If the House is Quiet and the Brit-coms Aren’t On, Then…..

It’s Saturday night.  The house is finally quiet.  I went in search of my Brit-coms on PBS, but instead a concert was playing.  Missing the Brit-coms made me think about my favorites– “Keeping Up Appearances” and “As Time Goes By” among others.  Thinking about “As Time Goes By” made me think about their brilliant cast, which then made me think about Dame Judi Dench. (I’m living out my own version of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” here.)   I remembered a quote I’d read from her several months ago:

The more I do,

the more

frightened I get.

But that is

essential.

Otherwise why

would I go on

doing it?

–Dame Judi Dench

Not only is she a talented actress, she is also a very wise woman.

So I decided to look up more words from this woman who seems so familiar to me, after years of spending Saturday nights together.

And I found this one.

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Wow.

Be careful what you seek.  You just might find it.

She shot that arrow right through my heart.  As though she’d been reading my mind.

Because, you see, I do this.  I build bridges left and right in my mind and cross all of them, testing them for security and comfort and safety, not trusting what they will be like on the other side unless I check them out.  Way in advance.  Well before I reach the bridges.  And most of those bridges are only in my mind.  I will never have to cross them in “real life.”  This is how I know Anxiety Girl* is back for a visit–you know, my friend who is able to leap to the worst conclusions in a single bound?  Yeah, her.

What would it look like if I didn’t cross any bridges until I came up on them?  There’s a fine line between being carefree and careless, between being over-prepared and without a clue…..these fine lines elude me.  I usually wind up over-prepared (for things that don’t happen), over-stressed (over things I am anticipating will happen), and over-worked mentally (trying to get all my plans together–plans I NEVER HAVE TO USE).  I wish I could no kidding (and sorry if you start hearing the Frozen theme song here) “let it go.”  All of it.  And try taking life–the joys and heartaches and adventures and rainy, sleepy afternoons–as it comes.  Whenever and however it comes.

Unfortunately, I learned the fine art of script-writing my life many moons ago, and it is a hard thing to stop.  But I’m trying.  I wish there were a twelve step group for those of us addicted to being prepared.  I’m not meaning to be facetious here, and I don’t mean to offend those with more serious life-threatening addictions.  I recognize it’s a minor one in the whole scheme of things, but it can be somewhat debilitating.  I feel like a catcher always in position who doesn’t know which way the ball is coming from, so I’m constantly spinning and watching for it from all directions.

Which isn’t really possible.

And now that I’ve exhausted and mixed metaphors like I do, I want you to know–if you struggle with the “what if’s” and “I’ve got to be ready for anything” and “what is coming next?,”  you are not alone.  There are several of us.  And one moment at a time, maybe we can overcome.  Being prepared is not a bad thing.  It’s just the being prepared for anything and everything that could potentially, might possibly happen–that, not so much.

I’m going to try to let go and only worry about bridges that I can actually see up ahead.  It’s a waste of time and energy to do otherwise, right?

*sigh*

I really wish the Brit-coms had been on tonight.  Would have made for a less exhausting evening.

Love to all.

*created by artist Natalie Dee of www.nataliedee.com

Just In Case, Part 2

Today I learned a couple of things I wanted to share.

Apparently I am not the “Just in case” girl that I thought I was.   Oh sure, I can pack a “Family Fun Bag” with just about everything necessary for any possibility that could come along.  Yeah, I’ve got that whole glorified diaper bag thing down.

But when it comes to being prepared, I found out today I still have a lot to learn.

Today we were going to say goodbye and celebrate the life of a sweet and dear friend.  Our first funeral since Mama’s and Miss B’s services in February.  I felt like I was emotionally prepared–I knew it would be hard, as her passing has left a huge hole in all of our lives.   So I gathered my littles this morning and helped them get ready.

Oh dear.  Anyone else’s Mama have them lay their clothes out the night before?

I get it now.

Our life these days doesn’t require a lot of dressing up or coordinating shoes with outfits.  (And purses too?  Hang it up.  That’s why I didn’t carry one today.)  In fact we haven’t had to do this since February.

