The Poignancy of Superheroes

Mind-boggling special effects, quick moving action, witty banter between arch enemies, gadgets and supernatural powers… What’s not to love about superhero movies? Hollywood has been driving the superhero/comic train full throttle lately and both Husband and I are on board. Nothing gets us searching for a babysitter faster than the premier of a new superhero movie and The Dark Knight is no exception. We have been eagerly anticipating the movie’s premier for months.

What is it about superhero movies that has us all so captivated right now? Yes, a quality movie’s ability to entertain is worth its weight in gold (and there have been a lot of quality superhero movies lately). But I think superhero movies are doing more than just entertaining the masses. At a time when headlines are full of real people spreading fear and devastation with little regard for the lives they destroy, we need to be reminded of the good in humanity. And that’s what superhero movies do. Underneath the explosions, car chases, and fight sequences, they are about courage and strength in the face of evil. Superhero movies are our Bat Signals. They remind to never give up hope and never stop fighting.


Stop and Smell The Garbage

This morning I did something for the first time in the five and half years I’ve lived at my current address.  I met our garbage man (well men to be more specific.)  With perfect timing a garbage truck rolled around the corner as we stepped out our front door on the way to daycare.

Both kids were instantly captivated first by the loud rumbling of the truck and then by the two men sprinting from truck to trash can and back again.  In a moment of what I’d like to consider great parenting I accepted I would be late for work, put Haiden’s car seat on the ground, and leaned back against our car to enjoy the show.  Amelia, who was being held by her Nana, remained riveted as they worked their way down our block.

When the truck finally pulled up to our house, she greeted it with a whispered “truck” and a shy wave.  Both men flashed my girl a big smile and waved back.  I exchanged some pleasantries with them and then they got to the business of our trash.  I could be mistaken but it seemed they emptied our can with a little more pageantry than required.  Amelia was thrilled by their performance and she called “bye, bye” to the garbage men long after they had continued down the street.

This morning I watched Amelia experience something new.  I made a connection with two people that do a job I’d hate to do but rarely give a second thought.  I saw two men hauling stinky trash on a hot, humid morning stop and smile because my sweet girl was fascinated by their work.  It was a good morning.

Remembering the Dream

Flags“A survey cited by NPR shows Americans to be divided into roughly equal thirds on the question: Will you achieve the American dream? A third say they have, a third say they will, a third say they won’t.” If the Dream is threadbare, let’s weave a new one — NewsWorks.

After hearing this commentary on the radio I was astounded so many feel they have not, or will not, achieve the American Dream.   Isn’t the American Dream the opportunity to live in a country built on the principles of democracy and freedom?  A dream hard won by our ancestors centuries ago that we must nurture and preserve?

Which got me thinking.  How often do we talk about the advantages of living in America?  Sadly, I think the answer is not very often.  We love what is right about America, but we love to debate what is wrong.  I know this is true at my house.  The country’s economic and political challenges frequently monopolize our post dinner conversations.  And while Husband and I are both proud patriots, we seldom voice how fortunate we feel to have opportunity and freedom as the cornerstones of American citizenship.  That we are, in fact, living the American Dream.

I am not suggesting we ignore America’s problems.  But if we don’t make a point to include the good in our conversations, we risk losing sight of all we have achieved.

Snapshot Of A Day

“On this one single day we ask you to pick up your camera and help us photograph daily life. What is close to you? What matters to you? We will connect your images to images from all around the world, creating a unique online experience where photographs will be shared, compared and explored. Your view on life will be preserved to inspire generations to come.” – – Picture Today Inspire Tomorrow

Today I uploaded my one and only photo to their website.  While I had planned on taking many photos, my camera’s battery died shortly after I had snapped my first photograph of the day.  Even without a functioning camera I spent the day looking through an imaginary lens, discovering new perspectives on the everyday.

I strongly recommend readers not only participate next year if the project is repeated, but create their own “ADay” projects.  Spend one ordinary day recording your life through photography.  I promise the photographs and perspective shift will surprise you.

