Tag Archives: history

I’m Bothered

 “Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.”
– Ellen DeGeneres
I’m bothered.

Why am I bothered? I’m just a bit confused.

Hear me out while I try to work through this.

Most of you probably know this already, but I proudly grew up in a military environment. For those of you who didn’t have that luxury, let me tell you a bit about one particular aspect of that life – the people.

Whew.  The people.  Buddy, let me tell ya – we were a hodgepodge like you wouldn’t believe. You walk into any military classroom, or take a drive through military base housing and you’re going to see every color of the rainbow. You’re going to see black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and just about everything else you can think of.

But you know what I saw when I looked around those classrooms or rode through my neighborhood growing up?

People.

That’s it. I saw people.

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Giessen High School Class of ’96 – Giessen, Germany

Of course, I wasn’t stupid. I knew we looked different. But I didn’t feel any different from them. I just wasn’t raised that way. Was that a product of good parenting? Sure, mostly. But it was also a product of environment. We were just kids. Just a bunch of kids growing up with pretty much the same lives. Sure, we had other families back “home,” and I’m sure the differences would have been much more pronounced had we followed each other back for family reunions in whatever state we hailed from. But our daily lives didn’t have any of that nonsense.

Now, fast forward to my adulthood. Now, I live in the North Carolina/Virginia area. Bible belt. Southern pride. Sweet tea. You get the picture. It took quite an adjustment to acclimate myself to this new world. Sometimes I still fail at it, I won’t lie. There are parts of it that I just don’t like.

I don’t like the sameness.

It’s everywhere, man. Everywhere you turn, people seem to be similar. Similar in looks, similar in religion and beliefs, etc. This sameness makes me crazy sometimes. I miss my past. I miss my friends. I miss living in an environment where no one felt shunned because they were different.

Now, with that little disclaimer about my past, let me get to what’s bothering me.

I suppose you’ve heard about this whole confederate flag dispute? I know, I know – another thing to fight about….blah, blah, blah. Sheesh. What’s next? Aren’t we tired of controversy?  But yep – sadly, it *is* yet another thing to fight about. And you know why?

Because it deserves a fight.

There’s something I’ve always been a big proponent of, and that is treating others the way they want to be treated. Now, that’s not quite the golden rule. Go back and read that again. I didn’t say treating other people the way I would want to be treated. I said treating them the way they want to be treated.

I LOVE having my head rubbed while I’m trying to fall asleep. I’m like a cat, man, I’ll purr myself into the most peaceful slumber you’ve ever seen if you’re rubbing my head. But my husband, Richard? HATES it. If he’s trying to go to sleep, he wants to be left alone. Same thing when we’re sick. Me? BABY me! Coddle me. Treat me like the princess I am.  Richard? Go away. Shut the door and make no noise until this passes. And as you might could guess, there was a little bit of a learning curve with all of that, but now that we know each other, we know how to treat one another. If he doesn’t want me babying him when he’s sick, I won’t. If I do want him babying me while I’m sick, he will. (Well, sort of…)

hurtingMy point is this: if someone tells you they like something, do it. It’s respect. And more importantly – if someone tells you they don’t like something, then you don’t do it.  That’s how the world should work.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Back to the confederate flag. It bothers people. It just does. That’s all you need to know. Do you think that flag stands for other things rather than the oppression of an entire race of people – fine. Think that. But guess what you don’t get to do? You don’t get to decide what that flag means to them. You don’t get to decide what it means to me. I do. It means hate. It means separation. It means a very, very misguided pride in something that our white ancestors did that we should be grossly ashamed of. It represents a reminder of a history that this country needs to rise above. Not erase, mind you. We can’t do that. But we can lock it up in the museums along with the Holocaust memorabilia and use it as an example of what not to do in the future. We can use it as a reminder of the atrocities that we have all risen above and moved past. That’s where it belongs. Not flown in our front yards or plastered across our public buildings.

I’m one of the ones who believe strongly in freedom – all freedom. Freedom of speech, religion, etc. But here’s the catch for me, ONLY if it doesn’t hurt others. This flag DOES hurt others. It rubs the past (and unfortunately, as that shooter in South Carolina let us know, the present) into the faces of those who were very deeply hurt by what this flag represents. This should be a country that everyone is free to live in with peace in their hearts. A constant reminder of their oppressions flown proudly throughout the land that is supposed to be their home is not a symbol of peace. And you know how I know that?

