Be the Kicker

Sunday morning Cooter came into our room, bouncing on the bed.  It being a day of rest, the Fella and I were trying to stretch it out as long as possible.  Cooter is a morning person, me–not as much.

He was excited about the upcoming Falcons game, and he and his partner in all things football talked about the games from the night before.  I may have zoned out a tad during this bit.  Eventually the conversation caught my attention again–when I heard the Fella say, “Yeah, I don’t know if I’d want to be the kicker.  You have to be on standby, ready to be called in at any time.”

The conversation lost my attention again at that point, as I thought about the kicker.  I used to imagine stress as like being the catcher in a baseball game–ready for a ball to come from any direction.  But a kicker, sitting on the sidelines, not knowing for sure when he will be called in…..and expected to help the team out in a big way when he is?  Bless.

Because that’s the thing about football–there’s never a time when you tell the kicker, “Eh, just whatever, man.  It won’t matter.”

Anything and everything that kicker does matters.

That night I was in my think tank (some folks call it a shower), and I started pondering on who the kickers are in my life.  Those folks who are there, on my team, ready to step in whenever, wherever I need them.

Like Mess Cat making the time to come out after dark to pick up our Princess because I was with our drama king, Cooter, at his dress rehearsal.  (Coming out after dark is a whole ‘nother level of showing up, y’all.)  Or my Aunt who picks up the phone and listens and shares laughter and wisdom and “poor baby’s.”  Or my Cousin who answers my SOS texts when I’ve sliced my finger open, cutting up the cabbage for supper.  Or Aub who hangs out with her siblings so I can go do what needs doing.  Or the Fella who takes time from work when things go awry.  Or my brother who listens so well or my neighborfriend who picks up oyster crackers for my sick one or steps up in so many other ways…..my friends…..family…..And so many more–all these wonderful kickers, who are there, waiting, willing to be called into “the game” (and chaos) of my life.  Present, interruptible, loving, wonderful people.

I think we are called to be kickers in this life.  Doing our own thing, sure, but never forgetting we are a part of a Team, sharing the same goal, same dreams.  Helping each other out whenever need be.

Kick on, my friends.

Love to all.

The One About the Parking Garage

The day my Aunt and I found ourselves in a parking garage was a day of rain and slick roads and hard things and laughter and stories and all the good things of being with someone you love and adore can be, despite what the Universe has going on around you.

Because, in case I haven’t mentioned it, I do love and adore her.

As we pulled into the garage, intent on parking and getting to our destination and reason for the nearly three hour trip, I began the descent (yes descent–interesting setup in that one) on the first deck.  I was remembering other times in parking garages maybe or maybe I was finally relaxing after driving through some heavy rain, not exactly sure of the route. Whatever the reason, I kind of zoned out. (Kind of nothing–I was in another world.)  I remember looking to my left and thinking it curious that I was still seeing an outside view even though we had circled down a couple of floors and should have been underground already. 

After making three complete circles of floors and not seeing a single parking space, my Aunt gently interrupted whatever was going on in my brain.

“You do know we are just circling around on the same level, don’t you?”

 

 

Ahem.

Well actually I didn’t.

All I could do was laugh.  She is the sweetest soul, and she was so gentle in her prodding me back to the present.  But y’all know as she rode shotgun and I didn’t do anything to go below to another deck that she had to have been thinking, “What the French toast is she doing?  No one is going to have pulled out of one of these spaces that quickly.”

With her help I finally figured out how to go down a level and then another.  It was on the third level below that we found the perfect spot.  One easily pulled into and out of, with plenty of space around it–excellent and desirable qualities in a parking garage parking space.

I’m pretty sure we laughed the whole way to the elevator that led back up to ground level. 

I’m thankful for my Aunt for so many reasons, but right now I’m thankful for her gentle prompting to keep me from continuing to go around in circles.

Because if she hadn’t y’all, I’d still be there right now.  Circling around.  Wondering how come no spots were opening up.

In this life we have those moments, don’t we? All of us.  When we get our wheels stuck.  Or we circle around and around, never really advancing or getting anywhere, unable to move forward.  Isn’t it nice when we have folks who love us enough to gently call us out on it, and then laugh with us when we wonder what on earth we had been thinking?

If you have one of those folks, give ’em a hug.  If you are one of those wonderful people who help the rest of us keep on keeping on, thank you.  Here’s a hug from me.  We need you in our lives, with your caring ways and gentle reminders of how to move forward.  Thank you.

Love to all.

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By Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (Metro-North’s North White Plains Parking Garage) [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Catch and Release

Our Princess came in from reading her science book yesterday afternoon.  She was quite upset.

