I love words.
My 15 year old self would not believe my current love of words to be real. I knew how to get a near perfect math mark because equations just worked. English was frustrating to me because of its subjectivity…how does one write a perfect essay?
Words annoyed me in ways numbers didn’t.
I remember writing my last paper for my Bachelor’s Degree knowing I would never write another paper again! History annoyed me too…why this war started, and how many perished in that famine. Give me a chemistry equation any day!
I spent a decade with an allen wrench in my pocket at all times, and a regular wrench in my hand, ready to adjust an arm rest here and foot pedal there as a I walked down the hallway of a facility. I loved fitting a person with just the right wheelchair cushion and back rest.
However, over time, I realized I loved listening to the stories of their lives and the challenges of adjusting to needing a wheelchair even more. As my career progressed, I found I loved working with clients and their stories more than working with them and their wheelchairs.
So the words would become sentences, and the sentences became stories. Stories created this unique bond of understanding. As the wheelchair user would have a chance to have their story heard for the first time–how they went from enjoying golf to being stuck in a wheelchair, or how they went from being the caregiver to the one now needing care.
Usually, every one is so busy affirming and encouraging a person who is new to a wheelchair that they get talked out of their grief for needing one in the first place. Their stories of pain and adjustment are too hard for those who loved them to hear…but stories of pain long to be heard.
I loved hearing people’s stories in ways that gave the story a chance to breathe out in the open without judgement.
My new love affair with words took another step when I started blogging regularly…almost 10 years ago. It was a chance to process out loud ideas that arose in the counselling office, or in conversation with friends, or in a movie or article I read.
Sometimes, I don’t even know where a blog will end up…it takes me along for the ride as my fingers explore the initial nugget that caught my attention. I get to discover what will be written as the words get tapped on the keyboard.
This fascination with words has developed to affect my home decor. My home is full of words…words that are beautiful too look at and beautiful to ponder.
These are only some of the words that inspire me…
At the entrance way…
Our home is full of comings and goings. Shoes are often in a chaotic pile at the entrance way. We love to have company over for games and/or food, with lots of visiting. We want people to feel welcome…and we need people to know that we have a relaxed style that doesn’t expect them to be perfect and tidy, because we are anything but perfect and tidy.
We have weekly family meal, and occasionally invite some extras to the table. My mom says, “Oh, we’re not sure we should come. We don’t want to interfere. My response: “You’re welcome to join the happy chaos if you can stand it.”
On the mantle…
I got this in BC when I went to drop off my youngest Junior Tribe Member at University. Frankly, I was scared to come home to a household that didn’t have children that were dependent on me every hour of the day. It was intimidating to contemplate a life of choices, with unassigned time I hadn’t had for two decades. I was about to make a new start (and, as it turns out…into a new marriage, though I had no idea at the time) and so I wanted some inspiration about how I would move forward.
The purchase of this board served as a proclamation to myself that life would go on, and it would be meaningful. The values on this board would continue for me and in my family, even as my children were adults.
In the kitchen:
I ordered this bus roll poster from Kal Barteski years ago, and we had it hanging in the hallway of our old house.
Now it hangs in our kitchen in this house.
I love the poetic beauty that acknowledges how the extraordinary life is wrapped around many little ordinary moments. Those moments of making supper, laughing over a meal, kids swiping cookie dough while I plop mounds of it on the pans. I love (and realistically, also dislike) the ridiculous banter of kid as one loads the dishwasher and another sweeps the floor while still another is supposed to be putting leftovers in plastic containers but is too busy complaining about how much he really needs to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW.
Love stories aren’t sweeping vistas, the swell of romantic tunes as a musical score to our lives, or diamond rings.
Love stories are borne out of a thousand ordinary moments of living and working together.
Doing life together. Being about the business of connecting with each other.
I’m sure I’ve screwed it up often. I know I have, actually. But it was and is my desire for my people to feel that we lived magical lives doing ordinary things with and for each other. I wanted my kids to feel that a love story unfolded in our house right in front of their eyes…a story they got to be part of.
In the bedroom:
Speaking of story…
I love stories…one of the reasons why I love my work with clients!
Years ago, I was heavily influenced the reading A Million Miles in a 1000 years by Donald Miller. As he thinks about writing a screenplay of his life for a movie, he learns about story…how we live life best when we recognize that our lives tell a story. Being deliberate about what kind of story our lives tell can shape how we establish goals and life life.
