An Unfamiliar Smile

The strangest thing happened on my way home from school yesterday. I had not driven far and was stopped at a red light. The soundtrack to “Hamilton” was blaring on my radio, and the sun was shining!

A quick glance to my right, and I noticed someone waving. The car window was rolled down, the driver smiling. His eyes looked familiar, but it took a few seconds to recognize him.

This was someone I see at work every day. But he is new to our school this year, and that meant I had never actually seen his entire face. Or, if I had, it was only for a few brief seconds.

Wow! I know we are all feeling the changes in how we connect during this time of a global pandemic. We have to work even harder at getting to know new people. Wearing masks, though necessary, makes it more difficult to speak, hear, and recognize others. And not being able to just run up and hug everyone I see…well, that is another thing altogether.

This experience was a real punch. Here I sat, realizing that this was the first time I had seen this guy’s entire face! We have been in school for over two months!

I waved and then rolled down my car window. We were both smiling. I said, “Man, it is good to actually see your smile!” He laughed and said something about wearing masks all the time. I nodded. We both drove our separate ways.

Did I mention we were both smiling?

It was like finding two puzzle pieces that fit together. That unfamiliar smile perfectly matched those familiar eyes.

Old Faithful

Sage-like, he
Stoically sits
Robed in a
Grayish-white
Beard of stone
Surrounded by
Enchanting
Displays of
Deep blues

Strangers pass
By-gazing at
The colorful
Exhibits before
Noticing a
Growing crowd
Encircling the
Quiet elder
In the center

As they wait
Some guess
Others doubt
Not knowing
What to expect
But questions
Instantly vanish
With nature’s
Grand display

Predictable
Yet, surprising
Unassuming
Yet, powerful-
A name held up
By its actions
Thru countless
Fragments of time-
Old Faithful

Power in Admission

I have shared openly about struggles with anxiety and depression. And I recognize there is always room for improvement in my coping skills.  

If I remember to breathe, it helps.  If I think ahead, I can prepare for problematic situations. Nevertheless, sometimes things just happen.

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Beautiful does not adequately describe either of these places. The vastness and variety in these almost untouched lands are overwhelming.

And yet, even during our wonderful trip, anxiety crept in. We had been exploring Yellowstone all morning and decided to drive to the Tetons. This was the first visit to this area for both of us, an adventure.  

This particular drive brought a little more adventure than I preferred. We were driving along, listening to history and information about the area, when the road suddenly took us right along the edge of Clark Canyon.  

A quick glance out the window, and I began to panic. My body had an instant reaction. My heart sank, began beating rapidly. My stomach felt like it had been turned upside down. I wanted to crawl in a hole. Yes, I endured. But it was not fun.

Those anxious feelings crept back in later that night. I had trouble sleeping. Would tomorrow’s drive be similar? Slow, deep breaths finally helped, and I was able to sleep.

The next morning, we were on the road again. We had a basic plan of places we wanted to see. Our first stop was great! Some incredible, colorful geothermal displays. But soon, I was feeling afraid of the unknowns. Would we have to drive on any roads like the one yesterday? Just the thought and anxiety began to rise.

Finally, I said it aloud. “The thought of a drive like yesterday is making me feel panicky. I’m not sure I can do it.” After saying those words to my husband and allowing a few tears to fall, I felt much better.  

He knows me well. His response was reassuring. Soon we were laughing and ready to face the rest of the day. He even asked a park ranger for advice on the least scary route for our last stop. (Which apparently was not an unusual request.) 😉

Now, I would be lying if I said there were no other moments of panic. However, they did not take over my thoughts. My physical reactions were not as severe, and I was able to enjoy the beauty of the places we visited.

No, I did not want to admit how I felt. But, oh, I am so glad I did. It was an important reminder there is power in admission.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Artist Point Overlook

Dreams

Yellowstone National Park
Midway Geyser Basin Trail

Disappointment
Has the power
To freeze
Each fiber of
Imagination

Once faced
And released
Fears melt away
Leaving behind
A clean slate,
A catalyst
For growth

Taking a step
Back-viewing
The world with
Fresh eyes
Brings a new
Appreciation

Creativity
Awakens
Stirring
Both mind
And soul
Reigniting
Dreams

Hello Fall

Sleepy eyes
Sun shines in
Warms the body
Mends the heart
An intentional
Slowing down
Taking time to
Look around
Notice each
Speck of color
Hear each
Color of sound
Listen as the
Breezy melody
Sings with the
Shifting winds
Watch as it
Compels the
Changing leaves
To wave hello

