BoxLunch and Happy Compassion

We have a BoxLunch store at our local mall, Chandler Fashion Square.

This store is a combination of business sense, whimsy and compassion.

I’d never noticed it because I’m usually flying by unfamiliar stores at light speed on my way to Sephora. But, this past Saturday I was glancing around frantically hoping for a last little birthday present for youngest daughter’s 21st birthday. Still moving faster than is safe because I never allow enough time to complete anything, and desperately searching every store window for a glimmer of an idea, I thankfully saw what might be the perfect gift for her from her dog….A Christopher Robin Cook Book sat off to the side in the window with a sign near it that said: 

After blissfully glancing through the recipes and wisdom inside, I purchased the book and in the process donated 2 meals to United Food Bank in Mesa.

Our family loves everything Pooh related…I even knew I would marry my husband on our first date when we discovered we both loved, and felt that deep down we were,Tigger. Winnie the Pooh and his woodland friends covered the walls of our daughters nurseries and remain our most beloved connections among our family. My daughter loves to cook and the book ended up being a great gift. She loved it.

To find a store that would sell the most perfect birthday present and make a difference, not only in our community, but in every store location was a total score. Goodness exists in the most surprising of places.

Have you been in a BoxLunch store yet?

BoxLunch is partnered with Feeding America and has donated 20 million meals through their 100 locations here in the states. So cool. I am inspired to give more just because I see what is possible by combining fun and generosity. I hope you will also be inspired to do the same. Their motto is: Get Some. Give Back. I’m good with that!

If ever you need a pick me up in Chandler, stop in, your entire day will suddenly perk right up just by looking in the window. Harry Potter, BB-8, Rick and Morty, Stranger Things and Monsters, Inc. will all smile back at you. Allow yourself a moment of fun. There is energy and endorphins and silly delight waiting just inside. Then take your mood out into the world and see where you can spread this new found sense of being.

Our local store is at the top of escalators on the left as you head to the food court. If you do go in, please leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it! Click here to find a store in your ‘hood.

Christopher Robin and Donate a Meal caught my eye and brought a smile to my daughter and 2 meals to a hungry human being. Goodness is right where we choose to stop and look.

“There is knowledge, there is wisdom, the difference is compassion.” The Tao of Pooh

Rough Week?

My act of kindness this week was not killing anyone. The difference between me and people who actually do kill people is I never actually think about snuffing out a life. This week I just wanted to defend myself, in an angry tone, with a strongly worded text, and I didn’t. I listened and realized the attack wasn’t about me, it was about them, and in that moment of clarity, I calmed down.

A couple of difficult people passed through my life this week and made me question the future of humanity. I’m a theater teacher and I direct musicals for younger kids during the summer. Shockingly, there are stage parents who believe their child is the most talented kid in any room! This was my first time dealing with such vehement aggression on this topic. Not everyone was born to play Annie…if you are 14, 5’10”, or a male with your voice changing who can’t be heard 5 feet away, I probably will not cast you as the tiny orphan Annie. Especially if there is an 11-year-old with a Broadway belt available. Sigh. It’s over now and I am proud to say, in this particular instance, that I was patient. Not so much on the drive home, so by the time I got home it was time to retreat from reality.

One of my fave comfort movies is You’ve Got Mail. I rented it and retreated to the couch, applied a dog and a cat on feet and tummy and disappeared until this scene virtually jumped out at me. Pretty sure this captures both sides of most difficult encounters.

Are you Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan when confronted by someone who belittles your existence? Do you become tongue-tied or do you say the thing you most want to say only to be filled with remorse the second after you’ve said it? I am both and I’d love to hear from you how you handle challenging individuals. Seriously.

It seems there’s always someone, or something, trying to steal my joy. I’m a flawed human being. I’m reckless and clumsy so I’m almost always in pain which depresses me and makes being open and friendly just that much more challenging. But,I am determined to change the world one smile at a time, even if it kills me, which it almost has a couple of times.I can’t be the only person who struggles with trying to be a light in my corner of the world, all the while being a flawed human surrounded by other flawed humans.

