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leave a mark. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

seagull prints copy

years ago when i turned 30 we celebrated by going to the zoo.  we spent the day, along with my parents and my niece, traipsing around admiring animals, learning factoids, taking pictures, eating ice cream.  i’m not really a zoo person.  i prefer to think of animals living happily in the wild, supported by a world that is thoughtful, careful and ecologically minded.  but i do recognize the need to conserve endangered species, study wildlife and inspire education and preservation of species and their natural environments.

it just so happened that the day we visited this zoo, this day that i turned the big 3-0, they were pouring cement sidewalks.  there is a wee letter ‘k’ in that sidewalk.  a mark.

we all want to leave a mark.  is it an invention?  is it a passing-down of a precious heirloom?  is it a name on a bench in a personal, special place?  is it a work of fine art, a painting, a piece of music?  is it a story?  is it a world record?  is it a mindset?  is it a way of being on this good earth?

i’m not sure when they last poured the surface on townline road.  but on that day, a certain seagull decided to leave a mark.  it walked across the freshly poured street – pad, pad, pad – and, until they pour again, its mark will remain.  we smile every time we walk past this set of prints, wondering aloud how long they have been there.

as we continue our time here, we are aware both of the mark we are leaving and the mark people are leaving on us.  in many years from now, when the road is paved over and we are no longer, i would hope that most of us led with the mark my sweet momma left, “be kind to each other.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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welcome sign. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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the first time we went to the tiny farmer’s market on island we ran into a few people we had just met.  new friends, they stopped to chat for a time and tom said, “the whole island is a welcome sign.”  that seems to be true.  a welcome sign.

yesterday we heard about people standing in line in the little grocery store.  the clerk and the customer checking out were having a chat.  no one in line interrupted.  no one shuffled their groceries.  no one shifted from one leg to the other, impatiently sighing loudly.  they just waited.  and then, when it was their turn, they had their own chat with the clerk.  the grocery store is a welcome sign.

we were walking down the road arm in arm, a few miles from home, and an old light blue pickup truck pulled up next to us.  a sweet old man leaned out and said, “you two lovebirds want a ride?”  we laughed and said that we were out for a stroll.  motioning to the bed of the truck, he told us he had plenty of room but added, “it looks like you are doing just fine.”  we chatted a minute more and he pulled away.  a welcome sign.

we were obliviously riding our bikes on the road, looking for deer in the woods.  talking quietly and laughing at my attempts at no-handed riding (which, by the way, came back after a try or two), i suddenly realized there was a car behind us.  i motioned quickly to d to pull over in front of me and get out of the car’s way.  as it passed, i called into the rolled-down window “sorry!”  the driver called back, “no worries!  enjoy your ride!”  no horn beeping, no revving of engine, no grumpy voice, no gesturing.  just a “no worries!”  a welcome sign.

it’s a sweet thing, this welcome.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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morning lake. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

two birds and an island

the lake wakes up different every day.  our little bay is moody and this pensive morning was not willing to add much color.  water morphed into sky which morphed into water and, were it not for hog island and two birds, it would be hard to tell where they each started and ended.

every day we are on island i will take a picture of the morning lake.  its hues, its movement, its message for the day.

today, as i look at this photograph with two birds and an island, i am quieted into thinking about the day.  in looking at the date, i note that 27 years ago today i lost my big brother.  i wonder if he is gazing out at this morning lake with me.  i wonder if he looks out on the day, its hues, its movement, the message of this good earth’s day.  i wonder if he has snapshots of every morning from heaven.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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extraordinarily ordinary. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

tim lake box.jpg

we watched the movie ABOUT TIME three times this week. it’s one of those movies. well, that and we have no wifi, internet or tv, so movies we borrow from the little island library are our late evening entertainment. even then, we don’t usually watch things multiple times during a one-week span. but this one drew us in.

how many times have you been reminded to live life like this? to live a day like you have come back to live it – the way you should have lived it the first time around….enjoying it, making it full, recognizing its brilliance, knowing that jewel of day will never again actually be repeated. too many lessons along the way teach us these things.

if i could wish upon a star and know that it would come true, it would be to live each day the way i would live it if i could do it over and “fix” anything that might have gone awry. to live it with absolute certainty that it was extraordinary, particularly in its ordinariness.

days. there are none to waste. during those days with moments of angry words, minutes are washing out to sea. in those times of drudgery when you are hoping for time to pass quickly, the hours vanish into thin air never to be lived again. in those times of grief, when pain washes over you and the minutes seemingly creep by, the chance to find any iota of joy co-existing with anguish passes by as you crawl into the next day, exhausted, depleted from losing the day before.

