Musings

We’re Not Out of the Woods

Maybe it’s some hereditary pathological optimism thing from my Mom. Maybe I’m just naive like Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods, and I can’t get past my “The woods are just trees. The trees are just wood. I have no fear, nor anyone should.” attitude. Maybe it’s because I spent so much of my childhood in the woods and it feels more, well, natural. Whatever the reason, the phrase “out of the woods” bugs me.

“Out of the woods” means out of danger. Throughout folklore the forest is considered a place of darkness and evil. That’s where the witch’s sweets house was in Hansel and Gretel. It’s where the wolf always lives. But I take issue with this. The first problem is calling the woods bad in the first place. Found on Pinterest, original artist unknownThe forest is a place of wonder. Yes, it’s where the villain often lurks, but without it there would be no story. A place itself isn’t good or bad. I think we have a habit of labeling things we don’t understand or identify with as “bad.” Bad things happen everywhere. Some areas of the city are more crime prone, but that isn’t the buildings fault. Let’s stop blaming our surroundings for our problems.

When someone is “out of the woods,” they relax. Since the struggle is over, they stop paying close attention to their surroundings. While enjoying life is a wonderful thing, and I think it’s how we are meant to live, you can’t let your guard down. You’re in the clear. You can see everything plainly, so you don’t have to try as hard. But I know from experience that there are still dangers in a clearing. You don’t pay attention to your footing, and it’s easy to step in a hole. This isn’t to say that I don’t think you should relax. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Instead of fighting and struggling during those times when you are “in the woods,” look around. Enjoy the life surrounding you. Look for the good in all of your circumstances. Be careful of the thorns and snakes, but don’t live your life paranoid about something you may never run into. Enjoy the wildflowers and the big open sky of the meadow, but just as you kept lookout for dangers in the forest, don’t let your guard down once you step into the clearing. There are still snakes and thorns; They just look different here. They are sneakier.

In life you run into many situations. If you don’t allow yourself to find the joys and the “happy thoughts” in all places, it will be harder to enjoy them in the obvious ones.

Poet Among Other Things

C’est La Vie

“I wish it were socially acceptable for adults to climb trees.” I just laughed and picked another burr off my backpack. “Last time I called Annie she almost fell out of her tree.”

C’est La Vie8a28535d4ee76de8d25a942a5daddfb8

Have you ever noticed
The smell of Autumn?
The scent of fallen leaves
Warmed by the sun
It’s warm, yet, is the smell of death
It’s sweet, yet,is the smell of mold
How sweet and warm is the start of death and cold

Have you ever realized
That leaves have never touched the dirt?
They grow from the earth
Yet if you catch them mid-flight
They will never meet it
It’s life begins in the canopy
Never greeting it’s true mother

Have you ever heard
The noise of a windless forest?
When the crickets and birds still sing
And the leaves still lose their grip
And the squirrels still skitter up bark
And the trees still whisper
And the shadows still dance

Have you ever sat perfectly still
Long enough for the wood to take you back?
The become a part of nature again
Feeling the pulsing of life
In the roaring quiet of the trees
Feeling the breath of a curious creature
Drawing power from a tree branch
A tree bearing weight at last
Pulling warm Joy from the Sun

This is Life
Gales of silence
Beautiful death
Forever changing
Nothing is as it seems

Camp

Return of the Fire Breathing Pidgezilla, Part II

Seeing girls grow is one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of. One of my cabin girls started the week with red beads on her swimsuit,warning the lifeguards that she was a weak swimmer. She worked hard all week in swimming lessons. On Friday she ran into the cabin at the end of second activity and told me she had passed the swim test. I just about burst, I was so proud of her.

DSCF2112I taught nature to the Pathfinders by myself for the first time this year. I’ve assisted this class twice now, and it’s kind of included in my CILT majors. To be honest though, Grackle, the activities director, had more confidence in me than I did.

Pathfinders are seriously awesome. They are bouncy, fun-loving, and if you can win them over, you have a best friend. They also have had somewhere between 7 and 9 years to build up a huge capacity of energy. Sometimes we don’t have enough girls or enough classes for them to choose their activities. Sometimes nature is not an optional class. Most of the girls were fine with this, and probably would have taken nature anyway. Then in one of my classes, I DSCF2041only had one girl out of the four who didn’t scream bloody murder at some point.

