kariskhaos


“See Ya”

He hugs me with his large hard arms and chiseled body, “See Ya.” I hold on just a second more, smile and watch him walk away.  I go back to my car that is still running, with Gus my dog now sitting in the front where John was. My stomach has nervous butterflies as  I slide into the driver’s seat.  I take a deep breath and say a quick prayer of safety for him.  I pull out of the departures drop off and weave my way back into the traffic flow.

My head is full of contrasting thoughts warring within my mind.  What kind of mother are you to leave him at the door of the airport? He is legally blind, what if he misses his flight? What if he gets lost?  Are you really letting him travel across the country without even a cell phone? He has always wanted to be independent.  He is very capable and if he cant do this how will he go to college in a year?  It’s John, he is proud and strong and will ask if he needs help. He has all he needs and he will text me, no worries, no worries.  What the hell was I thinking? What if he gets kidnapped, or off at the wrong place or … be serious Kari he is a sixteen year old, black male, who looks like an ox and has forearms the size of your thigh and thighs the size of a small horse, let it go.

John is off to Baltimore to join about fifty other blind and legally blind students from across the country for a program sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). STEMX which is:

Science, technology, engineering, and math to the extreme!

The following is an excerpt from the web site:

“The “X” in the program’s title draws inspiration from the aerospace community, where historically programs and missions have utilized the letter as an abbreviation for exploration, and as a statement that the effort seeks new solutions and new discoveries that surpass previously assumed barriers to scientific advancement. In this same way, the NFB STEM-X program challenges the notion that blind people are unable to pursue STEM fields, or on a larger scale, are predestined to a life of social welfare and government dependence.

Students will choose from one of five focus disciplines (chemistry, computer science, engineering, robotics, and space science) in which to specialize during NFB STEM-X. Students will spend half of each of the four instructional days engaged in their focus discipline, learning alongside fellow high school students with blind and sighted STEM professionals as their guides. All five focus disciplines will work collaboratively throughout the program, capitalizing on each other’s specialization to innovate creative solutions to complex problems.

Outside of their work in their focus discipline, students will have the opportunity to participate in enrichment activities that will provide them with authentic learning experiences in a wider variety of STEM disciplines. Evenings will be filled with activities that will help students develop their leadership skills and build their confidence while having fun and socializing with blind teens from across the country.”

This is an incredible culmination of twelve years of blood, sweat and tears for our family.  John has not been the poster child for adoption.  He has had a very difficult life and our journey with him has been far from easy.  His anger issues, post traumatic stress,  attachment disorder, stubbornness, on top of his vision issues are well documented, but his intelligence, sense of humor, determination, fearless attitude have made it possible for us to come to this point.

In choosing to apply for this opportunity he needed to admit he was legally blind, be willing to be with other blind students and acknowledge his need for help to make it happen. In a series of small miracles over the last five months everything fell into place.  In a rare moment of candid conversation before he left I heard words I never thought I would.  John called me “mom” for the first time in years and thanked me for all the work I had done to make this a possibility.

I drove over the mountains figuratively, and literally, with a renewed hope for our family and the world that is opening up to embrace our son John.

Advertisements


Soul restoration

I come to the sea to breathe. I come to the island, my island to restore my soul. It has always been this way. My life off the island is filled with good things, four kids, an incredible husband, friends, work, and a color coded calendar. It is crazy, busy, chaotic, stressful, satisfying and non stop. My island is my oasis, it my gift to me, it is the one place I completely relax. A favorite theologian of my husbands, Dietrich Bonehoeffer once said “My time with others prepares me for my time alone, and my time alone prepares me for my time with others.” The Island gives me the strength, courage and restoration that allows the life that I lead off island to be possible.

I have never come to the island alone, various amounts of family, friends and pets accompany me here. It is a small cabin, one bathroom, two bedrooms and a large deck. It is enough and I never feel crowded or claustrophobic. Island time is slower. Island life is a step back in time from all the communication breakthroughs, the social media, the constant background noise of a tv or computer or PS3. It is life unplugged by choice.

