SAFE PASSAGE

The journey was
Not always what I
Thought it would be-
Rocking chairs
And lullabies
Bike rides and
Skinned knees
Tiny pieces of
A bigger picture
An incomplete map
Unfolding one
Step at a time-
The middle leg
Of the journey
Was much harder
A trusty compass
Guided through
Growing pains
Broken hearts
Moving, marriage
Letting go while
Pushing forward-
Current stopover
Mixes deep joy
With sadness
Yet, comfort is
Found in knowing
The sweet souls
Entrusted to me
Had safe passage
Along this path of
Discovering what it
Means to be a mom

Walking in Wyoming

I went for a walk in Wyoming
My eyes could not decide
Which way to look-
Up at the sky
What is that shade of blue?
To the right
Snow-topped mountains
To the left
Fields of purple hues
In between
A lake so crystal clear
I could barely tell where
The mountain stopped
And its reflection began
A few more steps forward
Stop and breathe
Take a seat on a rock
Feel the cool breeze on my face
Hold the hand of the one I love
Try to take it all in-

A Wyoming walk
Leaves a permanent imprint
On my heart and soul

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

Destination

Denial is not
A particularly
Great state
To visit
And yet,
The plane
Has landed
Travel plans
Included a much
More desirable
Destination-
But here I am
Disembarking
Taking the ramp
Toward an unknown
Assistance required…
Needed…wanted…

Unsure which
Way to turn,
I keep looking
For the one
Holding a sign
With my name
Believing he will
Soon appear-
A guide thru
The unfamiliar-
Helping me reach
The intended destination

Home to Home

I left home at the mature age of seventeen and, except for one summer, never came back. My mom often reminds me. 😉

Before college, I had lived in the same house my entire life. I attended the same school, first grade through senior year, and was surrounded by extended family.

And even though I needed to find my own path, the place where I grew up would always be home.

A recent visit with my parents caused me to think about the word home. Especially the idea that home has little to do with the actual place.

As I pulled up in the driveway, my dad was waiting under the carport. Mom came right out as if she’d been listening inside for my car. Soon, we were talking about everything from the kids to work, politics, church. And, of course, the pandemic and quarantine.

They’re so cute. ❤

As an adult, I enjoy this time alone with my parents. Being there by myself means my only role at that moment is a daughter. Even if this visit brought some adult daughter anxiety.

Due to the current pandemic, I had to be very careful about where I stopped on the four-and-a-half-hour drive from our house to theirs. My parents are over seventy, Mom a breast cancer survivor and Dad with diabetes and kidney disease. Their health is currently good, and I couldn’t bear the thought of exposing them to this virus.

My anxiety quickly faded as Dad asked, “How’s my little girl?” Mom said more than once, “I’m so glad you came.” At face value, simple phrases. Yet, they wrapped me in the love and security I experienced growing up.

When going to visit my parents, I say I am going home. And when it’s time to leave, I use the same phrase. I guess both are true. Home is about the people not the places.

I may have to leave tiny pieces of my heart behind when leaving one, but I know they will be refilled upon arrival at the other. Not the same, but new, and whole.

A sweet paradox, traveling from one home to another. ❤

Green Green Grass of Home by Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr.

The old home town looks the same
As I step down from the train
And there to meet me is my Mama and Papa…
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home


I’m Dreaming of a…

Dreams are interesting. Some seem so real. Real to the point of waking up in tears or hysterical laughter. I can instantly connect those dreams to actual conversations or events. Others make no sense, just a jumbled mess of images.

I don’t pretend to know how this phenomenon works. And it’s not often that I remember my dreams. When I do, they are usually crazy! Such was the case last night. My first thought after waking up-Where in the world did that come from?

In my dream, I was riding a bus to NYC by myself. I was seated near the back of the bus with a blanket. A woman approached me and said, “Show me your gun.” “I don’t have a gun,” I replied. But she continued to ask.

After a few minutes, she seemed to believe me but insisted I come to sit at the front of the bus. I followed her to a front seat. Then I realized my purse was still at the back. “May I at least go get my purse?” I asked. “No, but I will send my assistant to get it.”

The woman gave me something to drink. It was in one of those little cups like you get on an airplane. I sipped my drink and watched as her assistant walked toward my purse. He looked more like a bodyguard. I remember thinking, “I hope he doesn’t go through my purse.”

