Stilts: Part 1

Today, I thought about something I haven’t thought about in a long time. The house on stilts. When I was in elementary school, I rode the bus. I can remember being a different kid. I always wanted to grow up and do grown-up things. Even thinking about it now, I can picture a drab Ohio morning on that bus, bus #3. The heater would be on full blast and the sky would still be dark. We picked kids up one by one. As we made our route, bouncing down E. Highland, making hasty stops here and there, I never took my eyes off the window. The lights stayed off, unless we were picking someone up. Those fall mornings were dark. Dark enough that I could enjoy my favorite pastime, making up stories. We would whiz by the same houses every morning. Sometimes the lights would be on in a window and I could make out just enough of the inside of the house to let my imagination run wild. As we roared up Lookout Drive and onto Ventura Lane, I would create elaborate lives for these people I saw in the windows. Each day was different.

After we picked up the last stop on E. Highland, we had a long way to go before we got to our next stop on Linden Ave. I can remember that after that final pick-up on E. Highland, it was like a wave of relief came over me. From the moment Mary, our driver, pulled that crank and closed those doors on E. Highland, it was bliss. The bus was dark, but the sun was beginning to rise. It was quiet and warm. The longer the doors stayed closed, the warmer it got. The stories I made up may have changed everyday, but one thing was constant. One thing was always there, enticing my gaze, and sparking my interest; the house on stilts.

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Stilts: Part 2

I remember looking for it every day. Would I be able to see the whole thing, or just the outline? In the non-winter months, it was harder to spot because the trees had leaves that either hadn’t fallen yet or were just coming back. When the time would spring forward, I would always hope for the chance that I would see him, the man who lived in this awkward home. Sometimes, I imagined I saw him climbing the ladder to the top. Once, one of my fellow bus riders told me that he didn’t actually live in the house. They said he camped at the bottom of the house. This just didn’t make sense to me. Why go through all the trouble of building a house 50 feet off the ground if you were never going to live in it?

One night, my curiosity got the best of me. While mom and I were in the kitchen, I asked her about the house on stilts.

“You mean that crazy man who wanted to buy Dr. Brown’s place?”

Okay, the plot thickens. Who was Dr. Brown and why was this man crazy? Mom went on and told me the story. As it turns out, on top of the hill, there is a rather nice home that sits back off the road. I remembered it as soon as she mentioned it. It was a white stucco home with a black iron fence. The house is too far away from the road and therefore, too far away for my pastime. Mom continues to tell me that Dr. Brown wanted to sell his home. Apparently, he was approached by a buyer who had plenty of money to make the purchase. He wanted this house because it had a beautiful view of the river, so they made a deal. Dr. Brown then turned around and made a different deal with someone else, cutting the first buyer out. When buyer number 1 learned that he had been dropped for a different buyer, he did the only logical thing. He bought the property below Dr. Brown’s home. He erected a large platform home on four, 50 foot- tall wooden legs. He built the home in the exact spot that would 100% obstruct the river view from Dr. Brown’s home.

I sat at the kitchen table in silence for a long time after mom stopped talking. The truth was that this story had completely ruined the magic of the “house on stilts” for me. Now, every time I would drive by there on the bus, I looked at it with a new lens. The new lens was called disdain.

I stopped looking for it eventually. I had no want to see the man who lived there. It was like reading a book you knew you would love and then the end being a total let-down. I guess even to my middle-school self, seeing adults do things out of spite was more than I my heart could stand.

Yourself

Some stories are worth a second read, listen or watch. I have often wondered why I tend to watch a specific movie more than once. There is one specific movie that I watch every time it comes on. It doesn’t matter how much of the movie there is left, I am still going to watch it. “Eat Pray Love,” is based on the memoir written by Elizabeth Gilbert. I can connect with the main character on a scary level.

For starters, she is a writer. I know that’s not much, but I think that when you feel connected to something, it starts at the basics. Julia Roberts’ character is trying to find her “balance.” She has made this fairy-tale life with her husband but she quickly realizes that she isn’t cut out for it. She decides to leave him and she travels around the world for a year looking for her balance.

I think at some point, we all feel like we have lost the balance. It is hard to maintain a working life, a social life, a family life and a spiritual life. There are no life-hacks or self-help books to teach us the way to deal with hard things. We either give ourselves the grace we need to figure it out or we lose our (excuse me) shit.

I feel connected to Gilbert because I feel this way. I want to do things, I want to accomplish things. Life is scary and life is quick. When you think you have the chance to find balance, you have to jump at it. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this movie, but I watched it today. There are so many things I heard today that I have never heard. Maybe, I have heard them, but have not understood them. I am going to credit this to the fact that you have to have some life experience in order for some of the ideas to resonate with you.

