A Few Minutes in the Dark

Yesterday morning I woke up to the sound of my cell phone vibrating repetitively against my bedside table.  I barely had the time to pick it up and read that there was a tornado warning issued before the tornado siren a few miles away started going off.

It was startling to wake up that way, but we jumped up and gathered our littles and Miss Sophie and made our way back to my closet–our safe place in our home.

I have been remiss.  This is not something we had prepared for or practiced.

Also, my closet was kind of a mess.  And it was dark in there.

Still we squeezed in and waited while the Fella checked news reports.  It sounded like the worst of it was a couple of miles north, but we weren’t sure when we would be safe to leave the closet.

Sitting there holding Miss Sophie, gently rubbing her fur to keep her calm, our Princess said, “You know, I know this is scary, but it’s really kind of exciting all at the same time, isn’t it?”

Ummmm, well, yeah, I guess that might be an understatement, but okay.

Huddled close on my left was Cooter.  He was shaking.  When I’d gone in his room, the siren had already awakened him.  He was afraid we were being bombed, bless him.  And though he knew that wasn’t the case, he understood the real threat of a tornado, and it had him very anxious.

After a few minutes of our Princess talking about things like how they are never allowed in my closet (one word–Christmas) and how she really hopes I will move some things around before we have to do this again, we got the all clear from the Fella.  The meteorologist said the storm had moved to the east of us, and so the rain would be coming soon.

And it did.

That whole time, I’d been holding Cooter and rubbing his knee.  I don’t know why, but that’s what I did.  He was still pretty shaken when we finally emerged.

We spent the rest of the morning hearing about the damage and checking on folks we love and care about.  Round two of the storm hit in the afternoon.  We were very fortunate, and other than losing power for about thirty seconds, we had no issues.  I am thankful.

I learned a lot from that storm.  I need to have emergency plans for all of the emergencies, and we need to practice them.  No joke.  I KNEW this, but I hadn’t taken it seriously I guess.   Day to day life carried on, and I didn’t make it a priority.  That will change now.

I also learned something about people.  Our Princess can be so sensitive about so many things, but in the midst of the storm, she kept her cool, and after her initial reaction, carried on as usual.  I think she just trusted that everything would be okay.  She has a quiet strength that we tend to overlook in the midst of her butterfly personality.  On the other hand, Cooter has reached the age where he is trying to be tough.  He will find things to laugh or joke about in a heartbeat, and he’s really clever and very funny.  I do get glimpses of his sensitive side, but never more so than yesterday.  He was concerned, and all of the potential outcomes ran through his mind.

Turns out strength can come from where you least expect it.  And so can tender hearts.

Giving thanks for moments in the dark and those who hold me close when we are there, and even more so for the light that greets us when we come out.

Love to all.

Ferbuary_6,_2008_tornado_warning

By NOAA (http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/watch/ww0048.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Going Down the Fireman Pole–It’s a Big Deal

My little guy popped up out of the bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning.  As in, one second his eyes were completely closed and he was asleep, and the next he was sitting up and telling me his story.

“So I conquered one of my greatest fears…..I slid down the fireman pole.”

Sometimes I feel like I’ve walked in midway through a conversation he’s been having with me before I arrived.  Fireman pole?  He’d been having some kind of dream was all I could figure.  He continued on while I was trying to place what he was talking about.

“Wait, buddy, when was this? Did you dream it?”

He blew out an exasperated breath.

“No ma’am, see it was on the fireman pole.  Last night.”

Ummm?  Oh.  Yes.  The playground.

Last night was the last time for swim practice out in the open air. They are putting up the bubble to keep the swimmers a little warmer as the chilly air is going to hit us this weekend.  The pool where our Princess practices is at a park with a really nice playground.  Cooter likes to go over and play, but I am very overprotective about keeping an eye on him and telling him he can only go so far and never out of my sight.  Since it was a nice evening and the playground wasn’t crowded and it was the last night, I let him go over and play.

“Okay, the playground.  I gotcha.  Go ahead.”

