Thursday’s Gonna Come

Two days of thought-provoking, soul-searching conversations filled with laughter and tears and wishing that “what is” could be better and dreaming of how we can make it so…..

and returning with a jolt to the real world of laundry and dishwashers with broken baskets and worrying over food allergies all over again and struggling to understand how your children have more cavities and wishing just this once this child could understand the assignment and get it done without all the struggles–

and all those first world kind of problems.

It would be easy to get on my pity pot and look upon all of this as an interruption.

An interruption to where my mind is going–thinking of what can be done, must be done, to make the world a better place–an interruption to the wheels spinning and all the IMPORTANT things that I MUST DO.

And then, just in the nick of time, I got an e-mail from one of my heroes.

One of the reasons he is my hero is I can look to him for a way to understand things, a way to take action–he sets a good example, and he is willing to share about his experiences so we can all learn from them.

Hugh Hollowell sent out a newsletter titled “The Interruptions Are Our Work.”

Well.

He was spot on with this one–timing and everything.

This man who shared his ideas and laughter and inspired me to dig deeper as we talked and listened Sunday and Monday–he continued on into Thursday.

And for that I am thankful.

Because, my friends, no matter what grand thoughts Sunday and Monday call you to have and think upon, Thursday will come.  With its laundry and coughs and worries and cavities.  It will come.

And here is the grace for Thursday, in the words of Hugh Hollowell of Love Wins Ministry:

“But I have come to see that that is okay. In fact, it’s good. Because more than ever, I can see that the interruptions to my work, the people who interrupt my work, well, they actually are my work. And there’s much work to be done.”

I do not mean to make light of the work that my friend and his staff are doing in North Carolina with people who are dealing with homelessness.  But I do find comfort in these words.  The interruptions are my work.

In this season.

For now.

For far too short a time, these little people and their needs–their meals, their learning, their dirty clothes, their laughter, and regretfully, yes, even their cavities–this is my work.

And I’m privileged to do it.  I just need a wake up call every now and again to remind me of that.

Today I read a comment in the world of social media that made me very sad.  This person wrote that caring for my children, for my home, for my aging parents, for an elderly relative–these things are not contributing to society.  He/she continued on to say that if I were out in the world caring for people who were not my own, whom I wasn’t “obligated” to care for, only then could it really be said that I am contributing to society.

It made me sad because I don’t think this person gets it.  And he or she obviously has never had the privilege and joy of hearing David LaMotte and Hugh Hollowell speak.  I distinctly heard them say that caring for those in our own homes, own families–that’s a part of changing the world for the better.

Tonight I’m thankful for that message.  For the knowing in my heart that what I’m doing matters–and I’m thankful that when I lose sight of that message–I can open up an email from my hero and mentor and read that all of these things that I think might be interruptions of the “important work” there is to do–

This is my important work.

Know this, my friends, what you are doing today matters.

I’m sorry, did you miss that?  Read it with me.

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What

you

are

doing

today

MATTERS.

Whether you are wiping runny noses or signing paychecks

whether you are singing “Let It Go” with your child for the 1,267th time

or planning a going away for a colleague

whether you are reading a book

or writing one

whether you are knitting a dress for your granddaughter’s doll

or buying one at the GW Boutique for your neighbor’s friend

WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY MATTERS.

The smile you choose to put on your face, in spite of your worries

The hug you give your grandmother who has aged so much since you last saw her

The friend you are driving to the doctor’s office

The cup of coffee you just rang up for the customer with the bad attitude and no cash for tips

The person you just let merge in front of you in traffic

The change you just dropped in the jar for the family in need

The song you carry in your heart

The shoulder you offer for others to lean and cry on

The laughter you share with another over a memory or joke

WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY MATTERS.

No matter where you are, what you are doing.  It is changing the world.

You don’t get a choice in that.

But you do get a choice in how it matters.  Whether it changes life for those around you for the better or not.

Even if they seem not to notice it.

It still matters.

Make it good.

Love to all.

 

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Hugh Hollowell’s newsletter can be read in its entirety here.  I highly recommend signing up to receive those in your inbox.  You never know when they might change your day.  For the better.

On Buzzing Bees, Balance and Joy

The past two mornings as I’ve taken Sophie out for her morning constitutional I’ve been delighted to see bees.

Yes, bees.

See, I’m worried about them. I have friends who raise bees, and I’m really worried.  I’ve heard lots and lots about how the bees are disappearing, and folks don’t know why or they do know why and it’s not good news.  I’ve seen the pictures of all the food we would NOT have if we didn’t have bees.  It’s not a pretty picture.

