Friday, October 30, 2015

Mr. Cocky Pants and Lady Samson

A few weeks ago I measured my pal, Satish, for a new sweater I planned to make him for Christmas.  He's one of the biggest University of Michigan fans I know, so of course he was elated when I said I could knit a blue pullover with a gold "M" on the upper left side.  Surprised at how much he has grown in the last two years, I exclaimed, "Wow!  I'd better get to work on this pronto."
Days later I had a conversation with Satish's mom during which Nidhi said, "He's so excited about his sweater...he even asked if you could finish it by the end of October."
"I wonder why?" I replied.
Then, while driving Satish and Danta home from school, we got to talking about prospective Halloween costumes.
"I'm going to be an Avenger!" Danta exclaimed...after which he had to explain to me what that meant.  (Since I no longer teach preschool or first grade, it's hard to keep up with the latest superheroes.)
"How 'bout you, Satish?" I asked, glancing in the rear-view mirror.
He shrugged.
"Would you like to be a Michigan football coach?"
"I've considered it," Satish admitted. 
I knew he'd never ask me to do a rush job on his gift, so I volunteered.  "Well, your sweater's supposed to be for Christmas, but I could try and get it done in a couple of weeks.  Would you like that?"
He brightened.  "Yes!"
" 'bout this..," I offered.  "The back is almost done.  I'll get to work on it this weekend and let you know by next Friday if I can finish it or not, so you'll have time to plan a back up costume."
"What else would you wear?" I asked.  "A whistle and a ball cap?"
"Yeah," Satish nodded.  "And cocky pants."
I giggled.  "You mean like the ones I have on?"
"No...they're more brown."
I knew he meant khaki pants, but I didn't correct him.
"Why that color?"
"Coach Harbaugh wears them," Satish explained.  "So now all of the coaches have started wearing them, too."
"Sounds like a plan."  I smiled. 

In the past few days, I've spent every spare moment working on Satish's sweater and am delighted to say I just finished sewing the blue and gold "M" on the front...a day ahead of deadline.  And I know that it's big enough for him to wear for at least two football seasons...maybe more.  Then he can pass it on to Danta.  
Well, maybe not.  
In typical fashion, Mr. Contrary requested that his  sweater be green and white a la Michigan State.  
In any event, I'll be giving my head and my hands a break for the weekend, so here's a repeat of last year's Halloween blog, "Lady Samson."
Hope you and yours have a safe and happy celebration!

Lady Samson
Originally published on October 31, 2014

Outside my window, in the midst of howling wind and a rainy/snowy mix, I can hear the shouts and laughter of children braving the weather to go trick-or-treating.  For the past three years I was with my pals, Satish and Danta, and their family, but this year it was not meant to be, so earlier today I passed out treats to little ones I know in my neighborhood.  Now I'm happily sequestered in my office until Halloween is officially over.
You see, it's not one of my favorite holidays.
Sure, when I was a kid, I loved dressing up, loved pretending to be someone who represented my unconscious alter-ego at the time.  If memory serves I was once a gypsy, a hillbilly, and a hobo.  The thirty-five millimeter film reveals my three-year-old self as a tiger, complete with a blackened nose, thanks to my mother's careful application of her mascara. 
But my favorite part of Halloween was when my mother would cut the top off of our pumpkin.  Then I would eagerly shove my hands into the gooey mess of seeds and pulp, pulling it out by stringy handfuls so I could horrify my sisters.  There are pictures of me stripped to my tidy whities gloriously grinning with my arms elbow-deep in the muck.  They still make me laugh with delight and a glorious awareness.
Then and now I've never minded being a terrific mess as long as I can clean up afterwards.  And that counts for more than what you can see on the outside.

This past year has been a bittersweet one as ghosts from past life experiences have snuck up behind me, spooking me with their relentless repetition.  Yes, I've had moments of indescribable peace, but they've been interspersed with days of debilitating grief.  It's been a year of loss and a messy one at that.  Not that I haven't experienced this kind of thing before.  Live long enough and you'll start to notice patterns that repeat themselves.
Still, in all this time I can see a slow evolution...a strengthening of my spirit as I allow myself to drift in a muddle of confusion, to cry and ask why and finally let go of needing to know all the answers.  I can feel my alter-ego becoming more conscious through each lesson and each opportunity to reframe it so that I can learn what I need to learn and move on.
In all this time, I've been growing my hair...and I don't think that's a coincidence.

