A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

confronting liars, and hikes, and gophers…oh my November 7, 2010

Filed under: family fun,self-discovery,self-growth — courtsbrogno @ 8:49 pm

Confronting Liars

Last night, as I could not sleep, I turned to my computer and started blog hopping. It’s probably one of my favorite past times when I have difficulty sleeping. Well, I went to a local blog I haven’t been to, one about local fashion and art, and I read that the founding member of the blog was abdicating her position to attend graduate school. There was a link to her blog and so I hopped on over.

Her blog, about life and art and kids and society, is really spectacularly written. She has an elegant prose and a delicate balance for writing both concretely and sublimely. As I enjoyed her blog, I reached a  post about me. No, really, it was actually about me.

It’s really an odd feeling reading a blog post about yourself from a wholly different perspective of who you think you are.

You see, this woman and I have met–twice–before. Both times were with our kids and she recognized Luke because she’s a casual friend of his dad’s. The last time we met, we had a really short, casual conversation. She commented that Luke reminded her of her son, “the strong and silent type.” I commented that Luke was hardly silent and that he talked all day long, and combined with Maddie’s constant chattering, I went to bed exhausted from all the noise.

She reported this in her blog, but then went further to state that she was skeptical my son actually talked. Furthermore, the next day, she ran into Luke and his dad and his dad confirmed her suspicions by claiming that Luke was a late talker and that her barely had any intelligible words. From there, in her blog, she deduced that I was not only a liar, but also a pretty poor parent, as I had lied in front of my daughter as well. She then wondered what terrible thing could have happened to me in my past to make me such a liar and to be so ashamed of my son’s lack of words that I would imagine him something he so clearly–in her opinion–wasn’t.

Again, it’s a very odd feeling to read about yourself from a totally different perspective. And from a woman whom I’ve spent a total of 10 minutes talking to in my life. Though she assumed to know me quite well.

At first, I felt such rage at her indictment of me–and a very public indictment no less (though she didn’t, of course, use my name. And btw, I realize that this post is the same thing and could been seen as very hypocritical of me, but I assure you that I always thought, and still do, that this woman was very kind and cool, even after this incident. And, like I said, I do have a whole hell of a lot of respect for her.)–that I actually felt myself heat up in anger. I wanted to call her right then on the phone and scream, “What the fuck are you talking about??? You are CRAZY!!!!”

After the rage came complete hurt. I felt so betrayed (which is completely odd as I don’t even know her), and shrank in my own bed. “I’m moving to Portland,” I thought, “this town is too fucking small for me.” I felt incredibly defeated.

But then I went over the situation again. I had said Luke talked a lot, but I had not meant talking as in actually making words and sentences. I really meant babbling. Loudly. Annoyingly. But since I hadn’t clarified my statement, I could see how perhaps she interpreted it as boastful. Perhaps. I mean, she didn’t ask me if I meant he was speaking real words, and I just assumed we were on the same page.

Clearly we weren’t. And even if I rationalized it in my head, my possible miscommunication did not justify her taking such an incredible leap in logic to assume me the kind of person she had. So, I thought about what to do.

I considered letting it go, as we do not really move in the same social circles and because really, I should know by now that what other people say about me–whether good or bad–does not make up who I actually am (thank you therapy!).

But I couldn’t let it go. I was angry and hurt. My person–my morals and parenting and ethics–had been attacked.

I seriously thought, “What would Jesus do?”

Well, Jesus wouldn’t be wasting his night way reading blogs, but he always fought injustice (and this is what I was feeling had happened: an injustice to myself) with kindness and honesty.

I did the same.

I emailed the woman and apologized for being unclear. I explained what I had meant when I said “Luke talked.” I complimented her writing. I kindly defended my being. And morals. And parenting.

I hit send. And fell asleep feeling 100% better.

This morning, I opened my email account and she had responded. She apologized profusely, thanked me for being so kind in my email, and  promised to delete the post.

All in all, I’m not the most religious person, but Jesus did me right. I am so thankful for how I handled this situation. And so she judged me unfairly on a short conversation. Have I not done the same in my own life? Have I not made a rude comment about someone I barely knew?

The answer, sadly, is yes. So this was also a good lesson in not judging people hastily. Hell, how about not judging at all? Sounds like a good way to live our lives.

I think Jesus may be smiling right now.

Confronting Hikes

Since it’s Sunday and our usual day of hiking, we were up and ready to go when I suddenly changed my mind. As much as I love our usual hiking spot, I’ve been getting bored with it. And my stylists, when she was doing my hair last week, mentioned a hike she loves along the ridge by the ocean. “Your kids would love it,” she exclaimed.

