Me too

Two of the most beautiful words–

wait.

No.  Right now, in this moment right here, they are THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WORDS EVER to hear from the mouth of another.  Or from the keyboard of someone else.

img_1312

ME TOO.

About a week ago I shared a meme on Facebook about how you know you’re a Mama if you keep running the same load of laundry for three days because you keep forgetting to move it to the dryer.

I prefaced it with something like “I will neither confirm or deny.  Ahem.”  See?  Even though I was saying THIS IS ME, THIS IS THE CRAZY I AM AND DO ON A REGULAR BASIS, I was leaving a little bit of doubt so maybe folks wouldn’t really know the CRAZY I am.

Yeah.  Right.  They knew.

It’s scary for me to share things like that.  I like my mask.  I like my doors and walls and staying put behind them.  I joke about parading my crazy on the front porch, but other than some cobwebs that need sweeping up and some old Christmas greens that I should move to the fire pit pile, I really DON’T like to share my crazy that openly.

Still, I shared it because on rough weeks (okay, and maybe not so much ONLY the rough weeks), I’ve been guilty of this.  It struck a chord with me.  It made me laugh.  I had to share it.  Because I get it and because as I’m easing closer to the big five-o, I’m hopeful that with that decade I will find grace to be all the CRAZY that I am and not be so guilt-filled or lost or overwhelmed by it.  That’s what I’m hoping for.

In the meantime, I’m leaking little bits of it here and there.

And you know what?

Folks responded.  Folks I’m close to and folks who knew me when and folks from all over–they responded.  You know what they said?  Nary a one said, “Wow, Tara, get it together. That’s very wasteful.  You are really wasting our natural resources, and one day your grandchildren can blame YOU for their water shortage.  And high energy costs.  YOU.  I can’t even believe that you can’t remember to move a load of laundry over to the dryer before it sours.  Really?  I think I might have to unfriend you…..”

No.  Not one.

The ones who responded were filled with grace.  Most said those magic words:

“ME TOO!”

Last night I wrote about Robert Pine being Chris Pine’s father, and how that discovery amazed me.  I figured I was the last person on the planet to learn of this, and everyone else would think–“Okay, Tara, old news.  Move along.”  But they didn’t.  Folks said, “Me too.”  And I didn’t feel quite so out of the loop.

I’m rambling here.  The thing I want you to take away from my true confessions here is that there is magic in the words “Me too.”  Say them to someone.  Listen to their story and when it resonates with you, when you find a kindred spirit, no matter how broken or crazy or silly the thing is, tell them.  Let them know they are not alone.  Tell them “me too” and watch their face change.  Watch them smile or crumple in grateful tears.  Let them know it’s not crazy to love the things they love or do the things they do or eat the things they eat.  If you can own it, do.  Tell them “Me too.”  Shout it.  (Well, okay, maybe not in every case, you don’t want to scare folks.)  It’s good news to let someone know they aren’t alone.  And some good news deserves to be loud and proud.

Here’s my last point, and I hope you will take this one to heart as well.  If something resonates with you, yes, say “Me too.”  That’s beautiful and powerful and healing.  But when it DOES NOT resonate with you, when you have no idea what it’s like or how someone can feel/think/believe that way, don’t turn your back on that person.  Don’t walk away, don’t yell “Not me” or take off to tell everyone else about what you just heard.  Maybe you can’t say “Me too,” but there’s something else that is just as magical.

Listening.

Respecting.

And the words, “It’s okay.  I’m trying to understand.  Tell me more.”

Powerful good magic that.

We don’t have to have all the things in common to be with another person.  To be comforting.  To lift them up.  Sure the “me too” moments are wonderful and reassuring and really, really good.

But so are the “I’m listening, tell me more” moments.  The quiet moments of just sitting in the ditch with someone who is there simply because she loves you.  She might not get it, but she loves you so she’s there.

That’s good stuff too.

You think so?

Me too.

Love to all.

listening

there are times when the words come easily
and flow quickly,
faster than my fingers can fly across the keyboard

other times I sit and ponder and read
and try to find the words

and perhaps, it has just occurred to me,
that instead of searching for the words
that seem to elude me

those moments could best be spent
embracing the quiet
the stillness

and
just
listening…..