I honestly do love to meet new people, to smile and sincerely ask store clerks how they’re doing, to find the humor in every situation, to look into a student’s eyes to see what’s really going on under the surface, but I feel it needs to be said, that sometimes, I fail.

Here’s how I manage to leave my house, my tormented brain and body, and attempt to be a bright spot to those around me:

♥   I choose to believe everyone is doing their best, including me, knowing it isn’t always the case. We all get tired and frustrated and want to lash out.

We all seem to have an element of fear lurking just under the surface now in our country, and well, the world, which makes us careful and suspicious and is exhausting.

♥   It is vitally important to stop to play every day. I learned this from father and it has sincerely saved my life more than once. 

♥   Ideas for playing:

A quick game on your phone.  Candy Crush and Tetris work for me. It turns out there is scientific proof games that include dropping columns help release anxiety and PTSD. Tetris and Trauma

A funny cat video: in fact, start your day with a funny cat video and everything else immediately becomes a lighter burden, maybe even burden-less. Sail Cat (no cats were harmed during this filming. WATCH THE EARS!) I laugh every single time I watch this.

Call and speak out loud to a friend you love.

Thank God for giving us a sense of what’s funny and the ability to laugh at our predicaments.

I believe laughter is a sacred sound to God. It let’s Him know we are enjoying being His creation.” Tim Hansell

DANCE BREAK! Ask Alexa to play your favorite song and bust a move. This is my favorite personal coping mechanism and it works like magic.

That’s it for now. Hope this helps diffuse even one icky interaction.

 

Black Rock Coffee Bar-A Very Good Place

Black Rock Coffee Bar

We have this great place in my hood to meet for coffee, or to get a little work done with a cup of coffee out among other human beings. The first time I walked into this new place to meet a friend, Kathy (she’s very nice, you should try to meet her there for coffee too), I immediately noticed that I suddenly was in a better frame of mind. I almost never notice things like that, but goodness is obvious here the moment you walk in.

Coffee brings us together, doesn’t it? It’s a bit of a treat. It provides a socially acceptable meeting location for our stimulant fixes.

It’s possible that the late, great, NBC sitcom Friends and Central Perk may have given us this gift of a great way to hang together. Phoebe, Joey, Rachel, Chandler, Ross and Rachel became a family at Central Perk.

We meet friends or get a pick me up to brighten our days at coffee houses. If you’re ever in my area, I strongly urge you to go to Black Rock Coffee Bar! This is who they are:

THE WAY WE LIVE

We strive for excellence in everything we do in life. Our crafted drinks are a way we show respect for our customers and ourselves. They are the beginning of a relationship built on trust and care that through time grows to see our stories unfold in our city.

As part of local communities, each Black Rock Coffee Bar team finds ways to serve their neighborhoods. And by doing so we help raise the bar for relationship and compassion.

As relationship grows, so does accountability. We hold each other to higher standards for the good of all. Whether it be care for nature, care for those in need, or just a sincere desire to see others do well, we learn to expect a lot from each other and a lot for our customers.

Our priority at Black Rock is not for others to know who we are and what we do… but for others to allow us to know them, to add fuel to their story, and to share in the journey.

MORE THAN GREAT COFFEE
No person is an island. No matter how many friends we collect on our devices, there will always be a longing to truly know others and be known. At Black Rock, our aim is to fuel that fire by being more than a place for coffee… we are a place for connection. Whether she’s a barista, an owner, or he’s a customer, supplier or neighbor: we’re all crafting our story one day at a time, one connection at a time.

When I grow up, I want to be just like the peeps that began Black Rock Coffee Bar. My local one is in Chandler, AZ, but they exist in several cities. Check out their website to see if there’s one near you and then stay there to read every single word about who they are. I was inspired to become a better person just by reading their website. Truly.