Because they told me so.

Why is it so hard to just be on the side of LOVE and ACCEPTANCE?  You know?  We are told that this symbol hurts our fellow Americans, so why do we insist on keeping it around? Why do something that hurts others on purpose?

See why I’m bothered? I just can’t understand people, no matter how hard I try…

***

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Seasons

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
– Hal Borland

Ahh. ‘Tis the season.

The holidays. The time for joy. The time for sharing. The time to look around and appreciate the ones you love – hold them close to you and thank your lucky stars that they are in your life. You know, all that warm fuzzy stuff. Awwww.

christmasAnd boy, it sure would be nice if that were all the holidays were about.  But unfortunately, it’s not.  Because, you know what else this time is?

It’s the time of year that makes it painfully obvious when one of those “people that you love”…is missing. And you know what especially stings?  When that person who is missing during this happy holiday season, is missing by choice.

I talk about my happy relationship a lot on this blog. And it is very much that…a happy relationship.  Yes, we have our ‘down’ times just like any relationship does. But, even during those times, we both know how very lucky we are to have each other. We are in a loving, committed, and most importantly, an equal relationship that makes us both feel fulfilled and excited and hopeful for a long future together.  And I wonder sometimes how other people see these things I say about our life together, especially those who are recently single or who are just generally ‘unattached’ for whatever the reason.  I’m sure they look at what I say the same way I used to look at it when other people would say it.  Which was, “Well yeah, that’s great that this happening for you, lady, but it’s not like that for all of us.  You’re just one of the lucky ones.  Every story doesn’t have a cute little ending, Miss Happy Pants.”

Well, guess what?  I’m with ya, sista. (Or brotha, as the case may be.)  I am – I completely hear what you’re saying.  And you know why?

Because it certainly hasn’t always been this way.

christmas09I was just looking through some old pictures from Christmases in the not-so-distant past, and I came across this picture of my kids and me from the Christmas season of 2009, just four short years ago.  We sure do look happy, don’t we?  But I’m gonna tell you a secret.  See that smile on my face?

It’s fake.

Yep.  It sure is.  It’s about as fake as a smile can get.  Now, I’m not saying being there with my kids didn’t make me happy.  It did.  But as you can tell from the way I have my hands placed on them, I was holding on to them for dear life.  They were my anchors in the storm that my life was going through.  Behind that smile, there was so much hurt.  So much pain.  So much uncertainty and confusion.  And most of all, so much sadness.  I was going through a time that I sometimes thought I was not going to make it through.

What was happening, you ask?  Well, it’s simple.

My heart was broken.

In one of my previous blogs, I referenced what I like to call my “breakup bible.”  It’s the book, It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt and his wife Amiira.  (If you’re hurting over the end of a relationship, go read it.  Like, now.  Trust me on this.)  So, in this breakup bible of mine, there is the following quote:

“Being brokenhearted is like having broken ribs.  On the outside, it looks like nothing is wrong, but every breath hurts.”

Holy crap, is there so much truth to that.  It’s hard to function in any of your day-to-day activities when you can’t even take a breath without pain.  And that’s how I felt.  People can minimalize the pain of a breakup all day long, but I’ll be the first to call “BS” on that nonsense.  Heartbreak friggin hurts.  Bad.  And that’s how I was feeling during the Christmas of 2009.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on this blog before, but I’ve been divorced twice.  Yep, you read that right.  Twice.  My first marriage was to my children’s father, and that ended years ago, back when my babies were just little.  We were both young and got swept up in the family life before we were ready.  That kind of thing happens, ya know.

But my second marriage?  Yeah, I can’t blame youth on that one.  And I can’t blame getting married out of some sort of ‘necessity.’  No baby was on the way or anything along those lines.  Nothing was ‘forcing’ us to get married.  I also can’t blame it on poor planning.  We dated for over three years before finally deciding to get married.  To be honest, I can’t blame my choice to get married to him on anything other than the fact that I loved him.  I did.  I loved him, he loved me, and we thought we were going to build a life together, regardless of the statistical odds that we were facing.

