gratitude, journey, friendship

The lavender latte day…

It was a normal afternoon, really. The plan was to meet a friend downtown to do some photographer type things. Nothing too extraordinary was on the agenda, beyond meeting at the local coffee-house on the corner. It was so beautiful out, really uncharacteristic for Michigan’s majority days, so we took advantage of it and snagged an iron table outside.

Instantly I was second guessing my decision to wear a denim jacket. It had seemed cooler out, but the bit of humidity, though mild, was combatting my outfit. My friend agreed to watch my gear while I went in and ordered a drink. (She’d been there waiting, so she already had something to quench the thirst.) Immediately my eyes were drawn to the baked goods, being brought in daily, from my favorite bakery. Fortunately, they never have my favorite things, so it isn’t much of a sacrifice to skip the treat.

I need to pause the story for a second and explain something, to anyone reading this who wouldn’t know… I hail from the magical land known as the Pacific Northwest. While there are mountains and beautiful, life restoring things to look at, touch and smell, there are also lots (and lots) of coffee houses. They are very unique to one another and you typically have your places that you love, and the ones you do not. If you don’t have time for a coffee-house, there are also lots (and lots) of coffee huts which you simply drive up to. (these follow the same pattern, some you’ll love and some you won’t.) Though there are many things that set them apart, besides coffee, the one commonality is usually help. You can say, for instance, “Hi! It’s pretty warm out. I usually have the ______________, but I want something different. Could you recommend something not too sweet or rich, that’s iced?” To which, the barista will smile at you, likely make a small-talk comment, and then either suggest a few things (with vivid description) or ask you a few more questions, so as better to help. It’s nice. It’s personal. It is part of what helps you love the places you love…

So there I am, in a coffee-house (the only one, really) following the pattern that is engrained into me. “Hi! I’m looking for something cold. Not too rich, not too sweet. I usually have the #3 hot, when I’m here, but not today. What would you suggest?” There were a lot of “You could have the #3 iced,” accompanied by “You can ice anything,” type remarks, not unenthusiastic but not super helpful either. Through an odd array of miscommunications I settled on a Honey lavender Iced Latte. (I was assured that I would NOT be sorry. While I wasn’t exactly sorry, I can tell you they REALLY oversold this drink which was about as special as a Keurig pod. It certainly wasn’t the high point of the typical afternoon)

Strange drink in hand, I head back out to our table. We chat a little, change tables (mostly insignificant detail) and spend about ten minutes doing our own thing and not paying much attention to the people around us…

And- sidenote- there were A LOT of people in our small little downtown at 1:15 p.m. on a week day…

“Hey, Hey You! Hey, yeah you. Why don’t you come on over here?”

I hear the older male prompting, coming from behind me and I turn to see if he was shouting at me. He’s clean. His clothes are clean. If he wasn’t so clean, I would automatically deduce he was homeless, but because he’s clean- I don’t. (and I get it, twenty different groups of people can pull out a dozen things “wrong” with that statement, but I don’t care. I’m being honest. right or wrong- it’s the truth.) I also conclude that he isn’t talking to me, as I follow his eyes down the curb to two teen girls whispering to one another. They’d apparently been walking by the corner he was waiting on, and this caught his attention. They seemed confused, and though they had stopped walking, they did not respond.

“Hey girls, why don’t you come on over here? Hey you, come hang out with me, it’ll be fun! Hey, Hey you!” He appeared to be in his 60’s, but it wouldn’t have been any less appropriate if he were in his 30’s, the age bit is just to aid with the visual… The girls ended their whisper conference and began moving again, down the street and away from him. “Hey!” He shouted, louder, “Where you girls going? Don’t you want some fun?”

Knock it off, buddy. I said the words loud enough that he easily heard me, but not loud enough to be a stupid decision. I wanted to encourage him to move on, not have a confrontation. Though it was (again) speculation, I figured the guy likely had some impairments. This wouldn’t make him any less of a threat, I get that.

