Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Evolution of Thankfulness

Age changes things. 

I remember being very small and being thankful for Popples, the Young Authors program at school, older siblings and days when the metal slide attached to the swing set wouldn't burn my bottom. 

I remember becoming less thankful for older siblings, but rather thankful for older siblings who were active in school activities and forgot I was around most days. 

I remember being thankful for a down-hill bike ride on my way home from my first job, a front seat view to watch a tree grow and cows

Time moved quickly and I remember being thankful for a few good friends, small engines class in the back hall and making the cheerleading squad again, despite not being able to do a back handspring. 

I remember being thankful for a brother with a parking spot at Purdue, a whole new set of sisters which arrived with endless wardrobes and being able to fit back into my jeans after my sophomore year. 

I remember being thankful for the 4th of July in Washington, DC, co-workers that would become family, the adventure that age 23 brought and a direct flight home for Thanksgiving. 

I remember being thankful for my amazing little home, a kinda-good dog, cows and a strange yet satisfying unrest in the idea that I still hadn't found what I was looking for. 

Age changes things. 

Today my thankfulness comes from a life less grandiose.

Less travel but more miles of adventure with a carseat full of Cheerios in the backseat. 

Fewer business dinners but more time spent cutting ribeye into tiny pieces and filling sip cups with milk. 

No days of being unnoticed at home, and many more days of going to the bathroom in pairs. 
Caroline and I. Not Cody and I. 

Today I'm thankful for a good nights rest, comfortable shoes and finding Kleenex in my purse that doesn't have a peppermint stuck inside. 

I'm thankful for a child that eats anything - including 4-day-old-peas-from-the-couch, a barn cat that cleans up scraps so I don't feel so guilty about trimming the fat and a good hay supply. 

I'm thankful for parents aging gracefully, Saturday afternoon visits with the Original Jean and friends from coast to coast who care. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. 
What is typically my favorite holiday, I wake this morning and wonder what I'll make, when I'll go to the grocery and if I have any blue cheese hiding out in the back of the refrigerator. What is the true shelf life of blue cheese? 

Age changes things.

But it doesn't change the fact that with age comes true thankfulness for a warm home because I know folks who don't have one, thankfulness for a full refrigerator because I've seen people go without, and great thankfulness for family because I know the lonely. 

When you look back on your life 
- whether twenty-one or eighty-one years - 
how has your thankfulness evolved?

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from the Sankey family. Thank you for spending a little part of your day with me. 

Now - who wants to send me a salad recipe that will impress my mother? 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Why I Don't Leave Home

Last weekend Cody and I traveled to Ft. Worth for the 2017 Angus Convention

Two people. 
Two suitcases. 
No diaper bag. 

You guys - I darn near had an anxiety attack traveling without Caroline. 

It was during those brief three days that I remembered why, now that I'm a mother, I no longer leave home. Unless we're out of milk. 

1. I updated our will. 
I'm serious. After retrieving Caroline from daycare to take her to my sister's, we took the updated will to be notarized at a local business. We were flying to Texas, not Tonga. This is the state of mind I was in. 

2. I found the best sitters money can't buy. 
My sister and brother-in-law, Laura and Scott, watched Caroline for the weekend. Let's talk about the list of instructions I left for them. I put a lot of thought into the instructions on how to love our child, and I have a really bad feeling that they never even read the document before throwing it into the trash. 

I also continued to think about all of the guidance two grown adults - who have fantastic children of their own - would require when managing Caroline. So, as the weekend progressed, I sent more instruction. Least I could do. 

3. Airline travel is ridiculous.
Cody and I split ways when we got to security because he goes through TSA Pre-Check where he just bypasses all lines and walks through, iPad, laptop, boots and all. 

I, on the other hand, still mingle with the snow birds. I was moving along the security line quite well until a line of 5 (FIVE!!!!!) wheelchairs scooted up to the podium. There, the snow birds had a heck of a time remembering that they had to have their license (the one that was revoked four years ago) to go further into security. 

Because of the wheelchairs, they were able to bypass me. This took several minutes. Then, a TSA employee called for attention and loudly asked this simple question: "Do any of you have metal in your body?"

Some people just like to hear themselves talk. 

It was then that all five raised their hands and the interrogation proceeded quite quickly. The snow birds went on their merry way to head south and I jumped back in line to throw my iPad onto the security belt. 

4. I like my personal space. 
I'm not sure if it was the furry vest or the fact that the tray table was not down, but my row partner had a burning desire to rest her sleepy head in my lap. For the entire flight. I tried bouncing my leg, faking a sneeze, and reclining my seat, but girlfriend must have needed some serious rest. I get it, girl. 

