Monday, August 22, 2016

Life is Good

Some days aren't difficult, boring, or stressful.
Some days aren't frustrating, tiring, or gloomy.
Today is one of those days.

There is this: I happen to be on the fourth day of a four day weekend.

The weather is so un-Illinois-August-like you wouldn't believe it.  Cool, bright day with skies as blue as the crayon in a fresh new back-to-school pointy box of crayons.  The leaves on all the trees are still green because it is summer, but a hint of fall has everyone smiling.

I walked with my favorite walking partner this morning.  She has been out of commission due to injury.  We got to go at 7 am instead of 6 am allowing for a much more respectable hour of waking.  The sun was blinding but we never got too warm.  It is like God made this temperature for exercise.
(Reminder: I don't like to sweat.)  I saw morning glories and black-eyed Susan and a lovely mist on the lagoon.

When I got home, my husband had coffee ready and had saved me the last piece of the chocolate cake I took to a potluck last night.  Yes, that was my breakfast.

I then got a facial.  Now don't leave me here, I don't get facials every month.  I've probably had five facials in 20 years. I decided last week that I needed something unusual and appealing to look forward to on Monday.   It is a treat.  It was lovely.  I was not hurrying and arrived on time.  So relaxing, especially the hand massage that came with it.  My poor keyboard-weary fingers were dancing a virtual jig.

Afterwards I floated out to the parking lot and stood by my car, keys in hand, thinking "Its 10:00 am and I can do anything I want."  Priceless.  My day was already complete.  I decided to go earring shopping, of course. I looked through every pair of earrings in the department store in town.  I did not hurry.  I did not judge the gaudy, chunky baubles.  I found some new ones that fit my style -- small pearl buttons ringed in silver.  That will make it easier to go to work tomorrow.  (either you follow that logic or you don't, I can't really explain it)

I then decided to be a good mom and I went to the grocery store.  I bought food for dinner and for snacks and because I am picking my daughter up from high school I couldn't have been more delighted to find "Lemon Meringue Soda" in the craft soda aisle.  I will greet her after-school grumblings with a cold soda based on her favorite dessert.  Who knew that even existed?

I came home and made myself chicken salad from left-over grilled chicken, walnuts, olive oil mayo and celery.  And then, I had the most delicious sundae.  I have homemade hot fudge sauce in the fridge, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and salty walnuts.  I savored it while thinking about writing this post.  For dinner we are having cold chicken and scratch potato-egg salad and strawberries.

During the last two hours I've been anticipating writing a blog post about just how well my day is going.  I'm at a peaceful point in my life (today anyway) where I am less conflicted about my writing.  So much of the time, for a very long time,  I've felt guilty. Guilty because if I just tried harder and put in the effort, I could write a novel that would sell, and I could be a published writer.  But I have been writing for 25 years and so far, life has won every time.  Crazy, busy, hectic, chaotic, life.  I've got two unpublished novels, and these blog posts to show for it.  I've decided to stop feeling guilty.  I've given myself permission to wait for retirement to become rich and famous at the writing thing.  I'm going to instead just try to experience writing, do it, enjoy it.  I have that feeling in the pit of my stomach that that is the right thing to do, and that many more days would be "Life is Good" days if I followed that advice about everything in life -- less guilt, more plain old experiencing.

It is only 2 pm.  Next on the docket I'm going to fold some hot towels into perfect rectangles and then take a nap with the window open and the sheer curtain blowing in the breeze.  I'm going to meditate on how much I like writing. And so many things.

Monday, August 01, 2016

It's A God Thing

I'm the kind of relate-able Christian who questions things, asks questions, asks God, and tries to stop thinking long enough to listen.  The kind of Christian who is never as grateful as I should be or as prayerful.  I'm not the kind of Christian who doesn't drink or dance, although I try not to swear, but that is my mom-side mostly. But, I find it all fascinating and I love learning about how God is working in people's lives.

I pray regularly and irregularly, and at different times of day or night.  Sometimes ten seconds, or ten minutes.  Sometimes writing prayers, sometimes thinking them.

This story is about my friend Leslie Masterson and her Chinese daughter Jillian. Leslie found Jillian on an adoption website in late 2010.  Adoption is a long complicated journey much like that game I never liked, "The Game of Life." where things are always sending you back to the beginning and it never ends. Ever.

