The Opportunity to Wait

At the end of last week my oldest had a doctor’s appointment.  A followup that had a happy ending, so there’s that.  We had all gotten up and moving way earlier than we usually do on any given day.  I was pleased and overwhelmed at the same time.  Trying to walk Miss Sophie and feed her and make sure that three other folks including myself eat and drink something AND visit the facilities before we left proved to be a little nerve-wracking.

Mostly because I didn’t want to be late.

Something I am pretty good at being.  Late, that is.

Usually only by a minute or few, but still.  Not my favorite thing in life to know about myself.  (As an aside, it pleases me immensely that my oldest does not have this trait. She leaves way earlier than she needs to usually.  PROUD Mama.  She gets it from my folks, and so maybe it skipped a generation, and it’s not my fault? Ahem.)

The office was crowded when we got there.  Who knew that so many people were early risers and LIKE first thing in the morning appointments?

We had to sit for a few minutes, waiting.  We weren’t sure how long of a wait it would be.  The appointment itself had the potential to last for well over an hour, so Aub was pretty eager to get the show on the road.

“Brandon!” the nurse called out the next patient to be seen.

Aub’s eyes got big and teary.  “But…..” she actually made her lip quiver. “But my name is Auburn.”

Ha.  I couldn’t help it.  That girl can make me laugh, and I love her for it.

She was called back soon enough.  The littles and I waited until the exam was over to go back with her.  As I said, good news, so we are very thankful.

The whole thing got me to thinking about how much of our life is spent waiting.

Wow, Tara, there’s an original topic.  I think everyone who has ever written has shared his or her thoughts about waiting, right?

So I promise these thoughts probably aren’t original, but they are mine nonetheless.

As a family of five, we have appointments and travel to and from those and activities that one does and the others do not–all of these offer ample opportunities to wait.  To sit.  To be.  To do.  Or not do.

To cogitate, as my Daddy would say.

And I think it’s important that we think of it as an opportunity.  If we approach all the times we are waiting on doctors or other professionals, or all of the time sitting while someone is dancing or swimming or learning about fish as something we HAVE to do, we will spend a lot of time being miserable.

Waiting is another one of those givens in life.  I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have to wait on something.  Even if it’s for a bathroom stall to become available or for their turn at the checkout counter.

We all have to wait at some point.

Might as well make the best of the OPPORTUNITY.

That is one thing I think we are doing okay as a family.  I don’t always feel like we get things right, so yes, this I think we are finally getting better at, and I’m taking that as a win.  We try to prepare for those waits.  We pack books and snacks and electronic devices (that privilege is a rare one that gets saved for waiting times for the most part) and head out the door.

We’re not perfect.  I won’t say that no one ever whines, because that would be a HUGE untruth.  Sometimes they (okay, we) do.  But we are working on it, and I think we are getting better at the waiting.  In line, in chairs, in offices, in the car.

And getting better is a good start.

Tonight I’m thankful for my children who can make me laugh at all the unexpected moments.  I’m thankful for our learning together that there is beauty in the waiting–that we are learning as a family how to wait.  It’s a skill to be honed for sure.  But I fully believe that it is one that will serve us well.  So many of the very best things in life require at least a little bit of patience and waiting.  And the time spent in that holding period makes it all the more special when the waiting is over.

Wishing you all a good spirit and something to do when Brandon’s name is called instead of yours, and that you are able to make the very best of the opportunities in waiting.

Love to all.

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A Legacy of Loving

Thursday evening as we pulled into the middle school parking lot, arriving for the littles’ gymnastic recital, Cooter piped up from the backseat, “I wish Maemae weren’t dead.”

Oh my heart.  Bless him.  Me too, baby boy.  Me too.

I’m not sure what prompted him to feel that, but maybe it’s because she was there for his very first gymnastics recital in 2012.  Maybe he was seeing her walking down that sidewalk with us after it was all over, her face beaming and telling him how wonderful he was–I know that memory kept playing over and over in my heart as we drove in and parked.

His sister agreed with him.  My Mama had a special gift of making the one she was talking to feel extra special.  Valued. Loved.  Wanted.  A treasure indeed.  And she never accepted you putting yourself or anyone else down.  Not ever.

