Leaving Legacies

Summer Farm1

Photo: 2010 -Papa’s Farm in Poplar Bluff, Missouri

When you hear the term “field of dreams”, this may not be what you’re mind is picturing.  You’re probably wondering,  “Hey, where is Ray Kinsella?”  But for those who own and farm the land- this is their field of dreams.  Or at least their livelihood.  I have come to really respect long generations of family businesses/practices/trades.  I spoke to a restaurant owner the other day and he told me the business had been in the family for over 40 years.  To me, that’s impressive.  Especially these days.  I think we are finally getting back to a point where local business is meaning something to us, but we’re still driven ultimately by convenience and price.  There is an old tavern/restaurant down off Highway 50 in O’Fallon that closed its doors after roughly 40 years.  I was sad to see that sign read “thanks for a great 40 years”.  I think we can all agree that it’s sad to see something successful come to an end.  Do you have a store, or restaurant you visited in your childhood that you would long to see again?  I’m pretty sure Natural Wonders was the coolest place on earth.  (I digress).  As much as we hate to see businesses close their doors, (and I REALLY do), what about life legacies?

We were at a luncheon to celebrate the life of my husband’s Uncle who passed last year.  His sweet wife printed photos out for us, Bruhn’s that went way, way, back into the family ancestry.  The couple was from Germany, and settled somewhere in or near Alton, Illinois.  Hearing about his desire to work and provide for his family was very inspiring.  I could also see that same determination that lies within my husband, and his father, brother, etc.  They are workers, they work hard.  We went home with that photo and our son Brooks became quite fond of it.  It was black and white and from the late 1800’s- early 1900’s.  Their faces were stern, their eyes- serious.  Life back then, was void of so many of today’s comforts. Life was hard.    And life DEPENDED upon their good merit, and skill.   As Brooks positioned the photo next to his plate as he ate the next few meals- I had to laugh, but also felt very proud.  (He’s our little “old soul”).   I wondered what this man in the photo would think of the legacy he helped build with his two hands.  The actual village of people that they brought together.  And I wondered- how am I honoring that legacy?   I think of people in society these days who act as though legacies don’t really matter.  We’ve gotten so “in the moment” that we build our lives as though it should be enough to sustain us for OUR lives.  When we stop building, working, TRYING- we’re essentially blocking future legacies.   When someone harms your family name or breaks off from the family – are there not future consequences that will be experienced? (Rhetorical question- but my personal answer is YES).

As our children get older, (sniff, sniff), I cannot help but think about what my part will be in helping to build the legacy that my husband and I want for them.  What contributions to the world will we be giving?  What teachings and skills are being instilled?   These do not appear to be questions at the forefront of the majority’s mind.  Too many people are worried about the in moment, trendy child rearing moments that in a few years time just won’t matter beyond a memory.  How would our lives look if we did things more intentionally?  What if we felt a purpose, and did something intentionally every single day?  What if we did our very best part to enhance legacies, and what if we built something to be proud of.  What if we didn’t toss people aside like they don’t matter?  What would it look like for you?  Would you publish a book?  Would you mentor children in need, train the undereducated, become an advocate for the mentally incapacitated?  What is the legacy we will leave?  All have a field to tend, and its harvest will indeed reflect the work we have or have not done.

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Holding What is Precious

 

holding

 

When I write, it is often prompted by a very simply and daily type of life occurrence.  This one is no different.   It is just as unique and fresh to me.  And it was necessary.

My husband bought me a beautiful sapphire necklace for Christmas a few years ago.  It’s absolutely stunning.  But, in the nature of my job in both church and motherhood (working with children) I didn’t wear it very often.  Perhaps on a special occasion.  Some months had passed and I couldn’t remember the last time I had put it on.  One day my husband asked me “do you still have that necklace?” I responded “Well of course!  And I really do love it, it’s beautiful.”  The next day, realizing it had been so long since I wore it, I put it on.  On a regular day.  Maybe it was a Tuesday, maybe a Monday.  No special occasion- I just wore it.  I showed my husband I was wearing it, and that it was very special to me.  Well one day of wear went into two days.  It didn’t come off at night, or in the shower- it became something I was wearing every day.  I would hold on to it every now and again to make sure the main stone and surrounding diamond stones were in tact.  I had been wearing it around 2-3 weeks.  And then in the middle of the night, I woke groggily to feel my fist clenched, holding something.  It was dark, and I was barely out of my deep sleep- so I attempted to understand what it was with my fingers.  It felt a little pointy in places.  My “sleepy” brain told me it was one of my diamond earrings that had fallen out because I had forgotten to take them off before bed. For some reason, I never put it down, I just fell back asleep.  When I woke up for the second time that morning- I was both surprised and confused.  I remembered feeling and identifying this object in my hand in the middle of the night.  It was still there- and it wasn’t an earring (in fact, I hadn’t forgotten to take them off after all).  It was the sapphire stone of my necklace.  Somehow the clasp had come undone and the stone slid off.  But I was holding tightly to it.

