Take A Risk: Look for the Gorilla In The Room

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf
by Julie Seedorf published in The Albert Lea Tribune week of June 12, 2017

I saw the gorilla. I did! I did! Because I saw the gorilla it means I am a highly creative person. That is — according to one source.

I read an article this week that said highly creative people see the world differently. I didn’t necessarily think that the highly creative adjective described me, but I have been known to think out of the box and create something weird.

A video accompanied the article. In the video, people were passing a ball back and forth. In watching the video you were supposed to count the number of times the white shirts passed the ball. They did not tell you in the instructions that a gorilla was going to walk through the group as they were passing the ball. I not only counted the correct number of passes, but I saw the gorilla. According to the test, if you saw the gorilla you are a highly creative person.

I tried the test on someone else. They counted but did not see the gorilla. I was astounded. How could anyone not see the gorilla?

The results and the article made me feel better about myself. I have stated before in this column that I do not always feel comfortable or feel I belong when interacting in some situations. I just do not fit in. I realized I do see the world differently. I look at a wall and see what it can be or I look at a building and always see its creative possibilities. I get more than my fair share of skeptical looks when I put forth an idea. I must admit I am always disappointed when others do not see the possibilities, or when I see a change is needed, others don’t agree with me. I can’t believe they don’t see what I see. And they roll their eyes at my crazy ideas.

While waiting for a friend to get through eye surgery this week, I had one of those visual moments.

I was impressed with everything surrounding the surgery. The doctor, the nursing staff, and the care were excellent and so was the coffee. It was a quiet relaxing atmosphere and the staff did everything above and beyond to make my friend, the patient, comfortable. The surgery went well and was successful.

I was offered coffee and sat back in the outpatient’s surgery room to relax and wait. That is when this problem I have with visual creativity kicked in. The room was dark browns and tan and plain. It made the room feel smaller and was kind of depressing to a person that likes color. It was not cheery; it was drab. I felt someone waiting for minor surgery and was nervous, needed light, calming, cheery colors. I could visualize a positive, calming statement scrolled on the wall. I wanted to feel the ambiance of sunshine in the darkened windowless room.

Granted we weren’t there very long, but it was refreshing to leave the room to open skylight with sunshine pouring down upon us.

That is exactly the reason I get scowling looks at times. I see the visual possibilities when constructing something, which lifts our moods and makes us smile.

I loved the article and the test. It made me feel I was not alone in what I have felt all these years. It gave me permission to be different.

Many of us spend valuable time trying to be like everyone else so we will be accepted. There are those brave individuals who have invented outrageous things we have in our world today who were probably told their creative idea would never work or become a reality. In fact, sitting in the medical facility, our conversation centered around the technology for a vision that is so advanced, eye sight is being improved and saved –procedures that were dreamed of years ago but thought to never be possible in reality.

I like color. Others like tan and gray and others live with what they don’t like because it is more accepted to be tan and gray rather than risk seeing the gorilla in the middle of the room and being branded as different. Accepting those differences in each other would cause all of us less stress.

I have a friend visiting Ireland and Wales. She has been posting pictures of the rows of colorful houses in these countries. The pictures contain pink houses, green houses, yellow houses, purple houses and orange houses situated right next to each other. I envied those people. The last people who tried a purple house in my community were scrutinized and criticized because their purple Victorian house ruined the neighborhood. When they moved, the next owners painted it a neutral color. I was one of the few that was disappointed.

We are surrounded by color right now with the leaves and the trees. I got creative and painted some old dead bushes in my yard a soft green. I like my works of art. They let my light shine.

If you see the quiz, take it. Will you see the gorilla? If you don’t, will you let your neighbor who sees the gorilla, see the world differently and accept them for it?

How Did We Survive Our Childhood?

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And this isn’t dangerous? Mall of Ameria.

It’s amazing my children grew up. It’s amazing I grew up. After all, my kids played with toys and had experiences that now would be considered unsafe. I grew up with toys that were much more hazardous to my health than children’s toys today and yet, here I am.

Recently I read an article that said Grandparents were a detriment to their grandchildren. In fact, there are classes for grandparents to teach us the new rules of parenting and taking care of children when we are sitting with our grandkids.

I don’t dispute we need to know the new rules for feeding and I learned no talcum powder on their little bodies. When my grandkids were born I remember having no idea what a diaper genie was, and I wondered how in the world I heard my kids without baby monitors. Some of these new gadgets are wonderful.

This week there was news which I thought was a little over-the-top. First I heard about the bus driver who always took the busload of kids to the Dairy Queen for a treat on the last day of school but this year a parent complained.

Another news item caught my attention at the same time. It was a note a teacher sent home to a mother chastising her because they didn’t approve of the packed lunch for the child. The teacher felt the treat the mother sent with the lunch was not an appropriate food choice because it was full of sugar, the offending food item is an Oreo cookie.

The final news story which caught my eye was an article about the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending no fruit juice for children under one year of age. The reason—it will cause obesity and cavities in children.

