My life now is comprised of beginnings all tangled up in endings. I don’t know exactly where one begins and the other ends. And to be perfectly honest, I am not sure anyone else actually knows what is the beginning and what is the ending either.
I am asked to lead by example for my school, my team, my younger sibling while at the same time I am asked to define and refine my “reach” and my “safety”. Future… a place I have lived in comfortably for many years now has suddenly changed from an exclamation point to a question mark. I was always happily running to the next step. Can’t wait until I am 5 years old, so I can ride the big yellow bus. Can’t wait until I lose my first tooth. Can’t wait until I ride a two-wheeler by myself. Can’t wait until I am 13, then I will be a teenager. Can’t wait until I am 16, so I can drive whenever and wherever I want. Can’t wait to be a senior, so I can rule the school. So many days that I crossed off the calendar with exclamation points!
Ask me anything about where I am now and I have all of the answers. Things I did not know four years ago are like second nature to me. I navigate my school hallways with ease. Ask me questions about where I am going and I give stock answers. I am unsure and the truth is, I really don’t know. Now, I find I am in the middle place, kind of stuck between winning the race but being held at the start line because it is not yet my turn.
Instead of asking me questions about where I am going to college or my senior quote, senior picture, senior field trip, senior lunch, senior shampoo, please be patient with me while I try and figure it out. Smile at me and don’t forget to tell me when I have done a good job today, because today really matters in my world. Today is where I live. Today is where I love. Today is where I meet up with my friends and laugh. Today is where I look over to you to see if you saw what I just did out there. Today is where I smile and share and stress and try and cry. Today, for me, is all I’ve got. Tomorrow is coming. I know it is there. Please do not feel like you need to be constantly reminding me to plan for tomorrow. Believe me, it is like the big bad wolf and the best birthday present at the same time, all wrapped up in one! My future waits for me but my present is who I am. It becomes who I become. While I am running to my next place, please help me enjoy the moments in between. The wake ups at home, the homecoming weeks, the victories with my teams, staying up late with my sister solving the world’s problems, the tests, the trials, the silly laughter, the A’s and the F’s, the smell of your cooking, my dog’s excitement when I walk in the room, seeing you in my mirror saying “be safe” as I leave the driveway. These are the things that are making me “me”. The me I have come to be is not only so special to you, but I am special to me because of all of those small, but important things wrapped up in my present. I am excited for where I am going next. Until then, let’s love and live in the little in between times because honestly, when the date on my calendar comes and I pack my bags and set off on my own journey pursuing whatever future is knocking at my door, it is those tiny moments that I am making now that make the future me.
This is gonna sound a little (or a lot) crazy, but I love getting old. I actually am fond of the “age” that I see smile back at me in reflection. I looked in the mirror the other day and saw the shiny silvery-sheen highlights in my dark hair made from packing and unpacking moving boxes in anticipation of the next adventure with my husband’s new job, the crease in my forehead made from gazing out at my children playing in the sun or learning to ride a bike–the feeling in my heart when they fell and got right back up again and finally the triumph of pushing one foot, then the other as they glided down the path on two wheels. I saw the spots where the sun kissed my face while building sandcastles on the beach, digging holes large enough to engulf children to their knees in the sand and from applying countless amounts of sunscreen and hats. I saw the slightly droopy-firm arms that were made from holding my son for hours in the NICU, not wanting to let go or go home, and from laying in bed with my daughter holding a book overhead and reading until my tired voice cracked because we just needed to see what happened next to our friend Ruby Lavender, or from standing in ready to dole out hugs as they both bounded off the big yellow school bus sharing tales of their day at recess or lunch or latest creation in art class. I saw wrinkly hands from holding treasures found in the woods, seashells at the beach, and little sticky fingers grabbing up for guidance along life’s path. I saw my not-so-perfect middle from growing two little souls in a safe and healthy belly of love, and from standing at the playground pushing a swing back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth instead of running around the block in my running gear, or from driving from home to school, to dance, to cross country, to cheer practice, to piano. I saw legs strong, but a bit crinkled from sitting on floors for hours building lego towers, crouching down to kiss a boo boo, quietly bending to knees to pray for God’s hand in the new job, the big test, the tryout, the meet… I saw sneakers in place of heels, I saw a pony tail in place of the latest coiff, I saw yoga pants and t shirt in place of a snappy business suit. And you know what? I looked, I saw, I noticed, I remembered, I hoped, I dreamed, I loved, I lived, I thanked God for it all. Best of all, when I saw all of that looking back at me-I smiled! I’ll take that and more. Grayer, Wrinklier, Crinklier… Happy, Full, Grateful!