But not everything that I hold tightly to- has a sentimental value in my life.  Some things (dare I say,  “many” things) are frivolous.  Without some of those strong holds we simply feel like we’re going to miss out.  We want to look a certain way, go a certain place, buy certain types of things.    But we miss out on so much more when we grasp our distractions.  Distractions are my demons.  I become unaware (or too occupied to take notice ) of the good things I let slip away.  The opportunities, the experiences, the relationships, the trust I have in the Lord,  and heaven forbid it–time.   There is no doubt that the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me softly, but clearly in the middle of the night.  It made sense, and it led me to feel that I’m certainly not the only person who struggles with that.  If we’re honest- we all have struggles and strongholds that keep us from our best.  It is part of being human.  It is the reason I fail each and every day.  But by the unmistakeable grace of God, I still have a fighting chance here on earth, because every morning- His mercies are NEVER ending (Lamentations 3).   Because He is with me.  His voice, it speaks to me.  As long as I hold on to His truths, I will hold on to what is most precious.

Garbage Collection Day

 

 

trash
I was in the middle of getting myself dressed and making breakfast (does it sound like mad multi-tasking skills?  It is.  😉  I looked out the kitchen window and saw the garbage truck sitting there.  Whoops!  It dawned on me that trash day was a day late with the Thanksgiving holiday.  I REALLY didn’t want to miss this collection (but really- do you ever feel okay with missing a collection?  It gives me angst to think about it, honestly).  The truck KEPT sitting there, and I just stared at it.  I’m like, okay-  he’s there but…I’ll never make it.  But he was right at our driveway.  So I had to make a decision.  Go out in my still pajama’ed self (new word, yes), and run like heck to try and get the huge bin to the truck?  Or- call and see if they could come later (for a fee).  Either way it needed to go!   I threw my husband’s size 14 tennis shoes on, and one of his jackets.  (I swear, if there’s ever something URGENT that pops up, his clothes are like– right there- shoes in the garage, etc.  ).  I HUMBLY try to rush out without looking like the village peddler/gypsy combo, but I did.  Then I waived frantically (if I didn’t look like the peddler/gypsy/vagabond before- now I  did for sure).  The man starts walking up, and I said- do you mind?  He kept walking towards me.  He said,  “here I’m going to get it for you”.  I told him that I completely blanked because of the holiday, but really appreciated him waiting.  I was a little embarrassed. I told him he didn’t have to carry the trash bin, but he just kept moving towards it, until I handed it over.   He said that we always had our trash out on time, and he thought he’d give us a few minutes.  He took the bin the rest of the way to the truck.  Although still slightly embarrassed,  I waived, and was grateful.

This was a teachable moment for me.  I hadn’t experienced one in a while (I should say, my heart hasn’t been open to them ).   Sometimes I feel like I need to have a ‘collection day’ with the Lord.  Maybe there’s something to reconcile, or something to confess.  I come to the Lord, a mess- (kind of like the peddler/gypsy…I know- 3rd time I’ve said that).  I’m hobbling around trying to throw everything together- just to experience that He will kindly say…”Here.  Give that to me”.  And there is no need to be ashamed, even though there are things I am  RUSHING to get rid of…the junk, the garbage.    I want it all  thrown into a pile never to be seen again, and let me say that it’s a bit humbling to be in the presence of the One who can take it away. It’s what He wants to do for us.  He asks us in Psalms 52, to “cast our burdens” onto Him, because he cares for us.  Don’t worry-  He can handle the garbage; the unflattering junk- because whether we share that openly or not, He already knows.  The waste management worker didn’t have any expectations.  He didn’t require I come in (even halfway) decent attire!  He made it very simple.  “Let me take that for you.”  We like to control our own waste management.  We’ll take care of our own problems, deal with our own baggage.  Because we know best, right?    But while ownership of our problems is important, it’s not necessarily the right call to try and undo it all on our own.  Try as we may to dump it into the deepest and most secret of landfills, there’s someone who will be there to intercept it.  If someone is looking to take the garbage off your hands. Let them.

