Archives For Brain dump

Life is full of ups and downs. Have you ever stopped to consider if either extreme is within your control?

I’ve lived long enough to know that I’ve lost some of my naiveness from younger years. I believe that life will naturally take its twists and turns and, the majority of the time, we are simply along for the ride.

Yes, we can choose to concentrate on development and eliminate distractions to put ourselves in the best position to learn and evolve. Yes, we can make time for and really listen to those around us in order to build better relationships. Yes, we can make daily choices in order to solidify better habitual patterns.

Yet life doesn’t always go according to one’s plan. You expect the fast ball. You get the curve.

So believing this to be true, I struggle sometimes with my conflicting desire to try to be in control of the uncontrollable.

I want to be seen as a top achiever, as having a firm grip on life, as being compassionate and present in the moment. I want to be seen as trustworthy and able to be relied upon. I hope by controlling “x” in my life, then “y” will naturally result.

The problem with wanting to be seen though is that you need to first answer the question, “Why do I want to be seen?”

There is a big difference between giving off the illusion of having what society deems is “it all” – prestige, power, influence, health, wealth, and happiness – versus what gives you a sense of purposefulness when you are alone with your thoughts. One is a facade, the other is truth.

Why do I want to be seen?

I want to be seen to know that I matter to others. To know that I am of value to them. To know that I make their life happier.

Fortunately for me, my scope of “others” is relatively small. My “others” are also generous in doling out their gratitude. My family in first place, friends and confidants second, creativity sharers third, and so on and so forth. Believing that God sees me in my truest form, I know I am trying to do right by Him too of course.

I believe I originally embraced blogging and other forms of social media sharing as a creative outlet. I love expressing myself through writing. Selfishly, it feels good to know that others find value in what I choose to write about.

However, the social media sharing world from when I first began back in 2009 has spiraled into what I can best describe as social sabotage in less than 10 years time.

I’ve seen people fight about posts and pictures. I’ve seen relationships I once thought were solid fall by the wayside. I’ve seen people needing to be right more than needing to be understood. I’ve seen people (young and old) not wanting to miss out online, while inadvertently ignoring what’s waiting for them to discover in real life.

And while I’ve been watching all of this unfold on screen, real life had a way of moving on in all of its inherent beauty. That’s the funny thing about life. It happens with or without you noticing sometimes.

I watched an episode of 60 Minutes recently that talked about people’s reliance on their smartphones and how Silicon Valley is engineering your phone, apps, and social media to get you hooked. Here’s a snip-it I highly encourage you to watch.

In this episode, Anderson Cooper interviewed former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris along with several other guests. Tristan left Google to lead a movement called Time Well Spent, with a mission of aligning technology with humanity.  I would also encourage you to read his most widely read essay How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds – from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist.

The information that Tristan shares in his interview as well as in his writing escalates that icky feeling I experience anytime I have my own nose buried in my phone or I see those whom I love doing the same.

My blog posts are fewer and farther between these days. And that is intentional.

I will continue to write. I still want to share (overshare?). I still want you to read what I have to say. I still want to hear from you.

But more important than any of those things, I want to start seeing more and being seen less.

Do you feel the same way?

What can we discover together, yet not feel compelled to share with each other?

Life is most breathtaking when it is unfiltered, with no clever captions, and uncontrolled.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I’ve learned to accept the fact that it’s ok to devote your best effort to life, even when you’re not so sure you’re doing any of it right.

This thought swirled through my brain when ordering less-than-stellar food from the lady behind the glass counter display at my local grocery store. A hodgepodge of fast, fatty edibles: one burrito, some fried chicken, one corn dog, green beans, chocolate pudding, and dinner rolls. In an attempt to save some semblance of my maternal self-esteem, I also picked up some tomatoes for my burrito and some navel oranges to peel for the kids. It all cancels out that way.

(Incidentally, the prepackaged green beans “tasted like stale hot dogs” according to my middle child, and his analogy wasn’t too far from the truth. Those ended up in the trash.)