Well.  We were wrong.

After all that planning, after those years of dating, and after all of the conversations about how we weren’t going to be one of the statistics, we became just that.  Another statistic.  And it hurt.

No, that’s putting it too mildly.  It didn’t just hurt.  It was excruciating.  This wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill relationship breakup.  This was the breakup of a marriage.  The breakup of a newly-formed family (we both had kids from our previous marriages).  This was a decision that affected us all to the core of our beings.  And that picture up there that I showed you?  That picture was taken about a month after I had moved out of the home we shared and into my own little trailer.  It was the only thing I could find that I could afford.  I was starting from scratch.  Again.  I sure didn’t see that coming on the day I took those vows.  (Do we ever?)

But now, let’s skip to Christmas 2013.  Four years later.

fampicHere we are.  Richard and I and our kids.  All together.  All healed and happy and ready to face the future.  Here I am doing exactly what I swore I’d never do.  Not only was I not going to fall in love again, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to fall in love with a man with kids.  You can read all the self-help books in the world about how it feels to lose a relationship or a marriage, but I can guarantee you that there isn’t much out there to help you through the pain of losing step-kids.  Once my marriage ended, so did my ties to his children.  And I was going to make certain I would never fall in love with a man’s kids again like I fell in love with them.

But I was wrong.

I think I fell in love with Richard’s kids before I fell in love with him, to tell you the truth.  And I’m not so sure it didn’t happen the same way for Richard with my kids.  And Richard had the same reservations I did.  He was hurting from a previous loss as well.  Even if he hadn’t told me, I could see it on his face.  He was just like me…he had made all the same promises to himself that I had made.  No more relationships.  No more commitments.  No more love.  It’s just too darn painful.

Ha!  Well, look how that turned out.

I don’t know you, and I don’t know your specific situation.  My readers are as diverse as any set group of individuals always are.  But if you’re one of the ones who is getting ready to face this holiday season alone after the end of a relationship, this blog is for you.  All I want you to know is this.

Pain ends.

It really truly does.  The future that you think you won’t have with anyone else?  You’re wrong.  It’s there.  That relationship bliss that you think is reserved for big-mouth redheads with their own blog?  You’re wrong there too.  It’s waiting for YOU.  Yes, you.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not tomorrow.  But one day down the line, it’s going to be your turn.  If someone would have told me that back during the Christmas of 2009, I would have said the same thing to them that you’re thinking right now.  That kind of thing is for other people, not for me.  And I would have been just as wrong as you are.

Just as wrong.

I am writing this blog with one particular person in mind, but as I have seen from many of the other things that I have written, we are never ever alone in our struggles.  For this one person’s pain, there are millions more who are feeling it too.  We are all connected and that pain that you feel is reserved for only you, isn’t.  The pain isn’t yours alone, and the happiness isn’t mine alone.  These are just seasons.  We all get a turn.  The world keeps spinning, even when you feel like it shouldn’t.

So keep on keepin’ on, my friends.  Your happy may be just around the corner.

Merry Christmas.

***

“Nothing lasts forever – not even your troubles.”
– Arnold H. Glasow

Here and Now

“Yes, sometimes it’s tempting to think of what could’ve been. But what you really need to think of is what ‘would’ve‘ been. And that’s when you realize you’re exactly where you need to be.”
Richard Edmondson

For those of you who are my Facebook friends, you probably already saw this quote that I posted over the weekend.  These words were spoken by my boyfriend, Richard.  As soon as I heard them, I knew they were quotable.  And as soon as I quoted him, I knew there was a blog here waiting to happen.

So, I sat down at a computer and I started to write.  I typed the quote at the top of the page and then….well.  Nothing happened.  Nothing.  Not one single sentence popped into my mind.  So much wisdom and meaning lying behind those words he said, and yet I – the one who can type for days about any given subject at any given time – can’t think of a single thing to say?  Not one more thing to add?  What’s up with that?

Hmmm.  Maybe the quote is so profound that it stands alone on its own.

Yep.  I think that’s it.

What else needs to be said really?