Last spring I was teaching a yoga for kids class with a group of lively preschoolers.  All of them had shoulder-length hair or longer; a couple even had tendrils drifting halfway down their backs.  As we rolled up out of a ragdoll pose, Nina shook her head and gently pushed her hair off of her face.
"It feels really good to do this," she beamed, tilting her head so the blonde locks dusted her upper back. 
"Yeah," piped up Emmie as she mimicked her friend.  "It really does."
"Yeah," echoed Milly and Brianne as they tossed their heads from side to side.
Nina looked at me knowingly.  "And you know, Katie, it feels really good when I'm naked."
"I'll bet," I said, winking.  At the time, my hair barely dusted my neck, but I had to giggle at Nina's forthright discovery. 
Since then I've discovered that the longer my hair grows, the more I allow my feminine side to flourish.  I can now pull it back into a French braid or twist it into a clip.  In the morning I love to wake up knowing I don't have bed head and can run a brush through my locks with more than one styling option.  The silver stripe over my left temple looks bolder and I no longer feel the need to hide it.
Perhaps I'm like Samson...and as my hair grows, so does my inner strength.  For certain I know that my ability to handle waves of sadness has become more stable and enduring.  I'm able to recognize an emotion without repressing it or shoving it where it doesn't belong.  I can keep my own counsel and still know when to reach out for help and a shoulder to lean on.

A few weeks ago I dreamed of teaching some kids at our local art museum.  My little charges were painting landscapes at their easels, fat brushes bursting with color in their tiny hands.  I smiled as I meandered my way through the rows of preschoolers when I happened to look up and see a man from my past.  Raji stood at a distance with his own group of children.  I was startled at first as he was completely bald.  Where a thick mane of wavy dark hair used to adorn Raji's crown there was now a shiny pate. 
As I tucked my own long, dark hair behind my ears, he smiled at me, but said nothing.  I nodded and smiled back, then turned my attention once again to my did he.
Waking up the next morning, I knew that Raji no longer had any power over me, but neither did he seemed to be weakened for having his hair taken away.  I suppose it was simply my unconscious self wanting me to wake up to the fact that I'm finally done with that chapter of my life.  That I no longer have to plow through my pain with vicious determination.  I can soften and creatively go with the flow while I paint a colorful new way of being...and still keep growing.
I plan to let my hair unwind as it will over the next year or so.  Perhaps by next Halloween I'll know what it feels like to have wavy tendrils dust my naked back, metaphoric or otherwise.  And perhaps I'll shift from embodying a feminine version of Samson as my alter-ego might want to try out Lady Godiva instead.
I'm certain the ride will be a fascinating one.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mysterious ways

One day you'll look back and when you see
where you were this love.
While you could stand there
you could move on this moment...follow this feeling.

From "Mysterious Ways" by U2

Yesterday I went online to balance my checkbook and pay some bills.  Before I got started, I opened a window for Pandora radio when, much to my surprise, the opening guitar riff from "Life in the Fast Lane" filled the office.  I've been a fan of the Eagles since the late seventies, and lately this song in particular (well, at least the title) mirrors my life since early September.  
Even though the weekend was incredibly busy with work, play, and everything in-between, I watched "The History of the Eagles", a documentary about the rise, disillusion, and rebirth of one of the most famous bands in America.  To be honest, I watched it twice, then played the concert DVD in the background while I cleaned the house and did some baking.  With every song, every lyric, I could clearly recall a moment from my past in which the Eagles was the band on the radio, on my record player, and years later, on the CDs I popped into the car stereo.   Whenever I hear the guitar solo on "Hotel California", I'm taken back to a long-ago drive to South Carolina.  When the strains of "Desperado" fill the air, I clearly remember my first solo apartment in Troy, Ohio where I spend a long, lonely year living alone among strangers.  Back in 1994 when my life was falling apart, "Take it to the Limit" always seemed to be playing when I got in the car, walked in the door from a long day at work, or sat in the dark contemplating my next move.  
Glenn Frey mentions in the documentary that people always told him they didn't just listen to the Eagles, the did things while the music blared on in the background.  Be it a friends-only road trip or a break-up with a partner, quitting their job or landing a new vocation, tunes from the Eagles became the go-to soundtrack of their lives.  I can certainly relate.  After all, there's an homage to them in my first two novels...and the fact that one of the main characters thinks of "Take it to the Limit" as his signature song is no coincidence at all.  
Not that I haven't had experiences which some people would label as twists of fate, or as my friend, Lisa, says happen "only in Katie's world."