We live in a house with many doors. Each door has a purpose, a meaning, a reason for being. Front doors for adorning and welcoming guests. Side doors for everyday routines like running to catch the school bus or coming in after checking the mail. Back doors to leave unlocked in case a family or friend needs to get it in without a key, and for letting the dog in and out. Hidden doors for storing treasures. Castles have trap doors, theaters have stage doors, city towers have revolving doors. Doors are funny things–ordinary things. We all have them and we use them every day. Some open only one way, some lock, some have windows to see what’s inside, some get stuck in a closed position, some get stuck open, some squeak, some are slow, some slam behind you, some need coaxing to loosen the handle or hinge. Painted, stained, natural, metal, wood, paper…
Our soul is a house with many doors. Are you quiet or squeaky? Do you get stuck closed? Do you have windows to let in the light? Are you locked up tight or open wide? Do you quickly slam or do you close gently with the slightest breeze? When someone comes knocking are you open for business? Do you unlock a door only for special family or friends? Do you need extra care to spring free? Today, I am thinking about my many doors, their openness, their stubbornness, their gentleness, their voice. Most of them are good solid doors. I like them all, but maybe I’ll just touch them up a bit–a little oil, a little tightening, maybe some new paint, a handle to shine. You never know who may come a knockin’!
So, last night I watched the Grammy awards and let me say, I. LOVE. MUSIC! I know that it has been said that your sense of smell can evoke the most powerful memories of a person or an event or a feeling– but in my world, music is my most powerful flashback in time. I have memories all tied up in music and tied to all different kinds of music too. Some songs that come to mind are:
Sitting in circle time in nursery school on our own little square pieces of rugs, singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider”.
Crisp fall days swinging in the back yard with my sister, sitting “spider style” singing “Oh ho ho, It’s Magic You Know…Never Believe It’s Not So…” at the top of our lungs with the sun smiling down on us.
My very first live concert, The Carpenters, “Top of the World Looking Down on Creation…”
The last song at our high school dances, wanting it to last forever with Journey-”Open Arms”, (thank goodness that Stairway To Heaven was on its way out as the last dance by the time I logged into my memory bank ;)).
Listening to any and every U2 song over and over and over again as they fueled college-age dreams of creating a better world.
My first dance as a married woman to Tony Bennet’s, “Young, Warm and Wonderful” and feeling just that, so wonderful and warm and young!
Singing to my children every night when they were little, all squeaky clean from a bath, feety pajamas, cozy in their warm beds, “You Are My Sunshine…”.
Crying in awe at my uncle’s version of “Ave Maria” every single time he sings it.
Watching my daughter perform her very first solo as Clara to Tchaikovsky in the “Nutcracker Suite”.
Listening to my son play his first song on his new piano a few weeks ago, “Skyfall” by Adele.
And the list goes on…
Music is the backdrop to snapshots of so many memories. The thing that amazes me is how we can all hear a song and feel that sense of connection with it, but all of us for different reasons! How awesome that we can all watch the Grammy awards from different parts of the country and be moved by the music that stirs in our very own soul. Whether it’s sitting in your childhood bedroom, pressing rewind & then play to hear your favorite song on your tape player, or standing at a concert, hands in the air, heart lifted high, singing with a zillion other people sharing the same magical moment, music has spoken to your heart. Quiet, loud, fast and slow–Some days it comforts you, some days it hopes with you, cries with you and celebrates with you. Sometimes you remember it with your “firsts”, and sometimes you hold it as you remember your “lasts”. Today, I am thankful for the gift of music and the journeys I have taken with it throughout my life. Which songs are creating the soundtrack to your life? Are you remembering a person, a time, a feeling? Find the song of your soul right now, unwrap the gift, and take a minute to crank it up! Ho, Hey everybody!!