“Yes,” I reassured my husband via text. “I went to the stupid store.”

My husband takes care of no less than 99.9 percent of our food shopping and preparation but that particular night, I was on my own.

I have a longer commute these days for my job. On good days, I’m on the road for a little over an hour. On bad days, more like 90 minutes. I drive three separate interstate systems to get where I’m going. Thank God for the free satellite radio subscription that came with my car.

I try to remember to enjoy the ride, even when I’m staring at brake lights. I have an office to travel to after all and I’ve known plenty of people who don’t share that luxury.

I knew this parenting phase, with three kids in three separate schools, would be crazy. If we didn’t have friends in the neighborhood to pitch in with rides, to help us stay organized, to take care of our kids with the same level of love and concern that they show their own, I don’t know how we would manage.

I knew I’d have to forfeit the idea of being the perfect manager, the most attentive mother, the most affectionate wife, the most inspirational coach, the most reliable friend… all the while keeping myself in peak physical and psychological shape.

I can’t possibly do all of that.

But what I CAN do is wake up grateful for having woken up each morning. 🙂

I CAN let the people I see every day know that I care…about a shared goal, a meaningful experience, and a common chapter we are all living together.

I CAN recognize that the ones who rely on me the most don’t feel let down.

I CAN appreciate the here and now while also looking forward to the future.

I CAN forgive myself for falling short at times.

As an avid fan of reading authentic authors, I don’t think I’ve found better inspiration on how to live life happily without imposing unrealistic expectations on myself than Rachel Stafford over at HandsFreeMama.com.

If you’ve ever felt overly distracted and not entirely in tune with what you should be most focused on in life (especially if you have an influence on little ones, whether your own children or others who look up to you), take two seconds to subscribe via email to get Rachel’s posts in your inbox.

I have had my own readers tell me they can relate to what I write about and I hope this post is no exception.

If you tell me you’ve got life all figured out and have never doubted yourself, I’ll tell you I’m a top chef. Stale hot dogs and all.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Forewarning: This could be deemed by some readers as The NeverEnding Blog Post, but I’d like to believe it’s worth your investment in time if you’ve ever seen The NeverEnding Story.

I don’t know about you, but I decided to trip myself out this week.

My daughter is now almost the same age that I was when the movie The NeverEnding Story originally came out. I remember watching this epic childhood fantasy film and being totally engulfed, amused, and slightly disturbed by it.

A good mom would say to herself…hhmmmm, I recall being completely whisked away by the plot, but also being frightened and confused in parts, maybe I should wait until my daughter is a bit older than I was before I open the filmography flood gates to her.

I am clearly not a good mom.

I am, however, a curious mom who knows that her daughter is pretty much a mini version of thy self except much more independent and less naive as a result of growing up with two older brothers.

After realizing that Amazon is offering The NeverEnding Story free to viewers, we popped some popcorn, cuddled up in bed together, and let the magic unfold.

If you’ve never seen the movie, here’s a short description from IMDb: A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.

Here are my observations about this film now that I am an adult (according to my chronological age, not my footy pajamas). Note that each of these were recorded, in order, throughout the movie as I watched the action unfold through an older set of eyes.

…………………………………………………………..

Ohmeyegawwsh! This song! NeverEnding Stoorreeeeee! Ahhh-a-ah Ahhh-a-ah Ahh-a-ah!

Wait, what? Bastian’s mom is dead? How did I miss that when I watched this as a kid? That seems to be a pretty critical part of the narrative.

His dad is kind of an insensitive jerk. Telling your motherless son to “Stop daydreaming and start facing your problems” isn’t exactly what child psychologists would consider an effective way to help a child grieve.

Poor Bastian is relentlessly tortured by a set of bullies. The leader of the pack is the worst. How come every movie bully is either chubby, or red-headed, or both? I call this the “O’Doyle Rules! factor.” See Billy Madison if you don’t get that reference.

