Creepers – A New Family

annamagic

Anna by Kyle Weaver

The embers floated up towards the night sky. They danced as the gentle breeze off the lake carried them past the pine boughs to the stars. The lake was quiet except for the loon taking flight. Its wings flapped tirelessly against the surface trying to raise its heavy body into the air. Shadows were cast at our feet and our faces lit by the flames of the fire. It had been a long time since we we were all together in the same place at the same moment. Our shoulders sank back into the Adirondack chairs as the kids pranced around the fire and stood on top of the worn, round stumps placed for footstools.

I listened for discord and heavy sighs but I  heard only laughter and certainty. Doubts had followed me to camp. Worries of us all getting along and being able to share an entire week with each other without entanglements packed my mind. I had read somewhere that blended families take three to five years to get used to their new experience. We are nearing the beginning of our third. While we all basically get along and have found common ground, there are still corners that seem prickly and uneasy. I most often doubt my reaction to those spaces and feel heavy hearted when they seem messy and chaotic. I had unreal expectations that there would be perfect harmony from the beginning. The love we had found, or that had found us, would magically wrap itself around the seven of us and smooth out any wrinkles before they even appeared. Naivety and being an internal optimist sometimes paint an unrealistic picture, creating something that won’t ever exist.

I need reminding that even in families that remain unbroken or blended there is discord. Obstacles, adversity, and challenges are a part of all of our relationships whether we are bound by blood, marriage, friendship, or happenstance. Libby had found her place on the largest stump behind the fire. She called it her stage. She belted out phrases from some of her favorite songs. Occasionally one of the other kids would join her or suggest a new duo. Marshmallows singed in the fire as Kyle and I readied graham crackers and chocolate bars. It was decided that no ghost stories would be told. I had forgotten most of the ones I learned from sleepovers in Spofford as a child. So instead, I suggested that we play truth or dare. Everyone agreed and as we took turns asking questions, I wondered what I wanted to know about Kyle. It became his turn and he asked me if I wanted a truth or dare. I blurted dare and waited to see what he would deliver. He directed me to walk up the hill and down the road to touch the side of the guest cottage. It was pitch black but no more than fifty feet away.  Without a word I rose from my chair and climbed the soft hill of pine needles. I could barely see and as the campfire became farther away the sounds from the night sky grew louder.

I kept telling myself that I am an adult now. Childhood fears and spooks no longer have any power over me. As I made my way in the pitch black to the guest cottage my overactive imagination began to take hold. Creepers appeared behind the trees, waiting for me to trip over one of the many roots that crossed the dirt road. They stood silently out of sight, but not mind, my worst nightmares only wanting to do harm. I touched the smooth wood of the cottage and turned quickly back to the fire. The flames illuminated my destination and the quiet sounds of my family became louder with every step. I could see them, but they couldn’t see me. As if I was the creeper in waiting, watching from the dark, waiting to see if they noticed me. Chills covered my arms and I said enough. I pushed my childhood fears away and regained myself as I sat into my Adirondack chair.

“We were worried about you love. I’m sorry I gave you such a mean dare.” I smiled and shook it off and told the kids it was nothing. There was nothing to be afraid of. Without out hesitation I asked Kyle if he wanted a truth or dare. He thought about it for a few seconds and then said, “truth”.

“If there was one thing, and you can’t say nothing, that you could change about me, what would it be?” I had brought our family game to a new level. The four kids turned to Kyle and waited, wondering if he would be honest. They stared at him, mouths open, unable to imagine how he would handle this question diplomatically. I waited patiently, knowing that his truth whatever it may be would be filled with love. He looked up at me from across the fire and paused for a moment. My heart grew and filled with him. I smiled and reassured him that I wanted him to say it out loud.

“If there was one thing that I could change about you Jen, it would be that you wouldn’t doubt yourself so much.”

In the most kindest and gentlest way, Kyle had given me the gift of self reflection. Doubt has been my nemesis since I remember being me. He was kind enough to give it a name and speak it out loud. I was lucky enough to hear it from someone I love.

