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The Most Important Word in the World

At dinner last night, my insightful 9-year old son asked me, “Do you know what the most important word in the world is?”

To which I responded, “Well, I’d have to say it is love.”

He said, “That’s a good one, mom, but it is hi. Because everything good in this world, including love, begins first with someone saying hi.”


So, of course, this got me to thinking. I love so many words, how could I possibly narrow it down to just one? And how awesome is it that my son already has it figured out? Kids can be black and white like that; it is a trait that is refreshing to those of us who tend to overthink everything from the benefits of hand sanitizer to solving the world’s energy crisis. This group of folks like to call themselves, “adults.”

So acting in the myriad of gray areas as an adult, to me, some of my other favorite words include: kindness, peace, respect, understanding, wisdom, mom, and patience. I could go on and on. I also read the other day that “huh” is one of the most common words in all languages. Apparently, every country gets confused and defaults to a simple, huh? So purely based on its pervasiveness, is the most important word in the world, “huh”? I sure hope not.

Oftentimes, words take on their power when combined and in context, such as: I do, thank you, it’s a girl, he’s alive, and it’s for you. But it is truly a thing of awe when one word says it all. A word that doesn’t exist on a grayscale, but in the beauty of black or the wonder of white. How a child would look at it.

So I invite you now to determine what the most important word in the world is – to you. Please share below!


I’m Beginning to Hate Caution Tape

Do you subscribe to the philosophy, “Ignorance is Bliss” or “Knowledge is Power”? When I was younger, I would have professed the latter. But now, as I am inundated with loads of information that make me question everything I do – from washing my hair to driving an SUV, I wonder if bliss can be had when one is wrapped in endless amounts of caution tape.

Some days I feel as though my every action could lead to cancer or my certain death. Like eating Goldfish crackers, for example. Apparently these processed little niblets are spawned from Satan. Who knew? And my beloved tea, which has comforted me on many a chilly morning, is riddled with pesticides that are going to turn me into a super bug complete with antennae and a billion legs. I can see the headline now, “Teabag Bug Kills Millions by Brewing for More Than Two Minutes” – news at eleven.

Ok, so I’m being a bit sarcastic today. I do believe that, for the most part, information is good and can create positive change. I also agree that the major corporations are so bottom line driven that the risks often outweigh the benefits when they are deciding to pull the trigger on a product. And I also applaud those who are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

But sometimes, quite frankly, I want to live in a cave with no wi-fi reception. Why? Because all of this information makes an impression on me. I’m not one of those that can just blow off GMO’s, pesticides, artificial preservatives, dyes, global warming, pollution, and the like with a flip of my hand. Peshaw! And this information is ruining my day. I’m obsessed with labels, see death for my children at every turn, and have convinced myself that I’m going to get cancer from, well, everything.

The other thing I struggle with is the flip-flopping. Oatmeal will lower your cholesterol. Whoops, nope, just kidding. Wait, oh yes, another study has validated the original information. Hold on though, another study has just contradicted that one. And so on. GMO’s grow better crops and are pesticide resistant! But the bugs have adapted. My bad. Ping-pong, I say this, you say that, and now I have a headache for which I cannot take anything for fear of a blood clot.

I apologize if I seem flippant. Really, I believe we have just over-complicated everything to the point of never being able to reach clarity again. So I guess what I really want to hear and read is that I can take off the caution tape and start shampooing my hair without fear of repercussions. I want to live in a world where knowledge is provided, but not broadcasted straight down my throat as the next best cleanse. Where we don’t start tuning out every piece of news because it all starts to sound like Charlie Brown’s parents. A time in which I can breathe easy with knowledge as my guide, not as my noose.

Well, now I’m going to go have some tea and Goldfish crackers. Suicide you say? I’ll take the chance, because the last time I checked, I’m going to die of something and I’d rather it not be strangulation by caution tape.


Holy Christ!

No, I’m not taking the Lord’s name in vain, so settle down people. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to get our world back in order, and even if it’s possible. Of course it is, because all things are possible and we can come back from anything. Right? Ok, so don’t ask the dinosaurs how that positive spin worked out for them, but they didn’t possess the brain power that we humans do. And any alligator will tell you…evolution didn’t leave all of the dinosaurs behind in a wake of fire and brimstone. So with that in mind, how do we get back on track?

First, here are the major issues as I see them; the ones we actually have control over. A meteor hurdling through space with our name on it, is not something we can avoid. The word, “toast” comes to mind in that scenario. That leaves us with the other two biggest threats: 1) the demise of Mother Earth and 2) the divisiveness of the human race. Dun, dun, dun! [Cue scary, world’s gonna end music now…]

Seriously though, we HAVE to get it together or any idiot can see that we’re toast. And that is the key, getting together. Look at any comment thread and you’ll see the following: those who agree with the point being made, those who disagree, those who use the thread for their own unrelated agenda (you know who you are, “Miss Get Thin Quick”), those who totally miss the big picture and single out a word or phrase in the article (“Tisk-tisk, did anyone notice they spelled, ‘onomatopoeia’ wrong?”), and finally, those who are new to posting and hit enter before they have completed their thoug

Anyway, everyone has a right to their opinion. What I DON’T believe is that everyone has the right to voice their opinion if it furthers the demise of Mother Earth or continues to promote deep divisions within the human race. I know, “But who will police what we can and cannot say?” You should. Many of us have either lost the art of empathy or have decided that his or her agenda trumps that of the overall good. I am particularly fascinated by this explanation of empathy by Jeremy Rifkin. It is well worth watching as it recalls our simple beginnings, how we have socially evolved through the ages, and then begs the question of how we get back to empathy. My simple answer would be simplicity. More specifically, we need to get back to the fact that we are all human and have to share one planet. If we don’t respect those two basic principles and continue to let wealth, religion, nationality, race, and gender divide us, then we are creating more and more cracks that become harder to heal. 

