Love Changes Everything

This morning, when the house was quiet and I was doing some research online, my husband switched on the white-noised vacuum. It interrupted my thoughts. As he approached our computer area, he asked me to move. I pulled my chair away, and the vacuum sucked up the dirt, dust, and crumbs under the computer desk. In an instant, he kissed my forehead as I scooted my chair back into its home…and I beamed. (I think I am still smiling.)

A young boy, a little hesitant, entered a classroom with walls plastered in bright colors. He didn’t know what he would find inside the doors. A teacher greeted him with outstretched arms and a welcoming smile, an opposite experience from his past year. Happiness followed.

A little girl looked up at her mother with uneasy eyes. She knew she had made another mistake to add to her already-too-long-to-enumerate list of mistakes. Instead of a forming a frown, her mother swept the girl into her long arms, encompassing a little body filled with worry and a little heart filled with sorrow. Her mother whispered into her ear, “I love everything about you.” The little girl’s furrowed brow released its hold as if her brain and heart were releasing fear, worry, and regret. Vector-Valentine-Heart-of-Hearts-10-by-DragonArt

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Love changes everything.

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Matching

She was taller than most of the girls her age. She stood, looking much like an elongated version of Cupid, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt of soft crimson paired with pale, pink shorts. She had rifled through the laundry basket earlier that morning in search of clean clothes and had emerged with these items–the only two clean articles of clothing her size in the house. (Though her germaphobe mother wouldn’t let her wear clothing more than once without washing, the mother did not have an affinity for household tasks such as laundry.)

The girl walked into her sixth grade open-concept classroom, where her eyes met with a fellow student and neighbor, *Kara. Kara was dressed in Guess jean shorts, with the trademark inverted triangle on the back pocket and a matching logo shirt in teal. Her eyes scanned the girl’s outfit and whispered something to their mutual friend, Sophia, who was the most popular person in sixth grade.

The girl didn’t know what to think, but she preceded to pull her social studies homework from her yellow Esprit bag and place it in the box on Mrs. Grammer’s desk.

The girl passed through her morning math (they were studying exponents) and language arts (where they were reading a short story by some old French author whose name she couldn’t pronounce). She even made her usual way through lunch, trading a Swiss Cake Roll for a Nutter Bar with her friend Melanie.

On the way back from lunch, the students had a few minutes before settling into their afternoon studies. The girl prepared her mind for work after the sleepiness that was beginning to take hold from digesting carbs and simple sugars, when Kara approached.

“Hey!”

The girl turned around, and her eyes met with Kara again.

“Don’t you know your clothes don’t match?”

The girl just shook her head slowly but moved her gaze over the crimson shirt and pale pink shorts. She shrugged. “I thought it looked okay.”

“Well, everyone knows that red and pink don’t match,” Kara responded, her voice filled with contempt at such a fashion faux pas.

The other students who surrounded them followed Kara into social studies, leaving the girl alone in the center of the four open-concept classrooms. She wished she could hide under a table, or better yet go home and change her clothing. She worked each day to find articles that could mix and match in an attempt to fit in with her other “cool” friends.

That day, she had failed.

Fear from that moment still covers her from time to time, like this morning when her nine-year-old descended the stairs pairing a yellow-and-green-striped sock with an orange zebra one. She feels it when her older daughter, an echo of herself (though with much more wisdom and much less boy-craziness) stands with the trendy half-tuck in a monochrome blue ensemble. She wishes she did not carry the weight of that burden, one she has yet to share with the world.

Maybe one day she will learn.

*Names have been changed.

Allegiant…Sprinkled With Divergent and Insurgent

As you are aware from yesterday’s post, I was reading (and subsequently finished) Allegiant, the third installment in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy. My mind has since been bouncing around processing her approximately 1,500 pages of writing…but I would like to record a few themes here and the way the story affected me.
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From the dedication, the mother-daughter connection was evident. It was the most powerful connection for me in the series, with the second being the love shared between two main characters (both of whom share in voicing Allegiant). Without spoiling the story, (and if you read these books, I urge you not to read summaries or talk to others about them too much prior to reading them) the connection between Tris and her mother, especially as Tris discovers her mother’s strength as well as her own, brought out the most emotion for me.

Fear is also a major theme, as well as cultivating bravery. I enjoyed the journey, which caused self-reflection and a great deal of thought. I am still pondering. (And, I wish I knew what my fear landscape would look like.)

Faith is also expressed–though not necessarily in the religious sense of faith. Rather, the characters find faith in themselves, in each other, in their strength and relationships. This faith leads them to trust and to love more deeply.

The theme of forgiveness is paramount through Insurgent and Allegiant. Tris’s acknowledgement of forgiveness in Insurgent as well as her discussion and pondering about it in Allegiant are notable. Without this theme, I’m not sure I could’ve continued in Insurgent (which held less pull for me than the other two books in the series, but is necessary in understanding character development).

Speaking of continuing, I almost stopped at the end of Insurgent. I had heard from friends who were upset by the third book or the ending or whatever. None of them went into detail (and my son cautioned me after finishing Allegiant sometime last November not to discuss the ending with anyone until after I read it). I was glad I took his advice.

