The Challenge of Raising A Gentle Giant

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He wasn’t my first-born, but the moment they placed the sweet little bundle of boy in my arms I knew there would be different challenges in raising him. He was a healthy baby and thankfully those challenges wouldn’t be of the medical sort, but the difference in raising a boy are always present. As he entered the years of playgrounds and sandboxes, there began the instances of little boys wanting to play a bit rougher than I had witnessed my daughter and her playmates at that age. Pushing and shoving, sticks in the air, and mutterings of “boys will be boys” filled the playground and my little guy’s world. They also filled my heart with trepidation and a little despair as I wondered how I would raise the kind of man I wanted my son to be, the kind who was compassionate to others, who was aware of someone’s need and was willing to help them, the kind who would be strong yet gentle.

Inevitably, my sweet little boy gravitated toward sports, specifically football, and I was faced with yet another challenge. Raising a boy to be tough in sports can be a double-edged sword. Even with the best of coaches, and he’s had some amazing ones, the sidelines are filled with shouts to “tackle harder” and “get that guy” and “you’re tougher than that” none of which are intended to encourage aggression off the field, yet teaching them to leave it all on the field takes constant reminders and discussions I wish I didn’t have to have with my son at such a young age. A love of sports comes with an interest in professional athletes some of which didn’t learn to “leave it all on the field” and are in the news for domestic abuse, animal abuse, and other behaviors that maybe stem from a belief that they are invincible and will hear the cheers no matter what they do. It’s not that I don’t expect to have these tough conversations with my kid, but having the “when a girl says no, it means no” conversation was one I thought would come a bit later in life.

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5 Things I Want My Gentle Giant To Know:

1. Being a great athlete is more than being great on the field. The world is your field and when your days of sports come to an end, it is on this field where your performance will truly matter.

2. When a girl says no, it means no, but she shouldn’t have to say no. You should be aware if she’s uncomfortable and back off. Truth is this goes for anyone in any situation. 

3. Always be the guy who stands up for what is right instead of the guy who lingers in the background, knowing he’s witnessing something very wrong, but is uncomfortable speaking up.

4. Don’t get caught up in messages like “man up” and ” real men don’t cry” and the idea that men are superior to women or that being part of a wolf pack ups your cool factor. Be you, whatever that looks like.

5. Be aware of your surroundings in all you do in your life. Being present and being aware of those around you will make you the best person you can be as you will be truly in touch with others and those who might need a little compassion in their life.

As a mother of a daughter and a son, I share this advice with both and try to raise my children equally. The truth is the world still demands differences from each, sometimes subtle, sometimes not. I encourage my children to be the best they can be in all they do, including sports, and I am always their biggest cheerleader. However, it is my job as a parent to have the difficult conversations, to constantly remind them of what is truly important, to raise compassionate human beings no matter their gender.

I’m raising champions, but I also choose to raise gentle giants. What do you choose?

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This post was part of this month’s #1000speak. Add your post by following the link below.

Grounds For Sculpture

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“Everything you can imagine is real.” ― Pablo Picasso

“One eye sees, the other feels.” ― Paul Klee

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection.” ― Oscar Wilde

The Red String Of Fate

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“It is part of scientist Matthew Lieberman’s case that our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water.” Lieberman who is a Professor and SCN (Social Cognitive Neuroscience) Lab Director at UCLA Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences conducts research on social cognitive neuroscience which focuses on how the human brain carries out social information processing. His research has led him to a connection between physical pain and social pain. Next time someone tells you their heart is broken or their feelings are hurt, stop and think about that for a minute.

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I personally believe we are wired to connect and crave that social acceptance on some level. However, as I’ve told my children with every relocation, you only need one good friend to make it feel like home. Some believe they need to be surrounded by people to feel accepted, invited to all the parties, hit a certain number of likes, followers, or “friends” on social media. When I think of that feeling of coming home, the kind that illicits a deep, satisfied sigh as the corners of your mouth inevitably form a smile, I think of the people I have truly connected with through the years. I have been lucky enough to meet people from all walks of life in my many moves, and am a better person for it. And yet, during each of those periods in my life there were only a couple whom I felt in my very soul I had been destined to cross paths with, meant to connect with if only for a short time.

