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Archive for April, 2016

Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking the whole world belongs to you. (Lao Tzu)

Put too many items on a moving flat surface and a few are bound to slide off. If I listed everything I plan to do today, the city’s yellow-page phone directory would probably be thinner. That’s a huge hyperbole, but I feel overwhelmed.

So, when I drive away from the Y and realize that, oops, I’ve left my hand brace inside the building, I’m not surprised by my forgetfulness. And I am frustrated. With me. I need that brace. I’m performing tomorrow and don’t want my hand to cramp in the middle of a song.

True, the return trip is no more than a drive from exit to entrance, but backtracking isn’t on the sacred agenda.

Fortunately, Amy catches my eye as I approach the door to leave. Again. She is smiling. She has good news. She has been battling metastatic cancer. Her most recent tests have come back normal. This may not be the final report, but it leads in a positive direction.

Amy is an amazing young woman. She volunteers almost every day. And rides her bike, not a car. She doesn’t give up easily.

I wrap my brace around my wrist and realize the pain in my hand has lessened. And so has the weight of my self-imposed agenda. Suddenly, a few items fall off. And it is okay. They didn’t need to be there anyway. I add gratitude for people like Amy. The kind of addition that lightens the burden.

the brave and suffering The Optiism Revolution

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Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. (Albert Camus)

I am thinking about leaving water aerobics class a tad early. If I took a shower at the Y instead of at home, those few extra minutes could come in handy to begin a task or two.

The house needs to be reassembled after some minor construction in our bathroom. Kids will be at our house again tomorrow. I need to practice my set for a performance next week, and I have a writing deadline. Actually, I have several, including this weekly blog.

The instructor moves one way and I turn another. Fortunately, I don’t collide into anyone else. Apparently this moment is progressing and my mind is shifting somewhere else. Oops. One more time from the top.

I catch the eye of a fellow class member. We talk. Our conversation doesn’t stay with safe subjects, such as the temperature inside the pool, or outside where Mother Nature lets wind, storm, or sun take random turns with the weather. Our hearts meet in the important places where caring for others matters. And that caring charges a toll with no set rate.  Unpredictable is standard.

This kind of real-life communication happens often during classes. Funny how I keep up with the instructor’s transitions when I am interacting with another person. Yet, when my mind wanders to places I can’t touch, I’m lost.

The shower can wait. At least until I get home. For now, I spend time with other water comrades. And celebrate the gift of the moment.

friendship in pond, pool, or random flower

frog hugging frog

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The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

We planted our blue spruce tree forty years ago. It was a gift from my husband’s uncle who owned a nursery. Some of the tree’s branches no longer thrive. However, I only recently learned that no blue spruce trees have survived in a neighborhood less than a thirty-minute drive east of ours. I had no idea how lucky our front yard has been. Of course, the spruce’s care has cost a small fortune. But human life isn’t always easy either. Life was never promised to be an effortless road.

Dakota gathers cones scattered on the ground and gives them a ride in his toy yellow dump truck.

“Can I take these home?” he asks.

“Sure. As long as your mom says it is okay.”

I have probably stepped on or over the huge seeds and never noticed them. Dakota studies the shape and size of each cone. He lets the super-wet ones dry in the sun. Dark and semi-disintegrated cones remain with the lighter, more attractive ones. I don’t ask our almost-five-year-old why he is so enamored by spruce cones. It doesn’t matter. He has discovered something of wonder, and has given me the opportunity to observe nature—and a beauty that has been waiting for me to notice it.

The top of the spruce holds more cones not yet dropped. I think about how many seeds there are and yet how few produce trees. How often do I expect every kind act to yield results—or at least a nod of recognition? I ask the question, but don’t expect an answer. I need an awareness, not a count.

