Open Wide

I have amazing spit.  No, really, I do.  You see, as of yesterday, I had the ability to proclaim that at 39 years of age, I had acquired only one cavity in my otherwise pristine mouth of filling-less teeth.  (The only one I did have was waaaaaaay back in a wisdom tooth, so it really wasn’t even my fault; those suckers are so far back there, my toothbrush really doesn’t stand a chance.)  Supposedly, this is somewhat due to my saliva; I have been told that some people produce saliva that helps to ward off cavities.  (Technically, it’s the sugar complexes in the saliva that aid in repelling the cavity-causing bacteria, but I digress…).  Apparently, my mouth is lucky enough to produce said saliva, thus providing me the opportunity to skate by many a year with dental visits that included nothing but a run-of-the-mill cleaning and standard x-rays.

What is unfortunate for me (or fortunate for the rest of the world, depending on how you look at it), is that there have been many advances in the Dental industry in the past forty or so years.  Gone are the days of the routine cleaning with the black and white x-ray film, supplemented by visual cavity checks alone in a stark, white, sanitized office with a small packet of hermetically sealed instruments that double as standard-issue interrogation devices.  Nowadays, you have ‘theme’ offices with tropical fish or rock memorabilia decorating the walls, complete with a flat-screen television for your viewing pleasure while you recline in the exam chair.  X-rays are taken digitally and even projected on the flat-screen for discussion purposes (what, you didn’t want to see your teeth and gums super-sized?  You don’t say!).  Super-saliva alone is no longer the best defense for a cavity-free life; there is now a method of highlighting tooth decay that rivals a military infrared system where the normal surface of the tooth shows up in green, and any decay easily stands out in bright, glowing red.  I was treated to this lovely display on my last visit to the dentist when they helpfully pointed out that there were a couple of shiny red areas of “early decay” that they were concerned about, and recommended I have them filled preventatively so that they would not become full-blown cavities.  Reluctantly, I agreed.

That is how I found myself in the dental office this evening, in the procedure area (an offshoot of the cleaning area, for in this office the procedures are so darn special they get their own separate wing!), smiling nervously as I anticipated the worst.  Did I mention I only have one filling?  One filling.  One.  And it was forever ago, so I don’t really even remember it.  I am not a fan of dental work; I diligently attend my 6-month cleanings because I love my teeth and would like to keep all of the originals, thank you very much.  But I will admit I am somewhat of a white-knuckler with all the picking and scraping and polishing, etc. that goes on with just the cleanings, alone.  I’m not terrified by it, I just don’t like it; it creeps me out.  Looking towards even more invasive work is clearly not a picnic for me.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the hygienist blithely mentioned that as soon as the doctor popped in, we would get started on my four fillings.  FOUR!?!?  I thought the loud screechy question was only in my head, but it had actually come out of my mouth that way, because the hygienist calmly smiled and backpedaled in an effort to calm what was obviously the “patient-most-likely-to-bolt” sitting in her chair.  Talking like you would to the four-year-old who is on the verge of meltdown, she soothingly said we could simply wait to talk to the doctor and review her notes to make sure that was the plan, and that we were all on the same page before proceeding.  I just tried to use my best ‘big girl’ voice and croak out ” Uh, okay”.

