I love your kind heart, and your stubborn streak.

I love how you look after you first wake up — red cheeked, eyes squinted against the light.

I love how your voice shows the wear of the day.

I love that you want desperately to do things on your own. And yet still want my help.

I love when you snuggle, and lay your head in my lap.

I love that you always want more choices.

I love that you test your limits. And mine.

I love that I couldn’t have known who you would be, and yet here you are, and I couldn’t be prouder.

I love your love of puzzles, in any form, at any time of day.

I love how happy lollipops make you.

I love that you try to figure out the lyrics of songs, and often do (though that Stornoway lyric is actually “Here comes the blackOUT,” not “Here comes the black cow,” but whatever, you’ll find out soon enough that songs are what you make of them.)

I love that you have an apparently limitless capacity to hear “London Bridge is Falling Down.”

I love that you can recognize Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, The Rolling Stones, Andrew Bird, Orchestra Baobob, Cat Power, Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, and Stornoway — within a few notes. And that you tell us which one you want to listen to at night. And that Stornoway is your favorite. For now.

I love that sometimes, but only sometimes, you let me sing to you.

I love how much you love strawberries.

I love how you hug.

I love that you know which hat you want to wear in the morning.

I love that you want your Halloween pumpkin and Easter basket all year long.

I love that you remember the North End feasts, and can’t wait for them to come back.

I love that having you changed me forever. And forced me to let go.

I love that you look like you. Not me. Not Daddy.

I love that yellow is your favorite color.

I love how you say “Peter.”

I love that I’m Mommy, Mama, and Mom — depending on your mood.

I love how excited you are about the mixer.

I love how your eyebrows reveal everything.

I love how you experiment with words, and phrases (though my favorite, and not by a little, is still: “Well, hello lovelies, how did you get here?”).

I love how everyone seems to know you.

I love how much you love books.

I love that you love to explore, and at the same time, are perfectly happy to just sit and figure something out. Except when you aren’t.

I love that you have a hard time waking up in the morning.

I love that your impatience is a perfect mimic of mine — and that you’ll learn, too, just how much trouble that’ll get you.

I love that you’ve discovered Oreos. And make up songs about them.

I love that, every day, you make me glad you’re here.

I love watching you learn.

I love how much you love to help.

I love how you make people smile.

I love that you’ll keep yourself awake to hear the song you want to hear (and that, as a result, we had to learn to reorder songs on albums so you’d go to sleep sooner).

I love how you deeply you feel, and care.

I love watching you grow.

I love that you’re three, and in your head, that means that you’ll now eat all the things you won’t eat. But trust me, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

I love that, somehow and for some reason, you’re the first son I was blessed enough to have. And that you teach me as much as I teach you.

I love you — who you are, and who’ll you be.

Happy birthday.


7 March 2011 5 comments

The Monsters in Our Maps

7 March 2011 · 5 comments

in Uncategorized

The plans we make for ourselves are maps. And they’re flawed.

Think about it: when we make a plan, we’re taking reality as we see and experience it and trying to draw a path to a future, an idea, we can only guess at. We’re making a plan for what we (think we) want to do, to get a result we (think we) want.

But there are goals, and then there’s reality. Reality is what actually happens, not what we hope does. Yes, that’s obvious, but it’s a fact we tend to ignore.

All maps are flawed. They have to be — because every map is a representation, a projection, a two-dimensional interpretation of a three-dimensional thing. That conversion from one set of dimensions to another means that something will be — has to be — distorted, out of scale. (That’s why most of us grew up thinking Greenland could take Canada in a back alley fight….)

When we make our own maps, we, too, need to be aware of what we distort. But most of us are terrible judges of our own reality, and thus the maps we draw ourselves are suspect.

We get blinded by what we wish were true — about ourselves, about life. We get blinded by aspiration. By desire. Even by reputation.

But distortion isn’t the only danger lurking in the plans we make. There’s another: omission. What our maps lack.

When making a map, cartographers need to be as thoughtful about what they leave out as what they put in — because usually it’s what’s not on a map (the one-way street, the new building) that gets us in trouble.

So, too, it’s what’s not on our mental maps — the realities we haven’t planned for, or refuse to see — that get in the way of our goals. We forget to plan for past behavior and the force of habit. We forget to plan for our mental health, for our need to have unscheduled time. We forget we want to keep up a behavior for life, which makes the level of change we’ve laid out unrealistic, unsustainable.

We also forget there are some things in life that can never be planned: a chance meeting, an unexpected reaction, an unrealized passion suddenly found.

So the next time you’re making a map, or making plans, or setting goals, look — really look — for those monsters. Look for the things you don’t see, or rather, don’t want to see. Seek to disconfirm what you believe to be true. Look for the things that get in your way, for the things that have failed you in the past.

And realize that no plan can cover everything. No map is perfect.

But neither are we.


1 March 2011

Waiting for Superman

I have a couple of policies: 1. No regrets. We make the best choices we’re capable of making at the time we make them. And even if we don’t, we can’t go back and unmake them. So I figure: just get over it. Learn, yes. But move on. 2. Direct answers to direct questions. Only […]

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17 December 2010

Looking for me?

Apparently my last post here was in June. It’s December. Eh.Time flies. I’ve been doing the majority of my blogging at BrassTackThinking.com and at ‘Round the Square over on Sametz.com. But stay tuned… I’ve got something new in the works. A little something I call Personal Cartography (still under construction).

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4 June 2010

Lessons in control

A wise friend reminded me recently that the universe has a way of making sure you learn the lessons it wants to teach you. Two years ago, I had a baby. He was breech, which meant I had to have a c-section (I had wanted to have a hypnobirth). He didn’t gain weight, so I […]

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27 April 2010

Fighting fire

I got angry today. Really, really angry. I didn’t used to know what to do with anger, so I stuffed it down, closed it off. But you do great damage to yourself—mentally, physically, and emotionally—by trying to bury what you feel. I’ve done it. I know. Anger needs air to flare…and to die. It needs to […]

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19 April 2010

Who are we to judge?

Juror #3. When you walk in for jury duty and they hand you #3, you know you’re in for it, whether or not you’re eight and half months pregnant. But there I was. Juror #3. I’ve spent much of my adult life working to remove judgment from my outlook. I’ve had to. You don’t spend […]

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29 March 2010

What do you expect?

Ah, expectations. We have them. We set them. We manage them. But they’re really just little time bombs of judgment, ticking away, waiting to explode. You can’t “set” others expectations (though we try to all the time). People set their own expectations. Nor can you manage others’ expectations, even if they try to convince you that […]

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26 March 2010

Stop looking for motivation

“I want to get this [insert project or goal here] done. But I haven’t felt motivated yet.” A lot of us wait around for motivation to come. We end up waiting a long time. The problem is motivation isn’t a cause—it’s an effect. And, like momentum (also an effect), it can serve to keep things […]

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25 March 2010

Low-tech listening

In social media, “listening” as a term is fast-approaching overuse to the point of obsolescence. Yes, we need to listen (and watch). Yes there are all sorts of very cool tools to help you do that. But the best tool? Your own ears. (And eyes.) Next time you need to prove to someone the value […]

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