There is magic in the mundane, you just need the right lens to see it. Most people, I’d hazard to guess, just see a pile of laundry that desperately needs to be folded in this photograph. Today I see the magic. I’ve been given the gifts of a husband and children: this laundry reveals I have been entrusted with the care of other’s hearts. I’ve been given a home with electricity and running water, hot water even: this laundry reveals my basic needs are provided for. I can physically perform all the tasks required to complete laundry: I’ve been given the gifts of health and strength. The laundry is never done: I’ve been given a gift that keeps on giving, as long as I have the eyes to see it.
I walked to lunch today. A welcomed break in the middle of the day in one of my favorite towns. The noon hour buzzing with people, cars, sunshine streaming. It was hot, sweat glistened, and I found myself watching my shadow as I walked. Pony tail bobbing, thinking to myself, “I feel happy today.”
I’m recognizing, more and more, the return of happiness. I welcome it home.
As I turned the corner, I heard a small tinkling of ukulele music. I stopped staring at my shadow and instead looked up. A larger gentleman was sitting on a bench. Wearing ragged clothes, hikers backpack full of belongings next to him, he plucked away at the tiny instrument. A sign sat at his feet that said, “Just traveling on a prayer.” Aren’t we all?
I’ve had many a day I felt that was all that was bringing me through til night. A prayer.
I walked past and went into the sandwich shop chain. I paid eight dollars for my subpar sandwich and tucked the change in my pocket. Exit the restaurant, place sunglasses on head. Pivot back towards work.
I took a few steps and I noticed the music had stopped. I glanced down the block and saw the gentleman had placed the instrument to his side. His head was in his hands, a grubby bandana crumpling over his face, covering his eyes.
I bent down, and set a dollar into his large mug.
“Thanks for your music” I said and started to walk on by.
The gentleman picked up his head and smiled, breathing a sigh of relief.
“You are the first to donate all day. I was beginning to doubt myself. ”
“Nothing to doubt,” I said, “thanks for the gift. Your music is lovely.”
He kept talking and I wished him a good day.
The pony tail in my shadow had found a reason to bounce. I felt a new swing in my step, fueled by feelings of thanks for my gift of seeing.
I’ve been given the gift of seeing – of noticing things others prefer to ignore. It can be a pain and sometimes I want to squash what this spirit in me reveals, to dismiss the urge to lean in to those sitting and playing on street corners. Yet, my gift shows up again and again tugging my heart like an impatient child pulling on a parent’s arm. She tells me to whisper hello, and transfer feelings of hope in the form of eye contact and simple words.
Today I chose to recognize talent, made a connection, shared resources, even if small. My choice was met with acceptance and affirmation. It felt like he really needed my words.
We all want to be seen and appreciated for our talents. Plus, I love the ukulele.
I hope others spared a dollar or two for his beautiful talent.
Where can you improve in seeing others? How can you share your resources? What can you say thank you for?
How can you interact while we all travel on a prayer? Can it be beautiful if we choose to appreciate one another?
We have a family therapist. Or rather, had a family therapist. One wise gentleman that counseled my mom, my dad, my brother and me. This therapeutic closeness to each of our situations was wonderful and horrible all at the same time.
You know how you have to spend the first few sessions with a new therapist explaining your background? Tell me about your mom, your dad, your childhood trauma. Well this guy already knew – perhaps way more than I did – about my mom, my dad, and their childhood trauma. This was nice. Cut out the time-wasting backstory telling. Jump right in to my perspective of things.
This closeness also caused challenges. Like when I heard of a family’s new news from Said Therapist on a phone call, rather than the source. He assumed I already knew. I didn’t.
Said Therapist is wise and kind and has supported my family in unspoken, spiritual ways. He was the first person to call me, after my mom and Dylan, to offer kindness the day we lost Dad.
So when my dad died, who also happened to be one my therapist’s good friends, I had to stop getting counseling from Said Therapist. Grief and family closeness swarmed in on itself, collapsing one of the support systems I had previously relied on. While difficult, the choice to stop receiving therapy from this person remains to be a healthy one.
I’ve tried a few therapists since the loss and neither have clicked. And since mental health is NOT covered by my insurance I’ve taken a break from therapy. Another healthy choice because I tend to over-process myself into a tight spiral. Sometimes taking a break from counseling can be a beautiful thing.
However, Said Therapist’s wisdom continues to whisper in my ears and I am thankful for his lessons that he helped me grow into. I am thankful he taught me mindfulness, and thankfulness, and grounding exercises that help me remain in the present. Old lessons, like worn socks, which we take off and put on again, when we remember there are easier solutions to cold feet than freezing.
So today, when I got a phone call that a banking situation is going less than perfect, rather than panic I took a deep breath. I am a grown woman, I can problem solve, this, like all things, will resolve itself.
“BE THE HORIZON” Said Therapist would say.
Maybe Said Therapist never ever said that phrase to me, but it is one our family adopted. One my dad would share in texts, and my mom and I continue to repeat over and over again.
You know when you look out at the ocean, the line where the water meets the sky continues to remain steady. Yet, waves are always churning, water always moving, creatures and weather and ships interacting in patterns of chaos.
That darn horizon continues to stay true and steady and straight.
“Be the horizon.” Breath deep, remember you got this, stay the course.
Grounding exercises are beautiful and I’d like to think I’d accept reminders to take it one moment at a time with open arms. Too often, though, these reminders are in the form of tires that need replacing, and broken shingles, and bank accounts, and lost book shipments and the rearranging of schedules. Inconveniences and annoyances that remind us we are not in control.
Life is less than perfect. Perhaps these moments of perfect frustration should be seen as beautiful too.
This morning I was scrolling on Facebook, the grandest of all time wasters and anxiety provoking messages reminding me of how not-good-enough I am. I found this poem.
“It’s as if what is unbreakable—
the very pulse of life—waits for
everything else to be torn away,
and then in the bareness that
only silence and suffering and
great love can expose, it dares
to speak through us and to us.
It seems to say, if you want to last,
hold on to nothing. If you want
to know love, let in everything.
If you want to feel the presence
of everything, stop counting the
things that break along the way.”
I found this poem before the day unfolded and it caught my attention.
As the day progressed, its beautiful gift seemed to sink in more.
I want to stop counting, letting go of the broken, and moving forward to embrace all the good.
I think Said Therapist would say, ‘That sounds good Katie. That sounds good.’