This Sunday, while I set our clocks back and prayed our kids got the memo and slept in an extra hour (likely story), I also took a moment to reflect. For me, stronger seasonal winds seem to blow with passing years, and it behooves me to stop and reflect on intentional living in the latter years.
When I was a child, I loved to play office Barbie. She had these cute little trash cans and this perfect little desk. She always wore the right outfit. Her boss was never rude. Barbie served well, ALL THE TIME. She was intentional and everyone in the office admired her.
As I grew older, Mary Lou Retton was the ‘it girl’ of professional gymnastics. All of my girlfriends and I loved the sport and modeled ourselves off of this skillful Olympian and others like her. She gave us something to dream about. We trained hard, chopped off our hair and handspringed our way through adolescence.
In my teenage years, I loved to bake. I’d use a dozen eggs to bake these extravagant cakes which I’d later learn was a faux pas. Evidently, when your household is on a budget, it isn’t ideal to use all the eggs in one sitting.
In my advanced years I write, and to some degree, I always have. There is much power in words, and so many are being flung about haphazardly these days. We consume many of them far too easily as if they were a zero-calorie decadent dessert. I’ve often thought, if I could put something substantial to the page would it make life more palatable?
All of these prior ambitions allowed me to dream. I’m not going to go all Disney on you and start singing “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”; but, if I am being honest — a dream is a wish your heart makes.
When I was young, I dreamed. I dreamed about the prince I would marry. I dreamed about the future kids. And then, years later, I sat — head spinning, heart pumping — trying to figure out where in that fairy tale did the princess wipe vomit from the floor?
Because this is where the dream ultimately takes us: motherhood, coexisting, and unexpected realities. The dream is less about the fulfillment of my perception and more about embracing what is true; and the truth primarily is about loving in the hardest of places, in the toughest of times. Where is that in my Disney storybook? Where is the prince getting warm embraces even though he forgot to take out the trash … again? Sometimes he isn’t even in the book. He’s out on another deployment or TDY (temporary duty yonder).
In my Disney dreams, the prince and princess have many servants hiding behind the limelight presenting the perfect animation. In reality we, the parents, are the servants and neither of us is usually super eager to out-serve the other.
By the way, office Barbie did get that job. She served well in banking, management, administration, and multiple support roles. At the end of the day, she climbed the ladder just high enough for it to tumble beneath her, crushing her perfect little desk beneath the weight of expectation, failure, and disappointment. It left her, midlife, not certain of what the next forty years might look like.
The gymnast is still tumbling her way through life; falling forward and springing back, arms and hands reached high in perfection signaling the grand finale of her fabulous daily routine; her tricks still well displayed for any onlooking judges willing and ready to critique.
The baker douses sugar cookies with unnecessary amounts of frosting and sprinkles that trickle down from the tabletop onto her recently swept hardwood floors, reiterating that it’s the connection that matters not the mess on the floor.
The writer. She’s still dreaming and this is really why she writes:
It’s what I crave. I have to know that not every day will include wiping vomit from the floor or saying goodbye to loved ones or longed-for dreams once again. Even at 40 (midlife crisis and all), I have to know that I can still dream, hope, wish.
I have a deep desire to bring hope through the power of words. I am mindful that much of what is written may come off as despairing. And to some degree, I want it to because this is an innate human emotion we all feel at times (more often than we may like to admit).
In a previous post I mentioned my heart finds more peace in the falls and winters of life where harsh breezes and unexpected snowfalls dwell. As I fall forward in life, bracing myself for impact each time; my hands get weaker, my heart softer, my outer shell thinner, and hopefully, as time progresses through intermittent tears, the outcome is a softer, gentler, wiser me.
As we fall back PAUSE.
Before we spring forward again, rest a little (like the feeling after that crazy trust exercise when you fall into strangers’ arms clinging to the hope that they will catch you). Much beauty can come from the fall if we actually stop and reflect on how we got down here in the first place. Spring back up in a healthy way with a fresh attitude, then throw those arms up high and stick the landing.