Becca Wilhite Blog

October 12, 2015

Making the Time

Filed under: character,familyness,gratitude,writing — becca @ 6:43 am

I’ve been learning. Studying about creativity at the feet of those who make it their mission to permit the rest of us to drink at the wells of creation. It’s a seriously joyful experience. (Want to try it? Watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s remarkable TED talk, here. Listen to her “Big Magic” podcast. Immerse yourself in all that is Brene Brown.)

Here’s a thing that struck me this week. And I’m paraphrasing – so these are not original thoughts, but they are my words: That painting that astounds me went onto the canvas one brushstroke after another. The book I love was written one hour at a time. The song I can’t get out of my head was composed over a series of stolen hours.

I have hours. Maybe not more than one in a row that I can dedicate to creative pursuits, but one hour at a time, I can write a novel. And I have. And I am. The words don’t pour out of me resulting in a workable draft in a week or two (but hey, if that works for you WAY TO GO). The words trickle. They pile up slowly. But the point is, they do pile up. Day after day, when I give myself permission to sit at my tiny desk and put down three hundred or five hundred or a thousand words, the story grows.

And when I give myself that permission, I find myself unbound from guilt or regret that seems to hound me when I ignore my creative self in favor of more focus on work or cleaner bathrooms. I’m a cooking pot sitting on three stones over the fire – if I remove one of my stones (family or work or creativity) my pot will tumble into the fire, douse the flame, and ruin dinner.

I am learning balance and I really like it.

September 28, 2015

Preparation

Filed under: irony — becca @ 6:48 am

I’ve been thinking about all the preparing we humans tend to do in order to be Super Ready for All the Things. My Kid 2 is overseas right now, teaching English to small Lithuanian children and eating her body weight in beautiful European cheeses. Before she left, she did everything right, including notifying her bank that she’d be using a card in that region.

They cancelled her card this week.

Like, it’s blocked. She can’t use it. (“Our fraud detection software noticed you’ve been using your card in Poland, and we’re pretty sure your permanent address is not in Poland. So, no card for you. You’re welcome.”)

She didn’t take a phone to Vilnius, because hello? She doesn’t need it. So she can’t call them and ask them to fix their mistake. I’m happy to call them and ask them to fix it, but that’s no guarantee, since I’m not Kid 2, and she’s a technical adult, and blah, blah, blah.

I’m going to get this fixed for her, but that’s only a little piece of the point. We do Things to ready ourselves for other Things, and it completely baffles me when my Things get unfixed.

I’m a believer in preparation. I’m for it, one hundred percent. But even with my full commitment, I find it weird. I know that half the things I prepare against (from the Apocalypse to Gum Recession to Running out of Gas) are unlikely (for the record — running out of gas is unlikely, and gum recession is half unlikely — that’s half the things, right?). I prepare for them anyway.

I have a basement full of wheat, dry beans, and bottled tomatoes and fruits. This will feed us for many months, in the event that we choose to live on whole wheat breads, bean soup, and smoothies. I also have a container of coconut gelato that will never see next week. Because I’m going to need it. See? Prepared.

But the mini-fiasco at the bank has caused me to wonder what other preparations we make that don’t actually Take. That will have to be Fixed, involving much Chasing About. And the list grows long in my head. Long and tiring. And even as I scroll through this long mental list, I find comfort in the preparation. And some smug self-satisfaction that I can say to bankers or to the universe at large, “See, we totally took care of this months ago. Can you please deal with it on your end?”

I’m prepared to get a little demanding.

August 31, 2015

Really, Dads?

Filed under: anxiety,school — becca @ 9:48 am

** Disclaimer: I LOVE FATHERS. Awesome dads make up most of the population of men I know. This is not meant to bash fatherhood. Dadliness is one of the most amazing attributes I can possibly observe. End Disclaimer. **

I had this friend in High School – we’ll call him Ryan, because that’s his name. He played baseball. He liked it, and he was good at it, and it’s a good thing, because his dad would never have let him quit. Never. His dad was, as far as we could tell in our High School Haze, living his own baseball dreams through his kid. Which, fine.

Today my sophomores gave presentations where they told nine truths and one lie about themselves and FOUR of them in one class talked about doing a sport that they HATE because their dad makes them.

This is what I said.

“!”

and

“?”

and

“Huh?”

Because, really? This was one kid’s lie: “I love playing football,” and I could tell by the strain in his voice that he was lying. I’ve known him for very few days. In fact, he’s spoken aloud very seldom in my presence. But I could TELL.

