It feels like Sunday morning…

Some times it is so simple. The special things.

It’s Sunday morning. I am unloading the dishwasher. Tom is cooking breakfast. Eggs. Bacon. Grits. Yo-Yo Ma on the stereo.

I feel at home. I feel grateful. It is these simple things that occur, at a time when I am available to appreciate them, that move me to gratitude and to tears. In these moments I know I am the luckiest woman alive.

The smells of breakfast evoke a memory of a Sunday morning spent with a long-ago friend. We didn’t know each other when we were co-eds at the University of Delaware, but we met through a mutual U of D friend when we both moved to Richmond Va after graduation. We immediately liked each other and decided to get an apartment togther. We found a third floor apartment on Grace Street, in the Fan district of the city. At that time the Fan was considered an unsafe area by those living in the suburbs. To us it was artsy, diverse and the kind of dangerous we loved as 21 years olds. The complex was three, old, southern, brick buildings with a tree filled courtyard in front. Our apartment had French doors opening to a roof terrace with lovely hard wood floors. And it was affordable on our inks-not-dry-on-the-diplomas incomes. Perhaps because we needed to share the space with very large cockroaches. Something neither of us knew about since we were Yankees.

Diane and I sometimes made Sunday morning breakfast together. Music in the background. Good smells filling our look-mom-no-hands sanctuary. I felt like a grown up. I felt like how I imagined it would be when I was on my own. In my own life. In these moments I forgot I was lonely and very broke. I got a job as a bank teller, which was not my strong suit as my drawer never settled. My manager liked my people-skills and knew I wasn’t enough of a math-master-mind to steal from them, so he kept me. I was also homesick for my college roommates who were living together in Philadelphia. When they threw a party they would call me. They passed the phone and I talked to everyone just like I was back at school. When I hung up I would feel a pit in my stomach and question my decision to strike out on my own. (Why I randomly picked Richmond to move to, without a job or knowing anyone is another story. One that has unfolded many times throughout my life uncovering well held family secrets.)

It was the smells and simplicity of this morning that caused me to time traveled 34 years. I tried to describe to Tom what I was feeling; my amazement at my young self, my friendship with Diane, my love for my college roommates, my appreciation of a slow Sunday morning. After several attempts landed on, “It feels like Sunday morning.”

Gratitude born of simplicity gives me hope. I am relieved that I don’t have to do, or have, or be the grand gestures. I also know I have to be moving at a slow enough rate of speed to notice.

XO

waxseal2

 

 

 

I was touched…

Tom and I spent the night in Boston on our way to Cape Cod. Boston is a city I have flown into and promptly driven out of, but not a city I ever explored. So as a late anniversary celebration we used a gift voucher for a free night at the Ritz — that story later — and took in the sites of Boston.

After an afternoon of walking, we cabbed it from the harbor back to the hotel. Tom has been nursing a plantar fasciitis foot and I a sore knee from too much high heel dancing at my step daughter’s wedding. Also, it was hot and we sweaty.

Tom immediately asked the cabbie to open the windows. Please.

As we drove thru the crowded, spaghetti noodled streets of Boston I rested my arm out of the window, my hand on the sill. I was glad to be sitting. We slowed to an intersection preparing to turn left. On the sidewalk, waiting for the white lighted person signaling it is safe to cross, was a group of people. I barely noticed them until a 20-something-year-old man/child stepped out of the group and extended his hand toward the taxi…and me. At first I thought he wanted to get in.

Something in his movement told me he wasn’t looking for a ride. What he was intending was to side five with me. High five only sideways.

I instinctively reached out my hand to him.

Our palms met. Gently. Softly. Quite tenderly.

I have touched strangers before. Usually it is by accident, bumping into them, hitting arms or shoulders resulting in one of us apologizing for our clumsiness. We did not, you see, mean to touch one another. Earlier that morning I tried not to touch a stranger as we bobbed and weaved attempting to get out of each others way in the narrow hotel hallway. Our politeness securing our distance.

But this was different. This was intentional. We reached for each other. We meant to touch.

I felt something in this moment of contact with this total stranger. It is still with me.

I felt/feel hope. I felt/feel the simplicity of a moment fully lived. I feel the impact of being reached for by another. I feel the power of reaching back. I feel hope for us as a culture when we can reach out and touch each other for no other reason but to make contact.

