Standing tiptoe on the edge of a new year, I’m thinking about Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It’s all about writing your life, making it the kind of story you want to live.
I want mine to be a love story.
A story filled with affectionate moments with my favorite guy.
A story that includes big adventures in new settings.
A story of being brave and taking risks.
A story rich with the people I love, the characters who make me laugh, make me cry, make me a better person.
A story that includes being healthy and strong enough to explore on two wheels.
A story punctuated with quiet times to listen for God’s voice.
A story so wonderful that my fingers can’t type it fast enough.
I want mine to be a love story.
A love story for life.
What kind of story do you want to live this year?
This week I’m thankful…
- for a quiet Christmas morning with Terry
- for time to read good books
- to spend time with friends
- for feeding my littlest nephew a pear for the first time
- to ride with the top down on the MINI and watch the clouds shift against the winter night sky
- for In-N-Out cheeseburgers
- to walk in the sprinkling rain with new friends
- for pedicures
- for dollar night at the movie theater
- for the smell of laundry fresh from the dryer
- for this story of a man who changed his life for the better simply by writing thank you notes
What are you thankful for?
This Christmas I received many gifts that made my Grinch-sized heart grow. There are a few in particular that stand out. None of them are extravagant. None of them are expensive. They are simple and lovely. And I am blessed to have people in my life who gave me such wonderful gifts.
1. A friend made me a beautiful dragonfly necklace. She used understated earth tones and I appreciate the fact that she took time out of her impossibly busy schedule to create something she knew I’d love. I gave her a book. I bought it online. I am lame.
2. Our school has a Christmas Boutique where kids can shop for gifts for their families. One little girl, a blond fairy of a girl, kept shooing me away while she shopped because she had something in her basket I couldn’t see. The next day she slipped a small box under our classroom tree. I unwrapped the box and inside sat this precious dragonfly brooch.
“How did you know dragonflies are my favorite?” I asked her.
“You told me once a long time ago, when I was little, and I remembered.” She smiled proudly, showing off the window where her front teeth used to be.
I wore the brooch all day and thought of the precious girl, who at the age of six is still little, but already has a big heart.
3. This giant Hershey’s kiss was from another of my little ones. He’s an affectionate boy and we’ve had some conversations about how we hug, but don’t kiss each other at school. He gave me a basket of pansies and then handed me a wrapped box. When I opened it, he said “This kind of kiss is allowed at school, right?” The class erupted into peels of laughter and the clever little guy grinned from ear to ear.
4. I received this angel ornament from another student. The ornament is sweet and when I hang it on the tree each year, I will remember how tightly the little boy hugged me after I opened it. He also gave me dish of Hershey’s kisses and repeated the line from the kid who gave me the giant chocolate kiss. In first grade if a joke is funny the first time, it’s absolutely hilarious the second time around.
5. I have a friend who used to race bicycles and he always gives me awesome cycling stuff. This year he gave me a gift card to RoadID.com. My emergency shoe tag was wearing out and so I bought a shiny new one along with a wicking hat for spin class. There are two great things about this present. First, if something dastardly goes down on my bike, my shoe tag can help emergency workers figure out who I am very quickly. Secondly, and much less morbidly, RoadID gives a percentage of each sale to one of nine charities, so upon check out you can choose which charity receives some cash. Naturally, I chose LiveStrong.
6. My grandmother used to wear White Diamonds lotion. When she passed away earlier this year, I wore one of her sweaters just to have her scent on my skin. My aunt wrapped up a tube of White Diamonds for me this year and when I unwrapped it and unscrewed the lid, I was immediately filled with the scent of my grandmother, the scent of all the joyous memories we had together.
7. Okay, when I said none of the gifts I received this year were expensive or extravagant, I apparently had a brain hemorrhage and forgot about the gift Terry gave me. My hubby gave me a housekeeper for a year. Let that sink in for a minute. He gave me an Alice. Revel with me for a moment here: an entire year of no vacuuming, no dusting, no mopping. Ladies, I understand that you’re probably swooning. Put your head between your knees for a sec and breathe. Yes, he is that good. No, he doesn’t have a brother.
I hope your Christmas was full of lovely gifts and joyous memories. And even if your heart was already the right size, I hope this Christmas season made it swell at least three sizes bigger.
This week I’m thankful for…
- parking inside my garage so I don’t have to scrape ice off my windshield in the morning
- the all the pet names Terry calls me
- staying in my pajamas all day
- turning my alarm clock off for two weeks
- poppy-seed dressing
- that moment when Terry walks through the door from working out-of-town
- my step-dad who fixed the broken manger in my grandmother’s nativity set
- zucchini and bell pepper scrambles and leisurely mornings to eat them
- the lunar eclipse that made the moon red and reminded me of Brandon Heath’s song Red Sky
A few months ago I mistakenly heard someone say the word ‘poetrees’ in lieu of the word ‘poetry’. It’s a word mash-up I haven’t been able to shake from my mind. I wrote it down in my notebook and left it there all alone. Today I woke to the pattering of rain and trees whistling in the wind and knew it was time to write about those poetrees.
Winter’s voice thunders at my roof,
The trees are tapping out words on my windows,
Scribbling meter, rhyme, and verse with scraggly stick fingers.
The wind whispers their poems in my waiting ears.
They write of the earth, tucked safely under frosted blankets,
Of lightning striking white willows, turning them black with despair
And the blessed rain washing away the soot and sins of man.
Cloud faces drain themselves of color, weeping with relief,
Watering the souls of shy maples and ancient oaks.
