59. Refreshed: Write a poem about a time you really felt refreshed and renewed. Maybe it was a dip into a pool on a hot summer day, a drink of lemonade, or other situation that helped you relax and start again.
Or, more like, I wonder what they do see, but simply take for granted.
For example, the fact that their mother stays home. Or the fact that they are privileged.
The fact that their laundry gets done and put away. Their lunchboxes get filled, their dinners are made. Someone works his butt off to make money so they can enjoy a paddling pool and Disney+.
I Once Was Blind
I didn’t even think twice about any of that stuff as a kid. Any kid from a privileged background doesn’t need to.
It’s only as an adult that I understand how hard my parents worked to make things nice for us. And that I realize what hard work it actually is.
But Now I See
While acknowledging that I am extremely privileged, I can also recognize that being a parent is difficult. Marriage itself is hard work.
And so, I want my boys to see something else, and learn to also take it for granted:
Their parents take time to do things for themselves, and as a couple.
Whether it’s their father going for a run, their mother sitting down to the piano, or calling a babysitter (remember when we could do that?) to go out on a date night.
When They’re Older
None of this will register now, of course. They’re too little.
But when they’re older, I hope they’ll see the light.
They’ll look back at our family life and see each individual take time for themselves.
I hope they’ll learn that it’s not selfish to do this. By taking the time to do things we love, we’re keeping ourselves healthier and happier, and better able to do the hard work of marriage and parenting.
Most of these women have been murdered by a close male relative or acquaintance (husband, father, ex-boyfriend). Several individual, community and societal factors contribute to this high rate of femicide and violence against women.
This Problem Isn’t Just in Turkey
It might be easy for someone reading this in Europe or North America to think that this isn’t a problem here.
That is absolutely wrong.
According to the UN, rates of violence against women and girls have increased the world over since the beginning of the pandemic.
This isn’t just happening in Turkey, or in some other faraway country.
It’s happening in your home town.
A New Challenge
I’m no influencer. No celebrity. I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and participated in these largely meaningless “challenges” before (anyone remember the black square from a couple months ago?).
But I do have this modest platform, and so I am challenging all the strong, beautiful, intelligent and wonderful women I know and love who read this to take action.
Donate to your local women’s shelter. Take food. Do some research into your area. Volunteer (where it’s safe, what with covid and all).
Also, if you buy frequently on Amazon, consider shopping at smile.amazon.com. There are hundreds of charities listed through smile.amazon and you can choose from national to local groups to support. Each time you purchase on through the smile.amazon url, a portion of your purchase is donated to the charity you select.
But Don’t Forget the Pics
I do love seeing the photos of the women I know and love.
Please keep ’em coming!
I’m just asking we add substance to the feel-good nature of the exercise.
But ever since having kids, I CRY LIKE A BABY in movies.
Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? It’s especially bad if it involves crying children, parents being separated from children, children losing parents, children getting lost, or anything in that vein.
Not that I’ve ever been particularly stoic when it comes to films. I was known to have a good cry at the movies even before having kids.
Here’s a list of the top five movies that made me cry.
1. Life is Beautiful
This is the first film I remember really breaking down and weeping in.
I saw it with my family in NYC when I was a teenager, and I remember going to the bathroom with my mother after the movie ended and helping her fix her mascara.
What’s wonderful about this movie is the combination of comedy and drama, which makes it all the more poignant.
2. Schindler’s List
I ugly cried during this film, it’s true. But that very fact annoys me.
See, I have this beef with Steven Spielberg. Yeah, the dude knows what he’s doing (he’s one of the world’s most successful film makers, after all), but he plays unabashedly on people’s emotions.
“How is that different from ‘Life is Beautiful,'” you ask? There is no subtlety to Spielberg. He whacks you over the head with his point, driving it home with a sledgehammer.
For example, as Liam Neeson playing Schindler weeps at the end of the film saying, “I could have saved more!” the discerning viewer already KNEW he felt that way! You didn’t have to state the obvious!
Okay, all that to say that I ugly cried in this film and still hate myself for it.
3. Of Mice and Men
I don’t know what was up with me when I saw this, but I just lost it. The friends I was watching it with thought they had scarred me for life.
It was in high school at a New England boarding school. My advisor, the dean of the school lived on campus and she would let students use her living room to study, have group meetings, or just hang out and watch TV.
“Of Mice and Men” was showing on TV. The awkward part is that the gun shots were edited out for the TV audience, so you had some guesswork to do to figure out exactly what was happening.
It was pretty obvious, though, and I cried like I’d never cried in a movie before.
4. Mary Poppins
You weren’t expecting this one, were you?? Yeah, I choke up each and every time I watch this movie. We own it on DVD and have a DVD player in the car. We’ve watched it three times in the last month on long car rides. I still get a lump in my throat every time.
Don’t ask me why. It’s the poignancy of it, I guess. That, and Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent.
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I know what you’re thinking, but wait! Don’t judge!
Chico and I sat down to watch this film shortly after our first son was born. At one point, James Franco’s character has to leave his incredibly intelligent chimp in an animal shelter, and walk away.
I was postpartum. I couldn’t handle it. Enough said.
A Couple Others for Good Measure:
6. Coco: You cannot tell me you didn’t cry at the beginning of this movie. YOU CANNOT HONESTLY TELL ME THAT.
7. Up: Ditto for this one. I mean, COME ON! They fall in love as children! They dream of traveling together! They lose the baby! They grow old together! She gets sick AND DIES! I was weeping.
There Are Probably More…
I have definitely cried or at least teared up in other films. But these are the big ones I remember.
This may not make any sense, but I’ve never thought of myself as creative.
Sure, I write. And I knit. And lately I’ve been playing the piano. I acted in plays and musicals for years as a teen and young adult. I’ve even dabbled in drawing and painting.
Not Much Spark
I just don’t consider myself creative because I always follow some kind of pattern or model.
When knitting, I follow a pattern. I always drew best when I was looking at something, rather than from the imagination. Even in teaching, I would hash out ideas for lessons and activities with colleagues, or search online for inspiration.
But it’s the execution I’m pretty good at. And it’s the act of creating that I enjoy.
Creativity in Pandemic
Since the pandemic started, I’ve found it helpful to add creativity to my daily life.
I set myself this writing challenge, which, though sometimes a bit of a pain, has also been a fantastic exercise.
Since we got a piano, I’ve been sneaking in about an hour of practice each day. I’ve been slowly plugging away at my knitting (though the warm weather slows that down).
It’s turned out to be hugely important for keeping myself sane.
For the short while that I’m writing, knitting or playing, I am taken away from the reality of confinement and the anxiety of this situation. When I’m writing, knitting or playing, those things don’t matter.
I’m an extremely social person, this is true. But this pandemic has helped me find resources within myself for coping with the isolation.
I’m tapping into a creative energy I didn’t know I had.
I’m far from being 100% okay in this situation. There are days when I’m practically climbing the walls.
But having a creative outlet has been wonderful. (It also helps that I’ve added exercise to my daily routine.)
So often we’re told to cut something out to feel better. Cut out sugar, alcohol, Facebook or TV. Sure, sometimes things do need to be cut out.
But what about the benefit of adding things in?
Tell Me About It
What do you want to add to your daily routine? What would make you feel better? What would make you feel more like yourself?