Friday, January 7, 2011

Drowning Your Sorrows

Two Summers ago, the kids and I headed to the pool and found the place virtually deserted. Towels strewn about, chairs out of place, meals left half eaten, and pool toys everywhere. Someone must have gone to the bathroom in the pool, we concluded , but it looked like the "Adult" pool was open for business, so we parked and went in, planning on meeting David for a poolside dinner later. We signed in, I ordered a Pina Colada, and the kids jumped right in, thinking it was cool to be on the Big People side. Everything looked normal, but it felt very wrong. After some small talk and an hour or so of swimming, I finally found out why. A little girl had drowned in the family pool earlier that day. Why did it take so long for someone to tell me and why in the world was any part of the country club pool still open? As the story unfolded later that week, I learned that the pool had been very crowded, three life guards were on duty, parents were everywhere, yet no one noticed until it was too late. I just didn't understand how someone could drown with someone a few feet away. How could no one have noticed this little girl struggling?
It was a Summer later when I read an article about the silence of drowning. It's not the desperate thrashing, arms waiving, crying for help, we see in the movies. The act of drowning is very quiet. The body goes into survival mode and instincts kick in. The arms move close to the body, the feet tread water, and the air for yelling is conserved for breathing. People drown every day without anyone knowing something is wrong.
After that tragedy at the pool, we parents kept closer eyes on our children. I never read a book, talked on a phone, or had in depth conversations poolside. I did see a child in trouble again that summer, and just like I read, I saw only the panic in their eyes, no obvious signs of struggle. I held out my hand and pulled her to safety.
I wish I could have done the same for my sister-in law. She was drowning too, but no one could save her. I think often of what could have been different. Why couldn't she have just taken one of the many hands held out to her. We all wanted to stop her from sinking, but by the time we saw the panic in her eyes, it was too late. The weight of alcoholism and hopelessness was more than any of us could help her bear.
Rebecca Lynn Martin lost her struggle a few days after Christmas this year. In some ways, many of the people who loved her, lost their struggle as well. They never stopped trying to get her to swim to shore. Some of us threw out the life ring, knowing that the safest way to save someone in trouble is to stand on solid ground and hope they grab on. Others dove in selflessly, holding her up, until there own strength was exhausted.
In these first days of 2011, I've spent a lot of time thinking of Becci in her glory days. She was the girl many were jealous of. She was naturally thin with beautiful legs and striking green eyes. And she really loved her clothes, always dressed to the nines. She also had the deep voice that carried through a room like a microphone. We always tease Aidan that he got Aunt Becci's uncanny loudness. Becci also had beautiful hands. It was rare that she didn't have the perfect manicure on those long, graceful fingers. When Camryn was born, one of the first things I noticed were her elegant little fingers. She got Aunt Becci's hands. Everyday I'm reminded of her in my children.
Why Becci couldn't grab on to one of us, we'll never know. I know we never stopped trying to reach her, never stopped throwing out the life ring.
I know drowning is quiet. I have been a witness, a stunned onlooker that can't help.
I now realize that sometimes drowning can be completely silent, the sorrow of life pulling down, until there are only ripples on the surface to show you were ever there at all.
Becci lived with the weight of alcoholism threatening to drag her down everyday. That weight has been lifted. May her spirit soar to the heavens. May she take the hand of God and be lead safely to shore.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Approaching 43...Learning to yield and come to a complete stop.

This might sound like a lesson in "How not to get a ticket in Grove Hill", famous for its' friendly neighborhood sting operation, but it's actually the way I'm going to change my way in 2010.

For once it's not about all the things I'm going to do , like get in shape , eat healthier, keep the house clean, read more, spend less, hug my children, yada, yada, yada. Let's face it, if by 43 it aint happenin', it aint happenin' for a reason.

That reason is me.... the "me" that got me this far, and the "me" that's gotta go , to get me goin' farther. (Try to say that six times fast).

Don't get me wrong. I've gotten to this point because so many of those old resolutions have been resoluted, resolved, whatever the word may be. I'm in pretty good shape, I eat as healthy as I'm willing to pay for, my house will never be clean, I don't have any money, neither of my kids want to be hugged anymore...and now I need a challenge... Now I'm going to the inside.

While so many people are working to get what they want on the outside, myself included, recently I've come to my BIG AHA amount of possessions, surgeries, procedures or shopping trips are going to make me happier. I need to work a little deeper.

