Sunday, January 24, 2016

In the laughter

My sister in law, Sarah, has got me hooked on the show Call the Midwife. I've been binge watching my way through the seasons and am up through the middle of Season 3. If I could, I would watch in all of my spare moments but I can only watch when I'm by myself because no one else in my family is quite as interested as I am in the lives of midwives and nuns in a poor neighborhood in London in the 1950's. They also seem to be a bit squeamish over highly realistic childbirth scenes.

Go figure. Cowards.

I've started having recurring dreams where I am either pregnant or have just given birth, and when I'm struggling with productivity and sloth (as I often do), I imagine Sister Evangeline giving me a stern and entirely necessary scolding, which usually gets me up off the couch. (Usually. Unless I'm in the middle of an episode in which case Sister Evangeline will have to wait.)

It's safe to say Call the Midwife has infiltrated every aspect of my life.

I'd go so far as to say the show has become my own personal Life Coach and that I follow its guidance as close to the letter as I can. Except for the bicycling. I'm too scared of Seattle traffic to start bicycling everywhere.

The other day I watched an episode where one of the main characters suffers a heartbreaking loss (no spoilers, I won't say who). She is struggling to find her footing in a world that no longer makes sense, when she receives some wisdom from an older woman who has fought her own battles with heartache.

In answer to what she is supposed to do now, how does she go on, what does she do next? The older woman says to her simply, "You just keep on living. You keep living...everyday...until you feel alive again."

Last night a bunch of us gathered together again. My CTMW-enabling sister in law and younger brother came into town to visit, which was as good a reason as any to pull together an evening of food and drink and conversation and hugging. (There is a lot of hugging these days. I'm not typically much of a hugger, but I'm coming around. I have to. It seems I can't stop these people.)

There was also laughter. Lots of laughter.

Sometimes I feel like I don't know how to explain the laughter. That if someone were looking from the outside in we would look more like a bunch of silly, party clowns than the bruised and battered tribe that we are.

And then I saw this quote today:

There are three things which are real: 
God, human folly, and laughter. 
The first two are beyond our comprehension, 
so we must do what we can with the third.
~Adapted from a Hindu poem 

We laugh because it's part of who we are, who we have always been, and who she was. 

To stop laughing would be to stop living. It would mean that we not only lost her, but that we turned our backs on her. The laughter is how we honor her and everything she gave us. 

Every time we have been together- noisy, full of food and wine, crammed shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen while the rest of the house stands empty- at some point someone has whispered to me, I swear I hear her. I swear I can hear her laugh. 

Every time.

And I say, I know. Me too. 

I don't know how she did it, but she brought all of these people together. And what a raggedy, eclectic bunch we are. 

But we know how to laugh.  

She taught us so very well. 

The CTMW enabler and Tracy going to battle in our annual $10 gift exchange.
I think they worked it out in the end. ;-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All things new

It's that time again. A New Year, a new One Word.

I'm a bit late posting my word not because I haven't settled on a word, but because my mind has been full of so many words, and thoughts, and to-do's, and feelings lately...that I have been too scattered to put them down into any organized form.

You: So, what you're saying is that you write best when your mind is empty?

Me: Yes. Don't ask questions.

You: But, wouldn't having no thoughts imply having nothing to say?

Me: Shhhh..... It's complicated. 

If you want a more detailed explanation of my whole One Word approach to the New Year, you can read about it here and here. I simply do not have the mental bandwidth to re-hash all of that so links are going to have to do.

If you are really bored (or are trapped under something heavy and are looking for ways to pass the time) and actually clicked on those links, you will learn that in past years coming up with my One Word took a bit of effort. There was a sort of process, if you will, that I went through to arrive at my all-important, annual One Word.

This year, my One Word came to me in early December and never left.

The fact that it was so effortless makes me wonder if I am subconsciously cheating and just opted to settle for the first reasonable word that came to mind, (As opposed to the many unreasonable words that come to mind for me all the time like: Doritos, pizza, cookie dough, margaritas...yes, I'm hungry...and no, none of those would make a good One Word....or...would they??) I was saying, my One Word came to me in early December and decided to stick around for the long haul.

