Sometimes You Need a New Station

I love me some Pandora.  There are a handful of stations that I could about listen to right on into the ground.  My Jack Johnson station – uh-huh!  My All Sons & Daughters station. Yup! Hillsong Young & Free? Check! Andy Hunter because, trance! And, the Sade station? God Almighty said there’s a time for everything and let’s just leave it at that.

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And I like listening to my tried and true tunes. Oh, yes indeedy.

Don’t we all?

My heart has been observing some subtle shifts in the rhythms of my life, lately, though.  And it unsettles my soul a bit.

Because shifts indicate change. And change tends to send me one of two ways: if it’s an adventure that I’ve sought out, I grab a hold of it with arms and legs wrapped fully around.  However, if it’s change that I wasn’t prepared for, I can sort of work myself into a full-stop shutdown.

I don’t have any great insights into why these are my two default responses, other than to know that they just are. Knowing this about myself, I can usually see a shutdown coming and head it off at the pass.

Usually.

Once in a while, though, there’s a change that I couldn’t have seen coming if it landed on top of the nose on my face. Before I know it,I find myself tuning toward some station I wouldn’t have chosen if my life depended on it.

Then, I sit stupefied, realizing that I’m humming and bobbing my head to a song about being so fancy.

This leads me to believe that I just might need to seek out a new station or three and enjoy the ride of new rhythms and melodies. There is a season for everything, right?

Even azaleas.

Oh, there are songs we each take comfort in hearing.  And, they bring us back, bring us around, or bring us up. I think we can also probably agree that some music does more to lift our spirit right on up to the tippy top of Happy than any ice cream cone ever could.

But, as the song goes, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…” and all that.  I think I’m ready to tap my toes to some new tunes.

What in the world do all of these words mean?  I’m not sure I can share just yet.  But know this – I will!

Until then, why don’t you try out a new song.  You’d never believe the places you can go with some fresh beats in your ears.

Because sometimes, change dictates that you just need a new station.

Fifteen Years is Better Than 15 Pounds

This guy right here?

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He and I said “I do” fifteen years ago, today.

Oh, yes indeedy!

I might have whispered it, I was so scared witless to be in a dress. With heels. And sequins. Or beadery. Or whatever you call All The Fanciness.

But he heard it.

And I meant it.

And I still do.

Oh Sweetman… you roll with it more than any man should have to.  You bankroll adventures with emotional checks that would bounce in this mental bank.  And you look at me with eyes that are more loving than any I ever could have imagined.

These fifteen years with you have been so much better than the fifteen pounds I’ve also accrued.

Thank you for laughing with me.

And at me.

And for me.

I pray you never grow tired of my antics.

Or my “fawns”. (Bless you, Solomon, for the imagery.)

And I only ask one thing…

Do you wanna do this for about fifty more years?

Because, I do!

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What Lurks Beneath

In honor of the close of “Shark Week”, and, For Captain Ahab and my family – blood and other.

My brother is brave.  Military, kinda-brave.  I’ve not seen him shaken up but once in my life.

On our illustrious Bimini trips, all of us kids would take turns jumping off the docks into the crystal clear blue waters of the marina.  That water was stunning.  I didn’t realize it then, but the pure joy of jumping into water that you can see clear through to the sandy, starfish and sand dollar strewn bottom of, was a gift.  We took it for granted.

Youth is wasted, and all that.

We also took for granted that there would ever be anything in that water that could hurt us.  The marina felt safe.  It was a haven, not only for the boats that would make the trek over from South Florida for their various fishing and diving ventures, but for us kids, too. We knew only safety in the incessant jumping in and climbing out of those waters.

One of the most majestic sea creatures that you could ever encounter are the giant Manta rays that glide through the waters of the Bahamas.  They are massive.  And docile. But, massive.  The “babies”, alone, are from three to five feet across.

One fine afternoon we all ran down the dock, taking turns jumping into the crystal waters.  When it was my brave brother’s turn, wild and reckless, even at 8 years old, he took a gigantic flying leap out into the marina. And promptly walked on water right back up onto the dock.

We all came running to look down and see what could possibly instill fear of that magnitude in my brave brother’s heart. Four gargantuan Manta-rays gracefully passing through held us transfixed.

It took a couple of minutes for my brother to get his color back. And, you can be sure that we all looked before we leaped from then on out.

We would also waterski everywhere when we were in the Bahamas. If the boat could fit into the area and the stretch was long enough to get a decent run in, then we would go for it.

From time to time, we would actually have one of us in the water getting skis on and ready, while someone else was making a run. If we were the one waiting to be taken on a run, we’d sometimes have to wait for 5 minutes or more for the boat driver to circle back around.  Once in a while, if it wasn’t shallow enough to stand, we’d just lay on top of our skiis until it was our turn.