Within a few minutes, we grabbed our stuff and headed inside where the cool air seemed more inviting.

More than ten minutes later (but less than 15) the two girls from before, come walking down the block again. Same sidewalk, but different direction. I couldn’t tell you anyone else who’d been on that block, but when they passed, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, prompting me to look in their direction. It was chilling really, and just as I went to look away, guess who appeared about 10 feet behind them…

When my youngest was 6, we got a neighborhood notice that a registered sex offender had moved in, down the street. My husband travelled often, for work, and having been sexually abused as a girl, I knew that I needed to pro-actively address any potential risk. When Gen got home from school, we changed out of her uniform and walked, hand in hand, down to the man’s door. When the bell rang, his mom answered. (I knew this, because I straight-up asked.) When she called him, and he came to the door, I smiled at him and told him we lived down the street. I welcomed him to the neighborhood, told him that I understood everyone deserved a fresh start. I then looked him straight in the eye and said “this is my daughter.” I looked at Gen and said “Look at his face. Would you recognize him if you saw him again?” She looked at him a bit and then replied yes, she would. My gaze returned to him, and through that screen door I emphasized two, very clear things:

1.) If I EVER saw him within 15 feet of a child, I would call the police immediately. I don’t care if he was just walking down the street.

2.) If I EVER saw him anywhere near my house, or within the same line of sight as my child, I would call the police and handle things legally but that he should be VERY aware of the fact that I was not afraid to kill him, with any means necessary, should I feel like he is posing a threat to my child.

I asked him if he understood. He did. I smiled, told his mom to have a nice day and then looked to him again and said “I really do wish you the best of luck.”

I tell you that story because I really want to make it clear- I do not have a tolerance for even the possibility of something. All the times you hear those stories of the people who suspected, or thought something was off, but never did anything… That WAS my childhood, and when my childhood changed it was because I was the one who stood up and did something about it. ME. I would rather stir things up, and be wrong, than ignore them and wrong be done.

The second I saw the man following these girls, I called 911.

The well-meaning operator was very fixated on violence, weapons and assault, but I held my ground that there had been none of those things. At one point she seemed confused as to my need to call and I reminded her that I had begun the call with I know this isn’t actually an emergency, but I honestly didn’t know who else to call considering it’s a street corner and the man in question is moving. Finally she said she’d send the police. She took my name and asked if I’d be willing to talk to them. Of course I would, and so I waited.

This is where I have to reiterate- this is a small town. The length of time waiting was pretty unimpressive…

Thankfully the girls met up with a (guy) friend, across the street. It all played out in such a way that I had to wonder if they called/texted him. There were more whispered conferences and glances in the man’s direction. The man chose this moment in time to sit at the little iron table, (the one we’d been at earlier) and smoke, while watching the girls, now across the street.

An officer eventually came. Into the coffee shop. He came IN TO THE SHOP, while the guy sat smoking his second cigarette outside. He sat looking around the coffee shop for several minutes, until the man in question stood and proceeded to walk around the corner. (The man, who wore a brightly colored orange, oversized t-shirt. Can’t miss him.) The cop saw him, and high tailed it out there, to speak with him. The coffee shop has big windows, so we watched for a bit. Then the chat was done, the cop returned inside and the man left. The officer went to talk to the staff. Had they called 911? Did they know who did? Finally my friend went over and told him I had. As he walked over, his partner (senior??) entered the shop and joined him…

This has already been a long story. Bottom line: I have absolutely nothing against law enforcement. Nothing. I know several officers and then several more wives of (different) LEOs. I am grateful and in awe of their jobs. That being said- this situation made me think that if there were something suspicious happening, I would not call the police. While the younger officer seemed to be concerned with the fact that school was almost out and kids always hung out in this area, the older officer was one level away from condescending when he very firmly pointed out that this man has been around, walking all over town, for decades. Everyone knows him. He is harmless. He has a mental illnesses. SEVERAL different ones. And Tourrettes syndrome. Sometimes he shouts at people, they think, but it’s just his Tourrettes. And be all that as it may, the reality is that it is not harmless for a man of ANY age (or mental capacity) to follow teen girls around, trying to get them to join him. (And just so everyone is clear, an individual shouting to teen girls and asking them to join him for some fun is NOT what Tourrettes looks like.)

