Ode to the Washing Machine

I’m sad to let you go…

We’ve seen hours of work together, you and I
I count you among my closest friends

You came into my life when I was expecting my first child
Since then, we’ve worked together, preparing and cleaning clothing for
Many who followed.

You’ve seen me through infant twins
(and all their laundry).

You’ve been strong through it all
Stalwart, faithful

(Except for the time you broke, and then broke again)
YouTube was our lifesaver, yours and
Mine

I couldn’t count the loads we’ve carried
Together.

Now, as we part ways, I feel sadness
Mixing with gratitude

Your replacement is new and shiny, with fancy
Lights and buttons, innovative settings and a computer chip

But I will miss you.

Thank you.

In All Your Forms

As we continue to celebrate love during this Valentine’s Week on the blog, here is a tender clip from a movie that teaches about love:

I love the line in his vows that says, “I vow to fiercely love you, in all your forms.”

Anyone who has been in a relationship for just about any amount of time has learned that people do change in many ways. For those seasoned couples who have been together through decades, through health challenges, through childbirth or infertility, through loss and renewed love, this line may be particularly poignant.

In my own life, I have watched couples endure in love through physical changes. We lose hair. We gain wrinkles. When a woman undergoes the decision to have a child, her belly grows, her breasts become enlarged, and her form changes. When a baby is born, skin and tissue and stretch marks can change her form from what it once was. When a partner undergoes treatment for cancer, he or she loses hair, color, and can lose or gain weight. Love endures these changes.

When one or both partners are stressed or undergo the difficulties of life, they can experience emotional changes. Maybe they are not as stable as they once were. Still, love presses on through these challenges.

When we vow or promise or covenant to love each other through life and beyond, we stand by each other–in all our forms. I know my husband sees me at my best and at my worst. I took a long time to fully let him into my heart, misled by the screaming thought inside me that if he really knew me he wouldn’t want to be with me. Thankfully, I was wrong. And he has been faithful to me–in all my forms–over many years and many struggles. He continues to strengthen me, and I hope to do the same for him.

In the film The Vow (based on a true story), the main character suffers a brain injury where she doesn’t recall the past three years (years in which she brought about pivotal changes in her life and relationships–including relocation, changes in her studies/major, and her marriage). (SPOILER ALERT) As her husband tries to help her remember, she continues to struggle. She ends up going back to her old life that she remembers, leaving her husband alone. At the end of the film, she makes the same decisions on her own that she did years ago (leaving law studies to continue her work as an artist, moving from the suburbs back into Chicago). They meet again and the end credit song begins to play as the couple head out to eat at “someplace new.” The true story couple is then pictured with their two sons, and viewers are left to assume that they remarried and are now living happily.

I am touched by his determination to love her in the way she needed to be loved, to give her some space to heal without taking away his love. He truly lived up to his vow to love her in all her forms.

🙂

Simple Gifts

Before I can recall specific memories of time from my childhood, I learned this Shaker hymn written by Brother Joseph Brackett in 1848:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Last night, I was pondering the blessings of simple gifts I have received in my life. Among the myriad, I will mention but a few:

1. The Gift of Time. Occasionally, I am aware of individuals, who, by living with intention, carve out a section of time for me. Sometimes, this time is given in the form of sending a message, answering a question, or acknowledging a comment. Other moments, I receive this gift when a dear soul calls on the phone or visits. Each morning, I wake with a sense of the gift I have been given of another day to spend time as I wish.

2. The Gift of Choice. I am acutely aware each day that I have the gift of choice. I choose what I want to wear, where I will go (or stay), and how I will use the gift of time. I choose the relationships I will develop each day, the words I will write and read, the music I will hear. I choose to live and love.

3. The Gift of Being Clean. After the birth of a new baby, I remember a moment where my mother was returning from a doctor appointment not far from my home. She and my father, who was her driver, stopped by for only a few minutes. She said, “We can hold the baby while you take a shower.” As a mother of a new baby, I had been covered in bodily fluids from leaky nursing pads and diapers. I was so grateful for the blessing of taking a shower and for the gift of being clean.

4. The Gift of Being Able to Change. Other times, I have felt covered in the hopelessness of doubt–doubt in myself and my ability to go on, to move forward, to change. I have allowed myself the laziness of wallowing, not unlike the Prodigal Son. But I, too, have looked up, and through prayer, scripture study, and through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I have been given the gift of being able to change.

5. The Gift of Love. As a teenager, I was hyper-judgemental. I didn’t like that every outfit I saw, every person with whom I spoke, and every hair-do and purse and action was seen through a critical lens. I even looked at myself that way. The gift of love was lacking in my life. As I grew into a high school and college student, I began to cultivate feelings of love for others (though I still struggled with self-love and acceptance). The newfound happiness of loving instead of judging others was a great gift. Eventually, I decided I wanted to give that gift not only to others, but to myself. I struggled over years of praying and building uplifting thought processes; I spent many an hour along this journey in conversation with supportive friends. Within the last several months, my heart has changed toward myself, as well. I have gained knowledge that God loves me as I was, as I am now, and as I will become–even with my imperfections. I still have negative days occasionally, but overall, I can say that I do–truly–love myself. This gift is perhaps the most precious of them all.