Several years ago, my agent at the time had been pitching A Tapestry of Truth for nearly a year, but hadn't found the right editorial match.  Even though I was disappointed by the rejections, they didn’t have the same punch as being dismissed for years by literary agents.  At least I was having my work shown to publishing houses.  At least I had that.
One day not long after my birthday, my agent sent emails from editors who praised my writing style, but had passed on the novel.  It was heartening to read their positive comments and compliments...and worth all the years of waiting to be recognized for the time and energy I had put into honing my skills as a novelist...the years of rewrites and edits...all the late nights in my office...all the ink and paper that had gone into submissions.
Still, the whole process made me wonder if I needed to let go of my dream of publishing.  By then I knew I wouldn’t have a child.  I had all but given up on having a healthy relationship.  Was I going to have to surrender this one, too? 
Pondering this question while running errands, I had a quiet conversation with God.  “I’ve worked my ass off for this, You know,” I said out loud.  “I really want it.  Am I ever going to get published?”
In that moment, I glanced to the right as a truck zoomed past.  The speeding driver was halted at the next red light and as I rolled to a stop, I saw his license plate. 
NOT YET,” it said.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I laughed, “Well, thanks for least it didn’t say, 'NO!'”
Six months later I made the difficult choice to sever the contract with my agent as three years had gone by and there had been no momentum with publishing houses.  Yet I had energy to spare and spent the next year and a half self-publishing the backlog of books that had sat in my office for over a decade.  Then, a year later, I embarked on the long and life-changing journey of writing The Lace Makers.  
But not everything ran smoothly.
The printing house I had chosen sent the first batch of books without covers, and with every order that followed, some kind of erroneous glitch on their end left me waiting weeks for delivery, unsure if the books would arrive intact and as I had designed them.  Communicating with the company was like walking through a labyrinth of ineptitude on my way to endless dead ends which left me frustrated and fit to be tied.  While it was a joy to see my novels in print, it was a huge disappointment to work incredibly hard, yet be at the mercy of a company that lacked integrity and follow-through. 
Time would prove that moving on would eventually lead to more auspicious new beginnings.

In "The History of the Eagles", Joe Walsh quotes a philosopher's ideology saying, "As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other.  Later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel.  But at the don't."
I know all too well the mysterious ways that can implode a life, then miraculously bring it back from the ashes.  And I can also recognize the endless signs along the way which reveal where I was held by love, by grace, and by a force I can't quite explain.  There are no coincidences.  In paying close attention to the what's happening in the present moment, I've learned that spirituality speaks most clearly to me through numbers, through nature, and through music.   When I honor how the world I can't see communicates with me in languages I can understand, it's effortless to move on the moment and follow the guidance. 
Most folks consider the number seven to be lucky, but for me three digits will trump that single one every time.  Fifteen years ago, I noticed a pattern in which I'd glance at the clock when it was exactly 8:11.  Day after day, month after month, my eyes were serendipitously drawn my watch or the DVD player or whatever device revealed those magical numbers.  Soon license plates appeared everywhere with the numbers 811  in their configuration and even the ledger in my bank account revealed the digits, although often with a decimal point in-between.  I didn't take it as a sign of foreboding, just a wink from the universe letting me know I'm right on time for whatever was happening in the moment. 
Once I traveled to the Lion's stadium in Detroit where I sat with a friend watching her son play football in an after-season bowl game.  It had been a tense fourth quarter when I glanced at the scoreboard and realized the clock had stopped with eight minutes, eleven seconds remaining.
"Oh, something good is about to happen," I said to Jan.
"How do you know that?"
"I just this play."
And sure enough, within a minute, Jan's son made a game-changing defensive move that turned the tide and led his team to victory.

Nowadays I don't always experience that kind of outward validation of my intuition.  It's more private, yet infinitely more powerful.  
This past summer I changed printing companies and waited on tenterhooks for the first shipment.  I was completely reassured with the UPS man showed up on my doorstep earlier than expected...and with boxes on which someone had printed 811-7 in big bold numbers.  The following morning, while updating my blogger page, I saw that the official number of people reading my posts that week was 811.  Just yesterday when I balanced my checkbook, the number 811 showed up among the totals.  
Jupiter went into Virgo on 8/11 this year and what a grand surprise that turned out to be.  As the harbinger of good luck, expansion, and all things "living large", having the red planet in my sign for the next year is an incredible boon.  Having it show up on 8/11 only makes me pay more attention to the energy behind the forward momentum.  Perhaps that's why my life has taken off like a shot...or a cannon as my friend, Barb, would say.

