Kind of a Love Story About My Two Oldest Geniuses


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Small black and white photo of me with caption: Me, giving us ALL the do better look.
Me, giving us ALL the “do better” look.

I wish there would have been some kind of universal understanding from teachers and education systems like the mother in the story below when I was a kid in school. I’m still that kid in an adult body, really. (Just ask anyone who has had to be on Zoom calls with me this past year or so during this pandemic!) Thankfully, my mother had a great understanding of who I was. The story reminds me so much of two of my kids, Nate and Ben (for different reasons). They’re grown now, by the way. Nate was exactly this kid, and Ben was not a cookie cutout for learning well inside of the normal school box. Their other younger brother and sister, Josh and Jaz, special, glorious, beautiful, and geniuses in their own ways, operated differently and more easily inside the common structures of our school systems.

I should point out here that these are the observations of a mother, not their own observations or anyone else’s – just from a mama who wished for a world where her children could “just” belong in their completeness, perfection, and just absolute delicious individuality. I’ll never stop wishing and working to have that for them, my grandchildren… for ALL of us.

A photo of a smiling Nate with his daughter, and her arms are wrapped around his neck while she kisses him on the cheek.
Nate, getting loved on by his daughter, Milani, during recovery from an accident at work.

Nate was literally always looking around, as was mentioned very often by his teachers, “daydreaming,” they said. They didn’t understand that he was doing his best to problem-solve things at home and the woes of the entire world. They didn’t understand or see him trying to grow strong and broad shoulders, and the pressures he felt to do so.

They didn’t see what his individual genius was, and some still don’t.

They didn’t see that he was the one playing with the kids no one else wanted to play with because they were different in some way, always caring about them, protecting and defending them. We had our fair share of appointments in the school office because he chose to defend the kids that were getting picked on, and it mostly left him wondering why that was a problem and why no one was doing that for him at school, too. (Y’all know his mama was in that office though!)

He was (is) always aware of his surroundings, oftentimes with more attention paid to that than what was sometimes in front of his nose. I guess it’s no surprise that he became a firefighter and paramedic. His observing is oft times greatly mistaken for being unaware, not listening, not caring, not trying hard enough. It’s such a hugely inaccurate conclusion. I guess that must be the easiest conclusion to make. 🤷🏻‍♀️❓ (Do better here, folks.) Trust me, he knows more than he lets on and more than you think. He always has.

His empathy runs as deep as his feelings. If he’s quiet, he is learning and observing, or he just doesn’t trust you or your judgment and might even think you’re full of shit – and he’s right – a lot. He has always had a deep well of forgiveness that is long-standing that even I at times have a hard time comprehending. This is another misunderstood piece about him that people sometimes mistake for weakness — another ridiculous societal “norm.”

A picture of Ben standing on a lookout point of Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California, filming the view.
Ben, on a recent mother/son trip enjoying and appreciating the sights and sounds above Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California.

Ben would look around, trying to find the deeper information, thinking about the next thing. It would annoy some of his teachers, so I had to let them know sometimes that he was two steps ahead of them already and had lost interest, and on several occasions that they weren’t challenging him enough, giving him the space to expand his mind in the way that he needed to, and that it was they who should try harder to keep up with him.

They didn’t see what his individual genius was, and some still don’t.

There came a point when his father, grandparents and I finally realized that the boxed-in culture of most schooling and the organizational skills taught were not a fit for him. Once we gave that up and gave him room for his own system for accomplishing and finishing things, it was better for all of us! One time I was discussing this with a friend, and he said, “Is he in Special Ed?” (💭 Wait, what? 😳) You see, this is the filters so many of us operate through, tragically, and we end up othering the children we should be learning from. (Again, I repeat, do better, folks!) I said, “Yes, actually, he’s in the Baccalaureate program at his high school…
(💭you f’ing idiot)!”

Ever-curious, ever-seeking new information and understanding about the world around him and the people involved, it’s no surprise that he grew up to be a scientist of the Earth (geology) and has deep feelings about and for the people that reside on it. He will say the “hard things” about various institutionalized and systemic oppressions without regret. When he loves you, it’s probably forever, though the depth may vary and you may not realize it. He is bigger in spirit and intelligence than his physical stature, which is often way underestimated by many because of judgmental societal expectations about how big and tall men need to be. (Lorrrrrdy, we have so much to get better about!)


Imagine the world we would have if we allowed space for individuals to be seen perfect and whole just as they are with all of their natural gifts.


