Where Does Strength Come From?

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“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”  ~Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum LP

“You’re a strong woman,” I’ve heard too many times. I honestly don’t know what strong means. People are people. We are all making our way.

I don’t see strength or weakness. I see humanness.

I don’t see broken people. I see moments of falling apart before the coming together begins again for the zillionth time.

I see life.

Perhaps what I have is a unique perspective? Maybe we have the same one?

Some say that strength comes when you believe…in God, a Higher Power, etc. I possess that knowledge, but that alone doesn’t strengthen me.

I believe my strength comes from a Knowledge of God’s character…at least the beginning of an understanding: I have a desire to know why things are the way they are and what’s LOVE got to do with it anyways? I have found a way that makes sense to me and makes sense of life.

I no longer feel like life happens to me or even for me as if my job is just to show up and make the best of it.

In other words, I’m not a victim.

Believe what you will about your life, but that’s my truth.

I believe we were all given the opportunity to see the intricate patterns of intersecting lives before we were born. I believe we understood what we were coming to and saw how the perfect people and situations would come into our lives to be our teachers. We knew they would  give us opportunities to practice the many faces of love. We saw how so many people’s choices would appear random, but would actually be miniscule and necessary parts of a larger tapestry that was, is, and always will be a beautiful work of art. We agreed that experiencing a life was the only way to understand. I believe that we also understood completely that even though there is one goal – understanding and growing into the love of God – there are as many paths as there are people.

I’ve come to the conclusion (aka  “the truth”) after watching patterns outside of myself trigger patterns inside of me that I’m the author of my life. I’m a co creator of it with God, and it’s creation started long before I was born. My life is the manifestation of sacred agreements designed out of my awareness of my desire to understand how and why God thinks and acts as a god thinks and acts, and to put myself in situations where I could figure that out. My only weakness is my humanness, and my only strength is found in my ability to find love (God) everywhere.

Love is an incredible subject to study. Everyone has issues with many parts of it. But we can all be masters of it when we use our life’s moments of uncertainty, disappointments, cruelty, meanness, as well as moments of joy, happiness, ease, and peace as tools to learn more about this enabling power. I have found that ofttimes that is the only good choice I have – the only one that frees me from despair and cyclical blame and complaining.

My lessons in love have taken me down paths mostly of self-love.

The prerequisite to that course is coming to terms with how your life choices reflect the amount of self-love you’ve mastered. I can love (see the godliness) in anyone. That’s not hard for me. What’s hard is understanding the strength of love for self  that is required to walk away from anything and anyone as a gift (of love) to them as well as myself – when too much collateral damage stares you in the face and refuses to move – when you have to stand in that place that can’t deny any longer that this is one of the faces of love that  God has mastered and patiently waits for all of His children to understand – boundaries.

Sometimes love isn’t all that pretty. But it’s always kind. I’ve learned that I’ve made excellent choices to put myself right in the middle of what I refused to believe was true. I say I had no idea because of my innocence or ignorance, but the truth is I have needed the experiences I’ve been through to know what I now know. So, I’m kinder when I look back now. I say, “Good job! Now move on!”

In all of my experiences I’ve learned a basic truth about love:  I truly feel stronger and like a better version of myself when I know I’m loved for the person I am in the world. I don’t mean the generic love that’s cast like a wide net over humanity. I mean the looking deep into my soul kind of thing that says, “I know you. You’re cool. I wouldn’t change a thing about you because I know you have that handled. Wanna go for a walk?”  kind of love. Lao Tzu put it plainly:

“Being loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Yes, I’m all over the place with this one. I know. But if you take anything away, take this: you are not a victim. You are a student. You chose your curriculum and teachers. Have fun with it and don’t forget lunch and recess. Find someone to love because it make the journey better.

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God DNA

I woke up at 3 am this morning because my new little kitties willed it to be so.

I walked through the darkness and made my way downstairs as they followed. I was on automatic again, doing my routine stuff when I opened the bathroom door and there they sat waiting for me. They looked up at me with big green eyes and I stopped and looked back at them. We made our way to my overstuffed chair in the living room and got comfortable – Onyx at my neck, Noir curled up at my feet. I listened as the slow purring started and immediately melted into the day. What a gift they have become. A gift of awakening in many ways. Their presence opened up my heart and gave me a few thoughts to share with you:

What if today you knew who you really were, where you came from, and what would make you feel connected and alive?

