Back to the Ordinary

“It’s hardest to love the ordinary things,” she said, “but you get lots of opportunities to practice.”

Brian Andreas for StoryPeople

I get to celebrate my birthday! I never used to care about birthday celebrations, but now I am just so tickled to grow another year older that the day itself feels special even if nothing is planned.

During chemo, I plan my life in one-week cycles: One week set aside for chemo and recovery, and one week set aside for ordinary life. Now that I am on a chemo holiday, I am thrilled to have many weeks in a row set aside for ordinary life.

I considered what to do with this block of time. My world often feels so small during treatments. Maybe we should rent a villa in Italy? Visit friends in Greece? Take the kids on a tour of Europe? Go to Hawaii? Alaska? Australia?

A feeling of accomplishment feels wonderful and would be a nice change. Should I begin a new knitting project? Acquire a new skill? Read my pile of books? Write a book? Return to rowing? Organize our home? (ha ha ha ha)

Connection feeds my soul. Maybe I should jump onto the already-moving train that is my family. I could actually be present for my children at their events and spend time with my husband. We could visit friends and help others. We could strengthen each other and laugh and have fun.

I haven’t figured out how to do all of this, and it might not be possible. But if I don’t select something, I may end up not doing anything.

How to decide? I considered what I miss the most when I am doing chemo. I miss the ordinary. I miss taking a shower, eating without nausea and moving without being tethered to a tube.

I miss thinking about what my family needs and being able to act on it. I miss easy laughter and relaxing times with family and friends. I miss exercise. I miss helping others. I miss traveling. I miss the ability to plan ahead.

So I’m working through all this while I enjoy cooking our daily meals, the impromptu visits of our friends (both adult and children!), and all the busyness that accompanies the end of the school year. No decisions yet, but maybe soon.

I suspect that my birthday will be an ordinary day, driving kids here and there, cooking creatively and seeing friends. And that is just perfect.

Excerpted from The Parent’s Tao Te Ching, Ancient Advice for Modern Parents by William Martin. Good words for me to remember for myself.

From the chapter Make the Ordinary Come Alive

Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

Thank you thank you thank you for your very presence, making my very ordinary life to feel extraordinary in the most beautiful ways.



On the road again…

Woo hoo – I am headed to see John of God in Abidiania, Goias, Brazil!

Thank you for all your prayers and positive vibes that got me to this point. And for all the logistical help as well!

Yesterday, my parents arrived to help my husband with the boys, and we went to Mass this morning. Not that those are related….

The Gospel reading was about how to pray, the one where the disciples ask Jesus how to pray, and where Jesus teaches the Our Father and speaks of “ask and you shall receive.”

After that came the homily. The priest forgot to turn on his mike so we had to strain to hear. However, it was a good homily and worth the effort to listen.

Once we returned home, I finished packing and headed to the airport.

Last summer, when I went to Brazil, I set off unsure of what to expect. At that time, I cleared customs in Brasilia then met the cab driver, who showed me where to sit and wait for the other passengers. Soon, Shelby appeared next to me, this gorgeous, tall blonde woman in just the right clothes who had seen John of God before. Between my inexperience and my uncoordinated travel outfit, I felt like a glaring newbie.

However, Shelby’s heart was so generous and open that she seemed to be surrounded by a golden light and I couldn’t help but be drawn to her.

Two weeks later, I returned home feeling like a completely new person, with treasured friends who I feel like I’ve known forever.

Last time was so incredibly special, so unique for me, that I almost don’t want to go again. When I think about it, I worry that this new experience will trample on that first one, or that I will try to protect that original experience and, as a result, won’t be as open to this new one.

But like my first trip to Brazil, I felt called to go on this one. Even pushed.

So, I am putting one foot in front of the other and am on my way. Despite my dog, who practically begged me not to go. Despite the broken check-in kiosks at the airport, the interminably long security line, and a packed airplane to Atlanta where my seat was broken. I kept moving forward, past each obstacle.

This time, although I do know the ropes, I realized that I am still a newbie in that don’t know what this experience will bring.

But I’m asking my questions, and I’m listening closely.