Quit Bellyaching Over Peter Rabbit!

Yesterday, my husband who knows me well sent me a link to an intriguing article about some parents boycotting Peter Rabbit the movie on the premise that it encourages “allergy bullying”. In a nutshell, this was due to a scene depicting the annoying fictionalized  bunnies who slingshot some blackberries in to the mouth of the farmer, knowing very well that he was allergic to the berry. Then causing the farmer to go into anaphylactic reaction and collapse, but thankfully had an EpiPen with him to counter the effect. As a result of this boycott, Sony provided an apology to all the offended parents  for the insensitive material.

I’ll have to admit that it took me more than just a hot minute to ponder over this and come to terms with how I felt about the situation. I mean, I have 3 kids and as any loving parent would, I worry about bullying on a daily basis. Initially I would not have thought much about it, but then all this pondering opened up a floodgate of many other things I worry about and find quite concerning with this movie. Here’s the thing though… I’ve searched the web, and I’m not sure why other groups are not speaking up.

Why isn’t the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (aspca)  boycotting due to what clearly is a depiction of animal cruelty as the farmer is always trying to trap/kill these rabbits?  Why isn’t the US Hunger Relief Organization boycotting due to the disregard for crops, when there are so many starving children in this nation? Why aren’t the Feminist groups boycotting the movie on the premise that the main character has a strong masculine name, Peter and his male sidekicks name is Benjamin while the females have names like Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, which denote weakness and appearance attribution? Why aren’t  Law Enforcement agencies  speaking up and issuing a warning on the movie due its glorification of gang-like behavior, as Peter Rabbit and his Gang shows outright disregard for the law as they consistently trespass the farmers property, STEAL his crops and even try to seek revenge?

I think I may be losing sleep worrying that these parents who are boycotting the movie solely on the bullying scene though are in effect helping society minimize all these other offenses that may mold and nurture our children toward a life of crime.

Between the gang, the stealing, and the bullying alone, I’d say this 1 hour and 40 minute movie is a recipe for disaster for all our children, undoing ALL the positive qualities we’ve been trying to instill in them since birth.

Are you sensing some interjected sarcasm? Maybe a little.

You see, sans the “allergy bullying” scene, I can say with confidence that prior to buying a ticket to this movie, I already knew that taking my kids to watch it would mean they’d be exposed to rabbit misfits, stealing, conniving, trespassing and battling with an adult. The fact is that we are provided with all that information in the long-winded trailers littering kid friendly television time slots, and hence probably why most kids jump at the chance to watch it. As parents, we too have seen the trailers, because, of course every responsible parent is fully aware of what their kids are exposed to on television. And every prepared parent logically researches the actual premise of a movie before exposing their innocent and vulnerable offspring to these larger than life influential images. And every intelligent parent knows well to never allow animation fool us in to believing that all is wholesome in the world of Hollywood. Take those cute anthropomorphic bunnies and replace them with actual human kids and BAM!, an off-limit flick. Or, forget human replacement. How about substituting these bunnies with cartoon characters the likes of the Simpson’s, and BAM!, still off-limits.

A piece of advice to parents that get offended by Hollywood’s portrayal of ANYTHING. Go big or go home. Don’t pick apart a movie just because YOUR kid suffers from allergies, then minimize or turn a blind eye to all the other probable worrisome faults of the same movie.  Food bullying? Sure, that’s definitely wrong. But then boycott the plethora of issues with the entire movie. If your expectation is that an entertainment corporation needs to be sensitive to YOUR plight, then make sure that you too are sensitive to everyone else’s plight. How else will you be able to teach your child to be inclusive? Or will your singular concern teach your child that only HIS issues are worth your time and voice?

Here are other pieces of advice. Research thoroughly the context of anything. Watch with clear eyes the trailers and information given on anything. Use those negative portrayals to teach our children valuable lessons. Let us also teach our children that the world cannot logically accommodate every one and every situation, but provide them with great tangible solutions on how to handle each. And last, let us all remember to put the responsibility on to ourselves as our kids main source of values and stop expecting Hollywood, or religion, or politicians or our neighborhood to do it for us.