As it turns out there were four total spots they wanted to fill.  Apparently I have deep grooves in my molars and, after 39 years, even the super-saliva isn’t quite cutting it anymore.  Two molars and two wisdom teeth were on the drill menu for the evening; I prepared the knuckles for a long ride.  I was not relishing the fact that I would now have fillings in all of my wisdom teeth, but what are you going to do, right?  Wimp out and actually BE the patient that bolts?  I don’t think so.  Instead, I said “aaaaahhhhh”, gritted through the novocain shot, attempted to mentally slow my racing heartbeat, and tried to think of other things when the drilling began.  (Of note: you would think that with all of these amazing “advances” in dentistry that someone could invent a drill that was a bit less brain-jarring as they gouge away at your enamel.  I’m just sayin’…)  The flat-screen helped a little, but not as much as I would have hoped.  Fortunately several of the areas were very shallow and only required minor surface fillings, thus shaving much time (and agony and shots) off of the whole ordeal.  I did still go home with my lower right face/tongue completely non-functional, which is a sensation I would have preferred to not remember.  I felt the need to keep touching my chin and lip to ensure they were in the correct position and not drooping on my chest.  And when I said goodnight to my daughter, I had a lisp that would rival that of Cindy Brady.  As I leaned in to kiss her on the forehead, she literally shrank back and looked at me as if I was the most freakish sight she’d ever seen; and, really, who could blame her?  The fun continued about two hours later when I got hungry.  Wanting to eat when your face clearly isn’t planning on helping is really just a cruel joke.  Yogurt?  (I’m not a fan.)  Soup?  (It’s 85 degrees, people.)  Oatmeal?  (Takes too long, per the sound in my stomach.)  I settled on cereal which, while trying to get the first spoonful in, I realized was a hilariously poor choice.  But I was determined to win out over my uncooperative mouth, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t finish the whole small bowl without spilling a single drop.

An hour later, hungry again.  Crap.  Too tired to fight with any new food groups, I’ve decided to sleep instead.  I figure I should be able to eat by morning, right?

Quick aside:  yes, for those counting at home, I do only have three wisdom teeth and they are still very much in tact.  In addition to having super-spit, I also have genetically freakish chompers.  I am missing my adult upper eye teeth, as is my father, and my daughter (take that, Darwin).  Because of the extra space up top, I never had the need to have my wisdom teeth removed, as the braces I wore for four years pulled everything together all nice and neat-like.  I am also missing one of my lower wisdom teeth, as is my mother; as luck would have it, I have somewhat smaller teeth and had room for the other lower one, negating the pulling of that one as well.  One rite of passage I am happy to say I never had to endure!  But I now have passed the genetic teeth mutation on to my offspring.  And as per the new fancy schmancy x-rays tell us, I’ve compounded the freakishness – not only is she missing her upper adult eyeteeth, she’s also missing her lower…so the money I saved my parents in dental work I will undoubtedly spend on her.  Yay!  My only saving grace will be if we can offset the missing teeth with a lack of cavities; let’s hope the super-saliva doesn’t skip a generation…

Fruit From The Tree

Branches, twigs, leaves and limbs…

Family trees are interesting. They stretch and grow with their multiple limbs; branches bud from blood relations, from marriage, even from choice. Some are small, only stretching out over a limited time; others are large, spanning multiple generations.  Frequently these limbs are produced from a completely new breed of tree; as if you took two (or more) different types, spliced them together, and created an entirely new species that never before existed.  More often than not, they are complicated structures; the branches twisting in awkward directions, with twigs sprouting off this way and that.

What’s even more intriguing about familial trees is often the fruit that falls from them. By ‘fruit’ I’m referring to the traits we inherit from being a part of these intricate creations. What grains of wood flow through our veins as we sprout into our own little seedlings? What colors of leaves do we produce? For me, it was interesting enough to learn about myself as I developed along my own path in life; but I find it even more interesting to compare myself as I look back and learn about the other branches of my tree, and the other offspring that came from it.

Certainly, there is always a visual comparison. For example on one side of my family, there is a striking physical resemblance running through many of our generations (my father’s side, specifically). I would hazard a guess that if you put a large number of us in a room with several hundred other strangers, an unconnected observer could pick out the family pairings pretty darn quickly without much effort – we really do look that much alike, even several generations removed.

Then there’s the ‘behavior’ comparison; I sometimes wonder if this is genetic, as well. For example, I have my father’s temper; that quick-lit Irish ire that is easy to rile, and hard to quell. But my grandfather had it, too, and from what I hear (though I haven’t witnessed it first-hand, so I border on conjecture here) my uncles also exhibit it. Not only do we have it, we struggle with it in a way that makes it a little unique in our family. It makes me wonder – hearing that it trickles through the generations – is it learned, inherited, or both? Did the apple fall into the next tree, or did we pick it up and carry it because we saw it lying there? Maybe a little of both is true. I think sometimes these things are inherent in our DNA and sometimes they are learned (such as the wicked knack for guilt conjuring that my maternal grandmother always had, my mother carries with her, and I have conveniently picked up as well – that, most certainly, seems to be an observed skill much more than innate).