When something doesn’t look right, or if your gut sends you a signal- DO SOMETHING. Always. Every single time.

This situation was the most disheartening part of the day, and it stayed with me through most of the weekend… The biggest surprise of all, oddly, was that the stupid Honey Lavender Latte DID turn out to be the best part of my day after all.

 

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entertainment, family, gratitude, journey, list, marriage, self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

I am in love, (of the head over heels variety) with the blossoms on our trees. It is like Michigan woke up one morning and realized it had forgotten to dress in its spring apparel. I know, by now, that there is no “this time of year” sentiment rooted in fact, here in the mitten state. The weather is never the same. Even here, in the just-over-half-way point of May, a huge snow storm could fall on us at any point in time. I know the drill.

Sadly the blossoms are blowing off as quickly as they came. I feel the need to stomp my foot and ask God if the beauty  really has to be so fleeting… Then this might be when God smiles lovingly and points out the huge pimple on my jaw line and I sigh. (imaginary conversations are my specialty)

This week I’ve been lucky to love quite a few things. Some old, some new, and I am super excited to share those things with you…

  • This website is really time-consuming, but super moving. I am a big “fan” (the word seems almost inappropriate) of things which stretch the boundaries of my empathy and ability to relate to others. This is very much one of those things. (Another was this book… And if you happen to be pretty conservative and fear it will be like the Netflix series, I assure you, it is not.)
  • I think the husband & I feel like we watch a fair amount of shows on TV, but in comparison to the national average, we watch a lot less. That being said, I have to be honest and say that I am really glad the few shows I enjoy on regular TV are wrapping up for the season. For the most part, each time I watch a season finale, I find myself grateful.
  • Yellow Box Flip Flops are my life, in the summer. Truth be told, I dream of living somewhere where I can be in them all year long. Their soles just offer so much support. BEST. SHOES. EVER…
  • This sort of thing either annoys you, or your entire day will be made and you just might love me forever. Either way, this is my special weekend gift for you. You’re welcome…
  • I get it, it looks weird. I also get it, Wes Anderson movies are quirky… But seriously, if you like dogs AT ALL, you need to see this film. I knew I would love it, the issue was finding someone to see it with me. And finally, my husband reluctantly went, and really enjoyed it.

I have a really big week, coming up. There are a lot of stressful things, and some really exciting ones… I could use (and will take) all of the positive thoughts/energy/prayers you’re willing to share!

I’m not going to lie though, i am really excited for this… I wish I cared about the actual event, but I just don’t. I enjoyed the last one. My daughters and I made a big party out of it, and it was really fun/special. This time around though, I just have to admit: Will Ferrell makes everything better.

books, entertainment, gratitude, home, journey, list

A hodgepodge dabble…

From this Side of the Pond
I decided to dabble in a little something new, so today I am participating in a fun little Wednesday thing, over here… Basically, 6 questions are asked, and I’ll answer. Pretty easy, right?

1. What would you say is your biggest day to day challenge?

time management is easily my biggest day-to-day challenge. I have truly important (and sometimes admirable) to-do lists, where everything really matters, to some degree… But I struggle most often with managing the time and not losing myself in the tasks. Often what gets cut is my writing time…

2. May 16th is National Biographers Day. What’s a biography you really enjoyed reading? Is this a genre you read regularly?