At the end of the day, your kid will forget Peter Rabbit in a month and remember everything YOU taught them in all their years.

The Pretty Platform 

 

Dear Future Daughter In Laws – My Sons Know About Your Period

The following is an open letter to my future daughter-in-laws. If in the case my son or sons are gay, this will not apply since this letter is specifically regarding my sons knowledge of a woman’s period and all that comes with that knowledge. (I will gladly write another letter to my future sons in-laws).

 

To all my future Daughter-In-Laws,

As I sit here writing this letter, all three of my boys are still too young to even contemplate marriage. Two of them still recoil and “eww” at the idea of having a girlfriend. For those two, I am still the one and only woman in their lives. But just as with the oldest, and in the true nature of life, this will not last for much longer. And that’s definitely okay with me. I actually look forward to meeting you one day and getting to know the other half that will make my boys turn in to a gooey mush. I look forward to watching from afar those stolen moments of laughter, inside jokes, a touch of the hand, simple sweet gestures, and those moments you both light up as the other walks in to the room. I look forward to not only seeing how much you will make my sons happy, but how much my sons will make you happy. And this latter one is just as important to me as it is to your own parents.

It’s been quite the journey, but I pride myself in doing all I can to raise three respectable, authentic, loving, kind, hardworking men… not just for their own benefit, but mostly for the future you. I have made it a goal to show them clearly what it feels like to be a woman. What life is like when you are a woman, through my own experiences. I remind them that it is both a wonderful and hellish thing to wear the female crown. There are the ideal moments where we shine, and there are the unpleasant moments where we don’t. I continue to provide them with the tools they need to make those unpleasant moments that much less troublesome for you and their future daughters.

When you’re in a partnership, both parties influence the happiness of the other.

So with that, please have the below list handy for reference. I want you to know what they know. I want you to know that they have been guided on how to be a positive influence in your most difficult times. Do not ever let them lead you to believe otherwise. Their mom (that’s me) did right by them, by you, and by my future granddaughters. You can send me a thank you letter or take me out for sushi and wine. Either will suffice.

∗ Your Tampons/Pads:

  • He is fine with buying tampons/pads without an ounce of embarrassment.
  • He knows the difference between a light flow, a regular flow and a heavy flow.
  • He knows that the tampon/pad boxes are color coded for flow indication.
  • He knows very well that Pearl is better than Cardboard, and why.
  • He knows that pads have wings and will never joke about it.
  • He understands the urgency and will go out to the store at a moment’s notice if you run out of tampons/pads.
  • He knows that some women prefer pads over tampons and he will never have a say in either.
  • He will keep in his notes your favorite brand. Just let him know if this ever changes.

∗ Your Period:

  • He knows about the monthly calendar menstrual cycle.
  • He knows it can last anywhere between 3 and 7 days.
  • He knows that it can be messy.
  • He knows about overflow and about the probability of staining the sheets at night or your underwear and will never make you feel uncomfortable about either.
  • He knows that it is probably very painful for you. Let him know what usually works to help with your pain and he’ll take care of the rest.
  • He knows that it’s a natural process in life and knows never to bring it up unless you do.

∗ Your Mood:

  • He knows about the emotional and physical definition of PMS (not just the acronym)
  • He understands that each month you might feel different from the month prior. Some women are consistent and others are not.
  • He is aware that you’ll try on 3 outfits and each one will make you hate your body.
  • He knows that during this time the sound of your sweet children’s voices sound more like screeching nails on a chalkboard to you and will do everything in his power to keep them quiet.
  • He knows that you can feel old and ugly even when you’re young and beautiful and will never minimize nor maximize your feelings on either.
  • He understands that WHO you are during your cycle is ONLY a product of your hormones and not who you are normally, but will never point that out, knowing the dangers lurking if he does.
  • He knows that you won’t be smiling much during this time.
  • He knows that your sleeping patterns and your eating patterns will change throughout your cycle.
  • He knows that keeping your favorite snacks stocked can help you during this time.
  • He knows to watch that chick flick with you and let you cry without flinching.
  • He knows to be more affectionate without the expectation of sex, unless of course you want to.
  • He knows never to use the term “on the rag” and think you won’t come at him like a bat out of hell if he does.
  • And above all, he knows never, ever, under any circumstance to use your period against you. This would be detrimental to him and there would be no coming back from it. Safety is key.