Last Monday I was scheduled to pick up a new lease vehicle that has a digital stereo system, so I loaded an MP3 player with the Eagles oldies but goodies, some new stuff, and a few of Don Henley's greatest hits.  I made sure to also upload a copy of U2's "Mysterious Ways", as it's the only song I can listen to every day, every hour without ever tiring of it.  The lyrics remind me of my uncommon life lived outside the box of convention in which I've learned to trust things I can't explain...and that in order to kiss the sky, I first need to kneel on the ground. 
Plus, it has a killer opening riff.
Alas, on my way to the dealership, I realized the MP3 player had been left behind in my office.  Oh, well, I thought.  I can always bring it along for the next ride.   Moments later, when I pulled out on the very same stretch of highway where six years earlier my ramshackle Pontiac had been t-boned by an SUV, I turned on the radio and what do you know?  A classic rock station was blasting "Life in the Fast Lane". 
Smiling to myself, I silently thanked the not-so-mysterious forces which have benevolently brought me far from where I've been, revealed countless blessings along the way...and provided an awesome soundtrack that never ceases to inspire me.

Friday, October 9, 2015

You have no idea

          The other day I was hanging out with my pal, Danta, and his friend when it was time to drive them to a soccer game.  In a flurry of putting on shoes and filling water bottles, as usual, Danta and I were having a ball talking to each other in silly voices, each one goofier than the last.
Danta's friend pulled on his shin guards and gave me a slow smile.  "You're the craziest woman I've ever met!" Eric playfully exclaimed.
Lifting a brow, I shot back, "Oh, you have no idea."
"Yeah," Danta nodded eagerly.  "No idea AT ALL!"
Then we both laughed until we snorted, much to Eric's amusement.  What a gift to have a little boy in my life who certainly has a clue or two about my sometimes peculiar personality...and the gift of sharing the same silly sense of humor has been priceless.  Then again, kids have always seemed to "get me", even when most adults stand by and wonder what in the world I'm up to.

Since the late nineties, my life has taken some unexpected twists and turns.  I've experienced harrowing, life-changing circumstances that I would have never chosen, and wormed my way out of leaps of faith that landed me in a pile of crap instead of allowing me to wing my way to a new state of being.  Though my friends have been supportive when they can, I've walked through almost all of it by myself.  There were times when I longed for another person to have some idea of what it felt like to be in my shoes, so I'd reach out to call someone.  But more often than not, an answering machine picked up or the phone rang incessantly and I soon realized that I was on my own in more ways than one.
In my twenties, I watched most of my friends get married and have children while I spent the better part of my days in the classroom teaching, planning, and doing endless paperwork.  In my thirties, my friends were buying bigger houses, going on vacations, and raising their kids while I quit my job, started a yoga business, and struggled to launch a writing career.  In my early forties, my friends' lives became increasingly demanding with work, family, and other responsibilities while mine became increasingly despondent and frustrating.  Thus the impetus for my move to California.  But even at Esalen, I often felt lost and alone.
It's not that I lament for what I never had.  At least not anymore.  For I've come to understand that I was destined for other things...and many of them have not yet begun to materialize. 
 I'm simultaneously a maverick and a late bloomer.  For decades I've walked my own path on my own terms, all the while knowing that I haven't really come to terms with who I am or what I'm supposed to be doing.  It's only been in the past nine months that I've begun to truly embody the contentment of going my own way, beginning anew with the wisdom I've gained, the scars I'm enduring, and the grace that allows me to wake up every day and be thankful for the life I've been given.  It's not at all like the life I had planned when I was in my twenties.  At that time, there was no template for a healthy, vibrant single woman in her forties, and I suppose that some people might still call me an "Old Maid" behind my back. 
No matter.
I said to someone yesterday, "I can't waste my time worrying about what other people think of takes away so much of the joy of just being."

