Cruel Cold

 

Old man winter has given us quite the roller coaster ride this year to say the least! Temperatures plummeted to below zero for over a week, reaching a low of -30 several times, and then rose to the high 40’s in two days bringing thick fog. It hung like a heavy wet curtain over the sun and the spirit of folks. Freezing rain and a dusting of snow followed. The mercury once again is hovering below zero. Our coat hanger is laden with coats, thick and thin. Each morning the family navigates through mounts of weather ready footwear  strewn near the door.

Old man winter is a slippery fellow. Can’t say that everyone is thrilled with the chill. We don’t have a choice except to weather the weather. We do have a choice as to the disposition in which we do it. The excerpt below from my book, Sweet Wisdoms, gives you my perspective on how I mentally shovel through the challenges of a Wisconsin winter.

Cruel Cold

We are experiencing below-zero temperatures with the wind chill here in Wisconsin. It’s freeze- your-nose-hairs-together and turn-your-nose whiskers-frosty kind of weather. As I make my morning round of chores, I’m constantly pulling my hat down and my long underwear up!  You can feel the landscape’s bones on these sharp cold days. I delight in the simplicity of winter—stay warm. Bitter cruel cold, you can’t make me a bitter cruel cold person.

 

Polished People

The other day I received a bulky package in the mail. As usual our mailman, Craig, placed it inside our entrance way instead of laying it outside against the door. I could see the struggle in my mind…him trying to hold the door open with the awkward and heavy package obstructing the way through for both of them, and the room that thing must have taken up in his car!

It was in that moment I “saw” my appreciation for my mailman. To express my gratitude I left a good helping of my homemade caramels with a Christmas card in the mailbox. I warned him not to eat them froze for fear of an emergency visit to the dentist. In return we received a very nice thank you and…he didn’t wait.

There is a nasty bug going around. I’ve had several “clean-ups” on my bus and don’t want to think about how many “clean-ups” the school janitors have had to deal with in recent weeks…at least there’s doesn’t freeze to the windows. If your child has gotten sick in school or the bus maybe the shine of appreciation would brighten a janitors/bus drivers’ day. I can think of so many others. There are those that you may believe don’t deserve any appreciation…well…they are the ones that need it the most.

Yes, they know it’s their job, but if nobody did their job, what would we do? We all need each other, it’s that simple. The media would have us believe we all hate each other. We don’t. Appreciation is like polishing people. You shine, they shine…and the whole world gets a little lighter and brighter. Make it from the heart not obligatory then you get the warm fuzzy feeling too from basking in their glow.

Appreciation polishes people. Polished people shine. Shiny people illuminate the world.

Tale of a Tattler

I’m a school bus driver. Our district has a “no eating “rule on the buses. Mostly, to protect those children with food allergies from a medical emergency while they are in transit. It also helps deters bees and wasps from coming onto the bus looking for sweet treats in the garbage.

On this particular day, a kindergartner tattled on a friend for eating candy on the bus. The candy was a large lollipop. I gently asked the little boy to either throw it away or put back in the wrapper for later. School buses now-a-days have high backed seats. You can’t see anything that is going on in the seats which makes enforcing the “no eating” policy extremely difficult. I’ve adapted a strategy of intentional listening (it sounds better than eavesdropping) on conversations that light up my misbehavior radar.

I can hear a quiet exchange of indiscernible words between the tattled on and the tattler. Within a few seconds, the tattler had another tale to tell, “He’s still eating his candy, Bus Driver!” I now resort to pleading. “Please, put the candy away. You know eating isn’t allowed on the bus”.

That’s when I hear the rule breaker speak up. In a loud, deliberate voice directed at the tattler he says, “For the last time, I’m not eating. I’m LICKING!”

I can’t help but bust into a big smile. Good one! I’m admiring his manipulation skills with a limited vocabulary while at the same time leaving the tattler tongue tied. Then the pure innocents of the situation revealed a profound truth.

We all know we should talk less and listen more. This experience taught me what we should be listening for—meaning. The meaning given to words is defined by the speaker. If we are not giving our complete attention to listening, talking is meaningless.

Conquer Can’t

Next year I resolve to project less fear out into the Universe. Doing that means focusing on positive energy, starting with my own experiences and encounter in daily life. The greatest positive energy force on the planet that I know of is genuine love from the heart. Fear burdens Spirits and tests faith. Love lifts and lightens. Love conquers can’t, one of fear’s strongest sources of power.

Energetically we feed the Universe. Every thought and feeling is on the menu. Fear is fast food. Feed the fear, starve the soul. I am consciously choosing to get fit on faith, not fat on fear. With mindfulness I will be able to slow down and feel what I’m feeling. Then I will decide how hungry I am and choose what I want to fill that hunger—love or fear. Love is the main ingredient— the “bread and butter”— in a healthy positive relationship with life. Without it our hunger is never satisfied. With it we feel the fullness in our lives.

2018 is the year I conquer can’t and put my fate in the can.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. ~ Napolean Hill

Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new.”~ Ursula K. Le Gui

God Boss

Conversation on the pre-school van I drive:

Little Boy: “Bus driver, did you know that Santa works for God”?

