Tag Archives: Children

In Praise of Predictability

In 2020, predictability went AWOL.

2020’s trademark? Wild unpredictability. Trips canceled, work pivoting to remote (or shutting down), kids homeschooling, mask-wearing, social distancing, and zooming instead of in-person interaction…all upending our idea of normal.

Which is why the Hallmark Channel calls to me every day of this yummy week off from work.

Most of my “vacation” days really aren’t that at all. Taken to accomodate a doctor’s visit with mom (or myself) or to deliver a virtual speaking event, I’ve failed at separating work from everyday life.

And then, all of a sudden – NOVEMBER.

What?

How can it be that 2020 is in the home stretch? It feels like just yesterday the rug was pulled out from under us all (and remains pulled). This Groundhog’s Day of staying put and isolated forced me – finally – to say, “Enough!”

If you’re going to be off, be OFF.

So this week I slept in. Meditated and listened to spa music. Baked the first batches of mom-mom’s raisin bread. And actually activated (for the first time in 2020) my out-of-office e-mail message.

So THIS is what people do on a day off!

“Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.”

– ANNE LAMOTT

While covering my kitchen with a thin layer of flour and practically burning the motor on my Kitchen Aid mixer with the sticky paste of raisin bread dough, Mark suggested I enjoy some holiday shows during the baking festivities.

Sucked in like a dust bunny to a vacuum, I was instantly hypnotized.

After three days of shows, all with either Christmas or Angel in the title, I realized the allure of these formulatic mini-movies.

They are predictable.

And in a year when NOTHING has been predictable, the comfort and joy of knowing what’s going to happen (and that the ending will be happy) warmed my heart.

For the uninformed, here are the five things you can always expect from a Hallmark movie:

  1. City woman/man consumed by work goes to small town where the Christmas spirit is alive and well.
  2. Main character falls for man/woman who embodies the Christmas spirit.
  3. Two or three near kisses are interrupted by snowballs, children*, or elderly characters (who may or may not be Santa and Mrs. Claus).
  4. A misunderstanding ensues, causing both parties to retreat from love.
  5. A Christmas miracle brings everyone together at the end for a guaranteed happy ending.

Why the asterisk after children?

In the Roach/Viola household, we’ve uncovered a common subtext in each Hallmark (or Lifetime) Christmas movie.

Mark coined the phrase, rendering me doubled over with giggles.

It’s the “Little Shitter” factor.

Please excuse the salty description, but I have to be true to the moment.

He walked in during my third or fourth consecutive show and said enthusiastically, “Hey! There’s the Little Shitter!”

What?

“Yeah. There’s alway a Little Shitter that shows up.”

What’s a Little Shitter, you ask?

It’s any child under the age of 10 deployed to evoke feelings of tenderness and manipulate the story so you root for the two main characters to finally kiss.

If you’d like to play along, next time you watch, look for the Little Shitter (LS). The winner is the first to shout “There’s the Little Shitter!” And if you’re so inclined, take a sip of hot cocoa (or cider, or mulled wine – three other minor props that unfailingly play a role in these Christmas movies) when you see the LS.

In a year when holiday gatherings lack the festive trappings of days gone by, a little escapism into predictability can warm the cockles of your heart.

And my wish for you – and your own Little Shitters – is that gratitude fills your hearts and spills over into a 2021 that is (hopefully) WAY more fun.

While this post is all about praise for predictability, my recent video was about the inevitability of change:

https://youtu.be/YCn-_bJ7KvM

Let your heart’s delight!

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Faith of Our Mothers (and the New WOW)

It’s the faith that can move mountains, because the love is so fierce.

It is faith shockingly unafraid to walk through the valley of death if the trek can make certain their son or daughter stays alive.

Mothers go without to ensure that their children never do.

And while they know better than anyone else how to go for the jugular, over their dead body will they ever let someone ELSE cut you to the quick.

No, there is NOTHING so powerful as a mother’s love.

It is Mothers Day and I think of all the moms who are both mom AND dad (like my mom had to be.)  I wonder what it must have been like for my mom to realize her daughter had a dream to go to college (no one in our family ever had) and to muster up the faith to say yes.

My heart pains for those mothers who have lost babies…or any child of any age.

And I think of those of us who never had the privilege of being a mom.

Funny, I never really gave it a thought in my twenties and thirties or even my forties. But now that that ship has TRULY sailed, I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I had been someone’s mom.

What a privilege!

And what potential heartache.

There’s just no guarantee how it is all going to turn out, is there?  Which is yet another example of the faith involved with this most holy calling.

When I lost my Toastmaster’s speech competition a few weeks ago, I was honored to watch my friend, Bryan Courtenay, win. He delivered his personal redemption story, which began in a dirty bathroom. The main character was slumped over the toilet bowl after securing his fix.  In the next scene, he paints the picture of his mother banging on the window of a car, trying to revive that young man who had overdosed.  It ends in prison, and the photo of a dead-eyed man’s mug shot.

As he unveiled the mug shot, to the gasps of the audience (who didn’t realize he was speaking about himself the whole time), my eyes were on his mother. She wept through the entire presentation.

Even as I type this, my eyes well with tears for the pain she endured…

…but I bet she’d endure every second of that pain again for the beautiful outcome she now enjoys.

The faith of our mothers, or those who have been like mothers to us, has likely sustained each of us in ways we’d be overwhelmed to see. 

Perhaps in heaven a video reel will play showing the number of times their prayers, and tears, tipped the balances, empowered angels on our behalf, and forestalled tragedy.

Moms who taxied us to rehearsals or sporting events.  Who dug deep and shelled out for those designer jeans or sneakers we HAD to have.

They made us eat our vegetables, say our prayers, clean our rooms and write thank you notes.

They cried with us, then cried some more on their own when our hearts were breaking.

For the nurture that comforted us and for all the maddening times as teenagers when we screamed “I hate you!”  For the treasure of another Mothers Day spent in your presence…thank you for the gift of YOU.

And for the faith, which so beautifully worked by love, to bring us to this very day.

Happy Mothers Day to all!  Here are my non-Mothers Day closing thoughts on FAITH, and a wonderful new WOW:

 

Ah!  So yes, keep the faith – but don’t be stuck on HOW it is going to manifest.

Have a beautiful, flexible week –

xoxoxox

Brenda

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