Fred Rogers on Narcissism

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( Fred Rogers: March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003)

Raising children in this day and age is no easy task. ~ Kate Cooper

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Narcissism Is Increasing. So You’re Not So Special.

“A healthy self-love that leads to true happiness is what Rousseau called “amour de soi.”

It builds up one’s intrinsic well-being, as opposed to feeding shallow cravings to be admired.

Cultivating amour de soi requires being fully alive at this moment,

as opposed to being virtually alive while wondering what others think.

The soulful connection with another person, the enjoyment of a beautiful hike alone (not shared on Facebook) or a prayer of thanks over your sleeping child (absent a #blessed tweet)

could be considered expressions of amour de soi.”

 

Intimate Love Can Require Extraordinary Courage

This morning I came across something quite beautiful that was posted on Face Book. Rosa Lee Timm, an outstanding Deaf actress, posted a clip of a wedding. This clip was of the vows that a woman wrote for her soon to be husband and it was incredible. Unfortunately there aren’t any closed captions for this clip that has gone viral on the internet. In Rosa’s comment in the status box above the clip that she shared she explained that she doesn’t know what this woman was saying – but that it certainly looked like a powerful message based on her husband’s reaction. She commented how she admired the beautiful and massive hairstyle of the bride, and I agree! It’s dynamite! Feel free to see for yourself by giving this great looking couple a gander. Back in the day, if I had known about flower covered archways I might have put more eggs in that basket – this one is beautiful! So – the film shows an extraordinary to look at couple who generously share parts of their unique wedding online. What the bride says is about far more than young love though – it was about the reality that accepting life’s greatest experiences often requires an extraordinary amount of courage to endure the worst patches as well. One doesn’t have to be Christian, as she is, to know this to be true. It’s a universal thing – if we are going to experience even a slice of a full life we need to dare to leap, and experience fall, after fall after fall. And intimate relationships are the messiest and most wonderful experience of all: Marriage, parenting, grand kids, nieces nephews, friendship, siblings, pets – it’s all a gamble. Anyway – I enjoyed knowing that I’m not the only relational chicken-sh*t on the planet and the video warmed my heart. BBbGXzPCAAACd-4For those who can’t hear what she said, this is some of what I jotted down from the video: “…sitting with this piece I wrote called “I Waited for You” I realized that you are my sequel. You are what I asked for, and I will be content with whatever the will of God is, and He chose somebody strong enough to deal with me…. I waited for you. Did you know that I’m not her and that I partially agreed to the wait because I didn’t believe that you existed in the first place? But in the slight, rare possibility that you did, you would definitely not want me, because I’m not her. …I choke on words like ‘want’ and ‘need’…I am the one that fairy tales tell you to stay away from. I was never Cinderella…I was never the Princess. I was the fire breathing dragon…yet you chose to knock on the door of this castle: my heart….unaware that an invisible fortress had been built, due to much more experienced pain than a sting… I was in a relationship with pain…and I loved him but I hated him, because pain had been faithful for years... beauty to me was incomplete…there was no heart in the house tonight.. nights like this I would wish and pray ‘Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, please allow the clouds to gather and the sky to to turn to gray, lead us not into temptation…Oh how I wish that it would rain so that when I look into the sky I can see my reflection’. …(after I met you) I stepped out into the sun. He is the one that knows me. He knows me. He has the ability to foresee and He still loves me. So, I stepped outside…only to see you outside my door and I was terrified… Why couldn’t I believe that your hand placed gently on the back of my neck calms me. I hate the way my heart became a defiant teenager. I got tired of the fight and decided to prove to you that you too would leave…I kept asking myself ‘who are you’ while climbing the attractive Mt. Everest of your mind. I attempted to hike a little higher to take a peek at your soul…your condition of unconditional is where I fell…

your love is too much…

it’s hard to breathe when anyone gets close…stand close and let me inhale your exhale…you collect my tears like wilted, wet bible pages…you remind me that as long as I stay close to Him I’ll never thirst again..

I remember

staring into your eyes for the first time

and it was like

staring into the back of the moon,

only to find out that IT shines too.

You are patience like a tailored suit…we are not Romeo and Juliet…but we too are a beautifully written tragedy…but we will continue and stand in His word and drink Truth… I know they told you ‘good luck’ with her…may the Lord continue to orchestrate this beautiful complex chord progression… today I will let my ‘yes be yes’, and my ‘no be no’, and today my ‘I do’ be ‘I do.’… I vow that I won’t tap out, I won’t give up...I vow not to say things like ‘you complete me’ because you don’t..in Christ I have been made complete…this will be my constant reflection because death on that cross was the greatest display of affection.

