“…..with every Christmas card I write…..”

On our way home this evening, the song “White Christmas” came on the radio.  Aub and Cooter were in the car with me, as I was humming along without really thinking about the song.  The song continued, and the lyrics played:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
with every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry…..”

and then I heard Cooter hollering at the top of his lungs from the very back seat–

“WHAT?” Palm to forehead.  “What?  I’m supposed to write Christmas cards too?”

*sigh*

Poor little guy.

Poor all of us.

How many folks have asked you, “Are you ready for Christmas?”  “Do you have it all done?”  “Have you planned your menu for the day?”

How many times have you asked those questions in an effort to make conversation?

*guilty*

All the pressure.  All the expectations.  We create list after list.  Shopping lists.  Gifts we’re giving lists.  Parties and dinners we are invited to.  Parties and dinners we want to throw.  A baking list.  A grocery list.  A list of errands.  And yes, Cooter, even a Christmas card list.

One of my sweet friends was all but apologizing to me today that her Christmas card wasn’t going out until after Christmas.  There was just too much to do and not enough time.

Bless.  Her.  Sweet.  Soul.

I remember the year I didn’t send out cards until Valentine’s.  It worked.  It was kind of fun.  And I’m guessing our card didn’t get lost in a stack with everyone else’s Valentine’s Day cards.  Just a thought.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves–scratch that.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to create the perfect Christmas full of all the perfect little moments in a clean, tidy home with lots of festive decorations and ornamentation and all of the joy and fun and laughter and contented sighs.

Yeah.

I’m betting I’m not the only one.

We have one week left, y’all.  To take it back.  To take a moment to rest and cuddle and read a Christmas story together piled up on the couch or chair or bed underneath the colorful afghans that bring me such joy with the people that make my soul glad.  Savoring the moment without worrying over the perpetual clutter or unwrapped gifts and all the other things we carry on our shoulders.  To simply be in the precious moment of NOW.

We have one week left to change our question from “Are you ready?” to “How are you?” or “Where are you finding peace and Light today?”  or “Where AM I going to find peace and Light today?”

We have one week left to change it. Even if we only take five minutes a day to step away from all the expectations and Hallmark commercials (doggone them for making me cry and wanting to create all the moments myself) and hustle and bustle and lists and pressure, and we just sit down and breathe.  And laugh.  Or listen.  Or sit next to the people we love or the people we’ve just met and BE.  That’s the goal.  If we can even take five minutes a day to welcome into our hearts the presence of Peace, we’ve come a long way from all of the things weighing on us, all of the lists we carry around, and we’re one step closer to that quiet night of reflection and Love beneath a bright star listening to the quiet, steady breaths of the little one newly come to us.

Go ahead.  Add THAT to your list.  You deserve it.  And *takes a deep breath* so do I.

Love to all.

Christmas_To_Do_List_(4206456664)

By Jon Curnow from London, United Kingdom (Christmas To Do List) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

My Meltdown Button’s Stuck

Yesterday we pulled out of the driveway headed for a Field Trip, when my tire pressure light came on.  This has happened before when there was a significant temperature change, but I had no idea that a night with a low in the 50s would do it.  I got out and checked to see if I had a flat.  Having none, we went on to our field trip, while in the back of my mind I knew I needed to have it checked out just to be sure.  My oldest and I were supposed to head out of town, and I wanted to make sure the Gomobile was in optimal condition for distance.

After my crew and I were finished with our morning events, I decided to go straight to the “car place” to have them check about the light.  When I got there, the mechanic said, “Sure, we can turn that light off.  Won’t take but a minute.”  I asked him to please check my tires and explained my coming trip.  “I’m also about 500 miles short of needing an oil change, but maybe it would be good to go ahead with that as well?”

“Sure thing,” he said.  “No problem.”

The littles and I whiled away the time at a shop within walking distance.  When we returned, it wasn’t long before the mechanic was back with another person, both looking mighty serious.