What if everything inside you shifted and your eyes were opened to see things as they really are…who YOU are?

What if you found a way to never be shaken from your center again – to feel so secure in the world that no matter the strength of the whirlwind circling you, you felt steadfast and immoveable even if you had to sit still with arms wrapped tightly around bruised knees, sitting on cold ground every once in a while?

I feel that way all the time.

I have a knowing inside that tells me I have “God DNA” and so do you. I’m made of the same stuff and come from the same place as joy and light and love. I am connected to all things and everyone as you are, too.

My gift is that I know it.

The ocean, the trees, the wind – they all know me, I think better than I know myself. I can feel it. On my walks or swims or even driving, when I open my spiritual eyes – the ones that have a veil over them that I have to consciously part – the world becomes a different and more real place. Everything in it is a teacher, a friend, a gift that reminds me of who I really am and why I’m here. I remember how precious and perfect each moment is, how incredible and unique every soul I meet or pass by is, and that I can deepen my joy as I choose to experience all of it as the spirit whispers how.

My challenge is that I forget that sometimes and I’m not sure how that happens. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way so that I’ll treasure remembering?

But when I remember, I feel it again. I feel the life in life. I see the beauty in the simple things. I once again know who I am.

And heaven smiles.

What If Today…Our Life Was Lived as an Occasion?

“There are a million things one might do with a block of wood.

But what do you think might happen if someone, just once, believed in it?”

It didn’t matter what was on tv at the moment. All I really wanted was something to entertain me while I sanded my feet  – a semi-regular task for flip flop wearers around the world. I was a bit miffed that what was on was Mr. Margorium’s Wonder Emporium – a movie I’d watched a million times with my children. I almost changed the channel , but that little voice that knows better  whispered, “There’s a reason. Watch it.” It was half an hour ’til it ended. so I watched. Here’s a trailer:

I studied Mahoney – her depressed mood after Mr. Margorium died, and how the toy store he’d bequeathed to her mirrored her darkness. All the magic had gone out of it. Everything was black getting blacker. She’d given up because she didn’t believe that anything would be the same without him.  All of the magic was on the outside of her. She didn’t know how to access her own magic.

Then, near the end, the store’s accountant witnessed the power of her passion triggered in her defense of what appeared to him to be an ordinary block of wood. She insisted that it wasn’t ordinary, and he insisted that it was. The block of wood responded to her belief in it by coming to life, and, here’s the fun part,  the awareness of who she is in her world started to grow. Her friend the accountant saw the “sparkle” in her eyes – the one that had been missing for so long. He is mesmerized by the “magic” that she allows to flow out of her and into the lifeless store, breathing life into all of the toys.

The transformation was remarkable.

**********

I told you about “being an artist” in one of my previous posts. Once I’d said it to my boss it was as if I’d opened a door to a new path for both of us. Her excitement was unleashed and there was no reigning it in. In the short time since that announcement she has had a dumpster delivered to empty out a basement to make room for a studio, and not 24 hours after its delivery, found “us” a studio to work in. She texted me to be at the studio at 10:45 yesterday morning, saying she would be late and I needed to bring my artwork to show the owner. I put my shoes on and gathered my stuff and raced off in my little yellow Beetle wondering what she was getting me into….

“Our” studio? When had that happened? What did it mean? Those thoughts were quickly dismissed because there was no life in them. I found the place easily and climbed the stairs to the most beautiful studio apartment that matched every one of the daydreams I didn’t realize I’d been having until I saw them in real life, all rolled out in front of me.

It sits on a pond and is seconds from the beach that you can see beyond the pond from the deck. And all I can think is….swimming!

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What does any of this mean? For you? For me?

Right before Mr. Margorium dies he says to Mahoney,

“Your life is an occasion…….rise to it.”

I sat still at the end of the movie and tried to connect the dots from “I’m an artist” to yesterday’s acquisition of a beautiful space to continue doing what I’d started doing seriously once I’d said it – drawing. What had happened? All I can relate is that there was a shift in perception of who I am and how I spend each day. I’m doing what comes to mind. I accept with gratitude the time I’ve been given. And I’m becoming masterful at not caring what people think about me….’cause I like who I am….

I swim in the cold because…

I draw because…

I smile because…

…because it’s all so wonderful.

I truly live a magical life.