So first off, I'm going to try to learn to yield (and no, not to traffic) to people. For those of you that know me, you know I like to be in control. Some people call it "leadership", but when you have a hard time watching your husband clean the kitchen, because he's not doing it "your way", it's called "control freak" . There are times I'd rather do everything myself, for fear it won't be done "my way". I've already started letting David cook on the weekends, and it's true that even a sandwich tastes better if someone else makes it. I'm relinquishing control and letting the counters go un-wiped, the toys unsorted, and the trips go unplanned. I'm "control freaking -out"just typing it.

The second thing I'm yielding to is this aging body. I'm not going to lie and say I've never contemplated having some work done, but I realize now, it was more a reaction to all the work being done around me. Nowadays, there's competition over who's "fake" looks the most real, how some one's "real" has to be fake, and who has the best doctor. Well that little surgery tossing around in the back of my head for a couple of years is tossed out. I'm yielding to my natural body and all that it can do to change itself. If my double chin is competing with my double A's to see which can reach my belly button first, I'm yielding to gravity. If over the counter creams can't tame my laugh lines, I'm going to smile more so you can't see them. I'm going to yield to aging gracefully and feeling good and strong on the inside.

Lastly, and the hardest for me, is I'm going to come to a complete stop . In almost 12 years of marriage, we have lived in six different houses. We seem to barely get our feet on the ground, before we face another transfer, I am always looking toward our next move. The moving truck has barely pulled away and I hear myself starting sentences with "In our next house...." I've decided to stop treating my life like I'm at a "Rest Stop", on my way to our final destination. This is where I am, and I'm going to stop and enjoy. It seems a little late for this, but we've lived here longer than anywhere. I wish I would have planted my feet firmly from the beginning and not held people at bay with "We won't be here long". How do I know?

Well I do know this, I'm here now, and the "here and now" is where I'm living. I'm moving over, letting people in, and aging gratefully. Goodbye Ms. Stubborn, hello Ms. "Be prepared to merge". Let the construction begin.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Images of the Heart

Whew, this post has been a long time coming, and quite honestly, so has this wedding. It seems as if Grace and Ethan have already experienced a lifetime together, both growing up in Memphis, attending the same church, sharing the same friends and both graduating from Auburn. They share a deep history, a strong faith, and many, many, many people who love them.

The wedding was last weekend and since getting home, I've been working hard at downloading, cropping, and reviewing pictures, trying hard to decide which ones captured the beauty of the celebration.

There are none.

The images that stand out in my mind weren't captured in my camera. They were captured in my heart. Here they are in "a thousand words".

Grace's flower girls meeting for the first time and raising their little hands up to touch, palm to palm.

Grace and her Dad walking down the aisle at rehearsal, her dearest friends, family, and Ethan soaking up her unadorned beauty.

Camryn seeing Grace in her wedding dress for the first time, mesmerized by the real princess.

In the keeping room, before the ceremony, Grace on a stool, her gown flowing around her, her bridal party surrounding her in prayer.

Grace's Mom, holding her hand, and thanking God for her Grace.

Grace's friend Effie, singing during the worship service. It was truly the most beautiful, spiritual, uplifting performance I have ever heard.

These images have come back to me so many times in the last week and the love we experienced in those few days will remain with David and I.

Some beautiful things can't be captured with a lens. Those are the times we need to put our cameras down and just revel in the moment.

I'm not surprised I didn't have the picture to do this wedding justice.

As far I know, they don't have the technology to catch the beauty within our hearts.

I don't think I have the words either.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Little Gift

Sometimes gifts come in packages you can't see, can't put your hands on, and are so small you wonder if it's really a gift at all. David and I got one of these gifts on Saturday. It was a returned Christmas card, the only one we got back this year.

As much as I love sending Christmas cards, receiving them is even better. The kids and I watch for the mailman, fight over who's to open each envelope, and then hang them on our card trees. David even goes to the trees first thing when he gets home to see who we heard from that day.

Saturday night, we met up at our favorite pizza place and were talking about the day and of course, I wanted to know if we got any cards. That's when David told me that we got one returned from his high school friend Donny. I wasn't surprised since we hadn't been able to get a hold of them when we were in Michigan, but I wanted to send the card anyway.

For a brief minute or two, we talked about the Lintons and both silently wondered where they had ended up since we last talked. Minutes later, amongst the chaos of the kids, David's phone rang. It was another old high school friend who delivered the news that Donny had been killed in a car accident that morning. It was unbelievable. We were literally talking about him moments before.

As much as I wish that card would have made it there, the "return to sender" gave us those few thoughts of our friend, alive, and enjoying the holiday with his family somewhere. We'll never have those thoughts again.

When we got home that night, I could hardly face that red envelope on the desk. It was a reminder of being too late to get in touch with someone that was important. Then I realized that if it had made it there, it just would have been one of one hundred cards I sent, its' recipient crossed off the list.

