Nate’s Notes: That’s Different

Today I heard Momma talking with another big person.  She seemed really mad and sad because of what the other person said.   I didn’t really understand a lot of it, but there was enough that soaked in to my developing brain.  Just so you know, you big people should really watch what you say in front of a 2 year old…especially when that 2 year old gets quiet and intent on a toy.   C’mon, is a cardboard block really THAT interesting at this stage???!!!

Momma was upset about me, not AT me, just about me.   I heard her say that calling me “different” because of what I did or didn’t do yet and where I came from wasn’t okay.  I saw Momma’s face.  I’ve seen that look when I use walls as my canvas (hey, you can’t harness creativity), when I hit or kick, when I help “fold” laundry, eat kitty food, feed kitty food to Lyla, and wash the phones.  Somebody was being sent to their room…and it wasn’t me this time.

Anyway, I guess some people think that I am different because I didn’t come from Momma’s belly, and was sick when I was born.  I guess some people think that Momma and Daddy are different because I wasn’t in Momma’s belly.  Momma said putting me in a box wasn’t okay.  (By the way, I love climbing in boxes, so I think she’s confused but we’ll clear that up later.)

I felt tired suddenly from so much listening and sorting in my head.   Usually Momma says different is good.   She tells me all the time to look at something she is taking a picture of, and that I will see something different than she does, different than Daddy does, different than the camera does…even though we are looking at the same thing.  Okay.   AND, Momma goes on and on…and on… about how seeing everything around us in a different way is good.  Okay.  Both Momma and Daddy tell me to try different foods, to read different books.  They say it makes me an explorer.  An adventurer.

But the way Momma was acting made it seem like this “different” wasn’t okay.   I checked out of the talking for a bit to carb up my brain with pretzels, but when I came back, I started to understand.  Momma made it okay.  By the time I was done examining and dissecting my cardboard block, I realized it was really cool that we are the family we are, every part of it.  Like… just as cool as my Legos and cars.  Maybe cooler.  I realized it is okay to be different and I am special and loved because I’m Nate, not because of how I was born, or that I do things that other kids do, or don’t do.

Momma said that from now on, if being us and being our family makes us different, then sign us up.   She said that no amount of different would change the love we have.  So, when Daddy held me tonight, looked at me, and told me,Nate, you are amazing, I looked right back at him and said, “You are….diffent!!!”

TMG Philosophy- Is It Good Enough?

In a week, I’m going to run a half marathon in San Francisco to honor and raise money for the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew from Prescott, AZ and all others that have given the ultimate sacrifice while on duty.  Because of the growing popularity of the half marathon, I’m guessing most people know the distance is 13.1 miles.   I have tried to run one or two of these a year for the last 5 years or so, and every time someone hears only the word “marathon”, they mistakenly assume I am running the more accomplished big brother, a full marathon.   Then I’m forced to use the word “just” as I explain I’m running “only” 13.1 miles, and not the more impressive 26.2 miles.  More often than not, the response is an indulging pat on the shoulder, cock of the head (as if to say, “isn’t that cute”) and the phrase, “Well, 13.1 is good enough!”.   What does that even MEAN?  Good enough for what?

We hear the phrase, “it’s good enough” probably more often than we realize.  You might say it yourself more than likely.   Conversely, we hear and say, “It’s NOT good enough.”  Yet have you ever stopped to think about it?  I certainly say it, and cringe, when I’m in a hurry and want to mark the task at hand off my list.   I use the phrase when trying to placate people who are being too hard on themselves.  But what DOES “good enough” mean to you?  Does it mean full contentment with circumstances?  Does it mean satisfying the dreams of your heart? Or does it mean going along, status quo?  Is it settling for mediocre?

Back to the half marathon.   This upcoming run is very different from the others because I haven’t had the time, the energy, the health or the motivation to put the needed hours and effort into training. Last  year I ran a PR of just over 1:50.   (My ultimate goal is to run it faster than Sarah Palin at 1:45.  Don’t ask why.  I don’t really know,  it just is.)  Each time I’ve run one of these races, I try to improve on the time before.   With just under a week to start time, I’ll be lucky if I finish anywhere near that, based on all my training.  So now I have to let go.  Let go of unrealistic self-imposed expectations and just run.   Run the race to finish.  Run the race to honor others.

running shoesAnd that IS good enough, even if I tell myself my time isn’t good enough.  Running the race to finish WILL be good enough.  After all, I’m running to raise money for a very worthy cause.  I’m running to remember.  I should be running with my heart, not my legs.  I should be running for the memory of those 19 firefighters and their ultimate sacrifice.   Yet, I keep beating myself up for not putting more sweat in.   I keep lecturing myself about half-assed efforts.  I keep thinking of me, not those we are honoring.  This isn’t about me, and any attempt to make it so just isn’t good enough.

Nate’s Notes: Some Early Life Lessons

There are some hard lessons in life.  Don’t I know it.   It is taking awhile for some to sink in, while others click right away, as much as I don’t understand them.   Take eggs, for example.   Eggs don’t bounce. Got it. Although why they look like balls is beyond me.  Also, not everything shaped like an egg is an egg.  Yea.  Think about that one.  Why would you make something shaped like an egg…that wasn’t an egg?  What is the purpose?   Momma and I both learned this one at music class last week.

