Archive | May, 2008

Doing the Foxtrot

14 May

Funny story.

My 13-year-old daughter and I belong to a Mother Daughter book club. This past Friday, we drove out to Roxborough, along with two other mother/daughter pairs to the new home of one of our members for our bimonthly meeting. (Roxborough is a growing residential area in Douglas County, but is still more remote and rural than Highlands Ranch.)

 As we wound through the homes nestled on the scenic hillsides, we spotted mule deer grazing along the roadside and commented on how nice it must be to live so close to wildlife and in such a lovely setting.

When we arrived, I parked above my friend’s house on a gravel road and we walked down her sloped driveway so I wouldn’t have trouble backing out when it came time to leave.

Before dusk, our daughters and my friend’s other children were playing outside. From time to time, we could hear their delighted shrieks as they chased after small groups of mule deer who happened into the yard. As I watched the skittish creatures bound away across the grass, I asked my friend if they had had any encounters with coyotes. (Although I live in suburbia, there have been ongoing problems in my own neighborhood with coyotes snatching small pets and displaying aggression, particularly towards children.) She replied that they had a fox den nearby, but that so far, they had not had any encounters with coyotes, mountain lions, or bears. Still, I was a bit nervous as I watched her cat and two-year-old wander in and out of the house unattended.

When it came time to leave later that night, my friend apologized that her porch light was out. Using the remote control to my van, I opened the side doors so we would at least have the interior lights to guide us. We said our goodbyes and my friend shut the front door. It was quite dark, but the walk was short. The girls and one of the moms scrambled up the hillside while me and the other mom decided to take the driveway. I was just telling her how jumpy I felt, when I looked over to my right and spied less than ten feet away a dark hunched shape crouching on the road.

“It’s a coyote! Run!” I screamed.

My normally very calm and collected friend screamed too and we both took off running toward the car.

In the course of my sprinting, I stepped right out of both of my sandals but kept on running in my bare feet until I reached the car.

“Shut the doors!” I yelled as I quickly switched on the headlights.

There, just outside the yellow beam I could see the unmistakable form of a fox standing in the road and my two deserted sandals. Of course, we all started laughing with relief. My friend that had run with me to the car offered to retrieve my shoes. Jokingly, I said, “It’s not worth it–they were only $15! Don’t do it!” But keeping her eye on the fox, she bravely got out of the car and picked them up for me. As we drove away, a baby fox with a perplexed look in its eye peeked out of its den. He was probably wondering what all the ruckus was about.

Since that night, we have all had a good belly laugh at my expense. But that’s okay. I know I’m lily-livered (or maybe I was just demonstrating what I learned about the fight-or-flight response in my Psychology class this semester!) At any rate, I’m sure glad I didn’t step on the hem of my elastic-waisted broomstick skirt as I was running away or it would have ended up in the road, too.

Then everyone would have really had a memorable encounter with nature. Yikes! 😀




A Tight Rope Daily

6 May



What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby-carriage, parasol, kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now!

–Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Last night was my last class of the spring semester and now I can finally let out a huge sigh of relief! WHEW, what an ordeal! Taking Philosophy and Psychology simultaneously was very taxing not only on my brain, but on my family. And so after yet another meltdown last week, I am seriously reconsidering my schooling going forward.  It’s time to reevaluate some things and regain some balance in my life.

After a good talk with my husband (along with a good cry on his shoulder), I realized I’m trying to do too much. (Big DUH!) Very gently he pointed out that because of the way I’m “wired,” I feel compelled to give 100% to everything I do. (Not sure where I’d get that trait from….hmmmm, I wonder?) He wasn’t critical, only supportive and concerned about my mental well-being.

I thought about the stupid mental errors I’ve made over the past few months trying to keep track of my own crazy schedule along with six other busy people in my household. (Most days, it seems like we’re all going in about fifty different directions!) There were the little things like forgetting my daughter’s hip-hop dance lessons two weeks in a row or forgetting to pay tuition two months in a row at my son’s preschool.

Then there was a big thing…Last week, I bought up a bunch of meat at Safeway because they were having a great sale and for once in my life, I was thinking ahead enough to stock up. I brought the groceries into the laundry room fully intending to put everything away promptly, but then the boys started whining because they were hungry and so to appease them, I fixed their lunch. Then I had some great thoughts for an essay I was working on and before I knew it, three hours had passed. I was out watering the flowers in my front yard and thinking about how I was going to prepare all that meat when…oh no! The meat! I didn’t put the meat away! I ran into the house and there it all was, still sitting there. $50 worth of groceries that had to go out to the trash can instead of the freezer…aarrgghh!

I learned in my Psychology class that the short-term memory can only successfully manage seven (give or take a few) different things at once. Obviously, I’ve had too many things vying for attention in my brain “que” lately. It’s time for a mental vacation me thinks!

And so come fall semester, I’ll probably be cutting my schedule back to just one class. I’m also evaluating whether I should keep pursuing an English degree. I don’t have to have a degree to be a writer. I can just keep take writing classes at my community college or online and keep enjoying my association with my mentors in the English department at ACC. At this point, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but something has got to change. For those of you who often say to me, “I don’t know how you do it,” now you know that I DON’T do it very well. The juggling balls can’t stay in the air forever–they’re going to come crashing down sometime.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh puts it so perfectly in my favorite book Gift from the Sea: “…to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mothercore, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider’s web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes. How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives. How much we need, and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living. How desirable and how distant is the ideal of the contemplative, artist, or saint–the inner inviolable core, the single eye.”

I’m not giving up on my dreams–to do so would be a death sentence to my soul. I just have to find a better way of pursuing them in moderation. Steady now!