Gratitude comes in layers, over time. I got a call last night, about a gift a very special person wants to give me. He was shopping with his sister. They were having difficulty making a decision. At the time I’d been tired, lost in my own fatigue—and I almost missed the moment to know how important this call was, a far larger gift than any wrapped present. The what of the purchase wasn’t important. To me. But it was to him. And that is where my awareness took hold. I don’t remember whether or not I said thank you. But I do recall ending the conversation with, “And I love you, too.”

Now, Dakota’s cones go for fast rides up and down the lawn. And I wonder what a four-year-old boy envisions as he leads the truck through imaginary adventures. The dandelions, tucked in his pocket, fall out. He calls them pretty weeds. I call them gifts for the bees.

“Play with me,” he says. I Do. However, I always remain on the edge of his world. And catch occasional glimpses of the newness he sees. With the kind of appreciation that lets growth begin. For both of us.

cones

 

 

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It is good people who make good places.  (Anna Sewell)

I study this photo taken in a local park, and remember. Full bright blue sky. Sunglasses. Dark shadows with clear edges. And a day with my granddaughter, Ella.

Sure, light exists whether it is glaring or not, hidden behind gray clouds. However, cold wind, rain, as well as snow flurries steal the spring I expected this year.

Cold hasn’t taken away pleasant moments.

I had a delightful evening with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law last night as I served one more cold-weather meal—pork chops and sauerkraut.  

The antics of my grandchildren in my tiny office also bless my work space. The children leave a grand mess. But the chaos also brings suggestions for further stories as well as deep, sweet memories.

Last week at an exercise class I fumbled, as usual, through the transitions from one move to another. At least the continuous action healed the chill in my bones. Then I noticed a woman to my left in the row in front of me. She lifted one foot perhaps an inch off the ground, and then she raised the other, minutes later, while the rest of the class hopped to the right and then to the left. The lady smiled as if satisfied simply to be present. I wondered how old she was.

I guessed ninety. And discovered after class I was right when the instructor came to her and introduced herself.

“I’ll be back,” the older woman said.

And I hope she does return. She reminds me that internal warmth comes from far more than transient circumstances. Maybe someday I can learn that getting-all-the-external-parts-right isn’t the most satisfying life goal.

I look again at the picture of my shadow. I know it represents me. But I also know it reflects only a stretched-out shape created by an angle of light. One that can alter at any moment.

I pray to learn from young people like Ella. And older people like a surprise visitor in an exercise class.

Thank you, life, for today. In whatever shape it appears.

my shadow full sun West Fork park

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Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful. (Kailash Satyarthi)

Ella, a toy Mickey Mouse, and I cook with plastic plates, cups, anything that could act as a pretend utensil. The fact that Mickey, Ella, and I are not even close to being the same size doesn’t matter as we share Ella’s chicken, both invisible and delicious. Reality can be stretched in any direction with a strong imagination.

We need to leave for the ten-mile drive to kindergarten soon. Very soon. I tell Ella. To her time is as invisible as the chicken that could turn into brownies at whim.

Nevertheless, we make it to the car. And go on a bear hunt, with a few changes in the script. The bears become white or red, according to Ella’s whim. And the drive becomes beautiful instead of ordinary and tedious.

***

Dakota cooks using the same play utensils and Play-Doh. Usually his creations become chocolate cake. And he expects me to eat far more than a sumo wrestler could handle at one sitting. I feel full even though the blue or yellow clay has never touched my lips. His attention span doesn’t last long, however.

He picks up the book I wrote for Ella. It was never meant to be published. It is in a three-ring plastic binder. I printed two copies. One for Ella, one for her bus driver—a principal character.

I ask Dakota if he wants a book about him for his birthday. He thinks for a moment and answers, “With me and with Ella.”

The world through a young person’s eyes. Simple. Honest. Beautiful enough to make my tear ducts leak. Just a little.

My adult agenda gets overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder if I have enough time to stop and play with my little ones. Then I realize the stopping is life. My writing agenda merely talks about it.

Ella and Dakota playing

 

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