One of the things I noticed as I sat and pondered the lessons from the movie was the connection I have to some beautiful people and their joy and generosity to be a part of the unfolding of my life, however unaware of it that they are. We are more connected than we think. When we live our lives joyfully (and that will mean different things for each of us) something magical happens. What we radiate sparks a flame in another and the whole world is eventually brighter.

This is a glimpse into my world as an example:

My son sparked an interest in doing Polar Plunges and I did my 1st one on New Years’ Day this year, 2013… and I remember that I can do the impossible and scary….

I’m asked to paint portraits on potatoes by a friend who’s passionate about online gaming…and I start to remember that being challenged and supported for what and who I really am is important in relationships for me….

An old friend invites me to Rose Island Lighthouse for an overnight… and I remember what real joy feels like. I start noticing the joy in people because of that one night and my life feels fuller, richer, happier. I feel more alive…

A new friend follows a desire to work in Alaska and comes home with some amazing photographs…. and I remember what it feels like to be inspired. I ask permission to draw them and show them to my boss when I finish them… and she remembers who she is….

I ask the local art supply shop for a reference to a printer. I meet another new friend (the printer) with whom I can talk passionately about light and art things and he gets it and spends time teaching me all about his passion for digitally enhanced artwork for which he is world-renowned. He waives some fees for me because he wants me to succeed…. and I remember that miracles do happen in the form of kindness and support and shared vision…

My boss hears and feels my love of life in the Polar Plunges and the creation of my artwork and rents a studio for us yesterday to keep the dream alive…. and I remember that like attracts like.

Who knows what today will bring. One thing I know is that it’ll be magical because we’re in it together. Sparks need something nearby to spread their energy…

I’ll end with a snippet of a conversation from the movie. You do with it what you will. To me it means throw your own life party and be the first one to show up. Design it from your heart and live it with eyes open and grateful for those who are placed in your path as gifts.

(I missed this part of the movie. It had something to do with clocks and maybe coordinating them to chime as one?)

Mr. Edward Magorium: 37 seconds.

Molly Mahoney: Great. Well done. Now we wait.

Mr. Edward Magorium: No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.

Have an extraordinary day, whatever you choose to do. I’m going to clean my new art studio… 🙂

My Dragonfly

“Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly

Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:

So this winged hour is dropt to us from above.

Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,

This close-companioned inarticulate hour

When twofold silence was the song of love.” 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti The House of Life,’Silent Noon’, pt.1.

Do you ever end up in a place that you didn’t plan to end up in, and the only reason you’re there is because it’s where your feet took you?

I was having a very happy morning, but I was feeling restless, so I got in my car to go to work, knowing that they didn’t expect me there until tomorrow, but feeling like I had to channel my energy into something. When I’m at home, I read, write, draw, or take quiet walks. None of that was going to do today….

… I ended up at the beach watching a dragonfly, realizing very quickly that there was a reason for seeing it even though as I write this I still don’t know what that reason is.

I’m just supposed to share the experience…

As soon as I sat down at the edge of the sand dune I was enveloped by the warming chills of the spirit that help me to recognize a moment of truth. I nearly cried because it was so unexpected. I was so grateful because I need that experience regularly to feel alive and to be reminded of things that matter.

A movement to my left caught my eye. It was a dragonfly –  a delicate, skinny, solitary and silent insect going about its life as mine intersected his. I watched and marveled at how easy it would have been to miss him because he didn’t care if I noticed him or not.

The dragonfly flitted from a piece of driftwood saluting the sky to a blade of dead grass balancing upright in the sand. I was amused at his sideways flight and how he kept his nose to the wind as if to keep smelling the ocean.

I understood that one.

That smell always reminds me of home.

As suddenly as he came, he disappeared, flying upwards and blending in with the blue-black of the water, off to do what dragonflies do.

And then it was over. The spirit left and I sat befuddled. The only thing left to do was to head home (my daughter was baffled by that one) and to read up on dragonflies. I did and was led to a poem / story called “The Dragonfly“, author Unknown. (I’ll share it in a minute). As I read I think I began to understand a common thread to my day and what to share. You’ll have to tell me if it’s true for you. As I sit and write, it’s really all I have to offer as I try to connect the dots between early morning reading and later morning doings.

Early this morning I came across a true story of a man working as an indexer of documents related to genealogy (the millions upon millions of documents  that still remain unsearchable on the Internet because they need to be transferred to a readable format from film and paper files by volunteers to places on the Web where they are accessible to you and me, mostly for free). Long story short (read it here. on Facebook) he was changed and started seeing the people on the documents as real. He started to feel something for them. The way he interacted with his family changed for the better after his experience.

