"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posts tagged ‘gift’

The Never Ending Story

There are some wonderful things associated with memorable moments in my life and this movie is one of them. It brings me right back to my early twenties and all that was happening in my life then with a clarity that reminds me once again what a pivotal set of moments this was in my life.

I was a 22-year-old mother of a 4-year-old child who was born with a heart defect. I was in many ways still a child myself. I was a stay-at-home mom by choice, a decision my husband and I wholeheartedly agreed on. It was easier to survive on one income then compared to how it is today yet it was still pretty darn tough. We lived in poverty, from paycheck to paycheck, here and there receiving assistance from the Women, Infants and Children program as well as a time or two where we were grateful to qualify for and receive Food Stamps. Those programs got us through some lean times for sure.

So much was going on with me. I was doing my best to do what I thought I was supposed to do. I remember asking my sister-in-law, who became a mother at an age even younger than me, “Is this it? We just pop out babies, drink coffee, clean, watch soaps?” And her reply of “Yeah, pretty much!” It was the first time I realized how much meaning was placed on the roles outside the home and so little on those inside the home.

My son, Jeffrey and I were closely bonded. We sorta grew up together those first years. We were alone together a lot and found lots of things to do to keep us occupied. We talked a lot. I always asked him “What do you think?” Or “How do you feel about it?” and would get the most interesting answers. At the age of two the answers were short and to the point as he was learning to communicate with me. As his vocabulary expanded it brought some really interesting perspectives on the many questions within life through the wisdom of a toddler.

As I can see it so clearly now with my grandchildren, babies are input machines. They soak in – eat, sleep, breathe, feel – EVERYTHING about our environment as quickly as their little brains and bodies will allow. Curious about everything and everything is input. When they have something to say and can pick the words out of those they’ve been given to communicate with, sometimes what comes out of the mouths of babes can be profound.

That summer before Jeffrey’s fourth birthday was when we watched The Never Ending Story together. It was a story about a young boy coming to terms with his death of his mother. We watched it over and over and over again. Together we followed Bastian on his journey to defeat the nothing. We were with him being chased down the street by a gang of boys, we were with him in the book store. It was as magical to both of us as it seemed to be to Bastian.

We talked about the emotions and questions the movie brought up for each of us. Artax and Atreyou in the swamp moved us to tears together. We talked about why it felt so sad. As the Nothing raced across the land spreading its fear and darkness we jumped and gasped together at the first sight of the wolf and his glowing eyes. It prompted us to talk about our fears and what we can do about them.

I do my best not to talk down to my children. I believe they arrived in my life with more wisdom than I will ever possess. I do my best to honor their intelligence and tell the truth in the best way I can. I speak in language that isn’t baby talk or dumbing it down, but is age appropriate and real. I believe there is a part of them that may not understand the intricate meanings of the words but can get the essence of them regardless.

Just after Jeffrey turned four he was scheduled for open heart surgery. It was to be the first of a two-part series of surgeries to correct his heart defect. He would then have the second part when he turned five. We arrived at the hospital prepared to stay for about a week. Although the hospital was only twenty minutes from my home I chose to sleep there in the room with my son. I didn’t have my own car to travel back and forth and even if I did, I’m not sure I could have left him there alone.

The first night was spent preparing for early surgery the next day. Papers were signed, questions were asked and answered and we were all a little on edge. After Jeffrey laid down to sleep for the night his nurse suggested I go over to the playroom where several moms who were also spending the night had gathered. I was homesick, lonely and afraid and it sounded like a great idea.

There were four or five women sitting in a circle of rocking chairs chatting when I entered the room. I made my greetings and took a chair to become part of the circle. Topics moved across the small talk spectrum for a few minutes when it got to movies. One mom asked if anyone had seen The Never Ending Story. Most replied that they had and how scary it was. I added that my son and I watch it together all the time. Suddenly I felt pounced upon. “How old is your son? Four years old and you let him watch that? That’s insane. You don’t do that to a child. It’s too scary for them.” Etcetera and on and on. I was instantly the worst mother ever born.

I left the room feeling more homesick than ever. I called my husband and cried on the phone but all I could say was how homesick I was. I had trouble communicating what had just happened in the playroom and how it made me feel. The Never Ending Story had been a beautiful bonding experience between me and my child and it was something I treasured. To have no chance to even explain that to these women and to have been so set upon with such judgmental hatred had really upset me. Five out of six women agree that you suck as a mother, Lisa. Majority rules, right? It must be true.

Thankfully, there is always a dawn after a dark night of scary storms. The morning of the surgery had arrived and we were anxious. Jeffrey was bright and happy and ready to get started so he could feel better. If he was afraid, he never showed it. We trusted and believed we would see each other in the recovery room. And we did.

