Friday, February 28, 2014

Hectic; Because Life Just is....

I have been doing my duties as a mom of three and by it's nature, it is hectic.  To add to the mix, I am the PTA President for my kids' K-8 school of 830 students.  I have also volunteered to be the local PTA liaison to Portland Public Schools for the 482 million dollar bond to rebuild three high schools, one middle school and to repair countless others.  Neither one of those jobs is glorious.  I am blessed to be in a position where I can be a "stay at home" mom, though staying at home rarely factors in.

Our school has grown from 450 kids about 6 years ago to 830 this year. Our rapid growth has created lots of stress and for next year and upheaval.  Our first and third graders will be sent to a third campus about a mile away next year.  That campus is already occupied by a program called ACCESS and they will have to adjust to this change too.  The hope is that this is just a one year solution and that boundaries will "fix" the issue going forward.  The idea of moving some of our community members out of the school is nothing short of crappy but in the end, I believe that is what will happen.  On the plus side, the school that they are likely to attend will have many of the same folks from our current school.  It is highly a emotional subject and uncharted territory .

Kees will be going to the third campus.  This is good because as the PTA President, I have some skin in the game.  My family will be effected so I get to chime in and have my vote count.  Yesterday Coulter said he wished he could go to the new campus, Rose City Park.  I asked why and was very pleasantly surprised by his answer.  He said "I'm worried that Kees will get school sick.  You know, like home-sick but for your school.  If I was there then he wouldn't have to feel alone."  I was so struck by his love for his brother, his thoughtful feelings and what his solution was.

In talking to Kees he is not really worried.  Yes, it will be his third campus in three years but he is basically fine with it.  Our children are generally more resilient than we give them credit for.  I have listened to the concerns of parents in reference to their precious little children.  I went to 12 schools and I turned out this awesome.  Purely by the nature of having parents that care so much, these children are ahead. It also means they have the support of their parents and probably are pretty solid kids.  I wish the parents would recognize their children's strength.  I remember as a child when someone spoke to me in a condescending tone I thought, "I am short, not stupid."  I knew I was strong and until proven otherwise, I will assume my children are strong.  I know they have support.

Our community will slog through this together.  There are many issues that need to be addressed and three campuses are messy.  There is funding, transportation, library, computers, teachers, principals, councilors, moving, aftercare, moving of the existing program, working with the other community in the building, support staff, scheduling and so on.  It is a never ending list at this point.  I am afraid that until the first month of school is over there will be fear and uncertainty.  Until that point, I am pretty sure my life will be hectic.  Wish me luck....I need it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sophia's Birthday Present

Sophia turned 13 last month and I wanted to give her wisdom.  I have some....but I know so many women that are wise. It only seemed right to ask for the wisdom of the tribe.  I have had some requests to post my letter.  Here is my request to these women.

Dear women of the tribe,
I am writing to you because you are wise, have good advice, are smart, talented and I love you.  Sophia is turning 13 in January and I am putting together a retreat at the beach with a few relatives.  There are not enough rights of passage for young people (in my view) so I am creating one for Sophia.  I want her to know that becoming a woman is exciting and challenging and that she has support all around her.  I want her to feel your wisdom and know that there are hundreds of years of experience between us that we will share with her if and when she needs us.

My plan is to create a book with all of our collective wisdom, stories, hopes, dreams, failures, successes and ultimately, lessons.  This is yours to create and make what you want.  You can include pictures, articles, poetry, letters, clippings, diary entries, anything you want.  I have listed some questions as a jumping off point but in the end it will be whatever you want to share with Sophia.  Please know that this can be long or short.  I know how busy life gets.  You can type and print it or hand-write it and return it in the enclosed envelope.  Or, if you’d rather, you can email it to me ( and I will print it.  Thank you for your time if you choose to participate.   Sophia’s book will be a treasure for her for a long time and will be her big gift at the retreat.   The retreat is on the weekend of January 24th, 2014.  If you miss the date please do not hesitate to mail it later.  Again, I know this is asking a lot of you and time is at a premium. 

I want to bind the book of 8 ½ by 11 sheets so please leave an inch on the (long) left hand side of the paper (and if you use the back, an inch on the right) so I can bind the book.  I don’t want any wisdom to get lost in the binding. 

The following questions are for reference.  You can answer them or write about anything you want.  The main point is for you to impart your wisdom to Sophia.   

1.     Please tell Sophia about yourself as a young person.  What were your biggest accomplishments? Fears? Things you loved? Hobbies?  What was your life like?  What did you think being an adult meant?

2.     Please tell Sophia about yourself as an adult.  What are your biggest accomplishments? Fears? Things you love? Hobbies?  What is your life like now?  How is being an adult different than you thought it would be?

3.     Tell a story about yourself as a young person.

4.     What do you remember that was great about being a teenager?

5.     What is challenging about being an adult but you still have to face?

6.     What is something it took you YEARS to realize that you wish you had known sooner?
·      For Example - Just because you have known someone a long time doesn’t mean you have to remain friends with them.  If someone is an energy suck, complains all the time or is overly self centered I can just move on.  I don’t have to carry people around that don’t treat me as I deserve to be treated. 

·      Superfluous drama is for weak people with small minds and nothing better to do.  Cut them loose.

7.     Write about your memories of being 13ish.  What do you remember that was good? Bad? Challenges?

8.     What is your opinion of today’s media’s images and definitions of women?  What do you say to a 13 year-old girl who sees these depictions every day and may not believe it every time her mom tells her she is a perfect Sophia.

9.     Write about an obstacle that you faced when you were a young person and how you overcame it or didn’t and how you handled it.

10. What do you see now in your former self that you wish you could go back and tell yourself, “It’s going to be alright.” in the long term? 

11. What do you remember was a REALLY BIG DEAL that the mature you now realizes it wasn’t.

12. Share an experience that seemed terrible at the time but has given you perspective now.

13. Is there something you did that seemed like a good idea at the time that in retrospect wasn’t such a great move?

14. If you could go back, what would you definitely do that you may have been afraid to do for fear of being embarrassed?

15. What piece(s) of advice would you give to your 13 year-old self?  What do you wish someone had told you? 

16.  What’s the best advice you can give about love relationships?

17.  What does success look like?

18.  What does a powerful woman look like?

19.  Write anything else you want for Sophia or any young woman you think could use good advice. 

Thank you so much for participating in this gift to Sophia.  I want her to know that she has many women who love and support her and that collectively, we have hundreds of years of experience.

All the best,