Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Summer Time!

Happy Wednesday!

And happy Summer Solstice!!!

The days get shorter from here, my friend. Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, of course!

I am happy to report that we are doing well. The traffic in town is definitely picking up. That's a blessing for everyone who relies on it!

Brady P likes it too. 

He likes to sit in the front yard and "watch the world go by." I think it's quite mesmerizing for him. He definitely looks entranced each time a camper, Jeep, motorcycle crew, family with a dog -- anything -- goes by.

When we go on our walks, and he sees people walking, he'll say, "Look, Mummy! Friends!"

Then he'll shout "Hi, Mark! Hi, Abby!" even though he doesn't know them. He just makes up a name and calls them by it! Ha ha! My little hoot.

If we happen to walk alongside other people, he will often ask, "What's your name?" 

I love it.

He definitely knows that we are all connected. I love how I am able to adapt that philosophy myself... learning from him, of course. It takes way less energy to make up reasons that we should be divided from others.

Simply amazing.

Try it, if you don't already practice that. It's a real life-changer!

Yes, he is our little spreader of love and light. Of acceptance and connectedness. Of more than I ever thought was possible in this world.

This is quite the journey we are on. Thanks for coming with us! Our best to you!!!

And if you are up on any given Thursday, we have our Performances in the Park running again for the 2022 season!



Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Healing Power

Another thing that is precious about Brady P is his appreciation and ambition for healing people.

Maybe I have mentioned this before. 

If you get a booboo of any kind, or even mention that you are not feeling good, he stops what he is doing and gets attentive.

"Oh, you're not feeling well?" he'll ask with the utmost concern.

If you are bleeding, he will get you a bandage. He will dote on your owie, kiss it and tell you it's going to be okay while he pats your head.

If your head hurts or you are sick, he will take your hand, pull you to the couch, say, "now, lay down" then cover you up with all the blankets he can find. Then he will bring you your drink (whatever it may be) and find a cherry tomato for you to eat.

"Here is your tomato! Eat it!"

He might also take your temperature for whatever is ailing you.

He gets this overall personality change when he gets in this mode. His voice is so sweet, positive and reassuring. Suddenly his focus is all about the "sick" person. He takes charge.

It is so precious to watch him do this. Usually I am his patient, but I have seen it with others, and I just let him do his thing. 

Sometimes that attention promotes the best healing of all.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Squirrel Story

Hey!

Today I would like to share the squirrel story with you. 

This past spring Brady P and I took the trail behind our house for a little walk. Upon cresting a short hill, I saw a dead red squirrel lying right in our trajectory.

There was no way he wouldn't see it, so I decided to announce it.

Usually when we see a dead squirrel it is smashed with its guts hanging out on the road or something gruesome -- a perfect example to give for why we look before we cross the road.

But this little guy must have gotten poisoned or something because he looked like he was just napping... in a rigor mortis position.

"Oh!" I started. "Oh no! Brady. This squirrel! He's dead!"

"He's dead?" B answered.

"Yes. He died. He's not moving."

Now, I don't know if the stuffed-animal-like appearance of this particular red squirrel made him question my diagnosis, but it could be part of it. I do know that if any living person has a booboo of any sort, he is quick to aid and sympathize.

He is made of love.

I was ready to move on, so I took a couple steps ahead on our path. Brady P was not ready. 

He crouched down in his little stance and spoke quietly to the squirrel. When I think back to that moment, he might have even put his hand above the squirrel in a reverent manner.

What he said was inaudible to me, but the way he crouched there made me envision him as a priest giving the rite of passage to this stiff little animal.

I was instantly blown away by this.

A moment later, he stood up and confirmed, "Mummy, he's dead." 

He touched my hand and said, "It's okay."

Then he lead the charge, and we walked on.

We have talked about death before, and I inform him when someone he knows dies. "They died?" He usually asks, leaving me wonder what he thinks death means.

But after that experience the squirrel, I have a feeling he understands. 

Maybe even more than I do.

