Monday, February 25, 2013

A Precious Memory

A few weeks ago during our church service, our preacher mentioned something about putting water on someone's head. My little boy who, in typical little boy fashion, listens some of the time perked up. After church he started asking me a lot of questions.

I told him about his older sister being baptized by a creek when she was a little baby and how he hadn't been baptized yet which of course led to more questions. And all those questions eventually led to a meeting with our preacher to see if he wanted to be baptized too.

Yesterday he was baptized and it was a beautiful experience. He was so excited when he woke up and wanted to wear "something handsome." When our preacher asked for us to come up to the front of the chapel, it was like he was three years older all of a sudden and not a little boy anymore. But then as I took my place beside him, he reached for my hand and he didn't let go.  

He was curious, cute, attentive, and very sweet. After our preacher was finished, I watched as he and my son walked around the church so that my son knew he was part of a bigger family that would look after him and try to help teach him along the way.

After the service, he shook hands with everyone as they left the service. He was very natural and it just seemed...well, kind of perfect. And when they were finished, our preacher, being so observant asked if my son would like to examine everything from the service because he was so curious about it.

It was such a good day and one that reminded me about the wonder of learning and experiencing something brand new and feeling good support while you are doing it. I won't forget this precious memory.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nutcracker Wishes and Sugarplum Dreams

I have always loved to dance. I am by no means a good dancer nor do I have great rhythm, or graceful movements, but boy do I love to move! It is rarely pretty, but in my head I am connected and I fill up my cup o' soul while I'm doing it. It's not unusual to stop by my house and hear music blaring and find me and the kids in a full swing dance party in our pajama's on any given evening.

My mom took me to see my first Nutcracker at a small auditorium in Bristol, TN when I was seven. It was so beautiful and I remember just being swept away in that little girl way that was filled with magic, swirling, goodness of a new discovery. I've always enjoyed the stage and basically any form of artistry and performance, both from the audience and actually being part of it. I've seen hundreds of shows all over the world and always take away some gratefulness from the talents we are all blessed with on this Earth.

Friday night I saw the best version of the Nutcracker that I have ever seen. My mom, my daughter, and I were invited to the Fox Theater in Atlanta to see the Atlanta Ballet and Atlanta Symphony perform. We had the chance to see the dancers and costumes at a pre-show reception and we got to sit on the sixth row where it actually snowed on us during the performance. Cool right?!? Plus, I had on FABULOUS shoes!

When we got the call, I was so excited to receive the invitation. It only soured when I looked at the date and realized it was on one of the weekends that the kids go to their dad's. I have had a couple of other cool opportunities come up and he just won't let them go, no matter what. So, my heart fell immediately because I felt sure this would be a similar situation, and true to form, he would not allow her to go.

I didn't even tell her about it. I don't understand his reasoning, and truly feel if the shoe is ever on the other foot, I will absolutely let the kids do something with him. It is the right thing to do and I want the kids to be able to have great experiences with both of us. No matter what arguments we may have, the fact remains...we were brought together and beautiful kids were a result. I would never change anything about the journey because I've learned so much, and when these opportunities come up, I will ask, always. 

Now, being a mere human, my first thought was about some nuts I'd like to crack. Forgiving is constant and hard work, people and every now and then you have to pull an all-nighter!

So, inspite of not getting to take the little girl, my mom and I went to the show. I realize now, that it was meant to be that way. I love my mom so much, and with our busy schedules and a lot of the focus being on what activities the kids are doing, we really don't have the time to spend and have that mother and daughter time that I loved too. It is what has helped make me a good mother.

Tears fall as I type this, because I know that I won't always have these chances, and I am, in a way, grateful to my ex for his actions, so my mom and I could share this time again. As soon as the show started, I was totally transported, just like the very first time I saw it. But this time, I was filled with love and the knowledge that we are all here to know love and give it back. That is our highest purpose. This is why we are alive and what makes our lives the best they can ever be!

We had a ball. We got to talk about all the things that we never have time for and we got to dress up and be pretty together. We stayed at the lovely home of my mom's best friend and his partner and their sweet animals. We laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. We ate, drank, and were merry! It truly was a gift.

I am always so moved during this time of year with the reflections of the past, the blessings of the present, and the hopes of the future. As you are moving through your holidays, may smiles stretch across your faces, and may sugarplums fill your heads regardless of your circumstances. If the Grinch's heart can grow, so can all of ours. FA WHO DOOR RAY!

And... here is the link to the FOX! It is an amazing venue, go see a show there. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One Good Thing About Music...

My parents took me to see John Prine in concert when I was a toddler. I can remember sitting in the auditorium and looking up at how high the ceiling was and waiting. I remember about two songs and then I'm pretty sure I fell fast asleep. I still remember it though, and thus began my love of a live show.

Now, as a thirty-something adult, I've seen hundreds of shows with legends, icons of every genre, one hit wonders, amazing local artists, and awesome collaborations. I've been to small intimate settings and giant stadiums, and wandered from stage to stage at mega-festivals.

