Archive for February, 2010


strange and a little judgemental

I go to the gym in the morning. Pretty early. Usually I go to a class, but today I simply went to run my 6am worries off on the treadmill. I belong to a fantastic gym. I find that they have the one important amenity that I look for when running on the mundane old treadmill. On every treadmill there is a mounted flat screen tv. Not state of the art, but very nice when you are literally running on a wheel. I always listen to my ipod and then watch something without the sound… usually ESPN or CNN. The point is I listen and watch. It’s difficult for me not to scan the treadmills alongside of me to see what people are watching. It is one of those things I love; a real study in people and their tastes. It is often surprising to see the 60 year old guy next to me huffing along to Lady Gaga on VH1 or the older woman in front of me predictably chose to watch the Lifetime movie (6am nonetheless) and then there are those that subsist on the History Channel. I understand all of those choices. And usually they listen the audio with these choices, which once again, provokes no judgement from me. I get it. But today I was running alongside a young woman just about my age, she appeared to be married, and she also was running. She appeared normal. But when I looked at her screen, I really was perplexed. 6 am. Running. Audio and all. She was watching Spongebob Squarepants. I thought that possibly she had flipped there for a moment by accident. But 20 minutes later she was running along still watching Spongebob Squarepants. I did judge a little. But more than anything, I just thought it was the weirdest thing ever. I had a hard time not turning to the same channel to see if it was like some hidden important news report taped to SpongeBob clips. But more than anything, I wanted to talk to this girl. She must have been fairly interesting. OR maybe a little like a middle school boy. Kidding. But it made me laugh and I was wondering if any of you ever watched Spongebob by choice… or if she is the only one.



sorry to all my friends who live a little farther up, but I am freezing down in Texas. I am ready for some sunshine, swimsuits, and humidity. Just thinking it. There’s nothing much deeper than that swirling in my mind at the moment.



I’m not sure where to start with this one. Honestly, my life has been filled with a fair amount of internal conflict over these issues for as long as I can remember. Let me start with this… 

From a very young age, I was told I could do anything I wanted to, as long as I set my mind to it.

I believed that, and I still do, absolutely, I believe that.

At age 7 I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, at age 8 I wanted to study monkeys, at age 9 I wanted to be an author, at age 10 I wanted to work at Sea World, at age 11 I wanted to be a singer, at age 12 I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, at age 13 I wanted to be a lawyer, at age 14 I wanted to be in the Navy, at age 15 I wanted to be a historian, at age 16 I wanted to be a doctor, at age 17 I wanted to make it our of high school, and at age 18 I started to wonder if I really had the choices I thought I did all these years.

You see, I realized I was a girl.

Somewhere along the way, I came to the realization that I wasn’t just a person.

I was never a girly girl. I did not even dress like a girl. I usually had short hair. I sometimes even got confused for a boy up until the age of about 11, when I grew my hair out – finally.

And as I meandered the path of androgynous dreams, I always believed I was capable of all things.

There were never any thoughts in the back of my mind that stopped me from believing in all my options in life. I’m not sure I ever saw myself as a wife or a mother until I began to mature and be interested in boys.

But as I began to navigate the hallways of life, filled with different girls and boys, girls who had grown up with babies in their little carriages, and boys who had grown up loving the princess, I began to question what I had believed all along.

Was it really true? 

Could I really be capable enough to do anything I wanted?

You see, I began to want more than my dreams…

I began to want to be someone else’s dream. I wanted to be beautiful in someone else’s eyes.

But, you see I had never practiced being beautiful. I had never dressed up as a princess, I dressed up like a ninja, or the President, or a magician – none of which were known for their beauty.

I was lost in a world of the unfamiliar. Frankly, sometimes I still am. In the world of fashion and make up and manners and mommies, I am one of those that often does not know what to do, what to say, or how to act.

I am a wife and a mother and a woman, but you see, those things rarely define me more than this:

I am Ellen.

I still move to that place of believing that anything is possible with anyone.

But, you see, I am here, hitting these keys next to a young lady who is a princess and a mommy and a girl. She cleans and cooks and mothers and shops and primps and accessorizes more today than I did  in the last year. And I find myself not knowing what to do.

Does this mean that she will rule out some of her dreams in this world?

Does this mean that she will be more practiced in the art of being beautiful?

Does this mean that she is so different from me that as a teenager I will not understand her?

Does this mean that later in life she will remember that she was meant to be princess?

I really don’t know what all of this means at all.

I just know that I have been thinking alot about the importance of being a girl. Is it something that we should teach? Is it something we should allow to shape itself? 

Do we need to teach girls how to be girls? Or does teaching a girl to be a girl somehow tarnish some of the possible dreams she might hold for herself in the future? 

I don’t know. I really don’t. I would love to know what some of you think.

As for now, I am going to be girly self and I am going to let my little one be her girly self – both of us different – but both of us girls.


one of those things I love

One of my favorite things about my children at this stage in their lives is that they love one another. So much so, that every morning, when she awakes, Summer does not call for mommy or daddy, but every morning she squeals, “Ben! Ben! Ben!” This is one of those things I don’t want to forget about this time in our lives.

By the way, as soon as he runs to her room they proceed to begin their search and rescue mission for as many random objects as they can stuff into a bag. They are BAG people. Particularly Summer; she is the BAG LADY. She puts as many random items into one bag as possible and then proceeds to carry that bag everywhere she goes in the day. Not always the most convenient accessory. Yesterday, I pulled out of her bag: about 32 mismatched puzzle pieces, 3 markers, 2 stuffed animals, a teapot, about 40 rubber bands, several ritz crackers, a tube of my lipstick, and a teapot.

That is what these kids love right now, hoarding and packing. Hmmmm…. I’ll have to figure out where they picked up on that.


not my story

IF you don’t know the story, just read the post from about few weeks ago below, or visit their site at

I can only imagine how it will be when we all arrive HOME one day.


the things we don’t know

How hard is someone else’s life?

How difficult is it for them to fall asleep at night as the cares of the day fall to the ground?

How much work is it to rise from bed and sense the weight of their mission in life?

How tough is it not to screw up?

How many times do they wonder if any one cares or knows about their life, their story?

How often do they wish they could receive a heartfelt embrace simply because they are loved?

Stepping back from my day today, I know one thing. Some peoples lives are more difficult than can be imagined. A young man sat in my class today. He is a bright and kind young man, a boy who is still learning English. He is quick to speak, but slow to write. He fears that his weaknesses will keep him from completing his tasks well. He lacks confidence in this. He is one of my favorites. After class today we spoke of his weaknesses. We spoke of his family. He wants to make his family proud. As the conversation was winding down, I looked closely at this young man. His eyes were filled with tears. As I knew before we began talking, his family is not here. They are in his home country. He lives with a friend of the family, he and his sister. He is fourteen, away from his home, living with someone who is not his mother and someone who is not his father. His family is looking to him to leave a legacy. It is a legacy that begins alone, in a strange country, speaking a strange language, in a home that is not filled with those who know and love him best.

Some people’s lives are more difficult than we can imagine.

Books that made an impact

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