Since then, there have been some seismic changes in my life, but oddly enough, I feel like my word still fits. So, maybe I wasn't cheating after all? Maybe this is truly the word I need in 2016?

So, without further ado... my One Word for 2016 is...


A tiny word but one that is just chock full of promise and potential. It's almost shiny in its aura of hopefulness and optimism. Except when it isn't...

See, I'm not always a person who enjoys new things. I can be pretty content to have everyday play out with the predictability of Groundhog Day, slightly tweaking things here and there until I can finally get things right.

New can be exciting! But new can also be scary.

New opportunities can open doors to blessings you never imagined! And sometimes you have to find your way to a new normal that you never dreamed of or wanted.

In 2016, my intention is to be more open to change. To embrace the NEW and not cling to the old out of fear or intimidation.

Don't get me wrong, I am well aware that new is not always better. In fact, my more conservative nature tends to lead me more toward the end of the spectrum that says new is rarely better (can we bring back the Betamax and cassette tapes?). I'm not throwing out anything of value in my life, regardless of how well seasoned. I'm keeping my marriage, my family, my friends, my faith... Nothing crazy is happening here. I'm just going to work on not having knee-jerk reactions to new possibilities in the year ahead.

This might mean saying yes to things when I would normally say no, or no to things when I would normally say yes.

It means allowing myself to be different and not getting trapped in an unyielding mindset of who I am. More and more I am realizing that we are always changing, always growing. In fact, I believe that we are created to change! So, who I have been does not dictate who I might be tomorrow, or next week, or next year.

I often catch myself giving myself labels- "introvert", "homebody", "someone who doesn't like change" (for example)- but these are all just mindsets for the most part. Sure, we all have God-given traits that make us different and unique, but I don't think God meant for any of those traits to resemble handprints pressed into concrete- frozen and unchanging for all of time.

Sometimes it's just a matter of stretching ourselves in the smallest ways, a little bit each day.

2016 is already giving me opportunities to live out my One Word- in ways that are both exciting and sad, scary and hopeful.

In the category of new things that I never dreamed of or wanted...

2016 will be the very first year of my entire life that I will spend without this beautiful soul's physical presence. My cousin, my playmate, my inspiration, my soul-sister, my buddy, my lifetime companion...

I know, I look very suspicious here. But trust me, I loved her right from the start.

Tracy taught me the art of vacationing and the importance of a beach beverage from a young age.

I met my husband thanks to these two.
Friends forever.

We raised this mob of boys together, and then the little Princess who tagged along later.

A million small moments and good times.
And, of course, only those two were ready for the pic.
Always camera ready!

No one has ever made me laugh harder.
(Try to ignore that my hair looks like David Cassidy.)
(Windblown is not my best look.)

Our whole family is missing this girl.

We called ourselves the A Team (silly, inside joke).
The A Team will never be the same...
"...and all the trumpets sounded for her on the other side."
~John Bunyan
I miss you every minute of every day.
There aren't enough pictures or words to convey what Tracy meant to me and the hole that has been left in my life (although we gave it a good try with the photos-we have A LOT). We already spent a new Christmas without Tracy and 2016 will be full of so many other new firsts. I pray I find a way to live them well, honoring her and all the people she loved so very much.

In the category of scary but hopeful new things...

The Sawyers are taking their road show east of the mountains.

I really honestly never thought I'd say these words.

We are moving.

Not until the end of the school year so it isn't imminent, but it's happening.

I don't know what to say about that quite yet, except to say to all of our friends and neighbors who we have spent our lives with for the past 24 years, we love you. We love this city. We love this neighborhood. We love this home.

And we will still be around. I promise.

And that's all I have to say about that right now (as I channel Forrest Gump) but I imagine there will be lots more words on this subject forthcoming.

And there will be whole bunches of NEW that will go along with it.

For now, I will leave you with my 2016 verse of the year:

Let it be so. 

Happy New Year, friends.

Let's make it a good one.