On a recent visit, my three-year-old nephew Henry asked, “What’s there on your face?”
It took me a minute, but I realized he was asking about the worry-lines between my eyebrows (wrinkles). I smiled and said, “Those are just my wrinkles. Look I have more when I smile” and pointed at the crow’s feet formed on the side of my eyes.
The next day Henry asked why I had those spots on my face and arms. I told him they were my freckles… spots where the sun kissed my skin. He looked innocently at his arms and said, “My freckles are still sleeping.”
While his noticing my wrinkles made me a little sad, his discovery of my freckles and statement about his sleeping spots was super sweet and made me think about the freckles, wrinkles, and other characteristics that appear with time.
I know we can all relate to our adolescent desires to be taller, fuller, thinner, or whatever-er, but once we are doing the adulthood thing, how often do we give ourselves credit for the features that are no longer “sleeping”? Or how do we celebrate the differences between people? Do we point out the idiosyncrasies of other’s appearance in positive or appreciative ways?
Without fail each flock we receive is full of attack turkeys. From day one, they come at you with fluffy wings spread and tiny beaks blaring battle chirps. The little guys in the video had been attacking my feet for a while before I finally thought to capture their assault on video. They might have been little but were definitely mighty.
Have you ever felt like you were up against something so huge it could never be toppled, but you went after it anyway?
It always helps to have someone with you no matter what you face. We may not always be surrounded by our flock of friends and family, but hopefully, we are continually reassured of the fact that we are not alone. Thanks to cards, phone calls, text messages, emails, and kind acts we can all show and know that there are others here for us in tough times.
Whatever we’re up against, it’s healthy to know that we can peck away at problems with the support and insights of our peers. As my family has faced some pretty scary health issues this past month, I cannot tell you how empowering it has been to witness the willingness of others to step up, do what they can, and provide support in all kinds of wonderful ways. From funny text messages, to food drop offs, and personal calls to health care providers, we have been flooded with folks willing to help conquer the beast that has consumed our focus and created much fear.
Cancer has proven to be a nasty illness that comes in more shapes and sizes than we can imagine, but if we continue to wage our war on its ravages, I have faith that we can find ways to wipe it out. We might feel like those tiny poults attacking the boots of a big bad monster, but if we work to do all the things that make us bigger, smarter, and stronger, I’m certain that we won’t be the underdogs forever.
The Intentergy challenge for today is to remember you are one of the mighty. The mighty ones who can bring hope and support to those feeling hopeless. You are one of the powerful people who provide joy, nourishment, and opportunity to those who need a boost. Your energy is what can lead the charge when something has gone very wrong or when others are feeling lost. If you happen to be lost, keep your head up, and don’t be afraid to call out to those who can rally around you.
It doesn’t matter what we’re up against, we have the ability to be bigger than our set backs and stronger than our fears.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. There were about 9,000 attack turkeys coming at me in that video. I am fearless.
After almost 25 years of too many other things to fix, last fall Hubby tackled the task of repairing a busted dam for a pond located on our farm. After hours of pushing dirt and packing it down with a dozer, the pond filled quickly with fall rains and winter snow melts. As March approached, we kept our eyes out for the fateful announcement of “Fish Days” at our local feed co-op.
Making our choices from the fish order form was almost as exciting as circling our wishes in a Christmas Toy Catalog. There were options of different species and sizes for every pond and lake. After careful consideration and research compliments of the Department of Conservation, we made our selections; hybrid blue gill, red ear, and a whole bunch of minnows.
Prior to picking up our fish, we had to fill portable tanks with pond water, so as to help the fish acclimate easily to their new home. Hubby took our kiddos with him to receive the fish at the co-op. They were eager to help and in awe of the process. (Those fish delivery guys don’t mess around. They get you loaded and out of there in no time!)
Once they arrived on the banks of the new pond, we questioned whether or not we would get the truck back up the bank without getting stuck, but into the pond the fish had to go.
Watching those tiny fries fly out of the tanks was exciting and nerve-wracking. How could such little fish survive the force of that water gushing out of the tanks and plopping into the pond?
Well, survive they did, and there is terrific anticipation for when that fresh fish delivery turns into a fresh fish fry.
Giving our kiddos the chance to be a part of the fish pond process has been fun. As the fish and our kids grow, that pond is overflowing with opportunities to spend time together, and the kids have shown great pride in the work that went into its re-construction and addition of fish.
While you may not have a pond to fill with fish or a task that requires thousands of gallons of pond water, you can always find joy in creating opportunities to be a part a project that is bigger than yourself.