Are you busy this Sunday at 1:00 PM? Cause I’m gonna be at the Chandler location working on my laptop and enjoying some form of espresso. Come on by and say hi! We can chat. Maybe we’ll become Friends. You’ll find my picture on the home page and my laptop has the initials KB in gold glitter on the cover. Even if no one shows up, I will be happier just because I got to spend time among kind people. I hope you’ll stop by though! I’ll see if Kathy can come…you’ll like her.

hope you’ll at least drive through for a delicious cup of coffee one day when you need a little goodness. Smile at your barista and tell them Karen sent you!

 

Baristas from Left to Right: Dakota, Lindsee, Maddy. I hope I spelled your names correctly. You are all fantastic!

 

The Kindness War

“There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”

Stephen Stills 1967

Kindness is at war with evil.

The battle lines are being drawn by celebrities, politicians, comedians, some cats, my next door neighbor. It’s a battle to fight violence, judgement, hatred, intolerance, apathy, by way of being consciously kind.

It’s a victimless war.

It’s a hard time to believe in people right now–between child detention, the constant revelations of the #MeToo movement, the racial, economic and gender-based injustices we witness every day.

It could not be a better time for a movie about Mister Rogers. But, when has there ever been a time when it wasn’t a good idea to listen to a peaceful man? Our family went to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor this past weekend. It was a 10 PM showing on a Friday night after a long week. We were in recliners at the Harkins at the mall. I had a glass of champagne to sip during the movie. Our kids came with us, they’re 20 and 22, and we’d all been swimming in 110 heat for most of the day.  Although,It was the perfect storm to sleep from opening to ending credits, no one slept. It was even kinda riveting. It’s a very quiet, beautiful film about a very quiet, beautiful man who embodies unconditional love. He makes seeking kindness first seem easy. It isn’t always. But, Fred Rogers shows that kindness is a choice we can make daily, that feelings are important and valid, and that love, or its vacancy, is the dynamic force behind our actions.

And then there’s Lady Gaga!!! She’s so much more than we were led to believe at her beginning. She is actively speaking out to make a difference in the world she sees. Personally, I see humans in most places trying to change the world by spreading kindness.

Here’s a thing: To be consciously kind takes a little effort, but not nearly as much as hate requires.

Then! Here in Chandler, is my friend Helen. Un-frickin-believable Helen.

If she reads on facebook that I’m sick or injured, which, to put into perspective, I am injured/sick more often than not-that-way, she goes into high alert as to how she can ease my pain. For exp: a coffee mug of George Clooney’s self-portrait (a personal fave), An In-N-Out gift card, root beer, chocolate covered cherries when my father died because he loved those things, anything from Disneyland that involves magic or Tigger. These perfect gifts will just appear on my doorstep, and after Helen ding dong ditches at a speed only a 5 year-old should be able to achieve, I will open the door to see only the evidence of love and compassion sitting in a potted plant. I’m just one of hundreds of people she stalks for goodness.  My daughter, Hannah, calls her S.O.G. for Sister of God. We are humbled by her very nature. S.O.G. you rock.

Let’s be Helen today and do one thing for one person who doesn’t expect or maybe even deserve a little surprise. Even a flower from your yard on their front door is enough. Let me know if you actually do this please!

Your one act of kindness shared can reach the world. This little blog alone is reaching Russia. You have a chance to reach across this huge cultural divide just by saying “Hi.” Or “I put a flower on my neighbors door. They never noticed it…”

Aforementioned cat changing the world…

Neighbors For Good

I see a world where we continually define ourselves by the way in which we are divided.

