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Posts tagged ‘happiness’

Catching Joy

I have set a trap in my front yard. The idea for it started a couple of years ago when I saw a ‘free’ sign scribbled on an old Adirondack chair while on a walk with my husband, Alan. Alan knows I cannot resist an orphaned chair. Soon enough he plodded back to where I stood admiring the chair and picked it up as I grabbed the matching footrest and we made our way home.

The old chair sat in our back yard for two years as an idea began to percolate in my mind. Finally, this year I set my trap. With the help of my bewildered husband, we laid fresh green sod on the chair’s seat and footrest. We built-up the arm rests and planted ground cover in them. We stapled chicken-wire to its sloping back and filled it with potting soil and upholstered it with hundreds of little succulent plants. We tucked the chair under the shade tree on our front lawn, right next to the sidewalk and waited.

My home office is on my front porch and I often get to witness the joy I capture in my trap first hand. It began with the children who often run ahead of the grown-ups on their walks. They are almost too easy to catch.  With their fresh, inquisitive eyes and low stature, they are drawn into the chair’s whimsey from a block away and they easily  ensnare their adult charges with squeals of delight.

The next to fall prey are the older men and women. Their un-hurried pace and seasoned gaze never miss the chair, and though they are not loud like the children, very much like the children they always stop and cheerfully go over every detail with wide smiles.  Often I will capture the amused attention of dog walkers who notice too late the lifted leg on the chair’s footstool as they yank the leash and guiltily look up to the house. (It’s okay, I don’t mind!) New parents lazily pushing sleeping babies in shiny new strollers whisper their admiration.

But the hardest and most elusive prey are the joggers, with their headphones and determined, focused attention on the road in front of them. As I watched them pass by over and over again, oblivious to my joyful trap, I realized I had to do something clever to grab their attention. So, one beautiful sunny day I hung my parakeet’s cage from the tree, right over the chair. He sang and chirped his delight at being outside. “Irresistible,” I said to myself, “surely this will catch them!”

Soon I noticed a jogger coming up the street, she breezed past the bird and chair without breaking stride. I sighed. But, what’s this? She is circling back! She stands panting, smiling at the chair for a moment before bounding away again.

That’s what I love most about my trap, it’s a catch-and-release program!

While out watering the chair one day a man drove past, then reversed his car and pulled up next to me to say how much he loves driving by our yard on his way to and from work. He thanked me for creating the chair, for the joy it brings him.

And so it goes. Surprise, joy, delight and gratitude fill me too. Just one of the many ways extending even the smallest gesture of love comes full circle. Isn’t that just so beautiful, the way love works?

Mammaste, notice the divinity in the everyday!

I Wish For You A Beautiful Life; A Mother’s Day Wish to Birth Mothers

Quotes from birth mothers to their babies:

“My darling, my other self . . .”

“I touched your cheeks and nose.”

“You were like an angel who had come from heaven.”

I am a mother to five children. To three of them, I am not their only mother. They have birth mothers, and they have me. Today, as I write this on Mother’s Day, I can feel those birth mothers wondering about and remembering their children, our children. On each child’s birthday and on Mother’s Day I always stop to whisper a silent thank you to them, sending good thoughts to lift their spirits. I imagine these days must be as hard for them as they are joyful for me.

“I call your name quietly in my heart.”

“Know that your spirit is within my spirit.”

“From far away, I will pray for your happiness.”

In the beginning when my children were babies, fresh and new to the world, I often wondered if they carried the sadness of parting from their mothers, like a ship pulling away from the dock carries travelers from tearful families left on shore.

“It grieved me that I had to let you go.”

“You cried in a loud voice as if you knew your mother’s heart.”

As years pass, I imagine the expanse of ocean growing wider and wider between that metaphorical ship and that very real woman left standing on the shore, and I wonder if time ever lessens her pain.

“I love you from far away.”

I wonder if she ever stops searching the horizon, hoping to see a glimpse of that ship returning. I see her in my heart, the woman to whom I owe so much of my own happiness and I send her my prayers of love and strength.

“I cannot give up my wish to see you again.”

“Is it possible we will meet again?”

“I call your name quietly in my heart.”

After adopting our third child, a son from Korea, my friend (also a Korean adoptee ) gave me a book called “I wish for You a Beautiful Life,” by Sarah Dorrow. The book is filled with letters Korean birth mothers wrote to their little babies as they sent them sailing into the arms of joyful, ecstatic mothers like me. It is a wonderful book, heartbreaking and beautiful in turn.

 “I want you to be a happy person, with a big smile.”

All the quotes included here are from those letters. They remind me of the great sacrifice each woman made for my happiness and for the happiness of her beloved child; and I never take that for granted. Never.

“I’ll pray that you meet the most wonderful parents.”

Happy Mother’s Day to each and every birth mother. So many of us owe you such a  deep, deep gratitude.  “Thank you” seems so feeble a phrase to encompass such an enormous feeling in my heart.

“Dear adoptive parents . . . Please lead my baby to be a righteous and happy person. . . Please love my baby.”

Yes. I promise. I will. I do. Thank you. I wish for you a beautiful life too.

Beautiful, open-hearted Jessa!

Mammaste~There is so much divinity in the everyday.

Creative, thoughtful A.J.

Joyful, Zen of Ian

I want to tell you something.

What might you say if you could whisper through time into your own sweetly curved, perfect little newborn ear?

