Thoughts on making a “Nice Please Face”

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“A good thing to think about is

what kind of face to make when you say please.”

~ Ruth Krauss,

Open House for Butterflies

 

So – in a jiff I need to start to catch up  on homework and prepare to deliver our son to a nice snowy hill somewhere, but…

I sort of want to put into a few words why still, in view of this strange generation that my youngest son is in: I really cringe at the phrase,”kids these days are just Bratz!”

It’s what we say – always have and always will. I get that.

But on a deeper level, let’s look at this thing of :”kids these days are selfish brats.”  Maybe, but are they also selfless leaders, or is it some of both?

I say both.

My friend has a daughter that has for, three years now I think, has proudly shaved her head to support the St. Baldrick foundation (a cancer fundraiser).

Give my son a few minutes to spout his thoughts and he will in no uncertain terms tell you about his feelings on why he supports Bernie Sanders. He can back it up with historical facts that tie back to the underground railroad and will make logical ties to the benefits of rap music and storytelling.

And these two young people are only 14 years old.

I posted a quote from a really good article about narcissism a minute ago which includes a link. (Hit the button up above that says “earlier post” if you’d like.)

On one hand, to be honest – I’m less sure every day that when I get my interpreting certificate and/or license – I’m not sure that I want to go back into school work. Is it because the challenges are many these days and I’m not up for it? Sort of – not sure I’m interested in the stress of what childhood and education has become these days. More so, it’s just so loud – literally. Loud speakers, amplified voices, super sonic toilets – it all hurts my ears and grates my nerves.

But – that’s just me.

And,

I miss being on the floor reading Maurice Sendak books to my boys and blowing up wooden train tracks with megazords.

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If you find any good articles about raising teens during this super selfish time of history in the 1st world – please pass them on!

 

 

 

 

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Reminders from Thomas Merton and St. Francis and a Mute Button about Small Favors

popeILY“My mom’s home care nurse called. She was having distressed breathing. Her pulse ox level was 83 which is poor. She was struggling to breath. Having pain. Ambulance was called…I am beside myself….

Gracie’s pain is being managed to the best they think we can do without surgical intervention….

Today we will be discharged…we will be making (her 90th brain) surgery date in the next few days. Grace has had a wonderful spirit through all of this. She just wants to not have pain anymore. Team Amazing Grace needs prayers for wisdom and peace…

Please pray for. Grace we are turning back to go to the. ER … I am over an hour out and she is. 10 pain. She is not well…”

Those are just a few of the frantic Facebook status updates that a friend of mine has been putting up in the past two weeks as she asks for prayer from her huge circle of online friends. She is one of a small handful of women that I’ve tried to keep in touch with for almost fifteen years on the internet. I met them while looking for information about adoption before our youngest was born. Lately contact with them has dwindled to a lot of clicking of Facebook “likes” or these cute cartoons that have a bit more flare in a response and “save time” for a “real” response. Two of us have been going in a new directions – one as a writer and me with my American Sign Language studies. One of us has been doing a lot of elder care and is busting out all over with pride as her daughter is stepping into her own skin and singing like no other all over her town.

In this small group of friends two of us, the mom whose status updates I quoted and another mom – have during that 15 years buried three children. One child took his own life and two other boys died from genetic illness. Another mom’s child has been diagnosed with a lot of maybes – but a “probably” that he is struggling with neuro sensory issues that are along the lines of autism. He is a complicated puzzle of emotions. He is a delight and she sometimes shares quotes of what he is saying out loud that are at times hysterical. Other times his quotes are heart wrenching observations about the world that should be coming from an old man, not a Ninja Turtle who is barely old enough to read chapter books.

What I appreciate about this group of friends that I have never met is that because we’ve grieved together with prayer for those three sons that died – we don’t, well I don’t anyway, always necessarily explain what prayer is being asked for when one of us requests an all out bended knee effort. And we And I feel comfortable with not always having the time to explain the details of what is going on with me or my kids when I share with any one of this small bunch – I have sort of a code phrase that is about the song “row, row, row your boat.” If I make a swing by comment about that song it means either that I know that their mom heart is in a state of worry, or it’s a general announcement that I’m in a bind and don’t have time or space to explain why I am a ball of nerves and doubt.

merton worthy

I have to share something really cool that just happened…but I promised my husband I would do an important chore in a few minutes, so forgive me if I don’t make sense.

Early this morning I read what could be a day old status update that my friend’s daughter is needing her 90th brain surgery to help with hydrocephalus – I started looking for some music to send her way. Her oldest child is a wonderful musician. And I went with a liturgical dance video that I found yesterday while looking for videos of church sign language interpreting.

But…as I mentioned in my last post, music sometimes hurts my ears of late – especially violin or high pitched vocals. I read a recommendation to listen to cello music because the frequency is lower.

