Posted in Lore

Getting Acclimated to the Dark


Years ago, as a Girl Scout Leader, I took a troop of 14 girls and three adults to a Minnesota State Park for an overnight.  The tents were built, the ashes from the fire had finished smoking, the songs had been sung, and it was time to settle into our sleeping bags for the night.

Ellie, by chance (or had she planned it?), had propped her tent right next to the adult tent.  Just as I was drifting off, she called out, “JEAN?”

Me:  Yes, Ellie?
Ellie:  Are you there?
Me:  Yes, Ellie, I’m right here.
Ellie:  Are you sleeping?
Me:  No, Ellie, I won’t sleep until you’re asleep.

She seemed comforted by that, and the sounds of the night lured me into a well-deserved deep slumber.

Ellie:  JEAN?!?
Me:  Ellie, I’m right here.  It’s okay.  Go back to sleep.
Ellie:  Did you hear that?
Me:  Hear what, Ellie?
Ellie:  I don’t know.  Was it a bear?
Me:  No, it’s not a bear.  (Listening)  Ellie, that’s an owl!  Be quiet so you can listen to the owl.
Ellie:  Okay.  Were you sleeping?
Me:  Nope!  I won’t sleep until I know you’re sleeping.

I don’t know how long I was asleep before I was wakened again.  The adults next to me sighed and turned in their bags.

Ellie:  JEAN?  JEAN!  JEAN?
Me:  Yes!  Yes, Ellie, I’m here.
Ellie:  I have to go to the bathroom.
Adjacent Adult:  (sniggering)
Me:  Okay, Ellie.  Get your shoes on.

Ellie was wide-eyed and nervously looking around her.  I kept the flashlight focused on the ground to enable us to step carefully.  Ellie wanted the light shone out around us to see if there was anything to be afraid of.  I let her take the light in the out-house with her.  As the darkness fell around me and the shadows came into focus, I remembered the night hikes I had taken them on when they were younger.  Each year I took them out farther and farther, to the point of challenge and back.

When Ellie came out, I secured the flashlight from her.  We ambled back to the campsite, and I told her to stand still.  I turned off the light.

Ellie:  No!  No!  What are you doing?  Turn the light back on.
Me:  (Talking softly)  Ellie, just wait . . . can you see anything yet?
Ellie:  No!  Turn the light back on.
Me:  Ellie?  Can you see the picnic table?  I can start to see the picnic table.
Ellie:  Yes.
Me:  What else do you see?
Ellie:  The fire pit.
Me:  Oh yeah!  I can see that!  What else?
Ellie:  The trees.  The wood.  The tents.
Me:  Hey, I can see that too!  Can you see anything that wasn’t here when the sun was out?
Ellie:  No.
Me:  Me either.  It’s all the same.  It’s just dark.  Want to go back to bed?
Ellie:  Yeah.

And so we slept for the rest of what was left of that night.

I was thinking about that today.  It was a good night to have behind me, and we were both so proud to have come through it.  I for what I had given a young girl, and she for the fear she had met right in the face.

Ellie’s Dad:  How did it go last night?  (Experience twinkled in his eye)
Me:  Just great!  Right Ellie?
Ellie:  Yup!
Ellie’s Dad:  (Looking at Ellie’s mom)  Really?  That’s great!

But there is this metaphor that has not been lost on me.  In the darkness, sometimes you have to sit still and wait.  Wait until it comes into focus.  Wait to see if the fears really do exist.  And once you emerge back into the light you can say you went to the edge of your challenge and came back again.

Peace . . .

Posted in Awards

Who . . . Me?

I’m not exactly accustomed to receiving awards . . .
There were a couple bowling trophies from my adolescent years:
Before the internet we had to bowl for entertainment.
And the Pinewood Derby Adult Division 2000 from the Boy Scouts:
Laugh if you must, I’m very proud of this one.
The Girl Scout Leader awards:
I miss the cookies . . .
Now, and with no warning, I have been nominated for the Liebster Award:
I am overwhelmed!  However, as we all know, of those to whom much has been given, much is required.  There are questions to answer, questions to ask, a thank you to write, and nominations to . . . um . . . nominate!  And so with no further ado, I’d like to formally thank Lois from livingsimplyfree for presenting me with this nomination.
Lois asks that I answer eleven questions she has posed to her nominees:
  • Why do you blog?