So I decided we would try this new hike this morning. unfortunately, I only had a vague idea of where to meet the trail head and had practically no idea what this trail was like except for the fact that my stylist had said there were three hills, though not too steep. Fortunately, I parked my car where I thought we should be and noticed a couple begining the hike, so we found the trail head.

Which was good because the path had this as a greeting:

I wasn’t quite sure of we were supposed to go on this closed off road, but Maddie found another trail and this seemed like the place I had seen the couple starting so up we went. Up a crazy steep incline:

And this picture doesn’t even do it justice. The first hill was brutally steep: Like I was actually using my hands to get up. I felt like a billy-goat. Plus there were steep cliffs on either side and Maddie was freaking out.

Me? I was so scared, I was shaking. I thought for sure one of us might slip off and was ultra thankful it had rained the night before because at least the earth was wet and we had a better hold.

Once we made it to the top of the hill, though, we had a beautiful view of the town and ocean:

And a better view of what the rest of the trail looked like:

Which made me nervous, again, because after hiking up the last hill, the many more hills I saw before me frightened me. I’m not afraid of a strenuous hike. No, I’m afraid of being on a cliff with Luke strapped to my back and Maddie navigating the dog. But, we couldn’t go back the way we started so we had to keep going. Plus, it looked like there would be no more steep cliffs, just shrub and some slopes.

And the hike was gorgeous:

But it seemed never ending:

But we meandered on. We couldn’t really turn back anyway, so we just kept walking until we came to this:

In the middle of bounteous nature, what do we come across? What I can only assume are cell phone towers. The signs read ” Caution. Danger. Going beyond this point is dangerous. High frequency radio signals exceed what is deemed healthy by the FCC.” Or something like that.

God, all I wanted was a nice hike, not a little bit of radiation. Cause I’m pretty sure the 4 feet separating me and my kids from the Caution sign was NOT a safe enough distance. According to the the FCC we were safe, but according to all my instincts, we were not. And I mean, seriously, we were on a trail. Must the cell phone towers be on a trail?

Anyway, we kept walking until I realized that the path was going to probably take us all the way to the next beach town which would be fine except we would then be stuck in the next town without a car. So I stopped. I had to make a decision. Turning around seemed like a lost cause because going back down the steep hills seemed seriously impossible with a dog and Luke on my back. Maddie thought she saw a turn-off trail about 100 yards ahead, but I noticed a small trail to my right which looked like it would take us down the bluff. We took it.

Bad decision. WE walked for about 15 minutes in waist-high brush on the side of the mountain before I started to freak out a little. We were honestly on the side of a steep  mountain and not on any sort of trail. Not wanting to climb back up, I found another trail going along north along the mountain and decided, “what the hell. It can’t put us in any worse of a position.” I think we were honestly on a deer trail.

Thankfully, that little deer trail brought us to a real trail leading us off the mountain. Now, if I had only listened to Maddie, who thought she saw a real trail ahead of us earlier, we would have avoided walking in the brush and mud, looking for damn snakes the entire time. Lesson learned: Maddie is smarter than me.

By the time we got down to the road, I was so thankful I wanted to kiss the concrete.

And so we ended our hike walking along the streets, admiring the million dollar mansions. When they built these houses, the city must have made some deal with developers, allowing public access along the ocean bluffs. But as you can tell, the home owners don’t seem to pleased with letting the riff-raff near their private property:

All in all, we had an adventurous morning, but I’m thankful we took on a new hike. Even though we felt lost and confused most of the time, we still had fun. And now that I know exactly what to expect and how to get down the mountain, I think we’ll do it more often. The views really were spectacular.

Confronting Gophers

My sister and her family recently moved into my parents’ house. With some of my parents’ furniture, they also inherited the elusive gophers that tear up the lawn and drove my father for years batshit crazy. Seriously, he started to act just like Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack.

And now Braden, my nephew, has become quite obsessed with catching the gophers as well. We went to my sister’s house after our hike to join her and some friends for chili and football. But I watched Braden trying to catch the gophers:

And I enjoyed watching the kids watch Braden:

While I’m thankful for my sister’s hospitality and for her amazing chili, I’m more thankful for those damn gophers. They kept the kids occupied for hours. I just sat and watched as they devised plans to “get the gopher.”

Please , dear gopher, stay. I’ve never seen Luke and Cate stay in one place for so long. I’ve never seen them stare so intently at a hole before. I’ve never seen them go so long without even a fight.

Stay gopher and I promise you they’ll throw more and more cheese down your hole.

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