Summer Applause

It is officially summer.

No matter what the calendar or the thermometer say, in my book, summer has officially begun.

This is the fourth summer I have kicked off in the same way.  Sitting watching girls in leotards and boys in shorts and t-shirts show their gymnastic skills.

And then there’s the drive home at dusk.  With the lightning bugs and the smell of everything summer in the air that envelops me like a warm bath.

Yes. It’s definitely summer.

Tonight’s gymnastic recital brought back memories of the others–the first and only one my Mama attended, the one she enjoyed so much.  The one when my little guy and his buddies did a “Mission Impossible” routine.  The one that I left the kitten I was bottle feeding to attend.  So many memories, and tonight was memory-making all by itself.

Cooter doing synchronized, paired cartwheels with his best bud.  His smile as he worked his way around the horse.  Watching him PLANK.  (He never mentioned he could do any of these things!) Sitting with his friends watching the others perform, singing along to the different songs. Our Princess doing the floor routine with a little dance to it.  Watching her mouth the words to the song playing while she was walking the balance beam, dipping her toes “in chocolate.”  Looking over to see her fanning herself, her sign language that she was nervous–always with the super big smile and that sweet wave.  The moment she went over and told her brother what a great job he did after his performance.  Seeing the joyful and anxious faces in the room, and hoping that each one of them felt good about what they did and happy when the night was over.

There was one little girl, maybe five, who was in a class of girls who took turns doing their stunts on the mini-trampoline.  Each time she came up and finished, she threw her arms up as they had all been instructed.  And she waited.

For the applause.

Sooooo cute.

And of course the applause came.  It came for each one who took the time to stop for a minute. And for those who just finished and ran back to their spot.  But this little girl.  She stood and soaked it in with her big ol’ smile and sweet spirit.

That right there.

What a precious thing to see, this little one who was loving every minute of her life and KNEW she’d just done something fabulous and let all the rest of us celebrate that with her.

Because that’s what it seemed like.  Our applause was a part of her celebration, her victory, her accomplishing something really, really BIG.

And she had done just that.

The applause tonight did other things too–it encouraged each child.  Each turn the gymnasts came back more ready and excited than the last–encouraged by the applause from the previous round.  And it served as a balm to the souls of the ones who hadn’t made the perfect landing. Or done the best cartwheel.  It celebrated showing up.  And that’s always worth honoring.

Tonight I’m thankful for another year of growth and learning and good health with great gymnastics teachers who make it fun and safe for my children.  I am thankful for the ones who came out and made my littles feel celebrated and loved tonight–for them showing up.   I give thanks for the friends my children and I have made over the course of their years in this fabulous program.  I am grateful for the memories I have and the memories we made tonight of this special culmination of hard work, dedication, and fun.  And finally, my heart is filled with appreciation for the frog music, lightning bugs, and summer night sky that serenaded us home tonight.

May we all find someone to applaud and celebrate with–and when we do something absolutely fabulous, may there be someone there to celebrate us.  Most of all, may we all make the effort to show up…..and celebrate those who do.

Happy Summer, y’all!  Merry memory making!

Love to all.

Seeing the Rainbows

This afternoon as we headed east on the main road, Aub, who was riding shotgun, pointed out the front window to the right of the heavy storm clouds.  “Look!”

A rainbow.  So big and bright that you could see each individual color on that ROYGBIV spectrum.  Beautiful.

Breathtaking really.

My only regret is that I didn’t pull over right then.

The littles were able to see it after we turned and headed south.  They were excited and watched it until we got to our destination a few minutes later.

As the busyness of getting our Princess where she needed to be ensued, the rainbow was quickly forgotten.  Until I saw two little girls running over to where they could see it, pointing and jumping up and down with excitement.

Jumping up and down over a rainbow.

For the love.

A few minutes later we settled in to our seats to wait on our Princess to finish her practice, and I looked up at the sky.

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Rainbow gone.

Ah.  Well. It had been lovely.  No rainbow lasts forever I suppose.

The thing that made me sad was that the sky was unchanged.  If you hadn’t known about the rainbow from a few minutes ago, you wouldn’t see anything that would let you know it had been there at all.