Pay attention, my friend. Life is sweet if you look for the sweetness.

A sweet moment we often share

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Lake Lesson

Hey!

I miss you.

I sure hope you are doing well!

But, you know what? I'm learning, alright. I hope you are too. And I can help you learn from my mistakes, if that's okay. Some people learn best by reading, some by doing, some by taking notes, etc. I learn best by making mistakes. 

Ha!

You might remember that I've been quite busy lately. I mean, that's why I scarcely get to this computer to write you your weekly love note. 

It's not you. It's me. Wink.

So I've been busy, alright, and some things have been falling by the wayside as they say. I don't like that feeling.

Life ebbs and flows, however, and we just need to roll with it. But there are some things, like those good things that we do for ourselves to keep us sane and at peak performance that often get left on the side of the road.

Hint: try not to do that.

Starting in April of 2022, I decided to start doing cold water immersion.  Some people sit in ice baths up to their neck for as long as they can stand it. Some people take cold showers.

I have this large and lovely just-above-freezing body of water right down the road. 

I chose the lake.

Her Majesty, Lake Superior, that is!

My first try was 17 seconds in that beautiful frigid beast up to my neck. I made it 48 seconds the second time. Then I surpassed a whole minute!

I was trying to go in once or twice a week because it made me feel sooooooo good... after I got out and warmed up, of course! Let there be no doubt that lake is cold. I brought a thermometer in one time, and when I pulled it out, the mercury was at 33 degrees F.

Coming back to an icy shore

My point is that I was making this wonderfully exhilarating event part of my weekly routine. I was feeling sharp, full of energy and full of life.

Then I got "busy."

Wah waaaaaah.

I was doing all the things I mentioned in my last post plus all the other parts of life that I don't need to bore you with. We all have life to deal with. 

And we should be so lucky.

But let's learn and get it right, okay?

So after a month and a half of busyness taking over my "me time," (that's right, I didn't go in for 6 weeks!) I decided to go back into the lake. Just last week.

I was alone, and I had no towel, but I worked with what I had. I could absolutely feel that I had to get in there. I couldn't take it anymore!!!

So I went in for about 30 seconds at my favorite beach.

As I emerged, the sun warmed the beach rocks just enough, so I could warm myself.

Once I got to shore and felt humanness return, I sat in the rocks and then -- well, let me tell you what my journal says for that day.

    Then I sobbed.

    Sobbed and sobbed.

    "I missed you!" I cried to Her Majesty. (Repeatedly)

    "I needed that." I wailed. (Repeatedly)

    I came out and felt like a totally stripped down version of myself.

    I was not a mom. Or a deputy clerk. Or a girlfriend. Or a mountain bike coach. Or anything.

    I. Just. Was.

Yeah... I needed that!

And all the stress I had been feeling was rinsed away because I realized that I was putting it all on myself to be all those things in such a capacity that I was over-extending me.

Does this sound like anyone you know? Do you do this? How do you real yourself back in when you do?

More often than not we commit to more than we can handle. There are so many facets to life, and, in a way, it's fulfilling to be a part of as much as we can. But we must remember to always take care of ourselves or we'll have nothing left for other people, other jobs, other passions and other hobbies.

Whether this resonates with you or not, I thought it was worth sharing.

And, hey, if you ever want to try cold water immersion, I know a great place to go!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Busy Spring

Hey! I know I've been scarce lately. I sure hope you are doing well!

Here are my excuses.

Besides having an inflated amount of work and responsibility at the township office, B and I have been traveling a lot this spring. Like... almost every weekend. And we still have a couple trips left!

Luckily, it's mostly fun stuff. We went to Arkansas, so B could visit his dad and their family (and I could ride my bike and suntan!). I went to Wisconsin to take a rad mountain bike clinic with Brooks Adventures to learn how to jump and drop better. Then I had to buy some ramps for my own yard! Siiiiiiiiick!!!

Soon I will go to Grand Marais, MN (such a beautiful place!) to renew my Wilderness First Aid certification. Then right after that, B and I go to the Soo Locks, Tahquamenon Falls and a Pictured Rocks boat tour for a school trip. So fun!