 

 



  • Bad Dog – A New Farm

    “Did you rescue your dog?”  I’m usually quick to respond no and that she hasn’t been abused or mistreated. I go into a lengthy dissertation of how she came home in a banana box from a cattle farm in Arundel.Ruby in a Banana Box I elaborate on her finer points; she stays by our side when any of us are sick, she sleeps on our bed, and she keeps us safe from strangers. Like a first time parent, I rattle off her finer points in spite of her appearing to be a beast. I over affirm that she is really just a lovable dog. I have a list of excuses as why anyone coming down our driveway might be fearful of her approach and that her bark might seem menacing and threatening but it’s really not. I’ve created a facade that portrays we know what we are doing as dog owners. As more and more people offer suggestions to curtail her unwanted behaviors, I’ve relented and almost decided to answer, “yes she is a rescue dog and we are doing everything we can to retrain her.”

    The first dose of reality  we chose to acknowledge came from my brother in law. After his most recent visit to the farm he shared with Kyle that even though we tell people Ruby is just a love, most people are scared to death of her when they drive into our farm for the first time. Kyle smiled and laughed it off when he told me what his brother had said. I looked over at Ruby lying under our kitchen hutch and raised my eyebrow. To us she is a giant deputy dog. She is kind, loving, and gentle but for some reason the minute anyone drives down our driveway all ninety pounds of her takes off like a dark bullet across the lawn and meets their arrival with force of strong barks and a wagging tail.  A small seed inside of me had been planted and I realized that Ruby wasn’t a bad dog, we just had no idea of what she really needed to be the best possible version of herself. My eyes moved to the rug that Ruby had slowly chewed the edges away and I quietly decided that now that I was going to be home during the day I would take on the challenge of training myself to be a good owner.Rubyrug

    Days passed and the demands of family and farm weighed me down, causing my determination to educate myself and change my dog training behaviors seemed to take a temporary backseat.  I was reminded often when we heard her bark at a car coming down or a delivery being made. I happened to be home one morning when the brown parcel truck arrived. The girls and I made our way outside to temper the encounter between Ruby and Tom.  Her bark had been getting louder and not wanting her to be “that dog” on his route I was determined to make her see the errors of my ways.

    Tom stayed calm as Ruby bounded towards him and began holding him off with her ferocious bark. I greeted him and made a few comical excuses for her bad behavior and tried to lighten the air. I’ve known Tom for many years from having the store downtown and felt comfortable in sharing how I was overwhelmed with Ruby’s reaction to deliveries and visitors. He’s never been one to mince words and quickly put me in my place,”It’s not her Jen, it’s you.” Wow, I thought, nothing like calling it like it truly is. In that one moment of standing in my driveway with Tom, I became incredibly humbled as a dog owner. My heart relaxed and I knew that I needed to own what he was saying.  He followed his sting with, “she’s bored and needs more one on one time with you.” I nodded. He was right. We have a lot of parallel playtime and she is constantly outside in her 3 acre yard but the times that we are throwing a ball to her or taking her for a walk are few and far between. I guess that we’ve always thought that because she has a beautiful place to live and run free that she was living the life.love Ruby

    “You’re right!” I felt like I had just been called out by mom for bad behavior. As he calmly made peace with Ruby in our driveway, he began rattling suggestions for getting us back on track to being good dog owners and giving Ruby what she needed most to be a “good dog.”  I listened, I opened up my heart and listened. I love Ruby more than I possibly could have imagined and the idea that I wasn’t giving her the best of me weighed me down and begged for a change, a better version of myself not her. As Tom jumped back in his truck and headed up the driveway, I turned to the girls. I asked them to go get her leash and shared that we were taking her for a walk. In the moment that followed, I promised myself and Ruby, that I would give her at least thirty minutes of my day in active play or walking her outside of the farm. I would become the dog owner she deserved. We’ve been walking in the mornings on leash everyday and while she still tugs at the leash and tries to lead, little by little the slack in the leash is increasing. She has started to stay beside me as we make our way in our new roles. Her barking is still heard but when we can, we walk her down to visitors and model how we would like her to greet them.