I mean, think about it.  How much of what you think you miss about something – whether it be a relationship from the past, an old home or an old job, a lost friendship, whatever the case may be – how much of that is actual memories and not just what you hoped it would become?  I’m betting not too much of it is real.  Be honest with yourself.  Take that thing that you can’t let go of and examine it through honest eyes for a minute.  Would it really be gone if it was as great as you thought it was?

Yes, it could’ve been great.  But would it have been?

Richard and I are not young.  We both had quite a few failed relationships in our past before we ever laid eyes on each other.  We have mountains of memories behind us, and each of us has our own share of regret that we carry along into this relationship from the ones prior.  Sometimes the past sneaks up on us and taps us on the shoulder.  It’s inevitable.  It happens.  It happens to us, and it’s going to happen to you.  It’s just how life works.  The key is knowing what to do when it happens.

Do you let it cause insecurities and chip away at your present situation?  Do you let it cause you doubt and make you second-guess your choices?  Do you let the fantasy steal the reality?

Or…?

Or do you do what my Richard does? Do you take a long, slow look around, see the beauty and the blessing in everything that your path has led you to, and wish the past a silent, thoughtful, heartfelt goodbye as you grab on tight to what you have now, safe in the knowledge that you’re exactly where you are meant to be?

I don’t know about you, but that second choice sure sounds a whole lot better to me.

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This is what it’s all about.  This is where we belong.  Not in all of the many yesterdays before us, and not in the vast span of tomorrows to come.  But right here.  Right now.  Right where we were meant to be.

Thanks for the reminder, sweetheart.

***

“I thought about one of my favorite Sufi poems, which says that God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now.  I was never not coming here.  This was never not going to happen.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert

Griffins

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“We could love and not be suckers. We could dream and not be losers. It was such a beautiful time. Everything was possible because we didn’t know anything yet.” 
– Hilary Winston

I want to tell you a story.

This may just be for my own benefit, I don’t know.  Most of the time I try to write in generalities so a variety of people can relate and possibly see themselves in my writings.  And maybe even sometimes take something away from what I’ve said and apply it to their own lives.  I hope I make a difference somehow by showing that we’re all alike in the ways that really matter.  We all love, we all lose, we all fail, we all succeed…

But this time – this blog – might be a little different.  This time, I may just be writing this one for myself.  It’s a bit more specific.  Because there’s a little something that makes me unique.

When I was a senior in high school, I lived in a foreign country and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

I probably just lost a few readers right there.  Who can identify with that?  Probably not many of you.  We all have unique stories, though, and I think they need to be told too.  That’s what makes this world beautiful – a mixture of the varied stories from the vast array of people who inhabit it.  Our collective little mess.

So this is my unique story.

This morning I was tagged in a video on Facebook.  My old high school in Giessen, Germany has served its purpose and is now being torn down.  Someone went there and took a short video of what was left of the building.  And what was left of it was the gym.

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(Photo credit: Celia Morrissey, Class of 1997)

The gym.  Wow.

A flood of memories hit me as the videographer walked through that gym.  And I want to tell you why.

My school was a tiny one.  I graduated in 1996 with a class of about 21 students.  Yep, you read that right.  21.  Look at us.  Wow.

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So, as you can imagine, we were a pretty close-knit group of people.  A family.  And boy, were we a family of misfits!  We had probably just about every example of nationality, religion, culture, ethnicity and race you could imagine.  We were military kids.  We knew one life – the life of goodbyes and hellos.  The life of constant change, constant adaptation, constant acceptance.  There was no time for prejudices or cliques or hierarchies that exist in a lot of high schools.  For the most part, our parents made very similar salaries, we lived in almost identical housing, and were all trying to make it in a foreign country where our first language was everyone else’s second.  We were the same in the ways that mattered to us at the time, and that blinded us to the ways that we were different.

At the beginning of my senior year, I found a lump on my neck.  My uncle Jeff (who has since passed away) was very close to his sister, my mom, throughout his bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, so my mom recognized this symptom right away.  In a flurry of doctor’s appointments and surgeries, it was concluded that I had cancer.  This particular cancer is a blood cancer that affects the immune system.  With my immunity weakened, I wasn’t allowed to attend school.  So, for a little over four months out of my senior year, I was a no-show.  I went through chemo and radiation.  I lost my hair.  I took my SATs in a secluded room away from everyone else.  I missed playing varsity volleyball.  I missed homecoming.  I missed football games.  I missed it all.

