Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Little Story 'Bout Love

"I am going upstairs to turn into a robot!"

He turned on his heel and scampered upstairs.  The three of us, two of my brothers and me, rolled our eyes and chuckled.  I resumed building Legos; an activity my nephew begged me to join him in just before he abandoned me to become a robot.

He was gone for a long while, a really long while.  During his absence, I managed to build quite a nice little fort for the Lego guys.  We collectively assumed he was hard at work creating some sort of robot costume and failed to take into account the silence. The silence. The lack of banging and crashing and squealing and yelling from the level above should have made us suspicious.

When he finally reappeared, he swooped into the room.  "I'm back!"

"Hey, you don't look like a robot," I pretend punched him in the arm.  "What were you doing upstairs?"

An orange, rectangular piece of paper fluttered from his hand and into my lap.

"I made you a card!"  He jumped up and down, hands folded under his chin.  "Look at it!  I made a beautiful card for you, Aunt Jessica!"

I inspected his creation. Impressively, he had cut out a rectangle, with almost straight lines, and stamped random letters in blue ink on the star-patterened paper.

The most endearing aspect of this gift was that, in order to make it, I knew that he had purposely tricked us into thinking he was going upstairs to become a robot when in reality, his plan was to break into his mommy's craft room.  The craft room is a forbidden land to him when unsupervised.  For me, though, he risked impending disciplinary action to make a beautiful gift.

"Thank you!"  I took him by the hand.  "Let's go make sure mommy's craft supplies are all put away."

I couldn't stand for the little guy to get in trouble over something so sweet.  His daddy oversaw the clean up operation with a firm reminder to leave mommy's stuff alone. He replaced the lids on the ink pads, washed the ink off of his hands and face, and picked up the scrap of paper from which he cut out the rectangle.

For the rest of my visit he made sure I always had the card with me.  It was with me when we played a board game, it was with me when we went out for coffee (his mommy and I had coffee; he had a cinnamon roll).  Before my visit ended, he chirped again, "Do you have your card with you?"

I have it with me right now at home.  It's my prized possession.  There's a crease on the bottom left hand side, the result of his hasty and excited presentation.  I see it and hear his squeal.  I trace it with my fingers and smile. If I could get away with wearing the card around my neck or sewing it to my skin or, better yet, if I could crack open my chest and place it directly on my heart, I would. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Waldeinsamkeit : Achieved

There's an amazing amount of perspective gained on mini-vacations.  I found mine on this boulder in the middle of a stream in Ponca, Arkansas.  After a beautiful hike on the Lost Valley Trail, we were a little more leisurely on the return trip.  In my leisure, I spied a stream with a boulder planted smack in the middle of it, and I felt it pulling me toward it.  I crossed the frigid waters, my citified feet carefully navigating the rocks beneath, and stood on my boulder a while.  I stood, disconnected from my normal life, still and quiet.

Then, I sat.  Can you hear that?  Can you hear the water swiftly passing by, pushed by the roaring force of a waterfall somewhere upstream?  I still can.  It spilled and slipped over rocks, crashed against fallen limbs and trunks, all the while serenading me with it's melodious white noise.  Its hum.

My face relaxed so I lied back, my body molding to the slight convex curve of the rock, hoodie wadded up behind my head. And just before a short nap,

I gazed upward and saw this

There are much greater things to experience than the tedious, monotonous things of daily life that we justify as normal or successful by stamping them with societal importance.  I find these things most often in the woods.

Monday, March 26, 2012

That's Not My Name

Please note the To: line of this email.  That is my name.  The salutation line of the email; that's not my name! 

I'm not sure how a one syllable name translates to or is mistaken for a three syllable name, with very pronounced consonants I might add. . .but apparently it does.

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Their's is the Curse of the Gypsy Blood

“There's a race of men that don't fit in, 
A race that can't sit still; 
So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. 
They range the field and rove the flood, 
And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood, 
And they don't know how to rest.” 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wanna Hear a Hilarious Homicide Story?

Really, how does one respond to that?  How can a story about a homicide be hilarious?  Apprehensively, I agreed to hear the story.

The result was me, all alone in my apartment, laughing and gasping for breath with tears running down my face, as my BFF in Arizona detailed the story.  Don't worry, no one actually died.  Instead of  Hilarious Homicide Story I should be calling it a Hilarious Potential Homicide Story, but that isn't as intriguing and it ruins the hilarity of the story.  

The best part was that the Hilarious Homicide story is TRUE and recently happened where my BFF works.  Unfortunately for you I am not going to retell it.  It's too amazing to try to retell and besides, part of the hilariousness was my friend's personal account, inflections, and laughter on the other end of the phone.  Just think about this though. . . one element of the story involves a ferret in a backpack, need I say more?

I will tell you this:  This story followed a conversation about our frustrating days (weeks) at work.  It followed statements like, I totally understand, That sucks, What in the world?!, I would have totally punched that guy in the face. . .  BFFs are great for sharing trials and frustrations with, but they are even better for telling random stories that keep you laughing for hours, and even days, after the fact.  

I can't stop giggling about it.

This is what I love most about my Soul Sisters. . .the random, ridiculous laughter that occurs before, during, and after the truth-telling.  


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Conversation About Heaven

"Do you think that we will all recognize each other in heaven?"

