I have a magical friend who makes life sweeter with her creativity. My friend, Joy adds her loving touch to the world around her every chance she gets. Sometimes, our neighborhood will be sprinkled with plastic pink flamingos or one of her painted rocks will show up on your doorstep. She and her husband have the best party games, throw sweet, simple, loving birthday parties for their boys, find me massive heart rocks, show up with fresh herbs on sumer solstice, and share their love in the most genuine of ways. Last week though, might have been my favorite JOYful surprise. She and her family have chickens and give away all of their eggs since they are vegan. So every now and then she will show up with a dozen eggs for our family and refuse to take any money. Sometimes, I can be sneaky enough though. This past time, we thanked her for the eggs and stuck them in the fridge to use once we finished up our others. Didn’t think anything more. By now, I should know better.
A few days later, Chachi asked for eggs for breakfast and when I opened the carton, there was the best of Joy waiting to bring happiness. Inside the lid, read SUPER POWER EGGS! On each egg she had written what that particular egg’s “superpower” was if you were to be the lucky one to eat it. There was Soccer genius, Funny, Intuitive, Magical, Weird, Peaceful, Strange bodily smells (she too is the mother of 3 boys… she gets it!), Delighted etc..
Chachi had so much fun picking out his two eggs for his breakfast. Joy had spread her love and magic again and got our day off to a wonderful start.
She reminds me that it doesn’t take a whole lot of time or money to have a huge impact on someone’s day. With her sharpie and a dozen words she brought love, laughter and happiness into our house in an instant.
What JOY will you spread today?
I’d love to hear what you do! Share your joy.. it’s contagious!
Last night I hit it full force and felt like the flattened Tom from Tom & Jerry whose 2 dimensional self melts down the stairs into a puddle on the floor. If only we popped right back up into our energetic 3 dimensional selves ready to chase the mouse. Except I am so tired of chasing the damn mouse. I attempted to keep going but then Chris walked in, my guard fell and I melted onto the sofa. He took over and I was so grateful to just close my eyes for a bit. Within the hour I spiked a pretty good fever and chills. By the next hour, I had convinced myself that I had cancer of some sort or another or an autoimmune disease. My mind is a scary place. I’ll be first to admit.
I finally gave up, read Chachi a few chapters, took a hot bath and crawled into bed before it was completely dark outside.
Today, I feel better, but not great and I am trying to tell myself that it is okay to let go, say no and not feel guilty. Is it guilt or having to face that fact that THE (overwhelming) LIST will only get longer and drown me a bit more. It’s both. Where does this come from? It’s a bit insane and all perspective is lost. Completely hidden. I’ve had several slaps of perspective over my life and yet, here I am doing the same cat chase mouse routine. I am afraid I’ll never learn.
Then serendipity came into play and I got this from author Seth Godin’s daily emails.
If you believe that you must keep your promises, over-deliver and treat every commitment as though it’s an opportunity for a transformation, the only way you can do this is to turn down most opportunities.
No I can’t meet with you, no I can’t sell it to you at this price, no I can’t do this job justice, no I can’t come to your party, no I can’t help you. I’m sorry, but no, I can’t. Not if I want to do the very things that people value my work for.
No is the foundation that we can build our yes on.- Seth Godin
I think I need to paint this on the wall in every room in my house. There are so many yes foundations that I want to build on or go back and repair with some mortar and remodel. Things and people that have been overlooked, pushed aside and done in the 11th hour all for the sake of chasing the stupid mouse. And I KNOW in my heart and mind that all over the world people are dealing with really hard things; next to impossible things. I know it, and yet I still react to the mouse. Why? It’s not cohesive in my brain. The thoughts in my brain and my actions don’t match. That is a problem and why the mouse keeps dropping a cinder-block on my head. I am not paying attention and don’t even see it coming because I am too busy reacting.
So today, I am going to try to learn to live in peace with that mouse (aka THE LIST and my spinning brain) in my house. I hope I can shake my Tom personality a bit and be less reactionary to every thought, “obligation” or interaction.
I might go call a friend I haven’t talked to in some time while I prep some canvases…. you’ve been warned if your phone rings, HA! I might take a cat-nap (sorry, couldn’t resist.. I am my father’s daughter) later today and I might just sit and stare at the Aspen leaves shaking in the wind and do nothing. Perhaps, we just take in so much. The problems of the world are so overwhelming, perhaps reacting like a TomCat is all we have left in us when it feels like we are helpless. I don’t know… or will ever pretend to know. I am off to paint to try to find some peace and make something beautiful. And maybe, I’ll eat some ice cream, too.