In order to avoid being tossed into an alley dumpster multiple times, Bastian runs into a bookstore to hide. The bookstore owner is probably the first thing that rattled little Heidi when I originally watched this movie. He was the epitome of Stranger Danger in my maturing mind. I can now see why they casted this guy. He made Bastian think the book he had been reading when the boy burst through his door was far too dangerous for a juvenile to enjoy, thus convincing the boy to steal the book and leave a note (with a promise to bring it back when he was done reading it).

NeverEnding Story – Your Books are Safe YouTube clip

Hold up. Was there a cob-webby, antique-filled, ginormous attic in my grade school that I never knew about where I could sneak away anytime I wanted to get out of a math test?! I would have established a permanent residence in such a hideout if it had existed.

Oohhkay, freaked out again as Bastian starts to read the story. The Rockbiter, the creepy mole guy, the oompa-loompa dude in the top hat with the Racing Snail, and THAT BAT. The premonition that there’s this force called The Nothing that is destroying everything in a world called Fantasia.

My daughter remains un-phased up to this point. Should I be concerned?

The makeshift crew of characters travels to the Ivory Tower to see the Empress and this is the FIRST time my daughter starts to mutter something to me about the weirdness that’s unfolding before us. As the crowd of onlookers listens to the man with the pointy head and the long, white beard talk about how the Empress is dying and their only hope is a young warrior called Atreyu, the camera spans over their features: Huge, incredibly realistic-looking heads on small bodies, four-faced people who can turn in any direction and still be staring right at you, spooky elephants and beaked creatures, all muttering indistinguishable comments in unison.

I glance down at her and am all, “I KNOW, RIGHT?!”

Here Atreyu finds out he’s being sent on a dangerous quest with no guarantee of survival. If he fails to find a cure for the Empress, which is necessary to save all of Fantasia, everyone will DIE. No pressure, kid.

My daughter is convinced that Atreyu is a girl because of his long hair and deep, plunging neckline. What kind of programs is she watching when I’m not in the room with her?

neverending_atreyu

The young warrior receives the auryn necklace and, at the same time, Bastian discovers an identical emblem on the front of the book he’s reading. And we all realize for the first time that the two stories, that of Bastian and that of Atreyu, are linked together.

At this point, I’ve lost track of the “freaktastic moment counts” when we catch a glimpse of the menacing wolf-like Gmork, who is basically a servant of The Nothing…as well as a mental mascot for every child’s nightmare in the history of mankind.

OH NO! HERE IT IS. The Swamps of Sadness scene, where Atreyu’s horse Artax gets sucked into quicksand mud and drowns. I kid you not, the first few seconds when I watched them starting to walk through the murky waters, flashbacks of me huddled in the corner sniffling and rocking myself back and forth flooded my mind.

neverending_atreyu and horse

My daughter starts to tear up. Evidence that she does have feelings after all.

Just when I don’t think I can be anymore traumatized, Atreyu runs into the oversized turtle who talks like he’s been in solitary confinement a little too long and repeatedly sneezes on the boy. The turtle basically squashes all of Atryu’s dreams by telling him the mission is impossible to complete.

Break back to Bastian in the attic as the school bell rings. This kid realizes it’s time to go home, but knows there is nothing more important in his life than finishing that book!

Now HERE’S where I start to regain hope for humanity. Just before Gmork is about to tear Atreyu to shreds in the same murky waters where the young warrior lost his best friend, a Luck Dragon named Falkor swoops him up and flies him to safety.

Falkor looks like a cocker spaniel, believes in the power of a little luck, and belly laughs like a grandpa who’s had a couple of beers. Pretty much the best thing that any kid could hope for in life. Bbuuuttt, still a little creepy in his own right.

When Atreyu awakens after being rescued, he meets this weird miniature old couple. They seem to love one another, yet they incessantly nag each other. Pretty much everyone’s parents, right?

