… a little runaway- run, run, run, runaway…

Sometimes we just need to run away from it all. Sometimes we need to just walk in on Monday morning and take Tuesday off… then after work you pack up your camping gear and head out. In this version of the story you better believe Lucy forgot the blankets, but thankfully we shared our tent with my friend and her 5 kiddos and we all stayed warm. We needed a runaway… not at all as fancy as a getaway.

I feel like Summer has flown by and soon the bus will pull up and my girls will head to school and I will go to work and life will just keep moving through the seasons. I don’t at all dread that part, I just missed the Summer’s we were used to. This is the first Summer I have worked since I had Madeline… many moons ago. I know some might think I am all spoiled like a Summer home is no work. It is A LOT of work… but it had lots more play in it. We had a schedule together… get up hang out, go to the gym, find an adventure come home play in the back yard, make dinner and maybe get ice cream. Then this work thing kind of set that off… I barely got workouts in, I miss my friends, I miss the fun during the day and I really miss travelling around and learning at the Pinebush Preserve and Indian Ladder, or hiking and swimming all day at Thompson’s Lake. I miss going to friends for playdates that turned into impromptu BBQ’s. I miss taking the girls to the pools, sometimes I would have to fish the dead frogs out for everyone… I miss that part.

So we ran away… for like 22 hours we neglected all at home responsibilities, we ate hot dogs more than once, we did.not.brush.our.teeth, the girls hair was itchy with sand and they woke up to play board games at 6am. We 3 mommas did it we wrangled 10 kiddos at 9:45 in the dark through the woods to the bathroom, we pitched tents, Betthany made a fire and we roughed it. I mean roughed it… I slept on a twin air mattress that deflated early in the night. I am old. This may have made me older…

It felt good. I sat in the morning on the beach and even with 10 kids running around I still felt peace. I felt that peace of knowing I didn’t need to be anywhere else right then. I felt just far away from home to not feel connected to the responsibilities there. I know there were dishes to be done, floors to be vacuumed and a dog who would most like leave a poop in the house… only I just didn’t think about it. If Doctor’s could write prescriptions for it I am sure mine would have… who knows maybe I need to ask is insurance would cover this kind of medical importance.

As I sat around the camp and watched my girls play and 10 kiddos get along pretty much the whole time- I saw a comfort that only comes in a herd. I saw trust in other mom’s to help handle situations, I saw no judgement for the fact that I don’t care if my kids brush their teeth in the wilderness, we talked about important parenting things that many would have opinions about… but we just offered support and ideas. I know the world says ‘It takes a village’… but I think ‘It takes a herd’. I don’t need a village, I need a herd. I need a herd who is willing to pack up life on a Monday night and head out. I need a group of moms who build each other not break each other. I need a herd I can trust to help build my girls to be respectful and responsible and accountable.

I.freaking.love.my.herd…

I also love to runaway ❤ but I am looking forward to a getaway with my Mr. Rick, for that one I might even get a pedicure and shave.

 

PS.  The nice Park Ranger helped the kiddos build a better river with more features, he took time out of his day.  He could have walked on by… but he stayed and helped a bunch of kids build better.  Kudos to Park Ranger Joe- a reminder that grown ups can be good, kind and authority can kneel down and help build a child up ❤

… Believe them the first time

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I saw this quote a few weeks ago, I find myself thinking about it a lot. It makes sense. I even hear myself saying it lots to others when we are talking about life and relationships. I look back at many relationships in my life history and wish in some ways I could have heard this then. I wish I could have listened ‘the first time’. I remind myself though, that I cannot be this very me without every day in my history happening just.the.way.it.has. I try to bring it along for my right now and my future.

Sitting on the beach with my friends while our kiddos played in the sand and tried to catch minnows we talked about everything. The conversations were sometimes interrupted by a kiddo coming for a snacks or the occasional “Keep the sand down!!!”… but it was one of those catch up days. I feel like many instances deserved this quote- When people show you who they believe them. Old friends, new friends, family members, coworkers, all of it… I love those days. They get me, I get them… and I see who they are showing me.

