Bedtime Stories

My husband can fall asleep within seconds.  There have been times when he has literally fallen asleep in the midst of saying , “Good night”.  It makes me crazy!!!!  Truly, it makes me envious.

Sleep is often elusive for me these days.  It can sometimes take me an hour or more to fall into a sound sleep, in spite of observing recommended bedtime routines like no caffeine, no snacking, and limiting technology (although, I am absolutely guilty of a final Facebook scroll).

Laying still, in the dark, cozied up with the husband and the pups,  all seem to be the ingredients necessary for my brain to become fully awake and engaged with Life.  It’s the time when the stories begin.

These are not sweet, sleepy, lullaby-like stories of childhood. These are the stories of adult life. 

I wish I’d accomplished more today. 

I hope I don’t forget to do that chore tomorrow. 

Why did I respond to this work email with a “ok” instead of saying I was loaded up right now?

These bedtime stories are almost always centered around productivity, shortcomings, and frustration with myself.

We are all storytellers for ourselves.  We tell ourselves stories constantly throughout the day.  Stories about anticipating a day that will be too full (my husband, who sleeps so peacefully, is terrible about predicting how hard tomorrow will be….and yet he sleeps!), stories of how we didn’t produce enough, how we came up just a little short.

We tell ourselves stories of who we think we are, and our stories, honestly, are not always kind.

If I close my eyes for a second, I can conjure up the memories of my precious boys as babies and toddlers, snuggled close, the scents baby shampoo and toddler goodness filling the quiet night air. They are cozied up in the crook of my arm as we read one last book for the night.  It is always a slow book, a sleepy book, a book about how much they are loved and how perfect and just right they are. 

I always  wanted my babies to fall asleep knowing they were loved.

What if, just for a few nights, we could cuddle up with our deepest selves, the self that shows up when the house is still and the lights are off, and tell ourselves a good-night story of love and acceptance and gratitude?  A story of how who we are and what we do is exactly who we are meant to be and precisely what was meant to be done?  Stories of gratefulness for full lives and limitless opportunity for growth? 

What if, our bedtime story went something like this: 

I am exactly who I am meant to be. 

I am perfect in the present. 

I am not what I accomplish…those are things I do, but now who I am.  And I have done well today. 

I am precious, and loved, and sacred and full.   

 I am grateful for this day that I’ve had the privilege to journey through, and I am excited about tomorrow. 

I am grateful for being me.

Nite Nite, Self.  I love you.

Sweet dreams.

A Single Strand of Silver

This morning, as I was pulling my hair back into my signature pony tail, I found in my hand a single strand of perfectly intact silver hair.  Ok, you may call is gray, but isn’t silver so much more beautiful?

Why is this a thing?  Well, because I don’t really have silver hair yet.  Amazingly, given my age, I have very little silver.  A random stray here and there, sometimes covered by highlights but usually allowed to roam freely in my wildly thick long hair.  Yet this strand was perfect,  shimmering, intact and probably a good 14 inches long.  And for some reason it mesmerized me.

As with most of us in these crazy past few months, my hair has gone untouched by color or cut.  While I typically wear my hair long (shoulder length or a bit longer), the length of this hair made me stop and realize how much time had passed since we’ve done those “normal” things like haircuts.  It reminded me of how much our lives have changed in the past few months, and how we’ve learned to accommodate the changes.

But it was the shimmering silver that really captivated me.  It was beautiful.  For the first time, I really reflected upon being a woman who has long strands of silver hair,  who has reached this stage of life where the silver is as beautiful, if not more so, than the dark chestnut I’ve had since birth.  I pondered the transition that accompanies such silver strands and the life that has occurred during the growth of this solitary pearly lock.

It’s reported that hair grows an average of ½ inch per month.  That’s 6 inches per year.  This strand of perfectly glimmering silver had been with me for over 28 months. 