5. Look Ma, No Hands
I had no idea what to do with my hands all weekend. I didn't have a kid on my hip. I wasn't carrying buckets. I wasn't pushing a stroller. I wasn't picking up sticks or toys. I was basically a big bag of skin and mascara, wandering around a massive crowd of Anderson Bean boots and Bar None hats, hearing to people ask me: Where's the baby?
"Well, good question," I constantly replied in my head. "I should probably call home immediately." 
Which leads me to #6. 

6. My phone rang off the hook. 
I thought. 
I cannot count the times I thought I heard my phone ring, beep or buzz. 
Caroline needed me. 
She had swallowed a sequin. 
She had developed a rare and severe allergy to beef. 
She was trapped in the car seat because technology had changed so greatly since Laura had kids, that Laura could not figure out how to remove her. 
I think I checked my phone something like 697 times throughout the weekend. 
My phone actually rang four times. Total.

However, there were four great successes of the weekend:
1. I spent really good quality time with my in-laws who I see every couple of months. 
2. The event I was there to help facilitate went quite well and I'm even better prepared to do it again 2018. 
3. I learned that Caroline can survive for several days and have a wonderful time without me. This made me smile and cry. Roots and wings, right?

4. Lastly, I had four (4!!!!!) strangers approach me and tell me that they read and enjoy this blog. I wanted to hug them and visit with them and ask them how they stumbled upon my writing. 

But then I had to excuse myself because I thought I heard my phone ring. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Three Things Every Day

I’m out of town on business this week.

I crossed a few states lines, two time zones and a great big river before checking into a beautiful boutique hotel. In route, I saw the St. Louis arch from afar and sent a photo to Cody to update him on my travels. While doing so, I took a wrong exit and ended up on a side street in East St. Louis. At the lonely end of a scrap yard. Where they dump the bodies. I was white knuckled during my 12-minute detour of dread, while visions of Dateline danced in my head.

On the way west, I actually crossed two extra state lines than what my GPS mapped, having crossed the same state line twice. It became painfully clear at mile 313: I don’t often travel solo in My Life, AC (after Caroline).

I packed seven days’ worth of clothes; I’ll be here three days. I packed 20 lbs. of jewelry that won’t come out of the bag; I’ll wear the same turquoise set for the duration of the trip. Three belts. Four pairs of shoes. Nail polish. Snacks. A book. At this point I don’t know if I’m at the Wildwood Hotel or an Extended Stay America.

The business side of my trip has been very good, but SEO goals and analytics are not why you’re here today. I hope.

One of the speakers said something very simple during our Tuesday morning session. I found it worth writing down. As I sat to write this week (in my big, comfy king size bed that I didn’t have to make this morning), I thought it worth sharing with you.

If you do three things well every day, you will make progress in different areas of your life, daily.

Maybe it is  cleaning the bathroom (not just wiping the toothpaste off the spout).
Maybe it is diving into your daily devotional and really reading the listed scripture, contemplating the afterthought questions and praying about the message.
Maybe it is focusing on communications and returning the two phone calls you’ve put off for some time.
Maybe it is cleaning up the barn in a way that you would be proud to show around a last-minute guest.
Maybe it is shutting your office door and diving into the tough project for an hour straight, giving it your undivided attention.
Maybe it is taking ten minutes to actually sort through the stack on the kitchen island and put things where they belong. (FYI: belts, fundraiser reminders, spare buttons and mail don’t belong on the kitchen island).
Maybe it is going to visit parents, grandparents, or a forgotten friend.
Maybe it is balancing your budget, taking a look at where your money is actually going.
Maybe it is reading an extra book to your child before you tuck them in.
Maybe it is going on a walk, run or skip (did you know it is impossible to skip and not smile?) to clear your mind for a few minutes.
Maybe it is clearing the refrigerator of bad contents and wiping down the shelves that you’ve not given thought to in a year.  
Maybe it is paying close attention to yourself when those red flag arise - and addressing them appropriately. 
Maybe it is sitting down with a cookbook and creative thinking to map out your meals for a week or two.
Maybe it is carefully choosing your words to change direction of thought.

By paying enough mind to 
three simple things 
throughout your day, 
you’ll no longer be carelessly 
going through the motions to maintain; 
you’ll be living with intent.

This time tomorrow I hope to be on the second floor of a farmhouse where I can hear a mousetrap go off in the basement. 

Some gals just don't sleep well in boutique beds. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Building Strong Children

It's been a bad week, huh?

We'll never understand the reason behind Sunday night's tragedy in Law Vegas, and frankly I wondered if I even had anything to write about this morning. Sunday night has left me sad, uninspired and wanting terribly to just be with my family in our living room. 

Then I saw someone on Facebook share a video showing exactly what the shooter's hotel room looked like when he opened fire. It was a virtual tour of the setting he was in when he made a horrific decision. 
I don't want to see that. 
I don't want to be in his element. 
I don't want to hear about his life, his buying history or his girlfriend. 
I don't want to know anymore about him. 
He was a terribly broken human being. 

