mantras

mantras

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A week ago, two beloved friends came to visit.
The four of us met when all but one of us was in physical therapy school in Minnesota. Carl and I had been married three weeks before the program at Mayo began.

When we learned of the possibility of a visit during their travels, my whispered mantra was “calm your crazies!”

I have a tendency to shift into perfection mode when we have company. Perhaps it’s heightened now as busy schedules have caused us to not be as practiced as once upon a time. Somehow my desire to extend a welcome becomes a tangled knot of also wanting our home to resemble a magazine layout. 

Calm your crazies.

My intention was to be present and not hurry. I wanted to bask in listening and speaking words and not be consumed by the funny little idiosyncrasies of our home. I didn’t want to become wrapped up in the imagined ways our home lacks and miss the plentifulness of the precious souls in front of me. I hoped to wave goodbye without regret for a wasted time of worry when I could have savored the time with dear friends.

Calm your crazies.

So we cleaned because why would you not.

Then we allowed our emotions to bubble over with excitement and anticipation.
We have been friends for almost 34 years, all of our marriages. They were our first couple, the ones we spent nearly every non-studying or working moment together with. We share the history of unwrapping the newness of marriage and babies.
Although none of us could land on the exact amount of time passed, we believe it has been over 20 years since we had been in each other’s presence.

We collectively look older, our joints not as pliable although our minds and mouths raced with stories and questions. It was as if we stepped into our own personal time machine for about 36 hours. We all had experienced the expanse of time marching us toward middle age, raising children to adulthood and dousings of joy and sorrow. The only difference in our conversations was the passage of time, not affection or affinity. Our time apart felt like a long pause before completing a thought, a soul connection without awkward silences only reassembling of lives.

They arrived when the fear of Coronavirus was just beginning to rise. It is a strange reality to know, but not know if contact could be dangerous. We risked the possibility and maybe it was unwise but there was hugging involved. There was plenty of handwashing as well. We sided with love mingled with wisdom.

If there is one truth or anchor Carl and I have built our married life on, it’s this:
When in doubt, love more.
When we have no idea what to do, we err on the side of loving.
It’s not about being heroic, it simply makes sense to us, because love is never wrong.

The reality has arrived regarding the magnitude of this pandemic. This is fragile and new territory for us to walk through together and apart.
I hope during these first days to have my movements originate from a place of love and extend my resources outward and not corral them. I want to replace the mantra of last week with several new ones.

I will pray and laugh and weep with those who weep.

I will find new ways to stay in contact with the people I love and value in my life.

I will list the people I have lost contact with and share my affection for each one of them.


I will stay informed and maintain my rhythms and routines.


I will read books and number my blessings each day.


I will extend myself grace when I watch Netflix too much or eat something purely for comfort.


I will use technology for good and take walks to witness spring’s arrival.


I will share my disappointment with those whose plans and lives have been turned upside down with the speed of an email or news crawl.


I will refrain from assigning blame and speak words of kindness even when it is a challenge.

I will view this time as more opportunity to lock eyes with the people in my home.

I will pull out the board games and give attention to neglected areas in my home.

I will check my spirits and not forget to reflect on those beyond my walls.

I will take regular breaks from social media and the news.

I will laugh every day.

I will pray.

Above all, I will calm my crazies.

darkness and light

darkness and light

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This was my view when I entered our bathroom this morning.

It wasn’t a staged photo opportunity.

It simply was the pile of supplies used during the course of yesterday to treat

a child battling a cold.

I had just finished calling the school to document his absence

when I noticed the candle’s close proximity to the medication line-up.

Choose Happiness.

My word for 2014 is relinquish.

This word has taught me many lessons over these past 11 months.

Although the word relinquish seems to float effortlessly off

my tongue, I have choked on this word a fair amount.

The photo above illustrates what I have come to know deeply.

Our days are littered with opportunities

to relinquish,

to yield,

to give up,

to release our hold

on circumstances that careen

into our paths.

But there is always the possibility of reaching

towards the light hovering next

to every situation.

For me to live a life of relinquishment

requires making incremental adjustments

throughout the course of my day.

If I don’t learn how to yield even

in the smallest

areas of my life,

when the big stuff comes,

(and it will come),

I will succumb to holding on with a death grip.