    Sunday Kyle and I took her for an hour adventure in Vaughn Woods through the tall pines and along the river that used to be filled with Gundalows.  The smells of other dogs, deer, and rodents drove her mad with delight but we did our best to keep her between the two of us with only her head in front of our feet. RubyVaughnEventually she tired of being  ecstatic and fell back and became more comfortable.The slack in the leash appeared and increased the longer we walked. Tom said that the most important thing is for us to always keep our energy calm and even. I decided being a good dog owner is a lot like being a loving parent.  As we made our way through Vaughn Woods, I thought out loud as Kyle listened. I became empowered and began to believe that with the right boundaries and increased playing time and walking Ruby that she would be a “good dog” and people would stop asking if we had rescued her.  Kyle’s energy remained calm and even as he nodded his head and made me feel as if I wasn’t crazy.  I adore how even at my most uncertain times in life he always makes me feel loved the most. I’ve learned so much from being with Kyle that I want to be a better mom, wife, person, and most importantly dog owner.  I believe that the Universe always gives you what you need when you need it and it’s our job to be open to accepting it’s gift and making positive changes in our lives. I’m thankful for Kyle’s brother and Tom being kind enough to tell us that we haven’t been giving Ruby everything she needs to be a “good dog”. I’m thankful for Kyle not ever making me feel as though I’ve lost it and always loving me. Now it’s my turn to make sure I’m doing the same with him, the kids, and all our animals.

     



  • Connecting with Spirit- A Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side

     

    Norman RockwellMy first encounter with a Ouija Board came after I had moved to Maine in high school.  I was at a sleep over and someone pulled it out from their overnight bag.  I remember a handful of us sitting around in our pajamas listening to a local legend about a woman named Mary.I had my doubts that we would be able to communicate with her. Even as the story became more unbelievable, goosebumps formed and the hairs raised on both of my arms. The thought of connecting with a ghost from a scary urban legend was bone chilling and not something I wanted to do. As we drew in closer and placed our finger tips on the disc, I remember wanting to take control of the situation. As a question was asked, I applied slight pressure and tried to direct the disc’s movement. The girl sitting next to me was applying more pressure.I could feel her elbow move against my side.

    The board was debunked when the girls across from us caught on to our struggle of control and we moved on to something else. Over the next few years the Ouija Board appeared in numerous movies, mostly scary ones, and always presented with a horrifying outcome. I had quietly decided to give the board some space and never really thought of it much after my years in school. Last week we received a question from a reader wanting to know if connecting to spirit with Ouija Boards was dangerous. I had written them off as being a child’s game and was surprised to read Anne’s answer.  This week’s questions to Anne, medium and psychic healer, all deal with the issue of people being able to connect with the other side and more specifically loved ones who have passed on as spirits. It always comes down to whether or not you are doing so out of fear or love.

    photography by Sandy Pampel Hamel

    photography by Sandy Pampel Hamel

    Lynn from Londonderry reached out to A Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side with three questions. She is a new mom of a beautiful little girl.

    Q. Are Ouija Boards dangerous, do they really work for connecting with spirit?

    A. Generally speaking, any divination tool, this includes, but not limited to Ouija, pendulum, tarot… are safe Just remember, whenever you are connecting with spirit or unseen energies, you always want to approach it with the intention of connecting with positive energy,respect, and a sense of responsibility.When you open yourself up to spirit, it is possible to connect with vibrations of lower levels, which generally manifest from fear. It’s important to know that our own will and positive intent is a powerful source within us that is much stronger than that of anything of a negative energy or lower energy.

    Yes Lynn, it is possible to connect with spirit through the use of a Ouija board. But, always set the intention before you connect with spirit to connect only with positive energy that is alignment with your highest. You can say this out loud or silently to yourself.

    Have fun with any divination tool, just do it responsibly.

    B. Do babies see spirits?

    A: Yes, babies absolutely see spirit. Being so close to the other side, since just incarnating  in a human body, their senses are full and awareness unfiltered. We can learn a lot from our children if we are open to all that they have to give us.