I felt a little repetitive and like I stole a quote- but then I knew that Maya wanted people to remember this. Our world would be better… if we walked away from those who showed their negative and corrupt and unkind. We could focus our light and energy and kindness to those who need it, not those who don’t. Imagine if I heard this quote while my marriage was breaking and I could have stepped off the rollercoaster sooner… or not felt betrayed by friends- instead I could have reminded myself that I could see who they were before. I just wanted them to be better…

I have been reading Glennon Melton’s Book Love Warrior, today what I read resonated with this quote. She was in church just after leaving her husband being told by a church member basically told her that God would not be okay with her for divorce- that she was breaking her children. In true Glennon form she had a great set of words to gift that ‘Christ loving woman’… and she left that church. She stood there being judged by humans who judged like they were God- that woman showed her who she really was and Glennon listened… she walked away and found real. When people show you who they are believe them…

This is true in ALL areas… right now there are protests in the south. There are terrorists and peacekeepers and love and hate are riding right next to each other. There are people standing with their ‘pitch forks’, actually the idiots are using tiki torches like they are celebrating… and they are raising hate. Their actions show who they are- they might be a great dentist, nurses, business owners, teachers… they are all members of communities and they showed us who they are. We must listen.

They have shown us who they are and we must listen. They are hate. They are evil. They are bad. Their voices need to be silent- not one word that comes out of their mouths deserves respect or listening. We need to build a circle of love… for the ones brave enough to stand next to this rally and be a peacekeeper, for the law enforcement keeping the peace and safety. Their voice needs to be silent in our memories- no hate comes along. Fuck them.

I can’t be there to help. I see who they are though… and I will preach love. We all have a job here- do not support those haters. When they go home to their communities help them fail- don’t use their business, switch dentists, work to get them out of your child’s school and make them fail.

Remember we cannot fight darkness with darkness- only light. Be a lantern… snuff out those tiki torches. Travel on in this scary world and remember who has shown you who they are- be it gossipy, careless with your heart, evil, or fake… listen the first time.

Funny Story…

Funny Story…

Well we can see it as funny today- Sunday it was one of those reminders of stress, a bad mood and some gratefulness. The girls and I travelled back home this past weekend, through some crazy storms and torrential rain we made it for one of those dinners that was not only tasty but full. I got to catch up with my best friend and cousin… and there was an abundance of kids. I was pooped and reminded of that time not-so-long-ago that my girls were all so little… It was a good Friday night in Clayton, NY.

I love home… I love the pace, wake up and eat breakfast right before my Dad comes home on his bike for lunch… then find some adventure. This weekend was one full of no plans working, but a great day rolling out. We met up with JoJo and worked on some Best Day Ever work, visited our friends at the lake and then met my parents for dinner and icecream. It was a FULL day. We were pulling into the driveway Saturday night and my Dad told us “Quick go get your sneakers I want to show you something”. So we did, I ran inside and grabbed my sneakers and returned to my parents car for a late night adventure (well 10pm…). I rushed, but enjoyed…

Sunday morning we woke up and prepped to head back to Albany. I was ready to head out and meet my sisters to say good bye and eat some eggs in Clayton- but I could not find my keys. At first I wasn’t stressed- I looked in my purse, on the counter, in the seat cushions… then I got frantic. I unpacked the bags of clothes, I looked under seats, looked in my Mom’s car, rechecked the house… we spent hours looking. It was SO FRUSTRATING. I messaged my sister that we would miss breakfast, she said she would head over with her boys.  My mom kept praying to St. Anthony, St. Jude and Madeline… she told Amelia that she thought Maddie must be busy at the playground, since she normally helps. I took a break. I drank coffee and caught up with my Mary… and then rechecked all the spots I could. I finally asked Mr. Rick…

I asked Mr. Rick to bring my spare key to Watertown for me. I hate asking people for favors, let alone asking someone to drive 3 hours one way and 3 hours back to bring a 1” by 3” key to start my vehicle… I hate it. He did though. He brought me my key. I was, how does it go?…. Sad.Mad.Glad. I was grateful. I am grateful. I did treat him to a pitcher of margaritas and a scrumptious Mexican meal- but the thing is he didn’t need a ‘big thank’. He is just kind. I think I am most thankful for that… I have never had that.