“Mama, do you know why the pond down there isn’t running over with fish?!” she asked, referring to a fun fishing pond we’ve visited a couple of times.  “Do you know?  It’s BECAUSE THE FISH ARE DYING!”

Sometimes I cannot keep up with the trails her mind runs down.

“Ummm, okay?  And why are the fish dying?”

“See, it says right here.” She held out her book.  “Fish have a protective layer on their scales that protect them from bacteria and bad stuff in the water.  When people catch them and touch them, even if it’s so they can release them back into the water, those fish are likely TO DIE BECAUSE THEY’VE LOST PART OF THEIR PROTECTIVE LAYER!!!!!”

She was really getting wound up now.

She assured me she would no longer have any part of “catch and release”fishing if there was even the tiniest chance she was harming them.  “I mean, first of all, there’s a hook in their mouth…..”

I was thinking about that yesterday evening, and it occurred to me how we do this in life.  With people.  Folks we know and folks we don’t.  We have good intentions.  No plans to do any harm.  We’re just hanging out, enjoying ourselves, living our lives, and we meet folks, spend time with them, and then we return back to our own story.  But whether we realize it or not, we touched those folks.  And sometimes without intending to, we have left a mark on them that could be harmful.

It could be something we said, something we didn’t say, how we really didn’t acknowledge their presence, how we didn’t see them,  or how we made some offhand comment that was said in jest but really hurt.  We have the power to hurt without even realizing it.  Just in the way we touch someone in a moment.

We also have the power to heal.

I don’t think through the things I say or things I do nearly often enough.  My girl reminded me how important that is.  Fish are dying, people.  So are tender spirits.  It’s up to us to make things better.

May we all seek to heal with our touch.

Love to all.

Fish_on_hook

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Scratch It, You’re Done”

Today the crew and I found ourselves doing an unexpected end of semester move for our college girl.  It was a very good thing, and we rocked it.  We moved her across campus less than 24 hours after she got word she could move, and it took us 2 hours from start to finish.

Yeah, we are feeling pretty sanctimonious right about now.

As I was helping to pack up her room in bags and boxes and whatever I could find, I came across the scratch art set that Mess Cat gave Aub for her birthday.  I hadn’t packed it up yet, when I heard our Princess chastising her brother.

“No, don’t touch that.  You scratch it,  you’re done.  One scratch, it’s a picture.  You can’t undo it.”

Ah.

Much like how when our hearts or souls get scratched.  There’s no undoing that.  It’s done.

I think I’m going to start carrying around one of those black sheets with all the color underneath as an example of how delicately we should treat each other–as though we are all precious (and we are) and the least little scratch could change us forever–of how we should be careful of how we touch each other–with love or anger.  The mark will stay either way.

May we always use our touch to create something beautiful.

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artwork by our Princess

Love to all.

 

#whyteal…..the one where we need to get LOUD

I first met her twenty-eight years ago last month.  We were all just getting to know each other, and I remember thinking how lovely and graceful and grace-filled this dear lady was.

She was my roommate’s mother.  I met her at the beginning of our freshman year.  She was beautiful inside and out.

And she fought a battle no one should have to fight.

Ovarian cancer.

Last night my dear friend shared this information on her Facebook page.  This month is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

pic of ovarian cancer info

After I posted this on my own page, another friend shared that her Mama had also battled this giant.  She too fought a valiant fight, only it wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t detected early enough in either case.

My friend, in describing her mother’s experience, called ovarian cancer, “the silent cancer.”

Really?

How many women, do you think, go in for their annual physicals right on schedule, put their feet in the stirrups, do what we do, get the call a few days later that all is clear, and think “Well, everything’s all right then”?

(It’s okay.  Stick around, fellas.  You need to know this too.  Whether it’s your Mama, your sister, your best friend, your girlfriend, your wife, your daughter–you need to know too.)

Note to self.  Pap smears test for cervical cancer.  Not ovarian.  Not uterine.  Cervical–that’s it.  It is my understanding that there’s not really a test to detect ovarian cancer.  According to the American Cancer Society, “The 2 tests used most often to screen for ovarian cancer are transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test,” but no medical professionals recommend routine use of these tests for screening.  They are not definitive enough apparently.

Really?

Do we have people working on this?  Please tell me yes.

As I thought about this today, I remembered a book I read years ago.  “Cancer Schmancer” by Fran Drescher.  I loved her in “The Nanny” and thought she was a comic genius–her timing and facial expressions and that accent.  Love her.  I read the book because of her, not because it was about her battle with uterine cancer.  But it struck such a chord in me that it is still in my library.  Without pulling it down to quote her, I can tell you the one thing that has stuck with me all these years–

Take care of you.

Be a good advocate.