I was moved by his story because I understood it. I’d experienced it so many times. But every few days I forget about those who have died and have to be reminded that like the dragonfly, they go on living and being whether I notice them or not.

But, unlike the dragonfly, they care.

I know that’s true because my heart tells me they do.

This is not a message, I don’t think, to convince you about the value of family history or getting to know your ancestors.

It’s more like it’s a message of being still and “seeing the silence” around us – that invisible world that goes on imperceptibly day by day, like the dragonfly, nose to the wind, flying sideways and parallel to our life, hoping to remind us of home. You see, to me, it’s all “home”.  I just have to quiet down every now and then to remember that there’s a reason we can’t see them. It’s for our benefit and growth.

Life and death are the way that they are to help us to grow in love with the people that become silent and invisible to us. If they were always here, well, how would we try harder to see and to hear them? That’s a pondering for another day.

I’m sure that there are more messages in there somewhere for us to contemplate. Maybe you see one that I need?

For now, that’s it.

Here’s the poem / story that I learned is used as a tool to help people, especially children when they experience a death in the family or community:

The Dragonfly
Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads,
there lived a little water beetle in a community of water
beetles.  They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond
with few disturbances and interruptions.Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of
their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and
would never be seen again.  They knew when this happened; their
friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge
to climb up that stem.  However, he was determined that he would
not leave forever.  He would come back and tell his friends what
he had found at the top.

When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the
surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so
warm, that he decided he must take a nap.  As he slept, his body
changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful
blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body
designed for flying.

So, fly he did!  And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole
new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never
known existed.

Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking
by now he was dead.  He wanted to go back to tell them, and
explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been
before.  His life had been fulfilled rather than ended.

But, his new body would not go down into the water.  He could
not get back to tell his friends the good news.  Then he
understood that their time would come, when they, too, would
know what he now knew.  So, he raised his wings and flew off
into his joyous new life!

~Author Unknown~

Gardens of Love

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ~ Thomas Merton

“Betsy, you plant a garden the way you have children!”

“I know.”

(That was me talking to myself. Or was that God? Sometimes they are the same.)

Both are so similar – gardens and life. At least they are for me.

I never planned to have children. Barely even thought about it. But I have been gifted with nine. People always say the funniest things about that and make a lot of assumptions, too. I used to care. I wanted to be understood. But when you try to explain something that is spiritual, well, you end up with a lot of stories that aren’t really the real truth.

Planting my garden early this morning gave me new insights.

Almost a week ago, or was it two?, my oldest son brought home three flats of beautiful, mature flowers from work. It’s the end of the season and his boss gives the leftovers to whomever can use them.

At six am. this morning, battling a headache (I never get headaches and rarely get sick, so this is very distracting!), I walked outside, determined to get them planted.

There were 12 Impatiens, 24 Geraniums, and countless (I’m lazy right now. I don’t know how many) Sweet Potato vines.

I knew where the empty spaces were, so I got my shovel, spread them out, dug holes, and planted all of them, plucking weeds along the way. I got distracted a few times as I crouched half-way in the garden and on the brick walkway, straining to reach the weeds that had grown between the bricks, pulling them with everything in me. I made a big mess, but finished very quickly. I knew they’d die if they weren’t planted soon, and then I’d die of guilt because I’d been given a gift that I’d neglected to make time for. The thing is, I hadn’t asked for the plant. But there they sat, behind the fence, needing a mom.

The things (thoughts that I seriously battled!) that almost (not really) stopped me from moving forward in order to “do it right”:

  • The soil isn’t really good. They might not survive the shock.
  • Do these plants like sandy soil?
  • Are you doing more harm than good?
  • Will they survive?
  • You ought to have a plan! It’ll look so much better if you design it first!
  • Did you see the look on your neighbor’s face? (He left for an early morning dog-walk and scanned my work without a “Hello.” He probably didn’t hear me, as I was on my knees and out of breath.)
  • Why are you even bothering to plant these when you might not have many days left to enjoy them before the frost comes?

As I finished up, everyone in the family still sleeping soundly, I looked at my hands and wondered why I hadn’t taken the time to find my gloves. I was up to my elbows and ankles ( wore flip flops) in dirt but I’d managed to keep my pants clean! That was a good thing because it’s almost time to leave for work and I don’t want to change.