Mr. Rick headed out to bring the key north and I was gifted a few hours with my little nephews. We took a walk to the playground and low and behold… a monarch butterfly was flying around. Amelia said “Mommy look- Madeline is on the playground.”… I told her to stop being a terd and help my find my keys.

The playground was great it reminded me of lots… the hill I used to roll down and the places I played. Then I reminisced… I remember when mine were little… they were so hard, so needy and so freaking cool. Everything was new to them, they were terrible friends and they loved every moment of attention they got from me… I miss that. My girls thought I was the world, I was the best entertainment and my smile was everything. Now my girls are independent… and I love it. They are themselves… they love me but it is different now. I got a few hours of the ‘before’ kind of love and curiosity- and I got to see my girls love up on those little ones. My little nephews are 1 and 2… everything is a learning experience, everything is new and amazing. I love it. I love those tiny teeth when they grin, I love how they cross their arms when they are all mad at us. They are not my kiddos to punish so I can smile at the moments when they are terds. I love their simple love though. I love seeing my sister be a mom. She will be a cool mom… and a good one too. I never knew that part of her before. Anyway… I’ll stop babbling.

I got a few hours with some cool itty bitty people and it filled my bucket. I miss those boys, I wish Albany was 2 hours closer… but it isn’t. So we just enjoy what we have. I think my favorite days with my family are the easy unplanned days… my sister would stop down with my niece and nephew and now my other sister brings her boys and sometimes we might get lucky and my brother’s kids are free. It is the best, way better than big holidays. I love seeing them all together. They are all linked with genetics and life and stories…

So…

We got back to Albany and had to unpack and deliver fabric for a Best Day Ever. I unloaded the car and headed to make the delivery, a day’s work is never done. We got home and I took apart all the bags and things that were in the car. I threw some laundry in the washer and felt accomplished. I may have felt a little cocky… like “look at this I lost my key and still completed the day”. I tried not to feel bummed about only having one key and the fact that the Maddie’s Mark PO box key was on that ring. I just reminded myself… Little deal Erin. Relax.

Mr. Rick went home and the girls and I settled in to catch up on Gilmore Girls.

I opened the cooler to grab some seltzers, and opened the Hannaford bag with empty cans to recycle them. I heard a metallic clinking that didn’t sound like cans. Madeline, St. Anthony and St. Jude decided that this was my moment to find my missing keys. Those 3 have a great sense of humor…

I laughed and called Mr. Rick… told him I had a ‘funny story’ and hoped like crazy he would think it was funny too. The thing is he does not get mad at me for things like this, it is refreshing. I made a mistake, it happens- Little deal. That is a gift. I tried to call my mom, but I think she will discover that I found my missing keys in this post because I couldn’t get her. I was embarrassed and annoyed at myself, but I know there is a gift in life in just laughing at a mistake. I honestly hope the next mistake isn’t losing my keys… that would suck.

In a day that did not go as planned (do they ever?)… I got some extra snuggles, kisses, cars thrown at me, and lots of cute words. I got an unplanned day and a long car ride chat with Mr. Rick. I got to make sure my spare key still works. I got to get a little embarrassed and be humbled a bit. I also got to see my favorite Jeep key that is attached to my PO box key… praise the Lord. I told Madeline, St. Anthony and St. Jude to ‘do their jobs’ next time and not waste so much gas in the process…

SO… all and all there was some stressed, some mad, some annoyed, some frustrated and some impatient that rode right next to some happy, some loved, some grateful, some laid back and some curious… and all of that is just how life is.

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We are Good Timber.

Life hurts.

SO many are feeling all of that pain right now, so many that I know. I keep reminding myself – Life is hard but God is good… I don’t know why we get these heavy, hard and huge piles of pain, it is just part of it. I also know that as much pain as you can have piled on- there is joy there for you have too. I keep coming back to a poem my friend gave me, she printed it out really nice and I hang it in my bathroom closet. I see it every morning when I get ready for the day. It is everything…

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I remind myself that no one with a good life gets to 70 and describes life as easy or not littered with great loss. I remind myself that grief and loss are equal to the love… you can’t miss someone you didn’t love. I know that in the beginning after Madeline died I couldn’t imagine feeling joy or happiness- but those pop into my life often now. I know that I have felt immense pain and hurt, felt broken beyond repair… and somehow all of that pain and hurt built me differently.