But I hardly even knew it.

Because I had so many people keeping me updated.  It was like I was there.  I had notes sent home to me from my friends (actual pieces of paper – not emails – remember those!?) filling me in on all the happenings at school.  I got phone calls every night.  I had brief individual visits from friends at home and at the hospital during the times my immunity was up and visitors were allowed.  In a way, it was like I didn’t miss a thing.

And let me tell you about the day I was able to return to school.

I was terrified.  A lot of people had not seen me yet.  They hadn’t seen my wig.  Or my puffy, swollen face from the chemo.  They hadn’t heard my voice, or lack thereof, from the radiation on my chest and throat.  Even though I knew they all loved me, I was still a 17-year-old girl filled with the fear that my appearance would somehow now determine how I was to be treated.  Not only was I wrong, of course, but I walked into the front doors of the school to see a huge “Welcome Back, Melissa” banner strung across the front hallway, signed by pretty much everyone in the school.  I’ll never forget that moment.  Or many of the moments to follow.  The support I got from that little family was overwhelming.  I remember Ladel Scott hoisting me up and carrying me once when my legs were too weak to carry me up the steps to the second floor.  I remember Luster Walker taking one look at my bruised and swollen hands from too many IVs, and saying that they were still the most beautiful hands he’d ever seen (just like he used to say before I was sick).  I remember our English teacher, Gay Marek, taking one look at all the weight I had lost and promptly exclaiming, “No fair…you cheated.”  🙂  I remember my sweet boyfriend Nathaniel Angelus (who also had to grow up a little faster than most as he basically went through cancer treatments with me) carrying my books and walking me to classes and checking on me every second to make sure I was strong enough to get through the day…and once checking out and going to the hospital with me when I wasn’t.

I could go on and on.  But I won’t.  Because I want to get back to the point.

The gym.

The memory that stands out in my mind, and will always stand out in my mind until the day I leave this Earth, is the last day of my senior year.  We had an assembly in the gym (oh, how many assemblies there were in that little gym…) for the end-of-the-year awards.  The last award to be given was the annual “senior of the year” award.  After battling cancer and still graduating with a 4.0 grade average that year, I was presented this award.  As my name was called and I walked to the stage, the entire school rose to its feet and gave me a standing ovation.  I can’t even type these words without the tears coming all over again.  As that little 17-year-old bald girl looked across all of those smiling supportive faces of her peers, she somehow knew, even then, that this – this – was the stuff life was made of.  At that moment, we knew nothing else.  We didn’t know anything about bills or jobs or kids or divorce.  All we knew was that we loved each other.  And we were survivors.  Each and every one of us.

I’m an adult now.  I’ve lived many places and have seen many people come and go from my life.  But I still hold a special, tender place in my heart for all of those people who shared my world in Giessen, Germany in 1996.  Ours was a bond that will not be broken.  We are Griffins.  Our school may disappear, but our legacy continues.  Like our mascot, we are part lion and part eagle.  Our courage and strength will soar on.

Together.

***

“Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.”
– Tad Williams

Authority

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This blog is kind of about politics.  And kind of not.

Mostly, it’s about respect.

I’ll start by admitting that I am not into politics.  I’m just not.  I may be the most “not into” politics of anyone you’ll ever know.  I know myself, and I know to stay out of it to avoid a full-on high-blood-pressure-induced heart attack.  So I steer clear of the subject.

Well, most of the time.

So, while it’s true that I’m not “into” politics, the thing that I am most definitely “into” is people.  Humanity.  Love for your fellow human.  You know, that whole “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” stuff.

Well, something ‘political’ that I saw yesterday just absolutely pissed me off.

I’m not going to lower myself to post it here for you to see.  It disgusts me and I’m not going to spread it any further than it has to go.  But basically, there’s a picture going around comparing the two Boston marathon bombing terrorist suspects to our president and vice-president.  Saying that both are taking our ‘rights’ away (it’s some BS about gun rights) and therefore implying that they should be grouped in the same category.

