Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sharks Teeth or Seacapes?

The other morning my husband and I spent special time together at the beach. It was just the two of us. The weather was perfect-- shining sun, slight breeze, and somnolent waves. Peaceful. While he enjoyed the ocean I relished the shore, mostly by reading The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks. When he tired of surfing, though, he would come in and together we would walk.

The beach we love best is a renowned spot for finding shark's teeth. It seems all in the family except me are super sleuths in locating these tiny treasures. As we meandered slowly along, I was pleased that I actually found one, the first success I'd experienced in quite awhile.

My contribution our of all these? One!

I typically blame my lack of ability in finding these teeth on my lack of sharp vision and my tired, aching back, but as I searched, I reflected. I realized it's not really that at all. As we were walking along, my eyes kept being drawn to the horizon, the ocean, and the life around me.
I simply could not focus on the tiny limited scene beneath my feet. Instead, My eyes would invariably rise up, and I would begin to muse on the bigger picture. The shore life, the surf, the sounds all competed for my attention. The bigger picture won out.

I realize this is a regular challenge for me in life. Daily I war with the details that compete with the overall objectives to my day, my week, my year. Recognizing I need accountability and structure, I struggle to put in place processes that allow me to accomplish my goals. Struggle is the key word here. I'm an expert procrastinator, a clever obfuscator, a creative task assignor. I begin to work on a detailed lesson plan only to be derailed by the larger question. How should the year look? What should I focus on? What will it look like? How will it prepare my children and students? And then I sit stewing over whether I had the correct approach to begin with. After awhile of this, I turn to shuffling piles from my office floor to the dining room table, or checking up on the latest Facebook posts. The lesson plan remains unfinished.

I have learned, for the most part, how to navigate this quirky side of me. I write lists, assign regular "office hours," and commit to deadlines. And somehow, I get my work done. Usually.

Today I happily finished updating the kids' portfolios. It's taken me awhile. Now that I have two in high school, once of whom is a senior, it is more and more critical I get these small tasks completed. Soon enough we will be filling out college applications, and that portfolio will be needed. Next up? Navigating FAFSA and the Common Application, but I've got a little time before that deadline begins to encroach. Hey, maybe I've got some time for a little knitting now! Now where did I stash that project?

Saturday, August 8, 2015


In the middle of living my typical wife/mother life the other day in the middle of my typical wife/mother routine I suddenly I heard my mother's voice. A half-remembered memory, perhaps, fleeting, but very real pervaded my thoughts. I was arrested in the moment. Suspended, I stood, frozen. It was perhaps only a second or two, but for me time stopped. Then, tears came.The last time I actually heard my mother's sweet voice was almost three years ago after her surgery, which ultimately ended her life.

Grief is a funny thing. You move through the stages haltingly, hesitatingly. At times the darkness threatens to devour you, but eventually you move out of the fog of loss to a place where you collect your bearings, count your blessings, and cherish your memories as you pick up the threads of life and move on. Color again appears and your heart again begins to beat. You live and love and remember. But grief, although softened, and worn, like a polished river stone in your pocket will always be a part of you, and although you may forget for awhile, unconsciously at times you'll slip your hand in that pocket and suddenly remember, and feel, and mourn. And that's okay.

One of the Bible verses our family selected for Mom's funeral was Revelation 21:4. It says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Those words are incredibly comforting to me, for I know that these light and momentary troubles won't last forever. This place, as beautiful and wonderful and difficult and dark as it is, is not my forever home.

My tears were sweet that day. In the middle of my regular day, I remembered a much-loved voice. Yes, there was pain, but mostly there was gratitude and love and sweet remembrance for this precious lady. I am blessed by remembering and loving, and I will take my mother's love into my daily life and carry it with me as I love and care for my own children. And my mother's love will live on through me.