Find ways to build, create, or grow with your loved ones or community. I promise it won’t be hard to reel in some fun and net some great memories. If things don’t always turn out the way you expect, it’s okay. Even fishing is called fishing for a reason. If you caught something every time, it would be called catching.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. We did successfully drive the truck up the bank without getting stuck.
There has not been a lack of positive stuff going on in my life, and I definitely have plenty to say but finding the right words and positive stories to share has been tough lately. I’m not sure where my writing inspiration has gone, but I think it has something to do with my inability to keep up with all the craziness around me. Lacking a routine has caused a shortage of concentration when I sit down to type.
So I thought I would share a few cool insights from the last few weeks.
When your washing machine breaks, there are two things that make it all better. 1. A mom that shares her washer with you and even takes time to dry and fold the clothes. 2. A local handyman named Joe with a terrific sense of humor and just enough sass to make you feel like you actually helped when in reality he was the one who did all the hard stuff.
When your son is too excited to change out of his school uniform because he wants to get going on vacation, let him wear the uniform. It pays to have a hoodie on him when it is unexpectedly cold on your trip.
Leaving immediately after your kids get out school for a 14-hour vacation drive is stressful but forces you to get into a summer-vacation frame of mind.
When your friend wants an authentic Florida palm tree, and she tries to convince the slightly tipsy men in your party to dig one up with a plastic beach shovel, go ahead and agree to drive them in the golf cart after dark. It makes a for a great story later. P.S. Tell the quizzical passers-by that your friends are considering buying the vacant lot and “There is nothing to see here” ( do not mention their attempts to uproot a palm tree with a plastic shovel). The passers-by will look at you incredulously and slowly walk away. Their reactions will cause severe distress as you try to hold in laughter and your friends to fall over themselves to avoid being seen.
That’s what I should call it, but have you ever tried to herd turkeys? There is nothing run-of-the-mill about herding turkeys once they’ve escaped from the barn.
On a day when I had the privilege of helping top out buildings*, there was one barn door that just wouldn’t stay on its hinge leaving a gap as we made our rounds through the building. It was through that gap that nine turkeys made their grand getaway.
The thing about turkeys though is that they are not very intelligent and tend to run wild in every direction before making their way back to where they started.
In the case of these nine runaways, they hovered around the outside of the barn because they could hear their buddies inside. Unfortunately for me, they huddled about half way down the barn, and I had to deftly sneak up behind them and shoo them to the other end of the range house. Once we made our haphazard way back to the other end of the building, these fugitives found safety being back in the flock.
When March rolled around, it was time for the kids to select pigs for their 4-H Fair Projects. As I am not a huge fan of pigs, I left the duty of pig shopping to Hubby. I sent Hubby and our three minions to pick out pigs with potential to show well and provide ample entertainment and responsibility for the kiddos. I figured they would bring home four, maybe five, hogs, because only two of our kiddos are old enough to show at the fair, and we can only eat so much pork. I was wrong.
Hubby and the minions returned with SEVEN pigs!!!
Two of the pigs were a “Good deal” because Farmer Joe (our piglet supplier) threw in the runts for free.
Recently, I had the opportunity to share a morning with Gus and Fitz, two of our little friends from church. Other than the snuggles, the best part about having little friends join us is that they find joy in the toys that my kids have outgrown. On this particular visit, Gus discovered the phlat ball. The phlat ball has suction cups and a spring inside, so that when smooshed together it holds its flattened shape for a short time and then pops back into a sphere. Gus also thoroughly enjoyed of all the Paw Patrol toys. Soon he discovered that the Ryder figurine could lay on the phlat ball until it popped, and Ryder would go sailing.
No matter how many times it happened, Gus never failed to be excited about the prospect and result of the phlat ball propelling Ryder through the air.
Watching that kind of joy made me wish I could always be so enthusiastic about the simple pleasures in life, even when I know they are coming.
Today I hope you will take time to relish the simple stuff in your life, even if you know it’s coming.
Be sure to take in some fresh air and sunshine. Celebrate the reliability of your schedule and ability to be a part of your professional team. Do a happy dance for the dependability of dinner with your family, or the thundering sound of tennis shoes arriving home from school, and the quick hugs as your kiddos make their way to the snack cabinet. Give up a quick prayer of gratitude for the goodies you have to eat. Find pleasure in your pillow when you lay your head down tonight.
If you find joy in the simple things, joy will find its way to your more often… especially when you know it’s coming.
There is no joy greater that hearing your child say “mama” or “dada” for the first time, except maybe the happiness that comes from silence when they are sleeping after hearing those words 1,000,000 times.