I’ve learned that He loved me enough to give me you, and so I vow to you my last breath.”

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

Litany: Billy Collins

Litany by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,

The crystal goblet and the wine…

~Jacues Crickillon

 

You are the bread and the knife,

the crystal goblet and the wine,

You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.

You are the white apron of the baker,

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

 

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,

the plums on the counter,

or the houses of cards.

And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

 

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,

maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,

but you are not even close

to being a field of cornflowers at dusk.

 

And a quick look in the mirror will show

that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

 

It might interest you to know,

speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

 

I am also the moon in the trees

and the blind woman’s tea cup.

But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.

You are still the bread and the knife,

not to mention the crystal goblet and – somehow – the wine.

Mary Oliver: Wild Geese

 

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver

Wendell Berry: Everything is Here

Everything is Here

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith: what we we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry

Life Goals: Happy vs. Contented

CND campfire

I have a confession. I hate the “Happy Song” by the dude in the ten gallon hat.

(I couldn’t find the only video of that song that I like, but I found this instead and it’s hysterical. And includes hats. You don’t have to know American Sign Lanuage (ASL) to see the humor. They are hearing brothers with deaf parents, and from what I can catch, they are just signing “flower, pain, love, all year – PAIN, horrible!” So funny.)

I love music, and I love the look of goofy hats, but I utterly HATE the happy song. As in, I have to stop myself from screaming “change it to NPR or else!” at my tween son when it comes on the car radio.

Another confession.

I’m tired of the phrase “it’s all good.” I will say that the cartoons that go with those t-shirts and mugs of little stick people camping and enjoying flowers are awesome – takes me right back to being a residential camp counselor and to be honest, living a “happy song” kind of life. It was a blast…work hard doing fun things with goofy little kids, weekend parties, beach sunsets, card games and summer romance.

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BBC camp

A few decades later, I know now that what made those times so happy was that the middle-aged and beyond leadership was masterful at harnessing our insecurities, raging hormones, and gullible personalities by:

1:Making us work dawn to dusk. If we weren’t taking care of kids or getting activities ready we were expected to find someone who needed a hand or a poison ivy vine that needs to be hacked or a campfire skit to be planned.

and

2:Expecting that we should otherwise be

a) Doing something prayerful or reflective. Or,

b) Doing something outlandishly fun or crazy to burn off aforementioned                                                 insecurities, hormones and guile.

But, and…

please forgive me if you are a positive psychology research professional or a maker of affirmation posters….because

it’s not all good,

(attatched link is powerful and empowering – it is about domestic violence and is communicated in both American Sign Language and captions,)

and I’m sick of media and the world, particularly the American world, trying to cram the word “happy” into my face and life.

It’s exhausting.

I had a brief but great conversation with a friend about it this weekend. We were at a get together where some acquaintances, rather than hearing what we were saying about some very real and tough life realities, they replied with: “smile and the world smiles with you” and “oh, you can do it”, or

“BEEN THERE, DONE THAT”,

and: “if I can solve that same life problem, you can too, and here’s an App for you to tap!”

Having shared our frustration on the topic before, and because we both try to not blurt out the constant sarcastic flow of venom that we secretly share about the saying “been there done that” kind of mind-set, we had to pull ourselves aside from the conversation and debrief before saying or doing something regrettable.

I suggested that we go find some full-bodied Muppet type of costumes and come back to the party just to throw things off, but we decided to reapply our lipstick and enjoy how Ninja we feel in dangly earrings instead.

CND path

This is what we came up with – and it’s that the real reason, I now know with complete certainty, that I was so happy during those summers on the lake. The thing is, there wasn’t conversation or debate about what “happy” has to be at camp….for any of us. We weren’t trying our hardest to keep the campers constantly jovial – that was impossible. As a matter of fact my dearest memories are of consoling home sick children, of trying to point out to the popular kids that an awkward one was being left out. Of the chubby kids who were falling out of their clothes and the skinny ones who could barely keep them on. My favorite camper was a boy who was deaf and started the week out being very rough with the other boys because he know he was being picked on and made fun of without the single exchange of a word.

I am really attached to the memory of him slamming that wooden screen door on another kid when I was at the front of the line trying to get that stinky, mud covered, whining group of little guys out of the rain and into the cabin so that they could climb in their bunks and be homesick in peace.

Why? Because

it wasn’t all good. And I’m not afraid to remember that, or look at what sucks in life.