 

Light_in_the_Darkness

By Sini191 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The One About the Quiet

Being sick is a really bad experience.  With this MonsterBug2015 that has gone through our house, the one thing that we have had to do first and foremost is SLOW DOWN.  We’ve stayed home and we’ve had time of doing absolutely nothing, so our bodies could heal.  And in some of those moments, something really cool has happened.

Stillness.  In the quiet, hearing becomes clearer.  Thoughts aren’t so jumbled.  Neither are the calendars or the stress.

I’m not thankful for being sick by any means.  I wish I could go back about two or three weeks or so and wipe out those germs before they had a chance to grab hold of my family and turn our world upside down.  But it has been in the being sick that I have been reminded of the beauty of stillness, the beauty of the quiet.  The beauty of listening.

IMG_0333

The One Everyone Needs in Her Posse

When you look around at your posse, the ones who are closest to you, the ones whom you call to celebrate with or to share the hard times, the painful stories–look around closely.  In addition to the ones who will call you out and keep you straight and the ones who will come out with a bat swinging when you are hurting, make sure you also have the ones who will tell you, in the words of Mr. John Paul Schulz, “Everything is going to be all right.”

Because when everything in your life seems to be falling apart and you are beyond overwhelmed to the point where you CANNOT EVEN, you will need those compassionate souls.  You will need to be reminded that, while it seems bad right now, it will get better.  It will.

These can be anyone from your sister to your neighbor to your Aunt to your daughter to your best friend to your cousin to your vet to the person at the drive thru. (You know, if you were the kind who told the cashier about your hard stuff.  Ahem.)  Find these people.  And when you have them, give thanks for them.  And love them back.

Tonight I’m thankful for all of those in my posse–those who know me and love me anyway–but tonight I’m especially thankful for these encouragers, who seem to never tire of listening (though, you know, I’m sure they must), and they are always able to come up with just the right words.  Mostly telling me it will be okay.  Just like my Mama used to do.

Love to all.

The One About My Dog’s Business and An Email from Pinterest

A couple of things that happened today–

Miss Sophie is a picky pooper.  I don’t mean to offend, but there’s just no other way to put it.  She will not go in our yard.  And she is very sensitive about where she will go.  It takes quite a bit of sniffing and turning around and sniffing some more and sometimes, even when you think “YES! Finally!” she turns around and walks away from that very spot that once seemed so perfect.

Some days it takes a really long time.

(Yeah, she’s quirky like the rest of the folks around here.  We’ve decided to find it endearing.)

Some time around the middle of the day, I got an email from Pinterest.  From PINTEREST.  Writing to me.  I just knew it was to congratulate me for pinning all the things, and that although my pins were the most fabulous, I had exceeded the limit of pinning without actually attempting to do/make/create one of them.

Thankfully, no.

It was to let me know that they’d had to delete one of my pins.  It had to do with the creator of the picture not wanting it pinned again and again and again.  It was a recipe for a special blend of essential oils to help with injuries.

Eh. *shrugs* Okay.

I was afraid it was one of the one of a kind crochet patterns I pinned that I am sure I will BEGIN WORKING ON TOMORROW forthwith.

The nice thing was how kind the email was.  Pinterest kept assuring me that it had nothing to do with me or anything I’d done.  It was all about the originator deciding they didn’t want their information out there.  But they wanted me to know in no uncertain terms that I had done NOTHING wrong.

Well, that’s a huge relief.

And it really was.  It was so nice to be assured that while something I did had to be affected, it wasn’t my fault.  And they went to such trouble and used such nice words to make sure I knew that.

These two totally unrelated stories have come together for me tonight to remind me of this–

We all have things–anger, impatience, frustration, sadness, pain, anxiety, fear among others–that needs to come out or we will go mad and become ill.  It just has to.  But instead of letting it fall wherever, we need to be deliberate about who we share it with and how.  All of our woes and worries matter, but we don’t need to let them fester to the point of blowing up and out at folks.  Be particular, find a good friend or trusted family member and share your stuff.  Perhaps sharing with a compassionate soul and getting it out in the open will help.  But if it should happen that you carry it too long, and you blow up at someone, take a lesson from Pinterest.  Tell them kindly it had nothing to do with them.  Apologize. And use kind words.  It does a world of wonders, y’all.

