Will It Be Today???

I have become addicted to a giraffe.

I began to watch the YouTube footage of Animal Adventure Park in New York as they livestream their two resident giraffes, April and Oliver, as April is in the last stage of her pregnancy.  (Go to see here)  The intention is to livestream the birth as it occurs for educational purposes.

I started watching the feed and checking out the information on the park and on giraffes because I love giraffes.  The news media stated that “any minute” she would give birth to a baby giraffe.  “Any minute” has lasted since February 21 for me!  I don’t watch constantly, though I know of people who do, but I do check in periodically and I look for any updates that the park officially releases.  I have learned so much in the time that I have been watching about animal conservation and giraffes in particular.

Something that disturbs me is some of the people who also have come to watch this miracle unfold.  Some people are just plain mean.  They think that they know everything and have to right to say whatever is on their mind whenever it is on their mind.  I have seen criticism of the care the animals receive, the frequency and amount of food they are given, the stall size and even the fact that the giraffes are not let outside when there is two feet of snow and ice out there (a danger to giraffes).  People have set up fake sites to mislead followers, and fake go-fund-me accounts to try and scam well-meaning people out of their money.  It is a shame that something that was established to be so positive and so beautiful by the owner and staff of the park has been hijacked by selfish, greedy, and know-it-all people.

I stay away from anything but the park website and official feed in order to avoid most of these annoying people.  Animal Adventure Park does a wonderful job caring for these and all their other animals, and they are doing a great thing for animal conservation to allow people to learn about giraffes and follow along on this anticipated delivery.  The more I have learned, the more I desire to support efforts to help these animals in the wild.

I eagerly await the birth of this new life at Animal Adventure Park.  Will it be today?

But I’m Not Like That

My husband is amazing when it comes to talking to people.  The kids and I like to pick on him, saying that Daddy makes a friend wherever he goes!  It is amazing to watch him.  We are at the grocery store, he chats with people in line, or with the cashier.  We are at the park, he will talk with other parents.  We go to a sporting event or to church, he is always chatting with someone, getting to know them or sharing a joke with them.  It is one  of his talents, reaching out to people and starting a conversation.

I, on the other hand, really struggle in this area.  I am one of those people who remain quiet around people that I do not know.  Every once in a while I will garner enough courage to make a comment or two to someone, but for the most part the very thought of talking to a stranger, of being the first to start an interaction, scares me to death!  I go blank.  I literally lose any coherent thought as to what I could say.  I have had some interpret this as I am not the most friendly, or that I am a bit stuck up.  Then there are those who have taken the time to get to know me.  They usually describe me as very friendly and outgoing.  It is an interesting dichotomy.  I find it much easier to converse when I am acquainted with someone.

I used to spend a lot of time worrying and fretting over the fact that I am not like my husband when it comes to people.  I want to be more outgoing and garrulous, and less shy and off-putting.  I have learned something in my more than forty years on this earth:  One kind of personality and/or approach, is not right or wrong, it is just different.  The talents that we possess are uniquely geared toward the unique place we occupy in our world.  My husband is good at reaching out to people, at beginning and then building relationship with them.  He does this in his everyday world, and he does this in a career.  I am good at cautiously becoming a part of someone’s world, at slowing gaining trust and insight and sharing who I am in intimate ways.  This serves me well in the few, but deep friendships that I have maintained over the years, and it serves me well in my career as I work with people who struggle with dementia.

I have begun to spend time letting my husband be the outgoing one for both of us, and entering a conversation after it has begun.  I don’t worry about not being able to be the one who jumps in and gets it all started, I just worry about being the one who connects as I am uniquely gifted to do.

 

The Balloon

The other day I was sitting with my family in our living room and playing with our kitties.  (We have two black with white marking kitties, one male and one female)  My son has a balloon that he received as a gift when her graduated high school in June.  The mylar balloon is beginning to deflate a bit, but is still afloat.  Our kitties both love the string on the balloon and they chase it and try and grab it and go crazy playing with it…until they see the balloon.  I don’t know why, but they are both scared to death of that balloon.

I started to think, because I think about absolutely everything, and I realized that the balloon kind of represents life.  The string is the part that we see and interact with, the part that is normal and even enjoyable in the course of a typical existence.  Just like my kitties, we can interact with the string safely and have nothing to worry about.

But then…

The big, bad balloon comes at us!  It is something that the kitties just do not recognize and do not understand, so they are scared.  Invariably they run from it. Sometimes life isn’t something we recognize or are comfortable with.  Because it is scary and new to us, we want to run.

The trick, I think, is to realize that the whole balloon is good, not just the string.  Life can be a wonderful adventure that can be enjoyed beyond the boundaries of what is comfortable and known.  There is so much more out there than just what is right in front of us.  So many opportunities that stem from the scary “unknown.”

Don’t you love how my brain works?!

 

My Son

My son will be starting his first job soon.  He graduated from high school and tech school in June, and now he will be putting on a shirt and tie and going to work every day.  I am so proud of him!  It has been a long road to get here, and there were many moments over the years where I thought we wouldn’t get here.  But here we are!

