Monthly Archives: May 2014

10-Minute Rule

“Each day should have a clearly marked emergency exit sign.”
– Dr. SunWolf

Whew. These past few weeks have been somewhat Stressful. (Yes, I capitalized stressful in that sentence. That word deserved a capital S in this case.)  Between work stress, financial worries, worrying over a friend’s medical issues…it just seems like it has been one thing right after the other. And amid all the stresses, there have also been time-consuming good things as well – softball games, getting a house ready for renters, taking care of that precious new puppy of ours, watching my handsome son turn 16.  All good things, of course, but whew….after a few weeks like this, I’m beat!

So, here I am (exhaustion-induced grumpy mood = check!) and suddenly it dawns on me.  I know what I’ve been doing wrong.

I have let my 10-minute rule slip.

10minuteruleWhat is the 10-minute rule?  So sweet of you to ask.

I have decided that there are a few things in my life that I absolutely love that are only about ME.  Sure, I love spending time with my family and with that wonderful man I love, etc. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about the things that are about and for me only.  And for me personally, those things are acting, running, reading, and writing. (I’m guessing your list probably varies somewhat from mine.)  When I’m doing those four particular things, I am doing them for me only. They are the fundamentals of what make me me. They are my escapes, so to speak.  The places I go where I’m no one’s mother, sister, daughter, partner, employee, etc.  I’m just doing what I want to do…the things that I feel make me a better person because I’m being true to myself.

Well, obviously I can’t spend all day doing these things.  I have a job and responsibilities that I can’t neglect.  But a while back, I made a promise to myself that in every given day, I would make certain that I spent at least ten minutes every single day doing one of these four things.  A 10-minute soul tap, so to speak.

Now, luckily, I have four things on my list, so it shouldn’t be all that hard to find ten minutes in a day to do at least one of them.  Now granted, I can’t just jump on a stage on any given day and act for 10 minutes (I know some community theatres that would frown upon someone just showing up and doing a random 10-minute monologue during a performance), but I can pick up a book and read for ten minutes, right? That doesn’t require any special circumstances…just a book and some downtime. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not.  And these past few weeks have proven it.

I have not posted on this blog in two weeks. Two weeks. I think this may very well be the longest stretch of time I have gone without posting since I started this thing in February 2012. Not only that, but I haven’t been working on my novel either. (It’s starting to feel like I may possibly have an eight-chapter novel with a horrible ending sitting on my computer for the rest of my natural life.) My running has been very sporadic (too much on my mind to dedicate the time I needed to it), I’m not involved in any theatre shows at the moment, and I’ve been carrying around a book that I have barely cracked open at all.

And you know what?  It shows.

I’m stressed. I’m grumpy. I’m overwhelmed. And, of course, I’m no doctor by any means, but I wonder if maybe skipping that 10-minute rule of mine has something to do with that?  I’ve forgotten to “take my medicine.”  Forgotten my soul tap.  Forgotten to check in with me. Is that really why things have felt so haywire lately?  Heck, I don’t know.  But I don’t think I want to roll the dice anymore. I think it’s time to pick it back up and stick to it this time.

It obviously can’t hurt anything, right?

Anyone else out there need to implement your own 10-minute rule?  Hey, who knows? It may be just what the doctor ordered.

***

“Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.”
– Chinese Proverb

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Richard’s Hands

The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
– Anne Frank

So, I’m guessing your response to reading this title is about the same response Richard had when I asked him for a picture of his hand for my blog.

“You want to write about what?”

But yep.  ‘Tis true. I want to tell you a story about Richard’s hands.

Now let me start out by saying this: If you know me, you’ll know that it is rare for me to be especially observant of anything. Ever. (I’m the girl who drove by a wreck once without seeing it.)  And yet, even with this being the case, those sexy man-hands of the man I love have especially caught my attention in the past few days. So much so that I knew I wanted to write about them. And even I wondered myself where I was going to go with that idea – how in the world would I write a whole blog on a man’s hands?  And who in their right mind would actually want to read the dang thing? But finally, I sat down and started to write and, as is often the case, the words started coming out on their own without my help.

I now know exactly why I wanted to write this blog.

Richardshand1First of all, see this picture?  This is the “you want to take picture of what?” picture that I asked Richard for.  If you’ll notice, his poor little thumb is kinda shattered. You want to know why that is?  Well, this sweet guy of mine has spent the past week or so building a chicken coop.  Has he ever built a chicken coop before? Nope. Is he a carpenter? Nope. (Note the smashed thumb…) Do we even have a farm? Nope again. But by golly, this fella wanted some chickens, and he got them. And then he wanted them to have a nice place to live. So he built it.

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Chicken coup a la Richard

Watching him spend hours of his time and go through cuts and scrapes and bruises in the process over six little chickens that he has grown to love kind of touched a soft spot in my heart all on its own. But then, after looking at his hands and seeing the work they went through for those silly little chickens, I started thinking about all of the other things those hands have done in the past few days.

