Uncategorized

There’s a kind of hush…

Remember the old Carpenters’ song, Kind of Hush?

If you weren’t alive when it was released in 1976, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I’ve thought of the lyrics every time I’ve stepped outside during the Blizzard of 2016.

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 “There’s a kind of hush all over the world tonight…”

This morning I went out to hunt for the Washington Post. (Wishful thinking.)

My neighbor was outside and we stood in the middle of the road in the bright sunshine, surveying the beauty around us, and enjoying the silence, the hushed stillness.

No high school kids bustling to school.

No UPS trucks, school buses, dogs barking.

No people rushing off to work.

No cars on the busy roads surrounding our neighborhood.

No planes flying in and out of Dulles airport.

Just a beautiful hushed silence.

We watched a lot of news over the last week, anticipating the storm and hearing all the warnings about this “life-threatening storm,” this “state of emergency,” this “historic blizzard.”

We joined the rest of the DC metro area in rushing to the grocery store and Costco for supplies.

Only a smattering of carts were left in front of the store and grocery store shelves were being quickly depleted.

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Thanks to Cynthia Hall-Tipping for this photo of the empty shelves at Trader Joes

We didn’t even really need anything there.

We just felt obligated to be part of the storm prep madness and excitement.

We bought bread and milk because that’s what you do before a storm here.
Most important, Doug got the snowblower ready — pumped up the tires, filled it with gas, and positioned it in the garage to be ready for the big dig-out.

We made a big pot of chili, charged all our devices, and pulled out the flashlights in case of a power outage.

And then it came.

Just as predicted, it started at 12:30 p .m. Friday and didn’t stop until about 10 p.m. Saturday.

Winds gusting, snow falling, everything being covered in heavy snow.

We ended up with 33″ on our deck.

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This was before the total hit 33 inches

That’s some serious snow.

We followed the newscasters and safety officials’ pleas to stay off the roads and hunker down at home.

And, we enjoyed every minute of it.

Mostly because we never lost power. Thank you for that tender mercy.

It might have been dangerous and epic, but inside our home, it was peaceful.

We had good books, old movies and lots phone calls and texting with friends and family who indulged us as we talked about the massive amounts of snow piling up on our deck.

Outside our home, in our neighborhood, it was peaceful too.

Neighbors were helping neighbors, and posting pictures on our Facebook page of the beauty around us.
Our reliable snow removal crews were out doing a terrific job of cleaning up our streets all weekend.
We formed a neighborhood brigade to dig out a neighbor whose husband is out of the country.

We even had a last-minute pot luck dinner with a few of our neighbors , sharing all our different pots of soup.

Now, the storm has passed.

The big melt begins.

We are slowly getting back to the business of living.

Hurrying to all the important places we have to go.

Keeping up with our busy, schedules.

Feeling more rushed, stressed and anxious than we like.

And waving quickly as we pass each other  in the neighborhood on our way to do all Our Important Stuff.

But we need to relish this last weekend when we had the gift of time to help each other, reconnect, slow down, and appreciate the power of Mother Nature.

She holds the trump card.

She always wins.

And maybe there’s method to Mother Nature’s madness.

She can stop the most powerful cities in the world, control the oceans, the skies, the very world that holds us at its mercy.

With one big storm, she can stop everything — redirect all our efforts and energies, make us feel helpless and out of control or sometimes kind, forgiving and benevolent.

She can make us pray for safety, run for cover, think of others, and get our acts together.

She always gives us chances to rethink, rebuild, and refresh.

Maybe Mother Nature is just God teaching us that we need to disconnect to connect.

Stop to start anew.

Hush to enjoy silence.

Feel stranded but never alone.

An historic blizzard might be just what we need to remind us whose really in charge here.

And, I don’t think it’s the weatherman.

So, for those of you still trapped by the snow, take a deep breath and enjoy this beautiful, rare kind of hush that’s over our world.

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Thanks to Mary Sears for sharing this photo of all the deer enjoying the snow in our neighborhood.

 

Uncategorized

Jackpot

Don’t tell me you’re not following the $1.4 billion PowerBall jackpot, and wondering what you’d do with that much money.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t gamble, thank you very much,” then good for you for being so darn wonderful.

But you’re missing out on all the fun of fantasizing about being a billionaire.

Over the weekend, we were at dinner with some friends and, of course, the big old jackpot came up, and then the question, “What would you do with the money?”

Not surprisingly, everyone said the obvious.

Help the poor.

Help my family and friends with this or that.

Invest it.

Get an accountant, an attorney and a financial adviser.

Travel.

Buy a new car.

Seriously?

Even my manicurist shared her dreams of winning with me today.

She too would help the poor, help her friends and family, but she also wouldn’t quit her job. She loves doing manicures and pedicures.

I’ve learned from hearing everyone talk about how they’ll spend their winnings that most people don’t have a clue how to spend that much money.

Our dreams barely skim money off the top of $1.4 billion.

Even if we help the poor, help our friends and family, travel and buy new cars, we still have enough money left to buy about 5,000 more new cars or go to Disneyland about a million more times.

I met an author at a writer’s conference whose book became one of Oprah’s favorites.

It turned her life upside down.

She felt so guilty about suddenly having money that she gave a lot of it away, thinking she’d feel better after helping all of her friends and family.

She bought her roommate a new car.

But, the roommate trashed it.

