My friend Jen Lemen recently posted on her blog her list of her 50 most favoritest things. I have been singing the lyrics from the Sound of Music (raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…) all day as I tried to shake the Monday (end of beautiful weekend) blues. As an exercise in focusing on the positive I decided to compose my very own list right here…right now to help me smile my way into Tuesday…
1. Maxidoodle and friends deep in conversation or in the throngs of imaginary play.
2. Taking a long quiet walk through the woods.
3. Baking bread and then eating it.
4. Armfuls of fresh cut flowers.
5. Musicals of any kind, shape or variety but especially this one.
6. Black tea with milk and sugar made for me by my father (no one makes tea like dad).
7. The smell of hyacith.
8. A fresh breeze blowing through the house.
9. The sound of a wooden screen door closing.
10. The Rhode Island shore-any month of the year.
11. The sound of my mom and aunt singing together.
13. Stationary, ribbons, stickers, journals.
14. Office supplies (I know that’s wierd but I love them, especially little flags that you can put on things to mark them as significant) and the office supply stores where you buy them.
15. A new notebook–preferably a college-rule composition book.
16. Uniball Impact RT gel pens–in black.
17. Music drifting in or out windows.
18. Wandering around a city with Anne.
19. Reading aloud and being read to.
20. Staying up really late talking.
21. First snowfalls.
22. Dancing with Max to music cranked up WAY loud.
23. The month of May.
24. Yarn stores.
25. Silk and bamboo.
26. A week at the lake in Maine.
27. Getting presents (just because). Giving presents (just because).
28. Spontaneous neighborhood get togethers.
29. Friends who show up unannounced.
30. Handwritten letters.
31. Following a stream.
33. Getting up early before the world is awake.
34. Grace O’Malley
35. Bellydancing (in my kitchen or at class)
36. The moment when the phone rings and the person you were just thinking about calls you.
37. Cheese–especially gorgonzola.
38. The Enneagram
39. The library and used bookstores
40. The sound of bells.
41. Chai tea with steamed milk.
42. Drinking tea (or wine) from those wonderful cups Jackie makes that fit perfectly in your hands.
43. Dark chocolate with chili peppers and Oaxacan hot chocolate
44. Ikea and anything Swedish
45. Knitting, knitting and knitting
46. Waking up to find Rosie the cat asleep on top of me
47. Neighborhood cats and dogs who come by to say hello.
48. Sitting on the beach with Erica.
49. A good tough hike.
50. Watching Max sleep
What do you love? What warms your soul and brightens your day? If your life was a musical and you had to sing about your favorite things what would they be?
Last spring I spent the better part of April and May tearing out honeysuckle that had taken over our front hillside. The gorgeous azaleas that had beckoned me home for many springs on end were choking and every night last spring I would rush home from work to chop, tear, rip at the honeysuckle. I felt like it was a metaphor for where I was in my life–ripping out the old clutter to make space for the new. I saved many of the azaleas but there was this one spot on the hill where come June, the only thing left were a few sad bare branches and dead old vines. I meant to dig the sad little stumps out but one thing led to another and my attention wandered away from the hillside. Yesterday I with the beautiful spring weather upon us I once again went armed with shears on honeysuckle patrol. This is what I found.
Renewal is all around us.
Max stood at the door to the classroom trembling. It was early drop off, a ritual he normally tolerated reasonably well, but this time, it was different. His early morning friends weren’t there, the teacher who normally welcomes him was out for the day. And worse still, the only other person in the classroom was a boy who he didn’t know very well. “He’s mean,” he whispered as the other boy, who clearly wasn’t a morning person, glared at us. “Mama, I’m scared.” From the shaking of his little 5 year old body, I knew this wasn’t just “end of the weekend” drama. This was real.
I wanted to scoop him up in my arms, safe and sound, and run home to put on pajamas and read books under a blanket fort. I wanted to rock him and sing to him. But try as I might, I couldn’t quite figure out how to explain to my boss that I missed the sacred Monday morning meeting because we were terrorized by a stony faced preschooler. I knew this was going to have to be a moment where we worked on facing fears. “Max”, I said, “You are going to have to go in there. I know it is scary, but you are very brave.” “Mommy” he barely whispered, choking back the tears, “I can’t. I am not brave. I am really really really scared.” I was desperate. My boss is not a tolerant guy. I asked the universe for help.
And then I surprised myself. I got down eye to eye with him. “Maxidoodle. Do you know what it means to be brave? Bravery is not about being fearless. Being brave means you are really really scared and you try anyway. You are my brave knight. Sure you might be scared but you are going to go in there and try to play with that boy or maybe you will just play by yourself but you are going to have a great day.” His grip on my hand loosened just a bit. “Come on,” I said. “I will go in with you.” And together we walked through that door to face the day’s latest fears. I had tears in my eyes as I left him there, not knowing what the next hour had in store for him. Would he make friends with the new mean kid? Would he be miserable? The only thing I knew as I saw him wave good bye was that at that moment he defined bravery for me.
A few weeks ago, my friend Jen, a soulful writer and illustrator of beautiful pictures opened a new door for me. We were standing on the playground talking. “You should blog,” she said. “I think you would like it.”
“Hmm…really.” I said outloud.
Inside I said, “You have got to be crazy. I am not a writer. I can’t do that–I mean sure I would like to do something like that but really, come on–can’t you see…I am really really scared.”.
At that exact moment I saw the bravest little boy I know flip off the monkey bars, fall on his rear and get up. “Yikes,” he yelled to me. “That was scary!” But he was laughing, his eyes dancing with the excitement of flying. I remembered our little chat about courage.
“Sign me up” I said, my own grip loosening.
I am walking through this door. Hello blog-land. Here I am.