I want to think about moving forward. 

This quote has been on my mind all week. 
(As I write this, it's only Tuesday. Jesus, take the wheel.)

"It is easier to build strong children 
than to repair broken men." 
- Frederick Douglass

So starting now, 
lets focus on building strong children. 

This means setting an example in how you treat other people, whether that be at the school pick-up line, on the sports field, at home or in a restaurant. 
This means setting an example in how you use your words to encourage, discipline or guide.
This means setting an example in how you honor your spouse, your parents and others that you consider family. 
This means setting an example in how you take care of yourself; your body, your mind and your faith. 
This means setting an example in how you take care of things around you, leaving things better than how you found them. 
This means setting an example in how you make choices, taking into account the the things that matter, against the ones that don't. 
This means setting an example in how you determine and honor your priorities. 
This means setting an example in how you spend your "free" time. 
This means setting an example in how you value your daily work. 

Who knows? Maybe it won't be only children you influence by living well. Those around you may begin to emulate your example, one by one, building a character of integrity in a world that desperately needs it. 

People on this earth are broken, some certainly more so than others. Let's commit today to do everything in our power to grow a population that values one another. By being kind, extending grace and loving one another, let's show the rest of the world that we value human life. 

Even when it brings us to our knees. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kitty's Special Music

Hello. Welcome to this week's confessional. Something has been on my mind.

When I was in high school I went to a small church tucked inside the confines of a tiny Indiana village. I say village because it was too small to warrant a town; it had only three streets. 

General store next door

The old church had many empty pews on Sunday morning, but you could count on the same familiar faces being there every single Sunday. It was a small, but dedicated, bunch. 

I went there by invitation from a friend. I knew no one on the first Sunday that I joined them, but by the time I moved to Purdue I knew nearly everyone. I'm not saying that to brag; there were maybe 20 people in the congregation. They taught me not only the words to, but to believe the message in, Because He Lives

Alabama sings Because He Lives

My friend and I brought the average age down greatly. We were 16 and 17 years old, and many of the others could have very well been our (great) grandparents. You can imagine the joy on their faces when we'd come through the doors. One woman in the church even bought my monthly devotional for me; the one where the Peril of Prosperity entry came from. Twelve years later and I still carry it around. 

Though I haven't been to that church in more than fifteen years, there is one woman I remember well. 

Her name was Kitty. 

Kitty would always come in on two wheels on Sunday morning, barely beating the clock that hung at the back of the church. She played the organ beautifully and took full advantage of the acoustics in the tiny rural church. She sang loud as she played, and rarely seemed to look at any kind of music book in front of her. When the service was over, Kitty seemed to leave as quickly as she'd arrived. 

Often we would have "special music" by Kitty. The minister would actually say it that way:
"This morning we'll now have special music from Kitty."
Kitty didn't need a microphone. She was quite small but her voice was large. And high pitched, with a hint of scratch in it? Is scratch a musical term? It is hard for me to explain in writing, but some how Kitty's singing actually reminded me of a cat.

My friend and I always kind of giggled to one another, and maybe participated in an elbow jab to the ribs, when the special music started. We always knew where it was headed. 
Kitty's music was special, indeed. 

I admired Kitty for standing in front of a group and belting out her love for Jesus. It was true. And real. And quite loud. 

I was reading the paper last week and saw a face I hadn't seen in years. 

In the obituary section was Kitty. 

I read about her life and dedication to her family, community and church. She was an organist at church for 47 years, but not the one I went to. She was an organist at the tiny church I write about for 20 years. Finally, I understood why she'd rush into our church service then leave so quickly; the woman served in many capacities on Sunday morning. She also created and directed a community choir. She was in charge of Good Friday services. Kitty was a faithful servant through music. 

I sat back in my chair after reading about her life, and thought about my short association with her. 

I felt shame that I giggled at Kitty's special music. Because Kitty's special music was how she used her God given talents to to serve and love the Lord. Her special music was how she shared her gift. Who was I, at 16 and barely able to tap out Mary Had a Little Lamb on a keyboard, to smirk each time she sang? If I could go back in time, I would rewind seventeen years and stop Kitty after church to thank her for her special music. 

I learned from Kitty last week, by reading her obituary.

God gives us certain talents, gifts. Things we can do, create, extend or give away to others that no one else can. Edwin Elliot once said, “By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.” I believe that very much. There will never again be music in that church like Kitty's. 

Use up those talents and gifts. Every single one of them. Wring them out and get every last drop. Find those things that make you uniquely you and extend them to the best of your ability. Worry not what others may think of your volume or boldness or the ways in which you give. Sing it, live it and scream it to the rafters.

I've heard that the meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away.

Kitty did, every Sunday.