My son turns four at the end of this month and he is sprinting towards the marker with sparks flying from his heels; an electrical storm of questions all beginning with Why? What? How come?

The other night, as we snuggled up for story time, he turned to me, sitting up very straight and asked, “But Mommy, how does god make people?”

I stared at him, frozen. I wanted to put time on pause, go take a vacation, maybe have a drink or two, and then return to this doorway that had just been flung open in his mind.

“Well,” I said, “People are made out of love…”

And so began a conversation that continued for about ten very long minutes.

After I snuck away from the sticky grip of my sleeping boy, I collapsed on the couch and looked at my husband, “Did you hear that little conversation we had? Can we watch an episode of Lost or Heroes? Please? I really, really need to zone out.”

But distraction didn’t work. Even as I watched John Locke rise from the dead, I was thinking about my child’s questions and how I have had this theory that parents and children somersault towards one another in a mirroring of transformation. As my children grow, I grow. Sol’s recent season of questioning everything has reflected my own mood.

Tonight, his questions have been relentless and I am exhausted. I have about a hundred “Because I told you so!”‘s piled up at the back of my throat, all of them screeching and howling at the injustice of not being given freedom of speech.

Like my child, I have had a procession of questions parading around in my head; a rumpus of the Wild Things roaring their terrible roars and gnashing their terrible teeth. Many of them arising from confronting an old fear of mine – taking inventory of our environment and economy.  I am usually a person comfortable with confrontation; I prefer to know rather than not know. If I am alone in a house and hear a sound, I have to go charging towards it, flinging the door open and yelling into the dark room. 

But the planetary issues have existed as a noise in my mind that I did not want to go running towards. My research has led me straight into all of it – I had no intention of this happening but isn’t that how inspiration comes most readily?

 On the other side of wading through statistics that, at their grimmest, have us without oil or fresh water within our lifetimes, I do not feel paralyzed or flattened.  Confronting, for me, usually leads me to freedom.

After reading a recent post by Maria Schneider ( about using the current times (particularly in publishing – but I think it applies to everything) as a way to inspire us, not depress us. She suggested we make a commitment to  “paying it forward.” I have decided that is exactly what I plan to do. 

Dan came home yesterday and asked me if I wanted to do a twelve week training challenge with him starting next week. I have decided that I am going to add to the physical challenge: random acts of paying it forward and intentional daily gratitude.

So, after getting through two weighty research books, I am going to be kind to myself this week, keep the goals simple:

1. Type up the notes for the research books I read this week

2. Continue to play with Zotero

3. Work on a rough draft for an Spring inspirational piece I was asked to write for the Tennessee Writers Alliance

4. Eat good food

5. Nap when I can

6. Allow myself one “because I told you so!” each day.

How did all of you do last week? What are your goals this week?

Oh…I almost forgot. A success! I made my first attempt at submitting poetry to the Writer’s Digest 4th Poetry awards and recieved word this week that I had placed in honorable mentions (fourth place, so essentially #29 out of the 50 they will publish in the collection)… I was thrilled because I had a secret little hope in  my heart I would be able to hand the poem to my daughter in print one day and now I will be able to.

Although a humble placement,  it was mighty fine to place at all; a nudge of encouragement when I needed it.

15 responses

  1. Congratulations on the WD : )

    I am no parent, mind you. But I think ‘because I told you so’ is essential. Although kids go through that questioning and reasoning stage, there needs to be that foot down (sternly) every so often that I tell you so because I am your parent and thats all you need to know.

    Who is Zotero?

    Sorry I have been absent from commenting, lots of work, school, bronchitis, and technical difficulties with facebook!

    • That is okay! It is just good to hear from you.
      How is school and photography going?
      So sorry about the bronchitis – I had a bad case before I left for California and it really wiped me out.
      Zotero is actually something you might want to check out for your studies. If you go back one Monday blog (I think it is the one called Lessons of a Little Dog) you will find a comment by Adam that explains all of it. It is an excellent tool for research, I just haven’t figured it out yet.

  2. I love reading your writings Alegra and I’m afraid I have been falling way behind lately! It’s nice to read a bit about your thoughts and life…refreshing to my weary soul. I love your grappling with parenting, your love for your children and family, and your commitment to your own personal vitality. These are all very inspiring to me!

    And congrats on your poetry placement–that’s fantastic!

    • Thank you Heather. And my goodness, you are engaged in the biggest act of creativity right now – making a baby! So I understand the absence but know that I always love hearing from you and I miss you when the quiet has stretched too far. You bring so much beauty into the world just by being who you are.

  3. I feel like I accomplished something just by getting over here this week!

    Did you see this re: a sustainable future? Check it out:

    Thanks for the recent encouragement 😉


  4. From the Facebook crew:
    Julia Bystrova at 8:27am March 10
    thanks Alegra! I am still working on my last week goal. SO I guess its this weeks goal too! To file my pile! And write!! Actually, I have one more goal. I have a new book idea and I am really excited about it. I think my going through old writings has in part inspired this new project. I won’t say any more about it now…

  5. Congratulations on the poetry. I am so challenged by poetry, I took a class this semester that had a large poetry writing component to it, just to get over my poetry phobia. It’s working…slowly.

