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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kindred Spirits and Sandpaper People

We meet all types of people throughout our lives.  I want to talk a bit today about two specific kinds, kindred spirits and sandpaper people.

Kindred spirits are those people whom I have met and felt an instant positive connection with, as if we have known each other forever and are happy to see each other again.  Not a soul mate, that is a different kind of person all together and not what I'm talking about.  It can be someone we talk to briefly in line at the checkout, a co-worker, or even a doctor.  These are the people who I think are God's messengers, letting me know that He is thinking of me and sending the kindred spirits to keep me moving in a positive direction, even when times are very difficult.  I love these messengers and it's almost like a game to find them in the most unlikely places.

Sandpaper people is a term I picked up from a sermon once.  I think it very accurately describes those people who we encounter anywhere--in line, at work, on the street.  They are the ones to whom we have a visceral reaction--not of fear, but of just a negative feeling.  Someone who "pushes our buttons" or is just difficult to talk to without feeling frustrated.  These are the  people sent to smooth out some of our rough edges, make us stop and think about those parts of ourselves that maybe need a little work that we'd rather not do.  I'm not fond of these messengers but it's impossible most times to ignore them.

I encountered many sandpaper people last week, one on a daily basis whom I generally find I can ignore.  But last week there were just too many of them and that daily one really rubbed me raw.  The salve of friendship and a kindred spirit or two soothed me, and I am able to see the work that needs to be done.  As I work, I'll be looking out for those kindred spirits--I like them so much better!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Serenity

Many years ago when my girls were little I was quite active in our church.  I went to the women's group, Bible study, and a group known as the "Serenity Group".  We discussed ways to find serenity and grow closer to God in this crazy world of ours, and in our very busy and stressful lives.  The words of one of the elder members of the group have stuck with me all these years.  Her name was Ann and she had a daughter who had hydrocephalus and had passed away at the age of ten.  If anyone could give me something to hold onto, I figured it would be her.  The gist of her remarks is that one can achieve pockets of serenity to get through life with.  I have taken that advice and learned that I can kind of leap-frog over the toughest parts and land in a serenity pocket when needed.  Of course it's not always easy, but it's a coping technique that's served me well.

Today was a day that had serenity as a theme, at least in my mind.  I awoke early and enjoyed the quiet of the house before anyone else was up, and meditated about the fog which blanketed my world this morning.  This afternoon I slipped out to slouch in the adirondak chair on the patio under a blue sky and strengthening March sunshine.  The unusually warm air with a light breeze to lift my hair and rustle the leaves leftover from last Autumn were the perfect combination for some tranquil contemplation of nothing but the sounds around me.  Closing my eyes I heard the small children in a neighboring yard laughing and playing while their parents' stereo played faintly in the background.  The faint sounds of the traffic on the highway was punctuated by a passing motorcycle.  The flop of footsteps and indiscernable conversation of teenagers walking down the street mingled with the chirping and tweeting of birds and the rustling of the leaves under the bush behind me as a squirrel rooted there looking for hidden acorns.  Later in the afternoon after running an errand I indulged in some people watching at a sidewalk table while sipping a mango smoothie, and gathered some calmness from the routine of baking banana bread.

The tranquil moments of my day today will stay with me, to be called up when I need them most, to give me a mental vacation from the stresses that await me this week.  Hopefully I'll even find a few more moments during the week to store away in one of my pockets of serenity. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Another Rainbow of the Heart

With a fair amount of frequency wearing a shy smile the trucker appeared at the baker's window in Dunkin Donuts with a single red rosebud in a white vase.  The baker smiled, dusted the flour off her hands and poked her head around the corner to accept the gift.   Later in the day they met for dinner at their favorite local bar and danced the night away after the meal.  When the announcement of their engagement was made, the ladies who worked at Dunkin said to the baker, "It'll never last! He's so nice and you're such a b****!"  It's been 29 years since the wedding, and there's no sign of an end in sight.  There have been countless ups and downs, challenges and celebrations, and they still remember how they started out--the baker and the trucker.  The bar is another restaurant now, the trucker no longer behind the wheel of a big rig and the baker no longer making donuts.  They only occasionally see any of the women who predicted the demise of their relationship.  They no longer dance the night away, but she still has the collection of white vases and he still occasionally brings her a flower but is more likely to bring her some other little thing for no reason other than that he's thinking of her when they are apart.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Bruised Heart

Yesterday felt like a week.  It contained probably a week's worth of emotion, if not more.  You see, we had Hillary's IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting in the morning, and finally got her new wheelchair in the afternoon.

The IEP meeting is a yearly event, and generally things go well and while it can be intimidating to sit down with the teachers, therapists, and caseworkers who work with your child, it's usually not bad for us.  This year Hillary's school case manager is out on maternity leave so there was someone else  covering for her.  Someone not quite as kind, and someone whom I suspect doesn't understand why we would want a child like Hillary in the public school as opposed to a special school.  She obviously doesn't believe Hillary can understand anything judging by the things she was saying right in front of her.  As if it's not enough that I know there are only 2 more years before she will be finished with school and then--well, that IS the question!  Without getting into the details of the meeting, I'll just say that I am very glad our state caseworker was there to fend off the suggestion that in one year Hillary could start attending a medical day program a few days a week instead of school every day.  Yes, that is one of the suggestions the fill-in school caseworker had.  Even though I'm glad the state caseworker didn't agree (thus lessening the burden upon Bruce and I to shoot that down) she also made some suggestions that left me feeling bruised.  I know that they are good suggestions, and she made them for Hillary's benefit (and for mine) but oh how they made my heart hurt just to consider them! Because there are so many emotional ramifications involved in implementing them.  I am still reeling inside from that meeting.

The wheelchair delivery was a happier event.  This is Hillary's 5th wheelchair and probably one of our better experiences with the process.  This new chair fits her much better, and fits our house much better as well!  Looking at her in the new chair and then looking at her old chair, it hurt my heart to know that she spent the better part of 5 years in a wheelchair that was too big for her, and didn't seat her properly.  How uncomfortable she must have been so often and rarely did she show it.  It makes me wonder how much progression of her orthopedic problems is due to the bad seating, and how much it had to do with some of her diminishing capabilities.  We can only hope now that with continued physical and occupational therapy we can reverse some of the problems and prevent or slow down the progression of others.  It's good to see her in her new chair looking so comfortable.

Those are the reasons for my bruised heart.  There is no cure for the bruised heart, no over the counter pill or cream to ease the pain.  Only time can diminish the pain, help the bruises heal.  I will always be vulnerable to those bruises, but such is the risk to the heart when we love a child.