Turning the Page

Tonight as I toss my hand up in some semblance of a goodbye to 2014, I find myself looking ahead.

Sometimes looking back is just too much to handle.

This hasn’t been a bad year, it’s just there were firsts that were hard on the heart–and a lot to learn as I navigated the emotional and tangible aspects of living without someone I love.

So I look ahead.

I’m not looking ahead to 2015 as this set of days that will change my life, my world, my outlook.

Only I can do that.

But I am looking forward to each day as it comes.  Tomorrow, then the next, and then the next.

And in doing so, tonight I decided on my “word” to focus on each morning, noon, and night of the days in the coming year.

In the past couple of years, I’ve chosen “interruptible” and “with.”  So this year, I’m switching it up a little bit.

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and

See, I don’t want to walk into closed doors or situations and let them control me and where I can go in this life.

At the close of this year, should I still be up and walking and talking (and typing), I want to be able to say as I look back at 2015 in retrospect–

When I faced adversity (and this will happen), I kept on walking, and…..adversity didn’t dictate my next steps.

When someone’s actions were hurtful and broke my heart, instead of shutting down, I took that pain and…..I grew stronger and learned whom I could trust and love.

I didn’t let pain, loss, hurt, darkness, or brokenness have the final say.  When facing the cracks and pain in others, I showed them I cared, but I didn’t let their pain make me bitter, and…..I never walked away from a chance to love.

When I was short on time and long on to do’s, I took a deep breath and…..I got it done, one thing at a time without letting the feeling of being overwhelmed open the door to anxiety and frustration.

When I questioned the wisdom of the Universe and asked “why?,” I thought, “Okay, this may be what life has handed me, what is on my path right now, but it will not stop me.”  It happened and…..and then I faced it and did what I could do.

When I had an opportunity in front of me–

to be kind, to try something new, to reach for a goal, to give something with meaning, to share light with another,

I stopped and saw what was needed and…..I moved forward in love.

Tonight my heart is at peace as I put away one calendar and pull out another.  I know all the answers for good things and happiness do not lie in the turning of the page, but instead in the choices I make.

In the coming days, it is my fervent hope that I will not let my circumstances and situations become the final word.  I want to always follow with “and,” and then direct my own course.

Wishing you all a lovely and safe New Year’s day filled with big dreams and an even bigger, more wonderful reality right in front of you.  Make it yours and then…..

Love to all.

 

 

the parts of me that never were

I huddle in the back of the cold room

and lift the lid of the wooden chest in the corner,

in the bottom right

there is the faded cardboard box

I lift it out and gently take the lid off

 

the tissue paper is just as I remember

a bit more yellowed, some disintegrating

between my worn fingers

 

and then, there amongst the wisps

and clouds of tissue

are what I’ve tucked away over the years

 

the dreams

 

from all the years–

the silly and the real,

the big ones and the small,

barely dared to be breathed aloud ones

 

dreams of being

a teacher

a veterinarian

the first female president

dreams of writing a book

of starting a home for those with none

of dancing under the starlight on the deck of a ship

of wearing an elegant gown in a castle

 

the dreams of singing with a favorite star

or of acting on the stage again

or of seeing the Space Needle or

walking down a snow-covered street

in New York City at Christmas

 

of traveling across the country in an RV

 

dreams that, one at a time,

I’ve let go of

and tucked

unceremoniously

in this box

 

as I touch them and feel them

and wrap my heart around each one

I no longer feel the loss

or sadness over letting each one go

they are fading memories of a time gone by,

of a person I used to be

almost a comfort

like an old, familiar quilt

or a story I’ve read over and over

 

and memorized in my heart

 

they are all a part of me

and yet they never were

 

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Today our Princess was beaming as she told Mess Cat that since she will be eleven in almost a year, she will be expecting her letter from Hogwart’s next year–or the next, since school will have already started for them at the school of magic when she has her birthday.  I asked her did she really think she would leave us and go live there, and our bright and shining girl smiled and said with a wave of her hand–“Oh I will write…..I can use the owls to send letters back.”

She dreams big, and she is happy living in the dream for now.  It is my hope that she can tuck it away with a heart filled with peace one day, and that her heart won’t break when her letter doesn’t arrive.

 

Big, beautiful dreams and love to all.

