Why Do We Walk on a Hot Summer Day

why do we walk on a hot summer day - www.alliepottswrites.comI went for a walk the other day.

It was hot, even by my southern standards. The mercury proclaimed the temperature to be somewhere in the mid-nineties. The density of sweat on the back of my neck suggested it was closer to triple digits (or thirty-seven for those who’ve long since abandoned the imperial system).

My children walked next to me until my youngest complained once too many that his feet were tired and was scooped up to be carried by his father. We still had at a mile or so to go.

Finally, we reached our destination. At least I thought it was our destination based on the number of people milling around. I honestly didn’t know.

I’d never gone on a walk like this before.

We lingered as more joined us in the square – bodies pressed together in the limited bits of shadow. Although there was insufficient protection from the morning sun, groups of people climbed up on planters, holding up cameras and snapping pictures of the view. More people arrived. Some shouted, some cheered, while others looked – much as I imagined we must have looked – confused and more than a little out of our depths.

My eldest son’s skin reddened as minutes ticked by. I handed him our single water bottle, encouraging him to drink. He looked up at me and asked for the tenth time that morning, “why are we doing this again?”

I glanced around, keenly aware that more than a few ears might hear what I had to say. “We’re here because this is one way to tell the people who make decisions that we think that certain things aren’t okay.”

“Oh,” he said. “Do you think they’ll listen?”

I looked at my son, who is now almost tall enough to meet my eye. I looked over his shoulder at the group of people holding up posters with witty, yet all too ignorable slogans. I listened to the shouts, some leaning more to the uncomfortable extreme. I looked into my son’s eyes once more. “No, sweetie,” I replied after some internal debate and a deep sigh. “I don’t.”

“Then why are we here?” he asked once more, taking another sip of water.

“Because I couldn’t stay away.”

I considered saying more, but then a siren sounded, a police car moved, and we were underway.

My son reached out and grabbed my hand as the crowd clumped and moved. “I don’t want to lose you,” he said.

I smiled, treasuring the moment in spite of the heat. “I don’t want to lose you either.”

We walked together that way – hand in hand – as a drum continued to play and pockets of individuals restarted their chanting refrains. My palms sweat, clutched so tightly by his, but he let go only to take another sip of water.

While we walked, he’d ask me questions, prompted in some part by the signs he read, which I did my best to answer as objectively as I could, considering the reason we’d left the comfort of our air-conditioned house that day. I wondered along the way if I was making any sense. I worried about how he’d taken my pessimism earlier.

A couple of days later the news showed a mother and daughter hugging each other. My son who’d been playing with his brother at the time looked up at me and smiled. “It worked, Mom. We did that.”

Technically, we hadn’t.

Aside from the fact that meeting of mother and daughter had been set up days to a week or so before, our particular contribution had barely registered as a blip on the news – overshadowed or outshone by bigger stories of the day. But as far as my son was concerned, that hug on the screen was his hug. He returned to his play, proud in the belief he’d made a difference in someone’s life that day.

Maybe he didn’t, but maybe he will.

Maybe someday he’ll go out there and truly make an impact, building on this experience, bolstered by the idea that we can make the world a little better even when it seems impossible. And all we have to do to get started is to simply leave our comfort zone once in a while, or get off the couch and try.

And that is why we walked on a hot summer day.

To my fellow Americans, I hope you all had a safe and happy Independence Day.

Pardon the interruption but check out these blogs

biohazard

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In addition to this blog, I have a number of other jobs. I’m a manager, novelist, and a designer. I’m a daughter, sister, and a wife as well as friend, aunt and dog owner, but I’m also a mom which means that at any given time I’m a volunteer janitor, baker/short-order cook, event planner, mediator, cheerleader, chauffeur, counselor, and occasional nurse/doctor.

Unfortunately, that last role has decided to disrupt my regular schedule by taking priority over all others.

I’m writing this update in between medical rounds, reassuring my patient that he’ll feel better soon, and disinfecting everything that he has remotely come in contact with (up to and including our dog). In the meantime, I would invite you to take the time you normally might have spent here by reading some other posts I’ve recently enjoyed:

Over at I came for the soup, there is an inspirational piece for the spiritually inclined entitled “The Art of Being Happy: The Expression of Faith in Creativity” which examines the happy creativity of children.