Still, there are more bridges to cross...and they used to terrify me.  As a child, I'd cover my eyes and hold my breath until my mother or father had safely navigated across the viaduct.  When I learned to drive and approached a passageway across a body of water, I'd panic, gripping the steering wheel so hard, my knuckles would ache.  But I'd never turn around to find an alternate path.  I simply summoned up the courage to take a deep breath, put my foot on the gas pedal, and just keep going.  Even so, when I reached the other side, the relief I felt was palpable and it took a while for my heart to stop pounding. 
There have been many times I've journeyed until there was nowhere left to go, until I had reached the edge of the earth -- literally in Big Sur and figuratively most everywhere else.  The only way to move forward was to cross a bridge that led to unknown territory, unfamiliar places, and unexamined possibilities.  Again and again I've crossed so many chasms, I cannot count them all.  Yet my life brings endless choices and a host of chances to venture into new experiences.
Now I find myself having gone as far as I can as an independent woman.   What I'm seeking are inter-dependent relationships and trust that as long as I remain curious and creative, whatever I need will surely meet me along the way.  After all, since my return from California, I've been surrounded by a host of incredible people who may not be able to relate to where I've been, but can certainly appreciate the journey because of who I am today.  
I'm no longer alone...and that's a priceless gift as well.

A few weeks ago I rearranged some artwork in my living room which left an open space above the fireplace.  Searching all over the city for an earthy print to hang over the mantle, I finally came upon a gorgeous bridge surrounded by tall birch trees and knew it would beautifully tie the entire room together.   The colors are muted, but harmonize with the walls, the woodsy atmosphere makes the whole room warmer, and the long, winding bridge reminds me that to seek new landscapes takes courage, particularly when I don't know what's on the other side. 
One night I spent some time meditating on the print, contemplating how scary it might be to travel across the wooden planks, many that dipped below the surface, then rose up again, leading to the other side.  A slow smile crossed my face when I came to the incredible awareness that I've spent the last five years crossing that precarious passageway and am now standing on the other side of life...blooming where I'm planted and no longer longing for a life that was not meant to be.  
In the end, I have no idea what's next, but I trust the journey...and that's when the real magic can begin.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

He's just a little boy

Last Sunday I was sitting at Pacesetter Park on a sunny afternoon, eagerly awaiting the final game of a soccer tournament.  Earlier in the day, Satish's mom had called to say his team had advanced in the rankings and if I was available, he'd love to have me come and watch him play.  Usually I spend Sundays catching up on paperwork, editing, and preparing for the week ahead.  But I'd watched Satish's team compete the day before and was delighted to see how well they worked together.  So, I kicked myself into high gear and in no time had finished most of what I needed to accomplish so I could hightail it over to the park.
When I arrived, Satish's older sister, Neela, was sitting by the sidelines working on her geometry homework.  "Satish kept asking if you were coming," she brightened.  "He's been watching for you."
"I'm so glad I could surprise him," I smiled. 
Just then I saw him warming up on the soccer filed.  He turned to look my way and I gave him a little wave.  Satish was too focused to wave back, but even in the distance I could feel his delight in seeing me on the sidelines.  Sometimes Satish and I don't need words at all to communicate.
But boy, oh boy...ten minutes later when the game started, I heard all kinds of choice words coming from the woman who stood inches behind my chair...and they weren't very nice at all.  She loudly cracked her gum and shouted at her son to move pick up his stop being so lazy.  She said she was tired of watching him play and threatened on more than one occasion to leave the game so she wouldn't have to suffer anymore.  I won't repeat everything she screamed, but suffice it to say, with every syllable that passed her lips, my stomach ached a little more for her child.
Near the end of the first half I whispered to Neela, "I need to move or I'm going to turn around and say that parents like her are one of the reasons I quit teaching." 
Neela nodded in agreement.  "Aren't parents supposed to support their children?"
"That's the idea," I replied.  "You and I certainly would."  Just then my pal made a great defensive play and we both cheered, shouting, "Way to go, Satish!" 
Even so, the woman behind me continued to verbally berate her son...and puke her vile energy all over me.  At one point she shouted something particularly abusive and I turned around to glare at her, but she didn't notice as she was too busy snapping her gum while she hawk-eyed her child, tearing apart his every move.  Never mind that the boys had already played three fast-paced games in less than forty-eight hours.  Never mind that they were all pretty exhausted.  Never mind that the kid was only ten-years-old.
I knew that confronting the woman about her behavior would probably cause a minor explosion and I didn't want to risk antagonizing her.  Still, with every nasty comment that flew from her lips, every verbal slap, I shrunk a little more into myself.
At half time, while I moved my chair to the other side of Neela, the angry mother stomped to the other side of the soccer field where the coach was conferring with the boys.  Crossing her arms, she stood on the sidelines, glaring at her kid until the coach came over and talked to her.  He pointed to where the rest of us sat waiting for the game to resume, so she stomped back over and stood paces away from me.  Thank God. 
But still, she continued to chastise her son...again and again and again. Later, when I found out that she worked with children, I cringed.  And while I have no idea how her child behaves at home or anywhere else, I can't believe he (or any kid for that matter) deserves to have his mother stand on the sidelines and trash talk him.  If I saw that mother beat her son, I'd be law-bound to report it.  What could I do but helplessly stand there and watch the invisible wounds she was inflicting with every sharp word...every insulting comment?  Over the years I've learned that it's the emotional scars which take the longest to heal and it broke my heart that I could nothing about the poor, little boy's invisible injuries. 

