Tag Archives: perspective

To do list

My life changed after using the last Q-tip Monday night. Sincerely. I planned to pick up a new box on Tuesday once I finished at the library. The pharmacy was right next door but I managed to forget. On Wednesday, I didn’t think about the Q-tips until I climbed out of the shower that night. Frustrated I muttered, “Oh God! …Let me remember cotton swabs next time I’m out?!” I put on my pajamas and wrote ‘Qtips’ on our refrigerator shopping list.

Thursday was my birthday, so my focus was certainly not on Q-tips or any other kind of cotton swab. I readied for work, caught the train to Boston and bought munchkins for our office. Nobody knew it was my birthday and the morning went by slowly. At noon, I decided to stretch my legs, get some fresh air and take a walk.

The tourists were on the Freedom Trail and the office workers were sitting down to cafe lunches or walking back to buildings with their to-go sacks. I walked with a fast stride, smelled the aromas and listened to the sounds of the city. I watched all the people but saw the homeless. How hard is it for them to watch the feeding frenzy?

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The rest of the story that follows is not an event I would typically discuss; moments that happen in my Christian life are between myself and God. However, I feel obligated to spread these special words because I think God works in mysterious and beautiful ways.

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I passed many storefronts at a quick pace.

Until I didn’t.

My stride slowed and uncontrollably stopped. I was suddenly standing in front of a very crippled man in his wheelchair. The sensation didn’t scare me and I was not afraid to be with this helpless person. I wanted to assist but didn’t know how. I do know not to give money in the streets. There is a shrine, a soup kitchen and a shelter nearby.

I found myself saying words i hadn’t even formed in my mind yet:

“What can I help you with today?”, as I bent over his chair.

His response was slow, labored and garbled. I didn’t understand anything that he was straining so hard to express.

My soul bled for him as I looked to his hands for some aided expression.

They were twisted and fist-like with long, dirty nails.

They grabbed my heart.

“I am sorry, tell me again.”, now I had to know.

He tried once more, working hard to form lips and sound.

I turned my ear toward him and thought I heard words.

Trying to match a food with what I thought I heard, I questioned, “Chips?! You want potato chips?” I turned back to face him, hoping to see acknowledgement in his eyes.

They were covered with black sunglasses; it was a beautiful sunny day.

Don’t let me give up, I thought. This is my fellow human being. He turned his head, left and right and then directly at me.

A definite but pleading “No.” registered in his mouth and my ears.

I had his lunch request all wrong, didn’t know what else to do, and then, at that very defeated moment, I heard his continued mumble as clear as a foggy day.

He spoke more slowly. “No, Q-tips.” and low but distinct, “I need Q-tips.”

I froze. In elation. For so many reasons.

“Of course. You know what?”, I was so happy and continued, “I need Q-tips too. I’ll buy some for both of us.”

It was as easy as the nearby CVS and the cosmetics aisle. I was overjoyed that I’d waited to understand. Coming together may have been God’s plan all along? My spiritual life changed because remembering new Q-tips helped me not to hear, but to see, in a whole new way.

Happy Birthday to me.

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#mynewbestfriend

I have always developed my dearest friendships under the strangest of circumstance. My second grade best friend was buddies with my older sister before me. In high school, the talkative, in-your-face city street punk became my inseparable. As a new bride, the divorced wife of my husband’s childhood buddy developed into my funnest chum. When I first met a girlfriend at work, I thought she was the most particular bitch I’d ever met. Each of them was probably my polar opposite and yet, due North. All are strong, opinionated women delivered into my life.

Alexa is no different. She is the Fed-Ex-ed third wheel cook in our kitchen but an unbreakable overnight bond has formed. Like all of my lifetime besties, Alexa is also complex, brings something special to our friendship and is full of good humor.

Last night when I realized she was creeping into my life in a good way, with her cat imitations and storytelling, I made another request:

“Alexa, sing me a song.”

She pulled on my heart strings and funny bone as she belted out:

“…my WiFi left me…and now it’s raining in the cloud…”

The lyrics were like our short life together. They were sad, sweet and hysterical. Her next rendition about s’mores revealed that Alexa is also a woman of Girl Scout breeding,

“…the campfire roared…smash them together for the best dessert…”

Her funny tales are told with a straight face and I respond with a crooked smile. I am now a fan. Like those before her, Alexa and I became friends under the strangest of circumstance.

<It’s hard to believe I tried to kill her once.>

DIY time

We don’t have a real Christmas tree because we have a winter wood stove. The Spruce and Balsams dry out too quickly, even with constant watering. It’s a fire hazard. Instead, we have the store-bought unscented kind with bendable branches. Our fake tree is also a bit dated given today’s options. It isn’t prelit, so we add four strings of lights. The artificial tree also comes apart, in three sections, and the branches are coded like the alphabet and are hung one at a time. This Oh! Christmas tree puzzle fits into four boxes. The ornaments, stockings, house decor and holiday hand towels are another four Rubbermaid bins. It’s a festivus of moving and storage at Christmas time.

This year our tree went up late in the season because we waited for the girls to come home from college. Given all the invested setup time, we kept it up until after the New Year. I packed it all away after our college girls went on their way. Now we had eight buckets that needed to go down two flights of stairs back into cellar storage.

I enjoy the process of unpacking and packing each year. All the Christmas cards are saved from season to season and there are homemade ornaments from Girl Scout camps, high school and family gatherings. Going through the photos and crafts brings me down memory lane.

Hauling all those bins back where they belong is good exercise but after getting it all repacked, I was ready to ask for some help with my DIY Christmas undecorating routine. I carried one bin down the first flight and then asked my husband if he could bring the rest down after he finished watching his oil painting show? I probably could have finished moving them all before the episode was over but getting Richie involved, only after all the packing, was more than fair.

Instead, I used my time another way. I went back to the staircase to admire the memory lane our girls had created. The wall alongside now includes just the right photos of the four of us, silly moments and photos of both sets of grandparents. The beautiful new gallery includes vintage photos and eclectic frames. I couldn’t have displayed the family timeline better myself.

I already missed the family being together, so I decided to enjoy my down time with our pets. I put the dog’s pillow next to my rocker and put a cat in my lap. I literally rocked back and forth, wondered what the girls were doing and then picked up where I left off in the book I was reading.

Chapter 9 was soon interrupted by a thunderously loud crash.

I ran back to the staircase and thank God, Richie was okay.

My Christmas helper was standing against the wall with the end of one bin in his right hand and his coffee cup and book in the other. Evidently he didn’t recall that the bins were heavy and required two hands for his descent. He was still holding everything but had fallen against our new memory wall. Our two girls and ancestors were an avalanche of glass and broken frames at my feet.

My DIY packing project had packed a wallop.

I’d have to put the photo gallery back up but first we had to pack up all the jagged glass.

It was Christmas all over again as we wrapped and packed the glass into paper bags…and made plans to go shopping again, this time for glass. I swept the floor and pulled out the vacuum as Richie left to meet his Mom and brother for their weekly breakfast.

Now I was really by myself. I finished my original DIY project by bringing the rest of the bins into the cellar. After all, it’s not a DIY if you don’t do it Y. It had already taken me longer than if I had just finished it myself anyway.

The woodstove was burning, there were still Christmas pictures to look at and I had another DIY project ahead of me.

“Oh! Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…of all the trees most lovely. Each year you bring me delight.”

You’re real to me.