I get an energy that is electric when I enter a venue. I love checking out people's style and how everyone interacts, each person being so individual and so unique. But through these differences, we are also united because we are all there for the same purpose, to enjoy music and maybe move and groove a little. It is a beautiful realization.  

It's a great feeling to hear the song you came to hear. You feel like you are connected.  Looking out into a sea of people and seeing the united movement to the rhythm of an awesome beat is as satisfying as an ice cold beer after a few hours of yard work in 80 degree weather. And an unexpected, well-done cover as a finale is like that Christmas present that Santa left tucked into the corner, The Red Ryder, if you will.  

And no, you won't shoot you eye out! So, get out there. Go see, hear, and FEEL some music. AND take your kids! It IS worth it and I can't imagine life without it. So, "THANKS! Mom and Dad, you did good!" And the music has shaped the girl as it should.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lay Down the Oars and Go With the Flow

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you."              ~Lewis B. Smedes
I met a few friends out for dinner recently and as we began talking, I realized we were all needing support with forgiveness. We all had very different circumstances but all with the needed end result. We talked about it, prayed about it, and we each went about our way to work on it.

When we met again... yes, we were still stuck in the same old groove and immediately fell into the pattern of complaining about each of our troubles. It's not easy and sometimes forgiving can happen for one aspect and then the next day a totally different topic comes up and drags that thing you forgave yesterday out of the depths again for a piggyback ride right back into your thoughts.

As a recently divorced mother of two, learning to forgive has been something that is not only a top priority but totally necessary for my well-being and in turn, the well-being of the kids. Not only did I have to forgive my ex for all the things (many of them mutually painful- I played my part too) that ended our marriage but I also had to forgive myself for all the various actions and reactions that coincided the whole process.

It was enough to curl me into a fetal position several times. But I made it. And I'm stronger for it.

A few weeks ago, I got an apology for at least some of the actions from the ex that I had to "just keep forgiving." It was long-overdue, and yet still an incredible feeling. A month before that after an intense healing session with the Maori (I highly recommend them if you are ready for a change in your life), I made a conscious intention to forgive no matter what when it came to whatever kind of behaviors that were oustide of any realm of control. And to give love to replace resentment.

And once I started replacing my old pattern of holding it all in and dwelling on why it was or how to make it stop, it did just that. It stopped. It didn't bother me anymore because I choose joy. I choose to move forward. I choose to concentrate on love. I choose to give a second chance when the opportunity arises. And I choose to let it go.

It ain't easy (Mom, forgive my slang), but this change is serving a much better purpose. I realized I was holding onto the thought that I could possibly control another person's thoughts or actions and that things might change for the better, and as soon as I let go, they did.

Freedom in your head after any kind of trauma, be it heartbreak, failure, an accident, disgust, or even just a really bad choice is the hardest part to get back because you have put so much energy towards it and it is a part of something you think you need. So sometimes it's best to stop thinking for a bit and ask you true self what it is that you want. If you don't ask, it is hard to receive.

So, EnVogue and Bob Marley, you were both right.... Free your mind, and the rest will follow.      Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.

This little bird is going for a trip on the good ship of choosing to be happy. See ya soon for round 2,876,000,456 of forgiveness.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Like the Corner of My Mind... the corner of my mind. Misty, watercolored meeeemories....


In my early-middle age, my memory is not so great. I often forget why I walked into a room in the first place. Sometimes I meet someone or get semi-important information and forget the name and info within ten minutes finishing the conversation. I used to blame it on pregnancy and then baby brain, but now that the kiddos are both out of diapers, I feel this is no longer a viable excuse.

*Sigh* A few years ago, I was so worried about this. I thought it was the early onset of Alzheimer's. SO, I learned how to knit. I thought, "If I just get my brain moving in a new direction it will help." I hasn't, but now my kids' teachers get really cool scarves for their Christmas gifts and I'll never have to buy another washcloth for as long as I live. So BONUS!

I really DO try to listen, I just don't have a great memory when I hear something. I think this comes from teaching thousands of students (over 500 a year), attending too many meetings, and basically passing through a lot of information that needs to be remembered for the time, but then has to be let go to make room for the next batch.

BUT, show me a painting and I'll remember it always. Sing me a song and I'll hum it seven years later. Word of mouth just doesn't stick sometimes, I have to see in front of me or actually write it down. It has always been this way. I remember having to learn the introduction to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to the tune of Rocky Top for my senior English class. I can still say every word with an almost-perfect English accent.

And in college, Art History classes changed my whole perspective. I totally GOT history when I saw what was going on in the art world at the time. It made so much sense to me that I actually picked up a double major in History, but I literally had to see it through the artists of the time's eyes to believe it.

I've come to the conclusion that I just have to make a solid or somewhat cheesier connection to remember.  There's a lot of input in our busy, Internet-overloaded, and hurried society. Sometimes there's so much junk out there that gets stuck in our heads, there's no room for the good stuff and the needed stuff.

Many times I find myself yearning for simpler times and rotary phones. I used to know like 50 phone numbers,  and now? It's closer to nada! ZIP! But those numbers that I knew from the days of yore are still there because I had to perform an action to get a result. Now I just have to hold down a key for speed dial. There's the difference, but where's the time to make up a little rhyme or jingle to remember the pertinent info? 

So, here I sit before you...  a stack of lists to my left and my right hand marked up with the items that must take first priority(yes, I am aware that ink can poison me). It's the system that works for me. Sometimes it works too well. Yesterday I went to the hospital where I was going to pay a bill from the emergency room. BLARH!          Buuuuut.... I had forgotten and already paid it!

Record keeping! Memory? Who needs it! Sometimes I'm truly grateful for the little memory losses that bring an unexpected smile to my lips (and sometimes extra cash in my bank account)!

Cheers to all those with whom I've made the happy memories,
May they be bright enough to block out the shadows from others.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Clean-up in Pew #13

I'm not really a "churchy" kind of gal, and my "religion" is an amalgamation of many beliefs, tolerance, and agreements. But my heart is in the right place, and for the most part I try to think about and do what is right. When I slip up, and I definitely do, I try to apologize, reap the consequences, and learn the lessons.

I started taking the kids to church a couple of years ago. They like it and I am grateful that we have been very welcomed by our little church family.

I have taken my son to "big" church three times. ~Flashback to about a year and half ago...

The first try... As I was searching for my money for offering, he grabbed the little change purse that he and his sister had been playing store with all weekend. How cute, I thought. Now, I also thought this contained their fake money. I could not have been more wrong. He had taken an opportunity when I wasn't looking to replace that fake money with the brand new marbles that he received from his Pappy the previous evening.

As the service began, he opened up the bag and dumped the marbles onto the floor. Until that very moment, I had never realized we had wooden floors underneath the pews. We sat in the back so we could leave if need be without causing too much commotion. "WeeeeLL><isn't that speeecial?" The Church Lady's voice rang in my head as my good intention just flew right out the window! Even the preacher ended up returning a marble and I'm pretty sure I expressed all the shades of pink I could turn within 30 seconds.

The second attempt, I knew better. He stayed for a little bit. I brought something paper, crayons, etc. But the singing got him (which I get, it was a bit dramatic), and we made a calm and casual exit. Ten minutes later, one of the mothers from the nursery came to get me. Evidently my darling little heathen had decided to hide out in the bathroom and then suprise-flash the girls when ever they came close to the door and total chaos had ensued in the childcare room. GRRRRReat! " the FRU-IT's of the DEV-IL," the Church Lady echoed in my head.

At this point, I was kind of waiting for a call from the preacher. It never came. My guess is that maybe the thought was that we probably really "needed" a little more churchin'.

Flash forward to yesterday...

A year has passed and we've made some progress. He was the shepherd with a somewhat devilish grin in the Christmas program, and we've been to the early morning, smaller service with success and no major interruptions or loss of clothing.

So yesterday we went to "big" church again to watch his sister perform during the Children's moment. All was well until the director asked if there were any other children who wanted to come forward, and up he went. Now, I thought he would be ushered to just sit and watch. But, noooooo! He hopped on the stage wasn't directed to the steps or front pew or anything. "Oh! This is bad," I thought.

Well... he proceeded to perform his own version of the song and sign language. I began squirming and blushing, the congregation began laughing, and he HAMMED it up all the more because of the prior two facts. At some point, you just have to smile and go with it, and fnd yet another lesson of humor in humility.

Thank Heaven, for little boys... and easy-going steeple people.

@ Dana Carvey(aka- The Church Lady), eat your heart out while you perform your "Superior Dance!"
-And if you don't know that I just referred to, I'm totally judging you, so look it up on youtube ;-)

Weellll, isn't that special?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat and Happy

Happy Belated Fat Tuesday, for today we purge.

I've been doing ab exercises with a friend. Then she gives me homemade cookies. I go swim and feel like my heart might explode, then I find my little one-time-a-year girl scout goodness staring at me when I walk in the door. Oy vey!

It's a constant see-saw. I actually think I work out to eat. I'm pretty sure K.D. Lang wasn't talking about chocolate when she sang "Constant Craving," but it runs through my head whenever I get around sweets. I totally eat and regret too.

Well, today for lent and for good, I'm giving up my lovehate relationship with my tummy. I'm still gonna eat, but I'm gonna enjoy it! My little Buddha belly and I are making piece. I will embrace my body, where it is at, regardless of the imagery society places around me of touched up stars and photo enhanced loveliness. May we all choose life instead of regret, and live it well, with lots of belly laughter, a healthy dose of cookies, and a joy for who we are inside our own unique skins!