If any of you are semi-self-quarintining, here’s how ours began today! One of our ‘action figure-families’ came to the country for the weekend! Will, Vika, Andrea, 6, and Nora, 3. This morning each of them created Stations for inside/outside activity. Presently, I have flopped into the folds of this chair, panting and sweating! Heart full of family fun, and body grateful to be told to sit and write!

Nora was present to demonstrate her station for each person, so we needed no written instructions. She let Mossy do just ONE and others, 5, 10, or 20! “Or you can just lie down, was also an option she gave.”

Andrea’s station was pretty strenuous! Especially the “lunge tea lunge” and the pushups!

And THEN there appeared on one wall, running around the house! I think our dog Atticus accompanied each person!

Will’s Stations was a country version of athletes ‘running the stadium steps’. Fortunately our deck steps are a much smaller number.

Vika’s station calls forth a different set of muscles for those of us who had them!

Mossy introduced Rumi’s ‘twirling’. Five one way. Five the other. And then bow.

Granddad’s station included, “play something on the piano” and “bounce the ball on the saggy net racket.”

Hmmm…so now I feel a dry cough, and shortness of breath! Should I top it off with a trip to urgent care? Or just a delicious lunch?

Storytime II: Big Brother Bliss! Beijing & Beyond!

My Favorite Image from China!

I love all the memories that this image brings to the fore in my heart! Actually this photo is of our son John and his son Joe (4) walking in the city streets of HongKong. It is similar to many moments I recall as the two of them walked around Beijing, or on the Great Wall, and at the huge train station where we boarded an 11 hour high speed (300+mph) train to Zhuhai on the southern China coast where Catherine’s parents and sister’s family live.

THIS is the image of two Master Storytellers on the move! Joe was always saying to his dad, “Tell me a story, Daddya!” And John would begin………. but that was ALL he had to do! for Joe would quickly be right in step with him, taking the story to peaks way beyond even where his Daddya could conceive. John, for example, might say (I’m making this one up because I can’t remember their complicated stories!) something like…”and then, and then! Bruce Wayne met Peter Parker for the first time…” Joe would excitedly interrupt! “No! No! he went to see Clark Kent first, since, since Batman and Superman were best friends!” Thus a Collaborative Adventure along the streets of China would begin! They could walk for hours!!!! Joe never got bored or tired as long as he was in the middle of a Super Story!

Another Image Etched in My Heart

Even waiting at intersections to cross safely or for a double-decker bus taxi, provided moments to reflect, recharge, and ruminate on their thickening plots! Joe’s default waiting position was to sit on his Daddy’s foot. Joe and John are definitely Avid Adventure Architects and their tales are so much taller than any of China’s tallest buildings! And believe me, we experienced quite the tall ones!

Superman WORKS OUT on THESE Buildings!

Joe brings so many experiences and images to the stories I read to him each of my evenings! He starts his day saying, “Mossy! Granddad! Read me a story!…..Read aNOTHER story!…” and so we do!

For those of you who ‘really know me’ and my quirky ways! You KNOW that it’s hard for me to do the same thing over and over, to follow a schedule, to follow a discipline. Though I DO have a strong belief about keeping my word to others and especially to others who are children. There have been nights (now, with daylight savings time, 8pm our time and 8 am on the China side of the world) when Alex and I have shared the time, especially when I was having coughing fits. Thankfully, I married the most disciplined, consistent man in the world!

Storybook Skyscraper

So stories march on! Night by night! And the more we do it, the more Joe loves it! We keep a pile of the books we’ve read, some more than once! And it is approaching becoming a tall ‘book building’ itself! Don’t get me wrong, he’s not just sitting starry-eyed gazing on just the pages of the book! He does that in ADDITION to multi-tasking. His days are full and he has much to do even if it is all inside! He’s working on his lego characters, or perfecting his sword moves or scrunching his brow to not miss a single image from the story across time zones, miles and wires. Even if it seems like he’s busy with something else, he’s taking it all in….and incorporating all into his amazing network of neurons!

These ‘book buildings’ are cropping up all over the place as other cousins get into these story adventures with Joe! Andrea and Nora could have read fed me more books to read if my voice hadn’t given out! When we are in Charlotte, spending time with Oliver (7) and Finley (4), we still get our call from Joe! Storytime spans the miles!