These days, when I chat with my former first graders, many of them will say, "When I was your student, you were firm, but fair...and you were funny." 
I'll take that trifecta in stride and say that while I knew my kids needed reliable boundaries, I also knew they needed a teacher who was kind and compassionate.  While most of my students had some pretty stellar parents, many of them came from homes in which they were yelled at constantly.  Some were neglected.  Others were an afterthought.  Many of them arrived at school shrunken into themselves, and I could very clearly recognize the signs of emotional abuse. 
So in the last several years I taught, I never yelled.  I never screamed or verbally slapped my kids.  In fact, they knew that if I became silent, I was truly frustrated and they needed to change some dicey behavior or there would be an imminent consequence.  When a child struggled, as all kids sometimes do, I gave him/her alternate choices, and when that failed, I often took the kid on my lap and read them a book. 
And that worked every single time.

Perhaps I'm a little more sensitive because I know what it feels like to be yelled at incessantly, to have spent the better part of my childhood on pins and needles, unsure if anything I did was to my father's satisfaction.  Every weekend, my sisters and I were under strict orders to complete our chores before we could watch Saturday morning cartoons.  Since neither of my sisters wanted to get sweaty outside, I cut the grass, and often completed the job on Friday night so I could sleep in on Saturday, then watch Bugs Bunny while eating a bowl of corn flakes.  If my sisters were agreeable, I could talk them into washing both my parents' cars on Friday as well.  We meticulously swept the carpet, scrubbed the whitewall tires with steel wool pads, and polished the windows until they sparkled. 
When we were finished, our work had to pass my father's stringent inspection.  If he found one drip, or even one speck of dirt on the sideboards, we were ordered to "get it right."  Always he ordered us to move "faster, faster!"
One Friday afternoon I came home from school and immediately cut the grass, trimming carefully and sweeping the errant blades off the sidewalk.  I went inside to take a shower and when I came back out, my sisters were sitting on the lawn playing. 
"Get up!" I shouted at them.  "You'll mess up the grass and Dad hasn't inspected it yet!"
They laughed at me, but rose to their feet.  Even though I was clean from the shower and it disgusted me to do it, I got down on my hands and knees and fluffed up the grass where they had been sitting so it would look perfect for my father's painstaking scrutiny. 
When I was reluctantly confronted by another parent's scorn for her child, it ripped the band-aid off the wound I thought I had already healed.  I went home that night and thought about all the years I spent trying to live up to someone else's extremely high standards...standards that I've never felt were attainable - then or now.  I sat in silence for a while, more fully recognizing the source of my workaholism, my past addictions to sugar and caffeine and over-the-counter stimulants that kept me moving at the speed of a whirling dervish for decades.
Sure I was productive...but at what cost?  After years of never-ending approval seeking, I eventually imploded and all of the pain I had shoved aside while I worked my butt off boomeranged right back at me until I could no longer ignore it.   Even now I find myself gently healing the dregs of old perfectionistic behavior that I thought had long since been swept away.  
But it's been worth it.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll take Satish to soccer practice.  His teammate with the angry mother will surely be there, although I don't really know what he looks like.  It doesn't really matter.  I'll send all of the boys encouraging thoughts of support and kindness, and pray that the little boy who has tried very hard to do his best will attract the most.  I imagine he needs them. 
And his mother does too, for I've learned that if someone is at peace with themselves, they have no need to berate or control another person.  Her behavior wasn't born in a vacuum either.  Perhaps she was pushed too hard as a child and doesn't know any other way to be.  But I'll be the change I want to see on the soccer field and cheer for all of the kids, not just the ones I know.  
          After all, they're just little boys, learning how to be men.