So yes, I see bees dancing around in my front yard and I want to dance too.

I didn’t see them much as I walked on.  I think that’s the case for two reasons–one, our grass hasn’t been cut as recently so it’s a couple of inches high and there’s something tiny flowering out there.  Two, we don’t spray.  For weeds or bugs or anything.

I’m so confused.

I see folks asking about spraying for mosquitoes or other insects.  I pass folks’ yards on our walks with the signs in the front yard.  The name of the company happily emblazoned in big bold letters and in tiny print “Insecticide applied–stay off grass.” Or “weed killer applied, keep off.”  Oh me.  True confession time:  I am terrified to walk on their grass–even days later.  When the children were very small I made them cross the streets to get away from the “sprayed” yards.  And now, with Miss Sophie, I don’t let her near the sprayed yards either.

I was traumatized years ago by a large can of industrial strength insecticide used for cattle in the pastures.  It helped keep the flies down.  Only this was being used indoors, and…..I still shudder when I think about it.  I can’t and don’t do bug sprays.  That’s it.

We do have some all-natural sprays made with essential oils.  And if the fact that the mosquitoes circling around on July 4th, big enough to tote off a cat or small dog, didn’t bite us once is any testimony, it’s good stuff.  And it smells so good.

The word balance keeps coming to mind.  And not because my Cousin and I were just speaking about it.  I despise spiders.  Actually I don’t despise them, I am terrified of them.  When I was little, Mama read the book “Be Nice to Spiders” to me to show me they are our friends and we need them.

Spiders, flies, bats, frogs, rats, snakes, and so many more…..

all of them part of the balance…..

we need them all to be part of the world we live in.

They keep each other in check.  Making sure nothing gets off-kilter, out of balance.

I’m no scientist.  I don’t know a lot of the facts.  I get that mosquitoes can make people sick.  I get that the spray can take care of them, ridding the possibility of the disease.  But what else are we opening ourselves up to when we open that Pandora’s box? It scares me so much that I’m pretty sure I’m not ready to find out.

I have no answers.  So maybe I’ll just sit out on my porch and think on it awhile, as I listen to the bees buzzing or the frogs singing at night.  If you don’t have the answers either and just want to sit too, come on up.  I’ll be at the end of the street on the porch with the unmanicured yard and the bugs flying around.  You can swat at ’em if you want or use some of my lemongrass spray.  Because for now, that’s as hardcore as it’s going to get around here.  My soul needs some balance and I’m thinking that keeping it in the nature around me is a good place to start.

Wishing you a place to sit and listen to nature’s symphony.  Love and balance to all.

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If you are interested in learning more about bees, here’s just one link among the many I found when I looked them up.  http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/

I’m using a bug spray made by a local company that doesn’t have it on a website, but I have used this and it worked great too.

http://www.amazon.com/Skedattle-Natural-Anti-Bug-Spray-8-oz/dp/B007P5AJV8/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1405739483&sr=8-8&keywords=natural+bug+spray

A couple of cool tips for caring for your plants naturally–  http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/07/10/proctor-keep-pests-away/12422437/

And finally this:  http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=125636  “Why We Need Insects, Including “Pesky” Ones”

Just a little food for thought.

no hearts in my text messages

I’ve always been an Anglophile, as far back as I can remember.  It all culminated with a trip to England over spring break my junior year in college.  Most people came back to school with tans.  I came back with a new affinity for hot tea with milk and a tiny bit of an accent.

I loved that accent.

A few years later I auditioned for “The Importance Of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde.  I garnered my courage and auditioned with a British accent, or my best attempt at one.  I got the part–I can’t remember which of the young ladies I was cast as, but I was thrilled.  I took home the dialect tape and the script and started working on my part.  I was in my element.

Unfortunately after the first read-through I succumbed to outside pressures and discouragement, and I dropped out.  It was a hard thing to do, but at the time I felt like it was the only thing I could do.

I hadn’t thought about that in ages, until tonight when I was reading and saw this quote from Oscar Wilde.  It caught my eye because it’s from him, and after our bonding all those years ago, I wanted to see what he had to say.

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Wow.  Well played, Mr. Wilde.  Well played.  You have impeccable timing.

The thing about forgiveness and Mr. Wilde’s approach here is that it’s not always that easy.  People aren’t always friends or enemies.  Sometimes they are somewhere in between, a person you love who betrays your trust, or someone you don’t care for who surprises you with great kindness.  It’s all those shades of gray that make the paths of life so difficult to maneuver.

