Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fortyness - Owning the Foundation

Have you ever built a house of cards? Have you ever played that marble game where the players pull the sticks and see who's final pull drops all of the marbles?

I guess in theory these are sort of opposites - one game builds up, the other takes down. But, one thing they do have in common is that they are both a lot like life in Fortyness.

Both games have multiple pieces. All of the pieces work together to build a structure that is the crux of the game. A deck of cards has 52 "pieces" that are stacked, leaned and balanced to create a finished structure. The marble game has a multitude of sticks that are threaded together in a tower to create a net in which the marbles are poured.

In both games, the object is to keep something from falling. The one who places the card that makes the house fall is the one who loses the game. The ill-fated stick pull that dumps all of the marbles leaves one unlucky player in last place. The goal for either is to win the game.

Both games are a challenge individually and against other players in the game. There is individual strategy that each player employs to position themselves to win the game. Yet, no matter what plans are made, they are constantly changing, altered, and manipulated by the moves that others make. They both take quick thinking, rethinking, and flexibility to finish the game - win or lose.

There is one final way that the games are similar. It is not in the goal, the strategy or the end result in the game. It is in what is overlooked. In playing both games, of course the players find a space that is large enough to play the game. But how often is the foundation considered an integral part of the game?

So how is this like life in Fortyness?

At this point in life we have been in the game of life for a while. We have stacked the cards, come up with strategies, figured out how play off of others moves, and probably had our fair share of wins. We've been focused on admiring the house, looking at our stacks of sticks successfully pulled and ultimately winning the game - or goals that we have set.

However, in Fortyness, we've also had some losses. This is where the foundation that the game is played on is important.

The right foundation creates stability. The house of cards needs a base that is stable, sturdy, and level so that the house doesn't start out doomed. The sticks that hold the marbles are threaded through a foundation that keeps them firmly in place until they are pulled by the players. As we stack our cards and pull our sticks of life, if we have taken ownership of our foundation, we are in a better place to have our structures hold strong. Even more important, if our structures do fall, then we have a firm place to rebuild from.

In Fortyness, we must own our foundations - maintain them and repair them when needed. This part of the game is not dependent on any other player but ourselves. With the proper care, we can keep the foundation strong and buildable as we play and replay the game of life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fortyness - Finding Community

Fortyness is a time when we need community.

Throughout the other decades in our life, most of us have had some sort of automatic involvement with a community just by the mere fact that we are around people that have a shared interest with us. In our childhood, we had schoolyard and neighborhood friends that were our in-group simply because of our closeness to one another. In our teens, our bus mates, classmates and lunch buddies gave us a sense of belonging. In our twenties, workmates, other playgroup moms and dads, and even our parents (yes, we realized how much they REALLY knew) became our confidants and cohorts as we navigated our way in the world. In our thirties, our children became the axis of our community as we taxied to sports games, school commitments, the school pick up line, and the multitude of kid related activities that dominated our lives and schedules. We had a built in support system - or at least a common ground with groups of others that could in some respect understand what our day to day existence entailed, and often walk the tough roads with us.

Then comes Fortyness....... and it is very different.

Although every decade, and day for that matter, brings change , this one brings some challenge. Our sense of community and belonging takes on a different shape as our roles and connections that are automatic with those roles change. Relationships morph and reshape, along with our attachments. Some that were close become distant. Some that were steady and strong suddenly disappear as the reality of mortality reminds us that we really are destructible. Our children grow and go. Our jobs, mates and tangible belongings that once defined and created a temporary dwelling place for us to have community, no longer are enough. We find ourselves like the one helium balloon that has broken loose - seeing that there is a place for us, but drifting and floating not quite knowing how to find our way back to the bunch.

In Fortyness, we must be bold. We must go out and find community, make community or open a space for someone like us that is feeling the same way - so that they may have community. We can't wait for it to come to us - because it won't. We must be intentional about it, reaching out to and for others. The things and others that have been a part of us have shaped our expectations of commonness. But by opening our eyes, hearts, and mind to all the possibilities of connection with others, we will develop a place of support, connection and fellowship.

In Fortyness, we don't have to be that drifting balloon. We will find community, giving us a safe place to navigate this road in life.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fortyness - Walking a Mile in Their Shoes 2011

I have three beautiful Baby Hats, A,B, and C. They were precious baby girls that are now turning into amazing young women. Am am in awe everyday of who they are and what they are becoming. They truly make a difference in the world, each in their own way. I couldn't be more proud of them.

Being a woman I have always felt like I had an advantage raising girls. I know that many of the things that they will experience will be the same things that I experienced growing up. Heartbreaks, hormones, homework - I can relate. Friendships, fearing the future, feeling awkward at times - I've been there. Sadness, success, silliness of being a teenager - this mom has lived that too. I understand the intricacies and bonds surrounding growing up with sisters. I know the insecurities, the joys, the quirkiness and challenges of growing from a girl into a woman.

I know my babies intimately. I know their hearts.

However, as well as I know them, I know there is much that I don't know about them. They may not reveal every fear, every joy, every interest, or every concern to me. My desire in my fortyness is to know them even more. I want to know them more to help them navigate the roads that lie ahead of them in life. Even though I have traveled them, their own experiences change the terrain. In order to guide or even walk with them, I want to be familiar with the roadblocks, u-turns and forks that they may have to negotiate.

Last year at this time (on my birthday), I gave them each a gift of a pair of white canvas shoes and a pack of permanent markers. I asked of them to cover them with artwork that represented who they are, who they want to be, all their hopes, dreams, fears, disappointments, successes and failures. They could write words, symbols, pictures - what ever it was that gave a picture of who they think they are. Then, I asked them to give them back to me.

The shoes were my size. I wanted to be able to put them on my feet and walk a mile in their shoes, feeling who they saw themselves to be.

The photo below is what I received back from them - beautiful artwork from my beautiful daughters. I see that each one of them sees themselves as beautiful, creative, strong, smart, faithful, loving, sentimental, yet still cherishing and needing the security of the mother daughter bond we have. I am so proud of them

I am so blessed that in my fortyness, I get to walk a mile in their shoes.