Oh Kansas, just when we think that it will be sub-zero temps through March, you sneak in a foggy 63 degree day and warm night. Thanks so much.
And this morning, refreshed and sleeping in, I began to think about the week ahead with kids coming in and – what we are calling – HamsGiving (because one day of Thanks is too few and we enjoyed turkey last weekend).
Actually, with the windows open, I woke up with bleary eyes and a mosquito bite. The fix? Take allergy meds. Close my eyes to give them rest.
I had 20 uninterrupted minutes to think and thoughts turned to “what lasts.”
What sticks with us in near-reach memory from years or a day ago? Whatever that is, might be part of the map that leads us – if we let it – towards a life that is rich in “living.”
Sure as hell, it wasn’t all of those celebration dinners that I tried to make perfect so that everyone would be happy and we’d be spiffy and…perfect.
Nor was it awards, honors, or applause (not that I’m rolling in them.)
But this is what I remembered:
That best day of hurling ourselves from one rolled up hay bale to the next and me missing the bale and ending feet up in the wedge between hay rolls.
Watching my dad ski off of that ramp, his arms wheeling, face surprised, and landing with such incredulity and glee, that I have been hooked on skiing since.
Sledding down hills with a begrudging wonderdog on the disk in Ulm; with babies protected in utero as we crashed into the CiCo pool fence, and last year with the best pals and a slippy place beneath the trees.
Thanksgiving around a fire – cooking bacon on sticks and in such good company.
That year, my sister, Mimi, baked a chocolate and gummi bear birthday cake for me so I’d have something while we camped in Bad Krueznach.
Sitting on the roof with my brother, Pat, watching the planes descend over the Neckar valley and into the Stuttgart airport. It’s like we could almost reach up and touch their silver underbellies.
Hiking the Konza prairie last Christmas with Kenan in the snow and sunshine.
Laps in the pool with friends nearby, scaring Rhonda speechless as we cycled and trained for those triathlons; Katie’s first half-marathon where she ran every step of the 13.1 miles without stopping; Dave producing a key to the community house bathrooms out in the boonies near the former Mayes’ Ranch.
A delayed turkey, rude games, laughing; fuzzy pups, good Brookside breakfasts, watching K emerge in clothes his stylist sister had found; Turkey Mountain in the snow, pink bikes and the uncomfortable realization that leggings are not opaque.
Betty and the people of Adventures. Elachee woods, kayaking Lake Lanier with the kids, laughing with Jules, mission debriefs with Crock & KTT, and knowing the hearts of the women with whom I worked and celebrated bacon.
Suzy and her flying heart folk art; chicken salad BLTs at TrueLoves, the mayo sandwich affair, and an afternoon at the vineyard.
Every day ordinary imperfection.
Skiing – flying down mountains, over bumps, through the trees, and down lift lines at Keystone – better after a quarter century hiatus than before – uncaring whether anyone saw, cared, or I made it out of the snow. Unfettered.
The ocean. Galveston with M & K.
Climbing over mountain ranges and the Steines Mer; glacier walking, that ascent along the tottery ridge; off-belay along the darkening face, kayaking anywhere.
The long ago first kiss from the one who sounds like the Boss when he speaks and sort of looks like him, too.
The Narnia Chronicles (especially The Horse and His Boy).
Moment that I realized I could choose to let go of the hate and began that long walk away.
Late night snow walks over campus or to the library laden with kids’ books. Scrabble games. Having finally finished painting the old colorful house on Bertrand. That neighbor who saw us through.
The Isotopes: dodge ball, kickball, volleyball, and lawn Olympics (forget about softball).
Saying no to something good for something better – less perfect and shiny – that brings life.
Listening to Johnny Cash while racing to sit between good pals on a Sunday morning.
What lives on your list?
What brings life to you?
May I suggest an experiment? Abandon perfection this holiday season. Spruce and spiff up, but create/protect time to enjoy the merry in it.
Set a budget. Stick to it.
Seek good company – the things that last – over the shock and awe of time/budget sucks that just make you more weary and feeling unnecessarily bad about “stuff.”
Pet a puppy. Feed the goldfish. Smile at a stranger.
Shut your eyes for 20 minutes and think about those times when you have felt most alive. Write them down. They have a story to tell you about yourself. Enjoy it.