    I actually submitted a couple writings this week to a lit magazine, that was a large goal fulfilled. And I am being a lot better at keeping up with my daily word count “quotas” that I have set for myself.

    And my kids decided that I should teach them to play basketball. So dusting off my shoes and getting out there after years of sitting dormant ( can you say out of shape!) has been a challenge, but so, so rewarding.

    Thank you, as always, for being one of the people in my life that reminds me to stay focused on the important stuff.

    • I am envious that you play basketball! Maybe I will learn with my kids when their dad starts teaching them. Ahhh… the humiliation of being whooped by my own children – I can see it already.

      Well done on the lit magazine submissions. That is a big a step, one worth celebrating. Keep me updated on how it goes!

      I keep finding myself tempted to work on short stories while I am doing all this research, it is difficult to stay away from the writing. I just have to find the balance – to make sure I am progressing on the novel and not getting distracted but also continuing to keep my writing muscle strong.

      And thank you on the poetry – I have never really understood how to write a poem ‘properly’ either. I wrote this poem during my creative writing class during my post-grad year. It recieved a good response from the teacher and I respected her opinion so I thought I would fling it out there into the world.

      I am so glad you stopped by.

  6. Now’s a good time to come up with an all encompassing answer that answers all who, what and whys so you won’t have overload yourself with thinking about each one..

    okay, the goals:
    shake some sense into the people working down at financial aid;
    maintain at least 500creative writing words to compliment all this essay writing;
    and though I always work out once a week, I want to try it twice…

    That’s enough for me, I’m a slow starter.

    This works published portfolio you’re building is a good move because eventually it’ll all tip over into the next level.

  7. I wouldn’t call working towards your degree a slow start at all! Anything else on top of that is a bonus.

    I used to be really disciplined with my exercise and maintained it through both my pregnancies but after Zaviera’s birth and being in full-time graduate study I let the exercise slip and now trying to get back into my routine. It makes such a difference in my mood and overall well-being.

    500 creative writing words is a good goal to set yourself and you might find it makes the essay writing easier – at least it did for me.

    I am glad you came and posted :o)

  8. Yes, many congrats on the WD!! That’s awesome!!

    Goals, eh? Well it’s wednesday so i’m a bit late with this, but goals for this week include:

    1) Write 1,000 words about anything related to my thesis

    2) Finish reading “Rapture” and create tutorial plans for next week

    3) Sign-up for mediation classes

    4) Not stress about which Uni events to go to or not to go to

    Not big goals, I realize. I think I work better when I set goals I know I can achieve with some effort. Otherwise I tsk-tsk myself and waggle my index finger at me in disappointment (which really looks rather silly being both the reprimander and the reprimandee). Hope you having a good time. sending lots of hugsies!!

  9. I need to make a trip up to Auckland so that you can teach me the wonders of Zotero and then we can play Apples to Apples and then…curl up and watch something mindless! (and then, and then, and then…)

    I used to do a lot of meditation, I am trying to integrate it back into my life. Right now, I try to do it when I rest, instead of chewing things over in my mind, I follow my breath. Also, when I take Pepita for walks, I shut off the endless dialogue (other than “Come back here you big oaf!!!”) and try to absorb the morning, the sounds, the light, all of it.

    Hey, I have a finger-waggler-in-resident too!
    Miss you.

  10. another goal left by the Facebook crew:
    JoAnn Dunn at 12:41pm March 11
    I’m in the midst of doing research for a scholarly paper. Yes, a scholarly paper that is my ‘capstone project’ for a 2 year program that I’ve been in called the Civilian Leadership Development Program for Department of the Army management. You want to know the title of my paper? Well, since you asked, it’s:

    The Critical Need for Sustained Effective Leadership durng Organizational Upheaval as a Result of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005

    At bookstores near you…never.

  11. Facebook:
    Deborah Haffly at 4:38pm March 11
    My goals:

    1. Quit procrastinating on quitting procrastinating.
    2. Make it another day without smoking (I only take it one day at a time).
    3. Upload pictures from VG09 (mission), niece and nephew and boyfriend’s floor.
    4. Finish spreading rock in yard.
    5. Kill the weeds.

    This is the list for this week/weekend. Future goals include:

    1. Getting my neighbor to sign an agreement to extend my rv gate. They’ve verbally agreed but the HOA requires a piece of paper.
    2. Consult lanscaping company to get quote for plants/irrigation installation.
    3. Submit landscape design to HOA for approval.
    4. Find out how I can get my community to get rid of the HOA. It’s a big dream, but they mainly serve to irritate us off so we’re hoping if we band together we can do something about them.

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