My small area today is a sick Caleb,

throwing the balance of my

day’s plans out of alignment.

I can choose to care with love or

I can care with an attitude.

Have you ever taken care of someone with

a poor mental mindset?

Has someone cared for you with a

crummy mood?

If not, I am sure we can all use our imaginations

as to how this might look or feel.

When I exercise relinquishment,

I don’t always have to prove I am right.

I don’t always have to have the last word.

I don’t have to demand the answers

to my questions this very minute.

I can choose to give someone the right of way,

literally and figuratively.

While driving, I can pause and give an oncoming car

the right of way.

Yet I often speed up believing if I am

faster, I’m not really impeding their journey, right?

Perhaps relinquishing isn’t about choosing

the path of happiness but rather the  bumpy cobblestone

road leading to peace.

Romans 12 is a chapter I revisit often whenever

I feel out of alignment.

When I pour over the words,

many verses help define relinquishment.

Although I fail so often in this way, this year an arrow

has pointed to this verse as one way to relinquish.

 If it is possible,
as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

Often it is easy to choose the right way to behave,

the hard part is doing it with a peaceable attitude and heart.

Each day there will be boxes of difficult circumstances

jutted up against a beacon of light leading the way,

a better way called relinquishment.

It’s not a call to ignore my feelings which

undoubtedly will surface,

because that would be pointless and dishonest.

It is a call to step back and lead with love,

with patience,

with eyes beyond my own desires.

It calling to memory that each moment

is not all about me.

Some days it is all about taking temperatures and

reminding a boy he is cherished and not a bother.

It’s about offering him a cup of cold Vitamin Water given

with love in His name.

**********

Despite the example,
Caleb is the dearest of patients,
full of thank you’s and appreciation.
His mother…well that is another post
for another day 🙂

 

non-negotiables

non-negotiables

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The Portland Trailblazers playoff game against the Houston Rockets

went into overtime, pushing our “required” viewing of

The Good Wife until past bedtime.

I know, deeply difficult problems.

Monday morning would arrive sooner than we would desire

but despite this inevitability Carl and I began our routine.

I have discovered any morning but especially Monday morning

is made more manageable with a non-negotiable in place.

We always tidy our living room and if need be, our kitchen before lights out.

Most nights, I estimate the whole process takes less

than 5 minutes.

But those 300 seconds are key when faced with heavy-lidded eyes and bed

hair the next morning.

There are any number of routine things we do each day…

shower, brush our teeth, make our beds, or kiss our loved ones

goodbye as we part company.

It’s quite simple.

We put away what doesn’t belong in the space and straighten up

what should inhabit the surroundings.

(Oh the spiritual connotations in the above sentence,
but I will refrain to keep this post within 500 words. Sigh.)

A toss of the pillow here and a newspaper filed away there.

An empty mug is sent off to the dishwasher and ottomans

which earlier propped tired legs are stowed away.

Half read books may be closed or taken by the hand

to be consumed under covers.

We didn’t always have this routine in place.

We had years of babies and unbending schedules which

meant we didn’t waste a moment picking up the aftermath

of the day before limping towards our mattress.

Life remains busy but I never regret those few minutes

at night ushering me into the freshness of a new day.

I don’t have to clear a space to sit on a couch or chair

to read.

I’m not kicking plates full of the crumbs from the snacks

of a day ago.

In many ways it helps put yesterday in the past and

embrace the day presented before me.

We have never discussed this “ritual” but as Carl and I have

practiced it nightly, we have observed our kids observing

the same routine.

Well, most of the time, with the exception of discarded shoes!

All I know is it has become a non-negotiable part of our nighttime habits,

not in the way of a mandate but a pursuit aimed towards

drawing tranquility into a day not yet born.

Our desire for our home is to be a sanctuary of rest,

a haven of peace.

When pillows are fluffed and furniture is set right,

we walk into order and not chaos.

Let chaos ensue when we cross the threshold to

the world or get behind the wheel 😉

What non-negotiable actions do you practice which

deposits peace into your life?

Or is it time to add one into your days or nights?

This week, I am going to share a couple of my

non-negotiable habits that help me exhale deeper.

Happy last day of April and if you live in Portland,

you might think it is the last day of August,

there’s a mini heat wave brewing here!

What can you do in 5 minutes or less to 

enhance the day to come?

Do it!