Light and Dark

This post is part of SoCS. These were the instructions-

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “beside you.” Write about whatever is beside you when you read this prompt. Not when you sit down to write, but whatever is beside you right now. Take note of it if you think you might forget. Enjoy!

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Glancing over at my nightstand, I noticed two things-a book and my lamp.  I love this lamp.  The body of the lamp is made of clear glass and the shade is white.  It gives off a lovely, soft glowing light.  There is a matching one on my husband’s nightstand.

I love to turn these lamps on in the late afternoon/early evening, before it gets dark.  They provide a guide around the corner when I later turn off the rest of the house lights.  Without them, I would have to feel my way through the darkness to get to the bedroom.

Isn’t that how it is with light?  We need it for so many reasons.  To guide us physically, to help us read, work, cook…live.  But we also need the dark to rest, and the soft light of my lamp provides the perfect guide to the dark.

The other thing on my nightstand is a book.  “The World According to Mister Rogers.” This small book is filled with quotes from the beloved Fred Rogers.  Little bits of wisdom that shed light on many of life’s circumstances.  His words are clear and honest.  Each time I pick up this book, the words make me smile.  They also make me think about how I respond to what is happening around me.

A lamp and a book-what perfect things to have beside me during these uncertain times.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed, like darkness is closing in.  But the truth is, light is present in many forms.  Sometimes a soft glowing lamp, sometimes the words from a book.  We just have to open our eyes and look. 

Blank Slate

As I opened up my computer to write this morning, all I could think was, “look at that blank page.” No idea what I wanted to write about, I just knew I needed to write. And then it occurred to me all these days at home are truly blank slates. There was no advanced plan for them. Each one is faced truly not knowing what the next one will bring.

Although that is true of our daily reality, we don’t often live that way. We make our plans, plan our trips, and dream about the future. Don’t misunderstand, those are important things to do. However, they must be balanced with the acceptance that we never truly know what tomorrow holds.

Even more than future planning, these circumstances make me think of missed opportunities. For example, if a specific person comes to mind today, I am more likely to send a quick text. Three weeks ago, I might have pushed it to the back of my mind. “Oh, I will contact them tomorrow…”

Not that I am following through on every thought, but I am working on being more intentional. I’ve already experienced the payoff in some ways that may seem small. One “Hello, how are you” text yesterday resulted in a sweet phone conversation about life and changes. It also brought much-needed tears and encouragement. That conversation will stick with me for a long time.

Another experience from earlier this week also made a lasting impression. I was thinking about dropping off a small care package to a dear friend. The plan was to leave it outside her door, get back in my car, and wave from a safe distance. Even typing it, it sounds silly. I almost didn’t do it.

Thankfully, I decided not to worry about looking silly. When my friend walked out of her front door, I found myself wanting to jump out of the car, run over, and give her a hug. She even had to remind herself not to keep walking in my direction. Driving away, I fought back tears.

My takeaway? We need each other. We miss each other. And I cannot wait to once again freely embrace my family, friends, colleagues, and students. I don’t know when that will happen.

Until it does, I will keep looking at these blank slate days with faith and hope and love. And just maybe, cover that blank slate with a little kindness. ❤

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13: 13

Cues

Cue-a signal (such as a word, phrase, or bit of stage business) to a performer to begin a specific speech or action.

When I think of the word cue, it is usually about music. As a pianist, I’m very good at giving and receiving cues. For example, I might follow a singer’s breathing or lead them into an entrance with tempo/musical changes. The cues help us stay together, resulting in beautiful music.

This week, I’ve been forced to listen to a different kind of cue. It actually took several days for me to even recognize that it was a cue. 

If only it had been a musical cue. 

But no, this was an emotional cue manifesting in a physical symptom.

The first time it appeared was around 5:00 p.m. I had planned to cook dinner-homemade meatballs, roasted veggies, and pasta. 

All the ingredients were ready.  

Suddenly, I began to feel a little nauseous. “Hmmm, that’s weird,” I thought. I immediately began to worry about getting sick. But I hadn’t been anywhere, and it was not likely. I almost changed dinner plans to take-out.

But then, I decided to push through. We needed a home-cooked meal. It would surely make us all feel better. So, I cooked. It was yummy. I even baked cookies. When the cookies were done, I realized the nausea was gone.

The same thing happened the next day, at the same time. Curious. 

“I wonder if this is stress?” I asked myself. This time, my daughter and I took a short walk around the neighborhood. Guess what? Nausea once again disappeared.

That night, I told my husband what had happened. I also expressed that I thought it was a reaction to stress over all the changes occurring right now. He agreed. 

Somehow, just sharing how I was feeling helped.

As I thought about this more, it made sense. I may be putting on a good front, staying calm, and saying I’m not worried. But truthfully, these are unsettling times and they are affecting my emotions. This little cue was trying to get my attention. Trying to tell me it’s ok to not be ok.

The time of day also made sense. Each time I noticed this feeling, it was around 5-5:30 p.m. This is the time of day we would normally be getting home from work. Everyone would be sharing about their day, talking about what went well and what didn’t. Talking about students and what we were planning the next days, weeks, etc.  

That has all changed. We are together most of the day at home. Not knowing when we will go back to work. Worrying about our friends and family. Worrying about our students. All things that are out of our control.  

No wonder my physical cue was nausea.

The most important thing about cues? They require a response. How could I respond to this one? Well, I’ve found a few things to be helpful.   

