- her abbreviated "s'il te plaît."  Well, time crept up and it was nap time.  I let her know that when the swing stops, it is time to go inside. She just cried and cried.

I told her: Greta Jo, you can either cry over your time in the swing coming to an end or let yourself enjoy the rest of the ride.


I wasn't even trying - but it was that maternal moment that I realized that crying myself to sleep last night when I was worried I wouldn't find the recording of Leslie reading The Paper Bag Princess By Robert N. Munsch, and the gush of all my fears overwhelmed me... it was then that I realized the pendulum swing I was on, my life.  I could either let it continue to overwhelm me and and that moment when you choose to step beyond feeling feelings, and being them?  That moment when health experience and acknowledgment steps into wallowing?  I had to stop so I could enjoy the rest of my time on the swing.

Gammy Margi's Visit from Nancy Moïse Haws on Vimeo.