The woman convinces the young warrior to drink a disgusting potion as part of his recovery. Atreyu announces he is on a quest to find the Southern Oracle and, upon learning this news, the old man reveals his love of science and his expertise in all things related to the Southern Oracle…including the two sets of Sphinxes that Atreyu must pass through in order to help complete his quest.

The Sphinxes are as burned into my childhood brain as Artax’s death is. Probably because they each looked like satisfied patients from any plastic surgery reality show featured on E! today.

neverending_sphinx

After passing through both sets of Sphinxes, Atreyu then looks into a mirror that shows him a reflection of Bastian and vice versa. Reading this causes Bastian to throw the book across the room in disbelief, and I hear my daughter laugh. I am proud of her for recognizing at an early age the joy of watching someone over act. She also cracks up more than once at Falkor’s over-the-top laughter and facial expressions.

Atreyu learns the only way to save all of Fantasia is to find the human child who can give the Empress a new name.

Perhaps the most disturbing series in the whole movie begins here. Atreyu and Falkor get separated in a violent storm, the boy loses his auryn necklace, and we are reunited with the Rockbiter who gives the most depressing speech ever about failing.

And that’s not all. Just when I’m ready to curl up into a ball (as a 39-year old) and crumble into a hopeless pile of nothingness…

Atreyu comes face-to-face with the evil Gmork. As all of the fears I experienced as a child come rushing back, my daugher tells me she doesn’t think the greenish-yellow eyed wolf is that scary and, if she was Atreyu, she’d just punch it in the face.

(two older brothers)

Gmork explains that he is the servant, the power behind The Nothing, and he has been sent to kill Atreyu. The boy then challenges the beast to come and get him, and when Gmork accepts and charges, Atreyu stabs the creature to death.

That brings the death total to three if you’re keeping track at home.

I love to go back to movies that were produced before computerized special effects. This is one such movie.

To see how those behind the magic made it appear that The Nothing eventually came and wiped out everything except for the Ivory Tower is a site to behold. It’s both impressive and funny at the same time.

We finally meet the Empress. How can I describe this girl? The poster child for dental office advertisements everywhere. Everything on her is perfect. Her eyes, her jeweled headband, her petite perfect features, her voice, and her dazzling teeth.

The next several minutes are a mashup of three child actors attempting to out-dramatize one another…and the effect is pure brilliance. I can see my daughter on the edge of her seat wanting to shout along with them.

CALL HER NAME, BASTIAN!!!

The Neverending Story (9/10) Movie CLIP – Call My Name (1984)

Bastian shouts out his mother’s name, Moonchild, as a way to give it to the Empress. Fantasia, though, seems to have all but disappeared except for a single grain of sparkling sand. Bastian receives the grain from the Empress and is told the only way to save their land is to never lose his imagination.

The movie ends with the boy getting revenge on the bullies who picked on him, and by revealing much to my relief that Artax(!), Atreyu, the Empress, and all good guys continue to live and grow with Fantasia.

Finally, here’s where everything gets deep. As a child, I was satisfied with that ending. It seems my daughter is too.

As an adult, I love looking at interpretations. One Reddit user (nameless88) puts it best with this explanation:

The entire movie is about the death of the imagination, and how as kids stop reading books, and stop imagining the worlds that are made up within, those worlds die. The Nothing is lack of creativity, and lack of care for fictional worlds. The Nothing is television, and movies, and apathy towards the make-believe. The Nothing is growing up, and losing the ability to even have an imagination. It’s…well, it’s nothing. It’s the absence of something, in this case, creativity and imagination.

I plan to pick up the book that this movie was based off of and read it with my kids. In a world of being constantly connected through social media and void of actually feeling meaningful personal connections, I figure it’s a step in the right direction. Perhaps reading the book might start a discussion between them and their friends?

If any of you have read the book, please let me know what you think about it in the comment section. If you’ve seen the movie, let me know what you thought of my online re-enactment.

Written by Heidi Woodard