How many folks just continued on their way, never noticing the beauty in that Promise spanning across the sky?

And how many of us pass by someone in their shining moment, never noticing what it is taking for them to step outside their comfort zone and say hello, smile at a stranger, draw a picture, write a short story, sing a melody that touches their heart…..AND SHINE?

How many of us don’t see the rainbows in the eyes and hearts of those around us each and every day?

*raises hand*  I know I’m right up there with so many.  I get all wrapped up in my woulda coulda shouldas and my to do’s and tunnel vision kicks in.

And I am missing so many rainbows.  Right there in front of me.

That makes me want to cry.

Summer is here.  We’ve wrapped up school, for a few weeks anyway.  I so want this to be our summer of rainbows.  For this one tonight to just be the beginning.  I want to keep my eyes and my heart open so I don’t miss the joy and the fun and the laughter that is in the hearts of those I love.  And those we meet in our day to days.  And every time I see one, I want to jump up and down with excitement!

And one more thought before I call it a night–

How many of us look in the mirror and fail to see the beautiful rainbow spirit that lives inside that person we are looking at?  How many of us fail to see the beauty and strength and inspiring person who lives inside our own skin? (Yes, I’m talking to you, sweet one.  Right now, stop and go look in the mirror, and see the beauty there that the rest of us see–inside and out–you lovely amalgam of color and thought and emotions.  Now tell yourself how beautiful you are.  And recognize it within.  All the good you do in this world.  Yes.  That right there.  Thank you.)

May we all spend a day of seeing the rainbows that usually go unnoticed.  In others.  And ourselves.

Love to all.

Wanting to Be Worthy of the Pin

I’m mad.

Well, okay, let’s dial it back to “pretty frustrated.”

You can’t believe everything you read.  Y’all know that, right?

We took the crew to see the movie “Tomorrowland.”  After all of the hype in the previews (both at the last movie we saw and on television), the littles really wanted to see it.  I breathed a sigh of relief that it was rated PG, and so we made plans to go.  Oh, and also #GeorgeClooney.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I worried that the intensity of it might prove to be too much for our Princess, who can be tender-hearted and sensitive at times, but then she’s handled the third Harry Potter movie okay and insists she can handle the others (not ready to test that though) since she’s read all of the books.

We sat in our seats and began the two hour and ten minute journey.

Amazing.

I was never bored.

The littles were never up, asking me when it would be over or insisting that they had to go to the bathroom now.

Was it intense?  YES.  Be forewarned if you have little ones there are some interesting and–okay–gory executions of robots.  Disney was sure to remind you they were robots because of the mechanical things that happened after they were attacked.  I was a little worried that someone might have nightmares last night, but no worries, no problems.

(Whether or not I should be worried about my children accepting violence against a human looking robot is something I’ll worry about another time.)

The thing about this movie is it was about HOPE.

HOPE and what that can do in our world.  For the good.

The state of the world in the movie was definitely not good, much as we can say about certain situations in our world today.  And yet, there was one who dared to ask, “Well okay, that’s what it is; now, can we fix it?”

Wow.

Later in the movie there was some statement pointing out that it is one thing to recognize the world’s condition, but it takes it to a whole different level to commit to changing it.

In other words, we need to start using our heads for more than just shaking when we see things happening that are wrong.

Not easy stuff in this one, y’all.

But so good and so important.

And then there was this–**spoiler alert**  (Seriously, if you don’t want to know, just stop and I’ll see you tomorrow.)

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One of the characters in the movie was a recruiter.  Whom was she asked to recruit?  And how?

Dreamers.  The ones who had hope.

She placed a special pin for the person to find and it gave them the vision of what could be.

It was a few hours later as I sat reviewing the movie in my mind (and my heart) that I realized how far away from that I have become.  I want to be that person–one worthy of recruiting–a dreamer.  I want to feel hope bursting in my chest.  For good.  For our people.  For our world.

I want to be worthy of receiving that pin.

I loved the movie.  The reviewers who were less than complimentary–who knows what they were thinking or wanting the movie to be.  I went in with no expectations, and I walked out with hope.

Not too shabby for the price of one movie ticket.

Not too shabby at all.