The Pain Pals Blog shared a list of things they don’t tell you about in the what to expect when you are expecting books in a post entitled “Things I’ve Learnt Since Being a Mum” in honor of Mother’s Day on the other side of the pond. Many of these things I had to learn the hard way too.

Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride invited readers to face the possibility of fear and abject humiliation in a piece entitled “10 Reasons Why a Challenge is Worth the Whiplash.” You don’t have to be a skier or a snowboarder either to appreciate the message.

Nicholas C. Rossis provided an infograph of “7 of the Most Successful Rejects,” proving that there may be still hope for us all, courtesy of guest writer Roxanne Bracknell.

Tara Sparling amused me with another installment of what literary characters might be in real life with her mash-up of “Why A Crime Novel Cop Should Never Live With A Chick-Lit Heroine.” This entire series cracks me up so you might want to read more than one or two.

Or feel free to go over to Journey To Ambeth and nominate another blog of your choice for the annual bloggers bash blogging awards, the official ceremony will be here soon.

 

 

2 things kids pick up in seconds which many grown-ups haven’t learned in years

2 things kids pick up in seconds which many grown-ups haven't learned in years - www.alliepottswrites.com #Dr Seuss #children #quote

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I’d been booked for a reading, but not just any reading. No, this would not be some open mic style event at the nearby coffee shop, nor would I be reading to empty chairs at the local bookstore. I would be reading to a packed room, made up by the most discerning of audiences. An audience, I should add who isn’t afraid to tell you as well as their friends and family exactly how you failed to live up to their expectations in excruciating detail.

I would be reading to my son’s kindergarten class.

It was Dr. Seuss week at his elementary school and guest readers were invited to come in and share their love of reading with the next generation.

I arrived early armed with not one, but two books (affiliate links are included in this post): The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Seuss himself, as well as Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio. I was only expected to read one story but felt the need to ensure I had a backup plan if the room turned on my selection.

I waited in the hall, eager to start, but hesitant to spoil the surprise (we hadn’t told our son I would visit the class that day) or interrupt the lesson at hand. The school principal saw me in the hallway and smiled.

Then I was waved in and invited to sit in front of a group of smiling faces.

I made my choice. It was Dr. Seuss week after all. I held up The Sneetches for all the children to see.

“I have that.”

“I’ve heard it before.”

“My dad reads that to me too.”

Had I made the wrong choice? I wondered. Too late now!

I opened the book to the story of The Zax, which is a tale of two creatures called Zax – one north going, one south going – who meet one day in the prairie of Prax and neither Zax will budge from the direction of his tracks.

And so they stay stuck there, unbudging, for years while the rest of the world grows and leaves them behind.

The kids laughed at how silly both Zax had been, but they also pointed out the dangerous situation the Zax found themselves in. An overpass had been built around those stubborn Zax and fast-moving cars now surrounded them. They couldn’t have gotten to where either of them was going at this point, even if they tried. It was an aspect of the story I hadn’t previously considered.

Afterward, I asked the children what the Zax should have done. Hands shot up.

“They should have gone around each other.”

“One Zax should duck and roll forward so the other could jump over its top.”

“One Zax could split in two so the other could go through the middle.”

Admittedly that last suggestion is a little more problematic than the other two, but I’d like to point out that at no time did a child suggest one Zax push the other out of the way, knock one to the ground to be stomped over, or otherwise use brute force to get where they were going. Instead, all they came up with were creative compromises.

I wound up reading the second book, Dragon was Terrible, too. It was a story the majority of kids hadn’t heard before.

A dragon, who is terrible, of course, performs a series of, you guessed it, terrible acts around a kingdom (like taking candy away from a baby unicorn). The King announces he’s had enough of the dragon’s shenanigans and issues a challenge to his knights to do something about the beast. They aren’t instructed to kill it but tame it. Their attempts to beat the dragon into submission only serve to make it more terrible. Then one day a small boy arrives and he does something no one else in the kingdom has ever thought of – he gives the dragon a chance to be a hero.

Once again, I asked the kids at the end what the story had been about. Hands shot up. Although the story was new, they immediately understood its subtle theme about the power of inclusion.