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Sweet little Sassy

I moved in with Richard about six months ago. Part of this move involved leaving behind a sweet little neighbor doggy named Sassy whom I had grown to love over the years. It was hard leaving her behind, even though we had no shortage of animals at Richard’s house. Between my cat, his cat and dog, his four horses, and our newly acquired six chickens, we were definitely doing okay in the pet department.  And yet…I still missed that sweet little Sassy. I found myself looking at pictures of dogs that were up for adoption – something I had never done before in my life. Sometimes, half jokingly, I would forward these pictures on to Richard with the standard “Awwww, look, Richard…we NEED this dog!” message and he would playfully, but not-so-jokingly, respond with, “We don’t need another dog.” To which I would remind him each and every time that we were all evenly paired up – he and I, my son and daughter, his son and daughter, his male cat and my female cat – all that was left was to find a boy playmate for sweet little lonely Lucy, his female German shepherd. He never took the bait though.

That is, until this week.

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Facebook ad pic

In what was strictly an accident (really), I clicked on a link by mistake on Facebook that took me into a buy/sale group for the area I used to live in. When I realized my error and started to click out of it, a picture caught my attention.  There, in all his adorable sweet glory, was a little dog that needed a home soon, or else he was being sent to the pound.  A little boy.  A little boy who happened to look like a brown version of the little Sassy that I missed so much. I read the details about him and the more I read, the more I realized that this really was the dog that would complete our family. I prepared myself to beg Richard.  I sent him the standard “We neeeeeeeeeed this dog” (added a few more E’s for emphasis this time) to which I expected to receive the “We don’t need another dog” message.  But, much to my surprise, that’s not what popped up on my screen.

Those sexy man hands?  They typed this message back to me: “He sure does look like a sweet little fella.”

Whoa.  What did he just say?  Where’s the “No?”  Did I actually have a chance?

So I immediately responded with all the “Here’s why he’d be perfect for us” specs.  The next message those glorious hands typed?

“Well, looks like we have a new dog.”

I was ecstatic!  We were getting a dog!!

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Little John safe in the hands of his new daddy

The next few days were a whirlwind.  Those hands of his drove us over an hour and a half one-way that very day to pick up my new baby.  [We named him Little John Sampson. I know, I know, what kind of name is that?  Long story. Basically it started as a joke – if you’re a James Patterson fan, you’ll recognize the character name – but the “joke” kind of stuck.  Little John it was!]

We were absolutely in love.

And then, the very next day, something horrible happened. Little John went missing.

He had just been outside playing with Lucy (the two were getting along perfectly) and then – just like that – he was gone.  Those hands of Richard’s had to do something that I know broke his heart…they had to type me the message that said, “Sweetheart, I’m sorry, but I can’t find Little John…”

I left work and headed home to help look for him. He was gone.  Just…gone.

I couldn’t believe how quickly I had fallen in love with that little boy. His being missing broke my heart in two. I cried and cried and then cried some more. I was so mad at myself. I questioned our ever going to get him in the first place and beat myself up over not taking care of him like I should have. How did I let him disappear like that?

richardshand6Those hands of Richard’s held me while I cried. They wiped off the tears, they patted my back. And then, feeling like they weren’t doing enough, they went to the computer and typed out a “Lost Dog” flier.  Then, they went out and hung the flier up at all the local stores and at the fire department that happens to be at the end of our long driveway.

That night, a storm came. All I could think about was how sweet Little John would never find his way back now that the rains would have washed the scent of his trail away.  (I was convinced that he has just run off and had gotten lost in the woods behind our home…I had little hope that the fliers would work or that anyone would actually find him.) Richard and I spent a restless, sad night, missing the sweet little dog that had already stolen both our hearts in the short time that he had been with us.

The next morning, I sullenly went off to work while Richard got to work in his home office. After being at work for a few hours, I somewhat reluctantly decided to post a “Have you seen our dog” picture on Facebook, ashamed to admit that he was already lost so soon after we had gotten him. I just had to do something. I didn’t know if it would work, but it was worth a try.

Within minutes, those hands of Richard’s that I so adore typed the following comment on my picture: “Guess who made it home?” Following the comment, was a picture of my sweet Little John all wet and muddy, but safe and sound.

Our baby was home.

Turns out, those fliers that those sweet hands made had actually worked. Sweet Little John had made his way to the fire department at the end of our driveway and, after realizing he was lost and a storm was coming, had planted himself under the back porch of the fire house and refused to budge. Prior to seeing Richard’s flier, one of the firefighters had been attempting to catch him, but he was hiding and wouldn’t come out. Once the man saw the flier, he called Richard and told him to come get our baby. Once Little John realized it was his daddy calling for him this time, he made his way out and right back into daddy’s waiting hands.

richardshand5That night, Richard’s hands went to work again cleaning up our sweet baby and getting him ready for mommy snuggles again. Our Little John was right back in his rightful place – the last little piece of the puzzle that made our family complete.