The teacher handed out eggs that make a strange rattle noise.  The music was playing, people were singing…and everyone was shaking the eggs!   I had to do something.   Even Momma was shaking the egg, never mind the fact that she was letting Lyla suck on one of them.  Disgusting.  I made my move to be sure the eggs would be safe.  It IS on my chore list, after all, to collect eggs.   I started with Momma and Lyla, gently ripping the eggs from their hands and starting a pile.  I then went from mommy and child around the room, once again, gently ripping them from their hands.   I was gentle, so I’m not sure why everyone starting getting upset.   When the other kids started protesting and some of the other mommies started gasping, I glanced at Momma, unsure.   Was I not supposed to be saving the eggs from the shaking?    Eggs must be collected, right?  Shouldn’t the other small people be taught this lesson?  Might that not be the best choice right now?   I forged ahead with renewed gusto.   The eggs…MUST be saved.  I yelled once, over the music, with clarifying intent, “I need the chicken eeegggssss!” Apparently they weren’t eggs, but were some kind of instrument thingy. Uh…yea, like I’m buying that?!  Pfff.   I noticed the eggs didn’t come out this week at music class.  That was that.

Pumpkin: Commonly mistaken for an orange bball.

Pumpkin: Commonly mistaken for an orange bball.

Now that we are clear on eggs, what about pumpkins?!   Pumpkins are really nothing more than big, (or little) orange bballs.   The pumpkins I saw this weekend were circles indeed.  There was a whole big yard full of the orange bballs, just begging to be played with.   Momma and Daddy even told me I could pick some out!   To avoid raised voices, I decided to wait until we returned home to play with the pumpkins, or should I say, “owange bballs”, wink wink.   Once we were home and the new toys were unloaded on the front steps, I sat next to them, content to just lean against them.  As soon as both Momma and Daddy were inside, I picked up the smaller one and threw it, yelling, “baseball!!!”, just knowing it was going to bounce really high!  I could feel it.  I watched, smiling in anticipation.  It hit the ground and broke, splattering the side of the car.  Uummmm.  Pumpkins don’t bounce… just like eggs. I closed my eyes to let THAT lesson soak in, just as I heard the gasps of Momma and Daddy behind me.

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Nate’s Notes: About This “No Camera Needed”…

I get it!

I get it!

So I’ve been thinking about the whole “no camera needed” thing for taking pictures.   I think I have some arguable points that a camera is clearly needed for pictures.   At least most pictures.  I trust Momma enough though to know she wouldn’t purposely try to confuse me with nonsense.   So I tried all week to take pictures with my mind.

I stared at my cars.  I stared at my trains.  I tried blinking.  I tried staring, blinking, and then blinking really fast.   I tried jumping while blinking while staring.   This made Lyla laugh a lot.  It also made Momma nervous.  I’m pretty sure she was taking a picture with HER mind of MY attempts and filing it somewhere under questionable.  One time she asked me if I was feeling okay.  Honestly, I wasn’t!  I was confused, frustrated and little worried about HER!

I decided a good night of sleep might help if Lyla would allow it.  (*Sidenote:  Lyla is the worst sleeper in the world…that whole “sleeps like a baby” phrase…well, from where I sit very tired, baby Lyla doesn’t sleep.)  That night I did actually fall asleep early in the comfort of Daddy’s arms.  That, by the way, is the best.  Ever.  Sometime in the early morning hours though, I woke up scared, and ran into Momma and Daddy’s room.  I walked over to Daddy’s side of the bed, just like I always do, and searched for the comfort of his arms.

Only Daddy wasn’t there.  Instead, some woman sat up and said, “Hey sweetie, want to come in bed?”  I did the only thing I could- I fled.  Where was Daddy?  Who was that woman in his spot?  What was happening?!!!  I threw myself on the hallway floor and began weeping.   Then those arms picked me up and hugged me.  Aaaahhh- Daddy WAS here.   “What happened mister?  What’s wrong?”, he asked.  I looked past him after calming down and noticed Momma sitting on the bed searching my face for an answer.

Oh.  I get it.  Momma was the woman.  I was just confused because I had taken a picture with my brain of where Daddy sleeps and where Momma sleeps, and they had switched places.  Without telling my brain.    Okay- it was possible.  You can take a picture without a camera.  Got it.

In the morning, when the sun was waking up, I crawled out of bed and found Momma and Lyla sitting in the other room.   Momma was rocking Lyla and doing that singing thing with no words.  Lyla was sleeping.   I just watched.  Momma looked at me and smiled.  And I smiled right back.   It was the happiest picture I’d ever seen.  So I took that picture.  I didn’t use a camera, but I don’t think I used my mind either.   I used my heart.

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RSWL: A New Discovery

Since we observed Columbus Day on this Monday, I thought it fitting to share one of my new discoveries.   It is hardly as life changing as World Exploration, BUT, I found it an inspiration source.  Maybe you will too.  This will be a short entry- I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. 

