Tag Archives: thanksgiving

So Grateful. This post writes itself.


Not an hour ago I received an email from our secondary school principal. The subject line was “homework over break” and I swallowed hard in apprehension that we were about to get the shot across the bow announcing a big press on the kids to get their projects started and completed over break. In the insanely high-pressure DC suburbs, it would not be unheard of.

Much to my astonishment, I read on:

Dear Parents and Guardians-

I am sending you a copy of an email I have sent to all of the Robinson Staff regarding homework and assignments over breaks.  All of us need breaks in our life and we want to honor this going forward from today.  I want to wish everyone a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

As we reach the first quarter mark of the year and as Thanksgiving and the winter holidays approach, I would like to share some guidelines for assignments over breaks.  There is no doubt that many of you feel pressure to maintain the momentum of your curriculum by assigning homework, projects, papers, reading, and/or studying over breaks.  The pressure that you feel, often driven by standardized tests and pacing guides, translates likewise into student stress.  This stress compounds as families compete for meaningful time with their children over the holidays.  Subsequently, many students return to school after “break” with as much or more stress as when they left.

     Children and adults (You) need breaks from the many demands of school life.  Going forward, I ask that you be mindful of student stress when determining due dates for student work.  Here are a few guidelines:

•  Students should not be required to complete work over school breaks.  

•  Be reasonable with due dates.  Provide enough time for students to complete their work within the normal school calendar without the need to work over school breaks.  Though you may have a long-term assignment that spans over a school break, no work should be due immediately after a break.  

•  Pace yourself to avoid major assessments immediately upon return from breaks.

    The guidelines above are in the spirit of honoring family and family traditions as we simultaneously address issues of student stress.  These adjustments provide us another opportunity to reach out to our community with a united, student-centered philosophy.



In today’s crazy-competitive world, this note, and his stand on the state of the chaos, is refreshing, brave and so needed.

Here is my reply to him,

Dear Matt,

I hope you’re getting lots of grateful and encouraging calls and emails about your mindful and gracious letter to parents today about your email to your staff regarding overloading the kids during breaks.

As a yoga teacher, I couldn’t possibly agree more with your intention in that note. I have found that really little kids — ages 4 and 5! — tell me that doing yoga with me helps them lower their stress.

Four and five! What should they know about stress? But they do.

When our minds and bodies relax, creativity in innovation flows. We can not possibly subsist in a hyper-competitive, limbic-brained state all our lives. While academic success is important, we must remember that while we are today shaping the minds for tomorrow, we must be careful to foster growth. If being a parent has taught us anything, it’s that the human form grows when it rests. Muscles build and form after the workout. We have to look up from the grindstone in order to see how we can improve upon it.

We cannot grow in a state of hyper-vigilance and reactivity; if competing with China is what this is all about in America, we’re doomed. That country’s youth is in very fragile state. If you did not see the NYTimes report on the teens in China who are addicted to the Internet, now might be a good moment to see it; the kids there are overloaded, overtaxed and fracturing due to the nation’s aggressive growth and parental pressures to outdo the others.

I applaud you, most sincerely, for the missive you sent today. It takes guts, character and courage to do what you did. You’re on the right path.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Kinds regards and namaste,


I feel that his move to send that note was a clear and compassionate message about a tragedy which befell the school earlier in the fall.

A sophomore tragically took her own life in an apparent suicide on a railroad track not three miles from my home. Kids need to relax. Adults need to relax. The world needs to relax.

The sentiment coddled and honored in our principal’s email is exactly what the world needs more of. So tell your school administrators about what’s on your mind, catch them doing something good and praise them for it.

Thank you.

Grief: Relief and Release


It has been 12 weeks since Mom died and I’ve written about it here as the mood has suited me and I’m grateful that those missives have been tolerated by you guys.

I’m in a good space right now and I’d likely chalk it up to the impending Thanksgiving rush but I’m not so sure because I’m not really overwhelmed by The Holiday. Then comes Christmas and the new year.

While the coming celebrations will have challenging moments for us as tribe, they will also be experienced in completely new territory for me anyhow in terms of emotional and psychic (mental) space.

Holidays and celebrations for me were not easy.

When you live your entire life with a troubled someone who occupies an equally troubled space in your heart and your mind, that space becomes a third “person” so to speak. It becomes a shadow, an entity, a space — something you end up welcoming (not really) to the “table” because there is no way to avoid it other than via a total divorce. No one was willing to do that in our family; I can speak for myself that I clung feverishly to a hope that Mom would repair.