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An Unkindness of Ravens, A Murmuration of Souls

It is then, I think, we must look like starlings from the perspective of heaven. A murmuration of souls, moving and swaying in such exquisite harmony that it takes God’s breath away.

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The Oxymoron, a Mother’s Privacy

When my oldest was about four, she was trailing behind me into the bathroom when I turned to her and said, “Honey, could you give mommy a little privacy while I take a shower?” To my surprise she replied, “Sure!” and left.

As I stepped into the shower, I could hear her rummaging in the hall closet. Soon she returned, yanked back the shower curtain and announced, “Mom, I looked everywhere for your privacy, but I can’t find it. I don’t know what it looks like.”

As every mother knows, truer words were never spoken.

Mammaste!

There is so much divinity in the everyday.

Confessions of a Church Lady in Charge

I smile and acknowledge ownership of the bag with a nod just as the woman reaches in and pulls out a huge pair of my old maternity underwear. She holds them up with two hands at arms length and tilts her head quizzically. They are so thread-bare and tattered that the elastic is exposed through the frayed waistband. She turns to me with a grin and says,

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In Every Face, The Face Of . . .

One morning I slogged down the stairs, feeling cranky and put-upon for having to make school lunches for my kids at 6AM, something I’d been doing for more than 15 years--with another 10 more years of tuna, turkey, or salami on the horizon. (I blame my five children for being born so darn many years apart.) It was with this self-pitying attitude that I tore the clear plastic seal from the top of the cream cheese and saw this smiling back at me.

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Welcome Wagon Wisdom

Dear people next door, Welcome to Minnesota. Please write your name here ___ then please send back the card, but before you do that, please write back. You can write whatever you want. From your neighbor Harper and Family. (It included a nice picture of flowers and clouds.)

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A Love Poem from My Daughter

Her hands have always been a comfort to me.
They wiped away my salty tears,
picked me up when I was down,
and led me in the right direction.
Beautiful and giving. Firm and capable.
These are my mother's hands. ~

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The Great Maxi-Skirt Debacle of 1972

Me and my maxi-skirt in happier times.

The year was 1972. I was a shy, awkward eighth-grader at Fridley Junior High in a working-class suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It all began innocently enough when my mother sewed maxi-skirts for my sisters and me one winter. Maxi-skirts were skirts that went all the way down to the floor and were high fashion in 1972; all the cool girls wore them.

Even though my mother warned me there would not be enough of the red fabric I picked out for my skirt, I insisted she use it anyway. The skirt turned out to be more of a red corduroy maxi-tube than the full, flowing maxi-skirt pictured on the front of the Simplicity pattern envelope.

Undeterred by the fact that my stride was roughly as long as that of a Geisha’s, I wore my maxi-skirt proudly to school that fateful day. I was shuffling down the hallway in a sea of my baby-boomer classmates, school books clutched to my chest when my friend Karen swept by me and gave me a slap-on-the-back greeting. That little push sent my torso flying forward at a velocity faster than my tightly bound legs could pedal. Factor in the weight of the books and my 80-pound frame and, well, you get the picture . . . an object in motion and all.

When I tell this story to my kids I insert a little lesson about the physics of this experience just to keep it educational. “Notice how ‘Turning Point’ becomes both a scientific statement as well as an understatement in this example,” I say.

My books flew ahead of me as I slid down the hallway on my belly. To the fast-moving current of students rushing up behind me, I was a rock in the rapids. They were stumbling and lurching trying to avoid stepping on me.

All the while, the tube-like geometry of my skirt and lack of traction supplied by my fashionable, but not-so-functional, ballet slippers made it physically impossible for me to stand up. I was flopping like a fish and polishing a nice, shiny clean spot on the dusty floor as my fellow classmates began parting behind me like the Red Sea, casting horrified backward-glances in my direction. My popularity, already weak and sickly, suffered its last agonizing death-throes right there in the hallway.

Enough humiliation you say? Oh, contraire my friends, this was just beginning. In the midst of my flailing efforts to stand in this sea of inhumanity, I felt two hands under my arms lifting me up from behind.  Guess what? Yes, it was the guy I had a huge crush on. (My compliments to God and his impeccable comic timing.) He was a big, handsome, popular, red-headed football player who smelled like Brut cologne, or maybe it was HI KARATE.  He was the lead actor in my romantic adolescent daydreams, all of them set to a score of David Cassidy ballads. (Heavy sigh.) What? I’ve already admitted I was not cool. Full disclosure.

After he placed me in an upright position, he steadied me for a moment to make sure I wouldn’t tip over again. He then handed me my books, gave me a quick nod with only the tiniest smirk passing over his dreamy lips before he quickly moved on. I scurried, face flushed red as my skirt, into the nearest girls’ restroom and tried to figure out a way to flush myself down the toilet.

Little did I know when I was experiencing my most humiliating middle school moment back in 1972, this story would become a favorite of my middle school daughter all these years later. She loves to laugh with me every single time I tell it, which she requests I do often. I like to think I am teaching her that seeing the humor in humiliation is all about not taking yourself too seriously, or some other equally noble life lesson.  More likely she just loves a good laugh at my expense.

The moral of this story, you ask? I have no idea, but my daughter seems to find comfort in it during her own awkward middle school years, and that’s enough for me. Fortunately for her, I’ve got plenty more stories I’m saving for her high school years!

Mammaste.

There is so much divinity in the everyday.

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