Monthly Archives: May 2013
Really, I do. For the past seventeen years, I’ve been navigating suburbia in the quintessential ride of soccer mom’s everywhere: the stylish minivan. Yep. Seventeen. Years. Not all in the same minivan, mind you. I upgraded nine years ago to the then-Rolls Royce of minivans, the Chrysler Town and Country Limited Edition. Complete with on-board entertainment, heated leather seats, a moon roof and five doors that open automatically with the touch of the key fob. (Those automatic doors were a must-have after driving preschool carpool for two years.)
I’m going to go on record here and say I love my minivan. I really do. It’s just that I’ve reached middle age and, well, I want something a little snazzier. My kids can drive themselves now and they’d much prefer to drive anywhere without me. Unless it’s to the mall. Then they are happy to have my credit cards—I mean me—accompany them.
Unfortunately, my minivan hasn’t outlived its usefulness. Did you know an entire dorm room of crap can fit into that vehicle if you take the seats out? It’s also the perfect changing station at a horse show, not to mention it can fit all the tack and my daughter’s trunk on board. And then there’s tailgating. What’s not to love about the on-board table? All are important things to consider when deciding whether to purchase new wheels.
Worse, I can’t find a car that I want. My minivan has become as comfortable as the worn, leather recliner in my family room and I loathe parting with either. Sure, a convertible would be nice, but I’d only hate myself in ten years when I’m battling skin cancer. The purr of a German engine is enticing, but do I really want to waste all that gasoline?
So, I’ll spend another summer with my ride doubling as a mini-barn (yes, there’s an ‘n’ on the end of that word!) until I can decide what I want. It’s actually a good thing, too, because I’m about to spend all my car money for horse power of a different kind.
Meet Tessa, my daughter’s new ride. Yep, I’m a sucker. But her show name is Game On, so Mama wins either way.
So what are you driving?
My son recently completed his freshman year at college. With 1500 miles and two time zones between us, for me this past year has been a lesson in letting go, in sitting back and believing we taught him right, in trusting him to make his own choices.
I thought I was doing so well, too. And then Sunday happened.
Sunday was the first day massive tornadoes tore through the Midwest, and the first day of his trek, alone and by car, from Denver to Atlanta. The same trek I’d offered, countless times, to fly out and make with him, so I could keep him company, so his father and I wouldn’t worry.
But he chose to make the trek alone, and I was okay with that. He’s a good kid, he makes good choices, so I had to be. Practice what you preach, right?
Or I was, that is, until I checked Twitter.
Okay, so clearly he was joking but he also was not. He really was huddled under a bridge, mostly because, he told me later, it was raining too hard to drive and he followed a parade of cars there. He said he figured there was… well, if not safety than at least comfort in numbers.
Words every mother wants to hear.
His second tweet was even worse.
That’s when I pulled my I’m Your Mother and I Command You card and told him to find shelter for the night, preferably underground. He was already on his way to the nearest and sturdiest hotel. He made it home a few days later, a little shaken but safe and sound. Looking back at the footage from Sunday and Monday, I know he was one of the lucky ones.
When faced with an EF5 tornado, my son made the right choices. He found shelter under a bridge, then as soon as it was safe, found better shelter. He watched the radar and listened to local radio, and planned his route accordingly. And his mother, had she been sitting beside him, wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Still. He was blessed, and so am I.
It was unexpected, the journey my soul took over what was a busy weekend for me.
Saturday’s plans had me in Kansas City North*, where I grew up. Between errands I seized the opportunity to drive the streets of my childhood neighborhood.
I was self-aware, cruising in my car that day. I thought, This is me driving these same roads I traversed countless times for years. It’s the same me in physical presence, and really so similar in spirit, despite many personal metamorphoses.
I took in the surroundings—laid tangibly around me and upon my heart—remembering people and experiences and life as it was then, comparing it to now. I happily recognized an overlap of two people at once: the girl I used to be, and the woman she has become. Both were renewed.
That day my inner self was delighted, and at peace. She said, “Hello, you, it’s good to be home,” and was comforted.
Sunday’s doings had me driving rural routes outside the city. They were roadways common to me in my early twenties, when I married and was transplanted. Again some deep part of me took notice, reconciling who I was then with who I am today.
Those roads were significant too, but in less joyful ways. Those roads are tied to a part of my life that came to mean more hurt and suffering than love and contentment. As I revisited those surroundings there was no comfort, no feeling of home, to be had.
On Sunday I drove as if, instead of laying down miles, I was laying down bits of regret, the years of me that I want to let go. And my inner self said, “Goodbye, you. It is well, you are done, no need to return. May you continue in peace.”
I covered a lot of ground last weekend, both literally and figuratively. I think I came full circle, forsaking one part of my spirit for another. For that I’m thankful.
What’s been your most recent experience with introspection and personal growth?
*Note: Kansas City North and North Kansas City are not interchangeable terms, though many people use one when they mean the other. Kansas City North (also called The Northland by locals) refers to the general northern region of the metropolis. North Kansas City is a suburb within KC North, its own town with an individual identity. Does it matter? Probably not. But I wanted to clarify anyway.
Even if it’s just for a day or a locking yourself in the bathroom for a couple of precious hours, everyone needs to get away. But summer is right around the corner and, to a lot of folks that means vacation time.
Anyone can come up with a gazillion places to go and things to do, but the focus of this prayer meeting is those precious minutes that can revive and often times save us from doing bodily harm to those we love and even those we don’t. So here are some creative mini-vacations to rejuvenate your or at least get you through the day. Some cost money and some don’t but all of them are guaranteed to get you through the day.
1. Massage is the best $50-75 per hour plus tip you will ever spend for a mini vacation. I’m not sure whether it’s the therapist’s actual hands on approach or just the fact that someone is focusing on taking away your stress for an hour, but this is at the top of the list for a reason. If you can’t afford a professional massage, even if you just slather some lotion on yourself and really work on your hands and feet, you will feel better, so much so that you might work the kinks out of your legs and lower back.
2. Music soothes the savage beast, even that stressed out beast in you who really just needs to stop. Listen. Give into the music. While a lot of people like to listen to classical music, some nice acoustic, or soulful jazz instrumentals for relaxation, I like to listen to music I grew up with, Van Morrison, The Eagles, Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Young, of course. I think the music reminds me of a time when I had no idea of what stress really is.
3. Makeover yourself by locking the bathroom door and taking time to tend to you. Put a good facial on or mix one up ahead of time in the kitchen. Slather your wet hair with a good conditioner or something as simple as mayo, wrap your head in the towel and soak in a hot bath. Feel your body rise and fall as you connect with your breathing. And for God’s sake, don’t forget to pout the DO NOT DESTURB sign on the door.
4. Memoir anyone? Yes writing can be relaxing and writing YOURS story down is a way to trick your mind into remembering a lot of really good stuff and maybe some not-so-good stuff, but getting your story down can been both relaxing and healing.
5. Meditate your way to relaxation. With my ADHD, this one is tricky for me. A lot of times while I’m lying on my back, conscious of my breathing, with my mind completely clear, okay for me that’s not possible, I fall asleep. But that’s okay, your body knows what it needs and is ready to take you on that much needed vacation, even if it’s just for twenty minutes. Do this where you have some room to spread out, and just go with it. You’ll be amazed at how rejuvenated you feel.
Okay, these are just the M’s, but I’m hoping as you read this you’re committing to that mini-vacation right now. Maybe you’re way ahead of me and you’ve already poured the bubbles in the bath. Calgon, take us away!