In the 28 months, I have had wild adventures with my dearest friend, traveling to NYC and packing in as many Broadway shows as possible between shopping, dining and romping through the markets.  I’ve created a new home with my husband on a spectacular piece of land which is my daily sanctuary and soul space.  I’ve had coffee and zoom happy hours with my beloved friends, and laughed so hard my belly still aches hours later.  I’ve had spectacularly long lunches and dinners with my soul sisters while we solve the world’s ills and dream up adventures we will pursue. I’ve spent countless nights drinking champagne in the gazebo with the love of my life, looking at the stars that sparkle in our semi-rural sky.  I’ve shared birthdays and holidays with my adult sons and the amazing girls they’ve invited to join our family.  I’ve worked hard, and lived my passion.

And yet, in those same months, I’ve also helped my dearest friend pass away from cancer.  I sat with her through her last breaths.  I’ve deepened my work with children in foster care, and had to face the realities and frailties of human beings, learning to not flinch or look away from what is raw and real.  I’ve watched the world shut down due to a virus, and turn upside down in it’s values.  I’ve held my sons through heart aches and growing pains, which, I’m learning, keep happening no matter how “grown” your kids may be. 

And so it is, these lives of ours.  A perfect tapestry of highs and lows, love, grief, fear, freedom and grace. 

The beauty, the pain, the realness of life, all lived during the growth of a single strand of silver. 

I’ll take the silver any day. It reminds me I’m truly living.

The Beauty of No

I tend to be a “yes” person.  Not in the sense that I’m a pushover, but more in the sense that I see limitless possibilities in everything! Therefore, in my mind, a life full of “yeses” means a light full of possibilities, right?

Wrong. 

There is definitely such a thing as too many “yeses”.   

The older, and hopefully wiser, I become, the more I relish my new-found skill of saying no.  Not a harsh, unkind, or aggressive “no”, but rather a, “No thank you, this doesn’t work for me at this time.”

There is so much freedom in that.

No thank you, this doesn’t work for me at this time. 

There is no door slam, no burned bridge, no sense of “never”.  It simply means that I’m weighing what I want and need and am responsible for, and this does not fit into it.  At least not right now.

When I was a kid, we loved a board game called Don’t Spill the Beans.  It was a big pot, precariously balanced, and each player would add a certain number of beans to the pot.  You tried to avoid being the one that made the pot of beans spill.

Wow, Life can so be like that childhood game!  We think we can fit one more thing, one more responsibility, one more favor, one more hobby, one more email or text…..until we find ourselves tipping and spilling and making a mess. 

I believe women, and even more-so mothers, tend to be over-yesers.  We try so hard to be so much to so many.  We love our people fiercely, and don’t want anyone to be let down or to have less than everything we wish for them.  And sometimes we sacrifice ourselves in the process.

But what if all those yesses we give everyone only water down our efforts and actions to the point of not truly giving much of anything to anyone?  There truly is such a thing as too much.

So the question becomes, how to we get to the beauty and space of “no”?

It’s a fairly simple process, but it does take some quiet time to really think through.

Take a good hard look at your life.  What matters most right now?  What are you trying to create, nurture, tend to in your life?

Then, ask yourself:

 Does what is being presented to you bring you closer towards or move you further away from those goals?

If we don’t keep first things first, then inevitably first things become last. 

A well-placed “yes” will enrich, and a guilt-given “yes” will detract.

A thoughtful, “No thank you, not at this time” is typically followed by a sense of relief and expansion. You know that feeling when it happens. There is no second-guessing.

Having a clear vision of what matters most, and only saying yes to those requests and opportunities that help solidify that vision, will help you stay on track, keep your energy for what matters most, and enjoy a deeper, more purposeful life.

Here’s to your next well-placed, “No” and the beauty that will follow!

Can’t?

But what if you could?

What would your Life look like if you did that thing you keep telling yourself you can’t do?

Ok, stop. 

Don’t just keep reading. 

Stop and think for a minute. 

Breathe deeply.

Read it again.

What would your Life look like if you did that thing you keep telling yourself you can’t do?

Sit with that for a minute.

Technology.  It’s a silly thing that comes so intuitively for so many, and yet this past week it was my absolute demise.  Even making posts for the Soulprints with Lori Facebook page can sometimes frustrate me to no end.  I KNOW it’s not that hard.  I KNOW it should really just be a click here, a delete there, and drag over and voila!

But it just never seems to work like that for me. 