I blog because I enjoy putting my random thoughts into words and editing them until I like the way they sound when read.

  • If you had more free time, how would you like to fill it?

First of all, I would take a nap, which would give me more energy to do all the things I say I’m too tired to do.  I would read, hike, hang with my kids, cook, fix stuff, play with the dogs, organize my photos, write . . .

  • With the holidays fast approaching, what is your favorite/least favorite holiday and why?

What is not to love about Thanksgiving?  Food, family, and no gift expectations to meet.

  • What is one place you would like to visit?

Hard to say . . . you won’t find it in a travel brochure.  I like off-seasons, nearby sites and the unexpected — maybe even around the next corner!  I won’t know where I want to visit until I’ve been there and seen it.

  • If you could meet anyone, in any time period who would it be?

I would like to meet Galileo and show him our science textbooks.

  • I love a good laugh, it makes even the worst days better.  So what caught you off-guard and made you laugh recently?

At work the other day I accidentally called my cell phone while trying call a co-worker.  I thought, “Who the heck is calling me, now?”  The number looked familiar.  Indeed, it looked like a number from my workplace.  In fact . . . it looked like MY number!  Then just as I looked at my desk phone, I heard in my headset my own cheerful voice, “Hello!  You’ve reached the cell phone of Jean . . . ”  Laughed so damned hard, I snorted!

  • If you had to choose, would you choose more money or more time?

As shallow as this sounds, I would take more money.  I barely have enough money for the time I’ve already been given, so more time would just be more expensive, and lead to more anxiety.  Wishing for more time is romantic, but I’m an incurable realist.  There is no such thing as more time, but more money?  Hand it over!

  • What is your biggest pet peeve?

I can’t stand know-it-alls — this includes the person who knows how I should eat, how everyone should vote, who knows what kind of person you are by the way you look, who knows how to raise your children . . . you know this person, and you can’t stand them either.  Admit it.

  • What is your favorite low cost/no cost activity or hobby?

Being a very visual person, I love photography.  It’s not a serious hobby.  I have a digital camera and don’t do anything terribly creative with it.  Photography slows me down and encourages me to look for things of beauty or interest that I would otherwise walk by.

  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?

My best day begins early after a good night’s sleep, quietly watching the sun illuminate the landscape.

  • Since those of us in the northern hemisphere are moving towards winter, what is your favorite spot inside your home to spend time in?

If actions speak louder than words, it would be my living room where I read, write, watch movies and steal the occasional nap.  BUT if I can get myself in bed early enough, I do take pleasure in the 15 to 30 minutes before I drift off, when the dogs are settled in, I am washed and brushed, the lights are low, with a good book in hand.

Pass it on:

This award also requires that I nominate bloggers who have 200 or less followers.  Of those blogs I follow, only a few actually show the number of followers they have.  I’m not sure who makes these rules, but I’ve seen some Liebsters say they have to list 5, others say 3 to 5, some 11.  I will list my favorites of those who I think have 200 or less followers.  Let’s see how long the list gets:

  1. Richly Bizarre (who has random thoughts like me)
  2. Boomdeeadda (writes about love and life and two black rescue animals — cats, but I won’t hold that against her)
  3. The Rabbit Rabble (did I mention I have opened my home to a rabbit? — that will be a future blog)
  4. Jiggly Bitch (it was the whipped cream/dirty dancing post that made me follow her)

Okay well only four.  And to be fair, I didn’t see how many followers The Rabbit Rabble had, but I took a stab that it is less than 200.  Hopefully being wrong will not cost me the award.

The bloggers above must now answer the eleven questions of my choosing, listed below:

  • How old would you think you are if you didn’t know your age?
  • When you have 30 minutes to kill, what do you do?
  • If you knew it would be personally read and replied to, which celebrity would you choose to write?
  • What is one of your favorite quotes?
  • How do you prepare your favorite vegetable?
  • What do you need that other people might not?
  • Would you rather hunt for paranormal activity with Jason and Grant on Ghost Hunters, fish for River Monsters with Jeremy Wade, or have dinner with Les Stroud on Survivorman?
  • What rule do you like breaking?
  • What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
  • If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
  • What do you spy with your little eye?

For those of you who were not nominated, but are still reading, I would love to read your answers to any of the above!