So in honor of David's friend Donny Linton, gone at age 40..... get in touch with those friends that you keep meaning to call , send a card to someone you haven't heard from in a while, and appreciate life's littlest gifts.

Rest in heavenly peace Friend.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Very Happy Soul...Frosty that is.

Camryn entertained us at her very first recital in a jazzy little number to "Frosty the Snowman". There are eight three year olds in her class and each one loved every minute of being on stage. I'm amazed at their lack of stage fright and pure joy in performing. This is considered a "demonstration" at her dance school and preps the girls for their big ballet in May, Cinderella. I just can't wait. Waiting back stage for their"costumes".
Concentrating so hard to stay on that star and plie at the same time.

"A jolly happy soul..."

" He came to life one day....."

(look at that form)

"Thumpity, thump, thump...."

"Over the fields of snow..."

I think we're done now.

Yep, we're done.

Aidan being a supportive brother.

Here she is.

The star of the show (ours anyway).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just say "Yes"

"Mommy, they're the same shade as you" said Camryn. We were sitting on the kitchen floor, sink full of dishes, pile of dirt next to the broom, laundry piled on the counter. I had used every form of "no" you imagine that morning (without actually saying N-O). "In a minute", "Just let me finish this", "I've got to get this done", "Mommies has too much to do right now", "I need to fold this before it wrinkles".

And here she comes again with the nail polish. I love that about kids. They don't give up.

"Mommy will you paint my toes?" Elbow deep in dish water, I just didn't have the energy to explain why I couldn't, so I just said "YES, I'd love to paint your toes!".

I don't know why, but I've said "Yes" to every little request since. Sometimes it was something so quick, like snapping Barbie's dress, or pushing play on her princess CD. Other times, it took a couple of minutes...holding her hand through the scary part of Snow White, making her a glass of chocolate milk, drawing a self portrait in crayon.

What's crazy is, I think I spent more time telling my three year old why I couldn't, than I did "doing". I still managed to get tons done and I felt happier.

We all need to put our kids at the top of the "to-do" list. Sit down and share their after school snack, color with them, watch their favorite show, let them help cook dinner. These are the things they'll remember. They won't remember a clean house, they won't know their clothes aren't wrinkled, and they won't care if your pedicure is perfect.

When Camryn's nails were done, they were the same shade as me. But really, I was the same shade as her. Why does it take a toddler to bring us back to our true color? How did I get so caught up in thinking "perfect things" were more important than "perfect moments"?

So my new motto is "If you want to see me, stop over anytime. If you want to see my house, give me a couple days notice". In the meantime, I'll be hugging my kids and saying "yes, there's nothing I'd like to do more".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another

Sometimes life is just a chain of events that that gets longer and longer until it wraps around your ankles and you end up face first on the ground. Welcome to my excuse.

This is how I found my way back here after all this time.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and my Dad is coming from Michigan to spend it with us. I need to have my house decorated for the holidays by "Black Friday". Our attic storage is off of the guest room where my Dad will set up shop on Friday, so this weekend I decided to get out the boxes of stuff to deck the halls and get it all out before my Dad comes. How would I get it done otherwise? Last year all things came together nicely. My creative juices were flowing. This year I felt stuck in the mud and overwhelmed by all the garlands, lights and baubles. I decided to use a cheat sheet and look at pictures from last year and just copy, at least for now. That would be easy because surely I showed off my hard work on blog last Christmas. I logged onto my blog, blew away the cobwebs and intended to skip right to December 2008, make some notes, and run downstairs to re-create.

Then the music started. Man, I love my music. I spent as much time searching for songs as I did on my writing. Every song has a meaning , a memory, an effect on me. I was suddenly in no hurry to go anywhere. I started scrolling and instead of scrolling, I stopped.... and read. An hour later (and a few tissues), I realized something.

I had made a conscious decision to stop blogging when I did. It didn't seem like my family in Michigan was really logging on very much, I wasn't so enthused to keep it "real" anymore, and..... it took time.

Yesterday, I knew that every minute I spent was worth it. Reading back through, it was so clear that I wrote every sentence for me .... from my heart. Every quote by Aidan, every silly thing Camryn did, every commentary on current events, brought me right back there. The weeks I didn't blog still were lived, but I can't get them back in the same high definition. I couldn't get logged in quick enough to capture as much of my life as possible.

So maybe I will be the only one who ever bothers to read what I have to say. There might not be so many picture stories either. It was the words that held me, like secret little notes passed between friends.

So that brings me to this. I never found any pictures of my decor from last year, but my search lead me back to my blog ( which will definitely have a post titled "Holiday Decor 2009). Happy me, from me.