Take It to the Trail

There is a 2 1/2 mile limestone gravel trail across the street from our new house. I’ve spent a lot of time on that trail this summer. You see, when we first moved in, I was hurting. There were personal and professional wounds to heal. Many days I took it to the trail.

Sometimes I ran the whole way without stopping, music blaring in my ears, leaving all my anger and hurt behind me with each step.

Sometimes I tried to run the whole way but couldn’t. I would walk for a bit, catch my breath, and give myself a little grace.

Sometimes I jogged, but stopped at the crest of the hill to wipe my tears. Like I said, there were wounds to heal.

Sometimes I walked and talked to my mom. Sometimes I walked and talked to God. One time He answered.

Sunset

Sunset on the trail

Anyway, I spent a lot of time on that trail this summer. That trail holds all my secrets.

Last night, on the eve of starting a new school year as a classroom teacher after nine years in another role, I took it to the trail one last time. I ran the whole thing, no music, just the sound of my feet hitting the gravel.  I thought and I prayed and I ran.

And I felt happy.

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The Summer of Yes

This was meant to be the summer of no.

No to cheerleading camp and dance class. No to daycare and camps. No to conferences and workshops and classes. Just no. The girls and I, we needed a minute. It’s been a hell of a year for us, and we needed to catch our breath. We needed to settle in to our new house, our new neighbors, our new life. So I decided to say no.

Instead we spent our time doing things that really matter with people we really love. There were pizza nights and sleepovers and playdates. There was ice cream and after dinner walks and jumping on the trampoline. There were lazy mornings and fun afternoons. It turns out that saying no gives you the space in your life to say yes.

All parties must come to an end though. The summer of yes is ending and yesterday brought dentist appointments, grocery shopping, a pick up at the library, a stop at the bank, and loads of laundry to do.

We were enjoying a late a breakfast and getting ready for our day of errands when my phone binged.

Do you and the girls want to meet us at the pool at 11:00?

I set down the phone and looked at my grocery list. I mentally skimmed the day’s To Do list and considered whether the library and bank would be open tomorrow. I couldn’t.

But then I looked at Maddie and Katie, sun-kissed and smiling from our long summer of yes.

Sure! I texted back.

“Girls, go grab your swim suits.”

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Slice of Life Story every Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers

 

 

Day 31: It’s Like Riding a Bike

Last summer Maddie learned to ride her bike without training wheels. It was tough for her, and she struggled with fear and doubt. She did it though, and we celebrated with kisses and cheers.

The long winter months have left Maddie’s bicycle sitting unused in the garage, so at the first hint of spring I said, “Maddie, let’s go outside. You can ride your bike!”

Maddie was reluctant. She pedaled slowly and swerved down the sidewalk, stopping every few feet to get her bearings. She was unsteady and unsure. I followed close behind spurring her on with encouraging words.

We made it around the block and we were approaching our house when we saw a neighbor who had stepped outside to enjoy a bit of the sunshine herself. I stopped to chat and Maddie waited nearby, perched on her bike seat, her toes keeping her balanced on the sidewalk. I could see Maddie out of the corner of my eye slowly inching herself closer to home.

I guess she became impatient because when I said good-bye to the neighbor, Maddie was gone.

My eyes searched the horizon. There was Maddie, soaring down the sidewalk on her bike, her hair and her confidence swirling around her.

“Maddie!” I called as I ran to catch up. “You did it!” We celebrated, again, with kisses and cheers.

“I did it, Mommy! I did it!”

Of course you did, Maddie. Of course you did.

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Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

 

Day 30: Joy is A Little Trot

My children have filled my life with joy. There have been big joyous moments over the years of course: celebrations, milestones, their first this and their first that. But the real joy, the purest joy, comes in the small moments every day.

For instance, I was standing at the stove stirring a simmering pot of soup when Katie approached.

“Mommy, I’m playing dolls in the basement. The two dollies are on the horse. They’ll go for a little trot, and then I’ll change them into their swimsuits for the beach,” Katie told me before skipping away.