    A Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side was born from the need to know more about ourselves and the connections we make with others and what happens when our loved ones pass. Do they leave us for good? Do they venture to the Other Side and if so can we really reconnect with them? Do you have a question for Anne about the Other Side or a loved one who has passed? Send me a private message on facebook, Jennifer Ellen Parker, or sign in below and it will remain private until Anne answers it. We will post your question and answer using only your first name and town that you live in. Anne will answer questions in order that we receive them.We hope that this blog/post will find you well and help to answer some questions that you may have about the Other Side.

    Best Wishes for a safe and love filled journey,

    Anne Donnell & Jennifer Ellen Parker

    To find out more about Anne or book a private appointment please visit her facebook page.

     

     



  • Milkweed, a little bit of farm art – A New Family

    I spent the morning with my mum in the gardens, arduously taking them back, as we squatted close to the ground pulling up crab grass and globe thistle.Slowly their shape and form emerged as they had once been. We began in the vegetable garden and when it felt like we were ready to throw in the towel we headed towards the house and then a flower bed caught our eye. My mum asked if we had cleared it in the early spring exposing the metal frame of the old piece of farming equipment. I nodded. Just as the lilly of the valley blossom’s begin to shrivel up and fade, in come the army of weeds dropped from the black hickory that cascades over our tree face garden.  Four gardens later we stopped from fatigue and thirst. Ruby had been our constant companion and dug holes in the the freshly uncovered earth when our backs were turned.  She carried away weeds as fast as we could pull them and scattered the root clumps across the front yard. milkweedWe let the blooming milkweed be, a favorite of Monarch butterflies, and turned our efforts away as we watched an orange and black painted beauty fly into the middle of the tomato plants.

    I silently counted the number of weeks left in Summer and realized that I was behind in getting the gardens to where they deserved to be. Worry wanted to play with my mind but I quickly remembered I felt the same way the year before and the world didn’t end.  Gardens have a way of taking on their own shape and form, growing into something at times that you once might not have imagined. We can influence their style and personalities by transferring, dividing, adding, and clipping but they will still grow into their own.  I’ve always loved succulents and have included them in all the gardens I’ve dug, inherited, or imagined. Hens & Chics are a piece of my childhood that I have always treasured and try to honor them whenever I can. I first saw them in a family friend’s garden, Lilly was a widow and shared the same love. She planted thousands of them in her backyard and atop the stonewall that line her side drive. It’s my way of keeping her alive and giving her a beautiful place in this world many years after she has left.

    I was procrastinating yesterday and came across this beautiful piece of what I like to call “farm art” on facebook and stopped to admire it for a bit.Lynn Steeves It immediately drew me in and called out to be a part of our home. I clicked on the image and saw that it was a creation of Lynn Steeves and it would be available at the Newburyport Farmer’s Market this coming Sunday. Kyle’s email reminding me that he had a work function on the same day in Boston came to surface and like a young teen I started rearranging our schedule shifting times and trying to find a way for us to do both. Finally I relented and thought, “another day”. I would look her up again and find another showing of her pieces.

    Gardening has always been away for me to find a little bit of peace and help remind myself how to stay present and mindful of now. Just digging my hands into the soil to pull weeds or to dividing roots makes me feel more connected to myself and the world I live in. Admiring the fruits and flowers it generously puts forth brings a certain sense of humility of my small plot on this planet and that if I take care of it, it will continue to reward and inspire us all.

     

     



  • 1111, 222, 333 – A Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side

    Even the busiest of us moms get that nagging feeling pulling at our gut sometimes. Some people call it mother’s intuition, but I’ve learned that it’s bigger than myself and that I need to listen it to it when it shows up, no matter how busy I think I am.  Not too long ago I was standing in the shower one morning letting the hot steam and water engulf me when I had the thought that I needed a mentor to help make sense of it all for me. Not even days later I happened upon a facebook post from Blue Tree Reiki sharing that it was having a medium circle in York. I went, I met Anne Donnell,medium and psychic. A quick series of encounters and happenings followed and now I’m on a path I never once imagined. After having her clear the energy of our farm, hosting three of our own medium circles with her at SeaStar Farm, and deciding to write her story into a book, and now starting a new blog – The Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side with Anne Donnell, I’m convinced that it was fate’s hand that put us together. A Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side is our precursor to her story I am writing which will eventually be published as a book when we have found the time to make it happen.