So, really, all good things. 

Then once June hits, we can be here way a lot. I'm excited for that! 

I am pleased to say that little man has become quite a good traveler. He hands me things when he's done (an empty snack bag, his water, his iPad) instead of throwing it to the back of the van making it impossible to retrieve until we stop, and we are not stopping this van!!! Ha!

He also finds a lot of pleasure in looking out the window at the world. It's really cool to see. And if I put his window down a bit, well, you'd think he was riding a horse as he woohoos and yays back there. Such a hoot, that little man.

Though we are super busy, we are well.

My anxieties of taking him places with me are dwindling. He is usually such a good kid! He likes to push the cart when we grocery shop, which makes him feel purposeful (and keeps him right next to me).

He is such a charmer to all the people we see. Man, that aspect about him just boosts my soul! He is such a gift.

And now that nearly all the snow has melted, we get out to throw rocks. Woohoo! That is Mom's break time. Ahhh, time to bask in the sun (or hide from the wind) and listen to the splashing, plunking and gulping of B's rocks in the lake.

Hello spring. For real, this time!

My little caster!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Ketchup

Hey! Sorry to leave you hanging. I just need to catch up on the rest of life. 

Here is a picture of Braeden on our latest trip. He is learning how to drive a tractor!

Take care!

The “New” MacDonald

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

People Charmer

B and I just took a flight together. It's been three years since we got on a plane.

We flew down so he could hang out with his dad and fam in Arkansas for a week.

We took the 5:30am flight out of Hancock (thanks for your help with that,  Miss Liz!). Who wants to wake up at 3 in the morning to start their day?

Not us.

But we did it.

He was a trooper to the best of his tired, seven-year-old ability.

And as a reward for this first feat of the day, we got to watch the sunrise over the clouds. 

The friendly skies

My word. What a nice piece of work.

Then we got to Chicago O'Hare International airport. Have you heard of it? It's pretty big. Wink.

We, of course, landed at the gate furthest from our next departure, but we had two hours to get there. Even with time on our side, it was not easy.

He wanted to lay on the floor for a while. He wanted to go the other way. Etcetera. 

But alas, that was not acceptable behavior for a tiny hugger in a giant airport. I "threatened" to put our bracelet on. You know, the one that connects his wrist to mine with the stretchy cord in between?

He was not having that at all. 

Fine. At least I could use it as a warning.

But he was so tired and slightly out of it that I could not get him to cooperate on his feet.

Plan C.

I slung my purse and his backpack over my shoulders. I hoisted him onto my shoulders, looked at the map, found our gate, and hoofed it like the determined mother I have become.

Once at our gate, I felt like we had freedom. Freedom to eat, pee and wander a bit. 

We took a couple walks (and runs) through our terminal because I figured that was our exercise for the day.

But this is Brady P Pie Poe Jonesie of Love. So we don't just walk somewhere.

I should have taken a video of him. He paraded himself through rows of people waiting to board. He said "hello!" to every single person on this parade route. If they didn't respond, he stopped and said it again until they returned the greeting. He blew kisses in the air like the queen on her float.

Needless to say, he charmed the hearts of everyone on his route -- even if they were trying to sleep.

This kid.

It was all his idea.

My heart just bursted as I watched him take control of this situation and spread good vibes. I could hear people muttering: Well, he is bringing good energy to this day! Oh, isn't he precious! I needed that. What an angel. 

And so on.

The way that people smile when he reaches out to them is sooooo big. So deep. So real and so healing. 

I know I say this often, but I just can't believe that I get to be his mother. One of his guides through life. One of his cheerleaders and nurturers. What an honor.

What a gift.

Ironically, the last post was about interconnectedness. I feel like O'Hare airport is one of the hubs on this planet where people from all countries and cultures congregate. 

It touched my heart so deeply to be amongst so many different types of people. The immersion of culture is not something we've felt for at least three years, and that experience filled a void in me.