I find the DNA comparison often carries with it questions of a more clinical nature, such as the uncertainty of potential disease issues in a family. In my father’s lineage, there seem to be frequent incidents of cancer, though they present themselves inconsistently – breast, prostate, ovarian, skin – none seem to repeat themselves, but many branches seem to be afflicted. It makes me wonder if it just hides amongst all of us like a sleeping beast and morphs to suit itself when it feels like showing its fangs. It’s even found me already, in what was fortunately an early identified and quickly removed form of melanoma; I often hope that I’ve already faced down my own monster and I won’t encounter another in my lifetime, but who can ever be sure? I surmise that is why my family has always been so vigilant by proactively checking for things that we are wary of – you just don’t know what fruit you will get, or if it will perchance be rotten.

But sometimes the fruit you get is just the opposite; it is exquisite in its ripeness and richness.  It’s often not even genetic in nature; in fact, it is frequently more nurture-based.   It’s the kind of fruit that bears the seeds of character, helping to shape us into the beings we become as we grow, reaching towards the sky and sun.

Branches, twigs, leaves and limbs; each one unique, each one important.  They all create the distinctive flora from which our family trees grow, from which we grow.  Exceptional in their challenges and their gifts, we would not be who we are without them.

A Mother Of A Day

It started out as a lovely day.  Actually, it started before the day actually began, when my daughter brought home her carefully crafted card from school on Friday, and decided she couldn’t wait two extra days to give it to me.  “Happy Mother’s Day!” it shouted from the cover, complete with hand-drawn flowers and carefully crafted letters.  Inside were additional words sharing how much she loved me, with added hearts and stars for effect.   It was, as personally made cards go, pretty much perfect.  She beamed with pride as I hugged and thanked her, and told her it was the perfect start to a lovely Mother’s Day.

The next day, the celebration of “all things Mom” seemed destined to continue.  My husband took over swimming lesson duty while I opted for the rare opportunity to go shopping alone.  As I strolled down the lane of our local outdoor mall, I frequently checked my watch, only to remember that I actually had nowhere to be, and no time to be there.  It was an odd feeling, and I finally embraced it (about 45 minutes in…).  Though I didn’t purchase much in particular, I did partake in a leisurely solo lunch, and very much enjoyed browsing the bookstore without anyone constantly tugging at my arm asking when we could go to the kids’ section.  That evening we had a lovely dinner at a new pizza restaurant (the cooks entertain the kids by throwing the dough and drawing pictures in the flour – the kids love it!).  The food was great, the ambience was light and relaxed, and the evening just made for the cap to a wonderful day.

When I awoke this morning, I was convinced that since the weekend had gone so well, the rest would follow along.  As far as breakfast was concerned, I was completely on the mark.  Instead of trying to face any of the Mother’s Day crowds, my daughter and I instead had a personal pancake-making lesson.  It was lots of fun watching her be so careful with all the steps, and be unbelievably proud of herself when she accomplished her goal.  After breakfast wrapped up, she and I devised a plan that today would just be a girl’s day.  Next on the agenda: movie and shopping; oh, what fun!

The movie went pretty well; she enjoyed it, anyway (the Three Stooges – let’s just say I was glad to have my internet-connected phone with me to make it through all 90 minutes).  My wonderful weekend was continuing swimmingly; or so I thought.  On the way to the clothing store was when it started to turn, as my daughter began informing me she would really rather not go.  I coaxed from the front seat, trying to make it sound like a fun adventure.  No dice; her protestations got louder.  In an effort to revert back to the Mother’s Day bliss I was previously in, I turned on the radio to temporarily drown her out (come on, we’ve all done it).  We arrived, parked, and walked in; the way she dragged her feet and bee-lined for every puddle she could find (despite my asking her not to) really should have tipped me off to what was to come.  But I was still in Mother’s Day denial, so I pressed on.