Perhaps then, I will pop back into my three dimensional self and not feel so flat.
I have been wanting to get back to my magnificent muse writings but felt I really couldn’t do another without writing first about my mom. I have been thinking about it for months and so many memories, lessons and thank-yous, it seems impossible to write the words that will encompass all of the love and energy that is my mom. So this will just have to be one of many so that I am not too paralyzed to start. Knowing that the gratitude and inspiration is never ending will allow me to begin. Perhaps this will be my new mother’s day tradition. Normally, I plant the sunflower seeds she sends me every year on Mother’s day, but that will have to wait until later week when the weather is better.
It really feels impossible to know where to begin. There is just so much.
As I look out the window at the SNOW falling this May 11th.. (hey, it’s my half-birthday!)… my first thank you is that she taught me to love and care for my little corner of the earth. I am mourning the loss of all the iris, peony, and delphinium blooms that are now frozen. She would be just as devastated.
I could describe every plant and flower on our property in Virginia where I grew up. The rows of daffodils on the east side of the driveway, the dogwood where the cars were parked, the azaleas that surrounded the front porch, the lilies and forsythia along the fence row, the wisteria where our old english sheepdog would eat the bumble bees…. I can still see and smell it all. She created a natural, magical place for us to grow up. I loved getting to garden along side of my mom. At the end of the driveway, we would plant some zinnias and marigolds. I can see her long tan legs, her hair tucked behind her ear and her beautiful hands working the soil in my mind. She now lives on a beautiful hilltop along the Blue Ridge Mountains, a lifetime away from the hilltop of my childhood. Once again, she has created beautiful spaces that match the view. I’ll be going to see her in a month and I can’t wait to see how her living canvas has grown and matured and what else she has created on her corner of the earth. Last year, I received a box in the mail full of plants from her own garden. Much to my surprise most of them are coming back this year. Hopefully the snow won’t kill them off. I love having plants that her hands cared for here in my yard. It feels magical.
My mom loves and celebrates the magic of childhood. It was simple but magical. And when I think back on my favorite memories, it was she who orchestrated them. The first one that pops into my mind was an incredibly hot summer day. We lived in an old farmhouse and back then very few people had air conditioning. We had some A/C units in our bedrooms that got turned on at night on rare occasions. It was so hot. Too hot to even really think. She got my sister, Jenny and me special coloring books. We never had coloring books, which I thank her for now. She gave me a Raggedy Ann and Andy story coloring book that had tracing paper between the pages. My Raggedy Ann doll was a treasure. I loved her until she was bald and I actually still have her. Someone will have to throw her away once I leave this world. Mom brought down the huge fan to the porch, left us in our matching floral nightgowns and I think I sat and colored and traced that entire book. We sang songs into the fan to make our voices distorted, made popsicles from orange juice. I loved that day. I wonder if she remembers. She was probably running around taking care of my baby sister, Christin and was thinking that the dollar she spent on coloring books was a brilliant move to keep us busy and from whining. At least that’s what I would have thought. She took us on our own special days to raft the river or go to an art museum with just her. No siblings allowed. She celebrated us as individuals and allowed us to be exactly who we were. That has turned out to be the greatest of all gifts.
Of course growing up, I didn’t think she had it all right. I remember being furious that my sisters sometimes had later curfews or that our punishments were never the same as another’s. I foolishly tried to call her out on this and she looked at me calmly and said that consequences and privileges would be as individual as we were and appropriate for that person. I was speechless. She, what I think is brilliant NOW and annoying back then, put all the responsibility right back on to us. As a single mom she had to take the brunt of it all. I don’t know how she did it. Even with her wonderful circle of girlfriends, who were our other mothers, she worked tirelessly. She managed to get her landscape architect degree, work a full time job, drive 100 mile carpools (no exaggeration… country living) for ballet, gymnastics and tennis and do her best to manage a 80 year old farmhouse and land…. believe me half of our childhood was spent cutting grass and my friend Jennifer and I would clean each other’s houses in order to have sleepovers! She got us on track for college which was mandatory, and made sure that we were strong, independent girls so she could send us out into the world. It took a lot of growing up on my part to really see ALL that she did for us. We understood to a degree the huge task she had in raising us, but not until we became mothers ourselves could we fully appreciate the endless work she did. And, I have decided that she must actually have magic powers.
