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    Sit With Your Anger

    I read a book with my son last night, Anh's Anger (written by Gail Silver; illustrated by Christiane Kromer), that was absolutely wonderful.  It's about a young boy, Anh, who is stacking blocks when his grandfather tells him it's time for dinner. As many young boys who are in the middle of playing, he didn't want to stop playing. He gets very angry, and knocks down his tower, which makes him even more angry (anyone ever experience this with young boys? Yes, I thought so) . His grandfather acknowledges that he's upset, then gently requests that he sit with his anger, then rejoin him when he's calm. While on his own, Anh meets his anger in the form of a big red snaggle-toothed monster. They bang around a bit, vocalize, dance, and then sit and breathe. And as they sit and breathe, anger gets smaller, and Anh gets calmer. They talk about who anger is and why he's there, and how they can help each other. And once Anh is calm, he and his grandfather reconcile, and life continues on.


    Sit with your anger.


    What amazingly simple, perfect advice. Something that I don't typically do; I'd venture that's true MOST people. I'd say more often than not, we act on our anger right away - which can result in doing or saying things we wouldn't have otherwise done or said, and consequently, feeling badly afterwards. When you can acknowledge your anger, work with it creatively, and try to understand it, it's far less scary. You can become an observer, analyzing, considering, and then releasing.

    (image credit: amazon.com)


    So what does sit with your anger mean to a child?


    In our post-reading conversation, my nearly 6 year old was able to recognize Anh's monster was not a "real" thing, but rather a representation of the feelings we get when we are angry. He understood the message was that it's okay to FEEL angry, but that you shouldn't act out in anger towards someone or something else - even when you felt like it. He said that it was okay to express your anger in ways that didn't hurt anyone (even yourself) until you were calm enough to think a bit about it; in other words, to have a conversation with your monster. And then, once you've had the conversation, to breathe in, breathe out, calm, and come back to being yourself. He really enjoyed the book as we were going through it, and it inspired some fantastic post-read discussion as well.

    (image credit: gailsilverbooks.com)


    The illustrations are bright & simple - charcoal, paint, and collage elements. At ~30 pages (of words & illustrations), I found it just the right length for a bedtime story (and plenty of conversation afterwards).


    We all struggle at times with our anger - and our children, who are so new in this world, can often find anger frightening and overwhelming. Heck, so can adults. This book is the perfect springboard for talking with your kids about creative expression of anger - without shame, without punishment - you just might find yourself examining your own ways of dealing with anger. And that can only be a good thing for everyone.


    Peace to you.


    Wordless Wednesday: Be Brave Enough




    Inspiring (and truthful) words from one of my favorite authors…




    You can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. ~Stephen King









    Stranger than Fiction

    I recently watched Stranger than Fiction (Yes, it was been six years since this film came out. I like to watch movies way after they come out. Okay, it's not strictly purposeful; it just happens that way when you have kids, a job, [insert excuse for less free time here]. Although it's nice in a way, to come late to a film, as you don't have the wave of publicity distracting you from your actual impression of it. In fact, if you're like me, the distance from pop-culture means you have no idea what you're in for. Of course, I have varied from that trend when the stars align - i.e. babysitter and free time is available when desired movie is still in the theatre.). It stars Will Ferrell, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman  (who, ohmygod is 75 years old. I am currently refusing to believe that, regardless of evidence to the contrary. He's still 20-year-old Ben in my eyes.) and Maggie Gyllenhaal. 

    On to the film:

    It was funny, light, sweet, and yet... incredibly intense, somehow, all at once. I didn't want to move from my spot during watching. 

    The writing was so funny - Will Ferrell cracked me up continually - and yet...

    so. poignant.

    --- if you haven't watched the film yet, the following will be a bit of a plot spoiler, so, consider yourself warned ---


    Plot Synopsys:  Famous serial fiction writer Karen Eiffel is suffering from writer's block. Chiefly, she can’t find the close of her story; ending the life of her main character, Harold Crick. Harold, it just so happens, is more than a character - he exists outside of her imagination and page; living his life, as narrated by her. How Harold's life unfolds - with order, routine, sameness - is predicated on how Karen writes the story - mostly. At essence; what happens to him is dictated by a greater force - and thus, he comes to believe the ending of his life may already told; destiny writ, like a puppet. Only, it isn't, and he isn't. He starts to break away from his routine, change up the sameness, tries to figure out whether his life is a comedy or a tragedy, discovers love, and who he really is, and begins to look for her (God). Upon meeting, each telling the other who he is; they find they are each, in their own way, searching for the right ending. Harold reads the ending of his story and lets her know that it's okay for her to dictate how his life will end:

    "I read it and I loved it and there's only one way it can end."

    Only... she doesn't agree.

    Because, you see, life just isn't like that.

    As Karen varies from her path of killing off her hero, she shines a light on the importance of the time we spend alive; how we shape our lives, and what we choose to do in our day-to-day - matters:

    "Sometimes when we lose ourselves in fear & despair, in routine & constancy, in hopelessness & tragedy... we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture or a subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort...

    and we must remember that all these things: the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties which we assume only accessorize our days are in fact here for a much larger & nobler cause: they are here to save our lives."


    I took away from the film that our lives aren't already written, no matter how much it might feel that they are. Our destinies aren't sealed, and no one is pulling all the strings. If we want to effect change on our path, we can. In fact, the path our life story takes is perhaps far more important than the ending or where we might go when our story is complete.

    This film is sweet, funny, and definitely worth a watch. I loved the chemistry between the characters - all of them, interwoven and complex in their own rights. If for no other reason, you should see this so I won't be the only one who is stunned by how young Dustin Hoffman looks (gratuitous photo of Ben in The Graduate).

    The Most Fierce

    And though she be but little, she is fierce!

    ~William Shakespeare


    I don't recall ever reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so maybe that's why I didn't recognize this quote right away when I first read it. Yet, once I had, I couldn't shake it - as it brought my thespian daughter so clearly to mind. She exists with wild abandon; energy, enthusiasm, verve - she lives each moment to its very fullest potential. So, it is with her vivacity in mind, I decided to make this one Shakespearian line into a print, as an homage to her; my little girl, the actor, and the most fierce of all. 



    Posted: Oct 31 2012, 11:16 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    A Dream Within a Dream

    All that we see or seem
    Is but a dream within a dream.

    ~Edgar Allen Poe


    It's unnerving how your children have the ability to ask you questions that you haven't quite - at 37 years old - come to a determination about yourself yet. Astute questions. Meaning-of-life type questions.

    "Mom," my daughter asked offhandedly, "what if this is all a dream?"

    "Oh?" I say, with as much nonchalance as I could muster. Maybe... I was hoping, maybe she wouldn't continue this train of thought. Truth be told, I was disarmed.

    Have you seen Inception*?

    "I mean," she says, to clarify for her momentarily-yet-intentionally-obtuse Mother, "what if, when wake in the morning we're not really waking. What if we are still sleeping, and everything we're doing is a dream we're having?"

    "That would be something!" I said. Way to be articulate, Mom.

    "Yeah," she continued, undeterred by my decidedly inarticulate responses, "because then how would we know what's REAL, Mom?"

    "I don't know," hey, at least I can fall back on honesty, "that's an interesting thought. Maybe because we're all here? Or, am I dreaming too? Whose dream IS this?"


    "Maybe we're all dreaming Mom."


    Children, it seems, possess a deeper understanding of the universe.

    *If you haven't seen Inception, you should see Inception.

    Posted: Oct 20 2012, 00:45 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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