It is hard to put this into words, because there are so many cliches associated with what I want to convey. “Life is short”, “Count your blessings”, “At least you have your health”, etc., are among them. However, I’ve chosen to express how I feel with “Too Short for Stupid” instead. I’ve learned a lot over the last months and weeks, and I’ve made a decision. Life is too precious of a gift to waste worrying about stupid crap. It’s time to let it go. It’s as though I’m just waking up from a very long sleep. As always, music seems to play a part and finds a way to weasel its way into my life lessons.
I’m not going to freak out about work anymore. It can be stressful, sure, and it probably always will be. However, somehow all the work always gets done, and for the most part, my reviews are positive. I am no longer going to obsess about fractured relationships and will resist the urge to “fix” it, as I have for most of my 41 years. I can love people deeply from a distance if their energy isn’t healthy for me right now. I’m letting go of bitter feelings about wrongs, perceived or accurate, from my childhood. People make mistakes all the time, and I am certainly not immune. The 1970’s Beatles were often played in my childhood home, but some lyrics I didn’t really pay attention to until lately. “When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” Ohhhhhhhh!!!!!! I’ve never been skilled at letting it be, but I’m now going to put it into practice as much as I can muster.
I’m finished worrying about money, because we’re going to be fine. Unexpected expenses and bumps in the road will always occur, but somehow it always works out. I am done nitpicking every tiny detail of my appearance that isn’t “perfect”. My Jell-O-like abdomen housed my beautiful children and brought them into our lives. My skin still breaks out from time to time, who cares?? If I ceased coloring my hair, it would be frighteningly white, something I don’t intend to unveil for many moons, but it really doesn’t matter. I am no longer going to feel guilty about not having a spotless home or having piles of laundry everywhere, or being a less than perfect mother. If I’d been counting, I’m probably somewhere in the vicinity of Parental Mistake #328. Does anyone know a perfect mother? If so, it’s an illusion, or they’re completely full of it. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time feeling pressure from all sides of my life, from my family of origin, the family I created, friends, and from work. However, where did the true origin of the pressure lie? I did this to myself, and it’s time to put it permanently to rest. It may result in new elements of my personality and behavior that many may not look upon favorably. That's okay too.
We’re swimming in blessings that I’ve been too distraught to recognize over the past couple of years, but I see them now. I appreciate things as simple as the fact that I don’t go to bed in pain every night and that I’m healthy overall. I’m in possession of my senses, at least most of the time. I adore my husband, I truly do. He is my best friend, and we’ve been enjoying each other’s company lately more than we have in years. He and I have now attended more weddings that have already ended in divorce than ones in which the couple are still together. We’re coming up on 16 years of being together, 16 years! He can still make me laugh instantly and hard, after all this time. Our children are happy and healthy, we have plenty of food, and we live in a safe neighborhood…all these things are not to be taken for granted. There are seasons, I understand that, and there will be trouble in days to come because that’s how life is. Pain and loss are inevitable, and it’s essential to feel these emotions. I’ve witnessed first hand what can happen when people don’t fully accept what they've lost and deal with their emotions. You can’t run and hide from sorrow, you can’t over-analyze things and forego emotion for logic, and these actions are unhealthy in my opinion. My mother said to me once that “You can’t experience true joy if you don’t experience pain.” Man, was she ever right on the money!
There is joy and beauty everywhere. Today while swimming with my children, I looked at my son’ perfect little sharp shoulder blades as he set his face into an expression of total determination before he jumped into the pool, doing a “trick”. He looks so much like my father, and that’s a true gift that I treasure every day. My daughter is growing up before my eyes and what I feel is a combination of fear and awe. Aside from the wonder of watching her change from a child to a young lady, I am constantly amazed by her vocabulary, her intuition, and her creativity. How did I get these little beings? This tiny little snapshot in time will be gone in the blink of an eye, and I will miss it when it’s gone. How stupid would it be to miss this because I was too busy, too sad, or too distracted to notice? Again, cue the song lyrics! “It gains the more it gives, and then it rises with the fall. So hand me that remote, can't you see that all that stuff's a sideshow? Such boundless pleasure, we've no time for later. Now you can't await your own arrival, you've twenty seconds to comply. So, let go, so let go. Jump in. Oh well, what you waiting for? It's alright, 'cause there's beauty in the breakdown.”-credit to Frou Frou, off the
Over the past couple of weeks, I had been going about a hundred miles an hour. By the time it slowed down, my head continued to spin. The memorial I attended resulted in the most intense spectrum of emotions than I’ve probably ever experienced in my life in such a short period of time. I felt encompassing, incredible sadness and pain from seeing someone I love hurt so much over this loss. I also felt joy and amazement at hearing stories about this beautiful soul who left our world way too soon. In addition to laughing at some of the funny stories, I felt intense gratitude, not only for my life, but for my amazing friendship that has existed now for almost 30 years. This friendship manages to remain the same, despite time and miles and lifestyles. I cried and I laughed and I listened. Near the end of the evening, I noticed my jaw was feeling weird. How odd.