This is weird, this number (I hope). It represents one out of eight kids in that section. ONE OUT OF EIGHT kids in that class “have to” play a sport that they admittedly dislike. Maybe that’s not weird. Maybe I’m the weird one. Maybe the reason my kids aren’t elite athletes is that I don’t make them play sports they don’t love. Or it could be genetics. Either way, we’re not elite. At all. And I’m okay with that.

So what if my kids hated school? I’d still make them go. What if my kids hated writing? Okay, I hear you. (Some of them claim that they do, but they’re so good at it that I just nod and stand back and gasp in wonder at their blog posts and tweets and Instagram tags.) What if my kids didn’t want to attend church? Yeah, I think I’d make them. Maybe I need to look at high school sports as a form of religious worship. Heaven knows I wouldn’t be alone in that mindset. I grew up in Indiana, remember?

What do you think? Am I missing something? Or is this “I hate this sport” conversation just a step in growing up that hasn’t happened yet?

August 19, 2015

Open Letter to My Little Girl on Starting High School This Week

Filed under: familyness,kids,lists,musings,school — becca @ 5:50 am

You’re doing it. High school. So, natch, I’m doing it – passing out advice. It’s more a list than a letter. Because you’re a busy girl and you’ve got places to go. Here are Things I Know about you starting high school. Ready?

1. Sometimes people are mean.

2. (This is WAY more important than #1) More people will be amazing, kind, and supportive than will be mean. But they might do it more quietly. Look for the amazing. Look for the kind. Point it out (to yourself or to someone else) and it will get louder. Make it louder – make it roar.

3. You are beautiful. This is more a “nice” thing than a “crucial” thing, but it’s something you’ll probably forget, and I don’t want you to forget it.

4. You are good company. People love to be around you.

5. You are capable of doing hard work, and you are capable of succeeding in all your efforts.

6. It was a Very Good Idea to join a team. Join one more. Be part of at least two things. Let those two things be part of you.

7. I pray for you every single day before you get to school. Look around. See those other kids? Someone is praying for them, too, even if it’s only me.

8. Hold on to your confidence. Some days it will get a little raggedy. I can help shine it up for you, but it’s your job to carry it. Always.

9. Never be ashamed of being a nerd.

10. You can have it all. You may not be able to have it all at once, but you can have it.

11. People will look at you. Assume they’re looking because they want to be your friend. This will not always be the case, but it’s okay to be wrong now and then.

12. You won’t regret the things you do that are motivated by kindness and love.

13. You know that we don’t live in a particularly culturally diverse place, but seek out the diversity and celebrate it.

14. You’ll get hurt. (You’ll get better.)

15. Embarrassing things happen. Laughing is first aid for the wounds of embarrassment. It won’t erase the embarrassing thing, but it might save your life.

16. Eye makeup? A little bit goes a long way. You know.

17. Eat breakfast. Eat lunch. Lots of plants. A little protein. Come home and have dinner at the table.

18. Everyone is going through something. Everyone. Imagine that written over every head (kid and adult) in the building and you’ll be more empathetic. It’s always good for us to be more empathetic.

19. It’s Human Teenage Nature to assume the world revolves around you. It’s not accurate, but it’s natural.

20. I will always get excited with you when The Boy asks for your number, or sends you a vague text, or wants you to go to the dance. I will always take your side when The Boy acts like an idiot. But remember the rules. They are your protection.

21. You are stronger than you think you are.

22. Sing something every day. In the shower, in guitar class, somewhere.

23. Keep reading. You have time.

24. I’m right in the middle of the English hall if you need me.

25. There are hundreds (HUNDREDS) of people I love in that building. There is no one I love more than you.

June 16, 2015

I’m sorry. I’m stupid.

Filed under: anxiety,dumb things I do,emotion,musings — becca @ 12:07 pm

Once upon a time I made what I had NO IDEA was a stupid, hurtful comment to a struggling friend. She was telling me of a newly-discovered battle she was choosing to keep private – a diagnosis of a child on the autism spectrum. I said what I thought were the right (supportive) things, and then I said something idiotic about her choice not to “wave the flag” about her kid’s diagnosis.

— Here is why I said that. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who are fighting remarkable battles every moment with special-needs kids, and I applaud their parenting AND I LOVE THEIR KIDS. Having said so – I have occasionally heard acquaintances speak about their children with special needs as the need: Like, “I have my hands full with this CONDITION who also happens to be my child.” I am a huge supporter of parents who advocate for their kids, and an even more huge supporter of those who help their kids advocate for themselves. Something hurts me when a person is placed behind a diagnosis, as  opposed to the other way around. I think the human being should come first, is all.