I have heard experts say you need time for yourself everyday, and though I know this is true to an extent, my life does not lend itself to this. My non island life is a whirlwind from the moment I get up to the time I hit the pillow once more. It is filled with teenagers, sporting events that need team dinners, stinky laundry washed, meal after meal made, a quick walk with the dog and then off to other wonderful, very necessary appointments and so the days go. It is a very fulfilling life, I really like my life, but I could not manage this pace, this frenzied atmosphere of 110 miles per hour if I did not get my island break.

Escape is not easy. Juggling the kids summer camp schedules, work, time with family and other obligations try to claw and plead and work on my sense of responsibility and prey on my need to please others. This year was especially hard. Two of my sons have full time jobs for the summer. They would not be coming with me to the island for the first time in 12 years. My best friend’s oldest son is getting married in Bend with lots of drama and the pull to stay and help and support Jen was strong. The hardest part by far this year, was leaving my husband who after eighteen months of living away from us during the week was finally home with a new job that started the week I left for the island.

A younger me, would have changed her plans. She would have given in to the belief that she was so important she must stay. A younger me would push herself to be everything for everyone and do it with a smile. A younger me would need the ego stroking accolades that would come from sacrificing my plans to serve others. It’s not like a summer in Bend, Oregon is a hardship, spending time with my husband and best friend is not difficult, or a burden. It would have been fine, but the older me is wiser now.

I chose me, I chose from a menu of good things, the best one for me. My understanding of this need is ultimately my gift to others for it allows me to have a reservoir of mental health and strength to give the rest of the year. I come to the sea to breathe. I come to the island to restore my soul.

20130715-155828.jpg



The circle of life

Sitting at a small cafe, drinking my late after finishing the most delicious, buttery decadent croissant I have had in years, I am trying to find my bearings as I start this new day. I have traveled many miles to get here, both physically and emotionally. I am philosophical, and a bit pensive this morning. Isaac, my first born son and the miracle of my womb is still sleeping back at the motel. We are here to visit his number one college choice Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo, California.

The bakery bustles with activity, the girls behind the counter are very peppy and seem to enjoy being here. Mom’s and babies, college kids, tourists, and an eclectic mix of older women ooh and awe over the delicious and beautiful choices displayed before them. An older gentleman sings his greeting in a deep and beautiful operatic voice and no one seems a bit surprised. I like it here.

I sip my coffee and reflect on the days when I was that college student, that mom of a toddler, and see my self in the funny old lady whose hat is jauntily sitting on her bed of grey hair. It is as the great writers of Disney put it “The circle of life”. I get up to leave and wake up my almost 18 year old son, and some of the butterfly’s in my stomach fly away.

20121004-145429.jpg



Fill in the blank Friday Johnson style, miscellaneous

20120728-001253.jpg
<br /

Continue reading



Day eighteen, the last night

20120726-234531.jpg

20120726-234407.jpg

Sunshine warms my face, and Gus sleeps at my feet as I enjoy the breakfast/ lunch that Christian made for me. I slept in for the first morning of my time here, and had no agenda for the day. Christian had asked that we go to a beach since we have spent all our time working on the cabin. John wanted to work a few more hours on the property so the rest us took off for Bennett Bay. The boys and Gus venture down the beach to rock hop and climb to the end of the bay. Jessie, her friend Jas, and I sat down to soak up the sun.

It was hard to believe that this is my last full day on the island. I am so thankful for the time here, and the house is looking great. I created a little vignette of my grandmothers hats, purses, gloves and jewelry in honor of her amazing collection. I have loved seeing my children invest in the house that was built by their great grandparents. I am so proud of their hard work, and how their investment will pay off for future generations of our family.