It's because of that that I can't wait to go there again tomorrow and get our fill of people. I'm sure he'll be excited too.

He even charmed his way into the cockpit!

Okay, see you back in da Harbor!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Interconnectedness

The more I learn about Brady P, the more I realize that he does not have double standards nor does he separate people into categories.

Let me try to explain.

If he sees me getting dressed in the morning, he will come to "help" me because I help him get dressed. If I finish all my food, he will say, "You did it!" When I go pee or poop in the potty, he cheers, "Great job, Mummy!" because I praise him for doing that.

Do you see what I mean? He doesn't seem to think that he is the only one that should be praised for these things. He praises other people too for doing what we would consider mundane tasks.

When it comes to other people we do not know, I believe he is incapable of judgement. He sees everybody like the beautiful, glowing soul they were when they came to this planet, and he shows his appreciation with a big hello, by asking their name and excitedly repeating it back to them or giving them a hug.

Some people appreciate this more than others, but still, he does not falter to illustrate our interconnectedness.

I absolutely LOVE that about him.

He reminds me -- and anyone else he comes into contact with -- that we are all connected.

We are.

All humans.

On this planet.

And we deserve love and respect.

I really don't know what else to say about that except that Brady P is honestly the most pure and consistent example of this.

His love does not know boundaries. It can't even fathom that boundaries could exist between people. Or groups of people. Or anywhere in this world.

I'm so flabbergasted by his genuine care for others that, well, I have to write about it!

I know I say this often, but I just hope that his view on life keeps rubbing off on other people. It is truly what this world needs, and I don't even need to say anything else about that.

I sure hope you have a great day. Maybe you will inspire someone too!

A true goofball

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Heart Peelings

I recently had my first night in over 60 days without a little boy in my care. I was overdue for a break. I could feel it.

Now that it's spring break, he is with Grammy and Grammy, and I'm so grateful!

I mean, wow. I needed this!

Here is what I learned this time.

Usually, the first day or two after I'm at home with me, myself and I, I sit in the chair and cry for half a day.

Sounds dramatic, I know. It took me a few years to figure out what was going on.

At first, I was really annoyed by it because, when I do get a break, I have all these projects I want to do.

When that incredibly sweet little boy is here with me, I am always "on." Always in the mode for what is next and what he needs and so on.

That's parenting.

So when he is gone, my body says, "Ahhh. Please take a rest, Amanda. Sit right down. Just relax and let your thoughts settle. You have much within you that you have not been seeing in your whirlwind. Come. Settle down and reflect."

Yeah, and cry my eyes out. Or sometimes just stare blankly and let the visions come.

It really took years of getting stuck in my chair to figure out that that is what I was supposed to be doing. My body would not let me do a project because I finally had the time to look inward and clear my soul. Apparently that was more pressing.

That went on for quite some time, and I accepted it. I even got to the point where I expect that to happen.

So after this latest timespan without time to really settle, I expected it to happen again.

But it did not.

I have been able to move freely about the cabin and work on projects that excite me. It's amazing!!!

Do you know what this means? 

It means that I have scrubbed my soul so much that I am in a good place. I no longer put unrealistic expectations on myself. I am gentle on myself when I used to be hard. I say yes to the things I actually want to do and don't just commit out of guilt. I have curtailed relationships that exhausted me. I have also turned my relationship with my son into us as a magnificent duo instead of a ball and chain.

I also try to take the time, when he is with me, to meditate and assess where I'm at.

I suppose it's working.

The fact that I did not have to cease activity in order to figure out what parts of my life I was ignoring is pretty huge. I'm so grateful for that, and I wanted to share it with you!

I still have plenty to strive for, especially career-wise, but I feel like I'm taking steps in the right direction. 

Consciously clearing out things in my life that made me feel like a victim on any level was one of the best things I have done for myself lately.

I guess I wanted to tell you this, so you can see that any or all of the efforts you put in to peeling away at the happiness of your heart makes a difference.

