Category Archives: thoughts

Winter Solstice

It seems that I have complained about my relationship with the ‘Hallmark-type-Christmas-Holiday’ here and here, so there is no need to beat a dead horse.

Instead, let’s talk about something that I love.

I don’t recall ever hearing the words ‘Winter Solstice’ when I was growing up. Maybe it was because I come from an uber-conservative sect of christianity that might have considered marking this day as contradictory to the belief system. But not so! As far as I can tell, it fits into everyone’s system – we’re all here on the planet with these astronomical events happening all of the time – and I don’t want to miss any more of them.

Such a gigantic, celestial occurence seems to be overlooked by so many. If you went outside and paid attention, you would have known that the sun spent the day in a super-low arc in the sky. My favorite golden orb was framed by windows in my house that seldom see it since it spends most of the year much higher in the sky. It cast nice, long shadows – the longest of the year, in fact. Sadly, so many folks left that unwitnessed.

Dennis and the boys indulged my devotion to the day that the sun comes back. I need longer days! We lit luminaries on the front steps, candles in the house and a fire in the hearth – and we haven’t done that in a long time. I thought I was pushing my luck presenting them with an evening of building graham cracker houses. Turns out, they enjoyed it way more than I thought they would.

I often find it hard to feel joy during this frantic time of year, but I made it through the darkest night with the ones I love, and that makes me feel happy and hopeful.  I will continue to build solstice celebrations into my household traditions in the coming years. You must know how much I love the opposing solstice, right?

#NaNoWriMo2017

I am participating in a writing project called NaNoWriMo. That cute little word, say it – it’s cute – stands for National Novel Writing Month. Not only do I have a novel idea, I have about 14 of them. I enjoy playing in my head with ideas for stories I’d like to see lived out on the written page.

I’ve never actually put much on paper besides a blog post or an email. I have no college english classes, writing classes or any idea what I am doing. I did a small amount of participation in ‘Preptober’ – get it?! Like ‘October’ only with some preparation? I did a little preparation in my head, a little on paper and a lot on youtube – one of my Most Favorite Things. I am still fleshing out my storyline and characters as I go along. It turns out that I fall somewhere in between the ‘plotters’ and the ‘pantsers’ in the contest. A little plotting and a little flying by the seat of my pants.

I have been completely inspired by and ridiculously enamored with this girl. Agh! I want to meet her and hang with her. I am actually fairly certain we must be related in someway – but maybe it’s just my deep, Scottish heritage manifesting itself.

Oh, yes. It’s a contest and I am seriously pursuing a ‘Winner’ T-shirt. You win NaNoWriMo by getting a 50,000 word novel on paper. Today is Day 5 and I am on target so if I just stick with the program, it should be completely attainable, right? Say yes.

The program I am referring to is getting up at 5 a.m. and writing for an hour. I like to think I can do that for 31 days and the rest of my life as I become a famous author. I’m actually enjoying that time between 5 and 6. I assume it will get harder and I’ll run out of ideas and sometimes it will feel like real work.

Until then, I’ll be all ‘I’m-getting-up-early-and-writing-a-novel’ about it. I feel like I am trying on ‘Author’ clothing and behaving my way to believing it. The most exciting part so far is being introduced to an entire writing world – blogs, books, courses, theories, and ideas. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know before embarking on this. But that’s usually the case with most new things.

When I don’t think what I am writing is all that good, I have been most encouraged by the following quote by the dreamy and wonderful Ann Lamott.

So…I’m starting somewhere.

Hi. I’m Janet Costello and I am writing a novel.

My novel, in case you had any inclination to know, is a modern day foundling story about a woman who encounters an abandoned newborn and does not respond in the way that might be considered reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. The story will follow the consequences of her actions and the chain of events that is set in motion by her chance discovery. 

 

 

Driving & Life Lessons

I hand Gavin the keys to the car every chance I get. Yesterday was a long and winding, hour-long drive including highways, tricky corners and traffic circles. I’ve taken him out to drive in the dark and in the rain.

I thought I would be a super-cool mom that LOVED driving with my teen. It turns out that’s not the case. It makes me nervous, but his ability to be an experienced, competant and skillful driver trumps my need to not feel nervous. So I put on my seat belt, tune to a radio station I love and I crochet. It helps me to look more chill than I am.

At this point in life, he takes the wheel and decides on the speed and when to stop. With me as a guiding presence, a consultant if you will, he navigates the turns, calculates distances and chooses a different side road than I suggest to get to the same place. Of course.

I am accutely aware that without this junction, I leave him attempting to go from ‘non-driver’ to ‘driver’ status without the baby steps and trial and error that ensure he won’t take off the mirrors of all the cars on the right side of road. Oh, I’m so certain that is going to happen when he hugs that side of the road!

But it doesn’t. And we both learn.