I don’t know a lot about forgiveness.  I just know it’s a case of learning as I go.  I am trying to let go and not let the pains from the past poison who I am today.  It is not always easy.  The temptation to wallow in the anger and frustration and “been done wrong” thoughts comes to the forefront now and again, and I have to work through it and start over.  Just not as far back on the trail as I was before, thank goodness.

I may not know what forgiveness is exactly, but I do know what it is not, at least for me.  Oprah Winfrey says, “True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience.’”

Ahem.  No disrespect intended, Ms. Winfrey, but I don’t think so.

There are some folks whom I have to make a conscious choice every day to forgive.  Some days I’m closer than others, and every now and then I’m actually there–but I will NEVER tell them thank you for the pain and hurt and hits my soul took from the choices they made.  I just don’t think “Thank you” exactly expresses the right sentiment.

And *sigh* neither do the words that could so easily roll off my tongue.

Like I said, it’s a conscious choice I have to make each day.  Sometimes moment by moment.

So I try to find a balance.  Somewhere between gratitude for what happened and shooting looks that could kill or making plans for revenge.  Which I think might look a lot less like what Ms. Winfrey describes and more like what C. Joybell C., an American poet and novelist, describes:

“People have to forgive. We don’t have to like them, we don’t have to be friends with them, we don’t have to send them hearts in text messages, but we have to forgive them, to overlook, to forget. Because if we don’t we are tying rocks to our feet, too much for our wings to carry!”  

–C. Joybell C.

I am thankful for this life’s journey and for a good day at home doing laundry, cleaning bedrooms, teaching the littles, and visiting with folks I love.  I give thanks for my crock pot and for the miracle that dried beans and sides can make a meal.  I am lucky to have friends who have my back but also tell me when I need to straighten it.  But I have enough trouble some days putting one foot in front of the other.  I don’t need any rocks tied to my feet.  I know I have wings, and one day I will soar.  I’m working on it.  If forgiveness will let me fly high above and break free from the chains of sadness and heartbreak, then I’m all for it.

Just as long as I don’t have to send any hearts in those text messages, I have hope I can get there.

Move a Mountain Monday

There’s a group on Facebook, the Canny Women, who promote doing instead of buying, and every Tuesday they cheer their followers on through “Tackle a Pile Tuesday.”  They can inspire or frustrate you depending on where you’re at–just being honest here.  Today, they inspired me.

First I had seriously contemplated taking my only day that we didn’t have some place to be and going with the littles to the grocery store.  They’re not a problem in the stores at all, it’s me.  As the day progressed, and we all piled up and listened to our Princess read “Wiley and the Hairy Man” aloud, I just wanted to be home.  I saw a post this afternoon by Canny Women where they asked what everyone was fixing for supper, and there was their slogan–“DO instead of BUY.  Shop at home first.”  Did I have food here?  Yes.  Could we make it without the trip to the grocery store?  (well, I really wanted to get a few things to mix up our snack mix…..*whining*) YES, we absolutely could.  Even our Princess who insisted she was out of shampoo realized that she really wasn’t, and all was well with the world again.  We stayed home, we had three good meals and a snack today, and we actually have enough that tomorrow is going to be grocery store free as well.  A great big whoo hoo!

And even though it’s not Tuesday, I decided to go one step further and make it “Move a Mountain Monday.”  Yeah, piles just didn’t describe what I was facing anymore.  Here’s what was in that mountain–

College advertisements, enticing, tempting, offering my child money and all kinds of perks.  This is what happens when you take the SAT not knowing you are going to graduate a year early.  The other colleges didn’t get the memo, so I have another whole year of her getting college letters, brochures, and catalogs.  All with her name on it, so that part goes in the shredder pile.  Don’t ask me why–I don’t know.  It’s what my people do.

Insurance and magazine advertisement junk mail.  And credit card applications.  Just no.  I do not like change much, so no on the insurance and nobody needs another credit card and dear magazines–if I haven’t already contacted you, I’m not gonna.  Just letting you know.  So these too, the parts with the personal information on it, get shredded.

Catalogs.  Oh good gravy.  Order something from a company just once because it was a special Christmas request for someone you had no other ideas for and from then on it’s catalog overload.  I think I’ve heard that there’s a way to stop the catalogs from coming, but that would require putting it on my to do list and following through.  Bigger gators closer to the canoe–and my brain’s been missing for months now, so that’s not likely to happen.  I can say I will try if someone tells me how to make it happen.  But I make no promises.  The inserts with my name and address and the mailing label all go into the shredder too.  (Once I had a company calling me about an order that I DID NOT place, so yeah, I must not let my catalogs get into the hands of folks with malicious intent.)

