580199_233632690097474_1861843018_n

The Perfect Parenting Coup After Trick Or Treating Sabotage!

This time of year, we like to share stories about Halloween!  As children, it seemed especially intriquing to huddle under blankets in the dark and tell exaggerated stories about Halloween, making sure to include haunting sound effects and raspy voice impressions!  I’d like to share my own, real life Halloween story…  

Long before the term “stranger danger”  became common vernacular, and an unlimited assortment of pre-made costumes on hangers could be found at your local drug store; and before climate controlled trick or treating was done at the mall, I remember rummaging around the house for the perfect mix of eclectic items to come up with my own festive, one-of-a-kind, Halloween attire.  (To be sure, each self-made garb was usually a funny Halloween story in and of itself!)  I often had to pile on extra layers underneath my costume to withstand the chill of the changing fall season that invariably saw a nose-dive in the thermometer right before Halloween night.

The specific story about Halloween that I’m recalling, took place when I was in second grade.  I was so excited to be going door to door with my older sister for the coveted bit-sized goodies.  After we attended our school fall festival, we met up with our friends at the back of the school play yard.  The dusky dark of the evening had just started to settle in.  We weren’t adorned with glow-in-the-dark accessories, nor did we carry blinking goblin flashlights, rather, we just dashed about the streets with our large group of costumed misfits!  We would stop under street lights on occasion and take a brief inventory of our loot.  If we spied a full sized candy bar amid the mini versions that typically dominated our treat bag, screams of delight were loudly proclaimed!  To be sure, the events of the previous evening’s ventures did incite the telling of stories about our successful Halloween conquests the next day.

One such brief stop however, soon found my sister and I, and a few other stragglers separated from the majority of our group.  Since the cold was starting to seep into the thermal layers under our costumes, we decided to finish up the final block of houses nearby that led up the street to our home.  In the abandon and excitement of wrapping up another Halloween excursion, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the figure walking nearby with his face huddled deep in the collar of his coat.  I chatted away with my sister as we rounderd the final corner into our neighborhood.  I even offered a greeting to the man as we walked past him.  My sister, feeling a bit less gregarious, nudged my ribs with her elbow.  When I turned to face her with a bit of exasperation, I suddenly felt a forceful hand grab my candy bag with such brute strength that the handles broke away immediately!  I watched in disbelief, as the shadowy configuration of the person who had just been beside us, ran off into an open field in the opposite direction of our home!   By now, my sister had grabbed my other arm and was literally dragging me home with the tips of my boots barely touching the ground.  I was still lamenting about the prized candy stash of delectable treats I had lost, when my sister recited the events of the incident to my parents.  If they were alarmed, they certainly curbed their reaction.  I remember them being only moderately disgruntled!  It was a school night, so they just encouraged us to get ready for bed.  In fact, it seemed they showed the most concern when they reminded us to brush our teeth!

It was a hard call to be my usual jovial self at school the next day, while stories about Halloween candy abundance were indeed shared with relish!  I also observed my friends sneaking mouthfuls of their treats during class.  At home after school, my siblings were discreet as they poured the mounds of goodies from their bags, enjoying the cherished ritual of dividing the candy into piles of the most favorite to least liked.  They were good to share with me once in a while, but as you can surmise–it was usually from the least liked pile!  I obviously went to bed a little despondent!  Although I didn’t know it yet, one of my fondest memories of Halloween was yet to unfold!SPOOKTACULAR VINTAGE-1     

The next morning was Saturday, and since I was an early riser, the house was quiet when I tiptoed to the family room to watch morning cartoons.  I wasn’t very far into my first show, when I thought I heard muffled voices coming from the bedrooms of my siblings.  I started to sneak stealth-like back down the hall, when suddenly my dad came out of his bedroom dressed in his work clothes.  He greeted me with a little too much cheer for someone ready to check off the chore list.  Then he pulled a brand new trick or treat bag from behind his back, and as I took it from his outstretched hand, I looked around and took note of the crayon artwork that decorated the doors down the hall.   As my mom coaxed me to knock on each door, they were opened with great decorum and bowls of candy were then presented for me to choose from and fill my bag.  To my delight, these wondrous antics went on for several rounds, until my bag held a generous supply of my favorite treats!

In the beginning paragraph of his autobiography, my dad shares one of his earliest childhood recollections.

“I was standing with my little, four-year-old right hand in my father’s big left hand as we stood looking at our new home.  The feelings I had were of contentment and security–two emotions which have followed me pretty much throughout my life.”  He goes on to say, “I think these feelings must have come from the inner realization that my parents were very happy and proud to have me as a member of their family.”