I grew up watching Jodie Foster in Disney movies like “Candleshoe” and watching “That Darn Cat” and the “Witch Mountain” movies.  This movie reminded me of the ones I loved growing up.  I loved “Tomorrowland” so much that I might have to find my way back to the theater just to watch it again and see what I missed the first time.  I’m not sure I can wait for the DVD to come out to watch it again.  It was just that good.

Wishing you all a day filled with dreams big and small and with the flutter of hope carrying you all day long.

Love to all.

“Hey! She’s Sick!”

So sometimes life throws you a curveball, like it does, when you didn’t even know you were up to bat, and you wind up in the Emergency Room because all the med stops are closed for the holiday and your oldest child needs some doctorin’.

This was my past five hours.  And I’m proud to tell y’all that while Anxiety Girl definitely rode along with us and whispered things in my ears, I kept my cool.  I was worried, but I didn’t let it get out of control.

And now here we are back home, and my girl is headed to bed for a good night’s sleep.  All is well.

And for this moment right here, that will do.

Lovely, really, isn't it?  I mean, why?  But I did appreciate it.

Lovely, really, isn’t it? I mean, why? But I did appreciate it.

The best moment of the night wasn’t wondering why this particular mural was in an ER examination room, though I certainly did wonder.

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I mean, it really feels like they WANT me to ask, don’t you think?

It also wasn’t telling Aub that I was DEFINITELY going to ask the doctor if he had washed his hands–I have done it before when I had a three-month old Cooter in there for what they suspected was pneumonia.  Aub told me not to, and when I pointed to the sign and said, “It’s okay,” she replied quite firmly, “It’s okay…..but not recommended.”

Well.  Okay then.  (Pain can make people a little grouchy, y’all, in case you didn’t know.)

No, the highlight of the evening was that our room was directly across the hall from the bathroom for the entire ER unit.  People coming and going.  When a Mama wheeled her son (in an ER wheelchair) into the bathroom, she told her two girls, who looked to be about 4 and 6, to wait right outside.  The smaller girl looked in the room and saw Aub.  She nodded to her sister and then pointed with her head and side glance at Aub.  Her sister very seriously said, “Yes.  She’s sick.”  A minute later the admissions nurse walked down the hall.  The little one pointed at Aub in our room and called out to the nurse right in front of her, “Hey!  She’s sick!”

At that moment I heard my girl laugh. That was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve heard in a long time.  Relief.

I asked her what happened, as I couldn’t see the hall as easily as she could from my vantage point.  She told me, and she said that made her day.  Sweet little girl, all worried about her.  Aub even shared it on Facebook, ending with:  “Thank you, kind stranger, I feel like they’re taking me more seriously now.”

Bless that little girl.  And bless her older sister, seemingly a little embarrassed, who said, “Hannah! Don’t question it!”

Bless all the cuteness.

Here’s the thing.  In our idea of what is appropriate and not, and I guess even in the mind of a six-year-old, it’s not in our comfort zone to notice and point out someone in need to someone who can help.  I mean, how many of us would have openly looked into an exam room and then pointed that person out to a nurse?

And yet, the little one who did was the one who helped my girl round the corner.  Take a turn for the better.

It made me wonder how many times I could have helped another by noticing, letting them know I noticed, and then asking someone else to care.

Just a thought.

Here’s wishing you all a day of being noticed and finding out just how much you are cared about–you and your precious soul.

Love to all.

The Really Great Thing About Thoughts…..

Today Aub and I took a trip down memory lane.  After dinner we found ourselves together in the living room, and we decided to watch an old episode of “That’s So Raven.”

For those of you who might not know the show, Raven Symone plays a teenage girl who is a psychic, and it’s all about her figuring out how to live with her “gift.” It is a comedy, and her facial expressions remind me of Lucille Ball’s ability to get a laugh with a simple twist of her face.

On the episode we watched today, Raven had a “psychic cold,” which allowed her, for a short period of time, to hear other people’s thoughts.  It created quite a mess, which is typical of the show.  I laughed and cringed when her parents figured out what was going on and asked her, “How much did you ‘hear?'”

“Too much,” she replied, with an exaggerated look of horror on her face.