I have so little time left for him to practice safely next to me – although I would prefer he take his seat in the back in a five-point restraint car seat and eat a granola bar. I have a little time to contribute my opinions to his decision-making and information bank. I feel looming pressure to make sure he knows everything he needs to know before he pulls out the driveway, alone, that first time. For now, he is a captive audience 🙂

He has begun, on occassion, to tell me to be quiet and let him drive. He assures me he’s ‘got it’ and that he is an excellent driver.

Thank God we’re just talking about driving and not his whole life, right?

Don’t Blog About Other People’s Kids

If you are a grown adult who has never used a blog to demean, slander and gossip about someone else’s teenager, feel free to move on from this post.

Read this blog or this blogCrochet an octopus for a preemie or bake these chocolate chip cookies for your family. Do anything else with your time that involves making the world a better place.

If you realize that you have, in fact, used your time and energy to publicly shame a child, I have a few things I’d like to say to you.

I am here for you and I mean that. I am willing to sit down over a cup of coffee, absolutely not tea, and have a conversation about what might be going so wrong for you that engaging in this type of activity was an option. I know exactly how it feels to find yourself engaged in behavior that keeps you from being the best version of yourself. I am willing to share the name of my wonderful and beloved therapist. I’ve done a lot of personal work over the last few years and I highly recommend it.

Writing nasty stuff about people on the internet sucks. Adults are fair game, though, if it’s how you choose to be in the world and on the planet ~ have at it. Slam your neighbors and complain about your boss. But, when this behavior extends to children, you cross a line and that type of abuse won’t be tolerated.

Being a teenager is hard. Don’t you remember? What they need is a wide berth to make mistakes and be provided with grace and forgiveness at every turn from supportive adults in their environment. Do you not want that for your teens?!? Even when you think someone else’s child has wronged your child – no matter how flat you make a pancake, there are always two sides. (I really appreciate what Dr. Phil has brought to my life).

Teens have done terrible things to themselves over internet harrassment. My God, can you imagine being party to something like that?

I will tell you that my kids have made some poor choices and engaged in what I like to call ‘less than desirable behavior’. Ugh, when it happens. They have also been accused of doing some things that in the end, turned out not to be what it initially looked like. These situation are always difficult enough in themselves, never mind with some watchful adult ripping it apart on the internet. See that? It’s gross.

Schools, parents and society in general are attempting to teach children that the idea of what we post on social media can be extremely hurtful and permanent. We as adults need to provide them with examples of how to navigate issues without posting them publicly and passing around rumors and inuendo.

If there is something weighing on your mind and causing you to consider posting it to a public venue, I suggest – NOT. Call up the other party, make a pot of coffee. I promise these situations do not call for tea. Have a discussion and illustrate for our teens what great conflict resolution looks like. Show them that we handle these incidents with empathy and integrity. Teach them about facetime and personal interaction.

Cease and desist. Pull that shit down. Erase it and apologize. Make amends. Mistakes are redeemable and people are forgiving.  

See this here? ^^^^^^^^        This is what I want my kids, your kids and all kids to know.

 

 

Happy, Shiny Day

There is always a summer day that stands out to me – The Happy, Shiny Day. There is a quality to the day that makes it quintessentially summer, special and a little sacred.

This very blog chronicles some of those days. I am not always sure it is happening, when it  is happening, but when that day begins to inhabit my thoughts in mid-September and take up residence in the spot labeled ‘Best Summer Memories’, it takes it’s place at the head of the line and earns itself that title. When it turns into a day whose heat and sunlight fuel my hope in February, it is forever sealed into the mental album where the others of their ilk are stored.

I knew this day was going to be in the running for a summertime award, when all three invitees amicably accpeted my invitiation and readied themselves in record time. When my request for time on the bayside, rather than the oceanside was met with resounding positivity, my happiness quotient expanded.

I sank down into my beach chair on the bay of Sandy Hook and I sank deeply into a space of sheer gratitude as I watched my boys play together. Play – with kind words and happy voices. I bought them ice cream and wished for a few more weeks of summer. Someone may have uttered the words, ‘Thank you for the beach day, mommy’. That someone may have been a teenager.

Sea creatures, and tidal pools and endless strand lines to comb for teasures are always ingredients that mix up into a delightful concoction for me. I wish that I had magical chemistry equipment that could distill these days down into a ‘Felix Felicis-type’ serums and save them in medicinal blue bottle for another time.

The school year has barreled into September like a NJ Transit Train with blaring horns and loud announcements. It’s dumped paperwork, early morning alarms, tight schedules, homework and a bit of unwelcome chaos and calamity on the platform as it sped off with my two of my boys.

I count the days to the Autumnal Equinox – I know it’s coming. So, I will line up my happy, shiny days like glossy, beautiful magazine photos for reading and purusing during the cooler, grayer and darker months that are coming. I will try to stay positive, but don’t blame me if I need to resort to what is in the cobalt blue bottle.