Meme in red and black letters stating "Let your children be who they are. If they don't fit the prefab mold, they are here for a greater purpose. Every child has his/her/their own genius inside."
❤️ Let your children be who they are. If they don’t fit the prefab mold, they are here for a greater purpose. Every (E-V-E-R-Y) child has his/her/their own genius inside. ❤️

Here is the passage which had me write my content above:
My daughter handed me her school progress report. Although it displayed a steady stream of positive check marks, there was one check mark standing dejectedly alone from the rest.

“How am I doing, Mom?” my child asked with a level of maturity that did not match the small dishevelled person gazing up at me with smudged eyeglasses that teetered on the tip of her nose. With her small finger, she pointed to her teacher’s neatly printed words next to the lone check mark.

It read, “Distracted in large groups.” But I already knew this. I knew this long before it was written on an official report card. Since she was a toddler, this child has offered astute observations of the world around her.

After pointing out all the positives on the progress report, I told her what was written. Upon hearing the news, she gave a tiny, uncertain smile and shyly admitted, “I do look around a lot.”

But before my child could feel one ounce of shame, one iota of failure, I came down on bended knee and looked her straight in the eye. I didn’t want her to just hear these words, I wanted her to feel them. This is what I said:

“Yes. You do look around a lot. You noticed Sam sitting off by himself with a skinned knee on the field trip, and you comforted him.”

“You noticed Banjo had a running nose, and the vet said it was a good thing we brought him in when we did.”

“You noticed our waitress was working really hard and suggested we leave an extra good tip. You noticed Grandpa was walking slower than the rest of us so you waited for him.”

“You notice the beautiful view every time we cross the bridge to go to swim practice.”

“And you know what? I don’t ever want you to stop noticing because that is your gift. It is your gift that you give to the world.”

As I watched my daughter beam with the glow of acceptance, I realized her approach to life had the power to change the world.

You see, we are all just waiting for someone to notice—notice our pain, notice our scars, notice our fear, notice our joy, notice our triumphs, notice our courage.

And the one who notices is a rare and beautiful gift.

*Author Unknown*

Wooden structure with the quote by Thich Nhat Hanh printed on it: Love in such a way that the person you love feels free.
Love in such a way that the person you love feels free.

Half-Empty or Half-Full?

Are you a glass half-empty or a glass half-full type?

What if you saw the glass and thought, “Huh, it’s a glass doing what a glass does.”

Do you ever wonder what tread you leave on another when you live life as if they are a half-empty glass?

Who really is being half-empty? What do you suppose the return on your investment on that is?

Conversations for another day:
Who’s the glass?
What if you’re the glass?


Of course if you Google “glass half-full,” you’ll find the funny stuff, too!

Cobwebs, Dirty Floors, and Love

If you’re going to tell me that I need to learn to love myself (or ourselves, in a group setting) in order to love you with the love and respect you deserve, I can’t hear you if you aren’t loving me. I can’t hear you if you are coming from grudge (or anger, yelling, vitriol) vs. love.

It’s tricky, isn’t it? What I hear you saying may very well be the truth, or may certainly have some true parts. But it’s like giving advice to someone else on how to keep their house clean while you have cobwebs all over yours. Your cobwebs don’t actually make any of the truth less true. However, they make you less believable about what you know and want, so you are now suspect for motives, suspect as to what will be returned for changed behavior. Your intention isn’t coming from the same energy that you wish to receive.

Now, you will get a few on board who will hear you and see the truth in spite of your own cobwebs and adjust accordingly; and you will have some form of agreement from the few self-loathing as well. But you will not ultimately get the return you were going for, which is a transformed group.

What a conundrum. Sometimes we really need to be heard, or sometimes we really need to hear. How difficult it can be to express hurt, fear, or anger and be heard fully without losing humanity towards the other person our group!

Love is some tricky shit when you think you can out-maneuver it.

Healing Starts

I was a hot-head in my younger days – kid, teen, young adult… And I mean HOT! Someone asked me one time a while back how I began my journey of transforming my anger and reactions. At the time he asked, I just didn’t know; I only knew that I had to do something. He asked me how I did it. I really didn’t know the answer to that either.

That journey began 25 years ago on my 30th birthday when I knew something had to change, and just today – this day – I realize what it was that put me into action. It was realizing who I was hurting (part of that being myself). I made those people more important than anything else. I just simply made my well-being and theirs bigger than the anger. That’s really all it was, and every time I felt angry, I put them back in their rightful, bigger places.

I didn’t quit <period>.