For the rest of the week in the hospital I did my best to encourage and support my son in his recovery. I avoided any contact with the playroom moms. Sometimes our eyes met in the hallways or elevators but there was no more conversation. There didn’t need to be as the lines were clearly drawn. As sure as they were that I sucked as a mother I was equally sure that they were dead wrong. The evidence of that was in my child and my relationship with him and THAT was all I needed to put their negative voices to rest in my mind.

I do wish I had been able to communicate my story in the playroom as an example of how they might bond with their children over things like scary movies. I feel it’s such a gift to both mother and child to have that kind of soul connection. So much of what we are taught to do as parents is about authoritarianism and bending our children to our will in obedience, mostly because as adults we are supposed to know better and know what is best for them. But what if we don’t? What if our children are as equally our teachers as we are theirs?

So, there’s one of the “untold stories” of my early days of motherhood and figuring out how to be the best version of myself in a world that I sometimes seem to have little in common with. It felt important to finally document this time in my life.



Recovering from Colony Collapse Disorder

In the world of honey bees and beekeeping there is condition being called Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. Considering that bees of all kinds are responsible for pollinating the very food we eat and that without them, our food supplies are negatively affected, CCD has worldwide attention.

The disorder leaves little evidence, such as a pile of dead bees to study. Hives are simply empty. Entire colonies of honey bees seem to have left for work in the morning and then never found their way back home. Without foraging bees returning with the pollen and nectar that nourishes the hive, the colony collapses and just … disappears.

There are many studies happening all at once to determine the source of honey bee die offs. Conclusions range from cell phone towers to insecticides applied to crops and in the case of genetically altered seeds, to the very plants themselves.

It occured to me that this colony collapse disorder in beekeeping is, for whatever reason, not unlike what has been experienced in our little 3D world – the collapse of community. Artists and 3D enthusiasts that once found a home in the various 3D communities just seem to … disappear.

So, how do we recover from CCD? What can we possibly do to make a difference when we don’t even really know for certain what the true cause of the collapse is? And what if there are many overlapping causes or perhaps the perfect storm of events that is creating this CCD? What do we do? How can we turn it around?

Jeff sweeping beesMy husband Jeff and I are beekeepers. In our experience so far we have not successfully over-wintered even one hive. One year they didn’t have enough food, another was hive beetles and wax moths. Then two years of hurricanes with Irene flooding over two dozen hives and drowning thousands of bees, and most recently, Super-Storm Sandy hitting just a few days after we were forced to move our hives in response to discovering someone trying to steal them.

Our apiary is within a small meadow surrounded by forest. Outside of the forest, our community is dotted with residential areas surrounded by farms growing various food crops. We’ve considered that perhaps our bees are encountering something on their foraging expeditions that is causing them to either die on the spot or forget how to get home.

Our response to this challenge is to provide natural, organic food sources within the apiary. We feel that if we nourish our bees well at home perhaps we can increase their chances of returning and/or surviving when they do choose to venture outside of their own back yard. We’ve started creating what we are calling honeybee sanctuaries; food plots for honey bees.

These bee-browsing areas consist of a spectrum of native flowering plants that provide a natural abundance of the pollen and nectar required for honey bees to produce thriving colonies, as well as the sweet rewards of their efforts – sweet, golden, delicious honey.

This is the first year in the last six years that we do not have honey bees in our hives. In the fall we will be ordering a few ‘nuc’ (short for nucleus) packages that will be delivered early next spring. These nuc’s are small, starter hives that consist of five frames, a queen with nurse bees and a large handful of worker bees in various stages of growth and development. Within the nuc, the workers do their best to support the queen so she will lay eggs and expand the colony.

nuc boxesThis expansion requires sharing of the load across the worker bees. Honey bees have different roles throughout their lives. Young, newly emerged bees are the only ones who can produce wax so they stay at home and build comb. When they get a bit older their roles begin to shift. Some attend the queen, some forage for food, some clean and fan the hive to keep the temperature even and some do a little bit of everything. Considering the life span of a honey bee is six weeks on average there’s also the task of rearing of new bees to ensure the hive keeps going.

It seems to me that a thriving bee colony is not unlike a thriving community. Everyone has a certain unique thing they do that is seemingly effortless for them – a thing that is their gift and is essential to the nourishment of the hive as a whole. When these small, unique gifts are combined, each supporting and collaborating with the other, the possibilities for a thriving colony and an abundance of sweet, delicious honey become endless.

Flight DeckRight now, the Hive over at HiveWire 3D can be likened to the nuc, with all who contribute here being the nurse bees, worker bees and drones who are each an individual part of a collective movement from the energy of starving artist to thriving artist. We are grateful for all who are contributing to the buzz.

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