Time has passed, and the children have grown.

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As evidenced by the dress that has risen to just above knee level on our Princess.  And that the boots she wore then will not even come close to fitting her now.  I was lucky Cooter had a pair of khakis that fit–thank you GW Boutique shopping spree in August.  Throw on a polo and the loafers he insisted on wearing (“Cooter, you can wear your boots.” “No Mama, it’s a funeral; you have to dress right.”)…..and he was set.  Shoes for our Princess was another story.  There just weren’t any.  Until I pulled out a pair of my shoes that have fit a bit snug…..voila!  Okay then.  (We will not even discuss that my almost nine-year old’s foot is just about as big as mine.)  I found the black dress I wore to my Great Aunt’s service in 2010, threw on a blue sweater over it, and we were ready to go.

And believe it or not, we were NOT late.  Despite the bumpy start.  And my not being prepared for “just in case.”

It was on our journey that I figured out that our Princess has inherited the “just in case” gene.  I usually take a glass of water with me when we leave the house, so when she asked if she could take one, I wasn’t really surprised. The church is only about twenty minutes from the house at most, but whatever–I pick my battles and that wasn’t one of them.   When we got to the church, she hopped out of the van with her little  crocheted Granny square bag from the Fair two years ago.  “Look at what I brought, Mama, inside my little Fair bag.  It’s my rain jacket just in case.”

Yes, she said those words.  And yes, she really had packed her “in a pack” rain poncho.  And no your eyes did not deceive you today–sunny and 75.  Not a chance of rain.  That girl has a serious sense of “just in case.”  (I suppose this would be the time to confess that she was actually the one to remember the dress and pull it out of her closet. Thankful for that.)

I sighed and figured, okay, whatever, we were already walking toward the church.  We got to the front door and I realized she had also brought her cup with her.  (No I did not notice it before then.  I was distracted.  Yes, I know they make stuff for that.  Working on it.)  I was not carrying my usual “big” bag that I could have tucked it in, and the idea of carrying a cup into a church, into a funeral service……ummmm, no I just couldn’t do it.  We turned around and headed back to the parking lot where we saw the Fella pulling in from work to join us.  Since he was parked closer, he took the bag and cup back to his car.  Mission accomplished.

And we still were not late.

Today I’ve learned that I need to keep one dress outfit AND SHOES on hand for each one of us.  Just in case.  Because I don’t think Princess can get many more wearings out of that dress and I’m pretty sure her foot will outgrow mine in the next few months.  Cooter is bound to outgrow those wonderful hand-me-down loafers at some point, though he’s worn them longer than I had expected.  And when you’re already sad, shopping is the last thing you want to do, but if you’re not prepared it’s something you have to do.  Because, as Cooter said, “It’s a funeral.  You have to dress right.”

I’ve learned a lot today.  The perfect ending would be that it rained and Princess was deemed to be brilliant.  But I’ve learned there are no perfect endings.  I’ve learned all over again how much I hate the cancer, and how it chooses some of the best folks to take away from us.  It just makes no sense.  The hole in our hearts will never be quite the same, and there was no way to be prepared for this loss.  Sometimes I wish “Justin Case” were a superhero who, by keeping you prepared, could help you get through any situation without heartbreak or injury or embarrassing moments.  He could hang out with Anxiety Girl and keep stressful or sad things from happening or at least from taking us by surprise.  Unfortunately, that’s not real life and being prepared “just in case” doesn’t make the hard days any easier.  Sure wish it did…..

Just in Case…..

Today a friend brought a beautiful walking stick to another friend.  “Here,” she said.  “You’re going to need it when you start geocaching.”

(That’s an outdoor activity where folks use a GPS or some other kind of navigation to hide and seek containers, “geocaches,” and then sign the logbook inside.)

“Really?” my other friend said.  “It’s beautiful.”  And it was.

20131002-210458.jpg“Yeah.  You need to make sure you use the stick to poke the cache before you reach down for it.”  We all looked up at her.  “Well, ’cause, you know, there might be a….cockroach down there.”