 

 

 

 

 

Silent Night in Japan

Christmas of 2004, our Princess was five weeks old.  We were in Japan, and besides the four of us (Cooter didn’t arrive until a little over two years later), the only family we had there were the folks who had wrapped us up in their arms and hearts and called us their own.  This special family invited us to go to Christmas Eve service with them at their church in a small Japanese community.  I was thrilled.  Christmas Eve service has long been one of my most precious moments of each Christmas season.  I was very happy that we would be continuing the tradition.

It was even more beautiful than I could imagine.  By the time we got there, having ridden in the van with our friends through the dark Japanese countryside, the dimly lit church was a lovely setting for a quiet evening of reflection about that first Christmas.  When we arrived, our friends introduced us to the only other “foreigner” in attendance.  He was an American around our age who had traveled there years before and married a Japanese woman.  He was fluent in both languages, and he offered to translate the evening’s service for us.

I was so thankful for him that night, but tonight as I sit here where I have no problem understanding what anyone is saying, I am even more appreciative.  He gave up his quiet evening of worship to share with us, so we could feel a part of things.  And understand.

It was a beautiful evening, and when the minister spoke of the baby Jesus, he gestured toward our own baby and wondered aloud what Christmas would come to mean for her.

I am teary-eyed as I remember it tonight, and I think about how her being down with the flu took something from our joy this season.  She is one who truly carries Christmas joy in her heart.

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Silent Night

 

That evening years ago closed with a singing of Christmas carols.  The last song of the night was “Silent Night” complete with the sharing of lighting the candles.  The lyrics were spelled phonetically in Japanese on a screen so that we could sing along to the song and the tune we knew by heart.  But in a new and beautiful way.

And it was one of the most moving moments in my memory.

The faces of those around us, people we had just met and some we had not, glowed in the reflection of the light.  Their smiles were contagious and the Love in the room was palpable.  Just as real as the newborn baby whose life we were remembering and giving thanks for.

Tonight I found a video of “Silent Night” being sung in Japanese, and it carried me back to that wonderful night.  And a wonderful part of our journey, spent with beautiful people who didn’t discount us or look down on us because we were in the minority and quite different.  I remember the young man who interpreted and shared the message so unselfishly, so that we could hear it as well.

I am thankful for the Christmas season and for those who share the message of Love and Light so graciously, not just one day but everyday, so that we can all feel included and loved.  I give thanks for our Princess who finally started feeling better today–I have missed her light and laughter.  And I am thankful for a beautiful song, sung halfway around the world in a foreign dialect and yet made me feel at home.

That’s part of what I love about the magic of Christmas.  It can bring the memories of home wherever you are.

Wishing you all someone to step in and share with you so that your day is even richer and for a song to lift your spirits and carry you home no matter what language it is in.

Love to all.

 

Friending Folks in Real Life

I have been visiting with my brother and sharing stories of all kinds.  We have laughed and laughed until we cried.  But one story he told me made me want to laugh, cry, and shake my head all at the same time.

Bubba is in a caring profession, caring for the spirits and needs of others.  He was recently at a gathering of folks in his area in the same field.  They were gathering to brainstorm and problem solve.  He said what amazed his non-smart phone carrying self was not that there were bowed heads, which would have been appropriate in this setting, but that they were bowed over their smart phones of various shapes and sizes.  He said conversations were at a minimum, and he was blown away by the focus that so many showed over their miniature screens.

Bubba sat over his lunch quietly as most of the group were otherwise occupied, when the fella next to him punched his arm and said, “Hey, I just friended you on Facebook!”

*crickets*

Y’all.  For the love.

I mean, my brother was sitting.  Right.  There.

What on earth?

We do this though, don’t we, so many of us?  We sit with our heads bowed over these phones and long-distance/non-tangible relationships and when the opportunity presents itself, RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, to spend time and get to know the folks right beside us, we totally miss out.  I have seen folks sharing pictures from their holiday festivities this year and many of them show people staring at their “little friends” instead of the ones they love who are gathered around them.

I’ve been guilty of this a time or two myself.

But I’m trying to do better.

Because I know better.

Phones and electronics should work for us, not vice versa.

Wishing you all a fairly technology free day…..so maybe we can start friending folks in real life.

Love to all.

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As good as this can be, real life is so much better!