 This week I was excited to move into planning my first online course.  I’m overflowing with ideas and excitement and energy, and then I had to do “the stuff”. 

I had to find a way to host it, I had to have widgets and hyperlinks and all these other foreign concepts. 

And so I quit.

I quit.  I got frustrated, I had a meltdown, I pouted, I commiserated with a friend, and I quit.  I spiraled into how yet another idea “failed” and would never reach fruition and what a mess I am, and I quit. 

That night, after venting to my husband, who’s stable and steady logic is so often the perfect balance to my exuberant emotion, he simply said, “So, once you figure it out, what will it look like?”

Wow.  Ok.  That wasn’t a place I’d gone. 

I’d just hit the wall and stopped.  But as an engineer, his brain is wired to see brick walls, and figure out how to knock them down, go around, or go over.  They never stop him.

Once I shifted my energy away from the brick wall to the other side of possibility, I lit up like Christmas Eve, full of ideas and vision, and plans for the Soulprint community. 

I felt excited again, back in my creative space, ready to put good out into the world.  It felt like opening the wardrobe into Narnia or opening the gate to the secret garden.  Suddenly excitement and possibility existed again…on the other side of the wall. 

I can promise you figuring out technology has not been the most challenging obstacle of my life.  There are too many times to mention when the wall felt too tall, too thick, too impossible to get around.  Starting a business, being a single mom, and having the faith and fortitude to make sure the said business could single-handedly support my kids and I was only one of them.  There were some walls even more challenging than that. 

 I can only imagine your life has been filled with some of the big, messy, thick walls, too. 

Compared to what so many of us have been through or are facing today, technology should be a cinch, right?

But is it really about technology, or is it about the power of the messages we give ourselves?

I don’t know when I began telling myself the story that technology was something I “can’t do”,  how many times I’ve called myself a techno-phobe, or how many self-depricating jokes I’ve made about my ineptitude.

 But what I do know is it’s a story I tell myself every day…here is something I can’t do, an obstacle that can make me quit instead of learn. The thing I allow me to stop in the middle of a dream.

What is the difference between quitting when you reach the brick wall and finding a way through, over or around? 

The ability to remember or imagine what waits on the other side.  The knowing that you can’t do without what lies there, on the far side of the brick.

We all have stories that we re-read to ourselves on a daily basis, almost ritualistically, like the nightly reading of Goodnight Moon to a child.

I can’t.  I can’t.  I can’t.

We are SO quick to tell ourselves what we can’t do, and SO slow to breathe deeply and remind ourselves why it’s worth the risk, effort and frustration.

 Why is it worth it? 

Because of what it will look like when you do it! 

I can’t lose those 30 pounds.  It’s too tough.  I quit. 

(But what will it look like when I do?)

I can’t go back to school, I have too many other things to do, it’ll take all my time.  I just can’t.

(But what will it look like when I do?)

I can’t quit my job and start a new path.  I’m too old, it’s too hard, what if I don’t succeed?

(But what will it look like when I do succeed?)

The difference between quitting and persevering is the belief that the end result will be better and more beautiful than the frustration of the struggle of getting there. 

The difference between quitting and persevering often lies in the realization that staying where you are is simply more painful, more soul-sucking than the energy required to push that brick wall over.

The difference between quitting and persevering sometimes involves having a little hissy fit, a moment of total self-doubt, a comin’-apart (as we say in the South), and then a pep-talk to get back up and keep going.

I don’t want to limit my Life with self-imposed can’ts. 

Life imposes enough things on me that I have no control over.

I want to live Life empowered and encouraged, knowing I can do hard things, even if those things aren’t hard for others.

I choose not to live with my self-imposed can’ts.

Because, really….what’s waiting for me when I finally can?  That’s the stuff I’m all about.

Namaste, Aloha, Peace

At the end of pretty much every yoga or meditation class, you will hear the instructor speak to the group, with hands pressed together and head bowed, the word, “Namaste.”

That word signals the end of class, and is typically followed by the rolling up of mats, sipping from water bottles, and heading back into cars, back into the world.

If you’ve had the absolute joy of visiting the Hawaiian Islands, you were undoubtedly greeted with “Aloha!”, believed to be the universal hello/goodbye of the culture. Said at airports as you arrive, hotels as you check in, restaurants as you dine, it becomes an integral part of the vacation experience.