Masks & Mosses of Bold Resilience

John Gordon, reading children’s book, “My Mask,” written by Nathan Jones

Bold resilience we HAVE. It’s a part of our DNA and actually keeps us evolving enough to take on the changes and challenges of our world. We never know our real strengths until we are put in positions where we need to use them. These boldest parts of ourselves are hidden, even to us, until we need them. Those in China and elsewhere who are quarantined or self- quarantining for the good of ALL, are BOLD and definitely RESILIENT.

Among dictionary definitions I would choose “beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.” Such undaunting boldness is not going ‘out there’ but courageously staying ‘in there’ and sometimes even behind a mask. I often listen to my son John on a site he uses to connect with thousands of people in China who are wanting to practice their English. For me, it is a way to hear my grown son’s voice and continue to learn from him. After all, he and all my children have been my best teachers. The audio this time is of John, reading a children’s book written by another bold, resilient man in China. He, perhaps even more intensely than John’s family, is dealing with quarantining, masking and using other precautions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Nathan Jones, the author of “My Mask” has gone “beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action” to meet these challenges and to help his daughter and many other children emotionally and physically navigate what could be scary, uncomfortable times.

In such moments, we each are often abruptly nudged to bring forth our individual and often unique gifts of awareness and creativity for the good of those around us! It’s a form of Bold Compassion. I am in awe of those who are doing their part to create a caring community beyond their masks, thermometers, disinfectant sprays, and moments of discouragement and even fear. Thank you for reminding us that we too have such innate boldness to draw from in challenging times. We’re grateful for your bold resilience, compassion. You are boldly resisting the toxins in our world and creating health and learning for ALL. We send you love and encouragement in these hard times!

Moss is my model of bold resilience. It’s non-competitive and quiet about its process but always there. It blankets the earth and ALSO absorbs toxins that other life forms can’t handle. It quietly filters the worst of chemicals from the air that we breathe. We don’t even realize how much it is functioning as a mask for us and our earth.

Mosses can brave sunshine, drought, cold, floods and snows. They absorb huge amounts of water in floods, preventing far worse erosion. It renews our earth by providing a moist, soft seed bed for new plant life and animal life to begin. It can grow almost anywhere and adapts to its environment.

Not only does moss live and let live. In addition to sustaining life, it also can filter and improve the quality of our lives. Moss has even been used to soak up oil spills in oceans and rivers. In the past it has been used for diapers, sanitary napkins, dressings for wounds, and other purposes that we can’t even fathom these days.

It’s a resilient evergreen that can survive the coldest and hottest and come back from extreme dry spells. It collaborates with its lichen friends (which are not mosses) to provide warmth while the lichens are supplying natural antifreeze ingredients for reindeer and other animals. It survives in cities and even deserts and I fully trust that if we humans dare to continue destroying our planet to the point of no human inhabitance, moss will once again cooperate with algae to restart life on this earth in some form or other! We can count on its bold resilience.

I want to be like that…like the brave men, women and children in China and elsewhere who in their own heroic perseverance are showing us what bold resilience looks like. I want to be like the mosses…absorbing toxins and turning them into love and health for us all.

John Gordon, reading “My Mask” by Nathan Nelson

Story Time With Joe I

It’s been about 20 days, actually, that Joe (4 yrs), his baby brother, Alex (8 months), his mom, Catherine and Dad, John have been staying inside their 2 bedroom home on the 11th floor of their Apartment Building in Beijing. There are only a couple of cases of the Coronavirus in another building among the whole group of buildings that make up their large neighborhood. Now deliveries are only left at one of the gates which Catherine picks up at different times of the day, masked and covered for protection. They are quite resilient and patient!

For about the last week, Joe and I have been have a special story time every evening through FaceTime. It’s been quite fun! We spent alot of time reading different dragon adventures and now we’ve been reading about making maps. Tonight, their morning, we began working on placing objects on paper and making a map of his room and his mom and dad’s bathroom.

It looks like I’m having a mapmaking session only with myself, but he’s got his own paper on the other end of the phone on the other side of the world!

Here is the map Joe was making on the other side of the world . It’s of his bedroom on the other side of the world! His bed and floor are the same color, in case you’re having trouble figuring out what’s what. He really did an amazing job of getting all the furniture in the right places. I know because he let us sleep with him when we were in Beijing at the end of the summer!

It would be so awesome if we could play Harold and the Purple Crayon and draw maps to each other’s houses and airplanes to get us there!

Picture of Joe having ‘class’ with his preschool online!