The storm takes a breath,
Gutters usher its remnants into the sodden soil.
The poetrees withdraw their pencils from my windowpane.,
And I am left bathed in silence.
I had a dream that Lance Armstrong stood at my kitchen counter eating a bowl of cereal with Terry and my brother, Pete. I never bothered to ask what Lance was doing there. Matter of fact I never bothered to ask what Pete, who recently moved to Las Vegas, was doing there either. Just chalk it up to dream magic, okay?
Pete was talking to Lance about something or other. My brother can talk to anyone about anything. I, on the other hand, was a bundle of nerves to meet Lance Armstrong. Darn, even in my dreams I can’t play it cool.
Terry left on a bike ride with a friend. Pete went into the guest room to change into cycling clothes, leaving me alone to make small talk with Lance. I was already suited up in a Fat Cyclist jersey and bike shorts. The bike shorts were black with orange and pink plaid running down the sides. I don’t own a pair of bike shorts like that in real life, but if I did I would totally wear them, like all of the time. Even when not on a bike because they were that awesome. But back to small talk with Lance.
“Sexy.” said Lance, his voice laden with sarcasm.
“Spandex are always sexy.” I replied. This axiom is always true, even in dreams.
“Uh, your jersey is on inside out.” Lance pointed. See previous reference to my inability to be cool even in my dreams.
I quickly pulled my jersey off and yanked it back on the right way, which I would never do in front of anyone in real life, let alone Lance Armstrong. The flesh on my stomach hasn’t seen the light of day in years and is blindingly white. Not to mention the fact that it’s a bit squidgy. Apparently my dream self has no shame.
“So where are you riding today?” Lance asked, kindly ignoring my stomach.
“Up to Shasta Dam. Where are you riding today?”
“To Mt. Shasta and back. Is that close to Shasta Dam?”
“Not at all.”
“But you’ll have a great view of Lake Shasta as you ride. Although I think it’s snowing in Mt. Shasta. You should eat something warm at Mike and Tony’s before you turn back around to Redding. Are you allowed to eat regular food or are you on a specialized diet right now?”
“I can eat regular food sometimes.” I gave Lance a sympathy pat on the back because that is a sad, sad statement.
Then Pete and I left Lance in the kitchen and rode up to the Dam and back. It was a great ride and afterward, I popped into school to do a couple of things in the office. And that’s when I got the call from Lance that he needed a rescue pick up. I don’t know how he tracked me down at school. Dream magic strikes again.
“My sprocket snapped and I was wondering if you could pick me up?” Lance asked.
“Sure. Where are you?”
“Let’s see, I’m about 60 miles in.”
“Okay. I’ll be there in a little while.”
“Are you sure? It’s a long way to drive.”
“It’s no problem. I didn’t have anything else going on today.” Seriously, I have got to teach my dream self how to sound a little less pathetic. “Hole up somewhere warm and I’ll be there in about an hour.”
I zipped home and threw my bike rack on the back of my car. Just as I was getting ready to leave, Terry’s friend rode up and told me that Terry also needed a rescue pick up.
I had to choose between my husband and my new best friend, Lance Armstrong.
Who would I rescue first?
And then my dream self did me proud.
“Okay, I’ll swing by and get Terry and then I’ll get Lance.” I assured Terry’s friend. As I was dialing Terry to get his exact location, Lance showed up at my house. Even in my dream I was baffled by how he got there and how he got there so quickly. The dream magic was starting to wear thin.
“I hitched a ride back to Redding.” Lance said, hopping in the car. “But I had to leave my bike hidden in a bush. Would you mind driving me to pick it up?”
“No problem. We just have to swing by and grab Terry first.”
“I really need to get my bike fixed before tomorrow, but the bike shops will probably be closed by the time we get back.”
“Don’t worry, Lance. I’ll call the mechanic at the bike shop. I’m sure he’ll open up.”
“You mean he’ll open up for me?”
“No, I mean he’ll open up for me.” Finally, my dream self found a smidge of cool.
I woke up with a big smile on my face. I so wished my dream was real.
Yes, hanging with Lance Armstrong would be awesome, but that’s actually not the part I of my dream I wished would come true.
As my dream faded away and I listened to the rain patter on the roof, I wished that my brother hadn’t moved to Las Vegas.
I wish that he still lived here so we could ride our bikes together up to Shasta Dam.
This morning I’m thinking about some of my former students. Teachers aren’t supposed to play favorites, but there are some children who will always stick with me, always reside in my heart. And in the quiet morning of the first day of Christmas vacation, one darling little girl has tiptoed to the front of my mind.
I taught her for most of her first grade year, but she left before the year ended, and like so many students who have come and gone too quickly, I’m left wondering about her.
Wondering if she still writes. Wondering if she’s going to have any presents to open this Christmas. Wondering if her bootstraps are still holding strong.
I penned this poem about her over here last July:
Her hair is unbrushed, a tangle of dark curls crowning her head.
She smooths her dirty dress, eyes locked on the floor.
As she edges to the front of the room, I can’t help but smile at her shoes on the wrong feet.
It has taken work, hard work, for this waif to get herself to school today.
Sitting like royalty in the big wooden chair, she reads.
Time stops, holds its hands still.
Only her voice continues, small lips giving life to big words.
Her story is a magic wand, casting a spell on the other children.
Their mouths hang agape and we dare not breathe.
This misfit little girl has yanked at her own bootstraps.
She utters the last words.
There is silence and then the accolades fall at her feet.
Her pen is mighty, mighty indeed.
And so is she.