We all have messes and issues and troubles and woes.  May we all be as particular as Miss Sophie and as kind as Pinterest when we become overwhelmed by our own troubles and that stuff starts coming out.

Love to all.

Share the Stories, Say Their Names

Today I sat in a church that holds memories of important days for me and added one more.  I sat there, saying goodbye to a man who taught me Physical Science in college.  And so much more.

It was a privilege sitting with others who love and miss him, listening to the one who was closest to him share his stories–some from as far back as 51 years and others as recent as four days ago, when this wonderful man took his last breath and the room was filled with peace.

As the stories were told, I was mesmerized.  I love listening to stories.  Maybe some folks were antsy, wondering how much longer, but all I could think of was More.  Please tell me one more.

Afterward I did get to hear more.  As people gathered around the tables heavy laden with foods, savory and sweet, they shared their memories.  Laughter and tears flowed freely.  Hugs were given again and again.  Old friends were reunited, and new friends were introduced.  The sun was shining, and the promised rain never came.

Only a gentle breeze that offered refreshment and relief from the afternoon heat.

Tonight I’m thinking about those stories, and how people from many different parts of this one man’s life came together to honor, remember, share, and listen.  There were people he’d taught, people he’d mentored, ones he’d worked with, others who worked for him, folks he worshipped alongside of, people who shared his love of camellias or music or books or good food…..

So many different people.  Gathered there in one place because of their love for this one very special person.

A beautiful thing to see and be in the midst of.

It was an added gift that I saw folks whom I love and have not seen in a long time.  I got to visit with women who were basically “rock stars” in my mind–they were prominent on my college campus when I was there.  I got to introduce them to my own Wesleyanne, and it warmed my soul to see her wrapped up in their stories from another time of the campus she loves so much.

I visited with a high school friend, and we laughed and laughed, and I know now why women go to the bathroom together.  It’s good to have a posse, y’all–no matter how many years go by between seeing each other.  My daughter looked at my friend’s daughter and could not believe how old they are both getting.  Yeah, that’s where life takes you, my girl.  Down a path that moves so quickly you are constantly surprised at how everything and everyone is changing.  It can be dizzying at times.

One of my favorite moments came when a family I’ve known for over thirty years came in and sat behind me in the church.  It was good to see their smiling faces.  I leaned over to my girl and whispered, “I babysat him once upon a time.”  Her eyes grew big as she took in the thirty-something year old man behind her.  “Wow,” she mouthed back.

His sweet Mama whom I remember from library events and school things–she’s dotted all through my childhood memories–leaned in to hug me.  “I love your blog,” she said.

Y’all.  That meant so much to me, yes.  To know that someone out there is reading these stories I share–and then her kind words.  Yes.  Thank you.  (I am humbled and honored when I discover that someone spends his/her time reading something I have written.)

But what meant the most to me was what she said next.  And she said it again in the hallway outside the bathroom in the parish hall.

“When I read them, I can see your Mama.  And I can hear her,” she said, smiling her beautiful smile.  “And your Daddy too.”

She knew my Mama–living in a small town, folks know just about everybody, but they volunteered together and well, she remembers.

And THAT meant everything to me.  She said their names, and she remembered.  I want to hold on to that moment for a long, long time.  In that moment, it was almost like I hadn’t completely lost them.

Today was about listening to stories.  And sharing them.  But most of all, today reminded me to speak the names of those whom we love who are no longer walking alongside us.  There is power in saying their names, in sharing their stories.  In that moment, we can bring their memory and stories to life and begin to heal the hearts of those who are hurting from the pain of missing the ones they love.  No matter how long it has been.

Whose story can you share today?  Who needs you to speak the name of one they love?  Whose story will you sit and listen to today?

Those stories, y’all.  They matter.  Some days, they’re all we have.

Love to all.

Ode to the Belly Rub

Tonight as I sat down with my laptop in my usual spot to begin writing, I looked over at my right hip and this, y’all.