ABOUT TIME was a reminder: live each day like it was the full, final day. how would we choose to live on the full, final day? how would we treat people around us? what would we say to those we love? what would we do?

i remember my dear friend richie at the end of his life. each day he spent on this good earth he was a shining example of this. like all of us, he woke up never knowing which day would be the full and final day. and yet he woke up knowing it was close. people asked him how he did what he did, how he lived his days without regret. he just said, “everything’s going to be ok.” and he believed it. extraordinarily ordinary. every day.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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look in the mirror. stand up straight. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

 

red cup mirror

successories built a business on reminders. powerful, thoughtful, inspiring words that encourage us, motivate us, reassure us, remind us. we hang them in our offices, in our homes; we have daily mini posters on our calendars or our apps; we have mugs with words. we need reminders. in this world of challenges, worries, failures among the triumphs, our tender hearts need to see snippets that keep us going, keep us moving forward, keep us in grace.

i walked into the restroom at the red cup, a sweet coffeehouse on washington island. on the mirror were these words: “you are so cool and intelligent and strong and fierce.” my face stared back at me, right next to these words. a reminder. stand up straight.

to be honest, i suppose the first thing i thought was, “i’m not really cool,” a leftover from high school a million years ago, where i was definitely not in the cool crowd. (i never cut a class. i always did my homework. i practiced the piano. i rode my bike or drove my little vw bug to the beach all year round. i wore lots of hand-me-downs. i never smoked or attended a high school drinking party. i didn’t run with the cool group.) interesting how i still react to that ‘label’ and how it still plays inside me. this stuff hangs on; images we have of ourselves long-haul stick with us.

my next thought – in the restroom – was that we need these reminders. you and i. we ARE cool – in our own distinct ways. we are intelligent. we are strong – stronger than we know. and we are fierce…ready to stand firm for our children, our families, our friends, our beliefs, our selves.

it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. every day accosts us with new problems, complex seemingly unsolvable gordian knots, new reasons for our self image to take a blow, to feel less-than, to fail in this competitive world.   every day presents with a new chance to remember all we have done, all we have risen above, all we have helped accomplish. a chance to see how cool we are, how intelligent. a chance to, yet again, be strong and fierce.  look in the mirror.  stand up straight.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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the tide giggles. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

coffee cup dance

plan ahead, you say?   well, we thought we did.  we wanted a photograph to document our shore-sitting-sipping-on-bold-coffee moment that last morning on hilton head.  we carefully watched the waves and placed our mugs in the wet sand.  i stepped back to take a couple photos and voila!  the tide is a funny thing…something of which we have no control.  and so, the coffee cup dance became the moment and our laughter sated our need-for-coffee.

life, i suppose, is like that more often than not.  when i moved away from family to kenosha, the conversation went something like this:  “3-5 years and we will be moving on.”  it is now 30 years later.  30 years!  where did that time go?  what about the plan?  the tide seemed to have its own way and waves of joy and challenge, growth and grief, and simply TIME have washed over me.  the tide laughs in glee.

we try to plan.  my sweet momma had a great sign.  i wish i had it.  but it was something like this:

plan ahead

yet, despite our measuring, our strategizing, our calculating, our PLAN, life seems to take unexpected turns.  the waves roll in and the tide giggles.

why not giggle with it?

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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big red. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

CO to WI copy

colorado to wisconsin.  with a stop in columbia, missouri.  the first day is long.  twelve hours give or take.  we drive out of colorado into kansas, which has to be one of the wider states in the journey, and head for wendy’s.  she and keith are tolerant of whatever-time-we-get-there, knowing the challenges of a long drive.  this time, it was different.

this time we weren’t in our littlebabyscion toodling along, huffing and puffing up hills.  this time we were in Big Red, a giant ford F150.  she hadn’t been driven this-far-at-one-time in years.  we were high up and felt like road warriors.

columbus gave us a couple cassette tapes to play in the player and, in planning ahead, i had brought a dozen favorites from years past (ok, the 70s are many years past.)  we played each of them, singing along.  and then switched to the radio.  it only seemed right that country music be blaring out of the speakers, so we obliged.

although we blasted cassettes of john denver, loggins and messina, alabama, england dan & john ford coley among others, i have a few favorite radio songs of the journey east and north.  one direction’s what makes you beautiful, lady gaga and bradley cooper singing shallow, toby keith’s i wanna talk about me and my new fave, billy currington’s good directions and turnip greens.  a sweet country-music story.

we were talking with jen and brad last night in their kitchen, lingering over our potluck together.  we talked about compromise and life and decisions and chance.  like everyone, david and i have had our share of each of those.  decisions sorted and pondered, and compromises, bending to the things that make life meaningful, balancing reality with idealism.  and then there’s chance.  we could relate to the story of turnip greens…happenstance changing life.   a choice, one direction taken, a turn, one click…and everything changes.  what comes is predicated on what was and what is this very second.  we second those lyrics – thank God for good directions and turnip greens.

we turned up the stereo in Big Red and opened the windows with the AC on.  somewhere along the way, we decided it was a she, for she had gently mothered columbus as he drove a bit more gingerly in recent days and she sturdily and protectively lumbered us across the country.  laughing and certain of everything and absolutely nothing, we turned this beautiful big old pickup truck toward home.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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