Once in the store, we didn’t really find much for her.  But I did find a few things for me that I actually needed, though I had to try them on before buying.  This is always a challenge; my daughter is not a fan of sitting and waiting while I try things on for myself.  So I pulled out the other well-know parental prod: bribery (and yes, you know you’ve done that, too).  As soon as she started complaining about being bored in the dressing room, I happened to mention that I might need to go to the jewelry section afterwards, and if she behaved, we could maybe get something for her, too.  I thought it had worked when her eyes brightened and she said, “Oooh, jewelry!”.  And I was right; it did work – for about five minutes.  After which point the boredom really started to set in, and she decided she wanted me (and every other customer in about a 10 foot radius) to know about.  She quickly got louder, and more frustrated.  I then did what I normally do when she acts out, I warned her of consequences.  If she didn’t behave, she would lose the jewelry option.  Thing is, you can’t expect to threaten something like that without following through on it; and I forget that trying to teach a lesson in a public place is not always the brightest idea.  So when she decided that dropping the shirts I was saving to buy onto the floor (“to see if they would float!”) was a good idea and I did, in fact, take away the jewelry as a consequence, that’s when my Mother’s Day turned into – well, you can guess.

Squalling.  Tears.  Pleading.  Stomping.  The works.  It was a display worthy of a Tony award.  All in the confined space of a dressing room that does not connect to the ceiling, which has the effect of amplifying the sound through the whole cache of rooms connected to it.  You can imagine the looks I got as I left with her (which I had to do by pulling her by the arm, because at this point she refused to walk normally).  It was a six-year-old’s version of the wailing banshee.

Of course, by the time I got home I was furious, and exhausted.  I felt like my whole Mother’s Day had been ruined by this singular, raucous, embarrassing event.  Not only that, my daughter was now angry with me, and I was frustrated at her.  Fantastic way to end the day, right?  Granted, I tried to rise above and calm us both down for the evening, because I don’t like going to bed angry or with hurt feelings, especially for her.  But I still had my own adult emotions to deal with after she went to sleep, and I couldn’t help feeling that my Mother’s Day had been hijacked somehow.

But as I reflected on it further, I realized that I had probably THE most perfect Mother’s Day of them all, if you really think about it.  Because what is being a mother, if not a challenge?  Being a mother is certainly not perfection.  You do not sign up for this job because you expect never ending days of tranquility, unaccompanied shopping trips, agreeable children, and peaceful days and nights, do you?  Clearly not.  You sign up for loudness, confusion, scraped knees, high fevers, sleepless nights, backtalk, grumpiness, frustration, and tears.  You sign up for worry, desperation, bribery, cajoling, arguments, errands, homework, and laundry.  But you also sign up for laughter, bedtime stories, stargazing, and first-tooth-losing.  You sign up for butterfly-chasing, late-night campfire singing, costume wearing, baby rocking, and hair smoothing.  You sign up for hand holding, secret sharing, Eskimo kissing, milestone watching, “I love you more than all the clamshells in the sea, Momma” hearing.  That’s what you sign up for.

None of it is perfection; and all of it is.  It’s one big giant messy world of nothing you ever expected and everything you never dreamed all wrapped into the most beautiful package of a person; the one that calls you Mother.  So I’ll take my Mother of a Day, today, bruises and all.  Given the right vantage point, it ended up just as lovely as it started.

The Whistle

Summer is most definitely upon us; the days are getting longer and lighter.  It’s the time when children linger outside after dinner to play and run and laugh “just a few minutes more” and, despite your better judgment, you let them.  It’s not an everyday occurrence, certainly, but some days just beg for it; the ones where the sky is a bit bluer, the clouds a bit whiter.

I have to admit, I love to let my daughter (currently a spirited six-year-old) bask in these extra evening moments, in spite of my normal “strict bedtime” mom-ness.  You see, we didn’t have many of these occasions for her last year, as she was challenged with figuring out her pecking order amongst the neighborhood kids.  Being an only child herself, she tended to desperately want to be the ‘best friend’ of everyone, and sometimes took it a little overboard, never really sure when she should let up on the intensity pedal just a bit.  As a result, she wasn’t invited out to play very often, and it was heartbreaking to see her long to be included.  Fortunately, this year is vastly different; she’s really found her niche, becoming one of the pack.  In fact, one of the girls she struggled with the most is now, basically, her BFF, and it amuses me to no end to see the two of them pal around together.