While it isn’t actually a biography, anyone who reads here or listens to the podcast must be so sick of hearing about this, but I am full-on OBSESSED with Chrissy Metz autobiography/memoir. OBSESSED. (I have also enjoyed biographies written about Zelda Fitzgerald quite a bit!) I love memoirs, personal essay collections and really solid literary novels.

3. How important is keeping a clean house? Do you need to de-clutter your life?

I have a “lived in” home, but it stays pretty clean and organized, for the most part. I have a couple of seasons a year where I’ll do a big declutter, but do honestly try to stay on top of it because I firmly believe that only surround myself with things I either love or need is the best way to a quality and peace filled life.

4. You’re the 8th dwarf. What’s your name?

Ha! Snarky… (but only if I’m super close and comfortable with the 7 others.)

5. What’s surprised you the most about your life or life in general?

I think being able to look back and see direct trails (like connect-the-dots) leading from one bit to the next. Also, that, at 42, I still feel like that 22-year-old in my head. I don’t have it together, I’m not much wiser than then, I still have dreams and discover new passions. At 22, I always thought by now I’d be wise and stable, so mature in my brain, but I am just not…

This came about in a conversation with my husband, over the weekend. He, soft voiced and hesitant, confessed this very thing, and I had to laugh as reassuringly as possible. I wonder what it is that makes us believe we won’t still be us in 20-30 years? It gives me an all new perspective on my grandparents, before they passed, and on the elderly people I interact with regularly at my mother’s memory care facility.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Sometimes I watch the Great British Bake-off and I’m blown away by so many elements of it. I think about how it’s probably the wisest and best “entertainment” to help us become better people… Other times, I watch it and while I love it, I admit that I had NO CLUE what I was thinking…

You asked for random.

I’m also wondering how one goes about getting a summer intern. I’m also unable to think about little beyond if I am going to be moving soon. I want to move. I totally DO NOT want to move. Adulthood is complicated, no?

(also… Don’t forget to read my CRAZY little story, and then enter to win a $50 Target gift card!)

entertainment, family, friendship, gratitude, journey

Beyond the Sun…

When I was young, I really enjoyed the element of the hidden adventure in every thing. As I grew older I figured that it must have been the only child, from a neglected home, in me. I sailed right on past the imaginary friend phase and found so many things to dream about and explore. While my second home seemed to be the large shed which sat behind my grandmother’s house- that building which magically morphed from flower shop, to dream house, from raging night club to five-star restaurant- the majority of the adventures found within that shed seemed to happen only in my imagination. My absolute favorite place, when I was a small girl, was forbidden. There was an abandoned lot about a block away from my house, covered from corner to corner with junk. There was an old plaid couch, a rusted out vintage stove, dressers, broken glass, wheel spokes, barbed-wire-wrapped posts, and so many things that i just can’t remember it all, these decades later. Whenever we’d pass by, in our car, I would stare longingly out my window. The potential adventure disguised as garbage called to me. Whenever I knew that I could ride my bike to that abandoned lot and play, without anyone noticing I was gone, that was what I would live for. Often unable to think of anything else, my every day-dream took place within the magical mess of that piece of land.

After months of making my way through the seemingly endless junk, I concluded that should things at home continue to not go well, I could always move onto the lot. No one else seemed to want it, and I felt inspired and alive there. I had found an old hard shell overnight bag, on my lot, and took it home. After cleaning it up, I began packing it with the things I both seemed to treasure, and felt would be practical choices, for the big move. As my timeline grew closer, I became more and more upbeat and excited. I had shifted bits of furniture around to make the area more liveable and made sure the old stove was cook ready (you know, top clear, oven emptied out of spider webs, etc,) even though I hadn’t ever really cooked anything on a stove before*. I had poured hours and hours of time into creating the perfect home where I could just do my thing, and I would not be my mom’s problem anymore… (*no, no the stove was not hooked up to any form of electricity, nor was there any way to do so, on this empty lot. I apparently was too young to realize this little hiccup to my plan.)