She gave money to her family and friends, and they squandered it.

That big pot of gold became one big old nasty problem for her.

I see some valuable lessons there…

  1. Do not share your lottery winnings with your friends and family. It will ruin their lives and strain your relationships with them. You’re doing them a favor by keeping all the money to yourself.
  2. Bear the billionaire burden alone. Nobody wants to hear you whine about how your life was ruined by money.
  3. Do not feel guilty. You can’t help it that you are luckier than everyone else. Being rich may be your cross to bear in life. Just remember, “It’s not what happens to you that counts, it’s how you respond to what happens.” Respond well my rich friend.

You can thank me later for this advice.

In the meantime, can you tell me how to buy a PowerBall ticket?

I hear you have to play to win.

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing it all down

It’s New Year’s Day 2016.

I’m sitting on the couch thinking, “I should write a New Year’s blog.”

Last year about this time, I wrote a blog called Blah-Grrr, which was less than inspiring, but it captured my mood at the time.

This year, I want to write something BETTER, more MOTIVATIONAL, but I’m stuck.

Hello Writer’s Block.

(The inability to tap into the writerly part of your brain where thoughts turn into words and sentences.)

Part of the reason for this mental block is that I’ve set myself up with the idea that I should write something INSPIRING or MOTIVATIONAL.

Writing expectations can be lethal. They choke creativity.

No idea is good enough. No thought cogent or powerful enough.

And no good sentences can flow from that kind of clogged up mental mess.

Not only do I have crippling blogging block, I seem to have unintentionally infected my family with it.

For Christmas I gave everyone in my family five-year journals.

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One of our Church missionaries introduced me to them.

She called hers her “most prized possession.”

Her dad gave one to all of his family for Christmas a few years ago and she’s written in it faithfully since.

“It’s awesome to look back and see where I was and what I was doing on the same day in previous years,” she said.

I’m a writer, a journal keeper, and big believer in creating personal histories. So, this sounded like a great gift idea.

Side note: A friend in college once said to me, “What is it with writers? They don’t think things are real unless they write them down.”

Ah, yeah…because they’re not.

Last night, Doug started a group text reminding everyone to start our new journals on New Year’s Day.

 

My sister, Sallie, said, “I can’t wait to start my new journal. I have to do something more exciting tomorrow than taking down the Christmas tree though. I don’t want to judge myself for the next five years for having a boring New Year’s Day.”

Annie said, “I know! I feel pressured to do exciting things!”

Then, Sallie, who drives a red convertible VW, said, “I’ll pick you up, Annie, and we’ll drive around the lake with the top down and then hike Y Mountain at midnight so that we’ll have something fun to write about.”

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Cruising in the Convertible

“Too bad we’re in North Carolina,” Annie replied with a sad face emoticon.

Sara texted, “I was thinking of having a focus — like writing about a funny thing that happened or the best part of my day or tender mercies.”

Having a focus sounded like a good idea to me too — a kind of writing prompt.

“I’m just going to write about the weather,” Doug said.

“Good idea, Dad,” Sara wrote, “Or you could just copy your daily horoscope into your journal.”

Today Sallie texted me to see if I’d done anything exciting to write about.

“I walked on the beach, watched an episode of Oprah’s Belief series and then called a friend who just announced she and her husband are going to Brazil for a Church mission. Is that interesting enough? Or maybe something amazing is yet to happen.”

“We have faith,” she responded.

Yes, if faith means believing our lives on New Year’s Day 2016 literally will be ones for the books, then we have faith.

That’s a lot of faith.

No wonder I can’t write a blog.

I can’t even think about that tiny little paragraph I need to write at the end of the day, let alone write a 500-word blog.

How can we live each day for five years worried about whether our lives are interesting enough to write about?

Well, see, that’s the thing. We can’t. So we don’t think about it so much. We just do it.

We just pick up a pen, or put our fingers on the keyboard, and write.

Start with a word and go.

How’s that for MOTIVATIONAL?

I sometimes don’t know what to write, but I try to write anyway.

Sometimes it’s just nonsensical junk that ends up on the page, and sometimes it’s something that’s surprisingly good.

But writing well isn’t even the point.

The point is expressing ourselves, and what makes it fun is that it’s all stuff that comes from inside of us, stuff that defines us and our ordinary lives.

And that can be wonderfully rewarding.

(And you know that if you don’t write it down, it’s not real, right?)

Get writing people. Make that your 2016 New Year’s resolution.

Capture your life on the pages of a notebook or on a blog or in a daunting five-year journal.

Your life is probably a lot more interesting than you think.

Let me end with this great little nugget from a writer named Victoria Erickson.

“Why write? Why should we all write? This is what I recommend…pick a word and see where that word takes you. Because you store everything in your body: the gorgeous, the ugly, the painful, the ecstatic. It’s all there locked away in your cells where memory, tension and confusion remain day after day, waiting to be set free. You don’t have to show it to an audience or your spouse or your children or even yourself again. But when it’s written down as a list, as a paragraph or poem or story, you can go to bed with greater understanding of yourself, of the world, or even of both yourself in this world. And at the very least, you know all those things are out of your body. Writing is essentially becoming free. It all begins with a word.

I couldn’t have said it any better. Thanks Victoria.

Now, get writing.

Figure out a way to capture 2016 in writing.

It’s only going to be real if you write about it …