Me: “No, I didn’t”.

Little Boy: “He does! Mom says so. It’s because God watches over us…everyone…EVERYTHING…ALL THE TIME! Not just at Christmas like Santa”.

Me: “Isn’t Santa supposed to watch you all year long to know if you’ve been bad or good?”

Little Boy: “Yea, but Santa just watches you, not everything. God knows what you’re really feeling too”.

Me: “I guess you could say God created the business (life) …lol… so that would make him the boss in a way.”

I thought this part of our conversation was kind of funny. Since one of the first things that pops out of their four-year-old mouths when another little rider tells them to do something is, “You’re not the boss of me!”

Then the wisdom is revealed.

Little Boy: “Did you know when you’re sad you can go inside your head and talk to him. God, I mean. Not Santa. It makes you feel better”.

Me: “I do and it makes me really happy to know that you do too”.

As I write this I can’t help but relive the feeling that flushed through me when he spoke his words. I wish you could have felt the feeling in his words, heard the inflection in his voice and the way his speech softened and slowed. You just knew the conversations were heart to heart.

Ride the Wind

Wind’s gift to us is movement. On days like today with sustained wind speeds between 20- 30mph and gusts of 50mph, its will to remain in motion is taking with it all that isn’t held down or onto. Its willpower is blowing wild and free over the open land. Add to that a 20-degree temperature and the attitudes of folks drop swiftly into negative territory on their gusts of disgust. They fret and fuss over the slightest exposure to the wind’s elemental power to create sacred motion.

Nature adapts and flows with the windy weather. Birds are staying perched in the cover of Spruce trees and my horses are assuming the sturdy, butt to the wind, position. I like the raw edge of a strong wind. It commands a keen awareness of body and mind. We don’t pay much attention to air until we feel it like when our breath is restricted by a cold or illness. Wind’s Spirit forces us to feel what goes unseen and unnoticed. The air is showing itself today and people are taking notice.

Our movement too can be blustery, messing up our tidy plans. Forced action like a wild wind can tangle, tatter and tear. Sometimes there’s no stopping where we are going. We have to let the Spirit of the wind carry us—surrender—to freedom’s rough and tumble ride. If we can do that we are carried to our destination.

To make it through the next wind advisory, hold onto your hat and your heart. Wait-a-day or two, the winds of change will change, everything in sacred motion, even the wind.

Holy Headache

The celebration of Saint Nickolas Day can spin a household and a school bus into a tizzy. The event begins with having to find a place to hang stockings. For those of us without a mantel, it can take repeated reassurances to our little ones that St. Nick can find stockings wherever they are hung.

Then you have to get the much-anticipated night of his arrival correct or face self-inflicted parental guilt until Christmas arrives. Is it the night of the 5th or the night of the 6th? Which is it? A quick call to Grandma and she recites the catchy rhyme I can no longer remember and, after a quick check on Google, the day of Saint Nicholas’s arrival is confirmed. Heaven help us if St. Nick should come a day early, a day late or forget us all together. All three scenarios play out in full production on the rolling stage of my school bus in early December.

Children whose houses were visited by the stocking-stuffing Saint console friends whose houses were mysteriously missed. When that happens grey vinyl bus seats convert into therapy couches as little minds wrestle with impossible reasons for their misfortune. It’s heart wrenching. The crushing blow comes to the empty stocking children when defiant peers conclude that St. Nick isn’t coming to their house at all…ever! Quiet sobs and snuffling filter through the bus’s chatter. Emotions go amuck.

Eager to show and share what was stuffed into those stockings, therapy sessions end as quickly as they started. Backpacks fly open. Crying subsides. Dollar store trinkets rouse excitement and a clamor of “Let me see! Let me see”! echoes inside the bus. The happy distraction lightens the

mood. That is until the last of the cheap Dollar Store trinkets falls and breaks. Crying resumes. But there’s still the candy, I say to myself. Maybe it will last until we get to school….

By the end of the week, most of Saint Nicholas’s gifts have been broken or eaten. The bus settles back into its “As the Wheels Turn” elementary school age daily drama. Or so I believe.

Then this happens:

Giggles burst above the seat behind me, the infectious kind of laughter that raises curiosity and lowers good intentions. A young voice says, “Now put a mustache on me”! I glance up and ask, “You two aren’t drawing mustaches on each other, are you”? Without hesitation the response comes.

“Nope. We’re playing with our St. Nick stuff”. Hmm. Traffic pulls my attention back to the road. The mustache mystery is on hold for now. As I am about to revisit the mustache mystery, a face pops out from the side of the seat and into the aisle. That little face is trying to catch a glimpse of its reflection in my rear-view mirror. Looking up at me is a face covered in what appears to be stamped blue paw prints. Several layers of the stamp cover the child’s upper lip. An audible gasp escapes me. My lower jaw drops. My mouth gapes open. OMG! “I thought you told me you weren’t drawing mustaches on each other”! Response: “We weren’t drawing them. We were stamping them on.” St. Nick, you are giving me quite the holy headache. You’re really “stocking it to me” this year!

My lesson in all of this? If your life isn’t giving you the answer you want, maybe you’re asking the question wrong.