You know your body.  Don’t take “no” for an answer.  Or “it will be okay.”  Or “you’re just…..”

You know when something’s off.  Push until someone hears you.

She so believes in empowering women to educate themselves and be good advocates for their health that she started the Cancer Schmancer Movement, whose mission is to “…..shift the nation’s focus from just searching for a cure to prevention and early detection of cancer in order to save lives.”  You can read her story here.  It took two years and eight doctors before she was finally diagnosed.  She is thankful to be a survivor and wants there to be more.

Shortly after our Princess was born almost ten years ago, I could tell something was wrong.  I wasn’t sure what, but I just knew.  I went to the doctor where we were stationed at the time.  I remember going in, worried, anxious, hoping he could tell me something–anything–that would let me know it was going to be okay.

Which he did. Tell me something, that is.  This doctor and his wife had six children.  (It was a small community–you knew things.)  I had just given birth to my second child a few months earlier.  He listened, looked at my chart, and turned to me and said, “Oh now, you’re just new Mama tired.  It will pass.  You’ll see.”

Patronize me, will you?

I pity his wife, I’ll just tell you that right now.

This was not new Mama tired, and my body kept telling me that.  I pushed through and we moved and shortly after we got settled, I scheduled another appointment.  Again, I told my story. A new doctor.  A young one.  I don’t know how many children he had, if any, but he didn’t say I was new mama tired.  (Smart man, I’d had enough by this time.)  After running different tests-he was more persistent, thank goodness–he discovered I had a thyroid issue.  He prescribed some medication, and I was on my way to feeling better.  That part was almost immediate–I had been heard and I wasn’t crazy.  There was something wrong.  It had just taken several months and me being “pushy” to find that out.

Something beautiful happened when my friend shared the information above last night.  I shared it on my Facebook page in memory of her sweet Mom, not knowing if anyone would even read it.  It was late, and you just never know who reads what.  Today some of my friends–none of whom know each other–commented, encouraging each other to take care of themselves…..to seek information and push until they get it.  Friends reached out with loving sympathy and with gratitude for facts and stories shared.

That right there.  That’s what we need more of in this world.  Sisters looking after sisters (because we all are, you know–color and class and nationality and religion and state of our kitchen sinks all aside–we are all sisters).  Sisters empowering each other.  Holding each other accountable to take care of ourselves.  To celebrate with when the numbers come back really good, and to hold hands or offer a shoulder or listen and make soup or milkshakes or cry with when the numbers are not.

Tonight I’m thankful for brave women who gave it their all in the face of giants like ovarian cancer.  I’m thankful for their daughters, who carry their stories and encourage others by educating and listening.  I give thanks for women like Fran Drescher who pave the way for us to have the courage to speak and not worry about being called “pushy” or “bothersome” or whatever.  Speak out.  Be loud.  Take care of you.  If you even think something is off or wrong, get thee to a medical professional.  Now.  Keep going until you find one you trust.  Who listens and hears you.  And stand tight and strong with your sisters.

Most of all, tonight I am thankful for all of my sisters.  Who are always there when they are needed most.

Y’all take care of yourselves.  You men too.  And take care of each other.

Love to all.

 

 

 

The Sisterhood of Mamas

She rose up from that bed a mother, and ready to fight for the rest of her days.  What does it matter for a woman to give up her self, and live quietly, with the choices she has made?  But when the woman becomes a mother, she can no longer participate in the slow rot.  Because no one’s going to rot the child.  And anyone who tries will suffer the mother’s consequences.” –Lydia Netzer, shine shine shine

 

There is a sisterhood of these women, the ones who rise up from their delivery beds or from the desk where papers were signed, a newly created soul, that of Mama. Fierce and protective and loving and tender. We see each other and nod.  We each make our own choices for these who have been entrusted to us.  But there is a camaraderie that cannot be broken. We need each other.  This came to life for me in the midst of a miserably hot and humid Sunday afternoon.  When my little guy vomited in public.

Cooter was dehydrated, I’m convinced.  We were at the MouseHouse and it had been a busy day, most of it out in the hot, hot sun.  Waiting in line for cool, long-anticipated autographs, standing as the sun beat down on us watching a parade, and walking from one attraction to the other.  Hot.

It was our first day there, so we hadn’t gotten the routine of pouring water down our throats–constantly–down yet.  I had my little guy drinking but I think it was too late.  He was wilting like a petunia in the full sunlight.  Right before my eyes.  I bought a cold drink, and we sat down in the shade.

The Fella took a baby wipe and got it really wet so I could rub Cooter’s neck and forehead with it.  He liked that, but he was still miserable.  He was barely sipping anything.  One Mama with her child looked over and gave me the “I understand” look and told her child they would move to give us more space, since he didn’t feel good.