    Photography by Sandy Pampel Hamel

    Photography by Sandy Pampel Hamel

    A Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side is just what it sounds like. A quick question and answer guide to getting to know the spirit world and how we may connect to it when we can barely take care of life and our families. We are busy moms trying to do our best for ourselves and our families while maintaining a certain amount of sanity. So while I sit here at my kitchen island writing, pretending the dishes aren’t piled up or the gardens don’t need weeding, I’m excited to post our very first Q & A for the Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side, featuring psychic and medium, Anne Donnell.  And just so you know the first question comes from me, Jen from Maine, about something that started happening to me when I was busier as a mom of three young children. If you have a question about the other side or something in your life that needs clarification send me a private message on facebook – Jennifer Ellen Parker, or leave a comment below and Anne will answer it for you. We will do our best to answer your questions in the order they are received.

    Q: Why do I keep seeing repeating numbers?  Jen – South Berwick, Maine

    11:11

    1111 first started showing up for me in my early twenties. Whenever I would look up at a clock while changing diapers, helping with homework, or even driving a car it would either be 11:11 or 1:11. This has continued into my forties but since that first few months of seeing all ones, even on license plates or  storefronts, I have also begun seeing other patterns of repeating numbers like 222, 333, 444, 555….. I actually thought I was losing my mind at first or that I was suffering from lack of sleep as a mom of three and new business owner.  The more I questioned it, the more the numbers would appear. Finally the numbers got the best of me and I searched on the internet and found a mountain of information and individuals offering answers to why these numbers were showing up in my life. They each seem to have specific meanings that you can relate to what is happening at the time that you spot them.  For busy moms everywhere I wanted Anne to give us a quick gut check of why these repeating number patterns can show up unexpectedly in our lives and if we should pay them any attention.

    photography by Sandy Pampel Hamel

    photography by Sandy Pampel Hamel

    A. If you are seeing repeating numbers; 1111, 111, 222, 333, 444, 555…Spirit is trying to get your attention, it’s a good thing, about a situation or a person in your life.  It’s a call, an invitation, for you to start tapping into your own knowing and intuition. The numbers are a way for Spirit to remind you and help you remember that everything you need to know already exists inside of you. You just have to start trusting in yourself, in Spirit, and allow yourself to open up to the Universe.               – Anne Donnell (click Anne’s name to visit her page at Blue Tree Reiki & Psychic Energy Works)

    A Busy Mom’s Guide to the Other Side was born from the need to know more about ourselves and the connections we make with others and what happens when our loved ones pass. Do they leave us for good? Do they venture to the Other Side and if so can we really reconnect with them? Do you have a question for Anne about the Other Side or a loved one who has passed? Send me a private message on facebook, Jennifer Ellen Parker, or sign in below and it will remain private until Anne answers it. We will post your question and answer using only your first name and town that you live in. Anne will answer questions in order that we receive them. We hope that this blog/post will find you well and help to answer some questions that you may have about the Other Side.

    Best Wishes for a safe and love filled journey,

    Anne Donnell & Jennifer Ellen Parker



  • Slow down with me – A New Family

    Summer has always existed as a time and place my body and mind can slow down and breathe for a moment. As a child, it meant long lazy days in Spofford playing at the Grange Hall field or riding my Schwinn with Juanita and Denise to the lake and hanging out eating french fries at Weare’s Grove. We had so much time on our hands that we often spent most of it as a motley crew of all ages and sizes making up a new game or quest to be had.  The oldest Oulette brother would always seem to be the ring leader when it came to settling into kickball or dodgeball. He would organize us into teams or call out when a play needed a do-over or something just wasn’t fair or hadn’t gone the way he thought it should. It’s all so long ago now that I’ve forgotten his first name or even what his face looked like but I can still remember his voice and that his sidekick was Craig. The question asked most was, “what do you want to do?” It was always followed by someone’s shoulders shrugging, or stones being kicked out of the way.  Then we would either end up at the playground in front of my house, the polluted brook that ran past Juanita’s, or back in the woods near the Rudolph’s farm.

