Month: March 2014

Remember Why You Started

Walking the freezing streets of New York City in January [1], I wasn’t willing to stop my forward motion for much. I chaperoned with an iron fist, kind of. “Go. Move. Keep walking. Tighten it up. Come on.” The only things that halted me were window displays of perfect macarons and this: A coffee shop chalk board stand that said, in simple block printing, “Remember Why You Started.” [2]

Those words sliced into me like the arctic January wind, except once they were planted, they warmed me up.

Why did I start?

Do I remember?

And when I remember, what does the remembering require of me?

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[1] Seriously, people. Do you remember how cold it was the week before the Superbowl in New York City? Because, cold.

[2] I took a picture of it. I have it sitting right here. Apparently I have my techno-challenge on, because I can’t upload it. Maybe later. Maybe use your imagination.

Little Sister

So when I went to the Memorial Service this weekend, I didn’t want to go alone. Because who wants to go alone? Am I right? (The answer is yes, you’re right. No one wants to go alone.)

So I picked up my brother and took him with me.

An interesting (to me) thing happened when I did. I turned into Little Sister again. I asked him to tell me which was the fastest route to the freeway. Which exit to take. Where to turn. Where to park. Which door to enter. Where to sit. I needed him to tell me All the Things to do. I asked him about a hundred times, “Is that _________?” “Who’s that lady?” I must have been the world’s most obnoxious little sister. I mean, Saturday. Okay, also in all of the past. I had him drive from the mortuary to the cemetery. (That’s because I was in Husband’s car, and it’s fun to drive. Because I can totally find the Salt Lake City Cemetery all by myself.) (I can.)

Does this happen to everyone? Is this a Thing? Because I’m certain it was the most natural reversion in the world.

Fragile Humans

Yesterday, at a memorial service for a man I love, I had a new/remembered realization about the fragility of human life. Not just the fragile part at the beginning when life is new and babies are breakable or at the other end when, well, life ends and stuff, but the truly fragile middle part. The part where hearts and souls are in danger. The part where spirits take a beating and need to be strengthened. The part where we doubt ourselves and our abilities to do the hard things (and even, some days, the simple things). The part where legs get kicked out from supporting the table and everything sort of starts to slide.

And we fragile ones need other people around us when the sliding starts.

And I realized that I need to — way more often — tell those who are there to help me THANK YOU. I need to tell people I love them. I appreciate them. I honor them. I remember them. I admire them. I am glad to be there for them when their own sliding happens.

Why is the telling so hard? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

Me: “You mean a lot to me. I love you.”

Them: “I don’t care.”

Okay, that could be bad. Maybe really hurtful. But maybe I’m finally old enough to NOT CARE so much. Maybe I can actually smile, shrug, and say, “All right then,” as I move on to say it to the next person. (This, darlings, is the joy of being 40, I think.)

If I said the nice things even half as often as I think them, I’d probably open a window to a lot of peace and joy in my corner of the world. And who doesn’t want that? It’s possible that I turned into a total hippie over the past week. But I still shower, and I haven’t ingested any mood-altering chemicals stronger than butter, so seriously? Hippie isn’t bad.

I’m going to spread the love. I’m going to say the kind things. I’m going to JUST STAND THERE [1] sometimes. I’m going to hug (except I’m not supposed to do that at school — don’t tell, but sometimes I break that rule). I’m going to offer my strength, such as it is, to the fragile. And I will try to graciously accept theirs to me, when it’s my turn.

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[1] My wise dad has a saying he uses at times of [other people’s] crisis: “Don’t just say something, stand there.” Because, often, the proximity is far more helpful than the solution-offering words.

Sweet News

So my Kid 2 is pretty awesome. This is not a surprise to anyone who knows her, or who’s hung around much here. But this week, she even surprised me. See, there’s this club at school, FBLA (which stands for Future Business Leaders of America, as you may know), that she joined in the fall because they had pizza parties and being a member looks good on a resume and a college application. Last week there was a state FBLA competition, and she told me a month ago that she wanted to compete.

I wasn’t sure how much this had to do with the opportunity to compete in a state event and how much it had to do with the opportunity to go away for a few days and stay in a hotel with a room full of friends (but I could guess).

So she made a Public Service Announcement. And she took some exams and she did a few tests at the state competition. And she laughed about the tests on Economics, since she’s never, ever studied anything much related to economics. And she said, “My commercial went pretty well,” about her PSA and presentation. And then her PSA won first place. In the state. Out of all the kids who have made an ad for the competition.

First place.

Want to see it?

The Award-Winning PSA

(Just click on that link. Then type in “katie” as the password. Because [spoiler] Kid 2’s name is Katie.)

(She’s the one on her phone when the starting gun fires.)

(She’s cute, right?)

She wrote, directed, casted, and edited that piece. She chose the music, and she made it happen. Her dad helped by filming, and taught her the editing program (and exercised a lot of patience). We’re all kinds of proud of her around here.

Thinks I Think

So I’ve been learning things about myself and thinking thinks about those things.

Here is one. I have a tendency to take upon myself the feelings other people are feeling. This could be considered a good thing – compassion, empathy, like that. That can’t be bad. When someone is happy, I’m happy with them. When someone’s worried, I’m worried with them. It’s soul-expanding, right? Except remember that I work in a high school?

I’ll just give you a minute to let that settle.

Is there any place in the known universe with more angst and excitement and stress and anticipation and fear and discouragement and mirror-checking and doublespeak than an American high school?

And I manage, without even trying, to take it all on myself. I get pretty excited when someone gets asked to prom of homecoming. I celebrate their making the team and winning the game and breaking records. Fights are so personal (the whispery kind and the physical kind). I proctored the ACT this week. I left that afternoon with totally shaking arms – I hadn’t felt so much stress inside me in MONTHS.

Is this a thing? Does this happen to you? Is this a personality defect? (See how I’m worried about what’s wrong with me? I’m kind of like 17 again. But fatter.)