Then with all this unimportant stuff are all the things I need to sort and file and respond to.  Bills get paid, but that’s been about it.  I’m organizing and filing for our house and three other lives that were, so maybe you can understand how this mountain got out of hand.  Understand or no, it is what it is.

A mountain of disorganized mess.

I prepared myself mentally and sat down at the desk.  I pulled out my shredder.  It was a gift from Mama.  She taught me how to be organized and to protect myself.  I was so excited to get a shredder, probably more for the novelty than for the safety of it, but I loved my gift.  From time to time it gets jammed.  Which is why the pile of “to be shredded” was escalating.

One of the gifts from my Mama that I will always appreciate.

One of the gifts from my Mama that I will always appreciate.

I turned it off and worked at the tines until it was ready to go.  When I had it whirring, I was on a roll.  I created loads of shredded paper and knocked out one mountain and then two. All I have left to handle tomorrow is my “To Deal With” pile.  And thank goodness, it is a pile.  Not a mountain.

So many thoughts went through my head as all that information was buried in the mound of bits and pieces of numbers and letters, no longer discernible.  Mama was proud of the idea of giving me one, and she wanted me to be able to take care of my business carefully and responsibly.  She would say it took her years to perfect her system, and perfect it she did.  Sister asked to look through Mama’s desk at how it was organized before we started cleaning it out.  Mama was just that good at managing a household and so much more.  I think she overestimated me and my capabilities.  I seriously doubt I will ever have it as together as she did.  There will always be a day in the month that my stomach will clench and I will try to focus and remember–I did pay that bill, didn’t I?  Did I respond to that e-mail?  The answer is most often yes, but that’s how my mind works.  Because my system doesn’t.

The other thought that wandered through as I rhythmically fed the papers of all shapes and sizes and textures through the machine was wouldn’t it be nice if everything we needed to clear up could be handled this way.  All traces of whatever we’d like to leave behind, feed it into Life’s shredder and let it go.  No worries, no residue left behind–that’s a shredder I’d get in line to feed some things through.  Nothing left to carry in your heart or mind.  Just gone.  Swept out of your life with an old broken crayon and a few crumbs from the biscuits at breakfast.  Done.

But that’s not how it goes.  We have things we’ve done, choices we’ve made, things that have just happened, that have our names indelibly scrawled across them, and somehow we have to make peace with that and move on.  There is no Life shredder.

And yet tonight I think I’m okay with that.  Sure I’ve made some bad choices.  I’ve had things happen that I couldn’t and still don’t understand why they did.  But, and I apologize for the cliche’, having my name on those things make them a part of my journey.  And without those bits and pieces of the story, I would not be sitting here with sleeping children and the Fella home safe and sound and a snoozing puppy laid out on the floor waiting to be tucked into her little bed.  It would all be different.  Different good, different bad–not something I can know or even want to know.  It just is what it is.  And it’s okay.  If I were to put all those hard things in Life’s shredder, it is possible that I would only be more broken, much like the paper I handfed through today.

It's okay for the scraps of old mail and advertisements, but not for the bits and pieces of my story--even those I haven't made my peace with yet.

It’s okay for the scraps of old mail and advertisements, but not for the bits and pieces of my story–even those I haven’t made my peace with yet.

So maybe I wouldn’t get in line for that Life shredder if one ever existed.  I think I’ll hold on to the bits and pieces of paper and all those letters and numbers and words and exclamation points and question marks that make me ME.  And I’ll definitely hold onto the ellipses…..for some of the best stuff is waiting on the other side of those.

But I am thankful for my Mama who tried to teach me how to take care of business and wanted me to be safe in all kinds of way, including shredding stuff that could make things harder for me if I didn’t.  I think she would be proud of me for trying today.  Whenever we’d do something we especially did not like, she would say, “Aren’t we feeling sanctimonious?”  And you know what, I rather am a bit.  Most importantly, I think today I started moving more than a mountain of mail and such…..I think I started moving the mountain of mayhem in my life, including the parts of my story that are harder to be okay with.  And that’s something she’d really be proud of.  There was never anything I couldn’t share with her, no story she wouldn’t hear.  She loved me warts and messy mayhem and mood swings and all.  Maybe it’s time I start doing that for myself.  Time to move the mountain of maudlin regret and woes and worries.  Move it out of my heart and mind and make room for more of the good stuff.  I think that would really make her smile.