I’ve been told I’m impatient. I don’t know what that means. I know what it looks like, but when I look at how I feel, the definition doesn’t match.

There was one thought that kept moving me to finish the task:

“They just want to get in the ground!”

And that’s when I got it.

So did my children! They just wanted to get here, to their life. They willingly and joyfully agreed to the imperfect conditions they’d live in.

I may have started a family while relatively young, but I had my last one, James, when I was 47. The nine of them are spread out over 21 years. No big deal to me. But it’s a big deal to those who fear age and all the things that go with it. I’m blissfully ignorant of those fears and things.  I was never given a guarantee that I’d live past the end of any given day, and I live my life fully aware of that.

I was meant to be their mom, just like you were meant to be your child’s parent. We are perfectly matched.

Just like the flowers that my son brought home unexpectedly, I consider my children the most miraculous and unplanned gifts to me. I learn who they are as they grow, with no expectations except that they use every ounce of courage they can find inside of them to be true to who they are.

They were people before they got here. They’ll be people when they leave. This is just a blip in their existence, a time of forgetfulness that makes the remembering a challenge, but is necessary because of how deeply rooted they need to be to reach the source of their joy. If they follow the whispering of the Spirit and their hearts as it speaks, the world might not agree with their course, and their lives might even look messy, but they’ll feel strong and solid.

Yes, I know: gardens need to be tended. They grow weeds. They get thirsty and hungry. They can even get overcrowded, requiring some transplanting. The plants might not seem to go with the rest of the landscaping. This is especially true if yours were gifted to you like mine were.

All true….

But have you noticed how none of that matters…

…if you don’t plant them?

So that’s what I did.

I received them…

…into my garden…

…in love, and faith, and hope that who I am and what I have to offer, will not get in the way of their roots’ journey to the source of their joy.

Life Is a Playground

“There’s always the chance you could die right in the middle of your life story.” ~Chuck Paluniuh

I pulled into the lot in my little yellow Beetle, hoping like I always do, that I wouldn’t stall as I looked for a space. At least three times a week I come to this market on my lunch break.

I got out of my car after fishing through my empty-of-mints change box for enough money to buy a slice of the best pizza in the entire world. I’m hungry. That’s what makes it the best.

People are getting in and out of their cars and trucks, or sitting in them eating their lunch. I can’t help it. I start to smile. Sometimes I even laugh to myself, which, if caught is not a good thing. I’m so happy that people show up every day in my life. Yes. It’s my life. Mine. You might all be a figment of my imagination for all I know. But I love you for the wonderful job you’re doing. And I am thrilled to have another lunch.

I make a beeline for the pizza case. There’s a man there who is sliding his slice onto a paper plate as I look through the glass window of the other side of the warmer just to see the choices for the day. He’s not up to talking. Neither are any of the other people that I snake my way through and around to get to the checkout counter.

I think about it all the time when I’m out: how uncomfortable is it for some people to make eye contact and “play” in the moment? Very is my guess, because only one in ten persons does. Dogs and I do it very well. They always want my attention. But I’ve made the mistake a few times recently of misinterpreting a lengthy stare as wanting some attention when he really just had to pee and was really begging, “Would you please just let me out before I get into more trouble?!”

Finally, after bequeathing the change for my pizza to the girl behind the counter (she was fun by the way….joking that she would add it to her college fund) I descended the steps to a waiting table, half in the shade, facing the street.

It never fails: every time I’m eating I have gawkers. This time it was a woman sitting at a table facing me. I think I could do a very good commercial for pizza. It’s fun to watch people salivate as they stare. They really do. I catch them all the time. I so wanted to talk to her because she was more awake than my two companions sitting opposite me. I’d interpreted their  lack of desire for engagement with me as tiredness and a genuine boredom with the mundane routine of lunch and life, and decided to go back to work alone where I could sing and daydream.

But as I readied to leave, my heart stood still.

A minivan pulled up to the curb and the side door slid open, revealing a woman climbing over a little boy strapped into his car seat. He reminded me of my little boy, Kenny , #8 of 9, the one who dances when no one is watching. Life, adult life, adult needs, cares and concerns were overshadowing his little body and magnificent soul.

Strapped into a car he wouldn’t be able to drive for 10 more years, his day at the mercy of a life planned by others, I wondered if he would get a chance to play. His face seemed so worried, as if he’d forgotten his joy at home, tucked under his pillow.

