This Veteran’s Day I would be remiss to not place the Freedom of Speech at the top of my list. I am not a Veteran myself, but I come from a family chock full of Vets on all sides, from all branches of the U.S. military. The sacrifices of those who walked ahead, will never be lost on me. It is because of them that I am able to do things like complain about politicians, share my spiritual beliefs, love whomever I want to who also loves me…even if they don’t agree with my stance. Even better, we don’t have to agree in order to appreciate each other.
I think the best part of nature is being in it, especially when the weather is warm. If nothing else was available to me, I would still wish for water. I love the waves, babbling streams, roaring rapids, still ponds, rhythmic tides. I love to watch it from up high. I love to submerge in it up to my nostrils and watch the surface at eye level. Floating with my ears submerged, silencing the noise of the world, as I meditate on the clouds above is the closest thing to Heaven that I have found on Earth.
I grew up on a lake, during the summers. I was a strong swimmer and spent every moment of my childhood possible in a swimsuit and some sort of water. I taught others to swim, and to respect and love the water. Eventually, I taught my own children to swim and pay homage to the gods of swim. And then when I was 28 years old, I almost drowned in a man-made lake, for no reason whatsoever. It would take five years to trust myself in a large body of water again, and I still have nightmares about that day. But I will always go back to her.
I currently have two challenges standing in the way of a giant, pressing goal.
The primary challenge is the lesser of the two. I have a young toddler, and the inability to work outside the home because of that reality. While this is definitely a challenge, it is one I am grateful for. I realize this chapter of my life is merely a bridge, and I attempt to soak in all the bounty and glory of it every single day.
The bigger of my two challenges is my neurodivergent brain, and the doors it has shut in my life.
I’m still working out how to outsmart the former. We’ll get there eventually.
I have been anxious about this prompt since the moment I saw it in the list. What do I love about myself…that won’t also seem arrogant? I haven’t always loved myself, much less any singular thing that could be written about. And I refuse to reduce my worth down to physical attributes. I spent decades drowning in the poisonous expectations of other people who convinced me that I was not up to standards.
Back story: The first conversation I had with my husband was by text on Halloween night. It was 2009 and I was in Ohio visiting family. It was a Saturday night, and I was back at a hotel after kid-centric festivities. He was using the internet at Borders (if you remember that store, you’re welcome for the time warp haha) working his side gig and hoping I would answer his instant message. I had never seen his face, nor heard his voice. I had seen a picture of his face, but it was black and white. I took a leap and gave him my cell number so we could text. I was slightly worried that it was to be a plot point in the murder mystery story about my life, but data was more expensive than texts, and text was faster than instant messaging services on a website — that were not really all that instant. Plus, I was intrigued and didn’t really have a lot going on once the kids were in bed.
We chatted well past midnight and made a date for the following Saturday. We talked through the coming week and I liked this person who was taking up residence in my phone. That said, I never thought it would amount to much of anything. Up to that point, I had not had much luck in love or dating at all. I was more interested in having fun in a new city that was bigger than my own. For the fresh air and perspective. For the distraction from my annoying and busy day life.
It was an unseasonably warm night, much like this weekend. I wasn’t actually sure who I was going to meet, but I’d hoped my intuition would fill me in. I got lost in the parking garage and walked right by him twice. The first pass was an honest miss. The second was a fly by to figure out if I wanted to go through with it. But before I could decide to stick it out or fly forever, he spotted me & excitedly waved me down. What followed was the most exciting night of my life, up to that point. I wrote the following status message once I got home. Apparently he couldn’t sleep either, because we texted until the sun came up the next morning.
Today: What am I grateful for? Today he surprised me by taking the day off so that we could spend time together and enjoy a beautiful “summer” day (in November). I’m grateful for his ability to keep my on my toes, all these years later. I’m grateful for his presence in my life. And I’m grateful for the annual reminders from social media, that I once almost missed out on the grandest adventure.
On Fridays, I sometimes drive my youngest son to his dad’s house. It’s a 45-minute drive one way, and other than the captive company of children in a car, it’s not usually particularly remarkable. We left midmorning to attempt to avoid disrupting the baby’s nap schedule too much. We made a pitstop to the store for some snacks for him, and supplies for the house. The roads were pretty clear and the skies were, too.