She still creates her simple magic. Two years ago, my boys went to stay with her while I visited with a friend. They took mason jars filled with grass to catch lightening bugs, which we sadly don’t have here in Colorado. She let them put them by their beds as night lights and then they released them the next morning. She gave them trays with different colored puddings and let them finger paint and them told them they could eat it.. but with their hands behind there backs! They thought she was crazy and loved every second of licking their pudding masterpieces. The boys now help her garden when they are there and she sends them pictures of how “their” flowers are doing. There are picnics by the river with rock skipping competitions and she won’t back down, not one bit. She has taught them, like she did us, to be curious as to what’s around the next corner. To want to explore and see more. And, because of this we have had some special, spontaneous, magical days.
But perhaps the most magical memory that she gave to both my sisters and now all of her grandchildren is the magic of sunset. When we were little girls we would have our bath after dinner and in the summer get to go outside with her to blow the sundown over the Blue Ridge Mountain. I remember feeling convinced that if we worked hard enough, we were actually the ones making the sun set. Afterwards, we would say good night to the sun, run under the maple trees to catch lightning bugs and then go upstairs to read before bed. It was a brilliant move to get us to bed. But, what it taught me is to take the time to slow down and be in the moment. I so clearly can feel every last bit of oxygen leaving my body as the last sliver of sun sunk down behind the mountains. I remember that it felt like bad luck to inhale at that moment. She now takes her grandchildren out to blow the sundown when we are together. There is nothing more magical than watching her with them in that moment. The golden color on the faces of the people who anchor me in the past and future and in pure love is definitely a magical experience to be right in the middle.
I know I misspell a lot of words here and have all sorts of editing mistakes. In all honesty, I just sit, write and then send it out into the world, as I would rather spend my time painting, gardening, reading or tackling my huge to do list than edit. But, I did not misspell the title of this blog post.
It is actually my favorite word of all time. You won’t find it in the dictionary, yet, but it does exist. It is a special word that I believe has magical powers, especially when it comes from my son, Chachi’s mouth. It is one of many words that my boys have mixed up or gotten wrong as toddlers and little boys and it is the one word I refuse to “correct” because I think it is already so right.
Pretember can be used for both pretend and remember. I will hear him say when he plays with his cousin Bo, “pretember that you are a cheetah and I’ll pretember to be a shark.” Or he will come ask me, “pretemeber when we went to the farm and saw the baby pigs?” It is just the cutest thing to hear him say it. I will try to work a conversation to see if it will pop out of his mouth. Perhaps, what makes it even better is that Chachi is my strong, private, tough, super masculine boy with a sweet, high-pitched voice that melts my heart. So when that voice says “Pretember” it stops me in my tracks. I know he will lose the word soon. He is 6 and has no idea that he isn’t at least 10 or 11. As the third, who gets to share a room with his two big brothers, he has never realized that he is as young as he actually is and he does a pretty good job of keeping up.
A year ago, I was in the Evolve class through the Arts Incubator of the Rockies, based here in Fort Collins. To me it was a business class for artists, creatives, entrepreneurs… anybody with an idea, dream or passion. Between the classes that give you a road map of steps to follow and the one on one coaching sessions, I was able to take my pretend and set it in motion. I am just at the beginning of this journey into my dream of being a working artist, and as I sit here and remember the past year the word that comes to mind and best describes this how to keep moving forward is of course, pretember.
I am a wonderfully talented daydreamer. Sometimes, I am so grateful for the escape my daydreams can take me, other times, quite honestly, I scare myself, but the best is when I can turn them into healthy intention. When my pretend daydream leads to a goal, because it is too consuming to ignore, I have to pay attention and remember my passion for it is pointing me in the right direction… pretember.The word feels like it hits me at a cellular level. The combination of pretending and remembering seems too perfect. Pretend you can reach for anything you set your mind, and more importantly, your heart too and always remember what your reason for doing so in the first place. Pretending and remembering at the same time seems to lead to action, carries you through difficult days, sparks new ideas and makes those wonderful daydreams a reality.