“Well, see I faced my fear.  I went down the fireman pole for the first time, and I did it better than another boy who had been going down it over and over.”  I nodded.  “It was because he holds on too tight.  I let go a little bit, and that makes it work just right.”

Well.

I guess it does.

Another life lesson out of the mouths of babes.

When we hold on too tight, it’s really hard for things to work just right.  For us to move in the right direction.

Yep.

Tonight I’m thankful for bright and cheery faces full of stories to share, even if it is first thing in the morning.  I’m thankful for the bravery of this one who faced his fears, all by himself.  And I give thanks for that smile.  The smile so full of joy over succeeding.  He’s learned something very important–the first step to any and every success is trying.  You can’t move anywhere–even down a fireman pole–if you don’t climb up there and take that first step.  Tonight I’m proud of my little guy’s 374th first step.  And that he wanted to share it with me?  Priceless.

Off to think about what first step I need to take–what I need to let go of just enough so I can move…..you?

Love to all.

 

Why We Usually Run Out of Ketchup

English: A bottle of Heinz ketchup

English: A bottle of Heinz ketchup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s just not on my radar.

I live in a house of ketchup eaters.  Of which I am not one.  At all.

I grew up with them too.  Sister loved ketchup so much she would eat it on everything from eggs to the Friday night fishsticks.  (We didn’t have them every Friday, but when we did have them it was usually a Friday.)  I don’t remember how old I was when I turned away from ketchup, but I do remember why.

Ketchup is red.  (Well except for that weird phase they went through about ten or twelve years ago where they marketed purple and green ketchups, yeah, RED.)

Blood is red.

In my very young mind, I could not comprehend that vessels contained the blood in our body.  I figured that it was all just in there hanging out together.  I also didn’t understand that our food wasn’t in there free floating.  Put it all together and I decided not to eat ketchup because how on earth would the doctors distinguish the blood from the ketchup if I got sick?

Ummm okay, did I mention that I was very young?

That same youth and lack of comprehension about how the world worked was what made me afraid when I realized we were not inside the dome of the earth–that we were actually standing on the outside of the planet and the only thing holding us in place was something called “gravity.”  All of a sudden I felt so small and vulnerable.  And very hopeful that gravity would never stop working.

Fear is an interesting interpreter isn’t it?  Fear that comes from not knowing, not understanding.  It filters everything through the unknown and comes out on the other end creating stress and worry and exhaustion.  And strange habits.

Like not eating ketchup.

Oh sure I’ve eaten it since then.  And occasionally I find it tasty.  But mostly I don’t care for it, and I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t because a tiny bit of that worry from when I was small still lingers.  Not rational, but maybe.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 to the sound of our Princess sniffling.  I’m afraid she’s gone from allergy symptoms to a full-blown cold.  (Can I say how unfond I am of ragweed?)  It was then that I noticed that my bedroom door was only opened about six inches.  Hmmmmm, I thought, that was odd.  My bathroom door was near about closed. Even odder.  I went to check on Princess, found her awake, and asked her if she had pushed the doors to.  Waiting for her answer, I was thinking, “Please say yes.  Please say yes.”  But instead she answered in her sleepy voice, “No.”

Oh boy.

I spent the next hour, in the darkness, fighting fear with common sense.  I knew that no one had broken in, but the darkness and the unknown kept pushing the common sense and what I did know back against a wall.

Fear.  It’s why I Iose sleep some nights.  It’s why I often don’t try new things and why I avoid old ones.  And once upon a time, it was why I stayed indoors and tried not to go outside very much at all.  Fear is why I avoid my front porch when Aragog’s successor’s web is visible, and it’s why I panic when our Princess starts getting sick.  Fear, it is the impediment to living life fully.

I have spent many years working on the fears that come along irrationally.  And not all fears are.  (To paraphrase my Mama, “Sometimes if you aren’t fearful, you don’t understand the situation.”)  It’s the irrational ones that I want to eke out into extinction.  When even my plans and dreams get filtered through the lens of fear, it is time to do something.