Ahem.  Or a snake?  I’m thinking that’s a yes too.

“And yeah, not sure which end is up.”  She laughed.  So just in case, here’s a picture of the other end.

20131002-205743.jpgOur friend, the beginning geocacher, said thank you again, and before leaving our friend said, “Well you know, just want you to be prepared.”

Prepared.  Where had I heard that already this week?  Ah yes.

Mess Cat was driving north up the Interstate Monday morning.  On one of those electronic signs that tells you the speed limit or how bad traffic is, she read “September is Preparedness Month.”  It is?  For what?  She called her other half, Leroy.  He had seen the sign on his way to Atlanta on Sunday.  He didn’t know what to make of it either. She queried further. “But don’t you wonder what it is we are supposed to be prepared for?  And aren’t you more than a little concerned that here it is, the END of September, and we’re just now hearing about this?  Seriously, what do folks know about October that we don’t know?”

That girl.  Cracks.  Me.  Up.

Be prepared.

Wouldn’t it be nice if carrying a big stick (and maybe speaking softly, thank you President Teddy Roosevelt) is all we needed to do to be prepared?  Or if we always carried flint and a knife and fishing hooks, we could be ready for anything including a surprise appearance on Survivor?  Or a $20 bill and a pack of gum for…..well, who knows when you might need the cash, and I think you can use gum for all kinds of amazing things…..or did I watch too much MacGyver?

I have bags I carry when we leave the house.  A few are pretty big–seriously, I get teased about them.  “I think you need a bigger bag.”  Tonight it consciously occurred to me why I tote such a big bag.

To be prepared.

I have one we call the Family Fun bag.  It literally has that embroidered on the side (came that way, can’t claim being creative or alliterative at all).  If we have a trip out planned, I find myself calling out, “Hey take this to the Family Fun bag.”  “Is your *insert book or game or epipen here* in the Family Fun bag?”  This bag comes in handy especially on the Tuesdays we are in Macon for Sister Circle or on Wednesdays that I have activities planned.   I like having a book and some knitting or crocheting project and a notebook and pen on hand in case I find myself with a few minutes to spare somewhere.  I keep a bag of pretzels too just in case.  The littles throw in an electronic game playing thingaroo and a book or two.  We recently added books on CD, because we really enjoyed the first one we listened to.  And I have the most precious little wipes case that someone covered in orange and brown argyle fabric and ribbon and I was lucky enough to find at the GW Boutique.  So yeah, wipes for whatever eventuality that may call for it.  And you’d be surprised how that varies and how often that happens.

I wonder why I worry so much about being prepared for whatever might come.  Is it because we’ve taken some hits we weren’t prepared for lately?  Or does it go further back than that?  Control issues, anyone?  (No thank you, I have plenty of my own already.)  Yes, I like thinking I can handle whatever comes along.  Even though I am fully aware that is NOT possible.  It could be that because I’m a kinesthetic or tactile learner (which basically means I need to touch it or actually do something to learn best), I need to have things I can touch to feel prepared.  Just “knowing” what to do isn’t enough.  At least not for me.  And I do find that I feel more in control of a situation, especially one involving the littles, if I have things to keep them learning or entertained.  It’s worth my time and energy to tote paper and markers just in case.  Oh those three words.  They stay with me–“just in case.”  So much of what I do is because of those three words.  Unplug, leave a note, pick up extra milk, start a load of laundry…..right down to what I pack in the Family Fun bag…..just in case we might need it.  In fact, my whole vehicle is the “just in case” mobile.  I have my rain boots and a first aid kit and a small box of Lego’s out there right now with a hairbrush and extra pair of clean socks..  You never know when you might need them.  Be prepared.  Just in case.

You’d think I was a Scout.  In actuality it’s quite possible I Just never gave up the diaper bag.  It’s only become more “sophisticated” and much, much heavier.  It still contains the wipes but for different reasons now.  The way I’m packing that Family Fun bag, I’m thinking my back would probably prefer the stick.  And besides, it is always good to have a stick.  You know, just in case.