Monday, September 28, 2009

In a Good Place

A couple of weeks ago on a 20-mile run, a friend and I chatted about what it meant to be "in a good place."

What does that mean to you?

One definition says: "a state of well-being in which the individual reaches his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."

Today, I'm in a good place. I love the subtle changes in seasons--the way the sun shines at a slant now, the breeze and threat of rain, the fresh intermittent quiet pop of leaves here and there. I have some great new music on my Ipod; I have an awesome pair of red heels and some new lip gloss. I'm in a good place.

But to me, being in a good place is not just a matter of new possessions. It's a matter of being comfortable in my skin. It means feeling confident--not necessarily that my situation has changed, but that I feel the ability--the capability--to handle it. And not just to handle it, but to thrive.

Yesterday at church we talked about what it means to blossom in the desert, to build up our waste places. I've been feeling pretty barren lately. My flowers haven't bloomed this summer--but that's probably because I didn't plant as well as I did last year, nor did I water them as carefully. I love what Kate said yesterday--that sometimes we don't immediately see the blossoms of our planting. Sometimes they come years later. But--and here's the important thing--they come. They do.

The other thing about being in a good place is that it sometimes takes a lot of effort. Sometimes it's a fight to be in a good place. Sometimes it means recognizing multiple ways to blossom and bloom. It means finding contentment with an allotted acreage. It means working hard and thinking big and finding a way. And finding some light and color and hope in the process.

And that's why I'm in a good place.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh dear, leave it!

When my nephew Grant was little, he came up with this phrase, "Oh dear, leave it!" We figure out that he heard us say, "I can't believe it!" and sort of made it his own. So we say it all the time. I can't believe it! Oh dear, leave it!

I had one of those experiences last Friday. Oh dear, leave it! I was pulling out of the parking garage at Mason and I heard a strange pop, but didn't think much of it. I was mostly just excited that it wasn't raining anymore and I was planning a little weekend get-away to Tappahannock, Virginia (LONG story that I'm still trying to figure out). I popped open my sunroof and drove along Braddock Road.

Suddenly, my super-sensitive nose smelled something burning. I looked around but didn't see anything, until i noticed smoke pouring in through my sunroof. Um, weird.

So I pulled over. I found smoke coming out of the bottom back of my car, and I popped the trunk, with smoke billowing out of my trunk. I was just about to call Triple A (um, hello... wouldn't 911 have been more apropos?), when a car pulled up and asked if I needed help. Um, yes.

The guy popped out--turns out he's an Alexandria fireman (wearing his fire station polo shirt), and he pulled out my spare tire, which was on fire.... he quickly stomped on it and put it out with a canvas bag I had in the trunk. Then he figured out the cause: live speaker wires. Apparently the previous owners of my car had installed a sound system, then removed it before selling the car to me. Only they left the live wires there carefully tucked away under the spare tire. We even found some duct tape in my fancy Eddie Bauer Car Emergency Care Kit (yes, I bought it 2 1/2 years ago on sale for $20, regularly $75, and I've never opened it). The fireman was impressed that I had tape. And he kept repeating, over and over again, "You are so lucky."

Thank goodness for no more rain... so I could open my sunroof.

Thank goodness for my sensitive nose, sniffing out smoke before the flames reached my gas tank. My car reeks like burned rubber, but I have a car!

Thank goodness that the man who stopped was a fireman. And the same thing had happened to him on the New Jersey Turnpike. WHO DOES THIS HAPPEN TO?

Thank goodness that all I need to do is replace my spare tire and remove the wires. Yes there is a small hole in the panel under my spare tire, but I think it should be ok.

Oh dear, leave it!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Grammy and Savvy on the Stewart Falls trail. Wish I could have been there...

I was on call yesterday. My friend Catherine was scheduled to be induced, but it had been a busy labor night and all beds were full. But after little Andrew went down for his nap, a bed opened up and I was over in a flash while excited parents bustled off to the hospital.

I worked away for a few hours, and then Andrew woke up. The little guy was quite disoriented... his mother was always there, every time he woke up, and now there was this strange woman he'd only seen at the swimming pool or at church. What up? He cried dramatically, with big crocodile tears. And who can blame him?

I tried my best to comfort him but quickly realized a bigger distraction was needed. So we headed outside to look for Mama. Then I mentioned that Grandpa and Grandma were on their way, that they were at the airport. Andrew said, in his little 2-year-old way, "Grandpa. Airplane. Thursday." I said, "Yes! Today is Thursday! Grandpa is coming today!"

We rode his scooter down to the corner and waited, checking out every single car that passed to see if it was Grandpa, and noticing all the buses and dogs and trees. Soon he was chattering away, until Aunt Susan's car turned the corner. And there, in the front seat, was Grandpa! with Grandma tucked safely away in the back.

Andrew exploded with joy. This kid. Even though he had found comfort and ease with me, he found a very welcome, familiar face. Family. Familiar. I love how they come from the same root. I love how good it feels to put on a familiar pair of old jeans, or to walk a familiar route in a chaotic scene, or to create a home. But there's nothing like family. Familiar family.

Sometime today Andrew will probably find the familiar face of his mom at the hospital. And he'll meet his new little brother, and that probably won't feel so familiar at first. But it will. Oh it will.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Starting Right

You know it's going to be a good one when you start out at a 6 am body pump class at the gym (after a very late night of great food and conversation), and you come straight home and make a Texas Sheet Cake for a funeral luncheon at church. There is nothing like the early morning light filtering in through the window, wearing slightly sweaty workout clothes with your grandmother's apron, stirring up some Ghiradelli cocoa frosting and crushing pecans. And then swooping up the leftover frosting on some french bread for breakfast.

It's got to be a good day.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What to Do at the Beach in the Rain...

We had one glorious day of pure sun. Well plus the half-travel day on Friday and the somewhat overcast day on Sunday. And boy oh boy was that a glorious day--all day long on the beach, soaking in the sun, soaking in every drop, storing up for darker days. Oh my. I love the Outer Banks. I also love the friends and the food, the games and the hours of laughing and chatting and playing. I love it.

So when Monday rolled around with pouring rain and wind, we knew we were in for adventure. First we ventured out on the tandem bike. My favorite part was waving at everyone we saw--they must have thought we were nuts but they all (mostly) smiled and waved back and honked. We drove straight through every puddle head on, and veered around corners and under those dune bushes. When we got back and I climbed off the bike, I started to say something about not getting as wet as I thought we would when I saw Gregory's completely soaked t-shirt. He certainly took the brunt of it!

Then we headed to the beach. I'm waiting for Jen to send her pictures to prove our strategic moves with an air mattress and the angry waves. We boogie boarded and jumped and dove and played to our hearts' content. The water was warm and we forgot it was raining. The last wave ride was the best--with the four of us anchored on that air mattress, we really caught air and wave and we almost died in the process, but the exhilaration was well worth it.

There were like 20 more people, but we were the last ones left...

Then we stomped off the sand and climbed in the hot tub under the protection of the back porch. And we talked and laughed and ate orange bell peppers and the more daring jumped into the pool while the chickens (yes that's me) climbed into a warm shower.

And home again home again jiggety jig. Only with some great beach memories and sunshine AND rain.