Tag Archives: pinellas

On Kindred Spirits and People Who Give a Shit

If you’ve been friends with me for a good length of time, you probably know of my love of Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I discovered her series when I was in elementary school, and subsequently found the gorgeous Canadian miniseries of the same name at our local Albertson’s where VHS rentals were 99 cents on Wednesdays. I spent good portions of my childhood renting and rewatching the movie (and its sequel) until I knew it by heart. I desperately wanted to be Anne, and create adventures with my own bosom friends. And I did.

I also went through a period of time when I didn’t feel like anyone I met was a kindred spirit; I had friendships, but no shared connection of acceptance of self. Maybe because I didn’t know who I was becoming. Maybe because girls are jerks to each other when they want to be thought of as cool. Maybe because my best friend had moved away. I don’t know.

Today, I have a couple handfuls of friends who are my people, my kindred spirits. You know, the people who rejoice in your joys and cry with you in your sorrows. Friends who fly down to spend the weekend with you before surgery so you will be distracted from obsessively thinking about it and friends who use their day off to help with your kids when you can’t easily handle your normal routine. Friends who offer and bring meals. Friends who give epic hugs. Friends who call to catch up because they can’t be here in person (although I wish they could) and I sometimes don’t pick up the phone because I hate it but I listen to their voicemail over and over and feel loved. I feel so very loved.

It’s just as Anne taught me – kindred spirits exist in droves; even when we are far apart, we are still together, and that hasn’t changed and won’t change over time.

  • “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
  • “True friends are always together in spirit.”
  • “Kindred spirits alone do not change with the changing years.”

Then there’s whole other group of awesome people who have been impactful in supporting me, and I’m affectionately referring to them as people who give a shit. Please don’t be offended by my cursing or by not including you in my kindred spirit category, but I’m so thankful for you, too. You all unexpectedly showed up and have kept showing up and checking in with me.

On social media we seem further apart yet more aware of the inner workings of each other’s lives. We tend not to have conversations in person because texting or messaging is so easily available, or we just read up on someone’s life via their Facebook page and count that as checking in. That’s not what you all have done.

You are sending prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts – whatever faith you practice or don’t practice doesn’t matter – your affirmations and solidarity lift me up.

Some of you are cancer survivors, and I had no idea. Thank you for telling me about you. Your shared stories fill me with hope that the cancer will stay gone now that it has been removed.

What I’m trying to say is thank you family, friends, and everyone who has shown up. I’m feeling much better and more at peace with the whole thing (despite being swollen, tired, and in some pain), and that’s because of you. Thank you.

Life Moves Pretty Fast – Do Better

Confession: one week into this year’s Lenten season, I have done absolutely nothing regarding my spiritual practice. For those of you who attend churches that do not recognize Lent, it is a liturgical season of the church and begins on Ash Wednesday and continues until Easter Sunday. It’s a time of soul-searching and preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I had a plan. I had an intention to practice living in the moment, the way Ferris Beuller summed things up in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

You may be thinking, how can one of the greatest 80s movies (or really, one of the best movies of all time) be the tentpole for a spiritual practice? Like many people, I am usually attached to my iPhone or iPad. It’s so hard to put these items down, not because I may miss something uber important on the interwebs (although that’s part of it), but mostly because I feel addicted to knowing things. Quickly. And it’s not necessary. So the plan was to strive to capture Ferris’ joie de vivre.

I had concrete steps to take to execute this plan.

  • Daily meditation.
  • Looking at my phone at set intervals.
  • Practicing more yoga.
  • Doing things I enjoy with the people I love.
  • Reading my way through a Lenten bible study.

Then, everything went to shit on Ash Wednesday.

The day started off lovely, Valentine’s Day and its hype made my four-and-a-half year old super loving and full of hearts and hugs for the world. We found out that same 4.5yo had been accepted into two Pinellas County Schools lottery programs – Perkins Center for the Arts and International Studies and Mildred Helms, an IB Primary Years Program. Today, we accepted the invitation to Perkins, and we couldn’t be happier to have him attend this wonderful school where he will have Spanish every day plus art, music (including instruments like violin and keyboarding as he progresses through the school), theatre, and dance as part of the excellent academic curriculum. Life was sunshine and rainbows.