I don’t know anything about this guy. Does he live in Boston or like me was he just visiting? Does he like his life? Does he have a girlfriend? Is he studying something that excites him? I will never know the answers to these questions. I will most likely never see him again. I probably would not even recognize him if I literally ran into him.

And, if I did, I would probably excuse my gracelessness.
waxseal2

 

 

 

Comparing Yourself to Others Never Ends Well

Spending the week in Shangri-La was rejuvenating. The view from every deck and window, including the window next to the toilet

looking to the right off of the deck

in my bathroom, overlooked marsh lined channels leading out to the ocean where fishing boats dotted the water early each morning. The house was comfortably elegant with dark wood wainscoting, hard wood floors, comfy furniture and an eclectic smattering of master pieces hung with distinction next to Debbie’s quirky sense of decorating humor. This included schools of fish, made of different metals, clay, and wood, swimming mostly in the same direction, except for a few free thinking swimmers going the opposite way, arranged on two adjoining walls in a bathroom, jars of wonderful old marbles, interesting woven baskets holding porcupine quills, clay sculptures with imaginative faces…you get the idea. When I wasn’t admiring the view, or lost in conversation with my dear friends, I was amused by the subtle humor tucked into little nooks just waiting to be noticed.

 

And to the left toward the ocean

Spending the week in Shangri-La also had a dark side, and mine showed up big time. I began comparing my life circumstances to that of my friends. I tormented myself with, “Where did I go wrong? What if I had gone to a better college?  Maybe followed a different career path.”

 

Then I moved into what I call Cinderella questions. These have to do with a man rescuing me. “Should I have married a rich man, someone who could have provided paradise?” And if so, “How come I didn’t?” My answers were not pretty. My inferiority was in full bloom. She straight-out informed me that I could never have landed a rich man. I am not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. (I’ll end here if you don’t mind; this is depressing.)

 

I thought about my middle class family of origin and how I learned limits. How not to expect more than there was. How to be happy with what you had. These are lessons I respect but as I wandered the rooms of this magnificent home, I began to challenge them. What if I expected more? Wanted more? What if being dissatisfied led me to more? Would this be my house?

 

The onslaught of questions left me uncertain of me. I was knocked off my center. However I knew, from past encounters with my darkness, that these shadow sightings are often a good thing…in the end. I trusted if I could stay present to myself long enough, listened to my self judgements until they were hoarse and was honest about this predatory side of me, I would land back on my feet with a greater love and trust for myself. (At least that is what I told myself.)

 

This was risky business-listening to me compare myself to others. I noticed how comparing myself never ends well. When I compare myself to people who have more I feel less than and when I compare myself to people who have less I feel guilty. It is a lose/lose proposition.

 

Returning home to my no longer newlywed husband I find myself feeling satisfied as I look around my surroundings. I feel at home in our space. I love our 7’ x 9’ deck overlooking enough trees that one might think it is woods, but it’s not. I like the simplicity. I welcome the familiarity. And I adore the man I picked, and would pick all over again.

 

So perhaps in the end it is all good. Both Shangri-La and middle class are wonderful gifts to be fully enjoyed.

 

It is comparing yourself to others that limits what you can love, mainly in yourself.

More Noticing…There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon

 

This is a book I used to read to my kids. There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent. It is the story of young Bill Bixbee who finds a baby dragon on his bed one morning. He carries the dragon downstairs to breakfast to show his mother. Despite the

dragon standing on the table eating his pancakes, Bill’s mother insists, “There’s no such thing as a dragon.” Bill accepts her view on the situation and the baby dragon grows a bit bigger. Throughout the day, each time Bill tries to show the damage done by the dragon, his mom denies it’s existence and the dragon grows even bigger. Until, by the end of the day, the dragon is so large it carries the house down the street after a bread truck. When Bill’s mom notices her house has been carried off, she finally acknowledges the dragons presence. With her noticing the dragon miraculously returns to kitten size. The story ends with mom petting the dragon while it rests on her lap. “I don’t mind dragons this size,” she says to her son, “I wonder why it had to get so big?” Bill replies,”I think it just wanted to be noticed.”

 

I LOVE this story. In it’s simplicity is it’s wisdom. Often something has to get really big for us to notice it.

 

I can choose not to notice my life’s dragons. Continue reading