I like to think of my life as a tree… like at the end of it all if I looked at my ‘rings’ that I grew each year there will be a variety… there will be years of draught and pain… even though those look like years with low growth it was HARDER to grow then. Those years look like years of little growth but those rings are the ones that build us better. I imagine those years of lots of rain and lots of sun warrant thicker rings, they are the years that allow us to grow big and build up a firm trunk for the next draught. Those ‘easy’ years are a bit of gift, a little reminder that Life is good, really hard but amazing.

You might be the one hurting really big right now… I know hurt. I know pain. I know joy. I know missing. I know anger. I know it all… I know loss and divorce. I am sorry for the pain… I want you to know that you are not alone. Your story might sound like one that no one else has lived, but you are wrong. Your story might be more than you can bear, more than you can carry- let some others come in and carry it with you. Let Him. When you feel like you can’t walk anymore- sit. When you feel like a 500 pound person is sitting on top of you… let them, then stand up and walk on. When you feel like it is all your fault… remind yourself that we are all just broken people, all of us. We do the best with what we have when we have it…

I want to remind you that you aren’t all alone… that while life is building one of your ‘draught’ layers I am here, He is here… so many are here. There will be years to come that are full of sun and rain… you are Good Timber. We are Good Timber…

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Madeline’s Headstone… Her Good Timber…

Failed Plans?

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The thing about life is that it never, never, never, ever goes as planned. Imagine me saying that like the start of a Disney movie… with that solid voice and a story to back it up. It never goes as planned, like neva-eva.

I remind myself and reiterate this fact many times a day, sometimes I just put it on repeat and let that take my brain over. Inevitably something will happen that royally screws up the day and guess what… the day must go on. It is just the way of the world, always has been and I imagine it always will be. Even when we like the Jetson’s our little spaceships will run out of gas, our robot maid will drop dishes, our perfect kids will fight or make a crazy mess… our husband will tick us off or our friend in the galaxy next door will not be able to show up last minute. So is life… now and forever…

I like to think God likes to keep us on our toes, keeping true to that faith part- you know believe and know without seeing. He tests us to make sure we are good, kind people… even when the world isn’t looking. I guess it is part of His plan, you know the plan that almost neva-eva lines up with ours???

I think I am good at rolling with the punches, embracing plan b (or d or g) and figuring out ways to fix a situation to be an adventure. Honestly the number of events that went my way in my life are pretty few and far between- it rained and flooded the night of my wedding, Madeline’s delivery was anything but what I expected, life was exhausting and didn’t look like I thought it would… my lovely died, my marriage fell apart… and etc.etc.etc. I could go on all night…

It has taken 30+ years to live in a way that I embrace the fact that my plans are not.at.all.the.Big.Plan. It has taken 30+ years to see the light and funny in God’s sense of humor, and embrace His knowledge of the future. I trust Him… even when it royally screws up my Friday.

These past weeks I have been SOOOOOO busy… from Madeline’s Tea and Birthday I have had 5 or 6 Best Day Ever’s, 3 or 4 events, started working fulltime at school, tried to pull a normal fun summer together for my girls and tried to enjoy the small bits of time I have to relax. In this past month my car has had a couple issues, that sound terrible but thankfully my Mechanic is like an angel with a wrench, he gets me back on track. Both times my car had issues I needed to cancel plans or appointments. I was driving down the road last week on my way to Amelia’s appointment and my car started acting funny and the engine light came on. I stayed calm, called Bob and pricelined a rental car. I dropped my car and hitched a ride to the rental and the problem was solved… I could have been mad but I reminded myself that nothing.planned.works. I told my brain- little deal. I was rewarded with an upgrade to a fancy grandma car that drove really freakin’ fast. I enjoyed the leather seats, but my Jeep is home tonight and I missed her.

I am grateful… for the nuisance of a broken down Jeep. Challenges like that remind me that in the grand scheme of life, in the BIG PLAN, it is a little deal. It can be fixed. I can make do. I remind myself to see the ‘little deal’ in most situations. Life has some really big curve balls, some ‘big deal’s’ and I need to save my energy for those. Death, divorce, separation, broken friendships… deeper hurt need more of us. I am grateful for the ‘little deals’. I have gotten through a lot of ‘big deals’ and sooooo many ‘little deals’… but they have built me to be this very me.

