So Much More Than Toys

Last evening I watched Toy Story 4 with my husband, daughter, and youngest son. My emotional reaction to the ending, though not surprising, made me question. Why am I crying over a movie about a bunch of toys?

The very first Toy Story movie was released a month before our oldest son, Robert, turned one. He is twenty-four. Toy Story 2 premiered when Rachel was two, now twenty-one. And Toy Story 3? Ryan was ten, now eighteen. You can do the math for Toy Story 4.

All four movies were sprinkled throughout the lives of our children. Our family watched while Andy grew up and Buzz and Woody became the best of friends. In a way, we grew up with them.

Many sets of Buzz and Woody toys graced our home over the years. I’m pretty sure there was even an Emperor Zurg living here at one time. And there may be a build-a-bear-frog wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume hiding somewhere in the garage. 😉

These stories are about so much more than toys. They provide a window into childhood. Viewers witness family dynamics such as single parenting and sibling rivalry. We feel the emotions of a mom letting go of her little boy. We watch a little boy recognize how much he has grown.

But what about the toys? Their adventures teach us about friendship and loyalty. All we need to do is consider Buzz and Woody, a cowboy and space ranger. Two unlikely friends who stick together through thick and thin. And the strength of their friendship provides security and support for their other toy friends and their kids.

These friendships also teach us about perseverance. In each of the four films, there are points in the story which seem to spell disaster. Yet, no matter what obstacle crosses their path they never give up. Together they stand up to Sid, the mean kid next door. A misguided bear, a toy seller in a chicken suit, and creepy ventriloquist dolls also prove no match for this determined group.

Toy Story shows us the importance of being loved, wanted, and needed. Lessons which begin in childhood but continue throughout our adult lives. They transport us to the place of hearing, “Job well done. Everything will be ok.”

It’s no surprise this series of animated movies have the power to bring a fifty-one-year-old woman to tears. Honestly, I cried during at least one scene in each story. I also laughed out loud and smiled until my face hurt.

Watching Toy Story 4 took me on a journey down memory lane. Not just the memories of the other movies, but also the memories of my children growing up. It also reminded me of lessons learned from a bunch of toys.

And looking back, I realize they are so much more than toys. ❤

Inside my Head


Memories
Reminders
Fears
Prayers
Occur in a mere
Sixty seconds

Images
Lists
Problems
Answers
Circling thoughts
Take control

Whirling
Spinning
Crashing
Linking
Hypnotic space
Easily lost

Wake up!
Eyes wide
Ears open
Life surrounds

Be still
Fully aware

Face reality
Move ahead
Be engaged
Time's too short
To remain
Inside my head


Beatles Kind of Day

Although I enjoy many genres of music, I’m a creature of habit when it comes to everyday listening. You can pretty much count on 80’s music or NPR from my car radio. If I do play iTunes, it’s usually James Taylor, Chicago, maybe Toto or REO Speedwagon. They never get old.

These summer days, though much-needed, are sometimes difficult for me. I enjoy reading and catching up with friends, but those can’t fill every minute. Honest reflection says I function much better with the routine of school days. It is part of my DNA, I suppose.

Our house is currently on the market, so I have created a bit of a routine. Necessary in order to keep the house ready for showing. General picking up, dishwasher first thing in the morning, wiping down countertops, dusting, etc. During the school year, these are not daily occurrences.

For some reason, this morning I decided to add mopping to my list. I had the time and energy, so why not? About the time I finished, my husband called. Would I mind bringing something to his office? Of course not! A reason to get out of the house!

Which brings us back to my music. When I got in the car, the radio wasn’t going to cut it. I plugged in my phone and scrolled through iTunes playlists. The Beatles Essentials. Perfect! Press play. Drive. I listened there and back, singing along, noticing words I’d previously glossed over. This made me smile.

While I was in Gart’s office, I received a text. Request for a house showing at 5:45…glad I mopped.

There was still some picking up and dusting to be done at home. And cleaning music would be required. “Hmmm…think I will just keep it on this Beatles playlist.” And that is what I did…all afternoon.

Even after the cleaning was done and I sat down to rest, I wasn’t ready to press stop. A sudden realization; this music had positively impacted my whole day. I felt happy and relaxed.

One song stood out above the rest today. Thinking about the words makes me smile.

🎶In a couple of years
They had built a home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, brah
Lala how their life goes on
🎶

If you haven’t listened to the Beatles lately, press that play button. And maybe, just like me, you’ll realize how much you needed a Beatles kind of day. ☀️

My Favorite Color is…

I recently purchased a new phone. Of course, one of the first things to do with a new phone is choosing the wallpaper. I enjoy seeing a personal pic of some kind when opening my phone. With more than 7,000, I have plenty to choose from.