I dropped him off and headed home. I was mere moments away from their house when I noticed a sight I hadn’t witnessed on the way up the hill. The descent took us through a tunnel of multicolored leaves hanging on for dear life to gnarled branches. The sensation was not unlike one of those kid-sized burrowing tunnels. As I write this, I’m wondering if those still exist? They were something like flexible plastic dryer vents, but about two feet across with designs on the outside and “air holes” strategically placed throughout.
I wish I had taken a picture, but I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t think of it until much later.
What is something you wear that you are grateful for?
Several categories of clothing come to mind when I ponder today’s prompt: undergarments, socks; pants – jeans, specifically; nursing bras – if you’ve ever tried to nurse a baby in a normal bra, you get it; hair, or styling products; makeup…civilized day to day life would be less so, without so many of the items and products that we wear. However, after much thought I very easily have settled on one simple fact. I am hopelessly sight-challenged, and without my glasses I am nothing but a sad sack of confusion.
Yesterday was Election Day in the U.S.A. and normally, there would be some results by Wednesday morning – or by the afternoon, at least! True to 2020 fashion, this is not the case this year. I have been bracing myself since 2016 for the results of last night’s voter turnout. I stayed up far too late to find out much too little in the way of information and the future of American politics.
So, I will offer a story.
Technically, this happened yesterday but thinking about it made me smile today, too. I took my youngest son to vote. It was his first time voting in any election, and he was nervous. We got through it, and he beamed when he showed me his “I Voted” sticker. My Mama-heart burst a little.
When I went to vote there were no stickers. But I did get to vote without any of the fear mongering scenarios going down, so I consider that a big win. We went home and sent my husband out to vote. When he returned he teased me about voting for “that other guy” (aka, lies!) and handed me a sticker with a wink.
This memory was nice one considering we had a stupid but cutting argument this morning. He left for appointments and errands, and I rage cleaned the house to distract my ADHD brain. When he finally got home in the early afternoon, he apologized and offered to take me to lunch on a “real date” without other humans. It was fun. I’ve missed my husband, and he has missed me. Babies are great, but at the end of the day you cannot live your life for them any more than you can live your life for a stranger.
What is something that is different today from a year ago that you are grateful for?
When I ponder the changes my life has morphed through over the last few years, I am consistently taken aback by how naive I used to be. I was so sure that I had control over my outcome, and that very little outside of myself would affect my outcome – good or bad. If you had asked me a year ago what I thought today would look like, this is not it.
A year ago, we had no intentions of buying property. I had not yet written a novel – even if only a complete rough draft. I was not sure how much longer I would be able stay married. My baby was not yet walking, nor had any teeth. My cat hadn’t returned after 14 months lost in the wild. I still had hopes of returning to nursing school. I never could have imagined that I would be knitting so consistently by now. I didn’t have any children who had graduated high school, twelve months ago. I was afraid of the world, and a United States where hate trumps everything good. I had joked about a “zombipocalypse” for years, but I never actually imagined that a pandemic would shut down our lives for real.
When I try to imagine “one thing” that is different and for which I am grateful, I just cannot. The best answer is – everything is different. From the outside, that probably seems like a copout. It’s not. Every little piece of my life is so amazingly different than it was twelve short/long months ago. And I am grateful for all the valleys and peaks, and the ability to take naps when it all gets too heavy.
While it’s true I was taught by my grandmother how to knit as a child, I’ve only been knitting for real for about a year. I could occasionally figure out how to cast on over the years, but then I’d have needles sit with that row prime for a half decade or more before I’d slide the stitches off, defeated. I finally figured it out when I was invited to Knit Night & was patiently & excitedly taught — once & for all! — how to knit, and finish a project, by my three caballeras of Christ Church Willard: Lesley, Lori & Sue.
But much more than teaching me how to put my anxiety into something useful, you each taught me various truths about womanhood, motherhood, love in practice, perseverance, servant leadership, farming, patience, joy, sorrow, and how to live a humbly Christ-like existence. Thank you for the ears, the guidance, and the laughs. I am grateful for you.