What does not amuse me, however, are the times when I have to retrieve her to come home – for dinner, bedtime, to run an errand, whatever.  Pulling a cat from a well might be more enjoyable, really.  Even if I’ve given her a heads-up about how much time she has left, it never fails that she will “mysteriously” disappear shortly before she needs to return.  Most of the time, I simply dread the 20-30 minutes I will inevitably spend just looking for her.  Don’t get me wrong, I keep a pretty keen eye on her when she’s playing outside; but she has a knack of turning into a gold-medal sprinter as soon as she sees me coming for her, and she has about eight different escape routes already mapped out.  I’m also convinced that she and her friends have developed some form of scatter-pattern devised solely to confuse the parental units on which child went where, simultaneously increasing our frustration level, and enhancing their enjoyment.

It’s usually around this time that I remember my own summer evenings of years past, and desperately wish I had learned The Whistle.  Not “to” whistle, mind you, I mean THE Whistle.  I’m referring, of course, to the legendary Mr. Harold Whistle (Mr. Harold being my father, for those unfamiliar).  You see, when it comes to tools on the parental belt, my father had a whistle that was truly unparalleled.  Ask any child growing up on or near Royal Street circa 1985, and they’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  Any given summer evening, just around dusk, you would hear his fairly high-pitched, two-noted, quick-tempo whistle – up, down up.  It would echo through the neighborhoods, easily reaching a 6-8 block radius.  Everyone’s head would pick up at the sound, and everyone knew what it signaled – the Harold Girls were supposed to go home.  He would usually do it once, wait about 5-10 minutes and then do it a second time.  If he had to whistle a third, there had better be a darn good reason why we weren’t home yet, or my sister and I were probably in big trouble, for there was really no excuse to ignore The Whistle.  We knew what it meant – everyone in the neighborhood knew what it meant – so we certainly couldn’t feign ignorance.  We’d even get status updates on the way home, practically block by block…”Hey, did you hear your Dad whistle?”, or “Your Dad’s looking for you, better hurry!”.   Rarely was there an occasion that my parents had to come and search us out to bring us home, because The Whistle was so darn effective; either on its own, or indirectly because it caused everyone else to seek us out for them (clever bit of parental strategy, if you ask me).

The Whistle did have additional uses, such as warnings of danger (i.e. riding bikes in the street near oncoming cars), stopping sibling arguments (teenage sisters can be rather loud when trying to kill each other), or rounding up scattered family in a grocery store (to the confusion of all the nearby patrons as to why some strange man was standing in the middle of a row whistling his head off).  However, I highly advise against using The Whistle in small, confined spaces; the deafness/ringing that results lasts entirely too long to make any usefulness worthwhile.

To this day, I still don’t know how exactly my father does it.  I’ve watched him at this craft for over 30 years and have yet to really figure out anything except that it’s only with his tongue and lips – he does not use his fingers.  Unfortunately for me, the whistle gene seems to have skipped a generation; I can’t even whistle normally, let alone produce anything remotely resembling THE Whistle, so I’m plumb out of luck on this one.  Which is really disappointing, because I can only imagine how useful it would be with my little summer-evening Houdini.  I suppose the best I can hope for is that perhaps my daughter will pick it up and maybe, some 20 years from now, there will again be that familiar “up-down-up” echo in a distant neighborhood that causes all the children’s ears to perk.  I can only imagine her Pops would be so darn proud…

Lunch Box Enlightenment

It’s interesting watching your child grow up. Every day, I find it fascinating to see my daughter evolve into a little sentient being. With each turn of the season, she acquires new skills and traits; she tries them out like she’s trying on a pair of new shoes, seeing if they fit, or if she needs to wait a while to grow into them a bit more.