I am grateful for all of this story… it is my story. I do not understand so much of this, I don’t know why my lovely is gone… I don’t know why my marriage broke (well I do know some) but I trust that He does… and He is building this life beautifully full and blessed with the broken. I trust Him…

I know that Madeline is traveling this journey with me, guiding me and sometimes pushing me in the direction that will build me best. I am grateful for the man God set into my life to adventure with and experience lots of Plan B’s together… He chose well.

Thanks Big Guy… for all of it. I am grateful for the broken, the fixed, the hurt, the joy, the fun and the crappy… it is my story…

Live life better…

“In this life we have choices, so many choices. We can choose to smile when we wake up, we can choose to laugh when our heart hurts and we can choose to stay mad and hard when someone hurts us. We choose.” Parenting.com – Erin Musto

It feels like so long ago and only yesterday that I had the opportunity to write a piece for Parenting.com, that began with these words. It was years and seasons ago-  my life is so different now, but every one of those words I still know and believe. All of those words are still the core of my soul, my words I live by. I fail sometimes, but don’t we all?

Lately this quote resonates very deeply in me. I see this world full of so much chaos, anger, resentment, guilt and shame. I see families broken by choices, and often pride. I see hearts not willing to forgive, not ready to let go. I see blame thrown everywhere but within…

I know that I am not perfect, no one is. I try, I succeed… I try, I fail so I wake up and try again- the best I can. For the most part I see the light in people, I let go of the hurt and I trudge on through the hard stuff… knowing there is amazing intertwined in the hard. I choose to see light, when I am blanketed in dark. I choose to let go, even when it hurts- life is lighter with less. I choose to be positive, when other’s want to pile on the negative. Life is ridiculously difficult and lovely all together… without the dark we could never know real light, without the hurt we could never know true joy and without the bad relationships we could never know the value of the great ones.

Lately this world is so very hard, so very broken. People are so divided and angry… there have been so many tragedies, so much loss. Young children dying of cancer, drowning… family friends overdosing and losing their battle… a murder back home claimed the life of a father, a husband, a coach- a Trooper. Every one of these tragedies has now been written in the book of life…

This is the part where we get to choose. We get to choose to live this life better, live it how we should have all along. All of these people we lost on this journey are still a part of us, we carry them along. We honor them by honoring our days here on Earth. We live better…

Living better means choosing light, choosing to see positive, choosing to step up and do the jobs that this life needs. Choose to respond with positive and building words, join together to bring those souls along… think hard about how your respond and what you carry with you.

I fully believe in accountability of actions and let me tell you, the man who murdered that father, that Trooper… needs to be accountable in the way that the law deems. We however get to choose to let him go, put his negative soul away. We can choose to change this, to work to keep those Troopers, those mothers and fathers safe. We can choose to show his children light and love and care… show them the love he can’t gift them now.

In those families who lost children to cancer or drowning- we honor them. We tell the best stories about them, we carry those families FOREVER. We change what we can and we show the light that is lost in their hearts. We shine light on those families. We choose to live our days the best we can in honor of those who have no more days here.

For those who lost their loved ones to addiction- love them up. Stand in that momma’s shoes for a few minutes… give love, show light and comfort. Go forward and work to change this, share that story and work to change it for the future.

Live life better. Live it for the ones who are no longer here… choose to live and love and show light and LET GO.

I see so many families wrapped up in disagreements that break their family. I see it in my own family and I see it in so many other families. I have been the one to say hurtful things and hold on to anger. I have been the one to spout words that hurt. I have felt those words from others. It stings. It is so hard to forgive or let go. I also know that much of that is pride. Pride helps us prolong forgiveness. Pride breaks so many humans. Forgiveness builds some of the strongest parts of us…

We choose happy, light and laughter… and we choose anger, resentment, guilt and shame. We choose forgiveness. Life is hard, hurt is hard, forgiveness is hard… but we can do hard things. We can keep living, keep laughing, keep moving, keep crying, keep shining… we can choose to forgive and let go.