So, I’m watching the liturgical dance video and wondering if I should share it, got cranky that the music was ruining the video for me, and clicked off the sound button on the video itself.

I had forgotten that I had Pandora running at the same time and an instrumental song called “Expression” was being played by Helen Jane Long. (The link I attached to her name is not the same song – but just as pretty).

Here is the amazing thing: the instrumental song, when I replayed it in the background, but watched to video in front of it (remember now, the actual music that was being used in the video was turned off) – when I paired the instrumental words with the St. Francis prayer dance – they were PERFECTLY in step – seriously. Don’t quote me but I think it was in 3/4 time – and in any case, there are a few moments of silence after the song finishes and she finishes her dance prayer.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that 15 minutes of my day much more interesting than the day of chores I have ahead. And I may not be able to to check in on my friend and her little girl until tomorrow – but I firmly believe that the music, and the dance video, and my friend’s pain, and my sadness about singing out of key- all of it – got a really, very, super nice fifteen minute reprieve.

We can’t do it all, can we now?

But every once in a while, we get a deep breath from out of what seems like no where at all.

Thank God for small favors, eh?

Attendance Please is Going to Change….

Dear Subscribed Attendance Please readers,

Good morning!

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I know that there is just a handful of subscribed readers for my blog, but I wanted to say, first of all

Thanks.

This blog hobby was a wonderful companion after I moved and I appreciate that there are those who were willing to not only put up with, but support my ramblings and rants by way of subscribing to my posts by email.

I want to let you in on some thinking that I’m doing right now and am requesting your input.

Some time in the next few months I am either going to start a new blog and attach it to a website, or….

I’m going to transition this one into a slightly different focus than when I began.

Originally I named the Blog “Attendance Please” based on the idea that to experience God’s grace, we need to pay attention to where it is going on in our life. I wanted it to not only be ecumenical, but not particularly religious unless I was in the mood to write about religion. When I look at my posts I can see proof of the many ways that I drive my family insane some days. They are all over the place and the topics often don’t connect at all. Sometimes I will read an old post and have NO idea what was going that I went on that tangent and wonder why anyone would have interest in trying to follow my thinking if even I am not keeping it straight.

As my friend Betty used to say: “Make not no matter.”

The point has been, thus far, to force myself to reflect and to jot down some of my thoughts in opinions in hopes that others will take a minute to slow down, put our thinking caps and take collective big, deep breath.

Soon though, I am going to transition what I’ve started here to a more specific topic. If that doesn’t make sense or isn’t working – I might just start from scratch.

I would like to focus what I write specifically to something that is about communication between the hearing world and that of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing world. I want to make it interesting and generalized – and really, pretty much the same as this one which is about paying attention. I want it to include information and examples of where and why tensions exist between the hearing and deaf world. And – I want to share with you how everything that I’ve been trying to say here about being reflective and attentive already exists in spades in the world of those who happened to also be Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

I am very lucky to have started my studies in Sign Language Interpreting with Deaf Culture classes. Before I even began American Sign Language 1 this fall, my mind was blasted wide open last Spring by learning the history of oppression toward the deaf. This oppression continues to be wide-spread and I couldn’t be more surprised.

So, please do let me know if there are any opinions out there about what type of blog and/or website would be of interest to you.

I am particularly interested in feed back from hearing people because you are the audience that I don’t want to lose.

I am confident that I can build and wonderfully large and supportive following from the ASL and deaf world – it’s the choir preaching to me and I couldn’t feel more at home amongst my new friends. But, what I want to come of it, even if it turns out that I only have time for a blog post here and there…what I want to come of either transitioning Attendance Please or starting a new project, is an appreciation on the part of the hearing world that Deaf culture is wonderful and rich. The deaf and hard of hearing are worthy of our attention as a hearing majority and as I have already said, I couldn’t be more shocked that prejudice and oppression continues toward those who have hearing loss. I’m aware that these days, most of the time the offenses are based on ignorance, but I kind of thought that we had evolved a bit since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act a few short years ago.

So – that’s what I’m up to and again, I’m very interested in input on if you think that:

1: This blog has potential to just be tweaked into a hearing + deaf world conversation that encourages and exemplifies the benefits of being reflective.

Or.

2: A fresh start would be just the ticket.

Thanks again for your support – don’t go away please!

peace, Kate

“Okay” Can Be a Comforting Prayer

BPyUYW1CIAA-IFqIn part of a passage I posted the other day by Anne Lamott she said that

“okay”

is one of the four great prayers.

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I wonder what the other three are?

I’d bet they are one worded – perhaps thanks. Amen would be kind of obvious. What about yes? or Hallelujah, or yipee or yahoo or agreed? That’s what amen means in terms of word roots I think. I’m fairly sure it just means “Yup, I think the same thing as you my old pal God the greatest.”