With much love and understanding,
Your MIL and ally.

— The Pretty Platform

The Sound of Silence

We can all agree that radio, television, children, and gatherings are all producers of sound, both pleasant and unpleasant… of course depending on the receiver. Your favorite song. A funny sitcom. Laughter from your little ones. Great conversation with family and friends. All positive things for sure, and I thankfully find myself being a willing receiver to it all. But equally… well, actually if not more important to me is SILENCE. It’s in silence that I can “hear” my own voice. If we take out time to listen to other people’s rants on various topics…be it on the news, or a YouTube channel, or reading it in an article, then one should also take time out to hear (insert your name here) internal voice, thoughts and ideas. Surprisingly though, through my conversations with different types of people, I have learned that silence is a very scary thing for many. They cringe at the idea of having thoughts running out of their inner depths up to the surface of their minds, and hence they look to drown out the opportunity with outward, loud, consistent sounds.

I have no right to tell you that you need to change, because change is a personal decision taken when your current path no longer benefits your needs. But since you’re still reading this, let me tell you that silence CAN be and IS a beautiful sound. It’s a put your feet up and cuddle with a soft, plush blanket by candlelight kind of sound. It’s a watch the sunrise/sunset with your feet in the sand kind of sound. Its a soak in a warm bath when you’re cold kind of sound. Silence can help with relaxing the mind to then allow for an inner thought to be heard.

During that silence, alone with that thought….

  • You’ll be able to hear your thought and even be able to outline reasons for the thought.
  • You can mentally scratch out the thought as “done” after coming up with various solutions.
  • You can make plans, you can set goals, you can recollect memories, you can even have a conversation with yourself.
  • You can nurture your imagination and fantasize.
  • You can judge your thoughts or you can excuse them.
  • You can analyze where you went wrong, or relive what helped you succeed.
  • You can become that friend to yourself that always listens and uplifts.
  • You can give yourself the advice you’re always dishing out to others, and actually hear it.
  • You can swear as much as you’d like in thought without disrupting others. When my eight year old gets angry, he asks me if he can swear to himself in thought. I tell him that his thoughts are completely his and he can definitely swear through his anger. As long it doesn’t escape in sound to others. He’s happy and ultimately, I’m happy.

And there’s always time to be in thought. Driving is my favorite time to discuss things with myself. Especially when the kids are not in the car. But when they are, and I’ve given them enough time to express themselves, I require some silence for thinking. They find it interesting that I want to just think, but by osmosis it’s becoming part of their weekly routine. Hopefully they will enjoy it and benefit from it as they travel in to adulthood. My shower time is also mine to be in thought. I’ve read that some people’s best ideas have come to them when they are sitting peacefully on the commode.

I really encourage you to try it. I encourage you to turn off the radio and television. Take off the headphones. Sure, it might be scary to be alone with your thoughts, but so was your first date, and you got through that. You may discover an amazing friend within yourself. And don’t forget to be a friend right back. Happy 2018 everyone!!!

— The Pretty Platform

At 58 Madonna Is Still My Material Girl

Have you ever experienced a moment that slapped you straight in to reality? A moment of self-awareness so sudden that you didn’t realize you had even stopped breathing? A jaw-dropping run-of-the-mill fact that sent you in to momentary denial? I’m sure you have quite the story to tell and I would love to hear all about it over some coffee someday.