Suddenly I felt groggy, and my head started spinning. Looking down at the empty cup I thought, “Oh dear. I think I’m in trouble.” That’s when I woke up.

It didn’t take long to uncover the mystery behind my dream. Earlier that same day I was at glee club rehearsal. We have an upcoming field trip that takes place after school hours. Sharing information about an evening bus ride with 4th and 5th graders lead to a million questions.

So, that explains the bus.

That evening, my daughter and I talked about her going out of town this weekend. She is an adult. She has traveled alone before. But this is her first time to make this particular trip alone. And I must admit, there was a little bit of an “anxious mom” feeling.

So, that explains the travel problems.

It also explains the following conversation with my daughter this morning. 😉

I wonder what I’ll dream about tonight. Hopefully, it will not involve a bus or a drugged drink. I’d much rather dream about snow. Who knows? Maybe I will dream of a white Christmas. On second thought, with only seven school days left before Christmas break, that might be expecting too much. Sweet dreams!

Pancakes & Sr. Trips

We’ve enjoyed a variety of family traditions over the years, dependent on where we lived, the age of the kids, etc. One favorite was Saturday morning pancakes. We started this one the year we lived in Liberal, KS, far away from extended family and friends. A simple thing, but so important for us as a family.

Not all traditions happen as often Saturday morning pancakes. Actually, there is one family event I never thought of as a tradition until our final one. The senior trip…

As each of our children approached their high school graduation, Gart and I asked them to choose, within reason, a place they would like to visit. The choices of these three proved as varied as their personalities. Robert? Colorado. Rachel? Washington, D.C. And Ryan? New York City!

Dad planned, saved, worked out all the details, ensuring the graduate experienced all the activities on their list. What was Mom’s role? Let’s just say I learned how to let go a little. And began to recognize my babies were not babies anymore.

It all started in Colorado. What could be more relaxing? A quiet cabin, hiking, fishing, feeding the chipmunks, coffee on the deck…but those were my plans. Robert and his friend, Jeremy, had something much more adventurous in mind.

These two 18-year-olds successfully hiked to the top of Mt. Elbert, 14,400 ft., the highest peak in the continental U.S. It was difficult to hear them drive away that morning, before dawn. I wanted to yell one more, “Be careful!” Honestly, I can’t remember what I said. I only remember being proud (and relieved) when they returned that evening.

At the top!

If that accomplishment was not enough, they went white water rafting the next day, again unaccompanied, this time with a younger brother in tow. Talk about letting go!

Excited younger brother!

Our second stop in this Morris family tradition was Washington, D.C. This trip was a little different for our family. Robert, busy with college commitments, could not go. Only 4 out of 5 would make the trip. Another mom adjustment.

What an amazing trip! Our Rachel, compassionate and a history buff, was so excited! Highlights included the FDR memorial (her favorite president) and the Holocaust Museum. These experiences strengthened her passion for special education and equality. Watching her soak in the meaning behind these places, I learned more about history, but more importantly, I learned more about her.

Her favorite president!

Our final senior trip took us to NYC! I was ready for the change in family dynamic this time. Ryan would be the only one of our three kiddos going, accompanied by his friend, Will. We packed in as much as possible. Times Square, Joe’s Pizza, Uptown Comics, Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Statue of Liberty, Museum Of Natural History, Rockefeller Center…

First night in the city!

How was there time for a “letting go” moment? For me, there’s always time. 😉 The end of day two we headed back to our hotel. I was exhausted and needed a break. The boys wanted to do more shopping at Rockefeller Center. We exited the subway, Gart gave them directions, and we went our separate ways.

I might have held back a few tears as the two boys took off on their own…walking down the street…in NYC! I fought the urge to yell after them, “Be careful!” My thoughts suddenly traveled back in time six years to Colorado. They would be just fine.

That’s my baby!

As I sat on the flight home, post-graduation trip number three, the end of a family tradition, I had a revelation. Yes, these trips highlighted changes in our family dynamic. Yes, I had to learn to let go a little. Yes, I learned things about my kids. But there was always one constant right beside me-Gart.

We are in this marriage/family thing for the long haul, no matter what. I cannot imagine my life without him. I’m thankful Gart had the wisdom and forethought to not only begin this senior trip tradition but see it through to the end.

Here’s to new family traditions. And maybe revisiting some old ones along the way. I think Saturday morning pancakes might be a great place to start. Pancakes anyone?