Princesses Be Damned…I Love You Disney!

The diverse, self-sufficient, modern woman and mother in me detests the princess market that seems to be targeting an ever-younger audience of girls.  Even before Amelia was born Husband and I decided to categorically ban princess labeled items from our house.  There are no “Daddy’s Little Princess” piggy banks or “I’m The Princess” shirts in Amelia’s room.

So it’s not surprising that we are conflicted about inviting Disney’s Princesses into our home.  With Amelia turning two this summer, I know we must soon decide how we will handle this common toddler obsession.  Why not ban them outright without a second thought?  A couple of reasons.

First, I love it when my children are passionate.  Should the day arrive that Amelia becomes passionate about all things princess I want to nurture her energy and enthusiasm.  Second, I grew up loving Ariel, Belle and Jasmin.  I knew all the songs by heart and had a poster of Belle on my closet door.  How hypocritical would I be to deny my daughter the very thing that I enjoyed as a child?

The main reason though is that I still love Disney movies.  I own DVDs of all my favorites and watch them regularly (no children required).  I may not walk around wearing Disney earrings or a Mickey Mouse watch, but I did see the IMAX version of Beauty and The Beast on my honeymoon in 2002.  I think the stories are timeless and, when paired with good parenting, can help teach children to be thoughtful and caring people.

Over the past two days I’ve been reminded of just how timeless these movies are and (perhaps even more noteworthy) how entrenched they are in my thoughts.  Yesterday, in the middle of an uncharacteristically intense fight with Husband, I found myself struggling to not lash out in anger and say something I’d regret.  What was going through my mind you ask?  Mrs. Pots from Beauty and the Beast telling Beast, “You must control your temper!”  Over and over that phrase kept me from saying things I’d surely regret.  Then today, as I thought about how past events had contributed to last night’s argument, I heard Rafiki from The Lion King saying “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.”  A small but comforting reminder to not run from my own past.

Will Amelia be watching Disney Princess movies someday?  You bet.  And I’ll be singing along right beside her.  Will my daughter’s room be decorated with castles and pink tulle?  Ah…no.

Can I borrow your talent?

I am terrible at golf. It takes me multiple swings to hit a golf ball off the tee, never mind trying to get the ball to land in any specific place. I am equally horrible at baseball or any other sport that requires hand-eye coordination and a stick. Here’s the thing though: I don’t care. I have plenty of talent in other areas and my hobbies reflect those talents. So beyond forcing my husband’s family to endure my exceedingly long games, being lousy at golf doesn’t much matter. I know some skills come easily to me while others require lots of practice to achieve mediocrity, and that’s just fine.

The thing is we often expect ourselves to be skilled at something just because everyone else appears to be. And when we are not, we feel like the only person on the planet born without the necessary skills to succeed. We feel defective and alone.

The first time I can remember feeling like this was in the seventh grade. I had always gone to school with the same group of kids. But after sixth grade the city’s schools were combined and I was bused across town to join some 500 other children. On that first day of seventh grade I walked into a room of strangers and discovered it was anything but easy. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. I went the entire day without talking to a single classmate because I didn’t know how.

Over the years I’ve learned how to talk to strangers, but I can tell you inside it hasn’t gotten much easier.  For my husband (whose career is in PR) meeting people is not only easy, it’s often fun. He’s given me lots of advice on how to approach people and how to feel more comfortable. It is really good advice. But when I’m in the moment, when I’m staring at a stranger, his advice feels like it applies to someone else. Someone who isn’t a fumbling idiot when they meet a new person. Basically everyone but me.

What I’ve noticed is that a lot of people struggle to do something they think should be inherently easy, and they beat themselves up because it’s not. Improvement is a constant fight with missteps along the way. If only we could feel comfortable sharing not just our triumphs but our failures too. We might realize that we are not defective and we are not alone. We are fighting to be better and that is always extraordinary.