Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Love Looks Like

I think I spend too much of my time identifying those things that do NOT look like love in my life.  Then, I spend even MORE of my time replaying that not-love, and analyzing how, exactly, not-loving it was.  This often looks like, "What did she mean when she made that comment?"  "WHY did that person cut me off?"  "I'm not sure that people have really accepted us here." And that quickly degenerates into: "am I being a good enough mother/teacher/friend/wife/person?"  I suspect, largely based on the content I see on TV, the words I hear on the playground, and the hurt I see in others around me that many others do the same thing.  And I am reminded of a unit I teach in grade seven about developing countries, and an activity that was once sent to me from an NGO whose mission it is to change impressions of many African countries in particular.  And the activity was called, "What's RIGHT with this picture?" and it challenged students to look at pictures of people living in what we would consider to be substandard living conditions, existing with what we would consider to be "not enough," and find those things that were joyful and beautiful and LOVE-FUL in those pictures.

I'm going to have to be honest, here.  I am afflicted with pessimism.  There.  I've said it.  I tend to be a "cup-half-empty" person, and I work hard to change this thinking each and every day, but it's hard.  Really, really hard.  And when I've been stuck at home in the deep-freeze Canadian cold with a sick baby for too many days, and my vehicle's in the shop so I can't get out anywhere and I'm a bit too tired still from the holidays but all the OTHER moms seem to have so much energy, what's wrong with ME that I can't even clean my house?! and I'm pre-emptively feeling guilty about sending my kiddo off to daycare in April, and how WILL she manage, she can't even nap on her own yet and isn't anywhere CLOSE to weaning?!, and I just get a little too far into my own head, well then, suddenly, it's quite easy to forget to look for the love.  And suddenly all I'm seeing is my own short-comings, and the flaws in my home, and the guy who didn't use his turn-signal and then honked at ME for being in his way, and the worries about tomorrow, whether justified or not, begin to consume my nights.

But then, in the middle of my wallowings, I manage a trip to the post-office.  And there, in my post box, is a notification that I have a package.  A PACKAGE!  Joyous day!  And when I get that package in my hands, I see that it is from the UK, and I only know one person in the UK, and she already sent me a Christmas card, but then I see it is from a blog friend- a person who I have never met in person, but who is OH, SO BEAUTIFUL of a person, and she has shown me today what is RIGHT with this picture!  And today, good readers, I will show you what LOVE looks like!  It looks like INFLATABLE GLOBES delivered in brown paper packaging!

So THANK YOU, Jingle Bella.  THANK YOU!  And THANK YOU also to Tova and her sister Natasha, who are compiling boxes out on the west coast to send directly from military bases out that way- THANK YOU!!  The globes will be added to the Afghanistan box promptly, which I hope to send out in late February, but they and the correspondence from others of you have already served to teach an important lesson to me- there is so much LOVE in the world, and although our popular media is teaching us to look to what's WRONG in the world, we would do ourselves SO MUCH good to rather look for the LOVE instead.  In the midst of my late January funk, I got to look at what's RIGHT with this picture, and the answer is: SO MUCH.  So much is right.  And this year, 2011, I will do my very best to remember that each and every day.

Keep sending the love!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

and... we're back!

Happy New Year, all of you!

Whew!  I don't know about you, but these holidays SWALLOWED. ME. WHOLE.  Literally, I felt completely encompassed by the happy madness, and the challenges of travelling out of province with a baby to meet relatives and friends were both exciting and nerve-wracking.  BUT, we survived, and it seems we are finally settling back into "real life" as we know it, at least for now (although the poor babe is a little worse for wear- at the moment, she is trying to sleep off a mild fever and little upset stomach which I'm certain is residual from the busy-ness of the last month or so!).   So, for those of you who have contacted me, THANK YOU, and I have done my best to reply as best I could between the social obligations and events, and to those who haven't and who perhaps suspected I had fallen off the end of the Earth, I'M HERE, and ready for action now that the new year is well underway!

So, first a shout out to TOVA!!  She is a total superstar, and has already compiled and maybe even shipped a box from British Columbia, so THANK YOU for that!!

As for the rest of us, if you are feeling refreshed and ready, then I'm ready to go at my end!  Let's fill some boxes, shall we?!  I'm delivering a few diaper boxes to my school next week with instructions for my co-workers to start filling.  I'm also going to get into my classroom and clean up some shelves to see what I can send.  If you're in Canada, build a box of your own and send it FOR FREE from your own military resource centre or base!  And if you have something light-weight that you don't mind sending to me, I'll throw it in a box Kandahar-bound for you!  My details again:

Box 135
Sanford, MB
R0G 1K0

I don't have much else to say, for now.  My brain is still a bit doughy, I think, from gingerbread and egg-nog residue, no doubt, but if you have questions, concerns, encouragement, love, or stories to tell, write to me!  Let's make 2011 about love and good things!

Sending warm thoughts your way- you folks are amazing!