But mine was at 6:30 this morning and I’m still feeling the effects. I was in the car driving the hubby and myself to the bus stop. Of course I was driving. When am I NOT driving? Either way, I had the radio tuned in to the Z-Morning Zoo show with Elvis Duran and the gang. Love them. And then IT happened. They read off their routine daily celebrity birthday list. Who cares, right? And I normally wouldn’t care. No big deal. We all have one of those.

But today, TODAY, this year… Madonna turned 58. 58! Fifty-eight!!! My reaction? If you didn’t already guess, I hope I’ve captured the essence of the moment here… First, an instantaneous gasp. Next, with my mouth still open I furrow my brows in disbelief. Then I let out the following… “What? What?! No way! Noooo! She can’t be 58. No! She’s 58? No! Ughhh! Damn it honey! (As I look at the hubby and I hit the steering wheel and laugh. He’s also laughing. I continue, as I’m somewhat pouting in the process) My goodness (as I shake my head side to side and my shoulders drop and my posture slumps), she’s f’ing 58! You know what this means Hun? (as I resume a high pitch) Do you?! I’m going to be 58 soon. Yeah, it’s coming and it’s coming quick. That’s going to be me. Arghhhh!!! It just got real here. Damn it!”.

A comical moment for sure. And even more comical for the spectator of this mini morning breakdown. Here’s the thing…she was my Virgin and Material Girl. She nudged me to Express Yourself. I’d daydream of being someone’s Lucky Star. I pictured myself on La Isla Bonita. My heartstrings tugged for Papa Don’t Preach. I crossed the Borderline. Felt like everyday was a Holiday. I’d fall to my knees and bellow out Like A Prayer and practiced in front of a mirror how to Vogue.

For 30 years her music made me dance like no one was watching. For 30 years her continuous transformations proved that we can always change in to better versions of our prior selves. She was never afraid to say what was on her mind. She fought for what she believed in and she took risks to reach her goals. And during all this time, she seemed to embrace a youthful spirit despite the years darting by.

But this number, 58, was just a reminder that I have to get moving. I have to hustle to enjoy and experience all that I could. That I have goals I still want to reach. I will not waste my time on other people’s drama or expectations of what I should be. That I can’t waste time thinking there is always enough time. Because time rushes by, and my 45 today will be my 58 tomorrow. I will continue to be strong, fearless and fight for what I want until then. I will continue to enjoy even the little things.  I will both laugh and cry with unparalleled emotion. I will enjoy life, people and what this earth has to offer. I will live, sing and dance like no one AND everyone is watching, shouldn’t matter.

And I will always remember that “Poor is the man (or woman) whose pleasures depend on the permission of another” — Justify My Love.

— The Pretty Platform

It’s Getting Loud Up Here In My Head!


My thoughts are like unplanned and uninvited guests.  They usually pop in when I’m on my own during a relaxing drive. For some people it’s a stroll through the park as they contemplate the sights and sounds of nature. For others it may be a long soak in the tub as the lit wick of a candle dances in the dimness of the room. Sure, those seem to be an open door policy as well, but given that I find myself driving everyday to and fro from the daycare, during that daily hour it can get very busy and noisy up in my head. Personally, I dread the To-Do list thoughts like home repairs or shopping for back to school supplies. I prefer to shove those out and jot them down on paper to keep them from pacing around in my head. Then there are the thoughts that if allowed to put its feet up and stay awhile can be quite enlightening. On Friday, during my usual drive, a humorous and somewhat questionable bit of advice handed to me way back in my 20’s opened the door and walked right in. It caused not only a chuckle to escape, but it seemed to be an open call to many other pieces of advice I’ve received in my lifetime. From the profound to the useless. People will gratuitously provide us with information that we can consider either genius or just plain stupid, having acquired it from either tradition or experience. Many have stayed with me throughout the years. Some I’ll keep alive, while others I’ll make sure to keep buried forever.

Here are some I’m willing to share with the world. Some may be equally helpful to you as they were for me, while others just provide simple entertainment. Please share some of your lifetime favorites at the end of this post. My door is always open to good, weird, funny but effective advice.