She also told me when I needed to get off my pity pot.  But that’s a story for another night.

So this is for my children–the ones she loved, the ones she said made her life “grand”–

Maemae loved you.  She still loves you.  You never failed to put a smile on her face and a song in her heart.  She wanted you since the moment she found out you were on your way.  And she never stopped wanting you–as her grandchild, in her home, sitting next to her, in her heart.

She never stopped, and she sure shooting hasn’t stopped now.

There are going to be these moments in your life when the pain of her being gone is going to be a little harder than normal, like these past few days–special events, moments that make you think of her, or sometimes, for no reason at all.

And here’s what I want you to remember.

Maemae left you a legacy.  A legacy of love.  She loved you so strongly that when you sit and think about her and all you did together, I hope it puts a smile on your face.  Because you never failed to put one on hers.

But she also left you a legacy of loving.  She spent years and years building relationships with people who loved her back and who now love you.  Because you are hers and because you are pretty amazing people all on your own.  Look around at who is there when you have special events.  Look at who answers the phone when you have something to share.  Look at who blesses your heart when times are hard.  Look at who comes and moves you out of your dorm room or listens to you play piano over the phone or on a video.  Look at who listens to your stories and plays with you.  Look at who comments on your posts or sits and makes you laugh.  Look at Who. Shows. Up.

You were loved.  And you still are.

None of those who are here loving you now could replace her, and none of them want to.  But what they can do and WANT TO DO is love you and celebrate you and bring you comfort when you are sad.  And remind you that you are a treasure.

How lucky we are that Maemae was so good at loving people that she left us with all of these folks who love us too!

Our Princess’ dance teacher retired last year.  She returned this afternoon to watch “her girls” perform in their recital.  It was a loving gesture, and the girls were so excited to see her and for her to see what they have learned in a year’s time.

As she and I stood backstage watching them perform, it struck me how fortunate we are that Miss B did such a wonderful job of loving and teaching our girls.  These girls love her and were sad when she decided to retire, but because she passed the love of dancing along to them, they had what they needed to continue with dance when she wasn’t there.

See, if she had empowered them only to love her, none of them would have returned.  What a selfless gift she gave them when she made it bigger than her…..these girls’ love of dance is her legacy.

Maemae was like that with love.  She loved us fiercely and taught us to do the same, but instead of always wanting all that love for herself, she taught us to send it flowing outward to others and others and more others.  It didn’t stop with her, and because of how she loved, it never will.

That is her legacy.

Tonight I am thankful for women who teach and love in such a way that their absence doesn’t stop all the good things they have taught us.  I give thanks that my children remember and miss their Maemae, but even more I am thankful for those who continue to love them in the here and now.  I know she would be the last one wanting them sad on special days like these, and I love her so much for building relationships that feed our souls and warm our hearts and celebrate alongside us.  I don’t know what I would do without those smiling faces in the audience, those loving voices on the phone, the laughter and the willingness to step in and help.  I don’t know what I would do without those who show up.

And I’m thankful I don’t have to.

May we all love and teach the ones around us such that we don’t have to be around for the words and lessons to still matter and guide their hearts.

Love to all.

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cast of stones

there are times
on this journey
when the path is covered with brambles
and the way is almost indiscernible

this is when I miss your voice the most
and the wisdom
you shared as easily as the
stories from days gone by
and sometimes they were the same

you seemed so assured
of right and wrong
and yet I wonder if it was
always so clear to you

because frankly, the mud confuses me
and I’ve lost sight of the tracks you left
in the midst of it
I cannot read the compass you gave me
in this unchartered territory

and the Light you were as you showed me the way
seems a little dimmer right now
as time passes and the memories fade
and stories wander off on their own
with no one to tell them

and so I sit here
all alone
on the side of the trail
I can hear the people moving along at their busy pace
to and fro

listening to the buzz of their words
none of it really making any sense to me

I shiver in the darkness
hiding in the shadows
unable to go on
perhaps I will just stay here forever
as though I am broken
and have been given a cast of stones

with a heart too heavy to go on

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.