Funny.

But there was a part of me that wasn’t amused.

What if people could hear my thoughts?

Oh me.  Just pack me up and set me out to live in the middle of the woods.  I couldn’t take the pressure, quite honestly.

Because we are free, you and I, to think what we want to think.  That’s the great thing about thoughts.  They are in our heads.  No one can hear them.  They are private.

Which is very, very good.

However, lately I’ve noticed some folks must not find comfort in the fact that their thoughts are their own and private, because they seem to be sharing anything and everything that comes to mind.

Whether it hurts other people or not.

Y’all, we gotta stop that mess.

Mama often said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Clairee from “Steel Magnolias” said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.”

There has to be a balance between the two.  My Mama was not one to be run over or let anyone harm anyone else on her watch, but she was one who guarded her tongue and made every effort to be tactful.  And considerate.  The one thing that could get us in trouble worse than anything was to hurt someone’s feelings with unkind words or to leave somebody out.

This is a small world, folks.  We have to live here together.  All of us, including me, need to keep that in mind.  We are free to think whatever we want about people, places, and things, but we need to be sure that our words do not leave our mouths until we have weighed all of the possible consequences of our sharing them.

Yeah, sure, I get it.  “Heat of the moment” and all that.  I’m a parent.  I know about those moments.  But the heat of the moment can cause a lot of messes.  And bottom line–it’s no excuse.

Just because a thought goes through our head, it does not necessarily mean that we need to speak it into existence for everyone else to hear.

Another thing my parents said, “If you know better, do better, and folks will like you better.”

We know better than to be spewing some of the things that are coming out of our private thoughts–out loud and on the computer screen. (Social media, I’m looking at you.)

We.  Know. Better.

Here’s to a day of lifting others up with our words and keeping those other kind of thoughts to ourselves.

Love to all.

the song I seek to live

as he played the guitar and told his stories in song,
the smell of coffee permeated the air,
the dull roar of the blender and quiet conversations the only other sounds in the shop

I watched him play, his fingers strong and pliable
his voice smooth and folksy
and the lyrics took me back in time
to before
all that has fractured my heart

the people walking up and down the street
through the window behind him caught my eye–
some meandering, some with purpose
singles, in pairs, in big smiling groups
enjoying the blue sky and sunshine of the lovely summer evening

and then there was the One
who approached the window timidly
his attention riveted by the guitar and the man playing it

as though in a trance he walked right up to the window
I expected to see his hand reach out and touch the glass
I wondered if he could hear the music from the outside looking in

if he could hear the words at all,
the chorus
“a place where all are welcome, all are kin”

the man through the glass turned instead and walked to the door
contemplating whether to open it I guess
and after a decisive moment he did

he smiled shyly as he entered and stood off to the side,
and it was then that I recognized him
he was not intrusive, did not sit down in the empty seat
and when invited kindly by the one who had recently lost so much
he waved his hand and looked at him and gently said, “No thank you, I’m only here a minute”

he listened to the chorus once more
“a place where all are welcome, all are kin”

and though he was only a visitor
I was drawn to the peace and joy surrounding him

then he smiled again and turned and walked out the door
headed to a place that God only knows

he didn’t look like I expected,
but then they say he never does
slipping in and out of stories,
turning them for the better,
bringing light into the darkness,

only maybe we don’t see it right away

it was later tonight, long after the sun had set
and the music faded, that my tears fell,
thankful for the timing of the One who welcomes all,
joining us during that song, touching the one who was grieving
and leaving without preaching a word

I know he turned this story
for I felt it in my heart,

and though I’m not quite sure how
I know that this evening,
that moment of watching his loving gaze
land on the one who played and the one who grieved,
will be a night that I will look back and see
as a pivotal point

to what I don’t know
I only know I follow the path
of the One who welcomes all
and makes us all kin

and I walk into the night,
for once unafraid of the darkness
singing the chorus of a song I seek to live

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Catharsis

I’ve been having some trouble with my left shoulder for a few weeks now.  I tell you this not for sympathy, but to explain why I was where I was today.