Some of her progress comes with age; such as how she learned to use utensils while eating instead of her hands, or use language instead of grunting (though I still sometimes have to remind her to use her words instead of her “whines”…). Other progressions we have to work at a bit more diligently; such as our current challenge of channeling her emotions of frustration into productive choices, rather than knee-jerk reactions of lashing out. But then there are the moments where she exhibits such clear, forward thought I am almost taken aback by how far she really has come in her 6+ years on this planet.

Such evolution was exhibited this morning, at breakfast, when we were putting her lunch together. We typically go through a question/answer session where I give her choices for her lunch items. This works well for both of us; it allows me to limit her options to those items I feel are healthy, but still allows her to feel like she has some control as to what she packs by being able to make the selection herself (i.e. from my pre-determined list for the day). When we got to the sandwich choice, the options were PB&J or ham & cheese. She quickly and calmly replied, “Well, Mom, I’m kind of near the peanut table sometimes, so I think the ham & cheese would be a better choice, you know, just in case”.

She was referring, of course, to the table in the lunch room at school cordoned off for those students who have been identified as having a peanut allergy. She has several friends who are required to sit at the “peanut table” (though I also learned today the peanut table is for egg and wheat allergy kids, as well – it’s amazing how much educating they do with the students for the safety of the others), and knows that it can make them sick if they get near peanuts. In that one quick choice, simply about which sandwich to bring (or not bring, in this case), my daughter illustrated to me how effortlessly she thought about the well-being of the other students in her world and, “just in case” it might harm them in some way, she didn’t want to chance a mere peanut encounter. It seems like such a simple thing, that little culinary conclusion; but to me, that quick comprehensive decision, at 6+ years of age, seems huge. Especially given that a mere 20 minutes earlier she was bemoaning the fact that my husband hadn’t bothered to seek out her approval on the breakfast menu for the morning, and she was none-too-shy about letting us know how unhappy she was with the presented fare. To watch her shift that quickly from self-centered squalling to a focused concern for others was really something to witness.

It’s heartening to think that it’s working; all of those efforts to teach her compassion, all of the repetitive reminders about being nice to others. The messages are getting through; they’re sinking in. Not only that, she’s applying them to the world around her even when we, her parents, aren’t present. Just like learning to tie her shoes on her own; she’s now navigating these new skills independently as well. And that’s all we can ever really hope for.

Split Second Karma

I have a confession to make; I greatly dislike eggs with runny yolks. We all have them – those idiosyncrasies about us that exist without explanation. One of mine just happens to be runny eggs; it’s not so much dislike as despise, really. For me, they rank right up there in the “irrational things that freak people out category”. So much so that, this morning, I lied to my husband – who had so kindly made breakfast for the family – in order not to hurt his feelings. You see, my daughter loves her eggs that way, which is why he chose that method. She dips her toast in them; she even has a nickname for them, calling them “the poach” (which, clearly, is an incorrect reference to the manner in which they’re cooked, but she continues the misnomer even after numerous corrections). And this morning upon seeing his culinary creation and hearing my daughter’s delight (“Daddy made my favorite poach, Momma!”) I didn’t have the heart to criticize his efforts, nor did I have the stomach to pretend to consume them. So I feigned lack of hunger, said my goodbyes, and headed off to work.

Confession number two: I am a sucker for Starbucks breakfast sandwiches (though I have never been a coffee drinker, so how I got sucked into their franchise in the first place still baffles me). So when my empty stomach began protesting about 15 minutes into my drive-time, I began anticipating the exit quickly approaching where I knew there was an easily accessible Starbucks drive-thru. The freeway traffic at this point was fairly clear, as I’d left the house early. I pulled off, procured my prize, and was back en route within about 10 minutes time.

But the freeway I returned to in no way resembled the one I’d just left. Upon entering the on-ramp, I could see that I was heading toward a massive wall of grid-locked cars that were barely moving. Glancing farther up the lanes (there are three at this juncture) I could see that all of them were stacked; it was as if I’d left a deserted country lane and returned to a downtown New York street in rush hour.