Agreed, I am a bit too drawn to the dark side of things, but that’s why God gave me a family who tells me to knock it off when I a become annoying and dogs who shame themselves if I ignore their request to fetch or go outside for a pee break.

This quote better says what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to say that what I’m shooting for is contentment, while, sometimes, the world seems to be all about happy:

“I want first of all… to be at peace with myself.

 

I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can.

 

I want, in fact–to borrow from the language of the saints–to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be one.” I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.”

 

― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

 

Oh, and about the angry Deaf kid? He ended up having a great week. And he stopped punching and slamming.

Why? Because the other camp counselors and I listened to him first, and distracted him next. We signed in American Sign Language that “angry” happens, and that other boys being mean is not “fine.” And, we tried, in no uncertain terms, to tell him that slamming and hitting was not going to lead to friendship.

My other favorite memory from that week? (I can’t believe I can still pull this out of my brain. It was like, 30 years ago.) We were trooping through the summer heat and itchy fields after one of those scuffles. There had of course been a  “shape up boys!” talk with both kiddos and my rough and tumble little friend fell to the end of the line for a good old-fashioned sulk.

I doubt that I had to fake my exhaustion or frustration about the whole thing as I trudged them toward the pool.

He then suddenly broke protocol and was of course tattled on: “He’s out of line! Why is he allowed to get off the path! No cutting!”

For which, and this makes me tear up every time I think of it, I was delivered a huge bouquet of weeds with a couple of wild flowers and a most beautiful and thankful smile. Guess he found a way to be at peace with himself, even if for a while.

The thing is…if we hadn’t squared up to the rain and the slammed door there wouldn’t have been any flowers for him to pick. Know what I mean? Jelly bean?

 

 

How I Tried to Teach a tiny Kid to Shake Hands like a Man

“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure.”
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

A grace potato moon

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about redemption the past few weeks.

No, really.

These are the kinds of topics that keep me awake at night and interfere with my ability to remember that my husband sent me to the store for milk and not a new dishwasher. When I say I’ve been thinking a lot about redemption- I mean, like, well,

                                                           pretty darn frequently.

I am thankful for some time to relax, because it has been several weeks now since some tricky things happened on the playground at work. They weren’t funny happenings, and they got my attention. Funny things happened as well, don’t get me wrong! Yet. Now that I am on break and am responsible for hardly any brain work, my mind can wander and contemplate all it wants.

So, for now, redemptive cogitation and the family rodeo it is…

My school and job for 2012-2014 was a most wonderful and wearysome one. I was a para educator in a school located in our downtown. There were several things going on last year that made it a very tough building to go into every day. I’ll just mention a couple. Maybe you can relate.

One thing that was happening was that tragedy had struck the previous spring and impacted the school community as a whole. A shocking accuasation had been made against the previous principal and the legal and practical fall out was ugly. It was a situation that didn’t impact just one child or family or school staff member, it involved everyone. Who was hurt the most by it? I’m still not sure. There were some paces that the students had to go through that I’d be willing to bet was boring, frustrating and annoying to them in their spring 2013 year. I’m guessing that the kids were rewarded with some extra recess time and other than the impact of parents not keeping adult conversation among themselves, the Mighty Mustangs had a fine summer break last year anyway.

So, what made the job difficult? Was it just because I was newcomer amongst some really plucky and fun little kids? Not so much.

In the very beginning it was a very angry, sad and tense work environment. The students were fine! But, with a new principal to deal with, the local media still buzzing with legal proceedings, and a vast amount of educational outcomes to catch up on – the joint was jumping when I was hired a few weeks into the school year. Overall, my coworkers were welcoming and friendly and amazingly resilient. The teachers were top notch professionals and the students were excited for new routines and comforted by old traditions.

Either wasted energy on catty banter was not common place or I was deaf to whatever was going on behind the scenes in the parent parking lot or elsewhere.

Well, I did fall into one cat fight in the making right after starting my position, but skeedadled out of the situation it quickly with just a teeny scratch.

“Yes, now you know. Now you know!

That’s what it was to be alive.

To move about in a cloud of ignorance;

to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those…of those about you.

To spend and waste time as though you had a million years.

To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know — that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to.

Ignorance and blindness.”
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

Thankfully, with the impossibly generous support of the new administration and a minute or two of fun banter while meeting various teachers as I helped them corral the Mustangs into their seats, it wasn’t long before I was having a great time indeed. What made leaving my comfy home and cute dogs every morning difficult was the heartbreaking realities of the majority of the families that attend our school.