I love my children more than anything in life…. but sometimes they get on my nerves.
It’s not so much that they want to be in my space, eat my food, prevent my sleep, or destroy my house, but that they cannot seem to leave each other alone for one, blessed second.
In those instances where the temptation to pester one another is too great, I always find myself in the form of a fire-breathing dragon fully prepared to skewer and roast their little, antagonizing selves. (Then I remember how much time and money I have invested in them, and I transform back into a loving, caring mother.)
After a particularly arduous 25-minute car ride to town last summer, I declared that no one was to call me “Mom” for the duration of our trip. (We were going to two stores and pick up lunch, but I wasn’t too sure I could avoid eating my young at that point.) I announced that I was no longer to be called “Mom,” but rather my children were to address me as “Lady Madame Josephine” before speaking to me at any time. This command was met with silence and then laughter from my children.
As soon as the first child chose to say the dreaded M-word, I pulled off into a parking lot, stopped the car, and with the blazing heat of a true mama dragon, I seared them with my words, “My name is Lady Madame Josephine. If you want to have lunch today you will address me as such.” Silence again.
No one spoke until we arrived serenely at our first stop. My daughter tentatively said, “May I ask a question?”
My reply, “You may.”
My daughter’s inquiry, “Why do you want us to call you ‘Lady Madame J… ‘; what was it again?”
I answered, “Lady Madame Josephine.”
My daughter again, “Why do you want us to call you ‘Lady Madame Josephine’?”
As I made my way around the corner, light from our basement stairwell startled me. My children are notorious for leaving on the lights throughout the house, but this time I was the only one awake and certain that I had turned off all lights before going to bed the night before. The glare from the stairs was unexpected and demanded investigation.
I made my way down the steps, and as I reached the bottom landing, I had to smile. The radiant light was shining through the artwork completed a year ago on our basement windows. The sun had not shone in a few days and its rays were something I really needed and appreciated in that quiet moment.
The windows found in my home and those around the globe, may not have held a candle to the ones found in our parish churches, but they allowed a creative light to shine in our hearts and homes last spring. In the throws of pandemic quarantine, I sought ways to bring joy and creativity to my children’s activities. As Easter approached and the weather kept us indoors, I joined thousands of other parents giving kids permission to paint their windows. Using tempera paint we created “stained glass” windows.
At the time, this was a fun and uplifting experience. Now, the fear and anxiety that came with the haunting pandemic are lessened and the pressures of what to do with ourselves in those uncertain times have diminished, but the artwork on our windows is still there brightening our days.
I could wash the windows and take down the reminder of what COVID 19 did to our lives last spring, but keeping the color on those panes has also been a positive prompt encouraging us to keep faith in spite of fear and that things will improve if we find ways to stay optimistic. It is in the light of last year that we can feel pride in our resourcefulness and gratitude for what we have accomplished and the continued blessings of our lives. So if you are feeling down or there is a darkness hanging over you, please know that there is light at the end of every tunnel and even the most stained of windows have the ability to let brightness shine in you.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Washing windows is a sad subject because washing windows makes me sad. Please don’t ask me to was these windows. 🙂
Have you ever witnessed someone’s success and thought, “Man, that guy is so lucky!”?
As the college basketball season wraps up with the wonders of the national championship tournament, I am enthralled with the games and the amazing feats of the players on the court. All too often I take for granted that the men and women making those shots and executing impressive defenses worked countless hours and put in immeasurable efforts to be there.
I will sometimes find myself saying snarky things like, “Must be easy if you’re 7-feet tall to block that shot” or “Come on! You’re a Division I basketball player; make your free throws.” My jeers and cheers often fall short of the reality that those athletes are under a great deal of pressure, and my yoga-pant-wearing, couch-coaching isn’t providing any assistance or luck to anyone.
Luck is usually a trait that is determined by someone observing a situation. Yes, we can feel lucky because of a positive experience or encounter, but for the most part we consider ourselves to not be as “lucky” as everyone else because we always see someone else’s wishes coming true.
I am reminded of a my last basketball game in the 8th grade. My sister, whom I had always played with on the same team, was in the hospital recovering from a life-saving surgery, and our team and I were playing our arch rivals from Perryville. It was the consolation game of the end of season tournament, and I wanted nothing more than to win that game for my sister. The entire game was a close one. With 10 seconds left, we were tied. After I tied the game with a free throw, the other team was brining the ball down the court.
Their player, a girl who I seriously did not like, dribbled past our guards and stopped right in front of me. She shot. My finger tips grazed the ball.