In many churches of multiple denominations, part of each Sunday service is a greeting of your neighbor, often with a shaking of hands and the words, “Peace be with you.” And then the service continues.

Cultures and communities are often chocked full of ancient wisdom wishes, and yet most of us are so hurried, so preoccupied, so distracted, that we recite the words without thought or feeling of what we are truly saying.

Let’s take some time to sink deeply into words frequently found in our and other cultures, and contemplate how we can live in their spirit.

Namaste: A sign of gratitude for the students’ presence and the teacher’s teachers, the sanskrit word Namaste is a single word which represents a full prayer of acknowledgment, a true seeing of the other person, and a recognition of their soul.

My soul honors your soul.

I honor the love, light, kindness and beauty within you because it is also within me.

In sharing these things we are the same, united. We are one.

Think about that.

Sit with that for a minute.

I see the light in you. I see you, and we are alike. Our hearts, our light, our souls are the same. We are one.

Aloha: Far more than a simple greeting, such as “hello” or “hi”, Aloha is believed to refer to the deeper spiritual qualities that hold us all together. While it incorporates love, respect, kindness and compassion, Aloha digs deeper, into the core of the soul, and indicates a knowing of kindred spirits. It roughly translates to “the breath of life”, that which unites us all. It is the sending and receiving of positive energy, life force, and the expression of compassion and love….with no expectation in return.

With no expectation in return.

I wish you this because you deserve it. Not because I do, not because I want you to say it back, not because you have proved worthy of it, but because I see you, and I wish you well. I honor and respect you, just because.

Just because.

Peace: Peace be with you. I leave you Peace. So many ways of saying the same thing. Peace. Tranquility. Harmony. Freedom from suffering. A sense of ease.

Peace. A way of wishing one well, wishing one safety, love and well-being.

Deep within us lies a need to see and be seen, to be recognized for being, trying, doing. Everyone has it. Everyone needs to be seen, acknowledged.

Not because they’ve proven to be successful or popular or publically visible, but because they ARE. Because the ARE HERE.

Here is our Soulprints challenge for the day. Slow down.

WAAAAAAY down.

And see people.

Strangers, family, passersby.

Really look at them, and realize they are you. They share the same world, the same love, the same heartbreak. See if you can look past the fact you’re running late or the coffee they just served is cold.

Can you SEE them, just because?

The light in me honors the light in you.

My soul honors your soul.

Just because. Just because we are the same.

Prayer for The World

I had a post ready to go today. It was about overcoming frustration. It’s a worthy post, and one I will revisit. But not for this week. That kind of frustration has been far surpassed.

I have no words for the frustration and pain in the world today. I am overcome with fear and sadness and anger and worry. From the isolation and devastation of the virus to the senseless brutality, prejudice and killing of people of color, our world seems out of control.

So today’s post is the only one that sits in my heart. It feels inadequate, but here it is, a prayer for the world, from my heart to yours.

Let each of us know and see and love our neighbor in a way that is not only how we love ourselves, but far better than. For when we love them as ourselves, we assume they feel what we feel and need what we need. They don’t. Let us find the way to love them that matches those needs.

Let us look into the face of children, and not rest until all are held, loved, educated, fed and treasured.

Let us hold up those who do the tough things, who are on the front lines of Life, be it teachers, health care workers, protesters, or civil servants. Let us lift up the decision-makers, praying that they seek guidance and are worthy of and wise with the messages they receive.

Let us each find our unique area of service, and dig in deeply to right the wrongs, fix the brokenness and support the efforts of those doing the same.

Let us flood the world with love and prayers and good intentions for peace, but even more so let us each flood the world with ACTION.

Let us work to heal the sick, feed the hungry, provide safety for the abused, and empower and support those facing injustice.

Let us not rest, not sleep, not stop until we each have become “boots on the ground” and found our way of being an active part of creating the world we want to see. The world we know CAN be.

Peace and love be with all who are hurting, scared, angry, broken. Let them not feel alone, let them not BE alone.

Lord God, hear my prayer.