One of my favorite scenes is when they are in the barber shop in Rome. The conversation that takes place with Luca Spaghetti when he tells Liz that Americans don’t know how to enjoy themselves. He says that Americans know about entertainment but they don’t know about pleasure. His reasoning is that Americans think they have to work hard in order to earn pleasure. Italians just take pleasure whenever they please. This applies to everything in life from food to relationships. Luca said that Americans work so hard all week that by the time the weekend comes, their idea of pleasure is sitting in their pajamas and watching television. What exactly do you think I did this weekend?

On her next leg of her trip, Gilbert visits India. She forms a bond with Richard from Texas. He teaches her to forgive herself. She is holding guilt from her failed marriage and he shares his story. He was an alcoholic who lost his family because he wouldn’t stop drinking. He pulled into his driveway drunk one day and almost ran over his child. It’s a very hard scene to watch because the actor, Richard Jenkins, is so emotional. He talks about his son growing up to be a sweet boy and how he missed all of it. Coming from a family with a father as an alcoholic, it’s hard to watch. It is hard to not have feelings of guilt. It is hard not to think (and hope) that maybe my dad had some guilt of his own.

The last thing that I connect with is the struggle. The main character or the author is struggling. She doesn’t want to lose herself while loving others. I feel the same way. I love being a mother and a wife. I love being a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, friend, and teacher. Here is what I don’t love. I don’t love depleting my tank so that I have nothing left for myself. I don’t love giving up dreams because I think there is no room after everything else. The scariest thing to me is losing who I am because I have spread myself too thin. I don’t want to look ten years older than my actual age. I don’t want to be the person who is too tired to pick up the phone or go on a date.

The reason I connect to this movie is simple. It has valid points. The most valid point being this:

Listen, balance, my darling, is not letting anybody love you less than you love yourself.”

Loving yourself to me, means not losing yourself. So, that is exactly what I plan to do, NEVER lose myself.

Sweet Rowen

I have been following a family on IG. Their daughter is struggling with sudden heart failure. She is three. THREE YEARS OLD. She is one year younger than my middle child. Every single time I have a free moment, I am checking her feed. She has this amazing talent of communicating her thoughts through words. It is beautiful. Her trust in Jesus is beautiful too. Here are a few samples of her writing and thoughts:

The first morning I found their story, I cried silent tears laying in my bed at 3 a.m. I have continually prayed since finding them. I feel drawn to them. She also keeps posting screenshots from people all around the world who have contacted her. It makes my heart so happy to read that people who have lost Jesus or turned away from Him are climbing their way out of the pit because of this sweet woman’s unwavering trust in him. I just wanted to share that God is doing amazing things!

If you want to find their story on IG, her handle is @amandaauer.

I didn’t post any pictures of her sweet girl, because as a mother, I think that is our choice about what gets shared of our kids. I do recommend that you go follow her.

Please join me in praying for healing for sweet Rowen.

Eight

*If you don’t work every day to be happy and find the good in something, then you will never be happy.*

Lace.

The snug feel of my cinched bodice.

Time seemingly has slowed way down.

I keep checking out the window, for what, I don’t know.

There is a constant flutter of movement,

and yet, I remain calm.

This little garden party is the setting.

He and I are the characters.

We have dreams,

we have plans.

When the time comes,

I hook my arms through the arms of the ones who came before me.

As I brace myself, I exhale a long breath.

Standing at the end of the path is my future,

smiling.

Happy 8 years (yesterday).

Update

I feel really tired today, so I am just going to do a quick check-in. Today was day 8 and I am feeling pretty good about how I am doing overall.

I have only missed one day of writing. I think I have that taken care of for next week. Friday was the hard day for me for last week. There is just a lot going down on Friday.

I have missed 3 days of my burpees. I have been struggling with some lower back pain, so I may need to make a visit to chiropractor. I got them in today though!

The last 90 day challenge has been good! That’s all I can really say at the moment. I have almost dropped the phone 4 times because I keep falling asleep!

Goodnight!

Sorrow

There is so much sorrow in the world. How do we not let it eat us up in one swift gulp? How can I prevent this anxiety from crawling up my spine? I can feel it. It’s a slow slither. It feels like a drug being released into my veins by an IV. It’s cold at first. The pumping is pronounced, as it rhythmically shimmies it’s way to my brain. All the while, I am preparing my mind. “Don’t freak out,” I am telling myself. Just remember to breath. Then my mind races. If all of these horrible things can happen to all these wonderful people, what makes me any different? That limousine just crashed in upstate New York and killed 20 people. Then, I start playing out the scenarios related to me. What if I have a wreck on a bridge? What if we go into the water? How will I get my three kids out? Or, how are some children just as healthy as can be and others are struggling to stay alive? I worry about these things and then I remember, God doesn’t want us to question him. How can things like this happen? What are we supposed to do? Are we naive if we don’t think about these things? Is it wrong to have these feelings and be confused about how to deal with our emotions? Days like today are just hard.

Prayers for those affected by tragedy.

And prayers for all who suffer from anxiety.