Great.

“Just how far are you going on this trip?” they asked.

“Up above Atlanta,” I told them, wondering what belt was falling off or brakes or motor thingy had fallen apart.

They looked at each other and then told me I needed two new tires.  “You might be fine going that far, but if you have time to get them today, I wouldn’t wait.”

Yep.  New tires.  Sounds about right.

They were very kind and let me borrow their “work truck” to go pick up a very late lunch for my littles, who had snacked on the way back from the field trip.  My two were elated to ride in this four door pickup.  I heard one say, “This is the best day EVER.”  Oh me.  Bless.

As we sat in the waiting area, them eating their lunch, I thought about that little light and how once that would have really annoyed me.  Instead, I took it in stride.  It actually turned out to be a good thing, because if it hadn’t come on, I would still be driving on those worn out tires.

Not a good thing.

I’m not saying I’m one who believes that “everything happens for a reason,” unless one of those reasons can be that there is darkness and evil in the world and sometimes it reigns and bad things happen.  But I do believe that even these small annoying things in our lives have the potential sometimes to lead to good.

Suffice to say that in the past couple of years, I find myself shifting into “meltdown”  mode a lot less over things like lights that come on and children getting sick out of the blue or spilled messes.

Last night Cooter got one of his famous tummy bugs.  It was a whole lot of fun happening up in here between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.  That gave me pause about this trip I was supposed to take with my oldest.  I just didn’t feel like I could leave him behind, not knowing if he was going to bounce back quickly.  After the time I would have already left, our Princess woke up with a fever.

Decision validated.

And yet, I hadn’t flipped out about the change in plans.  I took it in stride.  I am so not patting myself on the back here, y’all.  Just saying that I like this change.  It’s out of character for me, but it feels a whole lot healthier.

Light comes on.  Child has upset stomach.  Okay, let’s do something about it.  Except stress.  Let’s don’t do that.

The other day the littles and I took Miss Sophie for a walk just before lunchtime.  We all needed to get our blood stirring and to breathe some fresh air.  When we came back in, Cooter, for whatever reason I cannot even imagine, walked straight over to the kitchen counter and picked up my five-pound bag of Jasmine rice.  He proceeded to put it on his head and began to dance and sing.  As he spun around, I called out, and it was like one of those slow motion things on the TV, “Nooooo. It’s notttttt sealedddddd.”

Too late.

Half a bag of rice (that’s two and a half pounds for those who love the math) all over the floor.

rice on floor

Did y’all know that rice can skitter a far piece?

All over the floor.

I’ll still be sweeping up bits at Christmas.

Poor Cooter’s face crumpled, and he immediately began to chastise himself.

And me?  For a split second I teetered on the fence.

And then I laughed.

I laughed hard and loud and just about couldn’t stop.

It was as though my Mama had put her hand on my shoulder or given me her eyes to see it all through.  She often reminded me these days don’t last forever.  And in that moment, laughing seemed just as good a something to do as anything else.

Perhaps better.

Because I didn’t immediately go into my “Oh my gosh, what did you just do? Do you know how much rice you just wasted? What were you thinking?” mode, we have some pretty good memories from that incident.

How we all laughed. And how everyone helped by either sweeping or keeping Miss Sophie away from the mess.  And how Cooter found an interest in writing letters in the rice.  (Oh sure, now he’s all about the handwriting.  *sigh*)

Most of all we’ve laughed over his new nickname.  “Dances With Rice on His Head–But Not For Long.”  Even Cooter had to laugh at that one.

Tonight I’m thankful that my “meltdown/freak out” button is stuck, and it doesn’t readily respond to stimuli the way it used to.  I am not going to tell you it never happens, but it for sure doesn’t happen like it used to.  And I’m starting to see more and more how connected things are, and how if we are patient and see things through before “losing it,” we can begin to see some good in the unexpected.