 

When the Tough Get Going…Away

run away

 

Have you heard the phrase, when the going gets tough, the tough get going?  I believe it was even a song from one of my very obscure and semi favorites from the 80’s- Billy Ocean.  The phrase has always had the same meaning to me, until recently.

 

We had a service repairman over to assess a broken appliance.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and go into meeting them with a manner that indicates I believe they’re trustworthy (this of course can changed based on situation and environment).  The man tells me that it’s “no problem”, and he can fix what is wrong by essentially ‘rebuilding’ a portion of the appliance (I’m not familiar with).  To me, hey- that’s fantastic.  Just what the customer wants to hear!  And then the man starts to do something that I have a little bit of a hard time tolerating.  He began to brag on himself.  How much money he made on the side, all of the jobs he has- (nothing is WRONG with that, but he kept going).  Then after a slew of self doting remarks he says (I’m NOT kidding you, guys!) he was the “best employee the company had in this state”, and how they couldn’t afford to lose him because of his knowledge and certifications.  I’m not in the business of bursting bubbles, so I reply with a sincere sounding “wow”.  Maybe he was having a rough day and needed someone to believe in him.

We fast forward a few weeks.  The guy comes in checks out the parts that I’ve been getting in the mail for the broken appliance.   (I’m anxious to have this thing back, by the way- for real).  He hasn’t looked at the item for 30 seconds and says “ooohhhhh, that’s going to be a problem”.  So he begins to tell me a bunch of things- and eventually admits that he failed to check one VERY important detail of this process.  Which means he cannot fix our problem- period.   Pause:  Humans make mistakes.  I get it- I make mistakes.  Happens all the time.  But it was really difficult for me to sit and listen to excuse after excuse– of the STATE’S BEST repairman.  What happened to that title?  What happened to that ability – from 2 weeks ago?  He certainly didn’t sound like the best.  I ended up speaking to a supervisor of his- and while I was on the phone he said “I hope it all works out” and tried to LEAVE three times! (I did NOT let that happen without us ending our conversation officially).  He wasn’t going to sneak out that easily!   This could easily sound like I’m just writing a letter to the company about my level of satisfaction (or lack thereof).  But I believe there were some major lessons to learn here.

Don’t assume and inflate your own talents and abilities:

Having a humble attitude makes you more trustworthy.  ASK ANYONE.  Having a humble attitude means that people may be more open to forgiveness when you make a mistake.  I had no anger towards this repair person.  But I was certainly unhappy/dissatisfied with his level of ‘service’.  He told me how great he was, and simply tried to skate out without any concern that he was leaving a job undone.  When you go above and beyond truth about yourself- and you don’t deliver on that, the reaction from the people you let down is often a very strong level of disappointment.  I told the guy honestly, that I wasn’t trying to make his job difficult, but that he put us in a difficult position.  As far as a technician, I’ve lost complete trust in this person.  He poked a hole in his own ‘inflatable self’- and it would be hard to blow it back up.

Don’t worry if your work isn’t being praised every day, or every hour.

This- ahhh..I could learn from this.  Sometimes too much work feedback is overwhelming (I’ve had those jobs in the past). But when you have jobs where you get zero (I have had that job in the past as well)- it is really difficult to measure your growth.  Just because we aren’t being praised about things, DOES NOT mean we are failing.  Sometimes we have to allow humility to prevail, and from that build confidence that we are doing the right thing.  (This is really hard for a lot of people, have you noticed that?).

In my opinion, the MOST important:  Don’t Run Away From Your Responsibilities:

Can I be honest about something?  I used to have a really hard time facing up to problems.  I still don’t think it’s my “favorite” thing- (is it anyone’s?!) but- I have learned there is something so liberating about taking ownership.I would have had so much more respect for the person that day if he would have tried to at least stick around until we found one step towards a solution.  But running out, to me- meant that he didn’t care.  I believe ownership helps to build leadership.

