Growing in Gratitude: Glimpses of the future

I’ve been job searching for about a month now.  I guess in the grand scheme of unemployment trends in the US currently that’s not very long, but when you are the person in the midst of “the hunt” it can feel a bit like walking up an enclosed spiral staircase when you can’t see how far you’ve come or how far you have left to climb.  That blindness to the length of time I’ll remain on this journey to find a job can be maddening.  There are few moments during that day that I find I’m not trying to tease out the blueprints to that metaphorical spiral staircase.

How many steps will I travel before I at least reach a landing where I can rest for a while?  How many more times will I search Monster.com or Idealist.org before I find that listing for my job?  Which interview will go well?  Should I wait to accept one job in hopes this more interesting possibility will be offered?  What will I eventually find at the top of all of these stairs?

Then for me at least there is this underlying question that I’ve been asked since I was 8 and one that I’m still not sure how to answer even though I’m almost 30.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I’ve always had a diversity of interests and I’ve enjoyed exploring multiple avenues of career possibilities in my twenties, but now I’m at a point when I feel like I need and want to make a move toward narrowing my focus.  Even though it feels like the right time to be making this kind of big decision, the prospect of doing so is somehow terrifying and so I begin to feel a bit claustrophobic.

Yet in the midst of all the angst of the job search, I find moments when I am afforded glimpses of the future me that I’m journeying toward.  Like beams of light shining in through small windows built into the walls of that spiral staircase, my path seems illumined for just a moment and I feel some hope knowing that there is still a world outside this enclosure and that when I reach the top I’ll emerge to enjoy a whole new perspective of my journey.

Yesterday evening I had one of those moments when I led the first session of a 7 week small group study at “The Church.”  Channeling my energy into teaching others some of what I learned while in seminary was completely invigorating.  [smile]  It felt so natural to be fostering our discussion about prayer and encouraging those gathered to let go and experiment over the next few months with some new prayer practices.  I felt for a moment like I was fulfilling my purpose and that I could enjoy doing something like this for the rest of my life.  That feeling was such a welcome respite from all the uncertainty that I’ve been carrying with me lately and exactly the boost I needed going into another job interview this afternoon.

Today I am grateful for glimpses of the future.

What are you grateful for?

– Margaret

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Courtesy of 12 year old “Mag”

A fantastic thunder storm has rolled into our little part of Tennessee and the heavy rain has made the mountains disappear in a hazy fog of grey-green.  Our lights keep flickering and I’m hoping against hope that we don’t loose power because tonight is Caleb’s choir practice.  I love our house but do not want to be stuck here in the dark alone.  The stormy weather reminds me of a passage I wrote in my diary when I was 12 that I ran across yesterday when I was going through some boxes.  Pardon the misspellings and the improper use of punctuation I was only 12 after all.  [smile]

Diary, I need to write some descriptions in you. So that I might learn to write well.
The day was as drery [dreary] as a young boy who has just lost his true love.
-Mag

I have a sneaking suspicion that 12 year old “Mag” might have been just a bit pretentious and definitely a completely hopeless romantic.  [smile]   In the entries that follow I gush about my crush on a boy named Alexander, going to shop for school supplies, attending the funeral of someone in my dad’s church, and my first observations of middle school!

August 22
1st day was OK. I think my teachers will be pretty good… Things that have changed:  No more holding hands or smucking [I have no idea what term “Mag” is trying to spell here!] at school, and All the boys talk “Deeper“.  It is so wierd [weird]!  I think it will be a good year, Mag
P.S. I think Alexander likes me.