Wabi-Sabi

Sometimes, when we most need it, miraculous messages end up right in our laps.  This past January, during an especially difficult time, a dear friend and I swapped “pick-me-up” gifts.  Knowing me so well, he gifted me with a little book entitled Wabi Sabi, The Art of Everyday Life, by Diane Durston.  While I’m pretty sure he picked it up mostly for the fun title and the wisdom quotes inside, what he truly did was deliver enlightenment to me at the precise moment of need. 

Wabi-sabi is a traditional Japanese world view that embraces the core concepts of transience, simplicity and imperfection. 

“Wabi”, roughly translated, means rustic simplicity or understated elegance.  It fully embraces the “less is more” philosophy and revolves around a sense of gratitude and contentment rather than seeking for more. A “wabi” Life is one which places gratitude above greed, simplicity above “flash”.  Wabi honors the natural state, serenity, and tranquility with what is, rather than always pushing up the proverbial ladder. Much like the Scandinavian practice of hygge,  wabi encourages us to slow down and savor every sensory experience, from fresh air, the taste of our coffee, the feel of our favorite t-shirt against our skin…and to take wonder in it all.

“Sabi” is believed to mean taking pleasure in the imperfections of Life, reveling in the passage of time, and enjoying the reflection, wisdom and glow that comes from living fully. 

Very much like Selah, written about in an earlier post, wab-sabi is an invitation to slow down and be grateful for what is even as Life involves a perpetual state of flux. 

In Robert Powel’s book Wabi-Sabi Simple, he uncovers his three key perceptions of the wabi-sabi lifestyle on Earth:

“Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

 Or, in my own words, Life is fleeting, Life is changing, Life is beautifully messy.

Over the past several years, I’ve worked hard to simplify Life. I’ve significantly slowed down. I used a move to do major purges, and the closing down of both my Mom’s and my best friend’s homes after their deaths has helped me realize that we can probably place the “stuff” that TRULY matters in a few drawers. 

It’s not about the stuff, it’s about the moments.

And those moments fly by.

That’s where my struggle lies….in the embracing of transience.  I tend to be highly resistant to change, even good change, even change I chose! I’m inclined to stick with projects (and people) past the point of it being in anyone’s best interest.  I’m scrappy by nature, so I’m good at hanging on…..when really, I need to get better at letting go.  Yep, it’s the transitions, the transience, the impermanence part that hits me hard.

There is unspeakable wisdom in the art of letting go.  Not just letting go of “things”, but of dreams that no longer serve, of people who don’t fully embrace who we are, of people we lose too soon.

 Just as forgiveness is not an act of absolution, but rather a release of anger and hurt that holds you hostage, letting go is not an act of “moving on” or forgetting. 

Rather, letting go is an act of opening up, of accepting what is for what it is and not for what it was.  Letting go is an opening up of the heart, hands and mind to be able to fully embrace now without losing it to the past. 

We were made to let go.  If we weren’t, Life wouldn’t be a source of constant change.  No, we’ve been created to be agents of change as well as graceful recipients of it.  We’ve been called by Life to appreciate all that has been, all that is, and all that lies ahead. 

Wabi-sabi is elegantly and profoundly simple:  Life is beautiful, Life is messy, Life is fleeting.  Rest in the imperfect, authentic, gloriousness of the now.

Everything I Need

The Christmas my youngest had just turned four, his only “wish list” item was a set of “shooter guns”.  Having watched a cartoon about cowboy cows (who else lived through Moo Mesa?) , he was fascinated by the holster and gun set that was worn on the hips.  That was it.  That’s what he wanted.  That was ALL he wanted.  “Shooter guns.”

Family Christmas with the in-laws was always held the weekend before Christmas.  It was a rather raucous gathering of people, with six grandsons relatively close in age. 

As family Christmases tend to do, the focal point was the kids.  Gift after gift was opened.  Squeal after squeal, thank you after thank you. 

When my youngest’s turn arrived, he opened a gift from his uncle.  And there it was…a set of “shooter guns” in an adjustable plastic holster.  About as hokey as you can get.  His eyes glistened with the magic of a child who’s wildest dream had come true!

