Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Joy on Butterfly Wings Helps Me Find A Smile

It seemed once again when I started this list on Monday that I wouldn't be able to find the random joy that gets me through the week.

Then the sun shone. The afternoon turned glorious and was full of chubby cheeked girls and butterflies and the memories I'd already called forth were bumped down my list by the unforeseen joy of a warm March day. Remembered that joy, I was able to call forth more and the week suddenly wasn't as glum as it had seemed looking back a day earlier.

1. The most random joy of the week had to be butterflies in my sugar maple tree on Monday afternoon. There's nothing more random than a butterfly anyway and I stepped outside to see something flit across the edge of my vision. First I thought it was a leaf, then I saw it again. Finally I was able to focus on at least four separate butterflies, orange with irregular wings, in and out of the tree branches and apparently after the sweet sap oozing from the tree. It felt magical, mystical to see so many butterflies in March and I stood and watched them with tears streaming down my face at the unexpected blessing of their sudden beauty. And although I was once a butterfly chaser and could easily identify most common ones and a few more rare, I had never seen these before. My iPhone was all I had for photography (not the SLR with a zoom lens in the house) but I managed to capture a few images. I saw them three separate times throughout the afternoon and finally looked them up in my butterfly book where they were identified as question mark butterflies. How appropriate.

2. E3 learning how to walk on grass. Although she's still not perfect on indoor surfaces, she navigates pretty well across most floors. Grass, however, was a totally new terrain, even dead with unexpected lumps to trip her up and treasures to investigate. Her sisters couldn't understand why she kept falling or sitting down, but I was loving the look on her face. Just wait until that zoysia grass emerges from being dormant and becomes a green cushy carpet and she walks on it with little bare baby feet.

3. E1 when she got off the school bus Thursday with a big smile on her face. It was her first day on the bus, her first short ride on that big yellow rite of passage, and she had enjoyed the experience and was delighted to see a familiar face when the doors opened. Not only that, but there were girls on the bus that she knows from children's church and it was the capping experience on her first week of school. (School was snowed out on Friday.)

4. Hanging out laundry in my shirt sleeves with snow on the ground. I'll admit, it felt a bit strange, but good at the same time. The snow that fell Thursday evening and Friday morning was short-lived and I was able to put my kennel towels on the back yard clothesline Saturday.

5. Buds on my flowering cherry tree and the sugar maple. Yes, that means spring allergies are right around the corner, but more importantly that spring is coming! I'm so tired of winter.

6. E1's artwork, which underwent a sudden transformation to representational during her first week of school. During her sister's gymnastics class Thursday, she created a wonderful yellow airplane which she gave me to bring home. Yes, it made me think of the big yellow bus that had brought her home, as well as the "Yellow Submarine" of my childhood days, but it still makes me smile.

7. Being able to help out a friend. Sometimes it's good to be able to say no, but other times when someone is grasping for a lifeline (or even if it's not quite that bad), it's good to be the person they think of who can help. While I've been that person with dogs for a while, I still find it amusing to be thought of as maternal (there's a reason I call myself the reluctant grandma) or a person you'd ask to keep your child or any child you cared for.

8. The look on E2's face after I had to hold someone else's toddler and coax her to sleep because she was beyond tired after playing outdoors. Jealous might have been a word to use, but it was more confusion. When I smothered her with kisses and explained why I'd been babying some other child, she gave me one of her magical smiles, then was able to roll over and go to sleep herself.

9. Deer in the snow. Yes, just a week before the butterflies while I was watching the girls color one evening, I looked out the playroom window to see a herd of deer across the road. E1 and E2 joined me and we watched their shadows move through the twilight until darkness swallowed them. I wonder how many evenings they are there, but we don't see them. A scattering of snow that day threw them into view.

10. Walking six times last week and feeling that rhythm finally taking root in me again. There was something to make each walk special, each walk a healing salve to my soul, whether brisk and chilly or warm and balmy.

11. A Facebook message exchange with Ethan's best friend. Yes, we "talked" a little bit about Ethan, but also about just how life was going and it was the connection that was important. That he remembered me was a special thing.

Like any exercise, I always feel better when I've done this one and looked for the things that made my heart feel whole again, even if it was just for a little while. Again I challenge you to try to do it yourself, for yourself, and see what a difference it can make.

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