Friday, April 13, 2012

Top Ten

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning. Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

Today's WEGO post is a Top Ten list: what are ten things you need or love the most?

These types of lists are always difficult for me.  There are a lot of things I can't live without: my family, my friends, my cats, my students.  Do I have to list each individual person separately?  Or can I lump them into categories?

It's so hard.

So, instead of listing the ten people I love the most in this world - because that's what it would be - who loves things more than people?! - I am going to list for you the ten things (by "things" I mean inanimate objects, not living beings of any kind) that I would grab in case my apartment caught on fire.

Because that's not morbid at all.

First, and this should be no surprise if you know me well, I would grab Flopsea and my blankies.  My nana crocheted White Blankie (the white one, duh), and it was the one in which I was carried home from the hospital.  Green Blankie (the one that is equally green and other colors, duh) was made by my parents' friend, and I've had it forever and ever.  Flopsea was in my Easter basket when I was two, so she is the ripe old age of 26.  And since she is so well loved (read: fragile), she has never been washed.  You do the math.

And yes: even at 28 years old, I still sleep with them.

Side note: let me tell you how long it took to pose this picture.  Flopsea was named for her inability to sit up (she just flops).  There was definite staging involved.

Second, I would take my box of treasures.  This wooden box (that my grandma gave to me) sits on my bookshelf in my bedroom, and it holds my most "valued" belongings.  Starting at the top and going clockwise: a necklace that my nana made (or that her brother made) in the 60s; an antique pocket watch in its original German box, courtesy of my grandma (I believe it belonged to her mother's mother); a $2 bill from years ago when my great-grandpa was still alive and would send us those on our birthdays; a filigree necklace from my grandma; the ankh pendant that I found when my nana died (and the inspiration for my first tattoo); my nana's puka shell necklace from the 60s; the satin ribbon that Flopsea was wearing in my Easter basket (it used to be blue!); an amethyst necklace and ring from my grandma; and my nana's flower power pin.

Third, I would take another box of treasures.  (I have a lot of treasures: just ask my mom and my sister, the two people who packed and unpacked my whole house/apartment when I was rendered absolutely useless after a break-up.)

Unlike the other box of treasures, these are my "charms."  First, there is the rosary that my first boyfriend's mom gave to me.  While I am very spiritual, I am not religious; however, whenever I am stressed or anxious or having trouble getting to sleep, I hold the rosary and make it up as I go.  I also have one of my nana's AA coins as a symbol of perseverance and hope.  (I also carry one with me everywhere I go in my wallet.)  There is also a rock that one of my Soul Seekers mentors gave to me from the top of a mountain in Colorado; it was a very emotional night, and this is a symbol of those times, those friends, those memories.  I also have a variety of charms: the angel that says she's guarding me, the shamrock, the cross, and the heart.  There is a nail from when my brother and I went on a mission trip to a reservation in Lame Deer, Montana.  There is a lucky buckeye from my first boyfriend.  There is an angel woodcarving that I received from a teaching mentor.  And there are a slew of German coins from the trip I took with my grandma.

Fourth, I would take my signed copy of The Freedom Writers Diary, as my week in Long Beach was one of the best experiences of my life, and this book embodies my philosophy as an educator and, really, as a human being.  Additionally, there are some heartfelt sentiments from people who are very important to me.

Fifth, I would take my Marilyn.  My brother drew this picture for me when he was 15, and I think it maybe took him a couple of hours to complete.  He is a phenomenal artist, and since he knew how much I loved Marilyn Monroe, he drew her for me.  She has had wall space in every single place I've had since.

Sixth, I would take the grandparent book that my nana completed for me.  My nana was a phenomenal woman who went through a lot in her life and overcame great obstacles.  And, she was pretty much the ultimate hippie.  Sadly, Nana died quite suddenly at the age of 61 - when I was 13 years old.  When I was paging through the book recently, I realized just how alike we really are.  She wrote that the issues most important to her were social justice and women's rights; I have to think she would be indelibly proud of the work I do with my students everyday and the service I give to Planned Parenthood.  She also wrote how she deals with trials and tribulations by "believing there is a sense of ultimate goodness in situations, that all things work out the way they're supposed to."  It is astonishing to me how similar we are.

Similarly, I would bring the book that my dad made for me.  While most of his responses are extremely true, accurate, and heartfelt, there are some that make me laugh out loud.  For example, the two pages below.  The page on the left says, "Do you have any special memories about raking and burning leaves, or mowing the lawn?  My dad's response: "I love the aroma of burning leaves."  The page on the right: "If you ever played in the leaves, tell about it."  Dad's response: "It was kind of hot, but I guess I should have jumped in before we started burning 'em."  It's so Dad.  And I love it.

Eighth, I would bring the afghan that my mom knitted for me.  I have been begging her for an afghan since she made the one that's in the living room in Omaha - two years, maybe?  Imagine how thrilled I was when I opened my present on Christmas Eve and saw this.  Whoa.  While I may have foolishly forgotten my favorite gift in Omaha when I returned to Des Moines (ahh!), I have used it everyday since.  I love it soooooooo much.

Ninth, I would take the scrapbook that my mom made for my high school graduation.  She put hours upon hours upon hours of time and thought into that book, and it shows.  It documents every aspect of my first 18 years of life, and I couldn't ask for something that was done with more love.

Plus, just look at how cute I was!

Similarly, I would bring the cookbook that my mom made.  Again, I cannot begin to fathom the hundreds of hours that went into this treasure.  It is so, so special to have all of our family's favorite recipes in the same place and in my mama's handwriting.  This is by far one of my most cherished and valuable possessions.

While these are all things I could live without and while they are certainly not the most expensive items I own, they are by far the most valuable to me and most definitely the items that I will pass down to future generations.

Because who wouldn't want a 150-year-old bunny?

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