When Time Stood Still

I am one of those people who believes that light will follow darkness.  That eventually the sun will rise.  That the heavy nothingness will give way to little pinpricks of light that will open up the sky like a box being opened at Christmas, until the whole sky is gloriously lit by the golden sun as it rises from its slumber.

That is what I believe.

I have to.

To move forward.

To move beyond.

Today I found myself sitting in a courtroom listening to hard stories and all the pain and hurt from years in the past.  When I first got there I noticed the clock had the wrong time.  That’s annoying, but clocks can run slow or folks forget to set them back, so I didn’t give it a second thought.  When there was a recess I looked up again, and I saw that the clock hadn’t moved it all.  It wasn’t working.  At.  All.

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When we first arrived

I began to feel antsy.  I looked up at that clock a couple of more times during the remainder of our time in the room, and it. still. wasn’t. moving.

Then I began to feel closed in.  All of that pain, all of that hurt.  All of that, and no time had passed?

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When we were about to leave

I know that it had in actuality passed.  I think part of what troubled me is that it was a clock that the only the judge could see easily, and I wondered how on earth she was managing not knowing the time…..

Why didn’t she have that blame clock fixed?  Or replaced?  Why didn’t she do a lot of things?  Did it not bother her?

And I realized that I needed in the very worst way for that clock to move.  I need for the afternoon and then the evening to come.  I need for all of that to happen because if time does not pass, how can we begin to heal?  How can we move beyond?

Though the passing of time can bring more darkness, eventually if the clock keeps ticking, the sun will rise, the light will come, and we can move past all of the pain and hurt and sadness of the now.

Tonight I give thanks for those who remind me of the moments passing and who hold my hand and heart as they do.  I am thankful for those who sit in the dark and are the first to call out “Morning has broken!” as the tiniest bit of dawn peeks over the horizon.  Tonight I open myself to the Light which will I hope will help me see the path a little clearer.

And I’m sure hopeful that someone will fix that clock.  It’s no good to be stuck in the same moment for more than a minute–it’s just not good for our souls.

Love to all.

Don’t Miss the Dance or Flip to the End

Yesterday, in the midst of the madness around here, I looked over at the couch and saw Cooter, head on the seat, feet up the back of it, reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  He has seen the first Harry Potter movie.  His older sister has read all of the books.  His middle sister has just finished the sixth book. Both of them refuse to give away any of the details in the storyline, no matter how hard he begs or how persistent his questioning is.  Me, I’ve forgotten so much, he doesn’t bother asking anymore.

When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “I’m reading the second book.  Baba (big sister) said since I’d seen the first movie, I could start with the second book.”  He turned back to his book.  Upside down and everything.

I struggled with the need to tell him to put the book down and come work on handwriting or math, but this is my child who, up until five months ago, was NOT reading.  Ahem.  I let him be.

For a while.

Today I saw him reading again.  And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him flipping pages.  Toward the end.

“What are you doing, buddy?” I asked him.

He looked up, grinned that sheepish one tooth grin, and said, “Well, I was just thinking I might see what happens later.  You know…..”

*sigh*  Yes, I do.

But I am very much against it.  Fight the urge, little man.

“Hey, don’t do that, okay?  If you do, you are going to spoil what happens at the end.  More importantly, you’ll spoil all that happens before that–you will miss the story, bud.  The journey.  And that’s what makes it.  The story of getting there.”

He nodded.  Did he get my meaning?  Will he quit trying to jump ahead to find out what happens, or will he enjoy the ride as he reads page by page?

I have no idea.  As my Daddy often said, “I can want it for him, but I can’t make him do it.”

Years and years ago, at the very beginning of another lifetime, I had gotten a new cassette tape by a new artist–Garth Brooks.  I loved most all of the songs on it, but my favorite at one time was “The Dance.”  I guess that’s why Cooter wanting to flip to the end of the book to see what happens hit me so hard.  The lyrics of that song, written by Tony Arata, are etched on my heart.  So many endings that if I’d known about them…..well, I would have missed out.  Because I don’t know if I would have thought I could handle the pain.

And now, I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance 

So my dear ones, I know there’s always going to be the curiosity and the desire to know how it turns out.  What happens to Harry?  To Hermione?  Is Dumbledore hiding something?  Who is Tom Riddle?  There are those questions in real life too.  How will this homeschooling thing turn out?  Am I doing the right thing?  Will she graduate and go straight through her post-graduate work?  Will truth and good triumph over evil in this battle for what’s right that we are in the midst of?  How old do I have to be before Mama will let me get a cell phone?  Or go places without texting her I’m there safely? (FYI, never)

All of those questions, the uncertainty, the wondering–it’s all part of the amazing journey and adventure we call life.  It’s not always comfortable, but it will always be a part of our life.  So best to make peace with it and enjoy the dance.

Because life’s too precious not to.

Love to all.

If you’d like to hear the song, here’s a version by Westlife–a recent favorite group of mine.  Because well, you know, there’s nothing of Garth on Youtube or iTunes.  Heard a rumor that could be changing.  Fingers crossed.  Until then, these boys do it justice. 

 

 

Letting It Go

My Fella and I took the crew along with Mess Cat and her little guy Shaker to see the new Disney movie “Frozen.”  I had no idea what to expect.  The only previews I’d seen featured Olaf the snowman, so I had no clue about the depth and meaning behind the storyline.  I do love me some Olaf though.

It was a really good movie.  Aub says it is by far the best Disney princess movie ever made. Even better than “Tangled” and that’s saying something.  There is a twist that makes it very different from all of the others that I can recall, and I am thankful for it.  I don’t want to spoil the movie for those who plan to see it and haven’t, but if this is the new trend for Disney heroines, I’m all for it.  And they get it.  Sisters and sisterfriends.  There’s nothing better.

The movie began in song.  It was a musical, and some of the music was not so traditional, which intrigued me.  As the first song was beginning I heard Cooter, who was sitting next to me, sigh.

“What’s wrong, Buddy?” I whispered.

“It’s just that this is what is depressing about Disney movies.  They always sing these songs.”  He sighed again.  Poor put upon child.  Suffice to say I am thankful for Olaf the snowman and Sven the moose who saved the movie for Cooter and Shaker.  They were delightfully funny.

Our own Princess has read the novelization of the movie.  This is the first time she’s read a story before going to see the movie.  A big moment for her.  (I had to have her reassure me a time or two that it was all going to turn out okay–so glad she had already read the story.)  I asked her how she liked it, and she just beamed.  Then she asked how soon we could buy the movie on DVD.  (I know it seems like there’s a quick turnaround these days, but the movie did just come out two days ago.)

As the movie progressed during a climactic moment for Elsa, she sang a song that has been recorded by Demi Lovato–“Let It Go,” written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.  The lyrics in the movie grabbed my heart and swirled around making me feel and think about things I have put aside for a long time.  I came home and listened to Demi Lovato’s version and had the same reaction.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always had to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know

There was a time in my life when I tried to hide what was going on, how things really were.   I guess I believed that if I could hide it, it wasn’t really real.  But when things blew up and everyone knew, I had to deal with letting it go and not caring what folks said or thought.  I walked away and tried ignored the coldness of others judging and changing hearts.  And eventually that cold didn’t bother me anymore.  Most of the time.

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn my back and slam the door
And here I stand, and here I’ll stay
Let it go, let it go
The cold never bothered me anyway

These last lines below are truth.  The distance from all of this so many years ago makes it seem small most of the time.  Except for when it doesn’t.  When I left that life behind, I remember laying on the floor next to a vent, hoping the cool air would calm my heart and soothe my soul.  There in my only safe place on this earth, I lay there and could not find the strength to grieve all that I had lost.  All I could feel was relief.  I closed my eyes and rested.  For the first time in a long time.  It was quite a while before I could let my heart grieve.

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
Up here in the cold thin air I finally can breathe
I know I left a life behind, but I’m too relieved to grieve

The thing that this song and the movie reminded me of is something that I learned many years ago.  If you have something you are dealing with and you keep it a secret, one day, as Shakespeare wrote, the truth will out.  When it does, things will only be harder and hurt more than it would have if you had been able to garner the courage and share with someone you trusted to begin with.  In my experience and in Frozen too, the longer the secret is kept, the number of folks who will get hurt only increases.

I know there are hard situations in this life.  Things that don’t get awful right away.  They get hard one harsh word or rough touch or untruth at a time.  I know it’s easy to think you have it under control.  That things will get better–there is no reason to share it with others.  No need to bother or worry anyone because this darkness is only temporary.

My friend, that is rarely true.  The actions of others are not your fault nor are they under your control.  The truth is that unkind and mean words and hurting ways tend to spiral into worse and worse situations.  Don’t hold it in, don’t worry about being the “good girl” and not letting it show.  Find someone you trust, and keep looking for someone who will listen and believe until you find them.  Then share it all.

And let it go.  Turn your back and slam that door.

Save yourself.  And others.

From more pain.

Over time the relief you feel may morph into grief, but over time and distance, it will begin to feel small.

And one day you will fly.  And find yourself surrounded by the ones you love who truly love you.  The very ones you tried to protect with your secret will lift you up and make you stronger.

Tonight I’m thankful for a movie and a song that reminded me of my journey and how important it is to let it go.  How healing that has been for me and those around me.  And when those memories come back, they seem a little smaller each and every time.  Except for when they don’t.

And in those moments, I am thankful for the ones I love who know me and love me in spite of it. And who stand beside me and help me let it go.  All over again.

In the previews they show a moment when Olaf the snowman tells his new friend, “Some people are worth melting for.”

Just that.  Surround yourself with ones you would “melt” for, and who would melt for you.  Those are the relationships that will light the darkness and heal the brokenness in this world.  Those are the friendships that will save lives.

I think Torey Hayden put it best in her book, “One Child.” She writes:

“She looked up. “What I can’t figure out is why the good things always end.”
“Everything ends.”
“Not some things. Not the bad things. They never go away.”
“Yes, they do. If you let them, they go away. Not as fast as we’d like sometimes, but they end too. What doesn’t end is the way we feel about each other. Even when you’re all grown up and somewhere else, you can remember what a good time we had together. Even when you’re in the middle of bad things and they never seem to be changing, you can remember me. And I’ll remember you.”  
―  Torey Hayden, “One Child”

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.

Ending a Chapter in My Story

I just closed the door on a chapter of my life.  A very long chapter.  The why’s and wherefore’s really aren’t important, but here’s what is.

I’m a scriptwriter from way back.  I like to “write out” how something will go down, who will say what, where they will go, and how all of this will affect me oh so wonderfully.  Ahem.  We all know how that kind of thing can turn out.  Or not.  Even if you send a memo letting folks know how they should act, it doesn’t always go the way you plan.  Or I plan.  And so on.

The thing is that even though this chapter is closed, I don’t trust that it really and truly has.  It has been a part of my story for such a long time.  And I can’t let it go.

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But I have to.  This chapter will always be a part of my story.  It will always be a part of how my character developed and continues to develop.  However, this now closed chapter does not have to be the ending of my story.  I can choose better over bitter, joy over fear, forgiveness over anger, grace over revenge (and all of the related clichés).  In other words, I can choose to MOVE ON.

I have friends who are in the midst of closing chapters or starting their next ones.  I wish for them the resources to do what must be done to get them back to a safe place–mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Safety and well-being.  And trust.  Trusting the old chapter really is over.  Trusting that if characters or the hard emotions come back around from that chapter that she can handle it.  Trusting that the people around her can handle hearing her story.  Trusting that she is enough and that she will always be loved by those in her life whom she values the most.  That’s what I wish for them.  And for me.  And I think in a nutshell all those things add up to peace.   That’s really what we all need the most I think.  Peace, inside and out.

And one more thing.  I did not see this ending coming.  And even though the chapter that so needed to be closed didn’t have the ending I thought it would or could or wanted it to have, it did end.  It is over.  That’s what I really want to share.  If you are in a situation and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, turn to those you love and let them love you through it.  More than likely they will.  I bet you will be surprised.  And my other point is this–it may not end the way you imagined or hoped but the end of this hard chapter will eventually come, and then you will have a fresh sheet of paper and you can begin again.  You will need to call on every resource you have–especially loving friends and family, but you can do it.

I loved this.  Please ignore the clearance sticker.  I left it on there and took my picture.  Might put this on a canvas around here one day.

I loved this. Please ignore the clearance sticker. I left it on there and took my picture. Might put this on a canvas around here one day.

I saw this sign in Target.  (so just ignore the clearance sticker and focus on the sentiment, please) I thought on this a lot.  Is it true?   As I walked away from the sign, I thought, “Well if it said, every day you get a second chance, then I could argue with that.  There are just some things you don’t get second chances at.”

But as I read it again tonight, I love what it says.  Every day is a second chance.  And I think it’s true.  Every day is a second chance to rewrite our own stories.  To have them make a difference.  To close the chapters that need closing or get help so that we can.  Every single day is a second chance to seek and to do.  And I think that is the best thing I’ve heard all day.

Here’s to closing chapters that need closing and the folks that love us through that journey.  You can do it, as hard as it may be.  Just know the next chapter will be that much more beautiful because you did.  Love to all.

For the Birds

English: Picoides villosus, Hairy Woodpecker -...

English: Picoides villosus, Hairy Woodpecker — Whitby, Ontario, Canada — 2006 January, The red on the back of the head identifies this as a male. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I originally wrote this four years ago about a walk I took in August 2009.  I wrote it in December of 2009 to be included in a Hope Book of encouragement in which family and friends shared stories and pictures and laughter with Mama and Daddy, as Daddy began his fight against Lymphoma. 

Lately I’ve really gotten into cardinals.  I love them–males and females.  I can remember one flying across the bottom just before Evans Packing Shed on Highway 96 just about every morning on my way to work at Peach Area Child Care Center.  I made it up in my head that the cardinal was a sign of good luck.  I guess I felt like I could use it at the time.  Recently on a rare time of running an errand at Blackberry Flats by myself, I saw a beautiful flash of red in one of the cedars.  Breathtaking–and oddly comforting.

It’s interesting, because birds were always my sister’s thing–especially cardinals.  But birds go way back for me.  I remember Daddy telling me, while he was working to pull my tooth, some story about bluebirds in their mailbox when he was growing up.  I couldn’t concentrate on the story because I just knew that when one of those birds flew out of that mailbox, my tooth was going to fly out of my mouth.  That’s not how it happened though.  But to this day when Daddy asks me if I remember the bluebird story (a different one), I first recall the mailbox one and think, “No, I was only half listening back then.”

Back on an August Sunday morning I went on a walk before the neighborhood woke up.  It was a beautiful day.  I finally heard someone else who was up–a woodpecker.  Crazy thing, he was pecking at a metal light pole.  When he realized I was close, he flew over to a tree,.  I thought, “Well good, now he will figure it out, poor ignorant critter.”  I walked a ways before I turned back toward home.  By this time, the August heat was doing a number on me and the dew on the grass–steamy! I heard the woodpecker again, and would you believe that he was back on that metal pole?!

It hit me on the way home that I’m a lot like that crazy bird.  I’m just that hard-headed.  I will keep at something that maybe I wasn’t made to do.  Even when I might be veered in a different direction, sometimes I still go back–determined to make it work.  And that works out about as well as a woodpecker pecking at a metal pole.  And it can be just as discordant.

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The Other Bluebird Story

Daddy told me this one several times, especially after he became so sick. 

It didn’t keep me from wanting to make him my top priority and

he didn’t quit reminding me where he wanted my priorities

to be.  I’m thankful for how much he loved our children and how he

wanted us to focus on them even in the midst of what he was going through. 

Sometimes remembering the strength of his spirit and

love makes me cry. 

There was a Mama bluebird and four babies in a nest.  One day

a bad storm was coming, and Mamd Bluebird knew it.  She

decided to move her babies to safety.  She didn’t

have time to get them all under cover, so she decided to move as

quickly as possible.  She took the first baby in her mouth and flew

towards safety. “Oh Mama thank you so much for saving me first.  When you

are old, I’m going to take care of you just like this.”

Mama Bluebird dropped the baby and went back for number two.

The same thing happened–“Oh Mama thank you, one

day I am going to take good care of you just like you cared for me.”

Mama Bluebird dropped it and headed back.

The same thing happened with number three.

When Mama Bluebird went back for number four, the

little bird sang out, “Oh Mama, thank you for taking such good

care of me.  One day I will take care of my little ones just like

you took care of me.”

And Mama Bluebird and her baby flew on to safety.

~The End~

And for those who can’t get enough of good bird stories, here’s a beautiful one from my friend over at Baddest Mother Ever–A Tuesday Kind of Miracle.  I never get tired of reading it. 

On the Road Past Devastation

Yesterday I drove on roads that serve as the backdrop for both my childhood and my previous life.  As I drove by the long road that leads to my Granny’s house I heard the echoes of voices from the past–my cousins, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my folks.  As the car whizzed by, I saw landmarks of times that were less than happy, and that brought back a whole different set of memories.

And then I turned onto another back road and saw this:

pic of devastation on HM Road

This is across the road from the house where one of my sweet friends lived when we were growing up.  I think her folks still live there now.  I spent many a happy day at their home–it was my first experience with a two-story house.   But this, this across the road, up until recently was woods.  Covered with trees like the ones you see in the background.  The picture just does not do justice to what it really feels like looking at this cleared area.

Devastation.

I was driving home yesterday when I saw this, and it suited where my heart was at the moment.  And it occurred to me that this is what it feels like when you are devastated.

Like when someone you’ve trusted with your heart, your life, your everything, hurts you with lies, abuse, lack of respect…..and just walks away seemingly unscathed.  Or when you hear the diagnosis of someone you love most in the world and you know that each tick of the clock has become your enemy and time is the most precious thing you have.  Or when Plan B falls apart, and even though there are 26 letters of the alphabet, you just don’t have any plans beyond the first two.  There just are no words for this.  Except maybe–

Devastation.

The land across from my friend’s house has been ravaged.  I’m not sure by what, but whether by storm, tornado, or manmade machinery, the results are the same.  Loss of life, of beauty, of soul.  Much like our own souls when we have been ravaged by grief, loss, disappointments, fear, infidelity, betrayal.  Such devastation can make us almost lifeless and ugly, filled with internal scars that others can’t see, but they eventually come to the surface as anger, sadness, confusion, passivity, and all kinds of other physical and mental symptoms.

pic of be kind quote

I’ve seen this quote a lot.  It’s made its rounds throughout social media.  But the truth is this is truth.  That Plato knew what he was talking about.  Not everyone’s scars make their story obvious like Harry Potter’s.  Because of his lightning bolt scar on his forehead, people instantly knew who he was and his story as well.  But for us it’s not that easy.  Some of the worst things one can go through leave no visible scars; but the pain and loss, they are still there.  It’s important to remember that, as we judge others like we tend to do and jump to incorrect and unkind conclusions.

As for the ravaged land, it can come back, depending what the plans are for it.  Hope and little bitty roots waiting to grow again spring eternal just under the surface.  With kindness and attention to the life that still remains, it can become green and vibrant again.

And that’s the thing–if we can always be kind, if we can stop judging and condemning and thinking everyone else is so different and we are so much better, then and ONLY THEN can we stop the ravaging of souls.  Right now.  It’s the death of a spirit, which doesn’t get reported as often as you might think.  That spirit with the right loving people around CAN get better and grow strong again.

And if, when the wind blows really hard and the rain beats down, those little tendrils of new growth shake and are weighed down by all that is around them, that’s okay.  We all have those moments (some longer than others) that weigh us down.  That’s where the rest of us come in.  IF we are kind, and if we can love as we truly should, and we sit with folks through these storms, they can get through it, and continue on down the road, past the devastation.

And in the midst of the brokenness and pain of this world, that’s a hope to hang on to.