And all of this happened because of Richard’s hands.  Those hard-working hands that are so full of love, compassion, tenderness, and strength. Those hands that are strong enough to take care of the tough work that needs to be done, and can then turn around and be tender enough to take care of the gentle tasks like wiping away a woman’s tears and cradling a scared puppy.

Yes sir, I gotta hand it to him (see what I did there?)…that man sure is something special. And I will be more than honored to hold on to those beautiful hands for the rest of my life.

Welcome to a life full of love, sweet Little John. You’re gonna have the best daddy around.

***

doggyfam

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“I don’t give a shit if kids take too many selfies or listen to bands I don’t like. They’re smarter, braver and care more than we give them credit for, and that’s pretty much always been the case.”
– Zack Foley

(I hope you’ll pardon my French with that quote above, but censoring it just wouldn’t have packed the same punch.)

I had been toying with a blog idea in my head for a while when I scrolled through Facebook and the above quote caught my attention.  A friend of mine was quoting a friend of his and what he had to say fit right along with the blog I had in my head. So, I asked permission to share it and there you have it.  And here’s why I liked it so much.

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My brilliant little Kelly in all her selfie glory

It’s true.

So incredibly true.

Case in point: my daughter, Kelly.  Those kids Mr. Foley refers to in his quote?  Oh yeah, my kiddo fits it to a tee. That little selfie-taking, weird-music-loving teenager of mine is everything that quote describes.  Especially that last part.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Richard and I were…um, let’s say…having some “issues.”  Okay, let’s just call it what it was. We were fighting. And it was bad. Now, if you haven’t heard me mention this before, Richard is a very quiet man. VERY quiet. So, when I say “fighting,” what I mean is…we weren’t speaking to each other. (Even I get tired of yelling when no one yells back.)  These non-communication fights have a tendency to drag on forever, as I’m sure you can imagine, since nothing ever gets talked about or worked on, and this particular fight was no exception. And while we try to hide our arguments from the kids, they aren’t dummies. We go from being the happiest, cuddliest couple in the world to not wanting to be in the same room? Yeah, they kinda figure something is up.

Well, this time, Kelly wasn’t having it.

She sent both of us a group Facebook message.  And I want to show it to you.  Now, I’m editing it a bit to keep out the details of the argument (I’d hate to broadcast publicly how WRONG Richard was, ya know…bless his heart…), but I’ll put enough here for you to get the gist.  Check this out:

“Okay. Y’all are getting on my nerves again. Fighting over really stupid stuff…..To be honest, you both are acting like middle schoolers. You guys get in a fight, don’t try to fix it or don’t want to talk about it, and just act like you don’t care. You do. I know I’m only 14 but I have sense….I know you both love each other and I know you care about each other, so start acting like it…Suck it up and be the couple all of us know you are.”

Okay, so I’m aware that I could be mad that she spoke to adults like that.  The whole “ya’ll are getting on my nerves” and “suck it up” parts aren’t the most respectful terms she could’ve used, of course.  But you know what? She was absolutely right.  Absolutely 100% right.

She didn’t know every detail of the argument we were having, but it really didn’t matter. The details aren’t the point. The point is that, even at 14, she could see that we weren’t handling things the way we were supposed to. She could see the love that he and I were forgetting during our anger. She could see that we needed a reminder to “be the couple that everyone knows we are.”

Now, I’m not sure how Richard immediately felt when he read this (after all – we weren’t speaking), but me?  I instantly felt the tears coming to my eyes. Not only because I knew she was right…I so love that big doofus-head boyfriend of mine with every ounce of my being…but because she cared enough to stick her nose in and try to get us back on track.  That took guts. And a heart.

And I’m so proud of her.

(By the way, Richard’s written response to her message?  “No fair – why do you get to be the smartest one in the family?”)  Heh.

Now, with all this said, I just want to clarify: I’m not saying the kid knows everything.  (Although if you ask her, she’d probably disagree with that statement.)  She still has lots and lots to learn yet.  (Don’t we all?)  But what I am saying is this: sometimes it sure does help to look at things through the simple, caring, knowing eyes of a child.  They see a lot more than we give them credit for, and they have a lot to tell us if we’ll take the time to listen.

Sometimes the details just don’t matter. Sometimes, you just have to get back to the heart of the matter…the love that lies dormant underneath all the chaos. And sometimes…a lot of times, actually…it takes a child to help you do that.

***
“In youth men are apt to write more wisely than they really know or feel; and the remainder of life may be not idly spent in realizing and convincing themselves of the wisdom which they uttered long ago.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne