Thursday, September 13, 2012

Moving Forward

When I was a sophomore in college the transmission dropped in my 1979 Ford LTD station wagon.  I heard a thunk but didn't notice a thing until I tried to go in reverse.  The engine revved but we went nowhere.  "Well, that's new," I thought.

Unfazed, I put the car in drive and off we went.  Forward.

My mother, always seeking the silver lining, decided that this would be a perfect life lesson.  Never go backwards.  Live your life in a way that you are always moving forward.

So for months I did just that.  I planned ahead with regards to parking, dead end streets and obviously three point turns became out of the question.  It was challenging at times but just in the way that you learn to get up somehow for that 8:00AM class, I did it.

Until one day, I pulled into the lot in front of my apartment building and I couldn't find a spot.  Someone had parked in the fire lane and I had no through-way.  There was no wiggle room.  No way to turn around.  I was stuck.

In true college-drama fashion, I FREAKED out.  Ranting and raving like a lunatic about the unfairness of the  situation.  Screaming and crying about how late I was going to be and the devastation that this particular inconvenience was causing in my already very stressful college life. (^read^sarcasm^here^)

I called my mother.  "That is it!!!" I wailed into the phone, "I have to get my car fixed.  This is crazy!  A person can't just always go forward?!?!?  You have to go backwards sometimes!!!!"

"I have every faith that you'll work it out." Was her calm reply.

And you know what, I did.

I knocked on doors and sought help from friends. It took a long time but we finally did get my car out of the wedge.

I think back to those months that I spent without reverse.  I remember them fondly.  They built a little character.  Gave me some great stories.  But most of all they really did teach me a good lesson about moving forward.  
Going backwards is the easy fix.  Anyone can throw it in reverse to get themselves out of a jam.  It takes patience to seek out the other solutions to a problem.  To move through a situation, slowly, deliberately, to right the wrong.  And most often you can't do it alone.

We are all quick to turn around and point out all the mistakes, all the hurts, the wrongs, that brought you to the place you are in.  Monday morning quarterbacking is easy, it's showing for the next practice that takes all the guts.

Moving forward.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Special Guest: Reluctant Momma's Momma

Today it is my great pleasure to offer a guest post authored by my mother. She is a talented and prolific writer.  She is the most generous and life-affirming person that I have ever met. Everything that I am, everything about me that is good, I learned from her.  I love you, Mom!

The Pitcher

I was given a white bone china pitcher for a wedding present more than 30 years ago by a classy, dear friend of my mother’s.  At the time I was not a fan of either bone china or classy pitchers but I did admire and respect my mother’s friend and was well aware of how much my mom loved and valued that pitcher.  Therefore I took to buying flowers weekly, showcasing them in my fine pitcher.  Often I would wipe away the dust with my forearm, replace the stray Lego pieces from the end table with the flowers and know how proud my mother would be when she came to visit.

Soon I began to appreciate the joy of having something fresh and beautiful in the room and weekly flowers were a must for me.  Regardless of what the house looked like, if there were fresh flowers—I was on top of things. Although I have since acquired more beloved vases, the white pitcher holds a special place in my heart. 

As I carefully cleaned it out today I took notice to all the damage that has befallen this thing of beauty.  I marvel at the delicate glue mark where my father-in-law repaired the handle with the skill of a surgeon.  I note the fine crack lines which no doubt occurs when expensive bone china is exposed to heavy use.  Inside there are spots which appear to be mildew, obviously resulting from continually supporting woody stems soaked in water.  There is a film which cannot be removed and probably should remain as it is probably what is holding the pitcher together. 

I ponder what my mother would think if she were to see the item today which some might say is ruined.  But I think she would be thrilled that it served me and my family so well and was a link to the beauty that results when art meets nature.  All I have to do is look at the empty pitcher and I can imagine the fragrance of lilacs or lily’s filling the room and it makes me happy.

I think of my children and I imagine they would think of this raggedy old pitcher as one of the most cherished and valued possessions I own.  Thirty-something years ago, I had a wedding registry, the pitcher was not on it or even on my radar as something I would have appreciated receiving and I’m sure I sent a requisite thank you note saying something like, yada yada yada.  But I would like to send a new thank you note to Mary Kelly in which I would say…How can I thank you enough for giving me a lifetime of joy that I may not otherwise have known?  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sounds Like Sanctuary

It is a beautiful cream colored brocade chaise. Top of the line piece of furniture gifted to me by one of my fabulous aunts.  I eagerly awaited its arrival as it was going to be the cornerstone of the bedroom sanctuary I was going to create.  Visions of leisurely book reading and coffee sipping filled my head while enjoying the photo wall I was going to create.  It was the stuff that Pinterest posts are made of.

But then life happened.

The chaise is now draped in a well worn Transformer's printed twin sheet.  It seems that it doubles perfectly for a sick bed for the Monkey afflicted with whatever whatnot is causing the sickness in my house.  Now flanked on one side by a trashcan in case of emergency, it is far less lovely and much more functional. 

I haven't had opportunity to spend much time in the chaise myself.  I did sit on it three times last week to fold laundry and leaned against it while sitting on the floor watching the latest dances choreographed by Mini-Monkey.  And once this week I even laid on it for about an hour while comforting the sick Monkey of that moment. 

I am thinking of the chaise as I stand in the shower and rinse off the last of the latest round of barf that was spewed upon my by Middle Monkey.

Certainly not the stuff that "sanctuaries" are made of....or is it? 

This might not be how I envisioned my sanctuary but it is my place of refuge.  My safe space. 

Here in this chair I am a comforter.  I am always in high demand, always needed.  I am far away from the pain of unsettled relations with important people. Far away from people and things that make me sad.  People and things that make me cry.

Here my focus is on my beautiful brood.  I scoop them up one by one as the night wears on and snuggle each into my bed.  Here with them nestled between me and the Monkey Maker, things are good, things are right, things are calm. 

Sounds like "sanctuary" to me.