Our family moved to Chandler, Arizona from Los Angeles 18 years ago. We found a nice house we could almost afford in a safe neighborhood. My husband and I had two small daughters at the time. I suggested leaving L.A. the day helicopters were hovering over our house bellowing repeatedly through a blow horn for everyone to lock all doors and windows and stay inside. An armed robber was thought to be hiding in one of our backyards after shooting the owner of our corner grocery store. I love LA, but life in Chandler has been way less “survival of the fittest.”

The first day of house shopping brought us into 20 identical, beige, stucco houses in 20 different neighborhoods between Scottsdale and Chandler.

Amazed at the lack of trees or anything green and the sheer amount of people that chose to landscape with beige rock, I decided we should stay in LA and  take our chances. But, we tried one more house, at the urging of our eager realtor, and there, gleaming like a diamond rising up through beige stucco were the most beautiful cherry wood cabinets. We would never be able to afford cherry wood in LA, so we moved. And stayed. And planted grass and trees and painted our house a rebellious taupe. We still live in the same house we bought 18 years ago in the Fox Crossing/Ocotillo neighborhood of Southern Chandler. We landed in such a good place.

Here is what I have grown to love/sometimes find annoying about living in our ‘hood:

OUR NEIGHBORS!

Across the street is Danielle’s family. Danielle calls me on occasion just to see if there is anything she can do for me. I teach her daughter how to play the piano. Danielle and her husband helped us move furniture we inherited from my sick mother into the house at an ungodly hour one Saturday morning. Their son has rescued our flight risk of Chewiethedog at least 3 times just because he saw her fun by his driveway. On his own initiative he hopped on his bike and ran her back home. He’s not that old. This family inspires me to reach out beyond my driveway. Every neighborhood needs a Danielle and fam.

Jeff and Katie are the neighborhood welcoming committee. Friendly, always ready to lend a hand or a tablespoon of chillies, and well, they’re so much fun. Jeff own’s a pool service, works early hours, comes home for lunch and is frequently home to play with his kids when they’re done with school. He loves his stunningly beautiful and wise wife, Katie. Katie, Jeff and Danielle are incredible examples of, well, the perfect neighbors. So, I’m trying to be that too….it’s a work in progress.

Here on our cul-de-sac we are divided by fences and garages, politics and income, interests and age. But, I’ve noticed that here on our little street we are better defined by our similarities. We are all humans, we are all a part of a family, we are all neighbors.

If you had told me when I was 10, 20, 30, that I would want to live in a suburb one day, I would’ve never spoken to you again. But now that I’m here I see that suburbs are essentially good, and therefore valuable. We take care of each other here. We are defined by the commonality of being alive.

Neighbors are anyone who you happen to be standing near. For today, I’m going to define myself as a neighbor first and try to let the rest of the crap go, i.e.: politics, interests, keeping up with the Joneses, age…barking dogs (not that our dog doesn’t bark too).

It’s nice here in Fox Crossing. I’m so grateful the cherrywood cabinets yelled at me.

Is your neighborhood this nice? Do you like your neighbors? Do you want to like your neighbors? I’d love to hear how your ‘hood is working out for the good of it’s inhabitants.

If your neighborhood is not this nice, I suggest that you through a party in your driveway and invite every single neighbor. We have a fire in our driveway for Halloween and place invitations on every house the week before. It’s been a game changer. If you try this, let me know how it goes!

This is Jeff’s business! Hayden Pool Service! He’s really good at this stuff! If you call him, tell him I sent you.

Thanks for stopping by for the read.

“Hi” never started a war.

Just For Today

Maybe just for today we can find a way to offer hope just by being open to someone else’s walk through humanity. In my opinion, this is vitally important because now more than ever, Americans seem to rise up through tragedy just too often to keep going on. 

Jane, a friend of mine from my distant adolescence in California, posted this on Facebook after one of our way too many mass shootings, or maybe it was in response to the divisiveness of our political climate…

“This is how I have been trying to live my life in my community. I think it makes a difference somewhere. As America figures this all out, I’m going to be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, saying good morning, being patient with a waiter, and smiling at strangers, as often as I am provided the opportunity. Because I will not stand idly by and let children live in a world where unconditional love is invisible. Join me in showing love to someone who may not necessarily deserve it. Find your own way to swing the pendulum in the direction of love. Because today, sadly, hate is winning. Just be nice to a stranger today and everyday.” 

