Friday, March 23, 2012

Focusing on the Good Stuff

It's so easy to let our minds get stretched and twisted and focused on things that steal our joy. So, for the past couple days, I have really tried to pay attention to the "little stuff" that makes me smile. It works wonders:

Making pancakes with a four year old
and having him tell you it makes him feel special

The smell and sound of the rain
as it pours outside an open sliding glass door

An unsolicited kiss and hug from my 10 year old son

The same child vacuuming the dining room without being asked

Laughing out loud at a tweet

Song lyrics that hit the spot

Red jellybeans

The happiness on my child's face as I made him
a ghost from 2 pieces of Kleenex

Dancing to 80's music as I clean house

Picking up the phone and hearing a friend
say "Girllllll...." as she starts in on a story.

Seeing how excited your son is to have
his Daddy take him out for a "Man Breakfast"

and... being blessed with another day
to appreciate all the little stuff in my life.

Onward to the weekend...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saving the Best For Last

It's really not even possible to sugar coat a day like today.

As the largest street newspaper in North America, the twice monthly paper releases we conduct are vital to the distribution of each new issue produced. It's the first time our vendors--all homeless or formerly homeless individuals--get their hands on their new product to take to the streets of Nashville. It's a very important day in the life of our organization. But today was one of those days when Murphy's Law kicks you in the head and then laughs at you just for spite.

In short, we had to relocate to a new area of the church where the release is held because of an art project consisting of handmade birds perched on lines strung across the front of the sanctuary. And even the best laid plans don't prepare you for the unexpected hurdles: record high temps outside and an AC unit trying to keep up, volunteers calling out, printers not working, the power (and thus the microphones) going name it. Needless to say it was one of the afternoons you just heave a deep sigh and keep on chuggin. But there's a bright spot in this whole scenario and I wish my tired brain would allow me to recall his name.

After serving hundreds of familiar faces--some gracious and some in their usual state of ornery--we finally called the last numbers to come through the line to purchase their papers. And the very last person to come through was a new face--a vendor trainee--participating in his very first paper release. He was short in stature with rosy cheeks and sandy blonde hair and his awe at the assembly line we had constructed to distribute over 12,500 papers in just a few hours was apparent on his face. As the very last person to be called, he had every right to feel grumpy or impatient; instead, he was a refreshing reminder of the reason we do what we do.

As he pulled out a few wrinkled bills to pay for a handful of papers to sell, he grinned and thanked me and said, "This is all very new to me. Thank you so much."

And with that, all the tension between my shoulder blades and every ounce of frustration I had felt over snags that were beyond my control melted away. This guy was genuinely excited about the simple blessing of having a job.

And suddenly, I became very grateful for my own.

Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile. ~Wilfred Grenfell

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another March 13

March 13 reminds me of one of my favorite poems by Carl Sandburg:

"The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on."

It always seems to sneak up on me but once it's here I feel the silent weight of it perched on my heart until March 14 rolls around and then it simply moves on.

If I look back at my blog at the different ways I have observed the day my Mom died it is as varied as the colors in an early morning sunrise. There are some years I am more upbeat and reflecting on all the quirks that made her the fabulous woman and mother that she was and then there are those more melancholy writings where the longing for her in my words is palpable.

2012 seems to be one of those years.

Unable to sleep last night, I lay there struggling with a pretty big decision in my life. What advice would she give? What insight would she shine into the situation to make clarity seem even remotely possible? She knew me like none other. And even though I sometimes pushed back against her advice out of sheer stubbornness, I always knew it was the best path to take.

But, she also raised me to be a strong woman able to weigh the pros and cons of any situation and arrive at a sound (most of the time) decision. So, I'll channel that today. I'll also crank open the windows, let the breeze blow in and saturate my senses with the sound of bird songs, the gentle dance of bright yellow daffodils, the smell of fresh cut grass that she loved so much and the peaceful cadence of clouds floating by in a perfectly blue sky. She thrived on the simplicity of these things.

That's how I know she is still very much with me. No March 13 can take that part of her away from me.