It’s bothered me so much lately that I’m not sleeping well, because I tend to flop a couple of times during the night, and now I wake myself up when I do.  I am coping fine.  Getting things done and all that.  It’s just I’ve had to compensate for it being out of whack.  And I’ve stopped doing planks with Justin every morning.  Enough is enough.

Finally I decided to do something about it.  Me + lack of sleep = unhappy me = Unhappy Family.  It’s the new math.  Or Mama math, as I like to think of it.

I made an appointment with a very skilled massage therapist.  He has helped with our Princess’ leg issues to the point where she rarely has the leg aches anymore.  He has straightened out my neck and shoulders and LOWERED my shoulders (stress, I know where you live) more times than I can count.  I knew if it could be fixed, he could do it.

When folks hear about massages, they picture relaxing and gentle with calm music, candles, lovely scents.

Just no.

This guy is kind and compassionate, but it hurts, y’all.  He chases those little knots around and pushes them out of you.  And it hurts like the dickens.  Until it stops.  And he releases the pressure, and you feel like a new person.

End result is awesome, but it takes some work to get there.  (Hmmmm, that reminds me of something I like to call life…..)

I walked in today, and told him the news that my neck was actually fine.  He listened to me whine for a couple of minutes and nodded.  He said he knew just what to do.

And he did.

But oh me.  I bit my lip and made fists and my feet came up off the table a time or two.  A couple of times I was worried my reflexes would kick in and I’d punch or kick him.  Each time the knot released and he let go, I could tell it was working but the pain got a lot more intense before it let go and felt better.

About halfway into it, he found a spot at the top of my shoulder, one of the instigators of all the trouble I’d been having.  When he went after it, it took my breath for a second.  As I remembered to breathe, I felt tears welling up in my eyes.

But they weren’t from the pain.

I was sad. And the tears welled up and dripped to the floor where I was looking through the hole in the table.

Oh the brokenness.

What.  on.  earth.

I couldn’t figure out what was going on, and then I remembered a wise doctor telling me that we carry our stories with us, even on a molecular level.

Ah.  So that’s where all the stuff has been hiding.  No wonder I couldn’t move my arm easily.  I’ve been holding onto some things.

I wasn’t sure if it was worries over future plans or the grief of my friend’s passing or the stress of spending a night on anaphylaxis watch with our Princess a few nights ago…..but I knew it was all in there.  Hiding in these little knots.  When he finished, I felt a weight had lifted.

Off my arm.  Off my soul.

Last Saturday night I sat listening to my cousin’s husband play at our favorite coffeehouse.  He shared his stories through song.  I laughed and listened and really enjoyed the evening.  He is talented and so open with the stories he shares.  It was all going really well, and then he played the song he wrote for his daughter.   The one about their connection at her birth and how he hopes he will see her as he takes his last breath.

It hit me at once all over again.  And the bandaid was ripped off, and the pain of my Daddy dying was raw and new, and I wept.

And it was good.

I don’t want to ever think about that and not feel, you know?

It was good to shed those tears.  It opened up something in me, I think.

Silly, isn’t it, what can bring us catharsis?  A release of all that is pent-up inside.  Of all that is screaming to get out.  We sometimes tell ourselves we have to pack up all of those emotions and feelings and tears and push it in a corner and keep on going.  Because we have things to do, people to see, places to be–we’ll get to it later.

Only we rarely do.  There’s no spot on a calendar for grief work or meditation, is there?

And so when we sit in a darkened theater and see a movie that moves us beyond tears, the box gets opened a little bit.  Or when we have to pull over to the side of the road because Colbie Caillat’s “Try” has us sobbing all of a sudden for some strange reason, a little more escapes.

It’s important not to stuff it all in and push it out of the way, I’m finding out.  At least for me anyway.  My arm and shoulder are begging me to keep working on taking a little bit out of that box everyday.

I don’t think it will every completely be empty.  Our hearts and souls rarely work like that.  But if I don’t stuff it down and keep sitting on it to keep the box shut like I’ve had to do on occasion with a suitcase, that’s progress.  If I can take a moment or two each day to take a little out and let it go, I will have done something.  Something cathartic.  Cleansing.

And that is a good thing.

Wishing you all a sad song on the radio just when you need it most.

Love to all.