This was early on in the gift exchange, but as his turn circled around again and again, he refused to open any additional gifts.  In his mind they were superfluous.  Each time another gift came his way, he held up his precious four- year-old hand in the “stop” sign and politely yet firmly said,  “No, thank you. I have everything I need. ”   

He did.  His life was complete.  There is no point in more when you already have what you dreamed of.  We took the unopened gifts home with us, and everyone understood.

Wow. 

Wow. 

To this day, it remains the most genuine expressions of gratitude and contentment I’ve ever seen. 

 This is my husband’s favorite story about our son.  We say it all the time…

“Can I get you anything while I’m up?”

“No, thank you. I have everything I need.”

  “Need anything from the Target?”

  “No, thank you. I have everything I need.”

No, thank you. I have everything I need. 

In a society where more, more, more is the theme, where advertising is constantly telling us we are lacking because we don’t have this, that or the other, where social media tells us everyone else’s life is better, bigger, bolder we are often left with a swirling feeling of NEEDING more.

How often are we like that?  We ask for or seek something, it arrives, and we rush on to the next thing. 

Time, energy, health, money, love.

More, more, more. Faster, bigger, better. Prettier, shinier, flashier. More, more, more.

What if, just for a moment, we could sit back, put our hand gracefully in a stop sign and say, “No, thank you. I have everything I need.” 

What if we could stop craving “new” into our lives, and settle into the beauty of what we already have?

What if we could slow down and savor what has already been given to us, what we have already achieved, what we have already crafted?

What if we could look at the busyness and flashiness of Life and gently, yet firmly say, “No, thank you. I have everything I need”.

What if we could operate from that four-year-old mindset of living in the perfect majesty of the present moment?

What if what could be isn’t nearly as interesting as what is?

What if, just for now, we feel “enough”? We ARE enough? We HAVE enough?

Thank you. I have everything I need.

And yes, my son remains this amazingly grateful and content to this very day.

Life with a Capital L

A very astute blog reader recently wrote to me with an interesting comment. “I’ve noticed that you usually capitalize the “L” in Life.  That’s cool, but I wonder why.”

Here’s my why.

I believe there are those who live life and those who live LIFE.  The difference between the two is intention, attention, and a sense of sacredness.  The best example I can give is the difference between god and God.  By capitalizing the “G”, there is an immediate reverence that takes place, a sense of holiness, and a feeling of awe. The essence is changed immediately from generic to specific, from many to one. The One.

I feel that way about Life. 

It is the difference between jet skiing and scuba diving.  Jet skies cover a tremendous area by expediently skimming the surface. Scuba divers, however, tend to go deeper, more slowly, and focus on a more specific amount of space. One is about speed, the other about depth.

Now,  I can most definitely be a highly impressive jet skier.  I can breeze through a lot of daily life quickly, efficiently checking off the next item on the to-do list. Give me a deadline and I’m more likely to be early than on time.   Jet skiing is a practical way of getting through busy days, and it definitely propels me forward more expeditiously. But I don’t really like staying in jet-ski mode.   It’s hard to truly take in the view, to study my surroundings, to find a point of intrigue and just hover for awhile. And quite frankly, it wears me out.

 I’m grateful that I was born with a scuba diver’s soul.  I’ve always been a questioner, not in a challenging way but because I’m truly and sincerely curious about how you are.  I prefer going deeper with a few than staying surface level with many.  Give me a lively, active party or a bottle of wine on the deck with a friend, and I’ll always choose the deck. I am drawn to understanding others’ “Why”, the reasons behind their decisions and choices and intentions. 

When I focus on Life with a capital L, it is a reminder.  It serves as a signal to my brain (and my soul), to take time to breathe deeply and inhale the magic.  To live in a state of absolute awe and astonishment.  To  show deference to the ability I have to CHOOSE how passionately and intentionally I live. 

I have made the decision, the commitment, to live Life with a capital L, to view Life as a loved one, a cherished relationship to be nurtured and grown.  Life is immense and mysterious and messy and real.  It is not about the daily dishes, the reports that need to be in on time, or washing the dogs yet again.  Those are parts of a lower case l life….what we do on a daily basis to get us from point A to point B.  But Life with a capital L is different.  It deserves reverence and contemplation . 