I chose a nature scene. Bright blue sky, billowy white clouds, and dark green trees now grace my home screen. As I opened my phone this morning, the combination of colors in this particular pic caught my eye. Blue, green, and white complimenting each other to create a beautiful image.

If asked about my favorite color, I always choose blue. I can’t remember ever having a different answer. Something about my current age, tendency to be reflective I suppose, made me stop to ponder.

Strangely enough, this particular picture provided some insight. The patch of clear blue sky by itself is beautiful. However, when seen in contrast with fluffy white clouds and green trees, it is transformed. Its beauty is magnified. And it is not a matter of comparison. It is a matter of compliment.

Kind of like people, you know? We may each be someone’s favorite. Favorite teacher, friend, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc. But that doesn’t mean we simply stand alone, happy to be the chosen. No, we celebrate the need to exist in compliment. In other words, I can’t be the favorite aunt without loving my sweet nieces. 😉

I will always have favorite people in my life, and blue will continue to be my favorite color. But hopefully, I will remember to truly see all the people around me.

We all have a purpose, a place of belonging. And just like the colors in my photo, we have the power to bring out the best in each other. When given a chance.

Carry Them With Me

My daughter, Rachel, and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby yesterday. Her goal was to purchase frames for her newly acquired teaching certificate and college diploma! They are now ready to be proudly displayed.

I was also shopping for something to display. A storage box or pretty container for storing letters. Not just any old letters. Letters which were written by my husband, Gart.

We have moved many times over the last twenty-six years. Somehow, I managed to keep up with the letters. They have occupied several different boxes and resided on a variety of closet shelves. As we prepare to move from our current home after fifteen years, I decided they need a more prominent location.

Rachel and I walked down the aisle of decorative boxes. There were many shapes, styles, and colors. One immediately caught her eye. “Ooh look. This is cute! It looks like a mini-suitcase.” After exploring several others, I returned to Rachel’s pick. Perfect!

Once home, I carefully transferred Gart’s letters to their new home. I couldn’t walk away without reading several. Sweet memories.

Some were typed, carefully folded, and placed in envelopes. Others hand-written on notebook paper and folded in half. Each marked with his unmistakable signature. 😉

The messages were just as varied as the paper on which they were written. Notes from when we dated, the rest scattered throughout our twenty-six-year marriage.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

The new box is proudly displayed on my dresser. As I glanced at it this morning, my first thought was, “How perfect! My collection of love letters carefully placed in their very own suitcase.”

I will always carry the sentiments expressed by the words in my heart. And the papers on which the words were written? I will continue to carry them with me, in their very own suitcase, wherever this life leads. ❤

Front-Yard Goodbyes

I’ve had many experiences, too many to count, with front-yard goodbyes. A close friend or family member prepare to move away or go home after a visit. I walk them to the door. Hugs given and received, well-wishes spoken, but it doesn’t end at the front door.

We walk outside together, down the sidewalk. One more hug, one last “be careful,” conversation continuing until the car door closes. As they drive away, I stand firm in the yard. We wave, and I watch until they are out of sight.

These memories range from my childhood all the way up to this very day. Each filled with images of people I love. People I hope to see again soon. People who are difficult to watch drive away.

An emotional reaction from me is pretty much a guarantee. Sometimes it is immediate. Uncontrolled tears flow for all to see. Attempts to dry them to no avail.

Other times, my reaction is delayed. Although I feel sad as they drive away, there are no tears. And just when I think, “Wow! I didn’t cry” they are mentioned later in the day, and I’m suddenly fighting back tears.

Whether the emotions are instantaneous or deferred really does not matter. What matters is time. Taking the time to say goodbye not only once, but two or three times. Taking the time to follow, stand firm, wave, and watch.

Showing them how much they are loved through a simple front-yard goodbye.

The Mom Friend

I love my young teacher friends. Their energy is contagious! They are passionate about life and have innovative ideas. Young singles, young marrieds, young parents…each with their own set of plans for the future. Working hard to navigate the busy world of home, family, career.

In these circles, I often find myself taking on the role of “Mom.” I have even referred to some of them as my adopted kids. I have three practically grown children of my own, so the mom part comes pretty naturally. And the truth is, I am usually old enough to be their mom. Shhh…

With these young friends, the advice is both given and received. They listen to my personal life stories and share theirs. Sometimes we affirm each other’s choices, other times offer reassurance that it’s not the end of the world.

I count on these “kids” to keep me going. I’m not sure they realize the length of their influence. Their presence can turn the day around with a word, a smile, a hug.

Honestly, I’m just glad they want to hang out with me. 😉

One of these sweet friends recently said to me, “You’re the best kind of friend. You’re a mom and a friend.” I’ll take it!

I often wondered what it would be like to have more kids. In a small way, I guess I have a bit of an idea.