The post script is written with a heart drawn around it and hearts before and after Alexander’s name.  I must have been really into this guy.  Actually I think it’s indicative of an interest in boys in general because before he diary peters out less than a month later I mention at least 4 other boys who I like!  [smile]

I remember wanting to be in love for such a long time and becoming frustrated with ups and downs of waiting for “love” to happen.  While I waited, I read about love in the pages of Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice and The Rosary and thought I was becoming an expert on the subject.  [smile]  In the process of reading about such independent heroines, I found the courage to not just wait for love to come along, but also to live life and have my own adventures in the meantime.  When I look back on my almost 30 years of life, I am so grateful for the whole of it.  I am grateful for my wonderful childhood with loving parents and perfectly annoying younger siblings.  I am grateful for the boy-crazy middle school, high school, and yes even college years.  I am grateful for my years of adventuring in far off lands.  I am grateful for the amazing man who surprised me the forever searching romantic and swept me off my feet.  I am grateful for our current adventure and so grateful for the opportunity to take a moment to reflect.

The storm is passing and I think –fingers crossed– that I am out of danger of losing power.  Best of all I can see my mountains again.

-Margaret

A jar of lightening bugs

At the end of my friend Meghan’s email signature is a quote “~There is a bit of **MAGIC** in everything.~”  I’m not sure if its something she thought up herself.  The more likely scenario is that its a quote from her favorite source “Anon.”  [smile]  Either way I love the reminder she’s chosen to share with those she communicates with daily that not all is as it seems, that if we open our eyes we might see something a bit magical in the everyday.

Yesterday evening Caleb and I took a ride with Raymond around the hollers and coves that make up this community where Caleb grew up.  We set out around 8 and the sun was just beginning to set.  With no agenda except to just be together for a while, we drove the route Caleb and his dad have been driving ever since Caleb was born on a road along the Nolachuckey River through a cove that it seems like the world has forgotten.  Perhaps it was the time of day or the dim sparkle that was present over everything because of the small shower we got late in the afternoon, but it felt like we were driving through a world drenched in magic.  [smile]

As if perfectly on cue when we drove by a beautiful little white church on a hill, the lightening bugs (aka fireflys) made their appearance.  Hovering just above the earth and twinkling in such vast numbers, it looked like the whole world was sparkling.  [smile]  It was simply breathtaking and I began to think about how long it has been since I chased lightening bugs on a warm summer evening.  Too long, I decided and so I announced that I would find me a jar and try to capture a few when we got back to the house.  So that’s how Caleb and I found ourselves traipsing through the damp front lawn of his parents house chasing flickering dots of light.  [smile]

Thankfully we had the help of an expert– Jackson, Caleb’s 10 year old cousin.  Its amazing how adeptly he chased and caught the creatures that seemed to elude me at every turn.  After we had a jarful (of which I only contributed one [smile]), Caleb and I sat with Lisa on the front porch for a while just reveling in the magic of warm summer evenings.  Before we went in we released the lightening bugs into the black night and they twinkled as they flew off to be fairy lights in someone else’s yard.

-Margaret

A duck named Skipper

One of my very first pets was a little white duckling that I named Skipper.  Looking back at it now I’m not really sure what my parents were thinking when they gave me a duck.  It is certainly not the typical pet and comes with a very different set of difficulties than a puppy or kitten.  When I was little hardware/farm stores still carried ducklings and chicks in the spring and I guess my parents were swayed by the adorableness of the miniature fowl.  [smile]

Skipper only lived with us for a season.  When he grew too old to enjoy swimming in the paddling pool in our backyard, we took him to a local duck pond where I hope he lived a long and happy life.  I have such fond memories of that little duck waddling around behind me and am reminded of them every time I see other waterfowl.

This week at Lake Junaluska we have been dodging the ducks and geese right and left.  Well not so much dodging them, but dodging their droppings.  [smile]  They have all set in for their summer vacation at the lake.  I observed them basking in the sun, fluffing their feathers, floating around the lake, and diving in for a good dip in the hot afternoon.  Their presence and the memory of my duck Skipper reminded me of an article I read online a while back.  It was a defense for choosing ducks over chickens as backyard egg laying fowl.   Tina Elliot for Mother Earth News writes:

Yes, ducks are messier, they require water in which to swim and clear their beaks and that water becomes filthy and needs to be changed frequently, and even the best egg laying breeds don’t lay as often as their chicken counterparts. In my opinion, however, those things are far outweighed by the disposition and personality of ducks as compared to chickens. Duck eggs are better for baking, too, and many people who cannot tolerate chicken eggs can eat duck eggs. And there is nothing in this world that is more adorable than a duckling.