Lately I’ve been in a funk.  Call it dwindling daylight hours, exhaustion, lack of balance, or even frustration that I’m not taking the pictures I want to be taking, both quality and quantity.  Whatever the case, it is a funk of which I’ve been working to rid myself.   I did a little Google searching the other day (because I had no other focus) and found a great website-

Photography Blogger’s tagline is: “A Source of Photography Inspiration”.  Hmmm… I thought it wouldn’t hurt to explore and search that inspiration…so I did.   The site is basically a photojournal featuring tips, reviews, ideas and, of course, photography for…well, photographers.   It is a creative site.  It is a straightforward site.  It is a site that makes you look at the game of pool, or a squirrel, or even a mango in a different perspective.  

For someone who works most days looking for hidden beauty, searching for a different perspective, highlighting unknown details, uncovering forgotten and untold stories, and writing about it all, I was humbled to discover I’d lost sight of that inspiration, even if only for a short time.  Yet, I was immediately thankful I had accidentally discovered a great source of inspiration when I needed it so much.

You don’t have to be in a funk like me to appreciate Photography Blogger’s site.  Take some time and see what you can discover in the photo collections.   Here’s to new discoveries!  

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Nate’s Notes: No Camera Needed

Momma takes lots of pictures.  No surprise there.  I’ve totally accepted this as much as I have had to accept that eggs don’t bounce (oh bumpers), that Lyla is staying for good (*sigh*), and that kitty food is for kitties and not little boys (hey- don’t judge me…the package said organic).  Momma usually has a camera attached to her like a piece of clothing or a fashion accessory.  Here is something to think about though.

One day I caught Momma watching me and Lyla playing with books and cars.  She was staring with that usual goofy smile that makes me smile back.   She told us we were her “I love you’s” and that she was taking a picture of this moment.   I waited for her to get her camera, but she just kept smiling that goofy smile.  I looked at her…at the camera across the room…and back to her.   It started to make me nervous, all this smiling and no camera-getting.   So I jumped up and ran to it, but she stopped me.   After laughing a little, she told me that she didn’t need a camera for this because she was taking a picture with her mind, and tucking it away to remember.  Uuhhhhh…..  Taking a picture with her MIND?  Like superhero stuff?  Tucking it away?  Like she and Daddy tuck us in to bed? Wait, wait, wait.  Some strange stuff was happening here.

After a lot of blinking, a big sigh, even bigger eyes, and a big quiet, I just gave in to the complete confusion.  EVERYTIME Momma and Daddy talk about pictures, they have cameras.  EVERYTIME!!!  They even insult me with “toy cameras” to “practice” picture taking.  And now Momma is telling me she doesn’t need cameras!!???   The confusion was becoming too much, so I just whimpered instead.  Momma misunderstood this for whining and told me to use my words.   I’ll give her some words.  I have 427- eleventeen words to give her.  But all I could come up with was more blinking.

Who ever heard of taking pictures with your mind??!!!   I need to let this bounce around a little in my brain.  I’ll tell you in a little bit what I come up with.  Pfff….pictures with your mind. Pfff…no camera needed.

Nate’s Notes: Leave It!

Leaves_098It gets darker sooner now.  I swear Momma and Daddy are putting me to bed sooner, even if they won’t admit it.  It’s like just because the sun has an earlier bedtime, I have to too?  No.  Let me rephrase that in toddler speak:  NO!  No no no no no.  Anyway, besides the sun’s earlier bedtime, I’ve noticed the leaves turning those pretty colors again…the ones that make you feel warm- the reds, yellows and oranges.

Last year at this time I was just learning colors.  Now, I can tell Momma about the leaves, their colors, that they are falling to the ground, and that they don’t taste good.  I even get to try hiding Lyla in them by covering her all up with the leaves on the ground.  Tee hee.  Just kidding, I would NEVER do that to her.  Or would I?  Tee hee.

It’s hard not to notice all the leaves and their warmth because Momma stops at every tree for pictures.   And if we aren’t doing that, we are looking at the leaves on the ground.  Momma says we live in a tree house.  Sounds cool, but I’m not buying it.   I do know there are trees all over that drop leaves and acorns.   Some of our leaves are prickly, some are brown, some are yellow, some are red.  Sometimes the acorns drop on us or the puppies!    When the leaves fall on the ground you can kick them around, taste them, cover your baby sister with them…okay, just kidding about that last part.  Tee hee.

What’s strange is that very often, when I’m about to eat the leaves or dirt, or when I’m covering Lyla with leaves and dirt (like I would EVER do that), or when I’m trying to feed leaves to the chickens, Momma yells, “Leave it!”.   Um…yea lady, there are leaves.  That’s what I’m trying to play with here so just move along.   Besides, Lyla likes the leaves…she told me.   So I keep doing what I’m doing and Momma stares at me, looking upset.   After just one more, pretty, red leaf to cover Lyla, I save Momma the trouble, look her straight in the eye and say for her, “Leave. It!”.