I love this story.  It is endearing and eye-opening and heartbreaking all at the same time.  And joyful--there's joy in there too.

I love this story. It is endearing and eye-opening and heartbreaking all at the same time. And joyful–there’s joy in there too.

I’m reading a book recommended by my friend and wonderful writer, Karen Spears Zacharias–“Whistling By the Graveyard” by Susan Crandall.  The main character, nine-year old Starla, tells it like this: “Whistling past the graveyard.  That’s what Daddy called it when you did something to keep your mind off your most worstest fear.”

Whistling past the graveyard.  Yes.  I know what that feels like.  Only usually for me it’s a way of breathing.  Or whispering the same words over and over to bring me peace and comfort when I’m most afraid.  Or it’s picking up the phone and calling……Sister, Mess Cat, Bubba, my Aunt, a friend, someone I love and trust.  Just to keep me distracted long enough to get over the wave of fear and worry that can come without a moment’s notice.

It’s time I start whistling more and worrying less.  Let go of those fears that cripple me and my ability to take the next step in whatever it is.

20130927-231329.jpg

I love this quote by John Wayne.  Yessir.  That’s what it is.  And I’m thinking after all the times I’ve given in to the fear in my life, it’s time that I learn to saddle up.  There is not right or wrong in the trying; it’s just important that I do it.

So in addition to finishing the book I am reading, I need to learn to saddle up regardless.  It might be scary and it might be way out of my comfort zone, but that’s what true courage looks like.  In the face of fear, not in its absence.

Oh yeah, and one more thing for that to-do list.   Add ketchup to my shopping list.  I think we might just be out.  And tomorrow is very likely going to be fish stick Saturday, and goodness knows these folks can eat some ketchup.  I might even have some myself.

Do You Think They’re Afraid?

Today on one of our many adventures, the littles and I got two butterfly bushes in addition to some other fun things to plant.  The butterfly bushes were, I suppose, an attempt to make my yard a little more hospitable.  To, you know, the critters.  (I heard a friend share that she has no bees in her yard, and I got sad, okay?  And it’s not for her lack of trying, so I got worried, since this spring, gardening wise, I’ve pretty much been a slacker.) In hindsight, perhaps it was my subconscious remembering the two I gave Daddy one year for his birthday. They are such happy, busy plants.  Critters always hovering and dancing around them.

A pretty butterfly bush

A pretty butterfly bush

Daddy had planted them next to his building.  (A workshop of sorts, I suppose really, but we always called it “Daddy’s building.”)  If his truck wasn’t parked right there facing the bushes, that was my parking spot in the yard–and still is.  The butterfly bushes grew fast and were fairly low maintenance, until one cold day I pulled up and they were all cut back.  But that’s what you do–cut them back so they will grow well the next spring.  And that’s another whole discussion for some other time.

So regardless of the reason, we brought these two home to plant in the back where we had a tree that died and had to be cut down.  My little friend was out there in my ground up stump pile last week trying to dig a big hole, and I thought what better to put in there than a butterfly bush.  (I’m afraid he’s not going to get my pool dug before he moves.)  I would love to have lots of butterflies out there celebrating, sharing with all their butterfly friends that THIS is the place to be.  Last summer we were lucky that my horticultural genius of a friend shared some of her cocoons with us.  We watched them hatch and then let them go when they were ready.  It was when I looked the little butterfly that was sitting on my finger in his precious little face that I wondered:

pic of caterpillar making cocoon 2When he made his cocoon, was he afraid?

Did he wonder what was about to happen?  Did he know where he was going?  Did he know just how beautiful and free and DIFFERENT his new life was going to be?  Had anyone told him?  Did he believe them?  Was he afraid?

I’ve thought about this a lot.

Because, well, if he was afraid, I just don’t think I could bear it.

But maybe I’m not just talking about butterflies anymore.

Tomorrow I will go out and plant my new butterfly bushes.  And wonder.  And remember.  Party on, my friends, you’ve had quite the journey.  Welcome home.

American Lady butterflies taken by greenart.com

American Lady butterflies taken by greenart.com