From my Mother…

 

  1. At the young age of 20, I was about to be married and I was a virgin. The night before my wedding, my mother who had never spoken to me about sex which means I never received “The Talk”, had now offered up the following…. (original advice was given in Spanish) … “Make sure to have either tissues, wet wipes or a hand towel on your nightstand since having sex can get messy and you may be too tired to go wash up”. She told me to trust her. Yuck! Was this my “Talk”? Unfortunately I had nowhere to hide.
  2. “A sincere smile is the best beauty tool you’ll ever own”.
  3. “Don’t accept anything anyone tells you as truth. Always ask for proof”. I wish I had taken this bit of advice early on in my life.
  4. “Let go of the negative stuff and hold on tight to the positive”.
  5. “Don’t wash your hair everyday. It’ll dry it out”.
  6. “Sit up straight”.
  7. “Beware of men that feel a need to sell themselves like a used car salesman. Beware of men that remind you how great they are or how lucky you are to be with them. Let their actions speak for their true nature”.

 

From my Aunt…

 

  1. “Never lend out money to family or friends without a written and signed contract”.
  2. “Never invest in a brand new car. A used car does the job just fine”.
  3. “Forget the rainy day. Save, save, save, for when the storm comes”.
  4. “Hire a lawyer to settle your ownership of your house”. This one proved to be my saving grace.
  5. “Don’t judge others if you want to be accepted as you are”.
  6. “Take care of yourself first so you can then take care of others”.

 

From my Boss…

 

  1. “If you want something done immediately make sure to NEVER use the term ASAP”.
  2. “Go home. You can finish this tomorrow”.

 

From my Husband…

 

  1. “Who cares what others think. Be yourself. To the hell with everyone else”.
  2. “Find what you love to do and do it”. This replayed in my head a million times, then this blog was born.
  3. “Stop cleaning and relax”. Yeah right!
  4. To an article I asked him to critique before I posted it up… “It’s good, but not great”. This always pushes me to strive for great.
  5. “These shoes would look great on you”. I bought the shoes.
  6. “Never stop learning”.

 

From an ex-boyfriend…

 

  1. “Let him speak first. Wait your turn without interruption. Then you can go in for the kill with all information in hand”. His advice to me when I had to go to a child custody court hearing.

 

From a total stranger…

 

  1.  “I can tell by looking at you that you are NOT completely Puerto Rican. Go research your ancestry”. I’ll be doing a DNA test soon for my ancestry percentages, but this stranger was right after I did some digging. I’ll share the results after I complete the test.

 

From a friend…

 

  1. “Keep writing”. So simple but exactly what I needed to hear.
  2. “Rub the steering wheel twice around to the left, once around to the right and ask the Parking God to guide us to a spot, and now go straight. Trust me.”. I laughed but humored her. Then screamed when there was a spot waiting for us instantly. Take note we were driving around for quite some time and just wanted to get on the beach. Hysterical, eerie and weird!

 

From my seven-year old…

 

  1.  “Mommy, you need to brush your teeth. Your breath smells bad”. I had coffee breath. Kids are brutally honest.

 

Now how can I go on after THAT?! Share some of yours below.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean Slate or Closure…Choose Wisely!

This year has been quite an interesting one. My only post of any significance before this one was a quick overview on how 2015 “Hulked” in strong, kicking my ass. At that point I believed, erroneously it seems, that I had met the peak of that figurative roller-coaster and was coming down back to the platform where I’d be able to exit, exhale and put my feet back on to solid ground. Talk about false expectations. Call me delusional. It is now October, and I look back rewinding my thoughts to all the valuable lessons I’ve learned.  I can properly bullet point all the lessons that have made their way in to my life, but I’ll leave that for my year-end review post. Today, I have an insatiable need to speak of one in particular.