Love,
Debora

P.S. I have never perfected this. I still have to do this. I will ALWAYS have to do this – FOREVER. Who I was will always be a part of who I am. It’s important to know this and leave it right there as a reminder.

💜I can take part in your healing (even without you knowing), but I cannot heal you. The choice to heal is 100% yours.


💜Step 1: Self is the place to start.


💜Starting may feel like daunting, rugged,
mountainous terrain with no clear path.


💜Step 2: Start where you are hurting others.

#healing #responsibility #selfcare #help #assistance #spirit #hurt #self #start #path #belong #belonging #BuildBridgeBelong

Standing in Gratitude

As an introvert, putting myself on any display that isn’t as simple as my written words is a huge
S-T-R-E-T-C-H. I periodically recognize when I’m stunted (or stuck), and purposely and purposefully stick my toes (and sometimes neck) in situations or around people that are at first naturally uncomfortable for me. I know if I don’t that I won’t grow, expand, and learn new ways and conversations without doing so. It’s sort of like my interpersonal travel itinerary!

I’ve been going through and growing through some things lately, and I’ve been fortunate enough (and I’d like to think “smart enough”) to have some people around me that have heard me, love me, and are willing to have me do more than just read the “dance steps” — they are inviting me to dance and learn at the same time.

Self-Question and Answer

Q1: How do you know when it’s time to start stretching yourself — to start doing the new things you think about doing and pushing the boundaries of what you think you’re ready to do?
A1: When you crave to do more and you feel restricted in your own skin and your steps feel small.

Q2: How do you know when your change of mind (or self-talk) is working?
A2: When it starts showing up on the outside of you by way of people giving you cause, opportunity, and the space to show up as the new thinking.

Q3: What do you do when you’re scared to pieces of it all?
A3: Say, “Yes!” Do it anyway, repeat, and celebrate.

Q4: How do you get there?
A4: Tell the people that can hear your words and love you enough to drag you to the life-stretching class.

Q5: What if you do the thing (“thang”) and you don’t feel like it was your best?
A5: Refer back to A3.

Q6: What if I’m just so nervous about it all and I feel like I can’t follow through?
A6: Put your feet on the ground and stand in gratitude for the opportunity, the people, and circumstances that got you here.

You can always get a tattoo placed where you can always see it to remind you of who you say you are! Buuut… that’s not a one-size-fits-all solution! 😉

There’s nothing better than to be seen and heard.
I AM GRATEFUL.

👉 Me, Myself, and I 👈

Good, bad, or indifferent, I’m the common denominator in every event and circumstance in my life. If I get to take credit for the celebration and praise-worthy instances, I must also take responsibility and credit for the lackluster and substandard occasions as well.

The way in was me, and so it is for the way out. If I want more, then I stay the course. If I want change, like everything else, that movement begins with me as well.

Simply because I’m human and share the planet, life sends me surprises. I may not be responsible for that, but I am still at the center of the space created from my own response.

The Fine Print in the Rules About Thoughts and Prayers

Today, we had our third mass shooting in the USA in one week. We lost over 30 brothers and sisters; many were children, and over 40 were injured and/or hospitalized. Some are in critical condition.

You’re a good, law-abiding citizen. You play by all the rules. Perhaps you regularly attend worship. You don’t cuss. You care about others, and you pray for them — even for your enemies like you are told. You don’t allow wrong-doers time. You donate and tithe to good causes. You avoid gossip. You prepare meals for the ill and elderly.

You are the model of do-right.

Your only sin (error)? You did nothing in the face of the adversity and oppression of others. But wait… you sent out your thoughts and prayers — and you really did! You didn’t just say that you did! But then you sat silent. You did not move. You did not lift a finger. You did not make one attempt to change a thing, not even with yourself, not even inside your own mind.

What will you do one day if the _______________ comes for you or one of yours? Will you remember that you sat down while others were being harmed — that you watched in silence, or turned your back to it completely? Will you remember that you looked away when they showed the bodies because it was too awful to think about, to talk about? Will you remember that after you prayed for them you went back in your home, away from the hard things, and carried on like usual? Will you remember that you thought it didn’t affect you, so there was nothing for you to do? Will you remember that you thought you were only one person?

Proverbs 24
11 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
save them as they stagger to their death.
12 Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.

Thanks, Rev Kev, for this image you posted and for the much-needed reminders today!
Click here for today’s Sunday service!

Also, read James 2:14-26 Faith Without Works Is Dead

Silence of the Good People

1 Corinthians 12:26
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.