I hate pre fix menus and all of the disposable STUFF that comes along with Valentines Day! But I love LOVE so I have always had a strained relationship with the holiday. It annoys me that restaurants price gouge and you don't get to choose what you want to eat. Why would you not have the same menu open to all of those diners? Think about it, there are the same number of tables, the same number of seating's per night but your choices are always steak, lobster,oysters, chocolate mouse..... I just don't get it. Performance holidays aren't typically my thing and I do not follow the crowd, but for so many reasons I have a special place in my heart for Valentines Day. I loved elementary school valentines, the cheesy cards and the horrible candy. There is something about that red heart candy box with the horrible candy inside that makes my heart remember LOVE. My parents divorced when I was in first grade. I remember sitting on my teachers lap and crying a lot. On Valentines Day I came home to a little red Valentines heart from Sees candy that my Dad had dropped off for me. It was red with ruffles on the outside. I don't particularly like chocolates and I never finished its contents but it was the symbolism of the box that mattered. With that box I understood that even though my Dad was not at home everyday he loved me. Those little red boxes of candy continued to be on my doorstep until I was married. I secretly wish they still arrived every Valentines Day, not for the candy but for the message. Now I make Valentines special for my own family. To me Valentines is not about romance but about a special day to show a little bit of extra love.
This week I have been consumed with overwhelming sadness. Last Saturday I received a community message from our local police department that a teenage boy in our town had taken his life. Any time a young person loses his/her life at a young age it is heart wrenching but when it is voluntary it is even worse. I did not know this boy personally but he was a member of my community, a student at the local high school, the neighbor of a friend, a teammate to others. What I do know is that he was part of a community that didn't have his back. His parents are parents just like my husband and I, raising kids in an affluent area focused primarily on succeeding. I haven't been able to make it a day this week without breaking down in tears over my sense of responsibility in this. This young man left behind an entire community that is feeling overwhelmed by expectations and judgments surrounding what the kids are doing instead of how they are doing. What is your kid going to be, an athlete, a scholar, an inventor? Actually they have to be all of those things in order to get in. The admittance of your kid to a "selective" school is worn like a badge of honor. The Ivy League stickers are proudly displayed on the car windows. I live in a community where straight A's, AP's, being captain of the team and club president is expected. If you aren't all of those things you are a "loser", as this boy said in a letter he left behind. He also does not blame his parents but rather his surroundings and school. But all of us parents have contributed at some point, we all do it. I know I am guilty of getting caught up in it, the thrill of winning and getting in. When I sit down to write this it makes me feel sick because it could be any of our kids being buried this week. Even though we often talk about this among the parents, "how crazy is this, we never did any of this as kids," but we still allow it to continue. We go along out of fear. This overwhelming fear that our kid will be a "loser". Over the last few years I have distanced myself from my own community because of the same feelings that this poor boy had that took his life. We are living in a community, a bubble, that only cares about the stars, the over achievers. My son, now on his third college, was one of those kids. He was a great athlete, student, artist, business owner at 12, and a non-profit founder at 14. Our community had very high expectations of him. All of the cheering after every home run, every accomplishment and every award left me yearning for everyone to stop cheering because when the cheering stops what happens. Well, when the cheering stops the wheels came off. All of the past accolades don't matter when you are 2,500 miles away and all of the other kids are just as unique, qualified and special as you are but no one knows them self. They only know who they have been trained to be, pointed in a direction that they were supposed to go. Everywhere we went, it was "where is he going," then it was "how is he doing." But I felt that nothing said was sincere, but rather only comparison and competition. Is my kid doing better than yours? And when we were honest and said college was "awful" we were judged. And received the comments, "What could possibly be wrong, he has such a sweet life", "Why couldn't he fit in? " , "Why can't he just adapt?" "That is what college is", "Why is he questioning the norm?" "He needs to get over it." I wanted to scream from the mountain tops that the college experience was AWFUL and that these kids are messed up! We have messed them up! So many are going to college and drowning themselves, numbing themselves, jumping from buildings, hanging themselves, doing anything they can do to escape the lives that are expected of them. So instead of speaking my mind I distanced myself. I stopped volunteering at school, I stopped getting involved because I was sick of listening to all of the ridiculous BS from the parents. I didn't have anything to say to anyone. I didn't feel supported or listened to. But this is where the sense of responsibility comes in. I wish I would have been honest. Now, instead of quietly nodding when I get the comment, "third times a charm?" from other parents about my sons college path I will give the details. I will talk about the numerous suicides and near deaths of classmates of these colleges. I will talk about the miserable kids we met on these campuses that never wanted to go to college. I will talk about doing things differently. We are here to learn from our mistakes and maybe if I would have been more open, honest and forthright then we would have one more baseball loving kid in our community today and a couple less grieving parents. May you rest in peace young man knowing that I will no longer nod quietly but will speak up about the big mess we have gotten ourselves in as a community.
Interesting article about this that I read today:
When I was only creating bags I worked a lot with Food52. I LOVE this company. What started as a food blog has evolved into all things yummy and beautiful. Not only do they have the most amazing recipes but they also have simple, practical and beautiful kitchen necessities.
These are the things I am buying this holiday season!
Absolutely beautiful, simple and delicious food! My favorite at the moment.
Hamilton House was a great project. The home is full of history and charm and we we brought it back to life. What started as a small project turned into a big one because the house needed a lot of TLC. First action was to get rid of anything that didn't "belong" in the house. Asbestos, out, linoleum, out.! We tore back the walls and let the true beauty of the old wood shine through. Now it is back! What is old is new again. The home is available for rent www.6hamiltonstreet.com
After 10 years of designing and producing bags I am expanding Simple Peace! Through the years I have learned so much about where things are grown, how they are made. I have met so many amazing creators, designers, teachers and chefs along the way that the bags became a bore. I want to use what I have learned and share! Small designers and the products they are creating and how there are so many cool people doing amazing things out there. This has been a fun journey and right now needs to be more than bags!
I will still be consulting on home design and clean living. I will still have the shopping system, but I am adding so much more. I hope you join me for the ride!