 

The Story of the Lamp Box Present

Many moons ago before my oldest entered this world, I sat around the Christmas tree with people I loved as we were opening presents.  I try to be meticulous when I am unwrapping a present, and even more so at this point in my life–as I have wrapped many a present and can appreciate the time and energy and resources it takes to perfectly crease and fold and tape. (And there really is such a thing as the perfect wrapping paper–as I have used the cheap that tears and allows for pre-Christmas morning peeking and I have used the heavier kind that doesn’t let the tape stick to it very well at all, which pops open and also allows for peeking. The perfect paper falls somewhere in between these two.)

When I finally got the paper off of the box, I looked at the outside and was thrilled.  I mean, I hadn’t expressed my need or desire for a lamp, but if the picture was any indication, it was a lovely one and whimsical–two qualities I could and still can appreciate.

Only the picture wasn’t any indication.

As I oohed and ached and told the gift givers thank you for oh such a lovely lamp, I began to open the box.  They both chuckled and one managed to look a little sheepish while the other teased, “What on earth makes you think it’s a lamp?”

Because it wasn’t, y’all.

I laughed it off, though at age 24 I suppose I was a little embarrassed.  I don’t remember what was actually in the box now, but the not-a-lamp gift taught me a couple of lessons.

First, don’t thank folks for a gift until it is all the way, no kidding, you are touching it in your hands, opened.  Just add that to your file on Christmas etiquette.  You’re welcome.

Second, though, and more importantly, it wasn’t what it appeared to be.  I thought I was being given something that I could enjoy, but it really wasn’t that at all.  Instead it was something even better.  I just needed to give it time to open and unfold.  I didn’t need to stop at the surface.

And so it is with life, I think.

We have something on our plate, in our lap, on our radar, and we think it’s something wonderful or not so much, and we immediately start reacting.  (“Oh thank you” “Oh no” “Oh my”)  Instead, if we would wait and take the time to really dig in and discover what is in front of us, we might find out that it really is something quite different from what we expected.

And perhaps even more wonderful.

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I was thinking about this when I was wrapping a gift for my oldest.  I used a Vera Bradley store bag that a friend had used to send something totally not Vera Bradley-related to me in.  Aub had been wanting a VB tote, but she has heard the story of the not-a-lamp more than once, so she was very cautious and said, “Well let me see what is in the Vera bag–likely to be hydrocortisone ointment or underwear or something.”

Or maybe–it might just be a VB bag…..that was acquired for a song from the GW Boutique.

Life can be full of surprises–and some of them can be quite fun.

Wishing you all a day of good surprises.

Love to all.

’tis the season

‘Twas the day after Christmas

and all through the house

the noses were sneezing

and coughs were leaving the mouths.

 

The flu had visited

and been gone for a few

but this, these symptoms

were something entirely new.

 

No fever, so the question was asked,

“Are we really even sick?”

But then as we all thought,

in unison said, “We feel just so ick.”

 

The tissues were placed

by each bed and chair

in the hopes to limit germs

that threatened to travel here and there.

 

Spraying the house with cleansing things

and of course handwashing galore

It was hoped that this “bug” wouldn’t live

to bring us down one day more.

 

In the meantime we rested and did what we could,

even though things this Christmas didn’t go as they should.

As I wandered through and wished all a good night,

I said to myself as I turned off the lights,

“Tis the season

to be sneezin’!

Merry 2nd day of Christmas and

to all a day that is pleasin’!”

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“oh tissue box, oh tissue box, how lovely is your comfort…..”

 

Love to all.  Fingers crossed all are on the mend–in your house and ours!

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cheer

Tonight I’m thankful for barefooted little boys feeling well enough to run around outside on a day that has blue skies and sunshine.  I’m thankful for little girls who are growing up but still hug dolls and cry over sweet stories.  I give thanks for big girls who love dolls and listening to the radio and who still get excited about the magic of Christmas.

For the gifts that made me feel loved and the folks who give love so generously, I am grateful–fruitcakes, pitchforks that  turn out to be something wonderful, simple rings that hold a promise, and ampersands and earrings and books and smiles and hugs and phone calls and laughter and time spent together.

Today was filled with the quiet joy that comes from loving those who are here and remembering those who are not and loving and laughing and holding each other close through it all.

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Tonight I’m most thankful for all of those who share Christmas cheer with us.

Wishing you all enough cheer that you have plenty to share with those around you.

Merry First Day of Christmas!

…..And then…..But then

My little guy Cooter is sick.