  1. Take a walk
  2. Tell someone how I’m feeling
  3. Cook
  4. Play piano

This experience also made me think of our kiddos. How do they react to stress? What is often their first complaint? “My stomach hurts.” I guess some things never change. 😉   

Take care of yourselves, friends. Listen to your body and pay attention to your emotions. Don’t be afraid to say how you’re feeling.  ❤ 

Faces

Dear Friends,

This past week was our Spring Break from school. One whole week to relax and do whatever I wanted. Except, it really wasn’t. Yes, I was able to relax and spend time with family. But no coffee with friends, spring clothes shopping, last-minute trips out of town, etc.

I tried not to worry about establishing a new routine or what would happen in the weeks to come. But now it’s Saturday, and a new week is almost here. It is time to think ahead just a little.

This morning it hit me what I’m going to miss the most when Monday comes-faces. I see so many faces each day. Faces help us know how a person is feeling. We can see happiness, disappointment, struggle, or excitement with one single glance.

We can also receive what we need from the face of another. If I am the one showing sadness or struggling, a smile from another person is powerful. It shows that someone else sees me and recognizes how I’m feeling.

So, although I won’t see all those faces on Monday, I will be thinking about them. Those colleagues who greet me each day. The students I greet each morning as they enter the building. Those few ornery boys who still call me grandma every time they see me. My friend who sits across the table with a cup of coffee.

As I think of those faces, I will also pray. For that is one thing I can do no matter where I am or what the circumstances. These are unsettling times with many unanswered questions. But I have faith that I will see all those faces again soon-live and in person.

Until then, I remain thankful for technology and social media. And with that thought, I will share a picture of my face from this morning. Hopefully, you will see joy and contentment amid uncertainty. And be reminded that I love you.

Take care of yourselves, sweet friends.

Kelley

“I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” 3 John 1:14

The Tiniest Dachshund

Preface-This is my attempt at writing a children’s story.  Our current circumstances-illness, quarantines, social distancing-seem like the perfect time to share.  Hope you enjoy and read it to any kiddos in your life. 🙂

There once lived a tiny dachshund. The start of her life was quite rough. The place she was born was quite scary. No one listened as she softly cried ruff.

Thankfully, this sweet puppy was rescued-along with her siblings and mom. They moved in with a nice foster parent, who would help them find a forever home.

Their names were as sweet as their faces-Rosemary, Laurel, and Parson. And that tiniest dachshund? The runt of the litter? What was her name? Perfectly precious, Poppy.

Poppy loved to play with her siblings. Tails wagging, they would hop and run. And although she tried with all her might, her little legs could not keep up.

One day, a nice mom and dad came to visit. They wanted to meet these sweet puppies. When they saw little Poppy, they cried, “We choose her!” With their family, they knew she would be happy.

Poppy was officially adopted! A new home, a new bed, and new toys. Most important of all, she was met by three children- a sweet girl and two kind boys.

These siblings, along with their parents, were glad to call Poppy their own. This tiny sweet dachshund had stolen their hearts, from the moment she entered their home.

Many years have passed since her adoption day. Poppy is older and gray.
But she loves her family, and they love her even more than that very first day.

We love our Poppy girl! ❤

Jumbled Thoughts

These are interesting times. So many questions. News stories concerning illness reported all over the world and right here at home. Despite the great distances, the stories connect us all, as if we all lived next door to one another.

I try to limit my news intake, choosing often to read instead of watching the news. However, I found myself watching more the past few days. And last night, I believe this choice had a negative impact.

I woke up several times during the night. None of the dreams I had made any sense. I could not even describe them. All I could think was, “Why are my thoughts so jumbled?”

And that’s when I realized-too much news. Even though I remain calm on the outside, I feel restless. Changes are coming. And that underlying knowledge, infused with so much information, caused my brain to overload.

I did watch the morning newscast today. But then I chose to turn everything off and do something productive. My bedroom is now clean. Laundry is folded and put away. I even vacuumed the floor, cleaned the bathroom, and took a nap.

No, my activity did not take away the stress of the unknown, but it did help me take care of myself. It provided a distraction as well as positive results. Results that gave me a feeling of accomplishment.

The evening news could not be avoided. School closings until April 6 were announced. As a teacher, that brings a whole new set of concerns. But we are all in this together and that brings comfort.

Hoping for a better night’s sleep tonight. Clean sheets should help. 🙂

And just maybe, my thoughts will be less jumbled and my dreams memorable.

Chips Anyone?

When a problem occurs with technology, it is often user error. That was definitely the case for me this week. And though the result can be frustrating, this time it was kind of funny.

I love Sam’s Club app. Useful technology designed to make shopping quick and easy. Once the desired item is located, I scan the price with my phone. I can even check out and pay on my phone. No standing in lines.

I made a quick stop there the other day. My mother-in-law asked if I would pick up a specific bag of chips. We had eaten these quinoa and chia chips at a wedding shower for Robert and Erin back in January. They were so good!

Since I had already done our regular grocery shopping, the chips were my only reason for this stop. Certainly not a typical trip to Sam’s, but this is the only place I can find these chips.

Because they are so good, I decided to get a bag for myself. I scanned the first bag, and then entered a quantity of two. All done shopping, right? Maybe not.

I spotted the boxes of Veggie Straws. We like those, too. So, I scanned the box, clicked check out, and pay. All done.

And then I noticed the total. Something wasn’t right, but I had already hit pay. A quick review of my purchase showed a total of three bags of chips, but no Veggie Straws. Apparently, I had accidentally scanned the chips again.

There was only one thing to do. Put back the Veggie Straws, grab another bag of chips, and leave.

Walking past all the people in line with full carts, I couldn’t help wonder if they noticed the crazy lady carrying three bags of quinoa and chia chips.

Anyone need a bag of chips? They come highly recommended! 😉