    My girls have no problem slowing down once Summer arrives. It usually only takes a handful of days to decompress and let the hectic schedule of school and work slip quietly away into meandering days spent at our farm and chasing sunny days at the beach in Maine. The animals provide an anchor to keep us drawn into being at home and not spreading ourselves too thin.  The farm has become a place for our kids and their friends to gather and dump electronics for a few hours at a time. It’s funny when we have a bunch over you will usually find their phones or pods charging in a cluster around the kitchen island while they are out visiting with the goats, jumping on the trampoline, or trying to see how many times in a row they can hit a birdy over the net.  It’s a sign of our times I guess to see the electronics plugged in while they are all disconnecting from their internet reality for a bit.

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    A few days ago they had some friends over, at one point I think I was overseeing ten kids and their devices charging in the kitchen while they spread out over the farm.  I remember walking into the kitchen and stopping at the site of the white cords spreading out from the available outlets across my counters and island, looking for a safe haven while they charged and re-energized. I tried to think back and come up with an equivalent from my childhood, the best that I could was stack of cards we collected like garbage patch kids or smurf figurines. We just weren’t connected electronically yet, mobile devices weren’t even a seed in our imaginations. I heard shrills of laughter and metal springs bouncing from the side yard and I relaxed for a bit. The kids were being kids in the best way that they knew how given their time and place in our world. They were forgoing the “constant on” for the present moment they chose to create. I smiled at the cords that seemed to reach out of the sea and sprawl across my counters like tentacles looking to find their fill. I put my hands on my hips and spun around taking in the small tornado that had landed in our home with the arrival of all the kids. I slowly shifted items from one spot to another, washed a few dishes, and begun folding blankets that had been brought out to the tents to ward off the chill of a  Summer night spent outside in Maine.unnamed (5)

     

    Kyle had left for Boston in the wee hours of the morning, without any sleep, but excited for the chance to see the Dead on their anniversary tour. He had been given the rare opportunity to revisit a part of his youth and as he got closer to Chicago I could hear the excitement rise with each call he made to me. Even through his text I could feel how very happy he was to be a having such a grand adventure in the middle of his chapter of being an incredible father and husband. As he landed in Chicago and started to make his way to the hotel to meet his brother and friend, I felt thankful that he was taking me along with him and giving me updates. I felt as though I was next to him, and in spite of my ignorance of the greatness of the Dead, my heart beat a little quicker with anticipation for Kyle and all that he would be experiencing.

    photograph by Kyle Weaver

    photograph by Kyle Weaver

    With every text and phone call I could sense Kyle becoming more relaxed and falling into the moment. He would send me images of Chicago and the concerts as they unfolded. It seems like an alternative reality, one I’ve never visited. Kyle’s expressions were priceless and childlike as friends snapped images and videos of them in the stadium and parking lots before the shows. His eyes were filled with joy and he took on a youthful appearance as if everything was all coming back to him. He kept sending me the message that everyone was so incredibly happy and on their feet dancing during the entire show.He had slowed down and come back to a place and time in his life that reminded him of what it felt like to live moment to moment and that made me so incredibly happy.

    I’ve paired down my own life a bit, making the decision to no longer work at school and instead focus on my family and myself, helping to ground us all a little bit more in the moment. My role in life has seemed to shift slightly and beckons me to make way for more opportunities for all of us to be able to be present on this incredible journey we call life. I’m hoping that I will be able to keep my mind at bay and allow myself to sink into a much slower pace and be able to see, feel, hear, taste, and smell much of what has seemed to pass me by when my thoughts were scattered  or focused on the past and future. I’m hoping that I will be able to capture time a bit like I used to capture fireflies in my hand and hold on to it just for a second or two. Our children are well on their way to beginning their own journeys away from us and away from our farm, getting ready to spread out into the world and make their own way. I just want to make sure that I take in as much as I can before that happens to each of them, even the youngest one just shy of double digits.