A little trot.

What an interesting choice of words for a five year old, isn’t it? She could have said they’ll ride the horse or go for a ride, but she said they’ll go for a little trot.

I stood at the stove smiling to myself as I stirred the soup.

These are the moments. These are the moments scattered throughout my day which I gather up like fallen leaves. And at night when I lay my head on the pillow, these are the moments that send me drifting off to sleep with a smile.

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Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

Day 29: A Picture Perfect Movie Date

Maddie’s Girl Scout troop was hosting a “She and Me” viewing of the new, live action Beauty and the Beast movie at our local theatre. I threw on a sweatshirt and some yoga pants and tossed my unwashed hair into a sloppy ponytail. As I was rummaging through the cabinet for our tickets, I saw the event flyer amidst a pile of papers.

She and Me Event
Beauty and the Beast

Purchase a snack pack for $4.00.

Photos will be taken before the movie!

Photos? I looked at myself in the mirror. I certainly looked more beast than beauty. Suddenly, I imagined the scene: Little Girl Scouts parading around the lobby of the theatre in their dress-up Belle gowns. And the moms -you know those moms – perfectly outfitted in the trendiest outfits, not a hair out of place. Some of them would probably be wearing coordinating She and Me outfits. Well, it was too late to change now. We’d have to go as we are.

Maddie and I chatted all the way to the theatre. She shared some first-grade struggles she’d been having with her friend recently, and I told her I’ve had similar struggles myself. I was so enjoying Maddie’s company that I had almost forgotten about the photos when we arrived at the theatre.

There was a long line to get your She and Me picture. Sure enough some of the girls were wearing Belle dresses and some of those moms were there, but I didn’t much care because I had Maddie by my side and when was the last time I got to hang out alone with Maddie?

“Do you want to wait in line for a picture, Maddie?” I asked.

“Nah, let’s get some candy,” she answered. We stocked up on popcorn and candy and pop, chatting and laughing all the while.

We soon settled into our seats and the lights dimmed. We were riveted to the screen. We sang all the songs and snuggled close when the movie got scary. I don’t know if Maddie saw the tear slip from my eye when Belle and the Beast finally danced in the ballroom.We yelled “Kiss him! Kiss him!” when the final rose petal was about to fall, and we clapped when the movie was over. Maddie and I loved the movie.

By the time we exited the theatre, the ‘professional’ photo opportunity was gone, so we stopped to snap a quick picture in front of a banner.

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I glanced at Maddie in the rear view mirror on the way home.

“I had fun hanging out with you at the movie,” I said.

“Me too, Mom,” she replied.

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Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

Day 28: Because My Mom Said So

My family has a history of skin cancer, so we are too well aware of the dangers. We look for moles, inspect all new freckles, and we always, always wear sun screen. But at a recent family gathering my mom noticed a little something on my face.

“Dana,” my mom said in her you-should-know-better voice, “you should get that looked at.”

“Mom, it’s fine,” I replied. It had been there for years. I was sure it was nothing. She stared at me like only a mother can. I rolled my eyes and changed the subject.

So this morning when the nurse asked, “What brings you here today, Dana?,” I answered as truthfully as I could.

“My mom told me to come.”

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I got a clean bill of health from the doctor. 🙂

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Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

Day 27: Just Sitting

I was sitting in church yesterday morning, listening to the priest.

Sort of.

Maddie and Katie were at the Children’s Liturgy, so they weren’t sitting with us. It was just my husband and I in the pew. The priest was talking to the congregation about…something, and I was just sitting. I wasn’t really listening, but I also wasn’t thinking of other things. I was just sitting.

Just sitting. Not folding laundry or typing on a laptop or writing a grocery list or listening to a child or talking to my husband or paying bills or watching a movie or cooking dinner or making lunches or packing bags or making beds or combing tangles or getting dressed.

I was just sitting. I wasn’t really listening.

It was lovely and calming and peaceful.

I hope He understands.

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Thirty-one stories in thirty-one days as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.