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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Full Speed Ahead

Summer’s rolling, it’s cooking with gas, full speed ahead – and it has yet to ask my permission as to how I feel about that. If it did ask me, though, I’d tell summer that I’m loving it. It's fitting, in my mind at least, to compare summer to a bright yellow freight train: we’re moving full speed ahead and gaining momentum with each passing day. There’s an interesting vibe to this summer, a unique feel. It’s a disciplined, focused, and steady busyness. Only turning on my computer every 3 or 4 days (quite a feat for a college kid), is evidence that I’m bouncing from place to place perhaps a little too quickly, and a little too often. But I’m cool with that. I think that when this summer comes to a close, I’m going to find that it was exactly what I needed it to be, even if I didn’t know that in the beginning.

The Summer Flu: It seems to happen to me every year. My body’s hot all over and the heat outside just adds to the burn. Desperate times call for desperate measures. True confession: I stood in the garage, with the freezer door open, head against a loaf of frozen French bread, for longer than I'd care to admit.

A Girl’s Gotta Do What A Girl’s Gotta Do: I’ve been banned from drinking out of my normal blue reusable cups (don’t ask), and there’s something about our dark blue opaque glasses that gives me an odd vibe I can’t quite put my finger on. So, I’ve taken to drinking all liquids out of either big German beer steins or fifties diner inspired glass Coke bottles. It keeps things interesting. Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Getting Lost: Let me just tell you, I love getting lost. If I’m ever the designated navigator and you’re driving, we are most likely going to get lost. I don’t do it purposefully, but if the next turn isn’t black and white, I’ll find my own shade of gray and roll with it. I recently went to San Francisco with a friend and had our getting-lost-ness been judged, we’d have received the highest marks in all categories. We got into the city and before you could say woopsie-daisy, we were absolutely, 100% lost. After an hour of navigation help from Tom-Tom the GPS and a few strangers, we finally pulled onto Montgomery Street in the presidio of San Francisco (not to be confused with the Montgomery Street of regular San Francisco). Needless to say, a heavy dose of laughter and a sprinkling of photos to document the occasion put this adventure in my Top 5 Getting Lost Adventures. Yes, that list actually exists. 

What Up, Walt Disney: And the story continues! Surprisingly enough we did not come to the city to get lost, but to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum. Cue angel choirs and bright white lights. I highly, highly recommend this museum to anyone and highly, highly, highly recommend it to dedicated Disney fans. (!!!). Fact of the matter is, Walt Disney’s a pretty cool guy, and the museum is super detailed, and the world’s a better place because of him. So that’s that. I’ll step off of my soapbox now…but really, you should check this place out.

Celebrations: Summer celebrations have been consuming my weeks and weekends. Grad parties, sunsets at the lake, Bachelorette nights, dinners with family friends. All those good summer vibes mixing together, hot afternoon get-togethers overflowing into cool summer nights. Besides all these normal celebrations, we’ve enjoyed some very special ones here in the Hagen household. My brother came to visit before hopping over to Alaska for a conference, my Dad celebrated his birthday, and my grandparents celebrated 60 years of marriage (wowsa!). They’re 82 and as adventurous, mischievous, and funny as ever.

Epiphany of the Week: Working with kids is so, so good for me. Kids smile and laugh and they give good, strong, sometimes awkward hugs. Kids dream big dreams and expect big things from you. There’s no pretense, no low goals. They look at you with big eyes…and they trust you. Five minutes after being back at preschool on day one a girl looked at me and said, “Miss Emily, I love you!” Kids' ability to marvel over things is out of this world. Are they really excited that snack is veggie straws and water? Believe me, they will let you know it. They will eat those veggie straws like they're 5-star kiddie caviar. This honest vulnerability and joy seems to steadily decline into adulthood unless we fight for it.
Most of the time, it seems to me, adults don’t want the world to know how they are really feeling. So they build up these big walls, creating a glass ceiling that very few people are allowed to pass by. You see kids, they don’t have that glass ceiling. It’s pretty obvious how their day is going because they are poignantly truthful. This can translate into (1) giggles, smiles, hugs, constant questions, and “Miss Emily can I sit in your lap?” or “Miss Emily, look at my airplane!” or (2) dramatic tears and tattling because so-and-so took their toy. I’m not saying that it’s a good idea for grown adults to meltdown multiple times a day, but there is definitely a lesson we can pull from here. Kids aren’t afraid to love. Kids are honest and full of joy. They are experts at living in the moment and living true to their feelings. And most importantly, they have grand expectations of life and of other people.

Working with kids is really good for me because they remind me to step out and be honest and real with myself and with others. A big part of my personality is my sweetness and smile, but there’s an outgoing, Emily-with-no-filter, who says a combination of very strange, very blonde, and very na├»ve things, that few people witness. I’m an introvert, that’s just who I am, and that's never going to change. But the world could use a little more exuberance. It could use my joy and my smile, even if only a few people see and especially if it puts me out of my comfort zone.

Just some food for thought. My mind’s a turnin’ on this Sunday afternoon.

Here’s to kids, and the beauty of their raw, real joy, and the gratitude that can come from spending time with some of life’s tiniest and greatest teachers. Because when you see life through a lens of gratitude and childlike joy, there’s not much left to complain about.