About a month ago my prayers were not close to being quite that amiable. “Greatest” is still not the first thing that pops in mind with how I am feeling about the heavenly host, but I’m starting to ease up on my internal sky rant which started out pretty much like this:

Are you *%@+&ing kidding me? What happened to that giant life plan that you and I mapped out and you were so generously CLEAR with your instructions about what you want me to do with my life? The hints you left were not random on this one. It wasn’t like the time I thought I could somehow make a career out of folding origami cranes and little paper frogs. That wasn’t very practical was it now? Did I try to figure out if that’s what you want. Well YES SIREE I did! I prayed, I journaled. I reflected. I went to mass and made the sons come along as well. I even started reading Anne Lamott books. I may not have gotten to my goal of making a thousand paper cranes, but I got good at that craft and hosted a couple of really fun workshops for kids and showed those little kidlets a good time. Did I whine and moan when I figured out that the want ads had nothing that said: “intensely reflective and fairly forgetful paper folder wanted to fold cute little animals out of beautiful asian paper squares” ? NO MA’AM! I kept on truckin’ and started out working on Masters degree #2 because the first one was not in big demand in the countryside where we were living. Was I bummed when it stopped working out for me to continue in that program. Well sure. It was really interesting and the career demand was going to be huge. And did I stop trying to figure out what you want? Hell’s bells no I didn’t. I dug up all of the Thomas Merton books that we own and got friendly with him again. And I found another hobby as instructed and spent hours and hours building that outdoor porch train track. Giving up that corner of our house that became my little prayer space was pretty damn hard to leave, but I did, DID I NOT? Our buddy Merton says keep reflecting not matter where and no matter what so when I discovered how ridiculously large the Mississippi river is compared to my serene corner on the great Ohio, THAT’S WHAT I DID DUDE! REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECTED MY *#%…..

There’s more, but I’ll spare you the details. Consider that a prelude.handsigns_K

By the way, I know that I used both “he” and “she” words for God. I’m one of those people who feel like God is so big that gender kind of limits the whole point of divinity. And I get irked at continued references that imply that our collective imagination stopped at the image of a white guy with a big old beard being in charge of the universe. That’s kind of boring I think. And none of my grandfather’s look like that anyway. One was a motorcycle cop and the other a journalist with big thick eye glasses.

Anyway.

My dear friend sent me a beautiful gift after I called her to tell her what was upsetting me so greatly. Wait, no, She is the one that had called me first. I had sent a rapid fire set of text messages saying “ahhhhhhhhh” and “eeeeeeeeeeeeek” and “yowwwwwwwwww”! She knows me well and called and said “I’m calling to talk about the weather and want to know what you are making me for dinner.” So we had a great and funny conversation that was mostly a “not talking talk” about what I was upset about, but at the same time she got a basic run down on the scene.

Shortly after, a gift that she had promised came in the mail. I wasn’t expecting it quite so soon! The card that she sent with it had a cute front that talked about how God’s world is full of all that is good. On the inside though, the little bear was shaking her hands at the sky and saying “give me a *xyz#%ing break!”

So all of this to say is this….

yeah. I agree with Anne.

It took me a month or so, but the best prayer I can burp out at this point is “okay.”

And once I said okay, my load started to lighten. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still angry, but this particular situation is not one that I can afford to pout about for very long.

Some new realities have fallen into my lap that are complicating my plans to get through this Sign Language interpreting certification program, but thus far there is no reason to do anything other than continue to enjoy and get as far as I can in the courses.If some fine tuning needs to happen, then so be it – I’ll deal with it when that time comes.

I’ll say this though – and again, I won’t bore you with the details, but adjusting this quickly from a “BLEEP YOU” cosmic conversation to a kicking my shoe in the dirt and mumbling “okay” prayer stance is completely unheard of for me…pun intended. I hold grudges like a toddler who is unwilling to release a blanket during nap time.

And. I have fallen in love with my studies about a language and culture that surrounds and protects the lives of those who have less than perfect hearing. Somehow, some way though, I didn’t wait even a day this time before sounding the alarm bells to get help and comfort when I had a wrench thrown into my plans. I scattered out a few “hey friends, I’m freaking out” messages and predictably there were those that said “huh?” and those that said “got your back girl. Bring it on. You’ve got this thing. Don’t stop now.”

And the best part? Some of these people are new friends. I survived the three-year mark of relocation and am meeting and entrusting some really, really great people in my new world. I’m encountering people who are flies in my soup too…but I don’t care. This is not my first trip on the pumpkin wagon and I know to be careful to trust only those who gain my confidence. I hope that I have the sense to pay that back.

I don’t know that I need to read up on what the other three prayers are that Anne Lamott mentions. Saying “okay God” is comfort enough for now….gotta start somewhere.

(The top photo is mine and is morning sun on the Mississippi River which is now a favorite water way, second only to the Ohio.)