One day near the end of week two, as we were walking through the woods I had an idea, and it was kind of the theme for my whole time at camp. One of the girls said “I’m not going any further. This is outside of my comfort zone. I have boundaries.” At the beginning of camp I felt exactly the same way. But then I realised, ” Comfort zones are like muscles. When you exercise a muscle, the fibers break, but they grow back. The new tissue takes up more room, and your muscles get bigger. Comfort zones are like that too. You break them a little bit, and they grow back bigger.” This was mostly over their heads, and I’m not sure how scientifically accurate it is, but a couple of them were begging me to go “just a little” further down the trail, so I didn’t have a chance to explain further. They still screamed every now and again, but even the squealers were much deeper in the woods than they had ever been before. Sometimes I still employed trick I figured out. Start belting ‘Love is an Open Door’ and they will stop whatever they are doing and join you. Dance along with it? You’ve got full on celebrity status and a herd of very short groupies. By the end of the week, this was mostly just for fun.

The campers weren’t the only girls stretching their comfort zones. You know what though? The more room you have, the more fun you can have. You know what else? I’m done telling God “I’m not going any further. This is outside of my comfort zone. I have boundaries.” In fact– take me deeper into the woods.

Camp

Return of the Fire Breathing Pidgezilla, Part I

I’ll be honest, I’ve not had an easy time putting together this post. I’m not sure what it is, but camp was hard this year. Everything about it. I’ve started and restarted writing about it half a dozen times. By the facts everything went DSCF1975swimmingly. But for some reason, I’m having a really hard time putting together a coherent post about it.

First I wouldn’t miss camp for the world, then I was ok with missing a week, then I wasn’t planning on going at all. Then my plans fell through, a date was wrong, and I didn’t get the job. I was confused. How did I go from adamant about going to not even planning to go to camp? Maybe I’ve grown? I don’t know, really. I think perhaps camp had been a kind of crutch. I’m really not sure how to describe it. I’m learning that I am incredibly loyal, to the point of blindness. Don’t get me wrong, camp is a great thing, but I think I had become so loyal to NeKaMo that I was potentially missing other opportunities. When I opened myself up to other ideas, it kind of threw me off. Funny how that works.

When it came time to pack, I was such an emotional wreck that once I got my stuff together I just laid on my bed and cried for a couple of hours before finally falling asleep. The drive down to Truman Lake with a friend was fun, and relaxed me quite a bit, but I was still tense. Actually, I spent a lot of time over the two weeks in some state of stressed. But it was a really beautiful time too. One night, after doing something that some would consider– eh-hem– rule bendy, I came back to the cabin, where my girls had been asleep for hours, and wrote.

A night of the starsDSCF1917
Full of laughter and joy
 
A night when they burbled
And spilled over
And rained down
 
A night when the moon hid her face
When she turned a blind eye
And let the small ones have their fun
And they danced with joy
And had their frolic
 
Their joy drifted down
Falling on heads uplifted
Watching their dance
Drinking their joy
Words were made for nights like these

DSCF2062One afternoon I sat with Robin during free time while she worked on something in the rec hall. She asked “How ya doin’ Pidge?” in her usual perky, but incredibly sincere, Robinish way and I thought about it for a moment before simply answering, “Happy.” Yes, I was stressed a lot of the time, but I wasn’t just thinking of at camp. In general, I’m happier than I was last time I talked to her.
Robin and I seem to have a way of surprising each other every time we talk. This time it was her turn.  “I can tell. You aren’t as mopy as you were last year.” I thought I was going to be the one shocking her. I didn’t feel mopy last year, and I did this year. I also didn’t think she would remember much about me from last year. I’ve been finding out that people actually do remember me a lot more often than I thought they did.

How did I get yet another nickname? What happens when you throw Pigeon and a handful of squeally, panicky, Pathfinders on a nature trail? Who is worse about staying on task, Pigeon, or a camper? These questions an more answered in the next addition of  “Return of the Fire Breathing Pidgezilla!”