Before I actually mention what that it, I refer back to a moment of clarity about ten years ago. I see it now…. my younger self standing at the bedroom closet, trying to calm down after yet another argument with the ex-husband, (I’m sure about something logical to me, but illogical to him, or the other way around. Who knows). I’m exhausted and pained that THIS, ALL OF THIS has become my life. “When will he change?”, are the words that were on a continuous loop in my head, like an annoyingly rooted jingle. “When will he change?”, are the words that I longed to have an answer for. “When will he change?, was the question I wrongly thought needed an answer. If HE changed, then MY life would be easier. If HE changed, then MY life would reap true happiness. And then, true to the word, I had an epiphany. More like I face planted in to what seemed like the solution, with…. another question. Why was I waiting for HIM to change? Why was I allowing MY happiness to be paved by such a negative force? So, I made the only change possible. ME! And so began Clean Slate Brain.

During our lives, many of us become conditioned to believe in the strength and power of a thing called ‘Closure’. I haven’t done the statistical research, but in retrospect many of the women I’ve come across in my lifetime, and lest not forget some men, have held on to this coined term as their key to a happy new start. They are waiting for answers. They are waiting for reasons. They are waiting for someone else to help them put it all behind them, for someone else to validate their next step Waiting for someone else to fix them or “it”.

The term, in the world of psychology, is the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event. I sit here thinking about that one powerful sentence. (Go ahead, reread it. I’ll wait). Doesn’t that make you as sad as it does me?… To think that so many people hold on to the unrealistic expectation that there is ever, ever an absolute emotional “conclusion”? I included an alternate definition below as well. Whether it’s divorce or death or unemployment, all these things mold us and become a part of us, but it’s never fair, and never without consequence. We can’t ever truly discard it. We need to accept and learn to make this so-called experience work FOR us, not against us. And as a determined, assertive, independent woman, I’m also done with the fairy tale ideal that other people or forces are to provide me with the emotional cure so I can move on.

 

closure

 

Back to October 2015. What’s this particular lesson learned? You see, I almost forgot myself, almost lost myself. I allotted others more power than merited. With each passing month, I hoped, prayed and hoped some more and well… nothing! That’s the problem. You can hope all you want, but nothing will come from it, when you put your eggs in to someone else’s basket. So… with that said, I’m once again taking a stance against the unrealistic need for closure and creating a clean slate. A clean slate gives me back the power to live my life to the fullest, without resentment or regret. It allows me to break free. A blank page; one where I get to write my own path, my own adventures and my own reactions to the outcome. No more waiting around for someone else to change or for the right words to be spoken, or for a dragged on discussion to be had. I decide what is in my best interest. I get to choose. Only like that can someone regain the power that was thought to be lost during a difficult time in one’s life.

Repeat after me… “To the hell with closure”.

And just in case you were interested, (and even if you’re not), I’m finally off that damned roller coaster. For now at least.

— Elke

 

#4StressfulWeeks – Week 3

Wouldn’t you agree that sometimes it’s the little things that make the most impact? When it comes to that theory in the realm of happiness; a single flower from a partner, a tight hug from a parent, a pasta picture frame from your pre-schooler, or a letter received in the mail from a friend. These or similar tiny actions surely remind the recipient how damn lucky they are. I remember when my oldest came home with this simple paper laminated bookmark he made for me at school when he was about 7 years old. Honestly, best gift EVER. 10 years later and I still cherish that gift as if it was the found Holy Grail treasure itself.  So, equally impactful are the small momentary nuances of everyday life, when piled up on each other, make giant doom impending mountains out of what should remain mole hills. Here are some of my odd ball mole hills. I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to some of these.