I’m not a talented enough writer to try and describe some of what was going on for these children and families. I can’t do it without breaking confidentiality. To tell the story of one kid, or one family, I would want to tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The truth of MY experience of trying to distract a kid who is struggling to read away from hunger, or anger, or frustration, or the shame that had been piled on him or her in a short few years. I really would like to post a photo of this one little, long and grouchy face. Or YouTube a voice recording of his ear piercing tantrums when life built up and he felt picked on or didn’t want to cooperate with carpet time rules.

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I’d like to describe in detail how incredibly guilty I felt the morning that I found out he had been waiting in the hallway to say good morning to me and practice “How to Have a Firm Handshake Like Mr. Cooper and His his Sons.” He had to get to class because the last morning bell rang. Rules are rules.

The whole story on that day isn’t just about a cute kid or moment.

Since the very short time since I moved from Ohio to Iowa, school work (public, private and home school) has changed drastically.

That missed chance for a handshake was one event of many that added to my already bigger than it should be sense of guilt. I was becoming grouchier as a coworker and educator by the day because of the ending school year. As a staff we were trying to do our best to do what the boss ordered which was to keep them reading and in routine until the final bell of the year.

Thankfully boxes of coffee and trays of fruit and home baked goodies kept popping up in the teacher lounge as the final 2013-2014 count down continued for everyone.

For many of the little kiddos I met at this school, routines and structure at home are frequently lost to the fight to put food on the table and a safe roof overhead.

This creates an interesting, challenging and resilient atmosphere.

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I can’t tell you my affection for the kid that I mentioned above about without telling you his whole story, and trust me, I know very, very little. My few classes in counseling not only taught me that it is not wise to ask too many questions, but it’s usually against the law. I just know that there were days that he hung on my promise that developing a firm handshake like a man could help him rule the world. I explained to this tiny person that Mr. C wears a suit and has a very important job, at a very big school. I confided to him that that sometimes grown men want to cry and scream at school too, but they aren’t allowed to either. (My husband is a college administrator). I tried to encourage that with some hard work he and Mr. Cooper could handle their job to learn and teach just a few hours longer until it was time to go home and play.

“We all know that something is eternal.

And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . .

everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings.

All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it.

There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.

-Stage manager, in the play OUR TOWN”

If anyone has any additional cool ideas on how to get a kid, or a teacher or an administrator through a school year on ANY educational campus since the events of Sandy Hook (I added an interesting link that maps some of the recent trends that administrators are working to prepare us for), do tell me.

All I’ve got in my tool kit at this point is to take a knee and let the funny things crack me up.

Thank God funny seemed to happen all of the time last year, and I trust that future years will offer the same. I hope that those who are getting a bit of summer break are getting some rest, or at least enjoying the view.

peace, Kate

 

I Have a Lenten Plan…..

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(image from This Quiet Lady by Anita Loebel

In a flurry of trying to call in sick to work and the college class I’m taking, two of the texts I got back said:

1: Yikes!

and the other:

2: Feel better.

I’ve decide that these three words are going to somehow become my theme for this year’s Lenten observance. I’m not sure what will come of these thoughts. But, one of the good things about having bursts of unthinkable busyness is that it gives something to reflect on when those calendar pages are done and turned.

If life were different I would challenge myself to blog along the way to this Easter.

My intuition tells me to stay focused on the marathon spring ahead for our family, and enjoy that circus until school’s end.

A teaching mentor and dear friend who held me on his shoulders when I was a wee lass sets those boundaries to prevent total exhaustion. Creative juices go wild in the summer. This was my mother’s creative calendar too now that I think of it…

In any case. I miss the solitude of connecting with others and the spirit while writing and posting, yet am so thankful for the way life has fallen together for me and interrupted my blogging journal tool.

More Summer Reading: Temple Grandin Essay in “This I Believe”

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“Because I have autism…here’s how my brain works:

 

It’s like the search engine Google for images.

 

If you say the word ‘love’ to me, I’ll surf the Internet inside my brain.

 

Then, a series of images pops into my head. What I’ll see is a picture of a mother horse with a foal; or think of ‘Herbie, the Love Bug’; scenes from the Movie The Love Story; or the Beatles song ‘Love, love, love, all you need is love…’ …

 

Some people might think if I could snap my fingers I’d choose to be ‘normal.’ But, I wouldn’t want to give up my ability to see in beautiful, precise pictures. I believe in them.”

 

~ taken from an essay: ‘Seeing in Beautiful, Precise Pictures’ by Temple Grandin, part of the collection:  This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women .