Monday, September 28, 2015

Why YOU Should Write It Down

Yes, that's a real in the Arboretum.

Today I went into Caroline's 4th grade class to share her great grandmother's Native American basket collection.
Normally, those baskets sit on a shelf in our den...
over-looked, dusty, forgotten.
But they tell a tale of weavers and people from long ago...
of a lady who loved to travel...
who collected baskets and carefully recorded the date she bought them, the type of basket and
the place where the basket was from...
that precious information, lost long ago.

I shared what I knew of Mary Compton Goni.
A botanist.
An avid bird-watcher.
An independent woman in a time when there weren't that many of those...
or maybe there were and we just don't know their names.

She created a place of refuge for her family
called Silver Lake.

Today, when I was talking about this amazing lady, I mentioned to the 4th graders that Mary had written a book about her life when she was 91 years old called Mary Remembers.
When Mary approached her 100th birthday, I took the time to read her thoughts and her amazing memories.

What a gift she gave.
Her stories of growing up in rural California and the remembrances of things once so important and now mostly forgotten, gave me a glimpse into a time and place I knew nothing about.
As I was telling the kids, they wanted to check her book out...ready to read her story.

If only Mary Remembers was at the local library.
Or available through Amazon.
Or easy to find on a Kindle.

Mary Remembers was printed privately as a gift for her family.
Mary printed only a hundred copies.

Tonight as I was reading it with Caroline, I turned to the last page...
wondering how she closed such an epic life.

She concludes with this gorgeous poem by Alfred Joyce Kilmer,
explaining that Alfred Joyce Kilmer was an American poet born in 1886 and
killed in the First World War.

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair
Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree.

This poem, long one of my favorites too, touched me tonight in a hauntingly beautiful way.
I never knew she found solace here too.

Mary's final words to us.
How essential.
Simple and sacred in its truth.

What final words would you choose?

I might have to vote for Mary's.
But that's the fun of writing...
I still have time to tumble a few around, wrestle with a phrase or two...
time to ponder and wonder and enjoy the beauty of words and ideas.
Time to read more poems.
Time to linger in the language.
Time to savor and cherish...
so grateful for this precious time.


I would never know Mary's echo except that she took the care to write it down.
Her experiences, her reflections, her favorite verses shared in print.
A tiny piece of herself.

Why do we hold those so close?

Does your family know your favorite verse?
Your favorite song?
Your favorite poem or book or writer or artist?

Don't you think it's time you shared?

I do.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Intention + Action = Magic!

Today I went to the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, California...
I was tagging along with Torrie Dunlap, CEO of Kids Included Together.

We dished about inclusion and what it means.
We talked mindsets and paradigms.
We lamented how hard everyone makes it...when really all it takes is:
"You wanna play, great! Let's figure it out."

And then we made our way to this playground.
This vision of one mom who happened to have a daughter with some differences.
Olenka's daughter was about 6 when Olenka couldn't shake this idea:
can we build a playground where children of all abilities will be engaged and interested?

What does an accessible playground look like?
Do we really need a playground like this?
Are there really that many kids?

Olenka uses the statistic of 1 in 5.
1 in 5 kids have some type of disability.

That number is larger than the number of women getting breast cancer.
That is super close to the number of second language learners we have in public schools in the state of California. (22%)

It's a ton of kids...
and YES, they need a place that welcomes them too.

Olenka could have just noticed the problem and thought about it.
She could have wished for some place for her daughter, Ava.
She could have just sighed and hoped for someone else to make some changes...

but she didn't.

She searched the internet.
She talked to playground designers and early childhood experts and experts on children with disabilities and then she began to create some ideas of her playground in her mind.
She formulated a plan.
She fund-raised and she got going.

It took her six years to create the Magical Bridge Playground.

Here it is:

Where EVERYONE can play!

A quiet space for children who need to take a break.

Kinderbells...made from used oxygen tanks. 

These swings invite multiple kids to swing together...and have fun together.

The incredible magical harp...triggered by lasers...just makes you want to dance and move to the music.

An ingenious merry-go-round for everybody...a huge hit with all kids.

Some thoughts from The Kindness of my favorite spots.

Olenka's vision focused on kindness...everywhere.
In the rules posted clearly for all to see, within the quotes sprinkled all over, in the opportunities for play for everybody.

Today, on any given day, all sorts of kids with all sorts of family members are having a magical time together...playing and laughing and connecting.

When you go there, you can feel the unity.
You can feel the joy.
You can feel the appreciation of each child.

Tonight I'm inspired, not just by Olenka's intention...
but by her action...
using both, she created some magic...
and we are all better for it. 

Olenka, three cheers for you! 

"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." -- Mark Twain