Did I mention that this pissed me off?

Again, I’m not political.  I don’t have a strong opinion about gun rights or any other topic that whoever created that picture was attempting to address.  But what I do have is this: respect for authority.

Let me tell you a story.

When my son Jeffrey was 3 years old, he despised his pre-school teacher.  And to be quite honest, I wasn’t too thrilled with her myself.  Well, Jeffrey, in his 3-year-old glory, decided that he would take action to show his teacher how much he disliked her.  He somehow discovered which car in the parking lot was hers (unfortunately for her, it was one that was parked closest to the fence at the playground), and then proceeded to do what a 3-year-old deemed an appropriate way to show contempt – he threw rocks at it.

Of course, his dad and I got called into the school.  And, of course, he got in trouble for it.  But during that incident, and in other incidents to come over the years, I tried to instill something into Jeffrey.  Whether or not you like someone or whether or not you agree with them, one thing has to exist at all times.  And that is respect.  Respect for each other, yes.  But especially a respect for authority.  They are there for a reason.  You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to like them.  But you have to respect them for the role that they play.

As Jeffrey gets older and more mature, I see this respect growing in leaps and bounds.  He still gets angry, as we all do, but he has learned to keep that anger in check and not blow up every time he feels the urge.  Basically, he has learned to ‘stop throwing rocks’ so to speak.

Now, if some adults could just learn that.

Can’t we just stop it?  Just stop it.  Agree with him, disagree with him, like him, hate him – I don’t care.  But remember that he is the president of our country.  This country that gives you the freedom to run your mouth?  Yeah, he runs it.  If you don’t like him, vote him out.  Isn’t it great that you have that option?  Until then, respect the man and allow him to do his job.  If you have issues you disagree on – great.  Voice your opinion.  About the issues.  Not the person.  There is a big difference between feeling strongly enough to voice your opinion about a subject and choosing to bash another human being.

Put your rocks down and grow up.

***

“Men are respectable only as they respect.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Unreachable

Someone mentioned this poem the other day and I decided to go back and look at it.  I wrote this a long time ago.  And I’ll be honest – there has always been something about it that hasn’t exactly sat well with me.  You know what I mean?  For goodness sakes, I wrote the darn thing.  So I should like it, right?  I should believe it.  But something about it just bothers me.  Can’t quite put my finger on it.  Maybe because it could be construed as ‘giving up’?  Maybe.  But sometimes giving up is a requirement, right?  It’s necessary.  There’s no other choice. 

Maybe it just bothers me because there’s such a thin line between ‘giving up’ and ‘moving on.’ 

I don’t know.

You be the judge.  What do you think?

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Unreachable

Have you ever tried to climb a tree with no branches?
Oh, it is the most frustrating thing!
You know that reaching the top would be wonderful –
So many awesome possibilities –
So much possible potential –
Such a beautiful view!
But how do you get up there when there are no branches –
No stepping-stones along the way –
No one to help you?
You begin to think . . . maybe this tree isn’t meant to be climbed.
Maybe I’m not ready just yet.
Maybe I should just admire the view from the ground for a while.
After all, who knows?
Maybe there is another tree just around the bend.
It may not be as majestic and beautiful…
But it probably has branches.
Maybe, just maybe
It will even bend down to help me up.
Maybe it’s time to move on.

Good-bye to old unattainable dreams.
Hello to new, realistic ones.

Little Things

“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”
– Andy Warhol

(Let me start this blog with a disclaimer to my child.  No, Kelly – this is not a tribute to One Direction and their song of the same title.  Sorry, kid.)

Ok.  Back to business.

Little things.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot recently.  Especially over these past few days.  A variety of “little things” have seemed to catch my attention more lately than they might normally do.

For instance.

I went to visit my grandparents in the nursing home this past weekend.  They have both been recently admitted after battling pneumonia and, unfortunately, the prognosis is not a great one for my 96-year-old grandfather.  Thankfully, they have been placed in the same room so they can spend this time together, although my grandmother’s failing memory makes it hard for her to understand what is happening.  But even with his sickness, and her failing memory, they both periodically asked about the other and looked over to be sure the other was still there.  To me, that was beautiful.  A glance to make sure the one you love is still by your side?  Yes, a little thing in the grand scheme.  But so very beautiful.