 

To end this “never ending story”, I was helping out with a project for someone.  The task was slightly monotonous, and as I sat with my head in my hands I remember saying “What am I doing this for?!”.  This is where a part of my spirituality has changed.  I had the impulse to ask this question- and God heard me.  I know He did.  He reminded me, “You’re doing this to help others, you’re doing this for Me.”  “I’m NOT going to argue” (I say as I point up to the sky 😉 .  No one is going to pat my back through this, no one is going to sit and have a meeting about my performance about it- there’s simply a need, and I’m going to do it.

Chicken Little Learns a Lesson

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You may have heard the old tale of “Chicken Little”.  The poor thing always tells everyone that the sky is falling.  I don’t remember much of the story, just that there is a very anxious chicken.  I’ve heard the term used for humans, and not just for farm foul.  People who immediately think the WORST is going to happen.  I’ve been this farm foul, or- I’ve at least been the human version of Chicken Little.  Assuming and expecting the very worst.  It’s kind of strange  that I snapped a photo that has for so long been an illustration of how I view my problems.

Change The Way You Think, Ye Creature of Habit!

The ‘worrier’.  The person who frets about everything- IMMEDIATELY.  You know a person right?  Or maybe it’s you! Did you know, our mental reactions (like worrying) can turn INTO something habitual?  A behavior can become automatic (I have a source for this guys.  I found the article fascinating!! It’s from the Harvard Business Review, so you KNOW it’s legit!)  There is a complete scientific explanation for it- but I’ll spare you the attempt to summarize.  Here’s the link for that article:  “Habits: Why We Do What We Do” .  Sometimes you have to come out of your habitual thinking, and think DIFFERENTLY.  If you cannot think differently, certainly try to assess differently.  Take pause (which hardly ANY of us do this anymore.  Just look at your social media page.  Comment with an opposing view on a controversial topic and watch the assumptions fly- and everyone lose their mind).  The good thing about attempting to think differently is that you don’t have to practice this on Twitter or Facebook.  Try it in your daily relationships. Personal, or even work related.   (I had a flashback.  My former boss.  She’d say “Summer, can we chat a minute” and disappear into the BIG scary, conference room. )  My stomach would drop.  I thought I was getting let go /written up/ or a “talkin’ to” – EVERY time.  Like a pig walking to the slaughterhouse- I dreaded it.  What if I had the mental capacity and desire to approach the upcoming conversation in a different way.  Instead of forming beads of unflattering sweat on my head.  We may not control what situations befall us, but we can exercise our control in the approach.

Bracing For Impact

One of my pet peeves is when people act surprised, when they shouldn’t be at all.  For instance:  My friend spoke of this shortcoming for weeks.  It was a VERY likely chance that this “thing” would happen.  Let me put it this way:  It was very UNLIKELY that this would NOT happen type of situation.  (I think you follow).  We talked about this situation in and out.  When it finally came down to it, and it occurred- this person was a mess.  Scrambling, trying to find solace anywhere possible.  Without minimizing the emotions, it wasn’t a surprise.  (It wasn’t something sensitive like- the loss of a life.  That would be, in my opinion, different).  But the point is- when the little air masks pop out above your head in the plane and the pilot tells you to “brace for impact”- you know it’s serious.  You know it’s time to prepare as much as you possibly can.  If you have the advantage of seeing what is ahead of you, prepare for it.

I had been given news, in a certain situation -multiple times.  Without going into detail-  I was given the odds (the percentage) of how likely this matter was to actually happen.  It was the 3rd time.  The first time, I remember being upset.  I asked for everyone to pray.  The second time- I was upset, asked everyone to pray, and prayed myself.  The THIRD time- I remember telling my mom who said- just pray about it.  It was at THIS moment my faith took a very different turn.  Angrily, I said “Why?”.  As I felt it was not going to change the situation.  I was, admittedly TIRED of feeling such let downs.   Although I KNEW there was a likelihood of it every single time.  I didn’t want to pray anymore about it.  I didn’t want to come to God with a weak and bitter heart.  I didn’t want to weep and act surprised when I knew this problem was a possibility.  So I didn’t.  It was a few weeks in, that I (tried) to detach myself spiritually.  I didn’t want to pray about it, I didn’t want to meditate about it- I didn’t want to talk about it for some time.