I have been the recipient of love and forgiveness when I didn’t deserve it, sadly, a lot…From Jane, from my parents, and husband and children and way too often, in traffic. On a daily basis I need to be reminded to see every person as they were originally created to be. This is actually how I start each day: A very quick prayer asking to see each person as they were meant to be, usually said as I’m literally running everywhere and traveling too quickly through my life. It helps my patience and level of joy, especially on days when I could swear I have neither.

Maybe give this little thought/prayer a try tomorrow morning and see if you react differently as you wildly go about your daily life too. Then, if we crash into each other on the road or at the grocery store or waiting in line at Pei Wei, we’ll be quicker to forgive ourselves and each other in this moment where we don’t necessarily deserve it.

I’d love it if you’d let me know if this helps at least you, if not everyone you encounter for the rest of your life, or at least for the next 15 minutes. Maybe 15 minutes will be enough to change your attitude for the day, or week, or forever.

This attitude might ripple across the street and eventually move on to Romania and Rio de Janeiro and possibly even Rough and Ready, California. We only need to be a little light to make a difference.

Just a little flame, not a bonfire.

How do you start your day?

How To Change The World

peace-clip-art-at-vector-clip-art-free.png
It can be as close as next door. 

On October 1, 2017, Steven Paddock had a psychotic break in Las Vegas and unleashed a string of bullets onto unsuspecting country music fans across the street from his hotel. No one saw it coming and no one knows why. Our world seems lost and out of control.

Ten years ago, I had an idea during a fabulous weekend retreat. The Walk To Emmaus. http://azemmaus.org/

On fire with a thousand grand ambitions when I got home, I started showering my children with affection, “Hannah, I made you some toast, my precious child of God.”

Hannah liked being showered with toast, and so I branched out and experimented with various cashiers in our neighborhood stores. I just said, “Hi” to them though. No toast. The feedback was instantaneous; my kids were surprised, “What happened to you?” And more than once at Wal-Mart, cashiers remarked, “Your kindness does not go unnoticed. It makes a difference. Thank you.” 

Yesterday, I watched Charlene, a cashier at my corner Albertsons calmly help a frustrated, elderly woman who had never been in an Albertsons. This woman, wearing a confusing outfit in which not one plaid article of clothing matched, was fixated on how to use the key pad to complete her transaction, while complaining on the illogical placement of everything in, not only this store, but in this state. 

“Where are you from?” Charlene quietly asked with a smile, but the mismatched woman couldn’t answer, the keypad was just too baffling. In what seemed like a generation went by, Charlene, smiling the entire time, got the elderly woman successfully on her way and was still nice to the next customer in her checkout line. I think this transaction would’ve aged me.

A study, that I had nothing to do with, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed when we act kindly toward one person, that person is much more likely to be kinder toward others in the future. The researchers played a game that rewarded greed, (cool??) and found that a single act of kindness could produce dozens more. If you’re nice to John in Round 1, he’d be more likely to be nice to Kristen in Round 2, and they both would be more likely to be nice in Round 3. It was a ripple effect of kindness. It starts as a single act, but it keeps spreading outward affecting so many more.

This other guy, Edward Lorenz, in a MIT study over 50 years ago, uncovered a kind of miracle about the way nature works: small changes can have large consequences. He discovered the “butterfly effect” when he suggested that the flap of a butterfly’s wings might ultimately cause a tornado.

Charlene is nice to the lost, mismatched, elderly woman who then is a little nicer in the next new store where she probably will be lost again. Charlene flapped her wings. 