And my heart broke as I scrolled though my Facebook news feed and one friend after another in the Coral Springs area were posting about the school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in Parkland. At the beginning, the news reports were inconclusive since it was a developing story. I ran through a list of names of kids I know who attend Douglas, and checked with their parents to see if they were all right. And the ones I know are physically safe. Psychologically, however, I can’t imagine they are okay. Seventeen people at their school are dead because of a school shooter who used a semi-automatic weapon to kill his former classmates.

This is not okay. Schools should be safe spaces for kids. They should be able to learn and thrive, and grow into the people they will become. That’s my hope for my kids. And it is the reason I’m taking action to ensure they become safe spaces once again. I should have done better after Newtown, CT, but I’m here now and I demand action.

Our elected leaders must develop legislation limiting the sale and ownership of weapons that can fire multiple rounds without reloading ammo. To me, these seem to be used only to kill people, and the majority of us have zero need to kill others on the regular. Our elected leaders should look into placing limitations on ammunition, through taxes or quantities available to purchase. Our elected leaders should make it more difficult to buy a gun (and ammunition for that gun) than getting a driver’s license or obtaining a prescription. Our elected leaders should stop cutting funding to mental health care services, and instead provide services covered by insurance to all who need it.

Do better Mr. President, members of Congress, and the Senate. Do better Governor Scott and members of the Florida House and Senate. It is your job to protect the people of the United States, not serve the NRA. If you won’t, we the people will, starting with voting you out of office when your term is up.

Doing better is now added to my Lenten practice plan. I’m holding myself accountable to action, and you too.

Playground of the Week – Safety Harbor City Park

This week’s playground of the week is located in the town of Safety Harbor, which has a cute Main Street full of shops and restaurants, a wonderful inn and spa where you can “take the waters” or just relax, and several parks within walking distance. We have visited its City Park (940 7th St S, Safety Harbor 34695) a few times now and love it.

Pinellas County’s first certified official “boundless playground,” it is the largest park in Safety Harbor at 21 acres. There is a skate park, baseball fields, a dog park, volleyball courts, basketball courts, a huge field, and boating access to Alligator Lake. It also has bathroom, which are definitely needed for toilet training toddlers. But we didn’t visit this park for all of those things – we love its giant playground!


There are two main playground jungle gyms protected from the sun by huge tents. They have so many things to climb (including a dinosaur!) and lots of slides, plus ramps and steps to run up and down. There are two bouncy race cars to pretend to drive, a climbing obstacle course for bigger kids, and a ton of swings. Only the main jungle gym structures are protected by the tents, however, so the other areas get hot. There is plenty of shade to cool down – under trees, beneath the tents, or in one of the picnic shelters.


 
As for safety, most of the playground is mulched (parts have that packed-down, recycled rubber material), so if your kid likes to collect and/or eat that kind of thing it is perfect for you (not so great if you’re a germaphobe and don’t like your kids putting mulch in their mouths). There is a fence around the far exterior of the park, not the playground area, but it shouldn’t be a problem to safely contain your kid from the street since the playground is set back from the road. I think this park is perfect for kids of all ages, and for all seasons.

Playground of the Week – Bonner Nature Park

Last Wednesday, Henry I visited John R. Bonner Nature Park (14444 143rd St, Largo 33774) for our Playground of the Week. We love this park! It is tucked away into a neighborhood in Largo, and backs up into the intracoastal waterway so it is beautiful and quiet. There are a few nature trails, one with a sidewalk-like surface and another with a soft surface, and there is a boardwalk leading out to a covered deck on the intracoastal. Henry likes to stop and watch the fiddler crabs on our way out to the deck where he can then watch birds, boats, and fish play. I like that deck is shaded and cool with a Gulf breeze.   
    
 
The park also hosts a good-sized playground in the shade. It has two sections, one for 2-5 year olds and another for 5-12 year olds. Henry likes both, of course, and also loves the swings. It’s not fenced in, but we’ve never had a problem with Henry running into the adjacent parking lot. There are bathroom and covered picnic facilities, which are always nice to have around especially with kids, but they also are frequently used by City employees. There is a big grassy field that we haven’t used yet since it is in the full sun, but looks like a good place for playing baseball or soccer. The Largo parks department just opened a kayak/SUP/canoe launch on the waterway, so we will have to check that out sometime, too. Every time we visit this park I think, “we need to come here more often.” It’s that lovely.