The “H” word

Today the Zoo Crew and I were busy preparing for an evening of mischief and merriment.  We pulled out some of our Christmas treasures and our Princess was happily putting them throughout the house.  It was fun watching her plan where she wanted to put what, and I only naysayed her twice.  Once on my Granny’s Santa, which I wanted to grace my back porch this year and second, a pillow that belonged to my Mama.  Everything else I let stay where it was.  She was happy, and so was I.

I was in the kitchen working when I heard her talking to Cooter in the other room.  She was trying to get him to assist her in putting up some decorations.  He was lounging on the floor with a book, and she was flitting all over, putting Christmas lovelies in different places.

I was only half-listening when I heard her say to him, “Cooter, have you ever heard of the “h” word?”

Oh law, where was this headed?

I leaned toward the doorway to hear better.

He muttered something that sounded faintly like no.

“Well, it is H. E. L. P.  Help.  Have you ever heard of that?”  She sounded fed up.  But this Mama was quite relieved.

As far as “h” words go, that’s a good one.

I don’t know what Cooter said back, but his sister asked him didn’t he want to help her and he said no.

I could hear her voice as she moved about the room, “Well why not?  It really makes you feel good.”




Now while I am glad she is beginning to get it, I can reassure you this hypothesis of hers is still in its experimental stages, or else she would be doing it more.  Since it makes her feel so good and all.

Actually, she has gotten better at seeing what needs doing and–okay, truth, she’s getting better at responding when I ask her to do something.  She dusted today.  That, my friends, was huge.  Y’all know how I feel about dusting.

Tonight I’m thankful that the “h” word, according to our Princess, is “help.”  When she first started spelling it I wasn’t sure what conversation I was about to have to have with her.  I give thanks for her willing and cheerful hands today–from dusting to caring for Miss Sophie to vacuuming and helping at the grocery store, she was my right hand girl today, and I appreciate her and her cheerful spirit so much.

I’m also glad she feels good when she helps.  That is a beautiful thing, and I hope she always feels that way.

And it reminds me of something that I often forget–helping others makes folks feel good–so maybe the next time someone asks if they can help…..

maybe I should just share some joy and say yes.

Too often we try to carry our burdens and tasks and life all by ourselves.  As Princess reminded me today, we don’t have to do it alone.  If we let others help us, it just might bless them too.

Yeah.  I need to work on that one.

Whether you are helping another or letting them help you, I hope your day is full of the “h” word and all the good feelings that come along with it.

Love to all.


Nary a Waste

The past few mornings, Miss Sophie has arisen a little earlier than usual.  I don’t know how to figure it, but I keep blaming it on the time change.  Why not?  It’s an easy target and everyone else is doing it, right?

So she and I walk in the quiet morning air, breathing deeply as she takes her morning constitutional, tending to her business as she does.  Some mornings she draws it out more than others.  This morning was quite different from the past few mornings.  We’ve had both sunny and warm and sunny and cool in just the past few days.  (Welcome to Georgia.)  This morning the sky was overcast as I peeked out the window, putting on my shoes.  I expected it to be brisk, but instead it was very much becoming of a proper spring morning.  (No Winter, you’re still not fooling me. I know you’re still around.)

As Miss Sophie sniffed the ground, I took a deep breath and thought about how different and yet beautiful this quiet morning was.  And it occurred to me, all of these days, with all of their differences–in temperature and breezes and birdsong and sunlight or clouds–all of these were made by the same Creator.  The same Artist painted the sun and brightness of yesterday and the day before as painted the gray and overcast of today.  The same Hand waved the breeze gently yesterday as waved the whipping winds of today.

Same Designer and yet different designs.  No two days alike.

Is it any wonder the magnificence of differences in each one of us?  We have been designed and created by One who loves uniqueness and whimsy and color and light and all different shades and hues and sounds.  By One who delights in each one of us.  Just as we are.

Today was so different from the past few.  Tomorrow, bringing back a taste of the chill, will be even more different.  But will any of us disregard a day in our life as unworthy or a total waste simply because it is different?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  I can still get things done, I can still eat and work and do laundry and play with my children, you say, no matter the weather.  I can go to work and the grocery store and send my cousin a birthday card, no matter what the day looks like.  Oh sure, I might have to adjust my route or the timing of a thing or two if the day is very different, but a day that is a total waste simply because of the way it is?  That’s crazy talk, Tara.

And I say you are right.

No day, no matter how different from our ideal–balmy, sunny, light breeze, birds singing, just a few beautiful fluffy clouds in the sky–is a waste.  Even if it snowed tomorrow (ha! what year do I think it is? 1993?) it wouldn’t be a waste, would it?  It might not go just as we had planned, but I expect most of us would come up with something that would make us feel downright all right about the day.  A waste?  That’s blasphemy!

And so I think it’s the same with people.  The Artist and Designer and Creator and Maestro who came up with the Idea of how special we were and are and can be made each one of us different in so many ways.  It is really beautiful to think about.  As much as I seem to enjoy talking to myself (ahem), I don’t think I would enjoy it very much if all I had to talk with or relate to or share thoughts with were more of me.

And yet we have a bad habit of disregarding someone if they are different from us, don’t we?  I have been known to do it.  Oh well, she doesn’t see things the same way I do, so… would be a waste of my time to get to know her any more.  Oh my, he is definitely making different choices than I would…..did you see what he was wearing?  I’ll just move on, not worth getting to know him.  We’d have nothing in common.

I’m speaking in generalities, but the truth is we all have specific, very specific things that we use as reasons to disregard another person.  Their faith, where they live, their income bracket, their schooling, their skin color, their gender, their sexuality, their health status, their job status, their style of speaking, their marital status, their hair color, the music they listen to, the clothes they wear…..shall I go on?