Looking back, I realize that these two emotions have also defined my life.  What I learned from my own Halloween story, on that fall weekend morning-long ago, is that Halloween wasn’t so much about the candy that year.  It was about my dad and mom showing me, in a way that I could appreciate at the age of seven, that they were grateful I was safe and still with them and our family!  I also remember still having to do Saturday chores!

What I’m Learning now…

Contentment is such a great word; my favorite, I think.  What I’m learning now is that amid all the many things we seek after in this life, being more content is perhaps what we need to strive for the most!      

How do you define contentment in your life? 

Happy Halloween!

–Mary

Inspirational Pay Dirt And A Leap of Faith!

How quickly the past ten years have flown by; a subtle reminder of my own mortality!  I’ve enjoyed incredible highlights in my life during that time!  I celebrated the marriages of my three children.  I’ve seen their career paths unfold as they each graduated from college.  My son, Jake and younger daughter, Mandi, have continued on with graduate school.  Malia, my oldest daughter, works in interior design.  She and her husband, Shane, have blessed our family with two darling little girls, Makena and Marli.

Being a grandparent has surpassed all expectations!  

pic 43_edit_v1 (1)

Of course, I can now better appreciate the fact that my own parents lovingly expressed these same feeling to me as they saw their own grandchildren born and raised.

My husband, Tom and I enjoy our respective careers.  He is a financial planner and I am a nurse.  We have ridden out the waves of thriving economic times, as well as uncertain ones.  We cherish our association with wonderful family members and friends!  Even so, it can get tricky to strike a good balance in the rushed momentum of everyday life, and some goals get set aside by default!

When you do take the time to enjoy a quieter pace, it obviously lends itself to more personal introspection.

It was during these times, whether puttering in my yard, getting in a good work out, or reading and snuggling with my granddaughters, that I felt renewed dedication to follow through and make good on the promise I made to myself.  Your mind, however, is prone to go a thousand different directions on something like this, and ultimately it all seems intimidating and overwhelming.  Then this past March, my daughter-in-law gave me a wonderful book for my birthday, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Don Miller.  (Such a great read!)  In a chapter at the beginning of this book, there was a paragraph that proved to be inspirational pay dirt for me.  The author tells of his uncle, a very influential person in his life, who dies unexpectedly.  He writes, “My uncle told a good story with his life…but his story wasn’t finished.”

 Like most children, I held strong to the belief that my parents were invincible, they were living wonderful lives and regardless that the odds were stacked against them, I couldn’t imagine their lives ending when they did…their stories weren’t finished yet!

I revisited many aspects of my parent’s lives again while working to settle a legal ordeal where it became apparent that some questionable activity had taken place that compromised the final wishes of my parents concerning their trusts.  In doing this, I came to realize, more than ever before, that both my dad and mom truly seemed to have enjoyed life so immensely, despite the challenges and hard work involved in any life well lived!

Near the end of his book,  Donald Miller says that a good story teller doesn’t just tell a better story though, “He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too.”  He elaborates in the closing paragraph of his book:

“We live in a world where bad stories are told that teach us life doesn’t mean anything…..it’s a good calling then, to speak a better story.  How brightly a better story shines.  How easily the world looks to it in wonder.  How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them.”

With this amazing insight in mind…I’m taking a leap of faith and hoping that as I share my stories, you’ll share your own as well!

What I’m learning now…

My parents always seemed to take life’s challenges in stride.  I often observed thoughtful communication between them during particularly tough times. The result of which, was a seemingly uncanny insight into when they each needed to be stronger for the other in order to help pull each other through stressful times.

In facing the challenges of being married and raising a family, what I’m learning now is that my dad and mom very likely, often experienced deeply genuine, soul wrenching concerns…the heart in your stomach, sleepless night kind!!

How did your parents deal with stressful times?

In what ways did your parents help you with challenges in your life?

pic 44_edit_v1

I hope we can all know and enjoy a source of unconditional love and support when challenges arise, and that we can be that love and support for someone else!

–Mary

 

Welcome to My Venture!

Although my approach may be a bit unconventional, it is my greatest desire for this online journal to be a unique place where we can share life lessons learned from the many wonderful people–past and present– who profoundly touch our lives!

I sincerely hope you will feel inclined to comment and pay tribute to these great mentors by sharing your thoughts with me and this community.  It’s my goal for all who visit here to benefit as we participate and read one another’s insights.

I’ve learned that everyone has something to teach and something to learn!