The acknowledgement of our feelings and emotions is constant, but the energy it takes to reel us out can become less and less once we have a handle on how to deal with them in a positive way.

It's not easy -- especially at first. But, man, it's so worth it!

This is the gist of what my next book is about by the way... whenever I get the time to keep writing it! Wish me luck!

As Down Wind Dan would say,
"It's a great day for a day."

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

And So This Is Springtime

It's ironic that I had a few ideas ready for today, but they got trumped after we went and played in the snow this afternoon. (I suppose I should disclose the fact that often I sit here and look at a blank screen and try to think of what to write about. Therein lies the irony of today. I'll take it!)

Happy Spring, by the way.

Today was a snow day, and school was cancelled.

There's another... irony.

But maybe not for the Keweenaw.

It was a warm snow day, however. And when I shoveled my porch, I realized that we had gotten a 6-7 fresh inches of perfect packing snow.

"Braeds! We're going to build a snowman!" I announced after lunch.

"Okay, Mummy!"

We did a couple runs on the sled. Then I asked him where we should make our snowman. "In a secret spot or for everyone to see?"

"Everyone to see," he replied.

"How about on the roof?!?"

"Let's do it!"

So we climbed on the roof from the snowbank because they are the same height. Ha! I rolled the big boulders and got him packing snow around them to keep him busy. He also enjoyed throwing snowballs into the street.

We actually made two snowmen. And we decorated them with party gear. We were so proud!

Our selfie with our snow partiers

Then we played and played and played.

We sledded. We threw snowballs at each other (not in the face, though). Then I had the idea to strap on my Hok skis and glide around the yard. 

Oh man. It was so fun!

B got the idea to practice pretend calling for 9-1-1. (Remember when I had to teach him that after my concussion? He's getting it!)

"Mummy, you crash and die," he suggested. I know it sounds morbid, but we only call when someone is unresponsive.

So I crashed and laid there with my tongue hanging out while he called for the ambulance on his mitten phone. Then he made the siren sound and trudged his way over to me and assured me everything would be alright.

I thanked him for saving my life. We hugged.

"Okay, now I die!" he announced. And we switched roles.

Like I said, it's kind of a morbid game, but it's functional. And we were outside! We must have played for two hours in the wet snow. 

Finally after we were absolutely soaked, we went inside. I also found it ironic that it is now spring, but that was the most fun we had outside in the yard all... winter. I tried to wrap my brain around that fact, but I think it's because it was warm. 35 degrees is a balmy day. And the snow was so packy that we could build with it. Another plus.

Although we were wet, we were warm. And we had fun. And learned. And, hopefully made some people smile when they saw our snowmen partying on the roof.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Spit!!!

I kind of have a confession...

I guess it's pretty embarrassing to admit from a mom point of view.

Brady P is just learning how to spit.

Like, within the last week.

Spitting seems so normal, right? Can't we all just spit naturally?

I guess not.

He thinks spitting is cool, though. When I brush my teeth, he shouts, "Mummy! Spit!"

Because I can.

And he couldn't.

So, a week or so ago, I realized that I can't just have him swallow his toothpaste every time he brushes (not the fluoride kind until he learns how to spit consistently).

The boy needs to learn how to spit.

So we moved the toothbrushing routine to the bathroom, so he can stand on his stool by the sink, use the water, rinse with his cup and... SPIT!

He loves it! He really tries so hard. He practices several times each brushing.

I was one of those people who thought that people should just know how to spit, so I am having a rough time teaching him. However, phrases like, "Oh, don't swallow it" and "Just hold it in your mouth" seem to help.

But even more than the progress we are making, I love the way he looks at me when we brush together. The look on his face says, "That is my Mom and I love her and she is good at brushing her teeth and I want to do it just like her."

Spit!

I am seriously enamored with him all over again. We look at each other and brush gazily while we exchange glances in the mirror and giggle.

I watch him turn his toothbrush around when I do. I notice how he likes to rinse his brush after I do. I enjoy how he likes to mock my grotesque spitting sounds for effect.