I let that thought work on me all day yesterday and into the night.

How hard is it for most of us to really live as if everything, everyone, every situation has seeds of opportunity for connection in it / them? How young are we when we start sleep-walking through lunch with an amazing and fun person like me?

On our walk to the pond the other day, James and Kenny and I passed an old neighbor, one who lived next door to a house we used to live in. The boys struggled to the top of the hill and left me walking at a slower pace when the road leveled out in front of this man’s house.”

“Long time no see! Where have you been?”

I didn’t sense that he wanted any details of my life, or to know that we’ve been walking to the other side of the pond closer to our house, and I needed to catch up with the boys before they reached the treacherous decline to the pond, so I said a quick, “I’ve been around, I don’t get out much, ” which was misleading because I get out every day, just not in that neck of the woods.

“You ought to get out more!” he called as we waved goodbye.

“I know,” I said, because what I think he really meant to say was that it’s nice seeing people when he’s sitting on his front step. He likes some interaction. Maybe he feels more alive?

I don’t know about you, but I get confused sometimes. I shut down when I can’t find someone to play with, and for a while I stop “showing up”. I let other people’s moods and life-concerns decide for me whether I’ll live in the moment as me or as a poor imitation.

That was how I felt after lunch and as I made my way to my car and back to work. Who was going to play with me and take a ho hum day to one filled with laughter and rejuvenating connection?

In the middle of the second half of the day I nearly burst with a new realization – one that I won’t share because it really doesn’t matter. But I really wanted to share it with someone. I had two people, my lunch partners, in the other room, to share my news with. So, I threw caution to the wind, along with the cork that was stopping up my joyful spirit, and bounded into the room.

“Guess what?!!” I semi-yelled to them, waking them from a very profound and deep and peaceful silence.

And then the sun started to rise. I could see it in the corners of their mouth first and then the light crept up to their eyes. And then in their own way they each said, “Oh, Betsy,” as I turned to leave them, walking lighter for having deposited a piece of me with them.

And that was that.

Moral of the story: If you want to play, play. 🙂

 

Wealth

“Do not care overly much for wealth or power or fame, or one day you will meet someone who cares for none of these things, and you will realize how poor you have become.”~ Rudyard Kipling

You know those moments where you feel so grateful for another chance? When you see two possible outcomes and you breathe a sigh of relief that you were blessed with the “good one”? When in one second your world could unexpectedly turn upside down, but instead you are woken up to the simple beauties of life and have another chance to enjoy them?

He’s only seven-years-old, thin, and wiry. Moments before he was running around the living room, teasing his little brother and begging to stay up longer. But, I sent them both to bed and was ready to chase the younger one up the stairs from across the room when Kenney came tumbling down from the top stair, skidding head down on his neck, landing hard and fast at the bottom. I was so scared. I’ve seen a lot of falls, but this one was different. It touched a place in my heart where childhood lives.

I held him as he whimpered in my arms, both of us hanging on and hoping for the best. He was fine. He got a huge rug burn and wound on his neck, and a few bruises. But he was going to heal. I wrapped him up and kissed him goodnight a few minutes later as he lay his head down on the couch in my room – a treat for him. I wanted him close to me.

I lay in bed thinking about how life changes so quickly. People can be taken or choose to leave your life so suddenly, so unexpectedly. It’s up to us to accept that and to live accordingly. I’ve always believed in valuing the people who willingly show up in my life and giving my best to them. But I don’t always give them what they need. Sometimes I’m tired and spent. Sometimes I’m selfish and hoard my light and goodness. I tuck myself away, saving up for that rainy day that’s somewhere in the future. I convince myself that I’ll need my energy for that day.

I save and save and save, adding to the account labeled “All of Me.”

And then Kenney falls down the stairs. “Insufficient funds.” The account is closed. My heart tells me that the deposits disappeared as soon as I had  made them. They were only available in the moment that I had them. Memories were the only deposits that were ever accepted. They are the only things I’d ever be able to withdraw.

So…Kenney slept on my couch. When he came down the stairs in the morning I told him, “No school for you today.” He smiled. He spent the day outside, walking with me to the pond, watching James run in and out of the cold water, climbing trees, riding bikes, digging holes, and taking naps. We slowed down. I really looked at him and listened to his laugh. I threw the ball to his waiting bat and teased him when he missed and cheered when he slammed the ball into the trees. We had fun.

It was a day to remember. I am a wealthy woman.