Farm and Family, Pictures

Snowflakes Keep Falling On My Head

I think it was a good thing to do, albeit somewhat cliché, but I’m glad Seasons of Thankfulness is over. After always having the same thing to post for the past two months, it’s nice to get to just write about what’s going on for a change! 🙂

On New Year’s Eve we got a nice little dump of snow. There was still some on the ground from the Christmas Eve Eve snow.DSCF8814 Since Dad had the day off, we had a lovely amount of snow and no hills whatsoever, Dad took us to the park to sled. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I really love sledding. And snow. Snow forts. Snowflakes. Snowball fights (unless I’m wearing glasses, that just flat-out hurts). Basically, is the word “snow” is in it, assume I love it. I love how the snow is puffing up in this picture of Hannah. DSCF8813 Although we don’t have any hills on our property, the park in town has a couple of awesome ones. When we first got there around noon there was one little group of sledders on the big hill. As we drove up one of them was attempting to ride down on a snow board. She promptly wiped out. I’ve always found this twisted enjoyment in watching other teenagers trying to look cool, and failing miserably. That’s why I don’t even try. Of course, I don’t have to. 😉 Sorry, I just had to say that, totally joking. It’s kind of an inside joke with/about Dad. 🙂 DSCF8843 At first we went to the hill we rode two years ago, but quickly went over to the bigger hill. For a while the other guys stayed and we just sledded over where it wasn’t as steep (but still really awesome), but they soon left. We seem to have that effect when we go to the park. We then moved over to the steeper part, being careful not to go so far that we had to watch out for the creek. Soon other groups started coming. I think it was an extended family, they all seemed to know each other and they looked a like. Of course, this is a small town. Everyone pretty much looks the same anyway. 🙂 DSCF8812 I really love the look on Adam’s face in this picture! It’s pretty much how I feel when we sled. We all had such a fun time. It wasn’t too cold, but cold enough for the snow to be nice and fluffy. I missed the snow so much. Last winter we got maybe 2 inches total. We did get to make our traditional giant snowman, but that was it. It was good that we didn’t get much, Mom had at least one doctors appointment a week right there at the end with Josh.DSCF8809 It’s not what she’s doing in this picture, but Claire came up with a style called “The Sanguine Penguin.” Imagine a penguin sliding down with its wings back in an aerodynamic V. Pretty much just going face first. DSCF8792 Not sure if you can read it or not, if not, it’s your basic “no parking” sign. Why did I take a picture? Notice where it is. It is at the top of a fairly steep hill, leading up to a lake. I’m not sure why, but apparently it was needed. While the sign itself may be bleached out, the post was new. Reminds me of the spittoon in the court room with a new sign prohibiting spitting on the floor. As I said. It’s a small town. We had a couple of near run-ins with the big sycamores at the bottom of the hill, but I’m glad to say, no one got hurt! Well, Dad might have over-done it a bit on his shoulder, but no crashes. 🙂

Over all, it was a tremendous day. 🙂

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Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s really weird. I love that button. I know it must not seem like it from time to time when I abandon my blog for weeks on end. I love getting to start from scratch. A blank field, a keyboard and an idea.

2012 was the shortest year I’ve ever experienced. How could we fit so much in just 366 days? Ah! It must have been that one extra day! I’ve always thought it was neat how leap year coincides with the Olympics and the presidential election.

On February 2nd Joshua David was born.  10 lbs 4oz of boy. He spent a week in the NICU for an unidentified infection. Not only was this our first C-section, it was our first experience in NICU. That week was the longest 7 days of the year, and yet, it feels like a blur. No fanfare. No applause.

In June Meg, Claire and I went to NeKaMo Camp. I went for both weeks, working on my CILT. While it is sad for my years as a camper to be over, I really do feel like it is time. Looking around, I saw girls that had been Challengers my first year were now Explorers. My baby sister was in her last year as a Challenger and my even babier sister was a first year Challenger! I am so looking forward to being a counselor next year, I’m already collecting ideas!  My first year of CILT was the first time I had been away from home for more than a week and I got really homesick. I was thankful to get to go home for the weekend. This year I had so much to do it didn’t feel like more than a few days. I didn’t go home for the weekend, so I only got to see my family during check in for Meg and Claire. Even then I only had a few minutes because I had to go with Rufus and Raven on a nature hike.

The day I remember the best is the very last day. After the excitement of graduations was over. We were on staff. Part of the mysterious club of grown-ups with bird names. We were Ginger, Snow, Raven, Sparrow and Pigeon. We got up early that morning and went to the Staff Bible Study. This mystical thing that our counselors get up crazy early for. It was a cool, misty, early summer morning. The five of us walked to the dining hall and sat at our table; Cabin 12.  Other counselors and staff came in and sat around us, just like it was a normal day. Like we belonged there. I felt like a babe among giants. There was Robin, Ducky, Rikki, Tweety, Grackle, everyone was there. Tross spoke in a tone of voice I had rarely heard before. Like she was talking to adults, not a camp of girls.