That learning experience (for us both) has really made me realize how much children look up to, learn from and model adults. Even when we think they might not be watching, we are wrong. They are taking it alllll in.

And secretly, they love it. And truthfully, that's how they think things are supposed to be done.

I know because I used to be a kid!

For the last part of this confession, I will admit that I was hoping a man would teach him how to spit because it seems like a fun guy thing to do together -- with his dad or an uncle or a grampy or a friend -- anyone!

But nope.

I am with him the most, so it's me.

And I am enjoying every moment of our wet, splattery, giggly adventure.

I probably won't be able to capture the moment while we are brushing together, so here is a pic from the day he learned to snowboard a couple weeks ago!

My little shredder!

Keep calm, and remember to spit when appropriate!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

This Smile

I need to show you this smile.

This infectious smile, that I am so fortunate to relish in a few dozen times each day.

What if you got to see this smile that often?

This fully-in-the-moment smile erupting from pure, unfiltered joy.

If you don't already get to see a smile like this thirty times a day, then let me advise that it changes you.

It shifts your priorities. It quells your fears. It forces you to be in the moment. It quickens gratitude. It makes you believe in the seemingly impossible. It strengthens your spirit. It softens your heart.

And, most of all, it makes you smile too.

If it doesn't make you smile, you just might have a few things to learn still. I understand. I used to be that way.

But now I am melted and strengthened at the same time by this smile.

Brady P is here to help change the world for the better.

He is already changing mine. My hope is that we can infiltrate yours just enough to make your smile contagious too.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Joy Nectar

One of the unique things about Brady P is that his magic absolutely MUST be shared with others.

He is a Joy Flower just dripping with sweet nectar for all the bees to thrive on. But, as the pandemic would have it, I was nearly the only bee allowed to buzz around for a while there.

One little bee cannot possibly collect and utilize all that sweet nectar and pollen. But the flower keeps producing its joy and wonder, hoping to share it with others.

And the bee feels a little worn out from trying to help that flower live up to its potential.

Before the pandemic officially started, I would take my little flower out for live music at the local establishment. He absolutely loved it!

He would dance until I could convince him it was time to go home for bed. He would meet all the musicians and learn their instruments. He would sample their foot pedals and push the switches on anything that flashed (if they let him).

He also melted the hearts of strangers. They would just give me the most wonderful compliments about him.

He thrived!

He got to shared his magic nectar!

The locals loved it and so did the visitors. It really meant a lot to me.

Then, like most wonderful and frivolous parts of life, it went away.

That was really hard for us. It may have been harder on me than him because I felt like I was wasting one of my most precious assets.

A couple Saturdays ago, one of our favorite local bands came to play. Brady P was so excited, that he talked about it each day until Saturday came.

It's been a couple years, and I wasn't quite sure how things would go, but he totally surprised me. 

He met all the band members, of course. He learned about their instruments. He even spent 40 minutes playing his toy watermelon ukulele on the stage while stomping on two different sets of foot pedals before they officially took the stage.

Uke in hand, getting the foot pedal briefing

And once they started playing, he danced the whole time. The whole entire time. I had to rush him drinks and snacks between every couple songs to keep his blood sugar at a functional level. 

I was so proud of him.

His joy nectar was spraying on everyone. The people who remembered his dancing cheered with nostalgia. The people who just met him made sure to tell him good-bye when we had to leave.

I was overjoyed. We were in our element! He was able to spread his love again, and we felt so at home.

Here is one of his dances from early in the night. The band is called The Chöppers, and they come highly recommended by our town and Brady P.


A special thanks to everyone who took (and continues to take) the time to listen to him, watch him, interact with him and help entertain his curiosity.

May the joy nectar you receive rub off onto others.

P.S. We got to watch Encanto. Soooo good! I cried and sang the songs. B bounced through each song. He held me when I cried. So wonderful!

P.P.S. We made it through the latest storm! It blew so much that I can't tell you how much snow we got, but it was feet. And my snowblower is an absolute champion!!!