Daydream Believer by The Monkees. Kelley Morris, piano

This was the number one song on Billboard Charts the day I was born. Seems appropriate. 😉 ❤

Confidence Blooms

Tiny buds of worry
Anxiously wait
To be watered
Desiring to open
But hesitant
Unsure of responses
Will reactions
Be refreshing-
Like a gentle rain
Or harsh-
A downpour filled
With ice pellets
One response holds
The power to make
The buds shrink
Overcome by
Uncertainty until
They wither and die
The other holds the
Promise of washing
The worry away
Gently nurturing
Watching and listening
As confidence blooms

Another Thread

Not simple
In form
A million
And one
Complexities
Flesh and blood
Soul and spirit
From birth to death
And each facet of
Life in between
Layers upon layers
Minutes, days, hours
Becoming years in
What feels like a
Matter of seconds
History alive in
The physical-
A resemblance
A representation-
History alive in
The spiritual-
A passion
A purpose-
Another thread
Woven thru the
Continuing story
In this tapestry
Of passing time

Missing Pieces

At the beginning of quarantine, we worked a couple of jigsaw puzzles at our house. A way to pass the time while keeping the brain working. It is always interesting to me to watch how tiny pieces fit together to create one big picture.

The pieces all have different colors and shapes. Each one with its own place. Only fitting together with those directly surrounding. The togetherness grows exponentially. However, if there is just one missing piece, the picture is incomplete. So frustrating.

Each of us is born into a picture. With a family that will love us and helps us grow. Sadly, that is not always the case. And the missing pieces often leave big holes.

Children especially have a difficult time finding their place when these pieces are missing. They do not understand. Whether withdrawing or acting out, they are seeking control. This is sometimes hard to remember as a teacher.

Yesterday, I reacted to certain behaviors with little thought to what was behind them. They were frustrated. I was frustrated. I kept thinking, “If only these friends would listen and follow directions like everyone else!”

This morning, I woke up thinking about those friends. I wanted to find a way to improve the situation. Find a way to encourage appropriate behavior and participation. After all, music class is supposed to be fun!

But how? One word came to mind-connections. I know that is the key. Sometimes I just need a reminder.

Today, I worked on those connections. In the process, I discovered some of the missing pieces. The death of a parent, negative influences from older siblings, family instability. These little ones are dealing with big emotions and don’t know why or how to express them.

Our time together was brief. Leaving me with more questions than answers. However, there was also a glimmer of hope. Little faces, often angry, smiling just a bit. Showing a desire to do the right thing. Even if only able for a limited amount of time.

There is no way for me to fill in those missing pieces. They are irreplaceable. All I can do is recognize and acknowledge. But maybe the edges can be blurred, and a new picture of belonging will emerge. Causing the frustrations of the missing pieces to fade.

Best Course of Action

My mom and her sister, my Aunt Elizabeth, are breast cancer survivors. My dear friend, Shannon, lost her battle with breast cancer. I witnessed each of these women respond with bravery and courage to a disease that has touched so many.

Geneva’s Daughter Instant Friends

Because of my family history and personal health issues, I have mammograms regularly and see a specialist. And though my personal health history does not include cancer, it does include a lumpectomy, multiple biopsies, and MRIs.

I DO NOT LIKE MRIs AT ALL...

Today was my six-month checkup, including an ultrasound. Dense tissue makes detection difficult. And even though the doctor saw nothing alarming, she recommended another MRI and follow-up again in six months.

When MRI was mentioned today, I kind of zoned out for a moment. I began to feel the anxiety that accompanied my previous MRI. Yes, I survived. But it was definitely an emotional challenge.

Once again, I found myself feeling anxious. For clarification, I asked, “So, you think I should definitely have an MRI?” “Yes. You meet the risk factors. I believe it is the best course of action for you.”

On the drive home, I was tempted to let worry start creeping in. But then I had some thankful thoughts. A doctor who is thorough and gives me her honest opinion. Health insurance to help cover this cost. The knowledge that if there is ever an issue, this test will find it early.

So, I will stay on this course of action, even though it makes me nervous. And I will continue to encourage all my women friends to remain vigilant in fighting this disease.

Get your mammograms! And even an MRI, if necessary. 💗💗💗