We can change the world in our own neighborhoods one smile at a time. Maybe, one kindness has the power to stop a random act of violence for at least a second. I’ll bet Steven Paddock’s world did not shower him with toast, or smiles. 

Be the butterfly. 

“Hi” never started a war.

Just start next door. When was the last time you said hi to your neighbor?

 

My Name is Mom, Not God

This is the same story as told in: “It’s Been Five Days Since You Left, But We’re Still Here and You’re Not and It Is So Quiet.”  But, I sought help from Kevin McGeehan and this is how it evolved. I just wanted to put it out into the world beyond the one storytelling event I was brave enough to enter. Which was my event. I produced it. So, not really all that brave.

A different take on the same event:

There are six of us in this tiny space: proud grandparents, anxious parents, Hannah-the-Freshman, and Talia-the-supportive-little-sister who is singlehandedly organizing what appears to be a closet. Everyone is shoving “necessary” items wherever they could fit, except for me. Overwhelmed by debilitating fear I am useless in this chaotic room. I just stand in the middle of chaos clutching my favorite pair of Hannah’s shoes. All motherly devotion seems irrationally transferred onto these shoes. 

I’m jolted out of my inertia when Hannah’s new roommate, Christine, suddenly pitches into the room, drunk. Christine, all tanned boobs and short shorts squeals “HANNAH!!!” and lunges forward on her stiletto’s to give Hannah an insincere hug. Christine is the embodiment of every parental nightmare: a partying freshman roommate. The predator.

  Not knowing what to do, I do what I do best. Freeze. This is not my first time lost in motherhood.

When Hannah was a week old she got an audition for a commercial. At the time,  we were actor’s living in L.A. Hannah booked the job and at ten days old shot a national commercial.

  She was adorable during the casting: alert, quiet. Perfect. On the day of the shoot though, she wouldn’t stop screaming. I didn’t know what to do, I just stood there, frozen, listening to her cry and wincing at every dirty look from…everyone.

After what felt like a few years had passed, the director called to “remove the crier.” A surely assistant director handed her over like a bag of squid. I grabbed her, ran out into the hallway and clutching her to my chest begged her to forgive me. I didn’t rescue her. I’m the Mom and I blew it. When her gasping sobs stopped, I held her out to look at her scrunched up little face.

 I swear she smiled at me. I stopped breathing for a second. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. “I promise I will never leave you.” I swore this would be my last mistake as Mom.

  18 years of mistakes later, the day has come to move out of her childhood home into her freshman dorm. On the sidewalk in front of our house, a sobbing Hannah could not let go of Andrew, the-stunned-soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. About to attend universities in separate states, it didn’t look good for the long run.

  Hannah and Andrew dated during their senior year and, of course, he asked her to the prom. Hannah bought her dress with her own money, a sparkling, soft pink, strapless gown. It cost four times what I was willing to pay for a prom dress.

  I bought her shoes, and because Andrew is not tall, Hannah, in a shocking turn from her usual CFM’s was determined to wear flats. We found a pair of Steve Madden sandals with rhinestones imbedded in clear plastic straps and a beige plastic sole. They looked pretty cheap in the box. But when she put them on the clear plastic straps disappeared and the sparkles wrapped around her feet as if held on by magic. They were the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen.

I borrowed them once. I felt magical. For a moment, Hannah and I shared these pretty, pretty shoes. In a moment, I must relinquish the girl with the memory of a sweet dance in beautiful shoes with a handsome boy.

  Back in the dorm room the magic shoes seem cemented in my fist. The perfect place to leave them doesn’t exist. Christine might want to borrow them. Christine could ruin the shoes.  

  Of the two girls who are about to live in this dorm, I love one so very much, but I relate to one of them so much more.  I was Christine when I was 18. I know this enemy. It used to be me.

  Without looking at anyone other than Hannah, Christine slurs “Nice to meet you” to the room in general and is gone as fast as she came. Watching Christine leave I realize I have no control over this situation. I probably have never had control over any situation ever. Because I am only Mom. Not God.