One Saturday my mother stumbled upon the hard-shell case which held all of my valuable possessions and she was pretty surprised to learn about my plan. She slowly unpacked each of my little plastic circus and farm animals, and my well-over twenty pairs of socks. I was not ashamed of my plan, so it didn’t require much effort on her part to get me to confess. For all of five minutes, after listening to me talk up this magical world which sat just over a block away, she even went over to the lot with me to look at my new home. This is the very first time that I ever remember my mother being absolutely honest with me. She wasn’t mean or manipulative- she simply told me the truth…

The truth was that, while she could see how fun it might all seem, our southern New Mexico location meant that it wasn’t safe to even set foot near all of that junk, for a lot of reasons. We walked home, me deflated and her on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Once we were safely inside she phoned our friend across the street to go over and inspect it a little bit better. Imagine my absolute horror when a small rattlesnake den was discovered underneath that (must have been so disgusting) couch, the one that I had sprawled out on, to test its sleepability for my new life. That very same couch I had jumped up and down on, in complete rebellion, because this was my place and I could do what I wanted. (What must the neighbors have thought, seeing me out there, like a fool? What must the snakes have thought? And how had that sun-bleached couch held the force of my jumping, without ripping, sending me straight down to the home of my skin-shedding neighbors below? So many questions…)

As a mom, I encouraged imaginative play and adventure. Even now, as an adult woman, I still value adventure. I did encourage caution with play and exploration, educating on common sense things to look out for. Empowerment and Education are everything…

And I am still super leery of what I now realize could be obvious snake abodes.

(As a mother, I also look back on that time with absolute horror. How I did not die there, in that desert, I am unsure.)

I am really excited to partner with Grace Hill Media to talk about the film Beyond the Sun! You can see the trailer here. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Beyond The Sun is a heartwarming family film  that is releasing this week.  Distributed by AMBI Distribution, BEYOND THE SUN, is a modern-day tale of hope, faith and courage based on stories from the Bible. This delightful family movie chronicles the adventures of four young friends in search of God.

 The film features a very rare special appearance by Pope Francis.  In support of the film, AMBI Media Group is holding a special contest where one lucky winner will win an Exclusive Private Tour of the Vatican and Front Row Tickets to an Audience with The Pope For Four! 

For anyone who has ever wanted to visit Italy and The Vatican, this is your chance!  For additional details about the contest and to enter, please go to:

www.freetriptorome.com.

 BEYOND THE SUN will be available for purchase across multiple platforms including iTunes, Amazon, and TUGG on May 15th.

In addition to the contest, I am giving away a $50 gift card to Target, for one lucky reader! To enter, simply leave a comment telling of a childhood adventure you once had. Deadline for entry is 11:59p.m. 5/16/18

Good luck!

family, friendship, gratitude, infertility, journey, writing

Include…

As an orphan, as a failure- both motherless, in relevant ways, and childless in the real ones, you include me.

You envelop me within the warmth of a family that is not my own. You tie me, bind me to souls sharing only the elements of brokenness and abandon. These things both awe me and further break my heart.

Perhaps they are supposed to.

While the world around me shuts me out, unrelatable to the vein in which their lives flow, you include me.

While many decided (and still do) I was not worth their time,

worth their love or support,

worth anything at all really- you breathed within me that I do have worth in you. I am more than their self-seeking destruction, but I am yours. Your daughter, your child, your plan, your purpose, your path taker, if only I choose to take that path you’re on. 

You have included my heart, my longings, my emptiness and my  very core in this path which you have cleared. You have designed an entire universe of purpose around my very soul. You include me within your warm embrace when others shut the door, whispering in my ear to let go and trust. No baggage, no past, not one lost thing to drag me down. I look ahead, make out a clearing and know in my core that if I continue toward you, inclusion in your loving warmth is what will come.

And so, I let go.

(this post is from this weeks prompt over at FMF.)