We ventured down to jump off the dock, and even though Isaac and John did not jump, we all walked together down the hill and onto the dock. It is moments like this that I treasure. I etch the moment in my heart, and know that I will be able to recall this feeling, this smell, this special time in the future.

We end the night at the lighthouse. A beautiful sunset, a baby seal barking out to his mamma, and the waves slapping the shore. This is a perfect day, a beautiful night and fitting end to my special time on my special island.

20120726-234340.jpg

20120726-234354.jpg

20120726-234442.jpg

20120726-234545.jpg

20120726-234649.jpg



Whimsical Wednesday: A Day Off

20120725-193125.jpg

Whimsical Wednesday: A Day Off

The Sun woke me earlier than I had hoped this morning but it is hard to complain about sunshine. I had arranged to meet my friend Kim at the bakery, and then we would hike Mt. Parke. I was ready for a break, needed to be away from the kids and be out of the house. Gus and I walked down to the bakery, I grabbed a pastry and sat outside. Kim is a wonderful woman I met on the island about ten years ago when our kids were all in a day camp the island had. Her daughter Jas is Isaac’s age, but Jessie and she bonded and became fast friends.

Now when I come to the island she is someone I seek out. We walk and talk and have a friendship built on intimate moments together in a short time, while we are both on island. They have just finished building their home out by the light house and it is beautiful. Kim and her family live in a suburb of Vancouver and also ‘Summer’ on Mayne. It has been a wonderful to have a friend and kindred spirit on the island to look forward to seeing.

We loaded Gus into her car and drove to the trail head. This particular climb brings you to the top of the island and the views are incredible. It is always a must do on my list when we come to the island, and the chance to hike, spend time with a dear friend, exercise, and get space from my wonderful children was just what I needed. We caught up on each others year, shared our hearts, moaned about getting older, having teenagers and finding time for ourselves. It was perfect.

The view from the top is breathtaking. You look out over the water to other islands, ferries, and other boat traffic, mountains in the far distance, and eagles soaring below you. It is hard for me to believe that there is anything any more beautiful anywhere on earth. We finished the hike, and had a wonderful lunch on her deck. Life is good and a day off is just what the doctor ordered.

20120725-193117.jpg

20120725-193109.jpg

20120725-193056.jpg

20120725-193049.jpg

20120725-193027.jpg



Day sixteen on my island, contemplative

20120724-222638.jpg

20120724-222706.jpg

The sun sets on day sixteen over the island. A lone seal swims as a sliver of the moon rises. The water is rougher than usual, but the sun set one of the most beautiful. Today is the first day I have been seriously annoyed and ready for a break from my kids. Isaac especially. That is a pretty good record for us. We have been living, working, and playing together for over two weeks and today is the first I have raised my voice in pure annoyance.

Isaac, who loves to push all of our buttons has been relatively calm and amiable. He has been a hard worker and fun to play cards, and other games with. Today he reached his limit at the same exact time I reached mine. This is not a good thing. Fireworks fly as we both express our isolation frustration.

The majority of the projects are done, my dad told me the house and property look the best they have since my grandparents were alive, and living here on the island. Jessie and I finished our four-year sea glass mosaic project, and the sun which had been hiding for a few days, came out again.

Time seems to be catching up with me and I am tired tonight. I think about turning 45 next week, and for the first time ever I have mixed emotions about my birthday. I will have finished my goal of blogging everyday for a year, and our oldest son will be a senior in high school. I will be halfway to 90. This must be Isaac’s fault because my brain is in a negative space and he has been ornery today. That is one of the good things about having kids, there is always someone to blame.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I will spending time away from my kids, going for my favorite hike with a special island friend who I connect with once a year. We will catch up on each others lives, laugh, and enjoy the best view of the whole island. Maybe from the top of the island I will gain perspective, and find a new goal. Tonight I will fall asleep to the lullaby of ferry boats and the promise of another day.

” />

20120724-222618.jpg

20120724-222610.jpg

20120724-222554.jpg

20120724-222533.jpg