Peace, Love, Home

I am a high school teacher, and I often look out on my students and am overwhelmed by how hard they work and how serious are the struggles with which they are dealing. I often tell them something like, “You guys are awesome. Look at you!” And they smile.

I have always told my husband that I have a strategy for keeping our kids safe when they are teenagers. My strategy is this: I am going to keep my home chock full of comfy couches, yummy food, and a welcoming spirit. My goal is to provide such a warm home that when my kids and their buddies are wondering what to do that night, and are choosing from an entire spectrum of largely questionable choices… one of my kids might mention that their mama is making a pot roast and cookies and OF COURSE ALL YOUR FRIENDS CAN COME OVER!

Naive? Maybe. But I spent most of my high school years NOT getting into trouble because I had a place I would rather be. One of my best friend’s parents created a home that was so loving and inviting that it was just the place my little friend group always wanted to be.

Tonight, my beautiful friend sent me this blog post by Cup of Jo. Man, did it get me thinking. Creating a haven for my children doesn’t start when they hit the teenage years. It was a beautiful reminder that even though little ones don’t choose where to spend their evenings, they are equally in need of a home that is a place of comfort and love. A place they would choose to be.

One of the other things that spoke to me in Jo’s post is the concept of making evenings special. Light candles, slow down, giggle and snuggle and read…. there are little things we can all implement to make our home a refuge and a soft place for our children. And for ourselves!

If any of you have rituals to add to the list, please share!

Timing is Everything: How Grief led me to Simple.

This summer, my beautiful city experienced record-breaking amounts of rain. Every night was cool and crisp and it was almost magical to sit out on the patio with the kids at night, smelling the rain and watching buckets and buckets of it fall on our massive maple trees, the sidewalk, and the street.

The morning after one such night we were getting ready to leave for a graduation party, when my five-year-old daughter went down to the basement to grab some wrapping paper. Within moments we heard peals of joyous laughter and the sound of tiny feet splashing.

My husband and I looked at each other with the same question in our eyes: “SPLASH???”

We both rushed downstairs to find 2 inches of standing water throughout the basement.

Turns out, the sump pump had given out. We rushed around, grabbing the “important” things and carrying them up to the garage. We were able to save the bedroom dressers that I love, but the bed, sofa, the rugs, etc were waterlogged and already smelly. There were many boxes of jeans, winter clothes, and baby stuff that were ruined. Jackets, camping gear, toys artwork that was leaning against the wall to be hung… gone, along with the bottom two feet of drywall, the bathroom vanity….you get the picture.

We had alot of helpers come in an out over the next several weeks, and all of them said the same thing. They said they are dealing with a ton of flooded homes during this freak amount of rain basically around the clock, and then often with a sideways glance…

“You guys have a REALLY good attitude about this. How do you have a good attitude about this?”

We would shrug our shoulders and say, “It’s just stuff.” And the helpers would nod slowly, looking a little suspicious.

That was true, but it was only part of the truth. Here is the rest:
A year ago this flood would have upset us. So much stuff ruined! So much money lost!

But that was before February 4th. That was before I lost my dad.

I’ll save a description of my dad for another day, when I find a way to do the impossible and condense my love for him onto this tiny screen, but for now I will just say that he was Joy. He was Love. He was Patience. And he was Perspective.

And as my lovely and wise friend Jackie put it…

He was My Person.

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When you lose your person, it absolutely brings you to your knees. For a long time.

And then, slowly, it changes you. It narrows your focus. It brings you clarity. It drives home the lesson that life is short and precious and we should spend as much time as possible with the people and things and activities that we love.

The rest is Noise.

And it makes you want to get The Noise out of your life as quickly as you can so you can be in your life. At least, that is how it is happening with me.

So, dealing with a basement flood is not fun, but there was beautiful opportunity in it. Yes, we lost things that we used and would have kept. Yes, it was annoying and expensive. But the kicker was… A lot of the stuff that was ruined was just weighing us down. I lost count of how many boxes we threw away that contained random crap… college notebooks, knick knacks that we weren’t ready to toss so they have been moved from house to house in an unmarked box, books that we didn’t like enough to actually display, clothes we swore we were going to sell in a garage sale that just never happened. And in one fell swoop, it was in a dumpster. And as we threw it all out, we threw out a mile of to-do lists and we gained hours and hours of time it would have spent to look through, organize, store, stress about, and be responsible for all of it. And time is something that is not to be taken for granted.

I have learned so much since losing my dad. And one of the things I have finally understood is why he so seldom got rattled.

He knew the secret and he lived the secret… that there are a few very important things, and the rest is not worth getting upset over.

And now, still, he is teaching me.
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