Also, while I was there, it was mentioned that my grandmother’s fingernails needed cutting and she hadn’t been able to do it herself.  So, I cut them.  Cutting your aging grandmother’s fingernails? Definitely a little thing.  But it meant something to me.  In my tiny little way, I was able to help.  Little things.

I watched my cousin Amy feeding my grandfather.

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Putting a spoon to someone’s mouth when they aren’t strong enough to do it on their own? Yes, maybe a little thing. But is it so little? I think not.

Aside from the trip to visit my grandparents (and possibly because of it), other little things started catching my attention as well.

The man I love, for instance.

Now, for those of you don’t know us personally, let me start by explaining something.  I am in love with the quietest man alive.  It’s true.  The spoken word is not his speciality.  One of his favorite quotes is by Mark Twain: “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  Smart man.  Me, on the other hand?  I never shut up.  We are the proverbial Mutt and Jeff of verbal communication. Well, in public anyway.

But for the past few days, I seem to be “hearing” him much more clearly than I ever have before.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that he is letting me borrow a vehicle until I can get the insurance mess sorted out from my wreck and can get a new one.  Earlier this week, the vehicle started overheating a little.  So, what does he do?  Gives me his own truck to drive to work so that he can keep it and check to see what’s wrong.  He then fixes it and returns it – with new windshield wipers to boot because it was a rainy day.  Little things?  Maybe.

After dinner one night while the kids played together, I was overwhelmed with a sudden feeling of exhaustion.  Usually I immediately start clearing the table after we eat (he cooks, so it’s the least I can do), but instead I asked if he’d mind if I went and laid down for a bit.  Not only did he not mind, but he came and laid with me.  We both ended up falling asleep and my daughter got this sweet picture of us:

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A nap together as a break from a busy day?  A little thing?  Maybe.

Another example – Mondays are hectic for me now.  My daughter was cast as Annie in our local production and I am a chorus member.  We have rehearsals on Mondays and she also has dance class on Mondays.  It’s hard to be in all these places at the same time, mind you.  So, what does that man of mine do?  Helps.  He picked her up from dance and brought her back to rehearsal so that I didn’t have to leave during chorus rehearsal.  And this followed him keeping her for me over the weekend so I was able to visit my grandparents like I mentioned before.

Little things? 

I’m telling you.  Pay attention.  Those little things speak loudly if you train your ears to hear them.

A few more before I wrap up.

I ran 11 miles yesterday in honor of all who were affected by the Boston marathon bombings.  It was my longest distance to date as a runner.  I wore my printed-out Boston runner’s bib in tribute.  While on the run, a fellow runner saw my bib as he was passing, and reached out and high-fived me.  A high-five from a stranger?  Definitely a little thing, but it sure had a big impact.  (Before the run was over, I got a few car honks as well.)

Also – a new friend of mine who is an ultra runner celebrated my 11 mile run with me as if it were her own personal victory.  Did I mention she’s an ultra runner?  She has run in a 130-mile race. Yes, you read that right.  One hundred and thirty miles.  And she celebrated my 11 like it was the greatest thing on earth.  Little things.

A random sweet text from my son; an email from a friend saying that my blog has inspired them to start running; getting chills while listening to a room full of little girls singing songs at a rehearsal for Annie….

I have to make myself stop.  This list could go on and on and on.

And isn’t that awesome?

Take the time to notice them.  They’re everywhere.  All of these little things are what make this crazy ride called life worthwhile.  Unfortunately, we are sometimes too busy to appreciate them.  But we need to stop that.  These may be the memories that fill our minds one day when we’re looking back on our past – the same ones that we might forget to give a second glance to in the present.  So, stop.  Look around.  Hear the things that aren’t being said – see the things that aren’t so obvious.  Be grateful.  Be appreciative.  Be alive.

Now, go make your list of little things.

***

“Half the joy of life is in little things taken on the run…
but let us keep our hearts young and our eyes open that nothing worth our while shall escape us.”

– Victor Cherbuliez