Ann’s Choice

When I was 16 years old, I had a boyfriend, David, with an incredible mom that made a lifelong impact on me.

One afternoon I was invited to a cookout at the backyard of their house in Dallas, and David’s dad was there as well.

I had never seen a divorced couple on good terms in my life. Here they were, ex-husband and wife, acting respectful and considerate, even laughing and joking around with each other and their sons.

I watched and listened, half expecting it to fall apart and things to get ugly and for David’s parents to start acting like all the other divorced people I knew.

Every other divorced couple I knew held such anger, such disrespect, such intolerance for each other.

I was used to divorced couples that couldn’t even be in the same building without all hell breaking loose much less the same house.

They would hurl accusations and talk about each other in such a way that I couldn’t imagine how they had ever once loved and lived together.

My Mema’s friends would sit at the kitchen table, giving a play-by-play of every wrong ever committed by the ex-husband. I would hear stories that made me almost swear I would never trust love.

There was just so much hated-pure and simple- and vengeance between every divorced couple I knew of.

Until I knew David and his mom,Ann.

After the cookout was over, I told David that I was really surprised at how everything went with his parents. He smiled and said, “You should tell my mom this.”

I walked over to Ann and asked her how it was that they got along so well after the divorce and exactly what made them different from everyone else.

She sat me down at the picnic table, looked straight at me and said, “I made a choice. We made a choice.”

Her words became engraved into my heart that day. Simple,profound, beautiful words.

“I made a choice.”

Ann then explained,talking to me as if I was a woman and not just some silly, nosey 16 year old girl.

“We fell in love years ago, we got married and we had two children together. We chose each other back then. We saw good things in each other and we wanted to be with each other.”

I nodded my head, listening to her, reading her lips, fully aware that this wasn’t an ordinary conversation.

“If I choose to talk bad about David’s dad, then I’m also talking bad about myself….because I chose him. I fell in love with him, married him, had children with him….what does that say about me?”

I’m so stunned by this revelation, by the way she’s talking to me in a gentle,firm voice that I just sit there, giving her my full attention.

“Another thing, these boys are half of me, half of him…if we talk bad about each other..then we are also talking bad about our sons. We chose to have these two sons, and now we need to continue to choose to see the good in each other and in our sons.”

Choosing. Choices. Continue.

“It hasn’t always been easy and we are not perfect by any means but the important thing is that everyday we make the best choices we can and that includes choosing to see the good and the love we once shared and still have for our sons instead of the differences and what went wrong in our marriage.”

Imperfect but important.

Good outweighs bad.

Love can change.

I decided then and there that if I ever decided to get married and if I got divorced, that I would follow Ann’s example and choose to live after a divorce the way she did instead of how I had seen others live.

It just made so much sense to me as a naive 16 year old girl.

Over the years, as my friends married and divorced, I would tell them the story of Ann and encourage them to make choices that showed love and compassion, understanding and respect for what once was and what could now be.

My friends would chide me and say, “Well,that’s easy for you to say when you haven’t been in this situation..it’s different when it’s your choice.”

They had a point. We never really know how we will handle things until we have to walk the line.

Ann’s words hit particularly hard in 2015 when my own marriage began to fall apart. I had to dig deep to make the choice to continue to love, to see the good and be willing to let go with grace and accept changes if it was meant to be.

Choose. Love. Change. Continue.

During those dark days while we danced on the ragged edge of reconciliation and separation, we talked about choosing to still be good to each other for the sake of our children and because it was the right choice to make.

Our marriage survived and that time gave me a greater understanding of the depths of how much Ann had gone through as a woman and a mother to wrestle with her own emotions to use good sense and knowledge to make the best choices for the long run.

Several weeks ago, another friend sent me a text.

“I got served divorce papers this morning.”

When he came by to see me, I told him to about Ann’s choices and he said, “I hope we can do that..I think I can, I would like to anyway.”

Hope. Desire. Choose.

In the midst of pain, in the chaos of change, in the sweet by and by, in each and every moment, we make choices.

We can choose to remember the good, let go of the bad and watch how love changes.

We can choose to sit across from a 16 year old girl and share with her wisdom that she’ll spend a lifetime pondering.

We can choose to reach across the table,across the barriers, across the ragged edge and find a way to bridge the differences, connect on another level and love in different ways.

We can choose to give and to receive compassion, understanding,forgiveness, and grace. We can choose to laugh again.

That was Ann’s choice. It is my choice. It can be yours.

Jeanna’ Mead

8 33 a.m. 11-4-18

Www.jeannasoul.com

πŸ‘£πŸ’— With much gratitude to

Ann Carns, David’s mom.

Her choices and her words have shaped my life.

Holding Flowers

She could have tossed

the broken pieces away

swept up the shards

and let it be

over and done with

But that just wasn’t

her kind of way

She picked up every piece

laid them down

then one by one

placed them back in

best way she could

a little bit of super glue

a whole lot of patience

and there she had it

couldn’t hold sangria anymore

no more Texas tea

but she placed a mason jar

down inside

filled water to the brim

and the broken pitcher

was put to use

holding flowers

So much like her heart

she’s took those broken pieces

instead of turning bitter

holding grudges

acting ugly

throwing fits

making more to regret

she just lays down

opens up

reaches out

and gives 

another chance

and finds herself

holding flowers.
πŸ‘£β€Jeanna’  Mead

10 20 p.m.  7-26-18

http://www.jeannasoul.com

Travel Bug

Oh, how she wished

for the time to come

that she could go

instead of dream

pack her bags

and fly off

to see and be

part of an adventure

taste and touch

treasure hunt

dive headfirst

into the blue-green surf

find a cabin in the neck of the woods

spend the morning hiking

and the evening writing

stories and poems

She would sit

talk to strangers

dance with whoever asked

eat all kinds of fruit

and desserts,too

She would leave kindness

sprinkled like confetti

along the way

Drop in and give 

tight embraces

exchange massages

with people she’s been

wanting to meet for so long

She would ride horses

climb rocks

paddle a canoe up a stream

ride the biggest zip line

from tree to tree

she would kick back

lay low

cool down

chill out

Look for love

in all the places

and too many faces

and find it too

oh, she was bitten

bitten good and hard

by the travel bug

Anticipation and Gratitude

I come out here

surrounded by my favorite things

and I open my heart

anticipation

come what may

bring my life 

what it needs

surprise me with generosity

butterflies and blooms

kindred spirits 

words that come

tumbling

I will begin

each day

filled this way

with anticipation

and I will come again

in the evening

as day gives an embrace to night

I’ll thank the stars above

generously

for fireflies and breezes

kindred spirits that came in

cups of coffee shared

and the chance to dance

on that ragged edge

surrounded by my favorite things.

πŸ‘£πŸ’— Jeanna’ Mead

9 32 a.m.  5-8-18

http://www.jeannasoul.com

This Is What It Looks Like

I hear it all the time, ” You don’t look your age,” and I have always just smiled and took it for a compliment but yesterday I got to thinking .. and I realized something about what that meant.

This is what it looks like.

There ya go. That is it.   Isn’t this something that stops us in our tracks .. keeps us from doing what we want … those words…. “what it looks like” holds us captive, doesn’t it?

I know so good and well what those words do to people and to me.

“This is what it looks like.”

As a woman with a severe hearing loss, I have to be careful -all the time- that I don’t stand too close to someone and give the wrong impression.. because of “what it looks like”  to others that may not realize that I am trying to read lips.   Sometimes when I am with those that know me well, I forget to be mindful of “what it looks like” to those outside my tribe untill I see that all-too-familiar look in their eyes that gives away the thoughts that crosses their mind over and over again.. “what does this look like,what will people think?”

So I back off a few steps and I tuck my hands in my pockets or cross my arms, to hold back my natural tendency to touch as I speak and lay my hands on someone while I’m listening. 

After all, I get it, really, I do. 
 We live in a culture that is so visual, so hooked so social norms, on fitting into perfect places and leaving nothing to chance, to be open to interpretation. 

It is so much easier when things look like we think they should… even when they aren’t.

A good example happened to me again today.  While checking out at Target, I walked out without one of my sacks and loaded my car.  This young guy came up and tapped me on   the shoulder and said,  “I was calling for you, ma’am, you left this.”  and when I smiled and thanked him and explained that I couldn’t hear him unless he was close enough to touch.. he said something I hear all the time. “That”s okay,but, you don’t look like you have a hearing problem.”

I don’t, do I?

After all, what does someone with a hearing problem look like?  Would a hearing aid give me away or maybe a cochlear implant?  Would it be helpful if the deaf and hearing impaired worn bracelets like the  yellow LIVESTRONG  or the pink Breast Cancer bracelets?   Maybe a little dog-tag on a chain hanging from our necks so that somone will see that and immediately know, “There is one of those deaf people.”

That is what it looks like, after all.

But things are not always what they look like.

That couple you see comparing wines at the grocery store may very well just be strangers sharing a few minutes of laughter and a common ground before  parting ways to never cross paths again.  

But then again, they may be business associates planning The next event.

The older lady sitting alone at the cafe lost in thought may have just lost her husband and that is why she didn’t respond  like she usually does. She isn’t  hard of hearing no matter what it looks like. She hears just fine, thank you very much, but she just wasn’t in the mood to chit-chat just yet.  That exhausted man at the park with the talkative toddler isn’t a divorced dad putting in his mid-week visitation. He wishes it was that simple, but it’s not.  The truth is, he’s been balancing his job, his daughter and a bed-ridden wife for several months now.

But that isn’t what it looks like.

Back to this all over again.  If we are always so concernd about what it looks like instead of what we KNOW and what we feel then we are falling into that very same trap that holds so many back and afraid of stirring the proverbial pot.

I wonder, though, if we stopped thinking so hard about what it looks like and instead just decided to take each situation, each encounter with an open mind and a heart that dares to see beyond what it looks like and  to see what it really is and what it could be.

Maybe, we would stand closer and touch more often. Maybe we would lean forward without second guessing what the people two tables over will think.  Maybe we would strike up a conversation with that guy looking for wine without thinking that it will be inappropiate.  Maybe we would hold hands.. maybe we would ask someone if they would like to have lunch or see if they would like to walk to the square for a drink. Maybe we would get up and dance. Maybe we would stop by and see an old friend again without wondering what it would look like to someone else. Maybe we would regret less and live more.

There aren’t really any easy answers to this and I knew that before I started writing my heart out but I know this much for sure- things are not always what they look like and there is always so much more to know, to discover, to learn.

But this is what it looks like. …..and, yes, I really am this age…this is what it looks like to be this age… when you are me, anyway!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

Happiness

Paulo Coelho-  “Happiness is getting rid of the unnecessary”

I find such wisdom in this sentence..such freedom in a few well chosen words and such a desire to follow through on it.

Happiness is indeed getting ride of the unnecessary.  I look in my closet- clothes I don’t love, shoes I never wear and I put them into a bag to give away.

I open the cabinet drawers and take out anything that’s cracked or chipped and I toss it.

Over the next few days before the beginning of the New Year, I’m going to clear the closets, the drawers, the cabinets of anything that is no longer beautiful to me, useful to me, or good for me.

I want to open things and see only what is good and purposeful, nothing that is half broken but serviceable, nothing that is just “okay” but not “good”.

I’m also doing a spiritual journey…seeking out the people and places that belong in my life and letting go of those that don’t.

Maybe they did once upon a time, but not now…maybe they will once again, but not now.

This isn’t easy, but I’ve realized that I know my body and my soul so very well and when I listen, and pay attention, it whispers to me, “Let go. Go on. Speak up. Hold on. Lean forward. Step out. Slow down. Pay attention.”

Part of this impacts others and sometimes it’s hard to stand up for what my heart tells me but the time has come..it always had been there, but it’s clear to me now that I can and should make these choices and seek the happiness that comes from doing what’s necessary and good.

Letting go of what’s unnecessary frees up room in my closet, in my cabinets and, most of all, in my heart for all that really is necessary.

Anyways

she got the news

long awaited

much desired

unbelievable

tears filled her eyes

rolled down her face

and she wrapped her arms

around herself

letting her heart believe

that all the things

that came to be

were finally going 

to have a purpose

far beyond what she 

used to believe

She felt the joy of the moment

the journey just beginning

all the times

she had doubted

that her words were worth

came down to the simple

invitation that said so much

such long awaited news

so desired 

unbelievable

but true

anyways