  1. I’m an extremely organized person, but for the life of me I can’t seem to be able to master the ability to organize my mail. How difficult can this task really be? I guess procrastination has something to do with it, so it continues to pile up. Currently, I think I have a full 2 weeks worth of mail in a basket on my vanity. Here’s the funny thing though, I bought that basket to organize my mail. Ironic, isn’t it?
  2. Don’t judge me, but along the lines of procrastination, I keep forgetting to set aside time to make all doctor appointments for the family. That’s kind of important,  huh?!   I know we should visit the dentist every six months. I promised myself of that the last time we saw him….almost 1 whole year ago. Maybe the pain in my tooth will start reminding me. I’m sure of it. You’re judging me, aren’t you?
  3. Simply put…my mind has to spread its wings and span wide from college applications (for my soon to be 17-year-old) to kindergarten registration (for my 5-year-old). What was I thinking???
  4. A family of five and flying to your vacation destination can never ever cohabitate under one cohesive possible thought.  Instead, we will venture in to a torturous 15 hour drive in a mini van with three kids and a dog. May God have mercy on my soul on the soul of my three boys. Who knows what underlying deep dark traits from within my own soul will surface and reveal themselves.
  5. I have this Kaboodle filled with beautiful glass bottles of nail polish, so many pretty colors.   The women adult equivalence to that of a kids 64 piece Crayola Crayon box. The one with a sharpener in the back. And yet my nails look like colorless crap. I give great manicures, but you’d never know by looking at my hands. And I refuse to go pay for one. Downright refuse.
  6. Work leads me to the Office. The Office leads me to Coworkers. Need I say more?
  7. And just today Evernote erased my latest assignment for Blogging University Writing101, assignment #11. All that work, POOF!!! Gone!!! ALL GONE!!!

I can’t be too bitter though. All these little “mountainous” details are still a reminder of how grateful I should be. A house, my family, teeth, the ability to go way on vacation, a good paying job with vacation days, awesome fellow bloggers, and pretty colorful bottles of nail polish.

Need I say more?

My last entry is going to be a doozy for this segment. I’ve been waiting and biting my colorless nails. But I’ve been patient. Truly, truly patient. Hope you’ll come back to read my #4 entry of #4stressfulweeks.

Until then, please enjoy all the small details. In the words of Author Richard Carlson – Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.

Those Dandelions Set Me Straight!

Where I’m at and what I was doing there really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was sitting, feeling the warmth of the sun reflecting in from the window, not even paying attention to what’s going on outside. The view glimmered in the sun and caught the corner of my eye. I turn to the right and squinted ever so slightly. Initially, nothing grand to be seen. Just a run of the mill field of green grass with trees lining the perimeter.  Such a pretty, relaxing view though. I love sitting by this window. As I keep turning to catch glimpses of the view I then notice; bright dandelions spread across that grassy field. Sporadic growth, some here, some there; nature has decided their location. They give off a cheery and warm feeling. A “SPRING IS APPROACHING” sign. As children, we were taught to depict the sun in yellow. This color symbolizes summertime warmth. Rubber duckies are always yellow. That “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Smiley face is always displayed in yellow. And so is a perfectly delicious banana. Growing up, my mom always painted our kitchen in yellow. “It’s a happy color”, she’d excuse. And I remembered those dandelions as a child, thinking they were the most beautiful “flower” ever. Pulling one out of the ground ever so gently to use as a tropical accessory in my hair. Something so small, yet made my life more colorful.

And just as someone’s entire life flashes before their eyes when faced with a huge mortality experience, at that moment, straight away I learned a true life lesson (or lessons).

Countless obsessed Americans have decided that this little beauty is more of a nuisance, a tiny irritating pest. Homeowners will cringe at the sight of these popping up amongst their beautifully manicured lawns. They will pull at the root, they will apply weed killer, with determination they will run over them with their mowers. And all because someone, somewhere, at some time decided that the only acceptable form of perfection is a clear green yard. They decided that nature cannot decide or dictate. They themselves will control and manipulate. They will pour out money and invest all energy to acquire the results they have come to accept and conform to. Each lawn striving to look like the one to their right and to their left. An all cohesive, interconnected, organized look. Homeowners will curse the dandelion for being a weed, forgetting, or maybe not even knowing that their perfect grass is too a weed. But ask a child, a person in their purest form, with eyes so clear, not influenced by pre-conceived notions of what is acceptable, which yard they would prefer, and most will choose the one adorned with those happy bright flowers. They see beauty, they see life, they see enjoyment.