After the meeting was over, we started working on CILT Guard. Nearly all the past CILTs, now joined by the 5 of us, came together for the biggest Color Guard I’ve ever seen. Sparrow and Raven were part of an amazing Rifle Guard. It’s really hard to explain the feeling, other than a small fish in a big pond. Or maybe a small Pigeon in a big sky. No fanfare. No applause.

On July 25th I turned 18 years old. Every so often he tells me about right after I was born, usually when he wants me to look him in the eye or when I already am, we’re easily distracted like that. He held me in his arms 18 years ago and said “Hi. Your name is Annie. I’m your Daddy and I love you.” and I looked him in the eye. No fanfare. No applause.

October was a big month. My baby cousin PB was born just a few days after Meg’s birthday. Like Josh he spent some time in the NICU. Shortly after that my Great-Grand-Father died. We drove down to South-East Alabama for the funeral. It was good to get to see Oma and all the relatives, except for the reason. We got to go down to Panama City Beach while we were down there, something we haven’t gotten to do in a few years. It was raining, so we didn’t get to swim. I had never seen the beach in the rain before. It is so unlike anything I can describe. Such a lonely, roaring peace. There was no one in sight. The ice cold rain poured steadily. The surf was balmy. The constant roar of white caps. The gentle patter of the raindrops on the sand. Peace in the midst of such an emotional trip. Once we got done on the beach, we were soaking wet, and some of us were in regular clothes. We went over to a Walgreen’s and changed clothes, some of us into real clothes, some into our dry swim suits. On the trip back we home stopped for ice cream at Peach Park. No fanfare. No applause.

Who would be surprised that November was a big month. In the flurry of political hype, it’s good to remember a few things. These are real people. Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins, just like He did for mine, and hopefully for yours. This is all going to burn. No matter who wins what and who is in what office. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. That means all kings, all rulers, all presidents, all offices. Everything. And in the end, that is all that matters. I voted for the first time. No fanfare. No applause.

This was PB’s and Josh’s first Christmas. We are SO blessed to have these precious boys with us, especially after their bumpy starts.DSCF8674 No fanfare. No applause.

Forget New Years Resolutions. Add New Post. No fanfare. No applause.

Farm and Family, Pictures

Truly Grateful

11 Thankful for ChristmasDSCF8480

12 Thankful for Hannahisms

13 Thankful for meteor showers that aren’t at 2amDSCF8543

The sky was as clear as you could ever ask for, there was no moon, and it wasn’t bitterly cold. We got to see more shooting stars in those few hours of the Geminid Meteor Shower than I have ever seen in my life. Adam, Claire Meg and I laid in the orchard in sleeping bags and basically on each other for a few hours. With some of the stars you could point and everyone else would have time to look at it, were with other ones you either saw it or you didn’t. I can’t wait for next years shower!

14 Thankful that God is in control no matter what crazies doDSCF8608

15 Thankful for Mom and Dad getting married 22 years ago

16 Thankful for finding the movie Elf

17 Thankful for getting a haircut that didn’t make me cry and looks really cute

18 Thankful for great, spontaneous  friends and awesome movies!

On Tuesday Meg, Claire and I went to go see the Hobbit with some awesome friends the Flowers (as I will call them) to celebrate SFlower’s birthday. The movie was amazing. Without giving too much away; It was a good bit less dark than the other Lord of The Rings movies. I really loved how they portrayed Smeagol especially. I won’t say anymore because I think you should go see it yourself, I really want to see it again in fact. When the movie was over I leaned over and said “Anyone have a time machine?” I can NOT wait for the next movie!

19 Thankful for cute little kids

20 Thankful for first snows coming earlier than St. Valentines day!DSCF8615

21 Thankful for fun at the White Elephant party with Mom’s Family

22 Thankful for artDSCF8630

23 Thankful for my silly family, long drives are never uneventful

24 Thankful for getting to cuddle brand new cousin PB for the first time!

25 Thankful for Jesus Christ coming as a baby to grow up and save the worldDSCF8604

26 Thankful for our neighbor letting Bunny hang out with his herd, complete with bulls, for a month or so. She wanted nothing more. 😉 lol

27 Thankful for Aunt D, Uncle B and the cousins EB, MB and PB, and Oma and Opa

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