IMG_9389IMG_9391

You might say we are attached at the hip.  That’s the same spot she waddled over to the very first time we met.  She sighed, and then she plopped her little head down on my thigh.

Just as she likes to do now.  Every.  Single.  Night.

It’s kind of her spot.

The thing that gave me pause tonight–even though this behavior was no different, is how envious I am of her.

Oh, it’s not all the naps she gets to take–though there is that.

It’s not that food is in front of her almost before she needs it–ready to be eaten.

It’s not even that she is always cute, no matter the time of day.

It’s that this girl knows how to ask for what she needs or wants.

She used to come up and nip playfully at my hand when she wanted a belly rub.  Not a fan of that with all those puppy teeth, I taught her to pat my hand when she was in need.

And so she does. Whenever she feels the need.  Whether it’s been five minutes or five hours (rare) since her last belly rub, she knows how to ask.

Because she knows what she needs, and she trusts us to provide it.  And if we get a little thick-headed, she also knows she can use her voice (very loudly) and point out to us that she needs some more food or she’s ready for bed or she’d like to go outside.

Oh, to be that way.

To know exactly what would make things better, first of all, and then to trust that in asking, it will be provided.

To know how and whom to ask.  All while smiling.  (Or, you know, tail wagging as the case may be.)

Yes.

May we all work toward becoming more secure in the asking, and find ourselves surrounded by those who care enough to reach down and rub our bellies.  So to speak.

Love and happy asking to all.

Listening to Hear

So speaking of listening, I wanted to tell you about a young man who has made a great impression on me and mine.

Yesterday in the midst of our out and abouts, the littles and I found ourselves next door to the GW Boutique on the other side of town.  Lest you think I was shirking my duty in hunting down bargains, the spot next door (where they had the GW BOOtique last September and October) is now the Last Chance GW.  Only open on Tuesday-Thursday and filled with racks of well-organized clothes, every piece of clothing is 99 cents on Tuesdays and the price goes down from there.

Awesome.

I mean name brand jeans for 99 cents?  Shirts, shorts for littles who are going to wear them out anyway?

That’s something I can get excited about.

After we perused the racks (not as long as I would have liked–the littles were saddened that it was only clothes), we popped in next door at the Boutique.  We poked around for a few minutes and I found a couple of things for next winter.  (Yes, I know, this one isn’t over yet, but I’m trying to think positively.)  I said no to things we already have too much of, and we headed to the checkout.

A young man who has waited on me there at least once before was at the register.  I don’t know his name–no name tag, and I regret not asking.  He is so friendly, and you can tell he really loves his job.  Because of that, I love my experience there.  He listens and he comments and he’s just one of those people who lifts your spirits with his general outlook on the world.

As we talked about my purchases, he commented on my necklace–the one I wear every day.  How much he liked it.  I thanked him and smiled.  I’m about 95% sure he told me he liked it last time I was there and we talked.  He’s a noticer.

He might notice things a little more than most because he has a hearing impairment.  Or maybe that’s not why.  Still he pays close attention.  I’ve noticed that I need to make sure he can see my mouth when I’m speaking, and we carry on great conversations.  It’s because he pays close attention to more than just necklaces and purchase items; he pays attention to people.  He looks at you when he is speaking, and that is so HUGE in this day and age of carrying on conversations with heads bowed over keyboards and phones.  And he doesn’t just listen to reply–he listens to hear.

I really enjoy being around his kind spirit.  Yesterday as we were talking, he pointed to the flowerpot at the end of the checkout counter.  “Yeah.  Someone hurt my plant.”

All I could see were little twig like bits sticking up no more than an inch and a half above the soil.

“It was growing so good, but someone just broke it off.” Our eyes met.  “I don’t know who or why.”

Oh my heart.  “I am so sorry that someone would do that to you–to your plant.  I’m sorry.”

A shadow seemed to lift, and he smiled.  “Oh it will be okay.  I always kill plants–can’t make them grow.  But that one…..anyway, I will make a trip over to Wal-Mart and I’ll try it again.”  He paused and then gestured toward the end of the counter behind him.  “That one down there is doing really well.  It was donated.  So now it’s the Goodwill plant.”

The Goodwill plant was lovely and a vibrant green.  “Wow.  That is awesome.”