When I spend time with Life, I feel a sense of openness, of expansion, as if all things are magical, mystical and possible.  I am more attuned to seeing the connections between all of us, rather than only my private corner of the world.

Life with a capital L brings to me the huge concepts of wonder, as in God, Cosmos, Universe, Humanity, Love… the thoughts and ideas without boundaries.  The good stuff.  The stuff that really matters most.

I want to live in a state of wonder.  I CHOOSE to live in a state of wonder.  I am enraptured by the miracle of birth, our quests for finding meaning, how we celebrate our milestones and Life markers, and even how we say our final goodbyes. 

Soulprints was born out of the desire to help us all live Life with a capital L, to increase our intentional living, to be more mindful of what we value, and to challenge ourselves to constantly check that we’re in alignment with those values.  It is my greatest wish for each of us.

The Bounce

My best friend’s dad, Cliff, is the stuff of which legends are made.  A gentle teddy-bear of a man, he is always ready with a corny joke, a goofy smile, a groan-worthy pun, and a big laugh.  Having lost my dad at a young age, he has been my go-to source for fatherly love and a grandfather to my kids.

Topping our family’s most cherished memories are those of summer days when our two families would gather for cookouts, fireworks and general shenanigans.  With a total of 5 boys, all close in age, the kids would find endless sources of mischief and fun.

It was one such summer night when “The Bounce” transpired.  We’d gathered together to cook out and enjoy a lazy summer evening.  While the “grown-ups” grilled, gabbed and grabbed appetizers, the kids played a rough and tumble game of King of the Mountain on the trampoline.  At some point, Cliff decided that HE should be the King of the Mountain.  Up he climbed on the trampoline.  The boys respectfully backed off a bit, which for some reason seemed to make him all the more brazen.  Cliff was not going to be shown up by a bunch of teens!

Up, down, higher up, harder down he jumped.  He laughingly taunted the boys until they began jumping again as well.  Up, down, higher, harder….until the boys decided to do the most epic group jump ever….sending Cliff soaring high into the Ohio evening sky.

Like an old Looney Toons’ episode, in ultra-slow motion, Cliff went rocketing into the air and then slowly, slowly, slowly….SLAMMED right onto the ground.

Now, here is a point where eye-witness accounts vary.  Some say he landed on his rear, others on his front. Some say they gasped and rushed to help, when we really remember them laughing.  The one point that no one disputes, however, is the THE BOUNCE.

Not the movement that sent him flying off the trampoline, but way he immediately bounced right up onto his feet, as if nailing a perfect 10.0 landing at the Olympics!

The Man, The Myth, The Legend seemed to spring effortlessly to his feet, laughing hysterically, brushing himself off and looking around for approval.

We’ve all had that horrible moment where we simultaneously laugh and gasp, knowing that this can very quickly either go into the land of hilarity or hurt.  Cliff was our guide into hilarity.

That bounce, that image of him flying through the air, hitting hard, and seemingly offhandedly rising to his feet has been retold at virtually every family/friend reunion since.  It was well over a decade before he ever let on he was so sore for the next two weeks he could barely move.  All we knew was that he was our hero, our superman, our guy with the epic bounce back.

Life does that, you know.  We are playing joyfully one moment, and the next we are crashing toward the ground.  Unforeseen events such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, a pandemic, the end of a relationship shift our life so slightly or so suddenly that the fall is all we feel.  Falling, crashing, hard landing ahead.

Those events come.  There is no stopping them, those things that knock us flat on our butts. They come suddenly, secretively, without a moment’s notice.  There is nothing we can do to prevent them from converging.  It is human existence to experience falls.

But it is also the human experience to rise.  To rise mightily, powerfully, even joyfully.  To jump up, to ascend, to brush off and to say to ourselves…whew…THAT was a thing!

And like Cliff, the fall often leaves us a little breathless and bruised, but also like our story’s hero, it’s the bounce that will leave us triumphant. 

Every family has their lore…their stories that are etched in memory and relived at the mere mention of a person or place. 

For ours, it’s centered around the most spectacular re-footing of all time: Our adored Cliff and his showing us that it’s the rebound that is remembered most!