18 years ago I had no idea she would be the one to leave.

  I step on the printer to climb over the mini-refrigerator and sit next to her on the long, single bed. I reluctantly hand her our pretty, pretty shoes. “Please. Stay. Strong.  Do not lend these to Christine. I would like to see them again.” Hannah just laughs, “Mom, the shoes and I can both stand up to Christine.”

Our time is almost up. “If you ever need anything Hannah, you can always come crying to me. I think I’m ready for you now.“

  Out in parking lot the proud grandparents drive away first. The sobbing, mascara stained sisters cling to each other as our existing world changes forever. There is nothing my husband and I can do to ease the pain of their separation. We can only stand aside and watch. What I want to say to my pair of beautiful girls is, “I promise I will learn to let you go.”

What I actually say as I hug Hannah goodbye, “Take your vitamins and be gentle when you break up with Andrew.”

  College, it’s the real world transition for the parents, not just the kids.

Shoes pictured are not actual size. Or the actual pair mentioned in post. Just really pretty and very similar to aforementioned sandals.

 

No Promises

I have time to write at the moment. I read through previous blog posts so I don’t repeat myself – too much. I came across this piece and thought it might be worth re-visiting. 
It is now edited a little and it comes with a question: 
Is there anyone else who, despite the terror of being tied down, made the decision to get married and have children and realized you looked fear/phobia in the eye, and replied “yes” instead of “I don’t know” and now your life is better because the word “yes” or “okay” was said out loud?
Please leave me a comment if this is you. Even if it isn’t. I’d love to hear any story.  I have time to read it and reply. Maybe it will be inspiring to look back at your life and find something good came from sticking to a choice. 
No Promises
(first published in 2011)

I have commitment issues. 

I can’t even spell commitment. Spell check has fixed it every time I’ve written it. Which is exactly 2 times as of this writing. Spell check fixes imperfect thought patterns – doesn’t it?

The mere confrontation by another person just to set a date with me (and I do view it as a confrontation) invokes an immediate back pedaling deep in my soul.

At first an invitation has promise and hope, so I want to reply; “Yes, I’d love to meet for lunch or marry you or circle the globe.” But the inevitable fear induced answer is said instead. “I’ll check my schedule and get back to you… However, my schedule is not available at the moment.” Loosely translated this means, “I don’t know if I’ll feel like doing that then.”

If I agree to a lunch date, I may not be able to make the 8 other places I’ve sort of committed to already. There are no small decisions. Each act must be weighed carefully so to avoid as much regret as possible.

When I replied “okay” to my husbands marriage proposal it was a hesitant, shaky, wimpy answer. Which really meant: I can answer with a confident yes after we’ve been married and had two children who make it to their teens. I’ll know then. Maybe. But, a couple of questions first – IF I marry you, will your kisses still make my knees tremble next year? Will you still want me when the biggest choice of my day is to tuck my boobs into my pants or throw them over my shoulder? Will I want you sleeping right next to me every single night? Will there be no other men? Ever?

I’ve been married to a wonderful, strong, caring man for 21 years because some very wise friends told me he was the best man they knew. They were right – which I realized on the honeymoon and most, if not all, of the days since.

No one has ever asked me to circle the globe with them. I would need to check my schedule before I replied “Yeah, no. But thanks.”

I go kicking and screaming into anything that’s good for me: marriage, child-bearing, roughage. But I willingly and easily jump into anything that isn’t, for exp: I moved to NYC when I was 23 with $200 in my pocket and that is all the money I had to my name. I easily choose wine and Fritos for dinner over, say, a salad. Laying comatose on the couch watching The Big Bang Theory while having wine and Fritos seems a good use of time. 

And obviously, flirting is more exciting than promises-well, duh….