Upon arriving home, I faced my last few days of work for the school year, combined with what felt like tons of kid activities. I went with my daughter and a gaggle of 4th graders to Coloma, the site where gold was originally discovered. It was a beautiful day, and I wasn’t prepared for how cool it was! There was so much history, real artifacts, and actual collections from the prospectors. I think I was much more interested than the group of kids I was in charge of! There was a very old cemetery up the road that we didn’t make it to, but I vow to return, it must be incredible. The kids had the opportunity to pan for gold. My daughter managed to acquire a couple of tiny pieces of fool’s gold, while her classmates found some actual gold. She didn’t leave empty handed, however. She managed to find eleven small garnets, which were my father’s birthstone. My dad had tons of tacky garnet rings that I remember vividly from my childhood. This was the Wednesday before Father’s Day, and while a lot of the other kids also found garnets, I choose to believe that my dad sent down these little gifts for us.
This made me so happy, and I just breathed in the beautiful day by the American River, totally satisfied. When we returned home that day, hot and tired, my daughter decided to give her entire haul to me, and I couldn’t stop smiling. The next several days consisted of trying to finish up at work, while running back and forth to the kid’s school for a variety of activities. My son had his end of Kindergarten celebration, and between the songs they sang and the poem his teacher read, along with the realization that I wouldn’t have another child in her class, I dissolved. I was a teary, proud, grinning mess.
The next day, I witnessed another Kindergarten celebration at one of the schools where I work, as a friend’s child was also graduating from Kindergarten. When they began to play “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, I was done, and was smiling through tears again. From there, I went directly back to my own children’s school for an award’s assembly because my daughter made the honor roll again, and then back to work. On their last day of school, I was there nearly the whole day. On the Kindergarten playground, I laughed and took pictures as the kids slathered themselves with shaving cream whilst flipping about on a slip and slide, playing in inflatable pools, blowing bubbles, and eating Popsicles. All of the activities the kids participated in pretty much encapsulated the beauty and joy of childhood, at least to me. I volunteered for one of the activities, in which I was to place a water balloon on a chair and the kids were to run and SIT on them as hard as they could in order to pop it. I got drenched, and had an absolute blast. Their teacher read them one more story near the end of their day, which made me cry. Again. From there, my son and I went and met my daughter’s 4th grade class who were already celebrating the last day of school with a picnic in the park. It was a busy, exhausting, and HOT day, and I wouldn’t change a single moment of it.
Amongst the things I’ve learned is to laugh every single day, and it really isn’t hard. Jon Stewart alone usually makes that possible for me. However, others include my husband, my darling one year old great nephew who dances to anything, and watching my son at Taekwando yell “yes sir!!” Due to his lack of articulation of the letter R, it sounds like, “Yes so!!” but he yells it with ferocious conviction. My children’s theological discussions are priceless. A few months back, my son told me he wanted to give up bothering his sister, and I said, “Oh, you mean for Lent?” He confirmed this to be the case, then immediately began teasing his sister. When I asked him about what he’d just shared with me, he said, “Mom, it doesn’t start until Wednesday.” The whole idea of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras will not be lost on this child. Another time we were all discussing what God looked like. I said I didn’t know, but my son maintained that he has to be a boy because girls don’t have beards. My daughter replied knowingly, “They do in Poland.” I have no explanation for this response, but it sure as hell made me laugh. Life is funny, and laughter truly does make you feel better.
It was days before I finally figured it out. My jaw and face had been hurting from smiling. What in the world? Smiling. “Happiness hit her like a train on a track, coming towards her, stuck, still no turning back The dog days are over. The dog days are done.” Thank you, Florence and the Machine. “Not running from something, I'm running towards the day, wide awake. A whisper once quiet, now rising to a scream right in me. I'm falling, free falling, words calling me up off my knees. Our future's paved with better days.” I love you something terrible, Eddie Vedder.
It’s time to let go. It’s time to enjoy my days here. The future IS paved with better days. Life is TOO SHORT FOR STUPID.