Again, it all comes back to our opinions – for that is what shapes us as individuals and as a society. The problem isn’t necessarily in having an opinion, it’s in how that opinion is delivered, or even if it should be delivered. So say, for example, I read a seemingly innocuous Facebook post pertaining to the fact that my friend just bought a new iPod 5 for their 3 year old son. Comments could range from, “Cool! What a lucky kid!” to “Are you flippin’ nuts? He’s only 3 years old?!?” For the former, no harm done. For the latter, not only has the commenter put a damper on the poster’s enthusiasm, in effect, but he’s also insulted his friend’s parenting skills. In that case the poster should have kept his thoughts to himself because he just made a crack.

Here is another example. You read an article on a mother who gets caught stealing from a store to feed her children. You’re sick of the system and post a comment such as, “I’m so tired of these welfare moms with twenty children thinking they can steal while my tax dollars are supporting them!” So…how do you know this mom is on welfare? How do you know she has twenty childen? Do you even know her story? What you have done by posting this comment is to become part of the problem and not part of the solution. You’ve made another crack. Only through kinder, more informed, and more thoughtful words, are we going to heal the divides.

Now, back to Holy Christ! It is Christmas time. Whether you believe in God, Christ or any other higher being, the teachings of Christ are holy – “morally and spiritually excellent” to be exact. You don’t have to believe in Christ to know that he preached healing, acceptance, belief in a common good, and love for all humanity. Even an atheist can’t argue with those qualities. Jesus would be the first person to hug a Muslim, marry a black man and a white woman, lift up a prostitute to show her that her life is worth more, tell a republican or democrat that egos and wealth will not move this world forward, and he would feel nothing but empathy for the woman who stole food for her children. In fact, he would have given her the help she needs to get on a better path. He would have empathized, not judged. He would have been nothing but our blessed, Holy Christ.

Merry Christmas to all!


Reading to a Motley Crew

Ok, so maybe my kids aren’t rock stars (yet), nor are they bad to the bone, but sometimes trying to read to three different children, at three different levels – and different sexes to boot (picture princesses vs. pirates) – is like reading to a Motley Crew.

With my first son, reading before bedtime when he was little was a treasured block of time I fiercely protected, and I was able to do it with relative ease. Many folks tend to be structured with their first child and I was no exception: dinner, play, bath, books, and then bed. It was as simple as that. I would sit with my legs crisscrossed applesauce on the floor and have him snuggle into my lap. Book in hand, we read and explored every word and picture as one fabulously literate unit.

When my second son came along, I struggled with many of the “second child” questions that accompanied an emotional pregnancy. “How can I love more than one child?” “How will I have time for both?” My eldest wouldn’t hear of not sitting in my lap as we had always done. That was his spot. My lap = his chair. Discussion over. Me holding his new baby brother and reading a book as a now re-configured unit was so not happening.

I wanted to read together as a family, but then realized that I had to divide and conquer for our collective sanity. My eldest wasn’t hearing or learning anything with a screaming baby within earshot; not to mention I felt rushed and stressed. It was ridiculous. So I decided to break routine and find time for both of them separately. It was a light bulb moment in the 100 watt range. And we would explore the world of words until such time as we could come back together without issue.

It was bliss. Each got their own quality reading and snuggle time with mommy and/or daddy. Eventually, we got back to reading together as a group as they outgrew my lap [insert sad mommy face here] and began to take on some of the reading themselves [insert proud mommy face here.]

Then I had to throw a wrench in the reading gears by adding a baby princess in with the pirates who had already put in their time swabbing the deck; thereby setting us in the direction of walking the plank. Like a book, though, out story continues to evolve, add more characters, and develop into different chapters.

The present course takes one of two paths depending on the wind and the night. On some evenings I read to the princess in her room, alone and cuddling one-on-one while the boys pick out their selections in their room. On other nights, we all gather on the floor and take turns reading a book to one another. It is hysterical to hear my daughter “read” when it is her turn – because she can’t yet. It is complete gibberish, but utterly precious. Even the boys laugh at her insistence that what she is “reading” is correct.

So reading to my Motley Crew has been an evolution of good, bad and silly. Some days the one-on-one time works and sometimes it’s a free-for-all. I also try to tailor the book selection to the reading method. So if it is a free-for-all night, then we all dance around like crazy lunatics while I read, “Eight Silly Monkeys.” And sometimes we make up our own stories or act out stories we know by heart.

My family has taken on many forms over the years and so has our reading. The whole beauty of our story is that we can rewrite it to suit our needs. Sometimes our story is fiction, sometimes non-fiction, oftentimes autobiographical, but it is always an appreciation for the written word and the illustrations that bring each and every adventure to life.

While my crew may be motley, I am the captain of this pirate ship, plus one princess, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Argh!


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