Either this next generation is super smart or I’m starting to think more grown-ups should celebrate Dr. Seuss week too.

We forget too many of these lessons.

 

Batman’s greatest challenge yet – a tru-ish story

Batman's greatest challenge yet

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Gotham city lay quiet. It had been weeks since the Joker had shown his bright green hair or pale white face. The flu virus going around must have taken him out too.

Alfred pulled the curtains open.

“Good day Master Bruce.”

I grimaced as my eyes adjusted to the daylight cutting through my room. The ornate clock on the mantle said it was already past noon.

“Feeling any better today?” he asked bringing over a tray consisting of hot tea and a package of saltine crackers.

My stomach growled at the sight – a distinct difference from twenty-four hours before. It had been some time since I’d last kept down solid food. I scratched at days of growth now covering my chin. “Much,” I replied. The sound of my voice was strange to my ears. My recent illness must have damaged my vocal cords. I wouldn’t be able to maintain the deep, cold distinct tone I used to render fear into the hearts of my enemies for another day or two.

He pulled out a small scanner and held it up to my forehead. “Indeed. You no longer appear to be contagious. Shall I go over your schedule then?”

“That’s alright, Alfred.” I had only one appointment to keep that afternoon.

“Very good sir.” Leaving the tray behind, Alfred exited the room.

I stepped over to the mantle and pulled on a lever next to the clock. The fireplace spun revealing the entrance to my secret command center. I pulled on my suit. It was looser around the waist and chest than I’d remembered. I wondered how much weight I’d lost over the last few days. I made a mental note to double my efforts in the gym for the next few weeks. I reached for my belt, only to notice it was missing from its usual resting place.

“Computer. Where is my utility belt?”

A woman’s voice programmed to sound like my mother answered. “In the field. Shall I activate the retrieval protocol?”

It began to come back to me. My trusty companion had borrowed the belt along with my spare suit when it became clear that I was in no shape to be out fighting crime so that criminals wouldn’t think the city lay unprotected. He must not have returned home yet. “That’s okay computer. I won’t need it for this mission.”

I pulled on my mask and cowl. The rubber tore open in the back. “Computer – damage assessment.”

“There is a large split in the back. The material must have taken too many hits and exceeded its tensile strength during your last battle with Bane.”

Bane! I cursed to myself. “Is a replacement available?”

“Negative, sir. Your spare is out with the other suit. I will instruct the 3D printer to begin work on another, but it will take several hours for the material to cure.”

I frowned. I didn’t have six hours. I didn’t even have three. I tucked the open rubber ends under my cape. It would have to do.

I looked into the cave’s parking bays. “I assume the Batmobile is in the field too.”

“Affirmative,” replied my ever helpful computer.

I couldn’t drive one of Bruce’s cars. They were too recognizable around town. That left only one option. “Computer, inform Alfred I’ve borrowed his car.”

“One moment.”

I verified the address of my destination. Without the Batmobile’s speed, I had even less time to spare.

“Alfred has acknowledged.”

“Thank you computer.”

I turned the key in the ignition, shaking my head at what Alfred considered music as I drove out of the cave and into the city. Beads of sweat formed under my mask and down my back. I realized I must not be as recovered as I thought, but it was too late to turn back now. This appointment was too important to miss.

I pulled up to my destination and walked through the door marked with a single yellow balloon.

batman birthday - www.alliepottswrites.comA small boy sat inside. Seeing me, his face immediately broke into a smile. My biggest fan.

“Happy Birthday, LT,” I said coming to his side.

The smile slipped from his face. His eyes narrowed. “You’re not the real Batman. That’s just a costume.” He nodded to himself. “I can tell.”

I’d thought my greatest opponents were safely behind bars at Arkham Asylum, but it would turn out even the clown prince of crime had nothing on the keen eyes or unfiltered opinions of this particular six-year-old birthday boy.


For the record, LT didn’t buy any part of this story for a second, but to his credit, the Bat-hero attending his party never once gave up trying.

That being said, some tips for other caped crusaders considering taking on the extremely risky children’s party circuit.