“Yeah, when they first brought  it in, it wasn’t doing so good, but look at it.  They took it outside for a bit today too.  I think it liked it.”

I nodded.  “I’m sure it did.  Obviously Goodwill has been good for that plant.”

And it hit me as I was walking out, explaining to my girl why we had to make sure our friend could see our lips moving when we spoke to him, that a little (or a lot) of goodwill is pretty much good for all living things, isn’t it?

Tonight I’m thankful for the kind folks whose paths cross with mine and for how they lift my spirits.  I’m thankful for this young man who is kind and a noticer, for those are the folks who make each person they meet feel important and special.  And I’m thankful for his love of the things that grow, and the lesson he taught me in those few moments about listening, really listening.

May we all learn to listen to hear and to notice the little things.  And the big ones.  And all those in between.

Love to all.

Wealth or Health?

Today our lessons took us to Istanbul in the 1500’s, and we learned about Suleyman the Magnificent.  What a fascinating person!  He conquered many lands (read-people) and was the longest-ruling Sultan–46 years–of what is known as the Ottoman Empire.  He ruled during the height of the Empire’s military, economic, and political power.  He was a patron of the arts and architecture.  He was also known as a poet, and many of his writings are regarded as Turkish proverbs now.

 

Suleyman the Magnificent

Suleyman the Magnificent

I dug a little deeper after we finished reading, and I found a few of Suleyman the Magnificent’s writings.  One of them I read aloud to my littles.

 

The people think of wealth and power as the greatest fate,

But in this world a spell of health is the best state.

What men call sovereignty is a worldly strife and constant war;

Worship of God is the highest throne, the happiest of all estates

 

I read it to them twice, and then I thought, what the hey–let me see if they grasp any of this at all.  “Do you understand what he’s saying here?”

Stares.  Crickets.

So I decided to focus on the first two lines.  We read them again.

“So what do you think he’s saying is best to have in life?  Wealth and power or health?”

Our Princess piped up almost immediately.  “Health!  Good health!”

I nodded.  Okay, now we were getting somewhere.  “Do you agree?  Is having good health better than having wealth and power?”

My girl thought he was right.  And then Cooter, Mr. Contrary, decided to share his thoughts.

“Nope, it’s better to have wealth.  Money!”  Of course he does.  This is, after all, the little guy who wants real estate as a present.

“Really?  I mean, what can you do with all of that money if you are sick?  Not well?”

“Well, see,” he started, “if you have money you can buy the good food that will keep you healthy.”  He stopped for a minute as I sat there thinking I might be in trouble.  He was absolutely right. “And, if you have money you can get plumbing.”

Plumbing?  I wondered where he had heard about sewage issues.  Or how he equated money with indoor plumbing.

“Plumbing, buddy? How will that keep you healthy?”

“Mama, if you have money, you can get plumbing, and the plumbing will give you clean water.  And you have to have clean water to stay healthy.”

*jaw hits the floor*

That moment when you realize your child has been taking it all in, and some of it actually stuck.

Yeah.  THAT one.

Thankful.

We talked a little more about folks who don’t have clean water, and how that changes the world, and I gave thanks in my heart as we talked.  They get it.  They realize that there are people in this world who have to walk long distances to get water in a bucket and carry it all the way back to their homes, missing school and other opportunities that would help their lives–all because they don’t have access to clean water.

Clean water can make you healthy.  Cooter said so.

Tonight I’m thankful, once again, for the opportunity I have to learn with my children.  It is a fascinating journey and a privilege.  I am teary-eyed with gratitude that my children have been listening to my conversations about justice and the world’s needs.  And that they are getting it.  The fact that my almost eight year old knows that you need clean water to be healthy, and that you need plumbing which requires money–that has me feeling rather emotional.  These little people we are raising or helping others raise–they are the ones who will be taking care of us one day.  It is my hope that they will do it with compassion, love, and laughter.  I saw a glimmer of hope for that day in our conversations this morning.

Because yeah, we did laugh.  As usually happens, our lesson ended with one or the other sending all of us into fits of giggles.  And oh,  how I love their laughter.

Wishing for all good health and the wealth needed to stay that way, with just enough extra to help someone else have clean water too.