In regards to the bus driver and ice cream— apparently, the bus driver’s job and the yearly tradition of taking kids to Dairy Queen on the last day of school by the bus drivers is now in danger. Bob Collins of MPR News addressed the problem with this statement: “This might be a tradition best left to die in a changed world. Thanks to the creeps among us, school bus drivers can no longer be trusted with kids.” That is a harsh statement in my estimation. If the bus driver was known to the community and trusted the entire year to drive those kids, and he didn’t take any of the kids alone but in a group then he should be trusted to take the kids to Dairy Queen. Don’t stop the treat, just change the communication and let parents sign a release for their kids to have a treat. It was an act of kindness made into a something the kids now might think of as a scary option on the last day of school. Don’t judge all because of a few Mr. Collins. We need to not parent out of fear.

As far as packing a school lunch is concerned, notes like this seem to pop up all over the country. Since when have parents lost the right to package a lunch and include a sweet treat? I would take offense at the school deciding what I can feed my child. I would rather my child ate something for lunch instead of throwing it in the trash because they didn’t like it.

The fruit juice recommendation threw me a little. Fruit juice, cereal and more were all healthy recommendations in the “olden days” for our toddlers. Fruit juice used to be healthy and now it is a detriment to those young children’s health right up there with candy.

I may be one of those grandparents who need a grandparent class to learn how to raise kids in 2017 so I can keep my grandkids safe.  I will admit that I did get hurt growing up and so did my kids.

I will share one instance with you. I had a tin wire tower for marbles. It wasn’t fancy like they are today. I decided to see if my fingers fit in the holes of the tower. And what did I find? They fit but they wouldn’t come out. The tower had to be cut apart with tin snips so my parents could get my fingers out. Did they call the toy manufacturer because it was a dangerous toy? No! They told me I should never do that again. Were they bad parents for this accident happening? No, it was an accident made by a silly decision of a kid.

All of this news made me anxious and thankful I don’t have any more kids to raise. It would be stressful trying to remember all these rules so I wouldn’t get in trouble as a parent. It seems we have thrown out good old-fashioned common sense when raising children.

My advice is to love your children. Make sure they know you love them. And use common sense when keeping them safe and in how you take care of them. The news and recommendations will change tomorrow. What you do today will be wrong tomorrow. And you know how we all dislike being wrong?

 

The Mother’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of May 8, 2017

“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.”  — Sophocles

File May 09, 10 49 34 AMAs a mother, it is hard to let go of my children and let them lead their lives their way. I want to protect them from making the same mistakes I or others have made in the past. I pray for them every day and they are never far from my thoughts. They are always in my heart. Being a mother was the most important career I can have. 

I love to watch my grandchildren grow and see the way they mimic some of their parents’ gestures when their parents were young or how they grow to resemble another family member. I love to see them develop into their own personalities.

I think most mothers feel the same way. I have noticed when talking with other mothers on my writer’s journey there are many lonely mothers out in the world. They are not lonely because their children don’t love them; they are lonely because life for their children has become so busy a phone call or a short visit may only happen occasionally, or on Mother’s Day. But life is busy, perhaps busier than my generation when we were raising our children. Plus, there is also the distance many families now face with children living all over the United States and abroad.

Mother’s Day is next Sunday. The stores are full of flowers, and restaurants are filling the advertising spaces with ideas of gifts for that special mother. While gifts are nice, I have a feeling that what mom wants is to spend quality time with her children, especially if you are a mother whose children no longer live in the area or live at home.

Those of us who have lost our mothers will tell you that perhaps we can give you this advice because of regrets from the past of the things we never did and said while our mothers were alive.

My family wasn’t a hugging family, so I can probably count on my two hands the number of times my mother and I grabbed each other tightly and gave a hug. When we did it always felt awkward because that was not our relationship. But now, I wish I had one more awkward hug I could give her. I wish I listened when she talked about her past. I wish I made it a habit of asking about her day more often.

In conversations with other mothers I have heard the reasons why kids, adult kids, don’t call their moms at least once a week, or if they live close, stop in for a visit. And because we are moms and we love our kids, we accept what is happening with their life because we don’t want to put more pressure on them. We always want to make our kids’ lives easier. We have all heard these words in conversation: “The kids are busy. They run from morning until night between work, household chores and getting their kids to their activities. They say they just get busy and forget to call.”

Every person needs someone in their life to ask them about their day. Every person needs someone to care about how they are feeling. It might take a few minutes for a phone call, but those few minutes may make a difference in the life of a mother, especially if mom is older and less mobile.

I watch as everyone sits in restaurants on their cell phones; I do too. And I wonder if we put away our texting for a few minutes — if we turned off the television or took a five-minute break from the hectic schedule if there would be time for one five-minute phone call to mom.

I am blessed as I already have a Mother’s Day invitation this year. My kids live within two hours, and I visit with them on a regular basis. I hope that continues as I grow older and am less mobile.

Near or far, take the time to give your mother a Mother’s Day gift that lasts all year. Give her a gift certificate with a promise to call her once a week, or if you are close by, stop in occasionally and have a cup of coffee, give her a hug and ask about her day. Let her know that no matter where you are, she is a priority when it comes to keeping in touch. After all, you were a priority of hers from the minute you were born, and she would have it no other way.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.