And so, one cloudy day, that was me.  Bobbing around on top of the skis waiting to be picked up. Happily.

Until I saw a fin. At fifteen, I was plenty old enough to know that all of the many sharks we had seen over the years had been incredibly kind to mind their own business.  I knew how much pain a shark could inflict. I started to breathe in and breathe out, keep my eye on that fin, and pray to hear the motor of the boat approaching.

The fin seemed to be about 40 or 50 feet away.  I still have no idea. I’m not very good at gauging distances, and even less so when I think a shark is eye-balling my person. I decided at some point to just lay on top of my skiis, stop watching the fin, and hope for the best.

And about that time, I was so zoned out that I completely missed the approach of the boat. I only knew rescue had come because Ahab had reached down and pulled me up into the boat, all calm-like.  No one said a word and we hustled back to pick up the other skiier.

But I’ll tell you this – I never offered to be the sitting duck again, I’ll tell you. Oh no I did not.

And we were all more aware of what lurked beneath.

Oh, yes indeedy.

Heaven Is a Warm Ocean

I am an ocean lover, through and through. The warmer, the better.

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I like pools. The warmer, the better. (Unless it’s because you couldn’t make it to the potty in time. Then, not so much.)

And then, there is a special spot in my heart that is reserved for all the things I tolerate.

Lakes.  Lakes are there in that spot – right next to lizards.

And cold pools.

We have an ocean near-ish. We get there as often as we can, in the summer.

It’s cold.

We also have a town pool. We get there as often as we can in the summer.

It’s mostly cold.

This Floridian still can’t muster up the courage to jump into our town pool before July 30th or after August 30th.

If you’re doing the math, that equals up to Not Much Pool-time.

During this thirty-one day stretch, I must continually remind myself that I chose to move to New England because, Boston!  And because, Sweetman!

So, I was thrilled to find out that one of my sweet friends, who also happens to live in our neighborhood, is planning to have a beautiful new pool put into their backyard.  It’s one of those super fan-cee salt water ones. It will have the standard stairs, to get into and out of, of course. But, the best part about this pool?  It’s soon going to be heated. Oh, yes it is!

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is necessary for anyone who chooses to live above the Mason-Dixon line.  Otherwise, you might just find yourself jumping into a pool that is barely pushing 65 degrees.  Even if it is 98 degrees outside.

And people?  That is just not right.

I should have taken a clue when I began teaching water-skiing in the Berkshires of Massachusetts some twenty-odd summers ago.  That first crisp summer morning, when I jumped into the lake to begin instruction, it took less than 10 minutes for me to tag the other instructor because I was too cold to stay in. Plus, my foot touched something slimy.

No. Just… no.

Therefore, it might surprise you to learn that I was somehow convinced to become part of a three-woman relay team, as The Swimmer, in a local women’s triathlon sprint. Yes, you read that right.  Come early September, this girl, right here, will be doing her darndest not to die as she competes in the swim portion of a women’s triathlon sprint.

“It’ll be so much fun,” they said.  “You’ll have so much support,” they promised.  “We’re not doing it to win,” they assured me.

The part they forgot to mention?

Training.

In the local lake.

Or town pool.

Neither of which are heated.

Oh, and…the race itself? In a lake.

I don’t have to wonder about what hell is like.

I think I’ll stick with my plans to go to heaven.

There will definitely be warm ocean water there.

Yes indeedy.

Putting Our Eggs in The Basket Carrier

While we’re over here rejoicing that we survived camp week, I have dear friends in the midst of a precarious and precedent-setting job situation.

While praying that Sweetboy would be able to stick it out each day from eight in the morning until five at night, we were also praying that there would be a resolution in this acrimonious situation that our friends find themselves in the midst of. A situation that, supposedly, business schools across the country are intently observing.

Sometimes, it’s hard to realize that there is a whole world beyond what goes on within our Sweetfamily’s four walls.

Despite the media attention being drawn to the circumstances surrounding their plight, our friends have been faithful to pray. And, even though there have been, and continue to be, underhanded schemes at work, I’m asking the God Who Cares About People to make Himself known here.

Would you join me?

I don’t often ask folks to jump on the bandwagon with me. But I’ve watched this family put their livelihood on the line for what they believe to be right.  I’m honored to be able to gather some prayer warriors on their behalf.

You can learn more about what’s going on at Market Basket here.

In Knots

Sweetboy came downstairs, this morning, dressed in shorts that used to fit.

I sighed.

Do you ever sigh when your children present themselves in clothes that clearly don’t fit anymore?