  • Drink lots of fluids – that suit gets hot
  • Don’t forget your utility belt – you never know when you’ll wish you had a smoke bomb or a grappling hook to get away
  • Practice your angry voice – it comes in handy answering questions as well as directing activities
  • Don’t forget to shave – the mask will fit much better
  • Have fun – Even if you forget all the rest, you’ve still made one kid’s day

And for that last one, we average citizens, thank you.

What poisonous zombie tsunami sharks can teach us about achieving realistic goals

What poisonous zombie tsunami sharks can teach us about achieving realistic goals - www.alliepottswrites.com

“What would happen if a Tsunami came here?” my youngest son asked as he brought over his latest creation. It was a drawing featuring a tiny mound of brown in the lower left-hand corner. A large blue backward C shape filled the rest of the page. I looked at the picture. I looked at my son. Clearly, the island was toast.

“Maybe it would be okay. They might have had advanced warning,” I suggested. “Or maybe there are boats that could help them float away?”

It was a slim excuse at best (I’ve seen what a Tsunami can do to a small boat), but I was going to go with it. My youngest is only five (for another week). Who wants to talk about a disaster from which there is no hope of escape with someone that age?

LT’s eyes narrowed as he glanced at his artwork. “I’ll be back.” He ran off to the other room.

He returned with another drawing of a giant wave. This one even larger than the one before. “How about now?”

Note the use of bold strokes, repeated forms, and the inclusion of a single cloud on an otherwise clear day. Here the artist is expressing the futility of man when confronted by nature’s might.

I looked at the poor island in the picture. Then another feature caught my eye. Dark triangles poking out of the second wave’s curl. “Wait. Are those sharks?”

LT grinned. Both of my children are well aware of my, let’s say, lack of fondness, for Selachimorpha in all its variations and take an inordinate amount of joy in watching my reaction.

“You drew a Tsunami with sharks.”

LT’s eyes twinkled as he nodded. “What would happen, now?” he asked. “Would we die?”

I’m not sweating. “Maybe not. You could punch the sharks in the nose or use the Bat-shark repellent.” LT wants to be Batman, correction – The Batman Weatherman, when he grows up, so it should almost go without saying he’ll have a ready case of Bat-shark repellent on hand for just such an emergency.

“What if they were poison sharks?”

“Poison?! Umm… er… there might be an antidote-”

“What if they were zombies too?”

I blinked. I looked at my husband, was he hearing what I was? His grin matched that of our son’s. Yep. He shook his head at me as if to say, what are you gonna do? I turned back to our little creator of the next made-for-TV, cheesy creature feature. “Poisonous Zombie Sharks? In a Tsunami?”

Poisonous Zombie Sharks - www.alliepottswrites.com

I’m confident sales will smash all box office expectations. (In case you are wondering, yes, this is the sort of thing I do in my spare time).

Okay, I have to admit it’s a genius idea, but every now and then I have to wonder if there is something about that boy that just isn’t right.

LT was almost cackling with manic glee at this point. Delighted with his cleverness, but unable to speak, he could only nod again.

Seeing no alternative – no stick figure on the island representing a scientist who had up until this point been the laughing stock of his profession, but was now humanity’s last hope against the coming killer tide – I had to give up. “Well, I guess, then yeah, we would all probably die.”

Apparently, this was the answer LT was going for the whole time. Satisfied, he ran off to create additional masterpieces.

I’ve mentioned before, my youngest knows how to achieve his goals and close a deal. The first step to doing either is to go in knowing what you want going out.

The same can be said about storytelling. It’s far easier to tell a joke if you know the punchline just as it is far easier to write a book if you know the ending.

But while having a goal in mind can keep you focused, it is also important to allow yourself the flexibility to deviate from the plan. I’m pretty sure that the inclusion of poison and zombies was a spur of the moment decision (though with LT one really never knows). All he wanted was for me to confirm that his island was a complete loss, but he allowed our conversation to detour, evolve, and refine until the end result was even better than the one he originally imagined.

Many of us made resolutions at the beginning of the year and many of us have already broken them once or twice. You don’t need my permission, but I want you to know that’s okay. Life happens. Zombie sharks may appear in waves.

The important thing is remembering the reason for the resolution in the first place. Ask yourself what is the underlying need and keep asking until you know the answer by heart and adjust your plan accordingly.

Who knows? When you finally reach your goal and look back, the path you wound up taking might prove even better than the one you first imagined.