Love to all.

 

Living Water International and Advent Conspiracy are where me and mine learned about the world’s clean water supply–and the lack thereof.  You can learn more by clicking on their names.  

 

 

Speak Up!

It was early evening when she came down the stairs and told us she was going to church the next morning.  She needed to go, and so she was going. And anyone else who wanted to was welcome, more than welcome–she’d love the company–to go with her.

To say I was taken aback would be an understatement.  I was speechless for a moment or two.

Not because I thought she was wrong for saying it, but because I was a little shocked–and envious.

Here was a young woman, my sister, younger than I, speaking her mind.  Saying what she needed.

I want to do THAT.

The thing is, no one thought she was wrong or inappropriate for speaking up.  Quite the opposite.  We all worked it out so it could happen.

And so it did.  And it was a good thing.

Well then.

Over the weekend I heard two people sharing stories about a mutual friend.  It seems that he is a particular eater.  Not picky.  But intentional.  I get it.  So he went to a gathering at one of the friends’ house and under one arm he carried a blender.  In his hand he held a bag of things to blend.

For his healthy smoothie.

He was there for the fellowship, and knowing that he probably wouldn’t be able to eat what was there, he carried his own vittles.

Okay then.

And no one thought unkindly of him.  Hearing the story I was again envious that this man was able to take care of himself, in the least obtrusive way possible.  He did what he needed to do for him, which made him able to be a better friend to all at the party–because he wasn’t stressed over the menu and what he could or could not eat.

My sister was a better parent, I’d daresay, after she was able to go and feed her soul as she had expressed she needed to do.

Good for them.

Sometimes I have a need, and yet I’m hesitant to express it.  Out of guilt?  Feeling selfish?  Not having enough time?  Perhaps it’s being raised in the south where you often hear, “Bless her heart, she was such a good person–never took a minute for herself, always doing for others. Such a gracious lady.”

Yes.  That.

I don’t mean to say that we need to become self-centered and egocentric, but I don’t think, as evidenced by the church visit and the blender, that folks will gasp in horror, clutch their pearls, and kick me out of polite society if I say, “Hey, you know what I need to happen right about now?”

But that’s what I fear, I think.

Offending.

Seeming selfish.

Bad parent.  Spouse.  Friend.  Family.

“Did you hear her just say what she needed?  I swanee, she’s got some nerve!”

The truth is that I think those who love me will likely shrug and say, “Huh, never knew that, okay.”  And the ones who don’t may very well tsk tsk and shake their heads and maybe even wag their tongues–but I can’t let that keep me from speaking up.  Besides, my needs are not really all that interesting fodder for gossip anyway.

Last fall I really wanted a fire pit.  I hinted around and no one was biting.  (Well, who can blame them–I was being really subtle so as to be more grace-filled…..*sigh*)  Finally I resorted to “sending pins” on Pinterest and YouTube how-to videos to the Fella and my oldest.

And you know what?

I got that fire pit!  On my birthday.

And the adventures we’ve had since we got it?

Priceless.  

It was hard for me to speak up.  (Well, I came close, right?  With the videos and pins?)  But I think my people were a little relieved that they didn’t have to guess or try to hack into my Amazon account to see what I might want.

A fire pit?

Sure thing.

Took me nearly twelve years of marriage to figure that one out, but now that I have, I’ve figured out it’s actually pretty nice.

And if it can’t be done or made or given, well that’s okay too.  That’s part of this speaking your needs thing.  At least someone has thought about it and tried.

What’s on your heart? What matters to you?  What would mean the world to you if someone would just…..?

Tell them.  Speak up.  It doesn’t matter what it is, if it comes from deep down within you, this need, then it’s okay.  Just tell someone you love and trust.  Tell someone what you need.

I’ll be you’ll be surprised.

Tonight I’m thankful for those who listen to me and who encourage me and give me permission to want and hope and need.  And speak up.  Most of all I’m thankful for my fire pit, which is fun in itself, but also warms my toes–and my heart, as I remember that I was heard when I spoke my heart…..and it was okay.

Love to all.

 

My fire pit being built, because I asked.

My fire pit being built, because I spoke up.