You Gotta Work

So, with a little music bopping around in my head, I have a tiny piece of wisdom to share this fine morning.

I thought I was being nice.

I thought I was being helpful.

You see, up until the last week or so, I have been doing a bunch for my kiddos. I was never one of those women who thought that kiddos should be without responsibility…our kiddos have their share of chores and babysitting and tidying…but I was definitely doing more than I needed to for them. Like, if they didn’t put the cereal away in the morning, and they were rushing out the door to meet the bus, I would put it away for them. Or, if I was having company and one of them didn’t put clothing (that I lovingly washed, sorted, and sorta folded for them) away, I would do it.

Yes, as I write this I am feeling a little slushy inside…like I’ve known for a while that they are old enough to pull more weight around here.

Well, this morning, in no uncertain terms, I (lovingly) explained that I have done much for them…and that I enjoy doing fun things for and with them (like baking goodies or making treats or playing games and hanging out together)…and that they needed to show more respect to me in return.

Guess what? They were up to the task! I was surprised and elated to see that, as they went about their work and responsibilities with little guidance from me, they stood a little taller. By helping them get to work, they felt the value each of us feels when we ACCOMPLISH. And, I have to say, accomplishment is a great feeling. 🙂 I’m guessing that when they feel accomplishment and begin to understand their value in our family, in society, and in the world, that their self-esteem will grow, as well.

If you have kiddos, and they could be stretched a little more…to do more…to be more…then I say boldly, “GO FOR IT!!!!” You might have to use your words.  You might have to get a little tougher skin.  You will absolutely have to do more than just “teach by example.”  But it will be worth it.  Teaching them the value of work will stay with them throughout their lives…and, I dare say that the value of work is lacking in this world.

So get to work!

It’s not easy being thin…

Try singing those words in your best Kermit-the-Frog-It’s-Not-Easy-Being-Green-voice, if you please.

In case you forgot the tune, here’s Kermit the Frog singing it in all his green felt glory:

I was thinking of this post several days ago after a conversation of a few women I passed in a corridor.  One, remarking about a woman she once knew, said–as best I could hear–something like, “And of course, she’s like a size 2…” and, a little lower in voice, “…one of those women we all hate.”

Maybe she said dislike.

I don’t know, really.  And I know she wasn’t talking about me.  (At least I hope she wasn’t…but I’m sure part of me wonders.)  I am not a size 2.  I’m not sure that I could be if I tried.  But, I am thin.  And, (because of my height and hair length/style), I probably appear thinner than I am.

Here is my question, though.  WHO CARES?????

Who cares what size dress you wear, what your hair looks like, what size your foot is?  Really?  Isn’t that part of growing older and wiser…to be able to look past the surface to see people as they really are?

Then someone very dear to me wrote something recently that she once thought that people who were thin had high self-esteem.

Guess I missed that gift.  Thin body–check.  Tall body–check.  Self-esteem–maybe one day?  (I am working on that facet of existence….)

I’m not writing this as a rant (okay, maybe just a bit…), but I do want for us to pause for a moment to THINK about our perceptions of others.

At my daughter’s school kindergarten end-of-year party several years ago, a female student came up to me (kindergarten, okay?) and said to my daughter, “Wow.  Your mom’s really thin.”

She shared her words with contempt in her voice…a similar tone to what I heard in the corridor among those few “grown-up” women recently.

WOW.

We all make judgements of people when we see them.  And sometimes we share them with others.  But can we PLEASE STOP JUDGING PEOPLE based on exterior value judgements such as size, shape, hair color, sexual orientation, style preference, number of children (or lack thereof) and just remember that we are all individuals (thank heavens) in this life trying to enjoy another day on earth?

Please?

Every person I have ever encountered on this earth has something to offer…no matter what he or she looked like on the surface.  I find that when I allow myself to become overwhelmed with appearances (my own or someone else’s) that I miss opportunities to learn and grow and love.  I’m sure we all need this reminder from time to time, but I’d like to take a moment to send a shout-out to women, who I think may struggle with self-deprecating thoughts a little more often than men do (but I’m open to others’ insight on this subject).

Every woman is beautiful, and I encourage you to take an opportunity to remind a woman in your life today that she is amazing.  See what she does.  Tell her she is beautiful.  Tell her she is important.  Tell her she is valued.  Eventually, no matter what her external features are, she will believe you over the condescending voices around her and within her.  And have her sing the chorus to this song…over and over and over…until the message sinks deep into her soul.

And here is another one, just for smiles. 🙂