  • Picking up where others left off – A Little Lift

    photography - Sandy Pampel Hamel

    photography – Sandy Pampel Hamel

    I looked up from setting out the salads and fruit and asked the teens, who had sat down to eat, who was their favorite founding father. Some blank stares, giggles, and a moment of pause followed. I almost expected to hear one of them shout out Jefferson, Franklin, or Adams, but instead the question was left hanging in the air and joyful summer banter returned. The American Revolution occurred so that we might adopt certain unalienable rights to be, think, and act as free persons, not governed by a body resting thousands of miles away across an arduous ocean. These rights were born from acts of treason, treachery, and torture. If fate had twisted in another direction, even slightly, the men who are now revered by history would have been most likely drawn and quartered or hung.

    They were inherent leaders, rule breakers, who shared visions of an ideal way to develop our young nation and live as equals not servants to a far away King. They questioned laws that were made and enforced, resisted taxes without representation, and tested the waters that lay between themselves and England. With incredulous energy and spirit they picked up the battle for freedom of their new land and fought blindly and heroically against all odds for what they and many believed might well have been the original manifest destiny. Hearing these names for the first time as a young child, discovering why they have become the pillars of American History in middle school, and becoming aware of the people they must have been as I read on in my adult life often makes me wonder which sides they would take today in such a dynamic and volatile political arena.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence

    Unless your pursuit of happiness and liberty doesn’t co-exist with the idea of “my own” or the color of your skin, origin, gender, or set of beliefs is offensive and alien to what God gave me…have I missed this idea or notion that some have first dibs on what is considered right and just based on factors that were determined before they even took their first breath? I placed the hamburgers and hot dogs on the picnic table and looked out onto the horizon. The isles of shoals sat amazingly close to the left, almost near enough to make out the faint outline of the cluster of white buildings built hundreds of years ago. So many have sought a place in our country to begin again, whether for religious freedom, a right to build a life for themselves without prejudice, or escape from financial drought or economic despair. The need to begin again has inspired our nation to explore, acquire, and develop lands and space that once remained hidden and inaccessible in the minds of most. The urge and need to better ourselves as a nation and people has provided the blood, sweat, and tears to travel to uncharted territories in both mind, body, and spirit and as a whole has brought us to a better place…except for some who seem to have not been born with the same unalienable rights, genetic traits and for those individuals and people there is still so much work yet to be done.

    There have been men, women, and events that have pushed us further into the place of true equality. Some of have become known and recorded as place holders in history, Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, while others remain silent soldiers in battles that continue to be waged both behind closed doors and in the wide open abyss we call life. I wonder if our founding fathers would applaud our efforts, progress, fastidious belief that all men are still considered equal or would they stop and wonder for a bit when the greater good for men became replaced with the greater good of commerce and wealth. How could we ever know? I looked back at the picnic tables filled with the promise of our youth and future as a nation. The young hold the answer, it will be their energies,drive, and fateful experiences that will determine the happenings in the journey of our still very young nation. It will be their ideology and  doings that will shape and define what the Declaration of Independence once penned to be the wants and desires for a better life for one and for all to look like and exist for a people of all colors, beliefs, origins, and gender.

    Last night as they continued to celebrate on our farm playing badminton, eating pizza, talking and laughing as dusk fell around them and sitting by the fire pit before they finally crashed into the tents that had been set up on our side lawn, I realized that history has a funny way of repeating itself, giving multiple chances and do-overs, until perhaps maybe we finally get it right.  Maybe that is what it is all about, growing, stretching, and becoming a better version of our original self until our time is done and the baton is handed off to the next generation for them to pick up where others left off. Mistakes will always be made, words misspoke, harmful actions taken, and unwanted decisions made, but the idea that we as a nation have sunken to a place of ill repute is both unwarranted and damaging. We must always remember that the ability to grow and better our selves and our nation, our world, comes from our unique capacity to be able to reflect and choose a change in direction and mindset. Our innate capability to reflect as a people alone gives hope the strength to continue to float.