I state all of this with as much detachment as possible. I am void of judgment or of complaint. I am bothering to share this because of the simple fact that I know a few people whose parents have deceased this year, some after my own mother, and I want them to know this: it’s OK to feel a release or allow yourself relief that you don’t have to worry about them anymore. If you are grieving the loss of a person whose slow and protracted illness and caregiving occupied your mind and or body, or like me the sudden and earth-rocking loss of someone whose death was completely unforseen at least in the near term but in either case whose existence was tied to attendance in your life, it’s OK to be OK with the release of the worry.  Really, it’s OK. This is part of the process. We can exhale now. Be OK.

As I said, holidays and celebrations were not easy. That third “space” or “person” was fear or guilt or shame or sadness and hope over my mother’s state and her condition. For all my life, at least as much as I can recall, I was always concerned about my mother. Shouldn’t it have been the other way around? Shouldn’t it? Since when is it a child’s duty to be occasionally charged or routinely in a passive state of being “on patrol” over its parent? She never asked help of me, though, it was just implicit. Frequently though she would say that I was a help to her, and if you’re a kid, you know that when you hear you’re being a helper you keep it up.

Living like that does shit to you. (Oops, I said I was void of complaint — but I really am, this is mostly reporting.)

Things were constantly such that worrying about her sobriety, safety, condition, whereabouts, status and then in the later years adding on her care, upkeep, attendant anxieties, predilections, tendencies and any other mechanism that revealed itself was a standard way of life. Even when we weren’t together, she was on my mind. I’ve stated this dozens of times. I have no regrets about caring about her although it did tax our relationship considerably. Last Easter was the first holiday I hosted at my home where I did not include my parents in any of the events. It was an emotionally difficult decision to make, but my father’s withholding of contact with me made it feasible and to me appropriate and healthy.

I would by lying if I didn’t wonder what they did for Easter. I had to hold my space; I had to grow up a bit.

So this year, it will be odd. We will be one space short at the table and two spaces lighter in my mind. The mental space has already started to happen, a fog is lifting. It’s like watching a ghost pack up its stuff: vigilance, fear, anxiety, woe, regret, anger and who knows what else that it has strewn about your psyche and heart, and put it into boxes to be taken away and to never return. I have observed the lightening of this space in an increased interest in my own family and domestic affairs — I kid you not! — I have had “attachment and brain fatigue” discussions and exercises over items in my home and I’ve unearthed several hundreds of pounds of items for charity. I’ve been able to attend to my family in ways I did before but with the presence of gratitude and love rather than a sense of obligation and “chore” that I’d had before. I was given my family that I created instead of the one I came from.

My mental clarity can best be described as like a “system defrag” back in the days of MS-Windows hard drive management. It’s like I couldn’t actually release the concern I had over my mother until she was actually and finally at true and undeniable somatic peace.

It didn’t come easily for either of us though — it took her death, and because I’m a truth seeker I suppose there is a lesson in it that is deeper than the obvious: nothing is in my control and I should occupy myself with the things that I can change (Serenity Prayer, anyone?). I accept the high-level lesson for now. Maybe that’s all there is to know.

A few people have inquired about my father: he is OK, managing and keeping busy. He’s a “bootstrapper” and has generally never had a hard time regarding himself. We went to a Mass of Remembrance last week and we tend to get together about every week. I will say no more; the rest belongs to him. He is making the stuffing for Thursday. That is some good stuffing.

Aha — I do know this: there is nothing I have to do at all about any of it. My ego can let go, or I can punt it, and its illusion that I had any semblance of influence over any of the affairs of my mother’s. It’s a tough thing to do: admit your impotence over the most important, first influence in your life.

Sigh. Sniffle.

Thanksgiving is basically here. Today my husband and I will bring up our spare table and chairs. After we drop off Thing 1’s forgotten gym uniform at school, we will go get the plastic flutes for the kids’ sparkling grape juice. I will find the extra salt & pepper sets and get them out. I will enlist my youngest son to make the place cards when he comes home. I will let him command the kid’s table and I will breathe a sigh of relief as I release my anxiety, my “third person” and be OK with it. I am ironically sad to see her go…

Mom, I’m sorry you had to go to teach me to finally let you live the way you chose. To finally get me to back off.

Happy thanksgiving to all of you; if you are wondering if you have any control over anything besides your own personal choices, take great peace and liberty in knowing the answer is: Absolutely Not.

Thank you.

Google Google Google


I saw a cute joke on Twitter: What do virtual turkeys say on Thanksgiving? “Google Google Google.”

To my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving, friends! This is my first mobile post.



To readers from other nations, happy Thursday November 22, the only one of 2012! Make it awesomer, like you. 

Thank you.