Don’t You Roll Your Eyes at Me!

Pokémon Go!

Of course I play Pokémon Go. My kids play. I want to be the cool mom. Easy equation. I knew that even if it turned out I hated the game, if they included me in anything they were doing, that I would at least enjoy the time and conversations with them about their new interest. Thus, I’ve tried a good many types of kid stuff.

The surprise is that I’m having a ball. I love this silly little time-wasting game. It means nothing, profits me nothing, doesn’t sharpen my brain or even my hand-eye coordination. I don’t care. It makes me happy.

Too many adults get caught up in the trap of “not wanting to look silly,” or tending only to the “important stuff.” That’s how we lose our flexibility, our mental genius, our creativity. And our happiness.

Ironic, since we all claim we want to be younger. Silliness is a defining characteristic of young. The ability to play, and enjoy, and be free from all those grown up constraints for a while. Nothing makes you look younger as much as thinking younger.

Playing keeps your heart young. No, not the watch-your-cholesterol heart. I mean the inner you, your soul, whatever you believe keeps you alive and youthful.

So the next time you see children or teens playing, don’t just dismiss them. Join in. Expand your imagination. Give your brain and yourself a much needed break from the heavy stuff. It will invigorate you and lift your spirits like you can’t imagine. Not to mention how awesome it feels to be the cool mom or dad.

Hold On to the Light

I went in a cave today. Those of you who know me are sitting there in either dismay or disbelief. I know. Me too. I am not a caver. In fact, caves pretty much embody all the things I hate most: cold, dark, wet, and muddy and feeling trapped. And ticks, which weren’t actually in the cave but you have to hike through to get to a cave. Somehow it just seemed really important to my husband that I get to see in real life some of the things he takes those gorgeous photos of.

Mark (the aforementioned husband) organized a hike, picnic, cave, hike and then reward ourselves with a nice restaurant kind of day. He made it sound even better by inviting all our (grown) kids along. The whole family decided it was a fab idea. The husband and the younger “child” and I met my older son and daughter-in-law near the cave. We took our sub sandwiches and drinks on a hike (longer and steeper than advertised, of course) to the cave entrance where we spread out our picnic blanket (an old shower curtain) and enjoyed the spot. That part I knew I was going to enjoy.

Then, cave time. As a compromise to my claustrophobia and general skepticism, we only went in the “twilight zone,” which is what cavers call the first part of the cave when you can still look back and see the daylight at the entrance. Even if that daylight is just barely bigger than the full moon and you had to stand close to one wall and squint to see it. But I could see it, and knew that in a disaster I could make my way back to the entrance. It kept me from being claustrophobic. Or at least not full on panic claustrophobic. Helmet lights helped it not be so dark, it wasn’t a particularly muddy cave, and there was nothing to do about the hike through the stream but grin and bear it. There really were pretties, not too very far in. Things I’d only seen in photos before. It was cool to get to touch them. Flowstone, rimstone, straws, and bright little gold flecks on the ceiling plus a small fossil or two for a bonus.

Of course, I have two new bruises and another gash on my right ankle. I took a tumble into the water before we even really got into the darkness. I was back up pretty quickly with only one side wet and I already knew my pants were going to be wet most of the way up from the wading anyway. Mark had said the water was only knee deep. Yeah, right. Some giant’s knee. However, he was very solicitous (almost overly worried in fact) and helped me not to fall anymore and gave me a dry jacket to wear. That water was cold! Frigid, icy, shocking, nearly heart-stopping cold.

However, all in all, it was worth it. Not so much to see the formations (though they were quite lovely) but for how happy it made Mark and how it made him appreciate me more.

Sherron In a cave

See that little bit of light in the back?

I could just stand it because I could still see that small little opening behind us with the sun streaming through. Sort of like a metaphor for life. As bad as it gets, if you know there is an end in sight, or a backup failsafe, you can bear it. Maybe not for very long, and maybe not with the aplomb we would like, but living through it. (Bruises, gashes, and all.)

If I can, you can too.

Real Life, Death and Everything

Life has hit me pretty hard of late. Just as the family was planning a Mother’s day celebration in conjunction with Thomas’s birthday, I received news that my stepmother, Jean, had died. It hit me harder than you would have thought losing “just” a stepmother should; it hit me harder than I could have imagined.

Mind you this was not totally unexpected. She was 77, and had been in decline for over a year. But as much as you prepare for something, as much as you think you’re ready, you’re not. There is no way to prepare for something like this. I cried like the 6-year old I was back when she became my stepmother. There was no thinking, only feeling. And sobbing. And, like a 6-year old, I called my mommy. At 2 AM. Only vaguely coherent. But she did the right thing, just comforting me until I got the words out. She was there for me. After all, she’d loved Jean too. Everyone had.

Jean was one of those people that just made you happy by being there. She was open to any and every person that walked through her door. She helped several teens by taking them in until it was safe to go home. The door to her and my dad’s house was never locked. Even if they weren’t home, you were welcome to come in, sit down, and have a glass of tea.

I didn’t come to live with her until I was 15, but those 3 years before college helped me grow in ways I didn’t know I could grow. I learned a different way of looking at things and a different way of being. I became a calmer, kinder, gentler person because she was kind and caring and poured her strength into you. All the kids and teens that knew her would tell you so. Your anger or fear or meanness just didn’t faze her. She reached out and helped you release it.

Others have said that the world is a littler darker without her. But I refuse to let that be. Jean wouldn’t want us to forget her love and comfort and be bereft. Her legacy lives on in me, and my brothers and sisters and countless friends of ours. We are now all her light. We can continue to live in the light, and with kindness, and she will always be here.

We love you, Jean.


Telling Tales

Everyone keeps telling me the trick to being a writer is to keep writing. I don’t think they say that to painters. But maybe they do.

I have friends who can’t stop themselves from writing. They don’t understand how I can NOT write.  They can tell I’m literate, and I edit their things and help make them better, and I can tell a funny story, so they just assume I must be able to write too. But what they don’t know is that almost all the funny stories I tell are just true.

My family is just interesting and funny, and we go interesting places and funny things happen to us. When I’m with them, and someone does something, I say, “You know you’re going to be chapter 57 when I write my book!” We’ve even decided what the title should be. And Then There Was More Food, because there always is.  We laugh until we cry, and then we go back for more pie.