My sigh, however, was because Sweetboy’s shorts were falling down. This means that he’s lost more weight.  Neither of which are good.

He has also, I should point out, shot up approximately 87 inches, and is getting dangerously close to my height.  That might have something to do with it, too.

I’m in denial there, though.

It’s a wonderfully lazy river to drift down. You should try it sometime.

Back to the shorts problem. It’s one we’ve encountered before.  It did not end well. You can read about how I used a social story to help The Child understand the importance of well-fitting shorts, here.

Clearly, that social story did it’s job pretty darn well! And I know that because, this morning, Sweetboy informed me that his shorts were “about the fall down and that’s not good, mama!”

A to the men!

We were standing in front of the wide open front door doing final preparations before a sweet friend’s mother came to pick him up for camp.  (Carpooling is a wonderful invention in these here modern times, is it not?) He proceeded to strip those shorts right on off, so I could “get the knot out, please?”

Doesn’t everyone strip down in front of a wide open front door?

No?

I’ll tell you, though, that was some knot in those shorts! I could not, for the life of me, get it out in the two minutes I had before the poor unsuspecting parent showed up.  But, I knew I could get that knot out, with the right tools and about five extra minutes.

Minutes that, unfortunately, I didn’t have at the moment.

So, we swapped out the ill-fitting shorts for ones that stayed up. I’m happy to report that he was fully dressed when the carpooling parent arrived. I scooted him out the door before anyone was the wiser.

I read, recently, how the strengths and skills God gives each of us are ones that simply cannot lay dormant for long.  They somehow work and weave their way throughout our living.

Positivity does that, for me.

What does that, for you?

My stomach had been in knots for the past couple of weeks, as I anxiously awaited this week of camp for Sweetboy.  It’s all day.  I won’t be there. Who are these parents that choose to give their week to volunteering from 8 – 5 with boys. In the woods. (It turns out, they are pretty amazing parents!)

And yet, through it all, I was able to find some silver lining, somewhere, at the conclusion of each set of worries.

Thinking positively has gotten me through some rough periods.

I know it’s not for everyone.

Being called Tigger, and Susie Sunshine, and PollyAnna, and all those names, taught me that. Tone does much telling, doesn’t it?

But, I do know that even in the knotted up moments of life, I can yank on that positivity to unravel the worry.

Because I also know that God’s got each worry I have and doesn’t take a single one lightly.

And, I especially know that the knots will come out.

Eventually.

Oh, yes indeedy!

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To Be Just Like Brother

Autism Spectrum Disorder touches each family it enters into in unexpected ways.

It touches ours with exercise equipment.

The particular and peculiar ways that a child will exhibit their self-stimulatory behaviors (stims) is as unique as a fingerprint. We’ve been through a couple of different sets of fingerprints in this house.

First, there was the swing. Next, was the mini-trampoline. Oh, how we loved that trampoline! Until little sister threw up on it.

And now, it’s a yoga ball.

Each of these pieces of exercise equipment has provided the deep joint-muscle interaction that Sweetboy’s body desperately needs. Each bounce signals to his brain that his body is getting the input it needs and that his world is orderly.

I’m no scientist. And, in fact, math is something that I have to remind myself is a necessary evil. But, when I see my Sweetboy feeling all jumbled up by a day that’s doing him in, and then I watch him bounce it all away on that ball for 10 minutes and come back ready to cope? That’s an amazing process to watch.

At the moment, that child of mine has turned our home into a literal Bounce House.

Three years worth of hopping has been replaced, mercifully, by bouncing on his yoga ball.

We couldn’t be gladder!

This past year, Specialists have been expressing concern for the potential of bone spurs on the heels and balls of his feet, with all of the hopping that he’s done these last few years.

The hopping was a form of stimming, for Sweetboy. When a child on The Spectrum stims, it’s often to help them regulate their outside world, bring order to feelings of chaos, and calm themselves down.

Sweetboy is no different. And, as you can imagine, summertime brings a special kind of unrest to this house. The lack of definitive schedule and the spur-of-the-moment ice cream runs, though they are fun, take their toll on his sense of stability.

And so, the child bounces on his ball.

A lot.

And do you know who’s watching every move?

Sweetgirl.

She observes all of his idiosyncrasies not as someone appalled, but as someone enthralled.

Enthralled by her brother’s constant movement.

Enamored of his ability to balance just so.

The bouncing has been a welcome change.

We certainly do hear less complaining of how much his “legs hurt”.

But the best part about this change?

Sweetgirl now has her own mini purple ball.

To be “just like brother”.

Dueling Yoga Balls

Dueling Yoga Balls

Yes indeedy!