It reminds me of our neighborhood drama.  On a daily basis one of the children tells one or several of the others, “We’re not best friends anymore.” Because… won’t play what I want to play… won’t listen to what I’m saying… won’t let me go first… won’t come to my yard and leave her out… won’t share your doll with me… went home for lunch…..

and on and on it goes.  Those seem pretty childish, I know, but the things described before theseconcerns and issues of the 5-10 year old bunch also seem pretty childish.  If we never associated with anyone different from us, how sad would that be?  I wouldn’t have very many friends.

Scratch that.

I wouldn’t have any friends.  I don’t think that anyone I know and care about is exactly like me.

And for that I am extremely grateful.

Throwing away the chance to get to know someone, someone designed and created and orchestrated by the Great One just as he or she is simply because he or she is different, that’s as ridiculous as throwing away a day in our life just because the weather isn’t perfect.

That’s just full of the foolishness, as my folks used to say.

Make today a day to go and meet someone new.  Someone different.  Or maybe you already know someone but haven’t made time to say hello.  I’m not saying you have to be BFF’s Forevuh or anything, but I bet you’ll be surprised if you really take time to listen to their stories.  You just might find you have more in common than you do different.  And maybe, just maybe, you’ll appreciate them for the work of Art they are.  And vice versa.

Go be fabulous.  You were made to be exactly that.

Love to all.

The Gift of Receiving…..or My New Favorite Accessory

He climbed down off the chair where he sat with his Mama. Holding in his hand a roll of stickers, he stopped in front of where we sat.  “Want one?” he held them out to us.  We all smiled and shook our heads.  Not to be discouraged, he held them out to me, “Want a sticker?”  I smiled and thought that this might be the cutest little guy alive, with the exception of our Cooter.  His sincere offer of a sticker was just too precious.

“No, buddy,” I said.  “You keep them.”

“I wants to share ’em,” he said.  He turned to Cooter. “You want one?”  This little guy knew his audience.  They were Angry Birds Star Wars stickers.  Why on earth would Cooter ever turn down anything remotely related to Star Wars?

My little guy gave me a side glance, and I nodded it was okay.  “Sure,” he said.  The little boy, a good head shorter than Cooter, held out his offering once more.  “You can has any of ’em you wants.  I already gots mine.”  He held out his roll of five stickers, with one space empty.  He sported that sticker on his shirt.  Cooter reached out to tear the top one off.  He struggled.  Our new friend stopped him and said, “No you don’t has to tear it.  You can just pull it off.  Like dis.”  And he pulled it off the paper so Cooter could wear it then and there.

Cooter was tickled.  He visits the allergist’s office almost as much as his sisters, and yet, as the only one NOT getting shots, he rarely gets his own sticker.  The nurse is the best and sweetest nurse ever, and she gives each patient a good five or more stickers.  But Cooter usually has to depend on the kindness and generosity of our Princess to get one, so that doesn’t always happen.

After wandering for a minute, the little guy came back.  He put them in front of me again, “Don’tcha want one?”  He was persistent, I’ll give him that.

“Did you get shots today?”

“Yep, I did.”  He nodded seriously.

“Wow you earned those stickers, you were a big guy.” I smiled.

“No, it’s okay, I just want to share these.  You can have any one you want.”

I finally gave in.  “Okay, but you choose which one you want me to have.”

He started peeling off one. “I want you to have the bombing one.  I think that one will be good.  He turns a color and if you touch him, he might ‘plode.”  Really?  The bomb one.  Okay, he thinks I’m the bomb.  That’s the story I’m telling myself people.  It works for me.

He told me I could even put it on my shirt right then.  And so I did.

My Angry Bird "bombing bird" sticker.  It really means I am the bomb.  Seriously.  It does.

My Angry Bird “bombing bird” sticker. It really means I am the bomb. Seriously. It does.

It made him smile.  Which made me happy.

And then I proceeded to wear it the rest of the day.  I forgot I had it on.  During Sister Circle and in the waiting area at dance and gymnastics and all in between.  Y’all.  It makes me wonder what people really think of me that the only one to ask me why I was wearing it was an eight year old ballerina.  But that’s a pondering for another time.

Lessons learned today:

Use your stickers.  Don’t hold onto them for another day–to put on a paper or something at a later time. (Especially not furniture or car windows–not that I know anything about that.  Ahem.)  Wear them.  And enjoy them.  (But please take the stickers off before you put your clothes in the wash.  It can take all kinds of time and crazy effort to get the sticker glue off of clothes that have been washed and dried.  Ain’t NOBODY got time for that.)  Too often, and not just at the allergist’s, my children hand me their stickers with the idea that they are “saving” them for later.  Let’s save money, little folks, not stickers.  Enjoy them. That’s what they are for.  It made me happy (and a bit surprised) to see that sticker on my shirt when I looked in the mirror tonight.   (I’m over 40.  What other folks think of me matters less and less everyday.)  Kind of makes me wish I had another one to wear tomorrow.  Shoot, stickers might become my new favorite accessory.  They’re really fun.

More importantly, sometimes the greatest gift we can give someone is to let them share, to accept what they are giving.  Simply put, let them give.  I love that it was a child who graciously accepted what our new friend was offering first.  We can learn a lot from them.  It was given and received with the same spirit–genuine heartfelt kindness.

Some of Mama’s favorite words in the Good Book were in Ecclesiastes 3–the “Time for Everything” verses.  We can spend so much time focusing on giving to others and helping others that we fail to see the big picture.   That there is a time for giving and a time for accepting.

Tonight I am thankful for our new friend and his gentle reminder that to accept a gift is a gift in itself.  It’s just more fun to share.  Especially stickers.

Now anybody know where I can get me some stickers in bulk?  I like to accessorize.  And to share.