Though many of my friends vehemently oppose the conclusion of Allegiant, I felt like Roth did what was necessary as a writer to be true to the characters who spoke through her in this series. I wept through the last forty pages or so, and laughed a few times, as well. I found the ending beautiful and poignant.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read the series or if you plan to read it. 🙂 Till then, much love!

It’s that time of year… (Flashback Friday)

Here is a post I wrote several weeks ago and neglected to publish then…so, as a Flashback Friday post, here it is!

No, Christmas isn’t here yet (though the retail market has been gearing up for Halloween since August…and I am certain that Christmas decoration sales are fast approaching)…it’s time for an annual office visit that I find terribly perplexing. So perplexing, in fact, that I’ve been singing these words to the tune of LL Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali” while loading the dishwasher this morning:

(In case you forgot the tune, you can listen here. DISCLAIMER: I wouldn’t let my children watch this video–and I won’t watch it again. It’s definitely not Miley Cyrus at the VMA awards, but it still isn’t really appropriate…FYI. If I were you, I’d minimize the video and just take a little listen.)

I’m going to the Gyn-o
Gyn-o
Gyn-o
I’m going to the Gyn-o
No, I don’t think so
🙂

Well, I did confirm my appointment last week…so from a monetary standpoint (and from a health-related standpoint), I probably should keep the appointment.

I am thinking this morning, as a distraction, though, that I will go into the experience as a writing exercise. I have been trying to approach each experience as possible research for writing, and that helps me find value in whatever I am doing when I might ordinarily focus on fear. (And, singing a parody of an old 90’s song helps a bit, too.) 🙂

So, I am off to my day…to face my fear (and the stirrups).

Wish me luck! 🙂

Home

This new video/song from The Piano Guys touched my spirit this morning.


Watching it brought to mind many phrases which talk about home.  Among some of the more familiar are sayings such as, “home is where the heart is” or “be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” Even the precious Dorothy had power to click her ruby-slippered heels while saying, “There’s no place like home” to be transported back to her beloved Kansas.


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Through these thoughts, I began to question what the idea of home really means to me. Is home a physical place? Is it a feeling? Is it an entity all in itself that defies but embodies place, time, or feeling?


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I was born into a home on the east coast of the United States. When I was less than ten years old, our family changed houses (but not cities). I was concerned that I was leaving the familiarity of all I knew up to that point and all I connected with home. Though I was taking my loved ones and toys, my clothing and other belongings with me, I was leaving Pepto-Bismol pink walls of a room where I had slept since I could remember. I worried that my life would change. (And it did.) But I still had a “home.”


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Years later, our family relocated to another state. The culture was different; the surroundings were surreal. Still, I came to call that place home.


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As I have moved many more times throughout my life–both as a child and as an adult, I have developed a new definition of the word home. Home doesn’t mean toys or a blanket or pink walls or even a particular city or state to me anymore. I have learned that home is acceptance, friendship, faith, connection, comfort, peace, and love…wherever this path of life may lead.

No, I won’t be afraid

So, I put my lovely iPod on Shuffle yesterday, skipped through several songs in hopes of feeling some sort of motivation, and heard the warm voice of Ben E. King and the lovely percussion of a song so familiar to many of us.


When he sang the words, “No, I won’t be afraid,” I knew I had some work to do.

His inspiring words drifted back into my mind at around 2:30 this morning as I lay in bed between a kiddo and a husband, searching for the solace of sleep.

Why do I fear, anyway? What do I fear? Sometimes I make a mental list…but even with that mental list, my mind discounts many of them. But they seem so real sometimes…almost tangible.

So, what do you fear? And does it paralyze you? Or can you let go of the fear and use newfound energy to propel you to action? I am working on the latter…and I know I need to get back to my book. At 2:30 this morning, editing sounded like a good idea…but when daylight returns, so does the fear, apparently.

Like I said, I’ve got some work to do. The yoga I did this morning helped clear my head a little, thankfully.

Maybe I will pick up my book again. What can I possibly be afraid of, with the calmness of Ben E. King’s voice over my computer speakers, and all of you standing (figuratively, of course) by me?

🙂

Feelings…

I was a bit startled when I typed the title into the little box above where I am writing now that I had this flashback to the movie Big, where Tom Hanks (as the “big,” grown-up character of himself has to sing, “Feelings” for his mother in order to prove to her that her son is indeed okay).  Aren’t minds peculiar sometimes?

Through last week’s trauma experience (I use that term a little loosely–as in the experience was not life-threatening but indeed traumatic for me and our son and our family), I have remembered how I have dealt with trauma in the past:  I go into this place of numbness.  I shut down my feelings.  I think I’ve been practicing this behavior for many years.  And, I think the root of the feeling is fear.

Well–I would like to report a breakthrough.  Are you ready?  I’m not sure I am…but here I share anyway!

I allowed myself to feel.  I allowed myself to share with others my fear.  And I allowed myself to share my experience with others.

On Wednesday, (surgery day), I sat in the waiting room with a buzzer (similar to the one you may receive while waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant) for a moment without phone or book or watching the television on the wall.  I just sat still and processed the last few days, prayed a bit, and felt.  I took deep breaths.

And I started to cry.  My eyes welled up (though I didn’t let tears fall…I’m not that uninhibited…yet), and I felt the fear and the hope and the trust that all would work out for the best.

And, I’m happy to say that so far, it has.

Hugs!