And THAT is what happens to many when leaving childhood and entering adulthood. We all display it in one form or another, either willfully or unknowingly. We forget the beauty in things, in people, in nature, or we choose to fight against it. A charming old farm-house will be renovated in to a cold modern investment. A curvy woman will nip, tuck, or squeeze while a thin man will spend hours trying to bulk up. A man displaying a tattoo will be categorized, as well as a woman with short spiky hair. She’s too pushy, he’s too effeminate. He’s shy, she’s loud. He’s too contented, she’s money hungry. A man shouldn’t cry, a woman shouldn’t raise her voice. That kid is either too hyperactive, or the other too lethargic. This kid either talks too much, or your teen doesn’t speak much at all. Too short, too tall, too skinny or fat. We all fall under one of these categories. We all know someone who does. We all decide who goes where. We all fight against one or many.

But incredibly, a child will not care if you’re loud. He’ll consider you fun. Pushy? Assertive. Effeminate? Sensitive to others. Tattoos are interesting pictures. Spiky hair is cool. Hyperactive is playful and lethargic is relaxing. The one that talks a lot is social and the one that doesn’t is contemplative. That old farm-house has history, and that modern renovation is sleek. Curvy will provide a hug full of loving comfort, and that slender man is tall and elegant. Can you do that? Can you or I look at everyone and everything through the eyes of a child? I dare you to try this for a week.

It has been said that every weed is technically a plant deemed out-of-place. Deemed by who though? It is a plant considered undesirable. Undesirable to whom? Last I looked, nature has a purpose for EVERY living thing. The lowly unwanted Dandelion when researched is not only beautiful, but is hardy and has useful dietary and medicinal qualities AND is completely edible. Further research and the flower petals are used to make Dandelion wine and coffee. What?!! My next shopping trip for sure will include these in my cart. And of course, here’s the lesson I learned; Research the people you opt to judge before doing so. Don’t be the person to make them or yourself feel out-of-place. Don’t you dare consider someone else or yourself as undesirable. Understand their purpose and accept your own. See their beauty as well as your own. Look for their strengths and learn how to make your own even stronger.

Next lesson; Although a plant, I mentioned before that grass is also considered a weed by many. An acceptable, wanted, sort after and nurtured “weed”. The one knighted even by nature itself to cover the ground we walk on. So all is fine. NO! Of course, humans always step in to direct and decide things their way. Have you ever wondered who cuts the grass on the rolling hills of Ireland? Have you seen the rolling hills of Ireland? No one cuts it. It’s growth and self-maintenance has produced such a breathtaking view.  It’s proven that mowing is a destructive practice that stresses the grass because it reduces the amount of leaf tissue available for the production of energy. Cut too low, take it down past it’s breaking point, the grass dies. Dull, poorly adjusted equipment will tear the grass blade, leaving it susceptible to infection and giving your lawn a frayed brownish look. Blah, blah, blah? The correlations are just staring us straight in the face. You MUST see all the parallels here, don’t you?!  Adults insist nurturing only what they deem acceptable. They will destroy one another, cutting others down in order to fit them in to their perfect “green” life. And although many people and children do need some “trimming”, but if done incorrectly, if using poorly adjusted equipment; The result? There is nothing left for that person to produce. Their “energy” squashed, extracted, gone. Their beauty now frayed and eroded.

I WANT the happy Dandelion. I want to BE that Dandelion. I want the childhood attributes that come with it. I want to reflect that in my dealings with everyone. I will research you, I will ask you questions, I will get to know you, I will see your beauty and purpose. I will nurture you to grow in your natural state. You have the right to be wine and coffee. I will allow you to be The Rolling Hills of Ireland. And as for the actual Dandelion? I will keep them in my yard for as long as I can, because my children deserve the same memories and lessons I’ve learned through them.

— Elke

The Rolling Hills of Ireland - Picture courtesy of Bloomingfieldfarmvt.com
The Rolling Hills of Ireland – Picture courtesy of Bloomingfieldfarmvt.com
Picture courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net
Picture courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net