In those instances, I always recall an old folklore:  Walking home one night, a young boy sees an old man standing beneath the moonlight. The man explains to the boy that he is attached to his destined wife by a red thread. He shows the boy the young girl who is destined to be his wife. Being young and having no interest in having a wife, the young boy picks up a rock and throws it at the girl, running away. Many years later, when the boy has grown into a young man, his parents arrange a wedding for him. On the night of his wedding, his wife waits for him in their bedroom, with the traditional veil covering her face. Raising it, the man is delighted to find that his wife is one of the great beauties of his village. However, she wears an adornment on her eyebrow. He asks her why she wears it and she responds that when she was a young girl, a boy threw a rock at her that struck her, leaving a scar on her eyebrow. She self-consciously wears the adornment to cover it up.

According to this East Asian belief, the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. There are different variations including that those connected to this string which can stretch but never break are destined to be lovers, even married at some point. From what I’ve experienced, soul mates come in all forms.

Red String Of Fate

My red string has stretched and pulled and at times felt like it would physically snap in two, but someone on the other end always seems to take a step closer loosening the tension and bringing us even closer together once more. I like to believe there isn’t just one person on the other end of that string as that responsibility shouldn’t fall on one single person. When I picture who is connected to my red string of fate, I can see all those who love me unconditionally whether the string is extended farther than humanly possible or so close I can see its fraying edges. Those I’ve truly connected with will always be on the other end of a string that leads right to my heart. And, if you see me on the other end of your string and ever need me to take a step closer, just give that string a little tug. I’m here.

 

Whom do you see on the other end of your red string of fate?

This post was part of this month’s #1000speak focusing on the theme of connection.

The View From Here: Napa Valley

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I spend a lot of time looking at life through my lens, and am often asked if I don’t feel like I’m missing out by having my eye glued to the viewfinder. My answer stands, “I feel I miss the treasures when I’m looking at the big picture.”

This Is Not Just A Sweater

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“If I close my eyes, I can see her sitting on the brown velour seventies couch in our living room wrapped in that ugly green sweater, relaxing with each passing minute as though cocooned in a blissful state of peace.” – Little Miss Wordy

My little tribute to my own mom is featured today at What The Flicka?

I hope you’ll check it out and remember a little something special about those who’s motherly

role in your own life made a difference.

Ten Things Of Thankful: Through My Lens

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Sometimes, scrolling through your recent photos shows you just how many moments you have to be thankful for in life.

Give it a go!

This post was part of Ten Things Of Thankful.

Ten Things Of Thankful

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1. I’m thankful I have the physical ability to drag myself to the gym every day even if the enthusiasm isn’t always there. I’m always thankful I did it when it’s over.

2. I’m thankful my family and I never go hungry. Our hearts are full. Our fridge is stocked. Our souls are fed.

3. I’m thankful for making new friends at this stage of my life. When you’re in your 40’s, making a new friend is an unexpected golden nugget that brightens your world.

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4. I’m thankful to have experienced “normal” at our house these last two weeks when my other half wasn’t traveling for a change. “Normal” looks good on us.

5. I’m thankful to have discovered a new coffee flavor for my Keurig. That morning cup sets the tone for the rest of my day and a delicious flavor is a great start.

6. I’m thankful to have discovered a poem that inspired me this week. It stayed with me for days so I shared it here.

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7. I’m thankful for those I’ve loved and lost. In the loving and losing I’ve grown bigger than the biggest elephant on the tallest tree.

8. I’m thankful my children still want to scoot over on the couch and rest their head on my shoulder without any prompting from me.

9. I’m thankful for friends near and far who reach out when they sense my heart may need a hug.

10. I’m thankful for the drive within me that may dim for a brief time, but never goes completely dark.

Head over to Lizzi Rogers’ Ten Things Of Thankful linkup here.

Photo Friday: Jamaica

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“Can you see the sunset real good on the West side? You can see it on the East side too.”
― S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders

“He stepped down, avoiding any long look at her as one avoids long looks at the sun, but seeing her as one sees the sun, without looking.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

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Imagine A Woman

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Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past’s influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.

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Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.
– Patricia Lynn Reilly