She knew that the expected answer was supposed to be a reassuring, "Yes.  Why, of course, we will sweetie!"  For anyone else, maybe she would have given a half-hearted, glossy answer.  But for this girl, this young woman, she could be truthful.  There was a silent expectancy more or less oozing from the young woman's pores, pleading for an imperfect answer.  So she gave it.

"No."  She set her tea cup down gently; her long, wrinkled fingers careful not to let go until certain the china was safely settled on the table.  "Well, I sure hope not.  I expect when I reach heaven that I will be with God."

The young woman shifted in her seat, apprehensive.  "Of course, but don't you hope to see Grandpa?"  Neither woman moved, or even appeared to breathe for that matter.  The elder of the two cleared her throat and sat back in her recliner.  She gazed at the ceiling, memories of her 70 married years streaming into her focus.  Duties, child-rearing, worries, celebrations, loss.

"I believe we will recognize the purity of the souls in heaven, but we won't have a name to associate with them.  We will be connected in love, worship and peace but we won't have memories of our relationships on earth.  Memories are tied to emotion, often negative emotion, and there is no place for that in heaven."

The young woman nodded, weighing the words spoken.

"If you were to be reunited with everyone you've ever known in earthly life--" she paused to give the young woman a chance to imagine this--"and your memories were attached, wouldn't that mean you have emotion?  Wouldn't that mean there is a possibility for resentment as well as happiness?  I believe in heaven our only emotion, or state of being, will be joy."

Another nod.  A nervous sip of tea.

"To answer your question, I loved your grandpa but I do not want to be reunited with him in heaven.  Not directly, not as my husband; only as another soul.  I want to spend eternity with God, not your Grandpa, not my children, not even my grandchildren.  I believe heaven is our reward.  My reward for enduring to the end should be peace.  People, human relationships, hold us captive to emotion and expectations."

A smile slowly appeared on the young woman's face.  She sat forward and placed her hands around her knees.  "So, in heaven, we would feel joy from the other souls around us, but we wouldn't recognize the souls individually. . .we would be free!"

"That is my hope.  I know others don't agree with me.  It brings young people comfort to think that they will be able to see their loved ones again--it's what we tell children before bedtime or after a funeral.  But at 92 years old, it brings me comfort to know I will be with the Lord.  That's all I need."

"Grandma,"  the young woman shook her head, "that's probably the most wonderful and reassuring description of heaven I've ever heard!  I don't want to recognize anyone either!"

Laughter and another sip of tea.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Something Seemingly Great

Something seemingly great is about to happen.  It might actually be really great, but commitment issues and a knot in the pit of my stomach are more comfortable with describing this something-that-is-about-to- happen as seemingly great.

It could be horrible.

My career is shifting.  I love when my career shifts. I love when I am handed a broken, chaotic issue and am immediately trusted with fixing it, creating efficiency, and making things better for others.  I've done it twice in 5 years.

It was difficult but both times, the final result made the difficulty, the late and long hours, the lack of personal life, worth it.  In the end, I was able to regain stability, free time, and be more available to friends and family.  Efficiency and processes, once in place, allowed me to control my hours and take vacations.

Vacations are wonderful.

Maybe that's why admitting that this opportunity could be great, instead of seemingly great, is difficult.  I have liked being a recovering workaholic.  I have enjoyed being more dependable in my personal life.  I love feeling like I can shut my phone off when I go on vacation, even though I don't actually shut it off.

The 5 years ago Me would be jumping in with both feet, optimistic and ready to roll on this new endeavor.  Having been through this before, and knowing the pain points, the 5 years later Me is just feeling. . .worn.  I'm feeling a little old.

I am cursing my entrepreneurial spirit.

Possibly, this is just my new way of jumping in.  Maybe I am just thinking more seriously about the short- and long-term effects.  Maybe nearing the age of 30 has subconsciously made me a little more cautious.  Maybe it will be good.

Something good is about to happen.  Stay tuned.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thwarted Plans

So many things went wrong today.

I had a plan; a checklist; a purpose.

Meetings started late.  Focus was diverted.  Mistakes.  Clean up.  Apologies.  Reprimands.

I wanted to spend today in my office, alone, with my iTunes playlist shuffling in the background.  I wanted to sit on the floor, criss-cross-applesauce, surrounded by files, a hole punch, pink and yellow highlighters, and a list.  I wanted to.

Instead, I scurried.  I had to listen to complaints.  I had to teach a grown adults how to apologize to an extremely angry client.  I had to review and approve the tiniest of decisions; no-brainers.  I had to accept extra delegation and then realized I myself had no one to delegate to.  I wanted to get something done today.

Hair wrapped up in a messy bun, a sure sign of frustration, I gazed out the window for a minute.  Hands on my head, I took a deep breath in.  I wished I could go for a walk.  I wished I could get out under the sun and have the sky meet me where I stood.  I was trapped inside, fixing and fighting, ready to give up, yearning to yell.  And then. . .

And then, someone said thank you.  Thank you for listening to me vent.  Thank you for walking me through that; I was scared.  Thank you for making the final call; I wasn't sure what to do.  Thank you for taking that over; I had other deadlines. . .

So many things went wrong today.  It all began with my plan, my checklist, and my own formulated purpose.


Today, I had the privilege of lending an ear, of teaching, of practicing my own developed decision making skills, to assist and to lessen a burden.  I accomplished a lot today.