He started running fever yesterday afternoon and woke up with the same temperature this morning.  I’m impressed that he’s fighting this on his own–I have yet to give him any medicine and it’s staying steady below 102.  I’m also *ahem* impressed that it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all.  So I’m thinking this is not the “three-letter word” stuff.  Last week that had his sister down for the count and not moving off the couch for two days.  So tonight I’m thankful it’s not worse…..

Cooter woke up this morning and immediately started talking.  I wasn’t quite as alert and ready to converse as he was, but I’m not sure he noticed.  He piled up on my bed and started telling me a story–or was it a dream, sorry I’m telling you I was not fully awake yet–about Star Wars characters, a battle, and some cheese.

I think.

The story moved pretty quickly from one thing to another.  The relaying of it included a lot of excited “…..and then…..and then…..but then…..”

All one run-on sentence adventure.  It was precious.

I was thinking about those words today as I prepared for the magic and beauty of tonight and tomorrow.

and then

but then

We have spent the entire month working our way to Bethlehem.

To the manger.

To the baby who was born to be King.

We read each day from a book about a little bear’s journey, following the star, and this morning he finished his journey and made it to the little baby tucked away in a stable, “no crib for a bed.”

So much preparation.  So much excitement.  So many good things–kindness, listening to others, caring, loving, sharing, giving.

All the way up to the day many of us will celebrate on December 25.

All that kindness, magic, goodness, caring, giving–

and then…..

but then…..

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Tomorrow morning when we get up the first thing that will happen before presents or anything is Cooter will take Baby Jesus out of his pocket on the Advent calendar and place him in his manger, just as has happened each Christmas morning for the past 18 or so years.  We will have made it–the journey to the manger.  Following the Light.

And then?

All of our stories, if we sat and told them as Cooter did this morning, would be filled with lots of “and thens” and “but thens.”   And now that we have seen the best of human nature in others AND in ourselves during this time of waiting and preparing, the question begs to be asked–

And then?

Will we let it all go, this need to share with those who are in need?  This reaching out to other people with kind words, smiles, waves, hellos?  Will we stop digging for quarters in our pockets and looking for the red buckets?

See, people are in need all year long.

In need of quarters, clothes, food, shelter, safety, love

kind words

hugs

someone to believe in them…..

Now that we know, that we’ve had a taste of what that looks like, after we get up in the morning and spend time with those we love,

what comes next?

What will your story be?  How will it continue from here?

 

Merry Christmas!

and then…..

the crack in the darkness

what if

as we sit in the darkness,

trying to figure out how to piece it all back together

again

each time we feel the pain of the losing

 

what if,

as the darkness threatens to envelop us,

and all the light that we cannot see

is just out of our reach

 

what if

the one good thing we can do

the smile we can give

the hand we can hold

the love we can share–

 

what if

that is how the Light gets in?

 

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why i will miss Christmas

come Friday I will be sad

that Christmas is over

few celebrate it all twelve days

anymore

 

my heart will be heavy

not because of the gifts

which will have all been given and received

and not because of things done

and left undone

cookies can still be baked

and stories can still be shared

 

instead I will be sad

over the loss of vision and hearing

that seems so much better

during Advent

as we watch and wait and listen

 

we watch with anticipation

for the lights

in the homes

and in the yards

that mean Christmas is near

 

we watch for the special gift

and the smiles on friendly faces

as we wander through shops

and markets

 

we watch for the lone light

on the back porch that

tells us someone is there,

that we are welcome,

and we are not alone

 

we watch for the colors

that bring cheer to the season,

the colors on ornaments,

sweaters, socks,

paper, and ribbons

 

we watch for the knowing glance

of a dear one we love,

and the smile that tells us we

will always be known

and loved

 

we listen for the sound of delight

as little ones and old alike

catch their first glimpse

of the lights so deliberately strung and hung

 

we listen closely for the words,

for the longing in the voice,

so we can find the perfect gift

we listen better and intently,

seeking clues about those we love

and what they like

 

we listen to the songs

that warm our hearts

and lift our spirits

through the stories they tell,

songs whose lyrics we know

and have sung for years and years

 

we listen to the quiet

and think about that night

in the barn that started all of this

listening and watching

and waiting

oh so many years ago

 

and then, as December comes

to a close,

we tidily box it all up–

this acute awareness–

and we hurry on our way,

back to the busy days

and the to do lists

and resolutions

and whatnot

and we forget sometimes

to listen and watch

and wait

until the magic

of the holiday comes

’round again

and reminds us

 

that listening and watching

and gathering with

those we love

is the greatest gift of all

 

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