International adoption has a 43 step game board and she was on about step ten or so when I told her I had a dream.  "I had a dream that you were with your baby on Easter."  Leslie just nodded nicely and said something very reassuring like, "We are still a minimum of 12 months out from actually getting to travel to China.  It is a long process."  She seemed sorry to disappoint me. Now I also had in this dream a vision of her Chinese daughter growing up and she was doing ballet on a stage in a pink tutu and also one of her wearing a red dress and playing violin.  I prayed about it that week and said "Leslie, I keep feeling like you will have your new babe by Easter.  I see an Easter basket and plastic eggs."  and she and Sean just reassured me that couldn't happen.

Well not only did they have Jillian by Easter, but their "Gotcha Day" was on Easter Sunday.  It was Monday morning in China, but it was Easter Sunday in Pekin, IL at the first moment they laid hands on their precious, so precious girl.  Only six months from the time I had the dream.  It was impossible (not) but at least highly unlikely, that a first adoption, from China, could go through like silk.  Every one of those 43 hoops was jumped in record time.  At least this is how I remember it, now, five years later, and on my blog, we get to hear from my fragile memory.

When they were handed her, Jillian was over 2 years old, severely underweight, bruised, with an awful ear infection and sadly neglected.  They knew they were adopting a girl with cleft-palate.  They discovered within a few months she is low-verbal autistic.  On Easter Sunday 2011 she became a member of an amazing family.

And little did we know then, but now we do, that Leslie and Sean would go on to adopt two more Chinese babies.  And perhaps my dream covered all three.  One of them might play the violin on stage one day.  And I did get to see Jillian dance a ballet at Gull Lake one year.  She was off to the side shadowing the movements of a beautiful young lady who was doing ballet for the talent show.  And Jillian was entrancing, dancing in her silent land.

This dream is one of my God Things and I love it.

Here is Jillian's picture from her pre-adoption days and a picture of her today-- Miss Joy!

The Chinese government said she would never walk.  This girl climbs mountains!

My memory fails me more and more and I don't have any recall of some pretty wonderful experiences that I did, darn it, experience.  I am going to record them here occasionally.

p.s. If you want to read about Leslie's adoption adventures in more detail, here is a link to her blog. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ready to come home

Vacation is over. Over 2000 miles under our belts in 10 days.  We hiked a mountain and biked a beach and ate so much food, I should be in eating time-out.  Am I glad I went? Without a doubt.  Did I learn anything? Life-long learner-- that is me.

I learned that sunsets are different every night.  Even from the same spot plopped in the wet sand just where the tide can reach me.  Some sunsets turn fiery orange and some remain a spotlight on a stage. They all make the trees on the horizon feel like I'm on the Lion King set. 

I learned everyone sees things differently.  Where I see a charming arch of shady live oaks, others might see a claustrophobic endless tunnel.  Where they see delicious salt-water taffy, I see dental bills.

Luckily, I am easily entertained anywhere I go.  I like watching the fudge-makers on the strip in Gatlinburg and I like watching the body surfers try and try again on the edge of the Atlantic through my half-closed-to-the-sun eyes. The glinting ocean water mesmerizes me and finding pink daylilies is worthy of a photograph even if they are at a rest area on the interstate.  I'm curious with my eyes.

I learned that Charleston is full of streets named for their function.  The church is on Church Street and the bay is on Water street.  Early townsfolk had twenty pounds of petticoats in one hundred degree temps leading to a need for privacy before entering their homes -- to undress.

I learned that I am capable of forgetting.  Forgetting about the crises and tribulations of my workplace.  In fact, within hours of getting out of Dodge my mind had moved on to mile markers and the comparative quality of bathrooms at various gas stations. 

I learned that while it is good to go somewhere I've never been, it feeds my soul, it is also good to get to know a new land enough that it becomes the new familiar. When I pass the Angel Oak Road or the roundabout I am almost to my temporary home. 

And like every trip, whether it be overnight in Chicago or two weeks in China, or like this one, a mammoth road trip with four people traveling east, I learned it is ok for vacation to end.  Coming home has its reward, and one of those is gratitude.  Gratitude that I was able to learn all that.  Gratitude that I fulfilled my wanderlust, and am ready, yes I am, to sleep in my own bed and make coffee with my own pot.  Even if I'm not ready to go back to work tomorrow, since we did not win the lottery in any of the five states we played it in, I will go back.

But also like every trip I've taken, I spent the last 500 miles thinking about where we might go next.  What adventure should we try?  What part of the country is calling my name?  Oh I'm not going to make reservations yet, but planning the trip is where I zen out.  It will likely be more than a year until we can afford another vacation, but it will come and I will be ready.  To leave and to come home.