After getting him to suck on some ice and sip some water, Cooter seemed to be a little better.  We got him to stand up, but no, he wanted to be held.  His Daddy picked him up.  He just melted in the Fella’s arms.

Rather suddenly he scrambled to get down.  The instant his feet hit the ground he was throwing up.  And it wasn’t quiet.  At all.

Oh my.  Bless him.

After I got him settled back down as comfortably as I could with ice and a cool cloth, I set to work using the last of my baby wipes to clean up the “mess.”  And I noticed that the mama/preteen girl pair that had jumped up when it happened were seated back exactly where they had been before.  Fairly close to the EVENT.

I don’t know why exactly but that comforted me.  That put some normalcy in what had happened–no big deal, happens every day, right?

Well maybe not, but it sure helped my feelings.  I leaned over and said, “I am so sorry.  I think he got too hot.  I apologize for this.”

The Mama looked over and smiled, waving her hand.  “I have children too.  It happens. Don’t worry.  Hope he feels better.”

Well I’ll be.

And that.  That is what I’m talking about.  The grace that comes from this sisterhood of one day anticipating the life you carry within, or the child that waits for you at the end of a long labor of paperwork, and the next day the child is in your arms and from that day on–you are the One.  The Mama.  Mother.  Madre.  Mommy.  Mom.  The one who wipes the bottoms and noses.  Who dries the tears.  Who holds the hands.  And who cleans up the vomit.  The one who finds a clean outfit when an accident happens.  And who says, “It will be okay” and sets out to make it so.  The grace that looks another Mama in the store in the eyes and says, “No, you go ahead–my crew are at home today, but I know what it’s like to have one begging for a toy and the other crying from lack of sleep and a third trying to wander off.  I get it.”  The grace that takes another Mama by the hand and says, “I don’t know where this journey is headed, but I’ll walk with you because someone forgot to give any of us the instruction manual.  We’re all winging it around here.”  The grace that doesn’t hear the whining or the tears or screams nearly as much as the child’s Mama does because hey, what Mama hasn’t had to deal with that out in public?

Grace.  The Sisterhood of Mamas.

Tonight I’m thankful for the kindness of that Mama sitting there, very likely in the–ahem–“splash zone,” who didn’t blink an eye.  I was close to tears but seeing her stay cool and near about nonchalant calmed my spirit and my anxieties.  I will take care of my children.  I will fight.  I will protect.  I will cherish.  I will teach.  I will love.  Forever and always.  Whatever that looks like.  Even if, as in that moment, it means being down on my hands and knees cleaning up “unloveliness” as fast as I can with baby wipes.  And holding my sick baby, trying to get him well the best I know how.  The other Mama, this sister, was a gift to me in that moment; she was my feather.  I think of her, and hope that one day I can pass on that grace and comfort to someone else.

Love to all.  #bethefeather

 

*****Cooter did recuperate just fine.  An hour later he was sitting in air conditioning, drinking some apple juice (thanks to my SIL for suggesting that) and eating his supper.  He even had an ice cream sundae for dessert (yes, I know, I was asking for it).  He bounced back and was fine from then on.  Thankful for that. 

 

 

 

Giving Thanks for Echoed Fears

Today when I was driving, making time to get things done, checking things off my list, I heard an old song by Pam Tillis–“Land of the Living,” written by Tia Sillers and Wayland Patton.  I have her Greatest Hits CD, and this was one of my favorites on that CD back when I was transitioning from my previous life into the new one I could barely fathom.

A line from the song today struck a chord with me, a different one from the many that did back then.  It was–

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One of the things taught about good listening is focus so you can repeat the problem or concern back to the person who just shared it.  If you can rephrase it, the person you are listening to knows he or she is being heard.

I think this lyric has a double meaning.  First, we all need to know we aren’t alone–that someone else struggles along the same path we are on.  They get it.  Second, when someone “echoes” our anxieties, worries, fears back to us, we know we are heard.  And maybe even understood.  Someone cares enough to really hear what our heart is trying to say.

Tonight I am thankful for the one who heard my fears today and echoed them and even had me laughing over them before it was over with.  That’s good stuff for sure, and I’m glad I can call her mine.

When I see someone who seems sad and struggling, I worry if they are alone in this world–if they have someone to listen and to help them over the bumps in the road.  Or to splash through the puddles with.  And laugh out loud.

As I give thanks, maybe I also feel challenged to be that someone for another.

As Mama used to say, “Pay it forward.” By, well, being the feather.  #bethefeather

Wishing you all someone to echo your fears, someone to listen–because your story matters too.  Love to all.