Maybe it’s really the choice of fun versus lifelong healthy goals that’s the issue. Not committment. (I CANNOT spell that word!) (Why can’t spell check spell it either? Does everyone, including computer applications, have this same issue?)

WHY do I run from people and healthy food and a secure future? Only guessing, but I think it may be because I’m a product of the sixties. I just want to be free – to go back to a world before commitments, before life as I know it – back to before – when there were no promises to keep.

I do not have a full time job – I have 8 part-time jobs. Full time seems like such a lot of time in one place….I have 20 ex-boyfriends, 1 husband, 2 daughters, 3 pets and I’m 52 (it has been 5 years since I wrote this. I’m not 52 anymore. Time went on and I haven’t changed). I’ve committed somewhere – or at least should be…I have been married for 21 years and the daughters are still living. (Yay me!?)

Maybe it’s a good sign I know I’m flaky and scared. I have not ended up alone. I show up when I make a lunch date. I’m late, but I do show up eventually. I have love. And spell check. I have promises I made and will eventually keep. Maybe even before the compelling deep in my soul to skip freely away – wins.

My knees still tremble at the promise and commitment in my husband’s voice-and in his kisses-maybe he’s my spell check. 

5 A’s and a C

5 A’s and a C. Her grades for the final semester of her freshman year in college. 6 classes. All of them academic with deep, theoretical, thought provoking concepts. Well except for 1 unit of modern dance. For which she ran in circles and rolled on the floor to achieve her A. Actually, I guess that can be thought provoking.

5 A’s. And what is the question everyone asks?

What’s up with the C?

I didn’t have to ask. I knew. Thank God I knew. Because that means I asked throughout the semester and listened and remembered the answer.

I really thought English or Critical Cultural Concepts was gonna be the kicker. But, no. It was the subject that was easy in high school.

So this means there were 6 surprises for this first year away from home. 6 that I know of any way.

1) She finished her first year with 35 credits and a 3.9 something GPA. (I could not have done this.)

b) She didn’t leave college to marry her high school love.

3) She didn’t fall apart when she had every opportunity to cave. We had the roughest issues with our family this year that no one knew how to handle, and she had to handle them alone in a dorm room shared with well, let’s just say, a roommate who came to college for the extended party, not the thought provoking concepts. As well as surgery on her toe the first week of the year at the student health center (Oh Dear God this was terrifying! and she said quite painful), a break-up with the boyfriend she didn’t marry…and there’s even an, etc or two.

4) Not really so much a surprise as a welcome unveiling, it turns out that so far, she is a determined, hard-working, sensitive, strong woman.

5) Everyone, except me, asked about her C grade before they congratulated her on getting 5 A’s. (Yay me!) (It’s the only “Yay me!” I’m allowing myself this year.)

6) The C was in Math. Apparently, it was harder than expected.

She is happily home now with a tremendous sense of humor about the C in math.

Home for only a minute before she leaves to volunteer with International Student Volunteers on an Elephant preserve and teach the poorest kids in a rural community in Thailand.

She sounds too good to be true. She is!

However:

Her floor here has disappeared under enough clothes to cover all of the poorest in the rural communities in Thailand and none of them are clean.

I don’t believe she has eaten a vegetable since last August. I was hoping she would gain the “Freshman 35” but, she adamantly disagreed and only gained 5 lbs.

She seems to have inherited from me an instinct to watch romantic comedies as priority over anything else.

Well, and, of course, there’s the C in Math.

And I’m sure 1000 other idiosyncrasies and questionable behavior I have thankfully missed.

All of it: her living, her love of life, her desire to help, her C, are all…Grace.

I still believe God gave me children to increase my prayer life. My knees are worn-out and the time spent there has been worth all the moments in-between and hopefully yet to come.

If you would love to help my idealistic Hannah on her journey to start saving the world – here’s a link that will inspire you to do so!!

https://www.volunteerforever.com/volunteer_profile/hannah-burns