She concludes that “happy go lucky ducks” are the way to go.  [smile] She’s convinced me of the same!

Now that we are going to have a back yard Caleb and I have been dreaming about the gardening we can do and seeing the ducks at Lake J makes me think that we should also consider raising a few ducks too.  I can just imagine walking around the backyard with a gaggle of ducks following me around.   We are a long way from figuring out all the logistics but maybe one day I’ll have another pet duck or two.  In honor of Skipper, I’m think we should name them Maryann, Ginger, and Gilligan.  [smile]

-Margaret

If I Could Keep You Little

Book Review of If I Could Keep You Little by Marianne Richmond

I love happy coincidences.  Last week happily I ran across this little book just after writing about knowing that one day many years from now I’ll have to let our future little ones fly off on their own adventures.  I was out shopping for gifts for some of my friends little ones and “surprisingly” found myself in the book section. [smile]  I love gifting books, especially to children.  When I give children a book, I always feel like I’m blessing them with a greater gift– the joy of reading.  When I was born, a parishioner at my father’s church gave me a copy of Charlotte’s Web in which she wrote:  “Here’s something she won’t grow out of.”  [smile]  So I try to follow in her footsteps by sharing the wonderful blessing she once gave me.

If I Could Keep You Little is a precious book that is as much for parents as it is for children.  It is all about a parent opening up their heart to embrace the blessings that come with children who are growing older.  Each page adopts the same pattern celebrating the joy of little ones and then naming the joys of discovering something new as a child grows.

“If I could keep you little, I’d fly you with my feet.  But then I’d miss you seeing sky and cloud from your seat.”

As with any good children’s book, half of the story is revealed in the pictures.  I can imagine the conversations that must be sparked by Richmond’s simple yet rich watercolor illustrations.  Somehow Richmond captures both present joys of parenting young children and the future blessings of watching them “become the person they are meant to be.”  My mother and I were both almost in tears by the end of my reading it to her.  [smile]  With its tearjerker charm, this book has the potential to become the next Love You Forever.  I recommend that next time you find yourself in a bookstore you pick up a copy for yourself and for the present and future parents you know.

-Margaret

His and Her’s: 12 years old

His and Her’s: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”

This morning I woke up to the sun streaming through the windows of my purple room in Broxton.  The joy I felt waking up here with my Caleb is mixed with the joys of all the other memories that decorate this space including the joy I felt when Grammy and Granddaddy began renovating this house and asked me what color I wanted to paint my room upstairs.  To my 12 year old self there was no other answer to give except my favorite color — PURPLE!   And so at 12 I became “Little Margaret of the Purple Room.” [smile]

The recollection of how significant picking out the color for this room was when I was 12 reminded me that Caleb was experiencing something similar in Tennessee all those years ago.  At 12 his parents had almost finished building their home and he moved into his blue room. It’s funny how our lives even then seemed to be joined together in a shared experience.

Oh how I wish I knew 12 year old Caleb! The next best thing is listening to him share about his 12 year old self.  At 12, Caleb was pitcher for his baseball team and had just made the basketball team.  He wanted to be a special ed teacher and coach when he grew up — dreams he has actually fulfilled!  He was a student at Lamar and his best friend was Mark.  As much as I wish I knew 12 year old Caleb, I also wish he could know 12 year old me!  A student at Toombs Co Middle School, I was just beginning to learn to play the flute in band.  I had a crush on Tyler, but I’m sure if Caleb had been around I would have crushed on him.  At 12, I still wanted to be an archaeologist.  I like to think that we might have been friends in that awkward way that only a 12 year old boy and girl can be friends.  [smile]

I mostly wish we could have known each other then because at 12 it seems like the whole world is beginning to open up in from of you and everything seems possible.  I would have liked to shared that first experience of boundless hope.  Of course, we are sharing a lot of boundless hope in our late 20s too! [smile]

-Margaret