Thursday, January 31, 2013

Justly Story Ch. 5: The Baker's Windows

Chapter 5:  The Baker’s Windows

by Kristen S. Sandoz


Tonight our story returns to Copper and Justly.  After Justly saved Copper from an untimely death he had to find a new place to sleep at night. Before Copper Justly slept under the outdoor oven at the Baker’s complex.  It was such a warm and dry place to nestle into, even on the coldest and wettest nights.  This clay oven was stoked every day for the baking of the finest breads in the entire kingdom (so the Baker thought) and it would therefore emit warmth long into the night.  Justly received the privilege of sleeping under the oven by cleaning the windows of the Baker’s shop.  I know you think that I am making a mistake, but I am not!  Despite being blind Justly had an excellent reputation for window washing.  How did he do it, you ask?  Well, let me tell you his secret for it is one all of us would do well to know. 


Every month Justly preformed this duty for the baker. He had heard that a window could show you what you looked like.  As he washed the windows he would imagine what he might look like in the window’s reflection.    Did he have a cleft chin or big ears?  Was his hair the color of warm sunshine or of the cool forest?  Did he look like thin string beans or thick tree trunks?  He had a hunch that he looked like thin wiry string beans but it would be nice to know for certain.  Sometime he would take to imagining what he wanted to look like.  He wanted his arms to be like the branches of a strong walnut tree.  He wanted his face to be like the rays of the sun, warm and welcoming. 


Then his thoughts would drift away from what he looked like on the outside to what he looked like on the inside.   As he meditated on this while he washed the window’s spots a magical thing happened to both Justly and the Baker’s window.  Justly was actually washing away the things inside himself that were making him spotty and unclean.  He would wash away his own desire to tell little innocent fib, or he would wash away his fear of water, or he would wash away his hatred for the boys in town who bullied him.  As those dirty spots in Justly were wiped clean so were the window’s spots with them.  All that was left was crystal cleanness. Both inside and out!


It was in this way that the windows of the Baker’s shop were cleaned each month.  What a way to start a day with self-evaluation and meditation!  The Baker was so in awe of the boy’s ability to perform this duty with such a disability that he let the boy claim the warm spot under the oven as his own.  The Baker regularly left day old bread for Justly as well, but you did not hear that from me as the Baker prided himself on his firm hand with the beggars of the community.  With Justly he had a fondness and often couldn’t resist giving him these little gifts.  He felt, too, that it was better than letting the rats or pigs have his marvelous bread.


I have gone down a rabbit trail with the Baker and his windows.  Now I will have to save Justly’s search for a new bed until next time.  In the meantime, wash a window and meditate on what the Witch Hazel tells every young person who will listen, “Handsome on the inside is handsome on the outside.”


1…Now my story is done.

2…I love you!

3…Please kiss me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sleep Problems, a Book Review, & an Ah Ha Moment

Sleep is a problem in our house.  First, Thing 3, now a year old, wakes anywhere from four to six times a night to nurse.  Thing 1 will lay awake until 10 pm waiting for his Melatonin to kick in.   My dear sweet husband often doesn’t fall asleep until 2 am thanks to a crazy work schedule, restless leg issues, and the failure of his Melatonin to do its job.  Finally, Thing 2 wakes frequently with nightmares.  All of their sleep problems become my sleep problems.  Nice.

Out of sheer desperation I recently bought an Ebook titled Ready,Set, Sleep by Malia Jacobson.  It was only $10 so I thought I had nothing to lose buying a self-published book.  I was drawn to the book because of Jacobson’s statement “that parents are regularly given outdated sleep advice laden with value judgments instead of simple, fact-based tactics that work”.  That has certainly been my experience.  She went on to say that sleep science is an emerging field where new discoveries are constantly being made that help us to understand how sleep works. 

I ended up getting a lot from this book.  I loved that there was no let them “cry it out” suggestions or admonitions that my baby is simply trying to “manipulate” me.  Which I absolutely hate!  Instead Jacobson explained how you cannot force a child to sleep you can only create an environment which supports their natural inclination to sleep.  That made a lot of sense to me.  What person doesn’t want to sleep?  It is an essential part of our survival.  Without sleep we would die.  We all get to a point where we are willing to do anything to sleep.  Why wouldn’t this be true for a baby?  Also, I feel like I’ve tried just about everything to make my children sleep and it hasn’t worked.  It has only made me feel like a major parental failure. 

In her book Ready, Set, Sleep Malia gives 50 ways you can support your child’s sleep and she educates you about sleep science along the way.  I walked away with well over $10 worth of things I could try or change in order to help my kids, and even my husband, into better sleep patterns.  Jacobson ends her book by saying if you have tried all of these tips and you have created a great sleeping environment for your child and they are still waking in the middle of the night to eat, then sorry, but your baby needs to wake up and eat.  This one piece of advice gave me some serious peace of mind. 

I realized after reading this book that I’ve fostered a major fallacy in my thinking of my role as a mother.  I am not called as a mother to “make” my boys into three honest, kind, sensitive, God-loving, strong, men.  But rather my calling is to create an environment which supports their natural inclination to be those things.  Who my boys are and who they become is not entirely my responsibility.  They have a part to play as well.  I can only support them and encourage them in the right direction and the rest is up to them.  If this is my calling I cannot fail.  Ah ha!  Thank you Malia Jacobson.
Sweet Dreams!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Review: May B. A Novel

Maybe she can?  Maybe she can’t?  That is the question that May B. has to answer for herself while stranded on the Kansas prairie alone and abandoned until Christmas.  Can she grow past her fears and insecurities and find it in herself to overcome?

May B. A Novel by Caroline Starr Rose is a true healing story.  Its raw, awkward, and uncomfortable rhythm mimics the main character. Yet the more I read it to my boys the more freely the words ebbed and flowed from me.   Just like the Kansas prairie in the 1870’s this story is sparse and simple requiring commitment to get past the first half of the book before the reward of hard work and a good story pulls you in.  The beauty of this book is the way Rose develops May B. throughout the story mirroring her internal struggle to read with her external struggle to survive.  Sometimes a bad situation often does make a person better. 

This story offered me and my boys plenty of opportunity for deeper conversation.  Its general feeling of depression disturbed me at first.  It was not the feel good story I was looking to read right after Christmas.  The author’s unusual use of prose made me worry that my boys would get frustrated trying to follow its lack luster story line.  Fortunately, by the middle of the book they were hooked!  Comments like, “those kids are being mean to her” and “I feel bad for May” showed that both of them could relate just fine to May and her struggles. 

The part I loved most about this story is that May B.’s struggle didn’t just go away at the end of the story.  What did go away was May’s lack of confidence in herself.  In the end my boys and I saw that maybe she can do some things and maybe she can’t do others but either way she was loved!   That is something I want my boys to know and understand about themselves.