I can vividly remember encountering this situation, yet again (a few months later).  I was in a store, in the cleaning products area.  My phone rings, and while trying to decide between toilet bowl cleaners- (appropriately because I felt this was a crappy phone call 😉 I got word I had hoped not to hear.  I pushed my cart off to the side.  Took a deep breath, tossed ALL the cleaning products in that I was hoarding in my arms and calmly said to the person on the other end of the line “okay”.  My stomach turned a moment, my eyes rolled, and initially I didn’t have such great feelings about it, or for those who may have been involved.  But I didn’t cry.  I didn’t worry.  I’d BEEN here before.  I felt a peace come over me, that didn’t change the situation- but it changed my heart.  I seemed to feel a little stronger than I was the last time this happened.  I was able to think about the journey and where I had gone SO many times.  I went prayerfully into the presence of God, and up until now, was  typically a “hot mess”, as some might say.  But almost as calmly as I spoke to that person on the phone, I felt as if I told God, “okay”. This was a new phase in faith for me.  This is not the “feel good” type of faith in which we just get to discuss blessings and sweet praises.  It was trusting- and saying that even though I didn’t LIKE it, or understand- I didn’t feel alone.  I didn’t assume that the sky was falling.

If you haven’t had a moment come where your faith is challenged, you will.  We are all a situation away from possibly having a changed mind about the way we view- everything.  My prayer for myself, and for others is that we will prepare ourselves appropriately for such situations.  But that we will also use good judgement in difficult times.   The Lord tells us not to worry- and I feel He would tell me very specifically ‘not to worry about what has not happened’.  The anxiety creates false feelings of fear, and irrational thought processes.  (So please, don’t do it!). Embrace and enjoy a new level of sensibility, rationale, and confidence.  It’s a difficult lesson to learn and journey to travel- but any loss of fear is liberating.

Working Hard, Hardly Working

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These are my rubber kitchen “Glam Gloves”.  That’s seriously what they’re called.  It kind of cracks me up.  But I use the heck out of these suckers.  The pair I had before were short, and they were really cheaply made.  They ripped, and my husband knew I preferred doing certain chores with gloves on.  So he found these for me.  I feel like it makes certain undesirable jobs- easier.  Cleaning the sinks, toilets, etc.  It’s mainly a “I don’t want to ruin my skin with bleach” factor, than it is a “I’m afraid of hard work” factor.   But there are times, I have admittedly- taken the easier jobs when available.
Example:  Potluck Meal Signups.  Okay- it’s not a guarantee, but I’m probably going to sign up for bread or a salad, maybe a dessert if I’m feeling really over zealous.  I guess it’s better than not bringing anything.  But when we are just there to ‘check’ a box off- is it really something done from the heart?  Or are we just able to say – hey I was a part of that AWESOME meal (even if people spend hours baking and I just grabbed a bag of salad).  They say it’s the thought that counts- but do we check the price of the thought that goes INTO a task?

I had an interesting and unique role with a former retail employer.  I worked some events at the local University.  These events were typically a lot of fun.  Large turnouts, charged atmosphere, great fraternizing, etc.  I could ‘work’ for hours and it wouldn’t feel like hard work at all.  I remember seeing some young men and women (students) offering their time to a certain event being held.  There was a LOT going on, and they seemed to have been put in charge of standing around.  Chatting.  Answering occasional questions (if they could be located) and executing occasional tasks (if they could be located).  By the event’s end, they were rolling out as quickly as they could.  But they still had a lot of pride in whatever it was they had really done and they weren’t afraid to accept more credit than they probably should have.

Sometimes, simply showing up- is acceptable.  But sometimes it isn’t enough, and it should make us feel lousy.   We all get comfortable, we like to SLIP in places, and SLIP out.  Some of us like to pretend (a little phrase I like to use “fake it til you make it”).  We stand around long enough to be seen, but we don’t really want to do the HARD things.  The mundane things.  Are you familiar with that term “too many chiefs, and not enough indians?”  (I’m really hoping that isn’t an offensive phrase now? Take it for what it is, please..and it’s certainly not derogatory).  Anyway, that is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I had a recent encounter that REALLY, really, REALLY- REALLY bothered me.  This place was set to be open, and when I got there- there wasn’t a soul in sight.  A line formed.  People were confused.  Nothing was prepared.  I knew what to do, but it wasn’t my position to do so.  So, I hoped to look around to find some help.  I search, only to find a GAGGLE of people, all holding court around a desk.  It was their JOB to help, and to get this environment READY.  It was their job to answer questions, it was their JOB to help with the problem.  Yet- someone had to remind them that the party needed to be broken up at the desk.  I received lots of big, buggy, mascara coated eyes looking at me, as though they were paid $500 an hour to smile at you and “act pretty”.  But they just STOOD there.  I’m still kinda mad about that.  God must deal with my heart on that, I guess!
The point here, is that I am sure the workers thought they were doing something.  Unfortunately they were just ‘there’.  Hardly working.  They either felt so entitled, that they believe standing around is really beneficial, or they simply don’t see the work that needs to be done.

One of the most unique and humbling things about a much misunderstood Christianity is that Christians are to serve others.  Willingly.  We’re supposed to include ourselves in the action of DOING!! 2 Corinthians 8:12-  “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have”.   I really need to grasp this concept!

A lot of moments come my way, and I just “bring the bag of salad”.  (Not knocking people for doing this.  We all have things that come up!).  I hope I can be attentive to the moments when I need to fix the whole meal.

The Friendship Garden

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I believe friendships (now more than ever) , tend to feel as if they are feast- or famine.  I attribute this to my current “phase of life”.  It is a little difficult for me to accept at times.  One one hand, I am dreaming up the friendly reunion mega-gathering, and that idea dances in my brain merrily.  On the other hand, I am spending that time cleaning my house or going to the grocery store by myself.  There’s a balance to be found- and eventually I will understand what that is.  I feel like most of the time there are only scraps and shreds that I can offer anyone else, it almost seems easier to just ‘wait’ until I feel I can benefit someone more down the road.  If I could just give someone more- or let me be honest– anything.  The world doesn’t stop spinning just because you aren’t ready and willing (or able)  to participate.  But- a garden does reflect the work of the one who tends it.

I have been stopping in this gas station regularly on my work mornings.  I get a coffee, and whatnot.  It’s usually early- sometimes before 8am.  Not everyone is in their best of moods at this time, (raises hand).  At times I would just walk in, get my stuff- walk out.  But I suppose that one day, I decided to perk up a bit and strike up a short conversation with the lady at the cash register.  She only has two or three items to scan, so the interaction is fast.  Little by little, those items didn’t increase – but the interactions did.  It started with a small compliment- I thought she was sporting a fabulous hairstyle- and commented on that.  The next time I came in, she had one in return.  We began small talk- she talks about her husband and family- and I do the same.  One day she was offering me a snack she had made from home (that everyone behind the register was eating- so I wasn’t suspicious 😉 .  I began to recognize a trend.  The times that I walked out, after an interaction with her,  (I’ll call her *Jane*) I felt uplifted, and more often than not there was a smile on my face.  Because- sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.  (You sang it, right?  I hope you sang the theme song.  If you don’t know what I’m referring to, let’s talk).  This morning I saw her.  She told me, that her last day at the gas station was coming up very soon.  I told her I’d miss seeing her around.  She tells me which gas station and restaurant she’ll be working at which is actually not far from where I live.  I told her I wasn’t far away and she wrote her number down and said- text me if you’re going to come by.  And- I will.

I realized, I would go absolutely go the slightly longer way to get gas at where she worked (from time to time, of course) just to say hello. Just to talk.   Just to keep sowing the seeds of friendship.  Sometimes it seems so hard to do this anymore.  Social media can be amazing for friends keeping in touch, and it can be horrible as it waters down some of our most deep and meaningful relationships.  I don’t know Jane’s full story.  But I do believe in blessings, opportunities, and spiritually- I would say responsibilities.  I believe there are people you will meet who make you think out of the box.  People who I believe the Lord has intended to be in my path- so that I may choose compassion and kindness.   People you will meet outside of your comfort zone, or- in a gas station, buying your coffee.  When you feel like you are in a desert phase of life- that dry time in which you can’t go everywhere, do everything, host every party, attend every party (or ONE party)- just remember the kindness of your heart is like the rain for the drying garden.  And I promise you, that if you keep that flowing- something beautiful eventually will grow.