Monday, December 05, 2016

Santa Claus or Santa Pause?

Presents are awesome.  Christmas is awesome!  I remember the avid anticipation of Christmas morning when I was a kid.  Sometimes on the night before Christmas, my brother would sneak into my room and we'd play quietly because we just couldn't sleep through the excitement.  And if it didn't keep us up all night, we'd be up early.  Way too early.  One year we were up at 4am, sitting on my bed whispering excitedly about what we thought we'd find under the tree.

I think back on those memories fondly, but guess what?  I have no recollection of what we actually received from our parents or Santa.  To me, that is what Christmas is about.  And I don't think that really sunk in until I was old enough to look back on the holidays and realize what I've just explained: the parts that are special to me are most definitely not the presents.

Now I've got my own child and I'm observing Christmas from the other side, if you will.  Since becoming an adult I've grown to really enjoy the giving of presents more than receiving them.  It's fun to guess at what someone might want and then to browse expectantly for something that fits them just perfectly.  It's an interesting challenge, one that is often influenced by social pressures and finding a balance between good will, budgeting and extravagance.  It's easy to see why some don't enjoy that challenge.  I'm giddy with excitement to give our daughter the presents we've got for her.  But where does Santa fit into all of this?

It wasn't long after I learned to read that I realized Santa's handwriting looked exactly like Mom's. The next year, after having pointed this out to her, Santa's writing changed to a tidy cursive.  But I could still tell it was my Mom's writing.  She always signed cards in cursive, duh.  What is the point in the Santa hoodwink?  The magic?  What are we trying to accomplish by writing "From Santa" on our gift tags?

I left a draft of this much sitting open on my computer for a few hours and now I'm back to it and this topic suddenly strikes me as a bona fide #firstWorldProblem.  Just be thankful that we even have the means to write gift tags at all.  And that we have presents to stick them on.

Happy holidays everyone.  Don't have too many eggnogs.  (Or maybe do?)  And enjoy the memories you're making.  Because that's what you'll come back for.

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Hero

A few months ago I started a project that involves me responding to journal prompts that are intended for elementary/middle school aged children.  The exercise has been fun and enlightening and I've decided I want to share one of my responses.

Prompt: Describe someone who is a hero to you and explain why.

My brother.  His name is Corey Eugene Arnett and at this exact moment he is 21* years old and in Jacksonville, North Carolina being a bad-ass Marine.  Why is Corey a hero to me?  He may be my little brother but he is not a little part of my life.  He is the second most important person in my life.  Corey is the person I identify most with, and it is for this reason that his accomplishments sometimes feel like my own.  His decision to become a Marine would be enough to qualify him as a hero of mine but that is only one small part of his hero-ness.  He has become an outstanding person.  And I feel that I am the only person who knows just how far he has come from the ashes of our childhood.  He is a good person.  He is a moral person.  He is a flawed person.  He is a loyal partner in his relationship.  He is selfless and humble.  He is hilarious and spontaneous.  He is full of hope and love.  He is giving.  He is thoughtful.  He is an inspiration.  He is my brother.  He is my hero.

One of the best and most inspiring things about him is how he has taken in the same things I have as a kid (our parents teachings and flaws, our environment) and selected the best ones to use as a mold for his character.  I think that takes gumption and a shitload of will.  Love you, bud.

* I wrote this reaponse a while ago; he is no longer 21.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014



Let me start this post with a quote which is relevant to my topic: 
"By nature, you now and then set aside time to appreciate the loveliness and splendor of your surroundings."
A while back, in early 2012 my handsome, then-fiance got a job with a company that requires their employees to take the Strengths Finder 2.0 Assessment.  Through this assessment he found out what his top 5 strengths are, how they relate to each other, and what it should mean to him.  After about a year of listening to how he could relate his actions back to his strengths and our combined curiosity of what my strengths were, he purchased the book and assessment for me to take.

What I found out was a personal revelation.  In previous brain-assessing exercises I'd learned that I was emotionally oriented, but for some reason I didn't expect my top strength to be Empathy.  The other four are Developer, Maximizer, Adaptability and Connectedness.  The best part about taking this assessment wasn't the knowledge of those five words; it was the paragraphs describing how those strengths present themselves in my life.  The above quote is taken directly from one of those paragraphs.  They were meant to describe me and my behaviors based on this set of strengths gleaned from my assessment.

And so now we are to the windows.

What does a window do for a us?  Silly question, right?  It lets us see.  What does it let us see?  Could be a lot of things, but for the most part it lets us see outside.  So what is the relevance in this?  Are you sick of me asking you questions yet?  The relevance may present it self in different ways to different people - different strokes for different folks.  And that's cool, but what I want to tell you about is how windows are relevant to me.

Some of the post beautiful things in the world to me are the emotion I see in my family's faces and the emotion I see in the world around me.  I think this is why I've made some scary yet eye-opening attempts at nature painting.  I love looking outside.  If I can't look outside, I feel like life is literally going on without me.  I need windows.  Even if it is raining or dark outside.  I feel better because seeing through a window lets me feel.

I've always enjoyed and needed to be able to see outside, but until I read these descriptive paragraphs about my strengths, it never clicked for me.  Now I can appreciate why I love to look outside and it makes more sense why I need to.

This is so weird to write about.  These ideas are kind of abstract, and in truth, I don't think I've explained what I feel correctly.  But it is the best I can do for now.

Let me know - does this make any sense?

* This post was directly inspired by the simple comment given by my dear soon-to-be-sister, Kari Cottingim, on one of my earlier posts.  I'll always be thankful for these small comments she makes about my writing and the way they make me want to do more of it; to try harder to express the words that are locked inside me.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

So I have this long document

When I feel something, I've been writing it down.
Since November 1st or so.

And my document on Google Drive is... long.
It had an initial purpose, but just turned into this erratic creativity dump from my brain.  I love that my brain's creativity comes out in words.  The previous post is something that just came over me.  It's almost poetry-ish?  But obviously not really.  Maybe I should ask my dear FSIL what she thinks about it.

My World

My world is red with emotion.  Everything I do, everything I see, everything I hear, everywhere I am there is emotion.  And with varying degrees of intensity.  Its almost like I see exclusively in emotion sometimes, and my eyes are my heart, the very middle of my chest.  I can feel the emotion in objects.  In people, places and moments.  It’s electrifying and astonishing in depth and breadth.  Sometimes I wish to crumble to my knees with the emotion of it all.  And sometimes there is so much emotion that I can’t tell which kind it is.  Anger or fear, happiness or relief.  But I think most times it is so many emotions all together and at such high intensities that my heart would explode.  A balloon in my chest cavity expanding with the warmth of the colors of emotion in my world.  I wouldn't have it any other way.