I guess that reminds me of Paul and his “giving thanks in all things” message.  But then I’m still very much a work in progress.

I’m not giving thanks for losing half of my very good rice, but I am thankful for the memories we made that will be a story to tell for quite some time–unlike the story of my yelling and being frustrated would have been, if I hadn’t taken a moment to breathe first.

Yes, those moments.  The ones where I can breathe before I have to respond.  I’m thankful for the discovery of those.  Those are real treasures.  They can turn a mountain of rice into a molehill (and a funny story) in no more than the time it takes to breathe one breath.

May we all find more and more of those moments as the days go by.

Love to all.

growing wings

if the words she heard were true
she knew that she would always remember
this day
as the one when it all changed

everything would be different
and she would have to learn
to let out the breath she’d been holding for years

if the words she heard were true
the light she saw in the eyes of the one
she loved
would ignite and that light would pour
from her entire being
and very likely she would dance for days

if the words she heard were true
it would be like winning the lottery
only better
because no amount of money could
make this real

if the words she heard were true
it would be a new beginning
doors opening,
spirits soaring
new adventures ahead

but if they were not
there would still be light
and they would be okay
better than okay, really,
doing what they had always done
loving, protecting, and holding each other close
on the journey

either way,
true or not,
they would make this life the best it could be

together

and, in the end, that’s all that really mattered

She Had Me Seeing Red

This morning as I was taking Miss Sophie out for her morning constitutional, the sun was shining, and it was already well on its way to becoming a summer scorcher.  In May.  *sigh*

After she took care of her business and we were heading back, the heat made me rethink my whole “open window” policy I’ve had lately.  Today was probably going to be an AC kind of day, I was thinking.  That made me think about power bill, and I thought back as to whether I’d already paid it or not.  That reminded me that I needed to see about replacing my debit card, because I am pretty sure it went through the washer and maybe the dryer because it’s a little warped, only it’s been a while since that happened, if it even did happen, so it wouldn’t work at the grocery store last night or the drugstore last week.  One simply does not need a sporadic debit card.

And then I started thinking about all of the other things that I had on my to do list and that was when I saw them in front of me and all but heard Mother Nature holler, “Stop it!  Hush up!  I can’t even hear myself think!  Why can’t you be quiet and listen for a moment?”

IMG_7840

It stopped me in my tracks.  And in the quiet, I heard only my own breathing and the whisper of one word.

“Red.”

That was it.

As I stood looking at the red roses, I thought about little ones and wonder how many run-on sentences play through their thoughts.  Or would they simply cock their heads, look at the flowers, and think “red?” And then just quietly (or maybe not so quietly) be?

I don’t know.  But sometimes I think we/I might think too much.  Sometimes it might be more soul-filling to think less.  To shut out all the lists and the worries and the obsessing over things said and done and that which has yet to happen…..and just see the world for a moment.  In all its raw truth and beauty and brokenness.  Take it all in without analyzing or trying to figure it all out.  Just see.

The voice that had me seeing red today called me out.  Called me out of my own head and thoughts and paths I travel so often that the trail is worn.  It called me to travel down a quieter one, even for just a few minutes, and see beyond all the data running through my head like a ticker at the stock exchange.

Just see.

Red.

IMG_7839

Pink.

IMG_7841

Yellow.

All the colors.  All the grass growing in the cracks in the sidewalk.  The little worms trying to escape the heat of the day. The birds flitting about preparing their nests.  The bees drawn to the delicate white blooms on the green tree by the house.

All of it.

As I finished my walk, I found myself breathing a little easier.  My step was lighter.  It was like turning off a switch–turning off what had been stifling me, like the heat in my closed up house before I turn on the air conditioning.  Turning off all the chatter.

May we all be able to find a few minutes to do that everyday. Turn off the endless input and processing in our brains, hush up, and just see red.  And all the fabulous palette of colors painted just especially for us.

Love to all.