I have been blessed (or cursed) with a vivid imagination, and as a child my thoughts often took me to the world of the books I was reading — most often, the Little House books, of which I had a complete set, in hardback. Good thing, too, because I read and re-read those books so many times any paperback would have fallen apart, been replaced, and fallen apart again…and again.
So when I was eight and saw a pattern for a dress from roughly that era (how would I know a one or two decade difference?), I was thrilled. My mom made all my clothes, so I didn’t question her ability to make me that dress. Technically, it was my Halloween costume that year, but in reality it became my passport to a bygone era. I’d come home from school, put it on and sit alone imagining what my day would have been like 100 years before.
I never really outgrew those books. If I still had them, I’d read them today. However, eventually the books that would steal me away into a different world became the Nancy Drew mysteries. At first I imagined I was Bess, the slightly overweight, somewhat shy (imagine that) comrade, then I insinuated myself as myself into my own mysteries, still with Nancy as the one in charge, the rest of us following her lead.
Eventually I moved beyond those imaginative worlds, and while I suppose psychologically that’s probably a good thing, there’s a part of me that misses that creativity. Was I really trying to escape my own world, or was I just an inventive child who needed an outlet for her dreams and fanciful thinking? Sometimes I fear we take away an important part of childhood from those who need to let their minds run free.
So Laura, Mary, Nancy, George and Bess, you’re welcome anytime.
Photo Credit, Nancy Drew books: © Celeste Lindell — some rights reserved
Back in the 70s, I was deeply involved in an evangelical church that told me virtually any pop or rock group that didn’t sing praises to God was of the devil. And the group ABBA, well, that was a name for the Lord, not a group of singing sinners.
But, how could I not be captivated by their bouncy, upbeat music? Their enthusiasm for what they were doing, and those godawful outfits?
Years later I was working in Europe and found myself trapped one Saturday morning in a hotel on the outskirts of the city of Alkmaar, the Netherlands. This hotel could have been on an island for all of its lack of access to anything, and I didn’t have a car. I was stuck while waiting for a ride to the train station.
So I turned the TV to the only station of any remote interest, MTV Europe, where they had a three-hour marathon of ABBA’s greatest hits, that is, any song that boasted a video. There aren’t as many as you might think. Within 45 minutes I was ready to scream. For some reason I had no books, no magazines, nothing, and this was long before laptops, smart phones or anything else I could have used for diversion.
Silence with nothing to fill the time was worse, so for three hours, I watched and listened to Sweden’s pride and joy. There were perhaps seven songs, played in an eternal loop.
As a result, for years, I couldn’t listen to ABBA. But this week I was perusing You Tube and found they’re back for me, a celebrated guilty pleasure. To commemorate the occasion, here’s one of their signature songs.
Photo Credit: (record albums) GraphicStock.com
I know many of my followers have a strong interest in mental health issues, and if you haven’t already watched this clip from John Oliver, you’ll want to make the time.
In the middle of the night, I wake up and they’re sneaking in to snuggle up next to me. They know if I’m awake I’m likely to move them, because their warm bodies overheat me and I don’t like being pinned down by dead weight. But if I’m asleep, I don’t know any better.
So I smile and just hope I’ll go right back to sleep, because I don’t want to turn away their love.
I learned a lesson that shaped my life in what was perhaps a tangential conversation to a day’s English lesson, and gave meaning to a well-intended, yet immensely distressing, event a year before.
I was a freshman in high school, and oh-so-fortunate to have a teacher named Paul Meredith. He taught not only the accelerated English course I was in, but the course for those who struggled so much they didn’t even qualify for the most basic of English classes. The kids on the outside, the ones we didn’t see.
Of course we called him Mr. Meredith, and one day, Mr. Meredith told us, “it’s not what happens in your life that determines who you are, but how you handle those events.” Or words to that effect. A new thought for me that day, but one that’s echoed throughout my life.
There was another Paul who entered my life a year before, in eighth grade. This Paul was one of those we didn’t see in high school, but in junior high, because our school was so small, he was visible.
Paul had been going to a different school up to then, called Mark Twain, for boys with behavioral problems. Much to my shame now, we tended to look down on them. Paul apparently had progressed enough they thought he could handle coming back to our “regular” school.
I guess he had a crush on me. He stood out from the other boys in my class because he always called me by name and was incredibly polite. I bet someone had worked with him on that.
One day I was wearing an elastic-waist skirt, peasant-style with a matching blouse, and another boy yanked it down. While my friends scrambled to pull it back up, Paul hit the boy in my defense, more than once. In fact, I think there was quite a scuffle. As a result, he was sent back to Mark Twain.
I had a hard time with that. I kept trying to explain what had happened, that he was only defending me. My parents & teachers told me his intention wasn’t what got him in trouble. It was how he handled it. Much later, I finally understood
I’ve cried more than once remembering him, and what he did on my behalf that cost him. It wasn’t about me, yet, it was. I hope someone told him, “Paul, yeah, you messed up, but hey, she stood up for you. You made the right impression.”
What’s more, for years I’ve wanted to tell Paul that whether or not I showed it, whether or not I even realized it at the time, I deeply appreciated his calling me by name.
No doubt his anger was the consequence of something that wasn’t his fault, and ultimately, it wouldn’t be what happened to him, it would be how he handled it that would determine the man he would become. Anger is tough to change, but he was young, and he was trying.
To both the man and the boy named Paul, I remember you.
Photo Credit: © 9comeback – fotolia.com
A few weeks ago I walked into church and saw a woman I know vaguely sitting alone. I knew, because of her strained relationship with a much-beloved member of the church, she likely was going to continue to be alone if I didn’t offer to sit next to her. I have nothing against her, and I admired her for having the courage to show up on a Sunday morning when she had to know it would be challenging and probably lonely.
It’s not that other members of my church are cold. There’s a lot involved here I won’t go into. As a result of my reaching out to her, though, I got to know someone I otherwise had found to be distant and hard to reach. I knew others might ask me what was going on, and I said as much to her and asked what she’d like me to say in response. She told me, and I agreed to leave it at that.
I’m proud to say no one in my church asked me a thing, and I was able to send her a message on Facebook later that day saying as much.
I didn’t do any of that because it was the Christian thing to do, or even the right thing to do. I did it because it was important to me. Whether or not I perceived her feelings correctly, I have no idea.
Here’s the thing: I think this revealed a side of me many don’t easily see to some people who’ve become important in my life now. It helped pave the way for a closer relationship with those who can help me through a challenge I’m facing.
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that give us faith the bigger things will work out.