My daughter is gone, never to grow or sit and chat with me again, not here on this Earth. I have to fulfil this part of the journey with no Madeline to laugh with or argue with, no Madeline to see grow and become some new bit of herself. She is gone. I am here. I know what it feels like to NEVER hear your daughter’s voice again. I know what it is like to have a broken family that just doesn’t feel like it can fit together. I know what it is like to be betrayed at an ultimate level. I know what it is like to feel anger, to feel rage. I know what it is like to hurt so much I can not find a part of me that doesn’t hurt. I know what it is like to be so angry at another person that I try to break them. I know what it is like to not forgive…

I also know what it is like to forgive people who have betrayed me in the most hurtful way. I know what it is like to let go of anger for a family member and just forgive them. I know what it is like to forgive my ex-husband for breaking my world. I know what it is like to be mad at God and let it go… give it to Him. I know what it is like… it is never worth not hearing your daughter’s voice again, never worth missing your loved one forever, never EVER worth it.  Pride is not worth building the broken and missing…

But I choose to live better. I choose to forgive. I choose let go of the heavy and enjoy the light. I choose to see the love and tell the anger to go ‘eff off’. I choose. You choose too. You choose how you live, you can live better. Live better in honor of those who have no more days here. It isn’t worth it to live lower and carry the anger around. I promise. We don’t get to choose the hurdles, the challenges, the blessings, the pain or the end… but we can choose how we live better with it all.

Choose to live better… better for Joel, Jason, Parker, Andrew, Lorenz, Cheyanne… just do it.  Live better.

Pieces of peace…

Grief is a hard topic to bring along, but it is one that I bring everywhere.  I understand grief, and its direct relationship to love.  Grief is a measure of love.  We are all going through life with our own hard stuff, our own losses- death, divorce and life changes.  It is my favorite thing to connect and speak and give a safe space to share all of those pieces that impact each of us.  Imagine if we learned, early on, that we all are carrying hard things, we are all a little bit broken- but what we do with our broken and how we treat other broken people can change a lot. 

Recently I was gifted an opportunity to work on a project at Pinewood School, a Peace Garden.  I love creating spaces like this, to get to use my creativity to create a space for years to come and fill it up with plants butterflies love.  The plan for the garden was to create a garden and surround it with rocks that were painted rainbow colors- the best part is each rock has a message, inspirational words and stories of loss and love.  Students listened to a mini presentation about butterfly gardens and then I offered them a paint pen and an opportunity to make a mark on their rock.  I had some really big rocks that I saved for big stories… I called those the ‘anchor rocks’.  I loved that I could offer a child a space to leave what they wanted to share about their story, it could be a story, a picture… something special to them that shares how they want to.  Some of the children had lost siblings or parents.  I just offered them a paint pen and a rock- they filled in the rest.  One child shared that music helps him feel the feelings he needs to feel- pretty profound for a 4th grader.  The best part… I don’t know his story, nor do you,  but he left his mark in the peace garden in a positive space.

During my presentation, I ensured that this space was a place of respect, that kids need to care for it so the garden can be there for a long time.  I also told them if they wrote inappropriate words or pictures I would repaint the rock and they would lose their opportunity to leave their mark.  I only had to repaint a few rocks…

One student who was not necessarily a great listener and interrupted me a few times painted his rock.  I was slightly annoyed with him for entering my space and being rude, but then he painted his rock with one word.  His small red rock had the word “Rage” on it… he asked me if this was a good rock and his inspirational word.  I told him that word is not inspirational, I asked him if he had another inspirational word.  He responded “Rage is inevitable”.  I took a different route with him, I took his red rock and handed him a green one.  I told him that I know what it feels like to feel rage, I know that feeling.  I also told him that when I feel rage and anger like that I have things I do to feel better- I breathe, I go for a walk.  I told him we all feel rage, but the inspirational part (the important feeling) is how you get past the rage.  He returned with a green rock with the words “Just Breathe”. 

Life is hard.  It is hard for all of us.  We are all going through something… what we do with it and how we carry it shows so much about us.  Grief is part of it all… words and safe spaces and support are so very important to it all.

One of the biggest gifts in losing Madeline is the understanding I have for life and death, love and grief, joy and pain… they all ride right next to each other.  I love that I still get to talk about her, share her and teach others about butterfly gardens and life.  What a gift…

Pinewood Peace Garden, with bits and pieces of so many students.