My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 7 years old.  We knew up until that point that something was going on with him, but it took a while to find medical help that knew what was happening and could “label” him.  At the time of diagnosis I was relieved because we finally had a reason for all of our son’s struggles.  I felt like we would help him and move on.  Little did I know…

The next years of school and therapy and life were a struggle for my son and for us.  What worked well one day, one week, one month would all of a sudden not work.  We tried medications and behavioral therapy and other therapies….some worked and some did not.  We dealt with bullies and with schools who would not do anything to assist our son in dealing with bully situations.  We dealt with emotional meltdowns and moments where our son was completely overwhelmed.  We had good teacher and bad teachers, people who  supported us and people who did not.

Watching our son go through the interviewing process and open a bank account and successfully navigate all that is entailed in getting a first adult job has been amazing!  He feels good, confident, and like a man.  His shoulder are square as he is facing this change in his life!  He is liking the feeling of being able to do something and be set up for success from the beginning.  That was not the case with school.  School is not set up to deal well with someone like my son.  The job my son will be working plays to his strengths and his interests.  That makes a difference in success!

Just had to brag on my boy for a minute!  I am so very proud to be his momma!

Social Media Relation…

Social media is often criticized for fostering unrealistic connections and relationships.  Often it is easy to be lured into a false sense of intimacy and safety in the promise of “friendship” on sites such as Facebook and Instagram.  It’s funny, it is possible to know what someone had for dinner and where someone is at any given time, but that same person may be going through some difficult stuff that no one is even aware of.  Isolation within the illusion of relationship.

It’s interesting, however, when something happens to defy this norm.  I have a few friends that I met way back when yahoo groups was popular.  We all joined a group for moms with preschoolers.  There were only a hand-full of us, but over the years we built a relationship of sorts.  I love these women, and I know that they love me.  In 14 years, I have only met one of these women face-to-face.  Yet this group of ladies have been a support to me through some very challenging times in my life.  I have been able to do the same for these ladies.

This kind of connection is rare within social media.  It almost never happens.  Building a lasting relationship is difficult at best when a person can spend time with another.  Social media makes it so much harder because it is all too easy to only share the good and positive, the unimportant, and to keep what really makes up life to oneself.  It is easy to not share heartaches and hurts, and to only present picture-perfect versions of self.

I am very lucky to have this group of ladies within my network of relationships, but I am also lucky that these are not the only support system I have.  Real-life connection, the ability to hug and be hugged, cannot be replaced by any online relationship, no matter how good that relationship is.  The one lady that I have actually met feels much closer to me as a friend.  I feel connected to her, much more so than the other ladies, because I have spent time laughing with her and hugging her and even crying with her.  I even attended her wedding.  It makes a difference.

Just a thought about social media and relationships.

Bamboo Perspective

Recently our family moved to a new house.  For the most part it has been a positive move so far, although one thing really seemed to bug my husband when we first moved in.  The property that our house sits on is inundated with Bamboo.  Almost 3/4 of the one acre lot is covered in Bamboo.  It has been the source of much family humor over the past two months, but also the source of some aggravation.  It is amazing how fast Bamboo grows and spreads!

I was thinking about the Bamboo today for some reason.  It hit me that it really is a matter of perspective, much like many things in life.  We can view it as a curse, as an annoyance that will be difficult to remove from our property and therefore causes constant distress.

Then I thought about it from a different angle.  What if the Bamboo could be a positive thing in our life, a source of pleasure and/or income.  What if it was the Bamboo that offers us much privacy around the house, and muffles the sound of the nearby traffic while we are in our back yard.  What if the Bamboo is pretty, and offers a home to many wild animals that we are able to watch and enjoy.  What if the presence of the Bamboo offers us the opportunity to make an income from selling it as poles and/or the makings of furniture.

What if the Bamboo offered us the chance at some joy instead of annoyance.

Often in life perspective is what makes a big difference in how people get along.  When the negative is what is the focus, then life gets hard and it is easy to be aggravated and grumpy and annoyed.

However, if the choice is to see positives, to see the good in a situation, it is much easier to think creatively and bring joy out of what could be a messy situation.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Words

All speech…is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer-Robert Louis Stevenson

A lot of people say a lot of things.  Some say more than others, and some do not know how to shut their mouths at all.  This can especially be true when an opportunity arises to help someone through a problem.  Whether in the context of friendship or in a more formal counseling setting, the temptation is there to talk instead of listen.  If there is one thing I have learned in my 42 years on this earth, it is that words are just words until two people really connect. 

It is important to build a relationship based on trust and on respect before advice will be taken seriously.  Personally, I will not hear what anyone says to me unless I feel like they care and they are being real with me.  If I feel a person is acting like they know everything and like they are better than me, then even if their advice is sound I probably am not going to hear it. 

It is true that unless a person feels love her ears do not work!  Until a person feels cared for she cannot hear and begin to rethink any stinking thinking that is holding her back.  Until a person feels that his concerns are not falling on deaf ears, he is unable to hear any words spoken, no matter how well-intentioned.  Being a know-it-all will not incite me to hear your words or act on your advice. 

 

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