Clearly something had literally just happened. My suspicion was confirmed when I suddenly heard sirens, and all of us in the three lanes quickly had to converge into two in order to let first an ambulance, then a fire engine pass. By this point we were crawling along, and I was able to make out additional emergency lights not too far ahead. I spent the next 20-40 minutes inch-worming with the rest of the traffic as we all now merged into one lane and, eventually, followed a serpentine pattern through where there had obviously been a fairly large collision (verified by the radio traffic team to have included four vehicles).

The congestion combined with the delay was initially very frustrating. Especially since my whole point of leaving the house early this morning was to get to work early and get some tasks out of the way before all the hustle and bustle began in the office. But when I got to the point of the accident itself, I noticed two officers clearing a motorcycle – now void of its rider – out of the way. It made me pause; first in the hope that that rider, and the other drivers involved were hopefully not seriously injured. But then, I thought of the timing of the whole scene. How it really seemed to come out of nowhere in the short time it took me to exit and then re-enter the freeway. 10 little minutes to purchase a breakfast sandwich; had something that banal really changed the outcome of my day? And, if so, in which direction?

I am a firm believer in Karma. I truly feel that for whatever energy you choose to put out into the universe – good, bad, positive, negative – you will somehow receive the same. And on this morning, when I realized how this little 10 minute shift may have affected me, it made me wonder for just a moment, “hmmm…good Karma, or bad?” I initially assumed that perhaps I had bad Karma for lying to my husband about breakfast and was now stuck in traffic being late for work. But when I thought about it further, I wondered if it was possible I was receiving good Karma for some other past action, and had narrowly missed being in the accident myself. For if I had stayed on the freeway and not exited, if I had not given up those 10 minutes of travel, I surmise that I would have been in that exact spot at almost that exact time; the same spot where they removed the broken, riderless motorcycle from.

I chose to believe the latter, and instead carried myself with a little extra caution for the rest of the day. Feeling like I narrowly missed disaster already, I guess I didn’t want to chance it. Though I’m sure the egg incident will come back at me in some form, or another; it’s really only a matter of Karmic timing.

Weight

We all carry weight. Every day, in different ways. Some of us manage it better than others, but we all carry it. The bill you know needs to be paid next Thursday. The project deadline you have coming up in a month. The argument you had with your loved one last evening that is still unresolved. The lab results you’re waiting on from the doctor’s office that you’re hoping, desperately, don’t carry with them bad news. The guilt over yelling at your child exactly like your father used to yell at you, even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t this time. Weight. It’s always there.

Not only is it consistent, but it is constantly changing its size; forcing us to make choices about what additional things we’re going to take on…what else we decide to carry. Some of the burdens we bear are necessary, almost mandatory (bills, family, health, etc.); we must shoulder and manage them the best we know how. But others are a choice. We have the option of adding to our loads, or avoiding the heavier burdens that may be trying to creep up our shoulders, just by making a different decision. You would think that deciding to lighten the load would be easy. But often times I think it’s actually more difficult simply because we don’t realize that it truly is just that – a choice.

Maybe we avoid choosing because it sometimes requires us to sacrifice things we want or need, or even sacrifice other people in order to lessen our own burden. We so often sacrifice our own well-being for everyone else’s; it’s human nature, after all. But what we fail to see is that by doing so, time and time again, taking on all of this weight so that others don’t have to, we create a load so burdensome that eventually we can’t continue to carry it. But how will we be available to all those we’re trying to aid if we’ve effectively lost ourselves, crushed under our own solitary burden?

If only we would allow ourselves to let some of it go – unload the weight that is not ours to bear. Many of these burdens are just that…not ours, but we bear them just the same. We think of it as selfish to be self-protecting. But so much suffers as a result; our health, our families, our jobs. Everything is subject to the fallout when we break from carrying too much. Unfortunately, we often only realize this too late, long after the pieces are already scattered.

I was reminded today that we all carry weight. And I was also reminded that it is okay to give yourself permission to lay some of it down. By doing so you are not a failure, you are not giving up, you are not sacrificing others, and you are not admitting defeat. You are simply acknowledging the limits of your being. For this brief moment, allow yourself the gift of being UN-burdened. The weight can wait.