Now, I know that what I said hurt this friend. I didn’t know it for a long time. Naturally, as soon as I realized that I had been stupid, I apologized. I recognize that what I meant and what she heard were at vast odds, and that it may have driven a fatal wedge in our relationship. I do not fault her for this in any way. I was stupid. I said something vague where (hello) even if I’d been specific, it would not have been useful or helpful. I caused hurt. The fact that I didn’t mean to? Not relevant. The fact that I apologized? Not enough. I am not here to try to fix all the dumb I’ve been responsible for in my long, long life of dumb. I am here to say that sometimes I say things that are categorically stupid, and that when I offend I am sorry. I try to keep the stupid to a minimum. I really do.

This is an event that I think about on an almost daily basis. It happened YEARS ago. The thing is, I deserve to think about it. I deserve to have it on my mind. That bad decision I made might make me slightly less stupid in future discussions of that sort (or of any sort – thoughts about that mistake enter my mind in nearly every critical conversation I have). And I think it helps me choose to take offense less often than I might, because I consider that when someone I love (or like, or simply don’t despise) says something stabby or hurtful, I can – from personal experience – choose to assume that what I hear isn’t necessarily what he meant to say.

 

June 7, 2015

Nourish and Flex

Filed under: character,goals,musings — becca @ 8:39 am

My words for the summer: Nourish and Flex.

Physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually. This is what I want for me this summer. Nourishment and Flexion.

I want to nourish me, but I also want to nourish other people. Specifically the ones who live in my house, but also other ones. A friend of Kid 2’s came for Taco Tuesday last week, and it was fun to hang – all of us – around the table for an entire hour for a dinner that could have been eaten in fifteen minutes. It was nourishing to eat the food (he told me I make the best tacos in the world, and Kid 3 laughed at him and said, “You make the taco,” and she was totally right), but it was maybe more nourishing to tell the stories and to laugh together and to Be There.

I need to recommit to being flexible. This is a thing I have previously used to define myself, and somehow I’ve lost the ability to bend in some of the ways. So I’m giving it another try, out loud, here and in my heart.

May 31, 2015

SummerTime

Filed under: school,writing — becca @ 10:20 pm

It all begins now. It’s summer. School has ended once again. I got to give my “What every boy needs to know about being a man” speech. It wasn’t that kind of speech at all; I just love to appropriate great lines from “Secondhand Lions” whenever the opportunity presents itself.

(The speech wasn’t deep. Basically, I told them there were two things I could share with them that would make them happier, and that I understood if they didn’t believe me, or if they just didn’t want to buy it from my word, but here the things are: Give people the benefit of the doubt. Also, the decisions you make that come from a place of kindness will not be decisions you regret. You may be sad, be hurt, be heartbroken, even, but you won’t regret.)

And now, summer. I’m going to read 2 books a week. Maybe more. I’m going to get my yard in shape (just a little), and find the sun (it was a very wet spring, and I’ve not seen the sun on my skin yet). I’m going to write. To edit. To walk lots and lots of steps. To plan classes. To play with my kids.

I hope you are having all the happy things this summer, too.

May 12, 2015

Songs of Themselves

Filed under: Uncategorized — becca @ 10:01 pm

So we did a little Whitman in Junior English. I had them read the first eight sections of “Song of Myself” and respond to it. Many of them liked it, and lots of them hated it. (In their defense, there is a great deal of arrogance there.) When they got to class, we read a bit of it together and then I took them outside. They had to leave all electronics in the classroom. They took a pen and a piece of paper. That’s it. And they sat on the grass and stared. They loafed and gazed at the lawn. They pondered their identity. I made them sit there like that for 15 minutes. If you don’t think that’s a long time, try it. Their bodies fell asleep. They twitched. They hated it, mostly.

And then I had them write a little about their thoughts and identities and all the grasses. They talked about stuff. About how we can step on grass and flatten it, but then we move our feet and it springs back up. How we don’t even notice the dead and dormant grasses even though they’re all around, and maybe that’s like how we don’t see all the groups of people in high school who are unlike us. About how the lawn gets stronger when it’s mowed, kind of like we get stronger when we’re “cut down” by life and the world. About how much grass grows down into the ground at the same time that it grows up toward the sun. About how much hidden life must be inside people if there’s THIS MUCH hidden life inside a cubic inch of lawn.

Then we went back inside and they each wrote the Song of Yourself. They’re lovely, thoughtful people, these juniors. They think thinky thoughts. They even get brave enough to share them out loud in front of each other.

I’m proud of them for sitting still for fifteen minutes and writing with pen on paper. I’m proud of them for pondering identity and Self-ness. I’m getting nostalgic because I may possibly be hitting the home stretch of the school year. But they’re pretty awesome.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress