Gearing Up for the Storm

Today the littles and I went to their class at the Go Fish Education Center and learned a lot about the weather.  One of the things they made there was a “foldable” with four different categories–they wrote the pertinent information for each one on the inside.

When discussing thunderstorms, the teacher shared about things we can do to be safe in the midst of one.  Things like don’t stay in the pool or in a boat, get inside, and…..

unplug important things around the house.

Then the young woman teaching the class shared that we probably don’t do that as much as we used to, what with having surge protectors and all.

But it was too late.  That image, all those memories, they came flooding back, quick and hard.  The unplugging when we first heard the thunder…..yep.  Praying we’d caught it in time and not lost the TV…..or the phone…..or, in later years, the computer or the VCR.

When we got home, the littles questioned me about this.  “Do we not care if our things get struck by lightning?  Is that why we don’t unplug our things?”

Ummmm.  Well.  We do care.  But…..surge protectors, right?

At least I hope they’ll do the job.

When I was growing up, as soon as we heard the first rumble of thunder, we all scrambled like we were on a top secret mission pertinent to national security.  Some grabbed the laundry basket and clothespin bucket and ran out to get the clothes in off the line–fingers crossed they were dry.  Others ran around unplugging things.  I can remember many a time being in the middle of a TV show and having to turn it off and unplug the TV until the storm passed.  This was in the day way back before we ever dreamed of DVR’s and the like.  So we were…..out of luck.  Until rerun season at least.  No Netflix to catch up on what we’d missed either.  But that’s another story for another night.

As I was remembering all of this, I think the fact that this has become something of the past is indicative of where we are in general.  Growing up, we respected storms.  We gave them the space to do what they had to do while trying our best to protect ourselves. I don’t necessarily mean that we are foolish now when it comes to storms, but we seem to push the limits and push past them.  Used to be if the weather was stormy we didn’t get out much.  Now we keep on keepin’ on, and just drive right through it, with our wipers blazing.  Rarely do we unplug in the face of a storm anymore.  We usually continue on as usual, barely giving the storm much notice.  At least until it wreaks serious havoc.  And then we surely do notice, don’t we?

Sometimes I think we miss a chance to refuel and regroup when a storm is approaching.  We are becoming an intense, “WE GOT THIS” “NEVER SAY DIE” sort of people, and so storm shmorm, no problem, CARRY ON, PEOPLE, DON’T LET IT GET YOU DOWN.

Until it’s too late, and the damage is done.

Maybe when the storms of life are approaching, it would be good to unplug for a little while.  To sit and be still and do all we can to protect ourselves.  Not all storms give a heads up, that’s true.  But for the ones that do, what would it be like if we circled the wagons, held each other close, and held on to something that gives us comfort?  (That was another suggestion of things to do in preparing for a major weather event.)

What would that do for our souls?

Take care of you.  We don’t want to lose you to the storm.

Love to all.

Lightning3

“Lightning3” by U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Aspera Jr. – United States Air Force, VIRIN 040304-F-0000S-002 or unbroken-link (or VIRIN 060822-F-1111A-001). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – File:Lightning3.jpg

Sometimes It Has to Fall Apart Before It Can Get Better

I have a really cool blender.

I have turned in to one of those people who can and will accept cool kitchen gadgets and the like as a gift.  But this one I got for myself when I had to change my eating habits all around to take better care of myself.  It rocks.

Why?

Because it’s easy to clean.  That’s how I rate things in my life these days.  How easy is it to clean?  It’s possible I even like my children more right now because they can bathe themselves.

Okay, just kidding on that one.  Ahem.

So I’ve been enjoying smoothies every other day or so.  I’ve worked on perfecting my recipe.  Those things make me forget I can’t eat just anything I want–one of the reasons I love them so much.

Today I was getting ready to make my smoothie (“it’s smoothie day” are joyful words around here), and I realized I needed to wash the blender first.  The blade comes out of the bowl completely, so those two things were a breeze to clean.  Then I tackled the lid.  It has a lot of grooves and crevices.  I am good about rinsing it right away so it has never been hard to clean.

But today I noticed something didn’t feel right.  I dug around and started trying to get into those crevices.  The more I scrubbed, the ickier it got, until…..this happened.

 

The gasket and lid from my awesome blender.

The gasket and lid from my awesome blender.

The gasket came away from the lid.  I had no idea it would even do that.

And suddenly, the ick and grime were so much easier to see.  And to get rid of.  I had it cleaned and ready to go in no time.

I find this to be true in matters of my heart and soul as well.  I go through my daytodailies thinking I’ve got this.  I’m smiling at strangers, I’m kind to animals, I speak softly to children (okay, most of the time), and I try to return library books on time.  I tell the baggers at the grocery store and the clerks at the drive thru I appreciate them and I wave to my neighbors.  I’m doing all right, right?  By the standards of many, it might could even be said, “she’s a good person.”  (There are always some who would argue, and a few have lived or do live in the same house with me.)

But when I get down deep, and I do some real soul searching–something that I try not to let happen much anymore, I realize that I have some ick and gunk in there.  Some attitudes and thoughts and grudges that need to come out.  And unfortunately, like with my blender, something usually has to break before I can get to the really bad stuff and work it out.  I mean, the blender worked fine even with the ick in the lid.  On the outside, I never noticed it.  Same with me–from the outside, it all looks okay.

Tonight at Evening Prayer we talked about some words from the Good Book that talk about just this sort of thing.  The breaking down, clearing away, like with a bunch of trees, leaving only the stump.  But in this story in the book of Isaiah, there is promise and hope–the seed that will later become a shoot that begins a long line leading to Goodness is left in that stump.

A seed of hope.

When the gasket came out, it looked like the blender lid was broken.  As I pondered whether it was or not, I cleaned it anyway.  Carefully and slowly and diligently, not scrubbing all haphazardly as I had been before.  Methodically.  Round and round until I was sure it was clean.  And when it was, it went back together as before, only better.  Cleaner.

It’s the same with me.  There are times I have felt broken.  Overwhelmed by the ick and the chaos.  There have been times I’ve been so wrapped up in what was going on around me, I didn’t realize all the brokenness I had going on inside.  But when I sat down and really listened to my own heart, my thoughts, my soul–I realized it was there.  And it took breaking down to be able to see it, and only then did it become easier to make the changes I needed to.

And then things fit right back together as they did before.  Only better.

Because there was a seed of hope tucked within.

Tonight I give thanks for hope in the brokenness and for friends who walk alongside, helping plant that seed in what is left after the breaking down.  I give thanks for those who listen and those who share and for finding myself today in the ick of the lid of my blender.  Sometimes this living life thing can be just that messy.  And it takes falling apart to get it all cleaned up.

 

Wishing you friends with pockets full of seeds.

Love to all.

 

 

Mimosa Memories

pic of mimosa tree

We had three mimosa trees in our front yard at Mama and Daddy’s.  The two on either end were somewhat smaller than the middle tree, and for whatever reason, the middle one is the only one we would climb.  I LOVED that tree.  It was my escape, my hideaway, my “house.”  There were two limbs that were sturdy and ran parallel all the way up as high as our roof.  I would use them as stairs and hand rail and climb up to the spot where the top branch formed a cradle with three branches–perfect for laying in and reading or dreaming or cloud watching.  It was this “room” that was the room of Scarlet Royal Winters, my alter ego, I guess, and the room was “decorated” in red, gold, and white (get it?).  I devoured many books up in that tree.

Mimosas are such interesting trees–they have these beautiful pink blossoms that look like they belong on dancers in movies from the 40’s and 50’s.  (I’m reminded in this moment of the costumes from the shows in “White Christmas.”  Ahhh…..beautiful.)  The blossoms hang on until they turn a brownish color (or are picked and put in one’s hair), and then they drop.  These trees also drop seed pods.  Sometimes the seeds take and little ones grow.  I can remember mowing over more than one seedling in my days pushing the mower.

We each of us three girls had her own spot in the tree, but mine was the best I was sure.  My brother, nine years my junior, was too young to climb, but he had his own interaction with the tree.  He had been playing outside, and somehow Mama figured out he had eaten some of the seed pods.  (Or maybe just the seeds?)  She did her research, which in the days before Google and the internet, was probably calling her doctor or poison control.  Yep, her source told her they were toxic and she should administer ipecac syrup as soon as she could.  Which she did.  Only this special medicine, designed to make the recipient throw up whatever they had ingested, did not work.  Mama was concerned.  As she tried to figure out what to do next, my little brother, a toddler at the time, climbed on his Sit and Spin–does anyone else remember these?–and went to town on it.  As he turned the steering wheel and spun around and around, he got very dizzy, and well, the Sit and Spin did what the ipecac had not.  No more seed pods (or anything else) left in him.  From then on, we were all in charge of watching him and making sure he didn’t so much as look at the mimosa tree seeds.

There’s another thing about mimosas.  Probably my favorite thing. (I’m whispering this to you.)  They go to sleep at night.  It’s almost magical.  Isn’t that amazing?  No kidding, when the tree’s “brain” detects that the sun is going down, the leaves fold into themselves, showing the underside which appears rather silvery or gray.  And then, when the sun begins to rise, they open their faces to the new day once again.  Absolutely fascinating.

I’ve thought a lot about those trees today.  The two side ones got a tree disease and had to be taken down and eventually my old Friend did as well.  Today some silver maples are in their places.  It’s just not the same, although the mistletoe hanging from one is really cool looking.  (Yes, I know it’s bad for the tree.  Yes, I will do something about it.  But still, it’s cool.)  I miss those days huddled in my coat on the leafless branches and the days where I’d watch the patterns on my legs of the sun shining through the leaves.  One of the most exhilarating memories I have from my childhood is sitting up in my “cradle” as a storm approached and the wind picked up.  All of my senses were heightened, and I held on and “rode” the storm.  (No, my Mama didn’t know, and I did come down when the rain started falling.)

Tonight I am thankful for my little brother and all family lore, but especially the story of The Mimosa Seeds and The Sit and Spin.  I can’t wait to share it with his three little guys.

I was thinking about my old Friend, when I remembered this post by the Dream Center, a non-profit organization in LA that seeks to help individuals and families by fighting trafficking, hunger, homelessness, in addition to promoting adult education and helping families stay together.  A great group of folks, and what an amazing thought:

pic of fb message

I am thankful for whoever planted the mimosas there, because I was the one who got to enjoy them.  Thank you.  Makes me think an awful lot about what seeds I have planted today.

And tonight, in the midst of having a tired body and a weary spirit, I am thankful for the lesson that we are given in nature.  When the sun goes down, wrap yourself up and rest.  The time to rise will come again in morning.  And when we are rested, we can plant seeds that will bring joy to someone else tomorrow or the next day or next year…..and in the present, the gift of a rested spirit is we can smile and share light with those around us.  And so the seeds scatter…..and on and on.