I went to a Storyline conference with Donald Miller a few years ago in Chicago…and they gave us the notes for the conference in a little bag. I made that bag into a pillow that rests on our bed.
As part of making the bed every morning (OK, almost every morning), I put this pillow on top of the other pillows to complete the process. It’s a great opportunity to be reminded of the choices I might have that day; choices which will determine if I will live a better story.
This one hangs on the wall in our bedroom. I got Husband this picture for Christmas. Because of a project Husband and I were involved in last fall, Husband was busy. It fell to me to get our household ready for Christmas. I did all the Christmas shopping last Christmas (except for the notable exception of Husband’s gifs to me–he loves buying gifts). I got Husband this wooden sign as part of my frantic shopping for presents.
Husband noticed it first. I didn’t even see it; not when I bought it, not when I wrapped it, not when I gave it. Read it. Slowly. Out loud. (Yes, now you will understand as well as I why I got it on such a good sale.)
Husband laughed and laughed. He loves showing it to people to see how long it will take them to see the word you repeated. We decided to keep it…not only because it does describe how much fun it is to be together, but it does so imperfectly, which is pretty much like us.
In our dining room:
I’ve had this one a while…I bought it for our little family years ago when cash was tight and the price was right. It was in the clearance bin of home discount store.
I loved it.
Values I seek for my kids…for myself.
Life isn’t easy for any of us. But sometimes, especially for kids. Remember middle school? There is so much pressure to act and look and do what other people think is cool.
Sometimes, in the middle of being a parent and adult, we forget how hard it is to be a kid. We each have very different, but very real challenges to show up and live brave.
Kids need message to be authentic…fully who they are. To live fully. To show up. To give oneself permission to be playful and intuitive. And to do it all with integrity.
Life is, indeed, precious. And we have a subtle, but constant reminder as we eat our meals together of something beautiful to shoot for.
On the sunporch:
One of the perks of getting married is that Husband came with a sunporch. I have always loved sunporches…an opportunity to feel the wind outside as we watch the neighbourhood walk by. A place to have a cold drink on a hot afternoon, or watch the light show of a thunderstorm after a humid day, or have a relaxing beverage with friends in the evening with twinkle lights around the ceiling.
Without deliberate planning, the sunporch has become a word porch. Different words here and there that are important to me. Without deliberate planning, as I put things that I had in the sun porch to make it pretty, I realized that all the art was words.
I bought this one the first summer Husband and I were married. I love the rugged untidy simple nature of this word. Irregular. Playful. I think love is best appreciated when it is real and tarnished with apologies of good efforts gone wrong. Love is real and beautiful…but simple and imperfect.
This one got picked up one Christmas and I used to put it away in January after the holiday season…but long ago, I decided it was a year round word. To me, to rejoice to remember with gratitude. It is to remind myself that even when things are hard, there is also great goodness. Long ago, I saw a bumper sticker sized sign in someone’s kitchen. That was before cell phones that could take pictures, and so I made a permanent copy of it in my memory:
Joy is not the absence of sorrow, but the presence of God.
Rejoicing is a choice, even when life sucks. And somehow, rejoicing when life sucks makes that moment do-able.
The youngest JTM saw Laugh in a store during a time of life when there was little room for perks in the budget. He saw it, and brought me back to it, saying, “Mom, this is for us. I think this word is about you, and good for you. This is what you love to do, mom. Can we get it?”
During a time of life when I was grieving the death of my first marriage, and stressed at being solely responsible for making ends, I was touched to know that it was the word Laugh that caught his eye as the word that captured me, that represented us as a household. The JTM’s were so careful to not complain about all the extras we went without. They asked so rarely for me to buy them things.
I knew we had to have it.
Fortunately, we were in a discount store. 🙂
This one was a gift, by good friends to a Junior Tribe Member. Brené Brown says that spirituality is integral to wholeheartedness in our lives–to living full and rich lives. She says: “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.”
Faith–believing in the mystery of something greater than myself–in integral in my life.
These days, on summer mornings, I have the latte that Husband makes for me every morning sitting on the sunporch, looking at the neighbourhood with these words in front of me on the windowsill. I watch the man jog by, or the grandma walking the dog, or the momma pushing the stroller, with these words reminding me of the importance of faith in my life.