Thursday, May 28, 2015

Colleen "Speedy" Fletcher

My friend Colleen Fletcher had been my friend for longer than I knew.

When a Colleen Fletcher messaged me on my Creative Wordery page to ask a question about some content, I fully intended to answer her. And then I didn’t. I don’t think I answered for weeks, maybe longer. Not on purpose, but because my sometimes A.D.D./ artist mind tends to jump around, causing me to drop a few juggling balls now and then.
I didn’t put all the pieces together until one fateful Saint Patty’s Day, where Colleen and my sister, Laurel, were listening to the Boise Highlanders. Colleen’s son and my sister’s husband were both a part of the bag-piping band. 

Although the music was a little too loud to be talking over, I thought I’d be courteous and say hello to my sister’s friend, who was sitting with us around the table.

“I already know you,” she told me with a grin, “We’ve met several years in a row, each time on Saint Patrick's. I’m the drummer’s mom.”

The light was starting to come on, but Colleen helped it along.

“I messaged your Wordery page, and never got a reply,” she told me, “I just thought, ‘fine’.”

“Colleen…Fletcher?” I ventured, and the bright-skinned, blue-eyed blonde nodded.

Oh, crap, I thought. Then tried to recall how long ago I’d gotten that message. Weeks. Months. Not good.

That was a few years ago, and it seems that Colleen’s into forgiving, since the owner of Wholistic Beauty Boutique has been nothing but kind to me. I’ve stopped by her shop on State Street many times, and Colleen is well aware that my favorite room there is the “pillow room”, where you can totally relax and get all ‘zen-y’ and stuff. Often I’ve been there and had jewelry or just the right-sized little journal call to me.

What I didn’t know was that Colleen has a “racy” side.

When we decided to take a test drive together in an Audi A4 convertible, I figured it would be one of those brief acceleration things, followed by laughter and the resuming of reasonable speed. Given the fact that I was doing some work at the dealership, and that the car was there on consignment, I figured this would be a cautionary venture.

“Oh, good, we’re coming up on my favorite off-ramp for its curves!” Colleen informed me, as I tested my seat belt one more time.

“I’ve always wanted to race,” she said, letting me know that she and her husband owned a Subaru WRX, not a car that’s known to be slow.

“You watch out for me, and I’m going to go for it around these curves,” she told me, then added, “Hang on!”

I did. Believe me, I did.

In the interim, I learned that Colleen had been in Hawaii, and had lived in Australia, too.
And I just thought she was the Highlander drummer’s mom who gave great facials and knew all about positive energy.

Nascar won’t know what hit it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

You Can Keep It

It's easy to put it aside, yet it stuns me that I do.

It's only what keeps me alive, keeps me breathing, keeps me as me.

There are pages of scriptural reference in the Bible about it, and it's one of the most heavily mentioned topics, right up there with "God" and "Lord", mentioned 725 times within the King James version.

As a young mother, I tried to do so many things at once. Being the art mom at my son's grade school, magically creating a decent dinner on the table each night--or at least an edible one,  potty training of two toddlers at once, attempting to keep a home built in the middle of a pasture clean and low-dust,  filling a role at church, wearing clothes that actually matched, exercising while pushing a huge stroller so the stress eating wouldn't catch up, keeping flower beds weeded so my next-door-neighbor, retired mom-in-law wouldn't feel compelled to come over and do it for me, keeping in touch with friends and family often enough to retain them, and, oh yeah, attempting to look passably human while doing all of that).

I worried about so many things, with all of those juggling balls in the air.

"It's just foo-foo stuff," I'd get told by the significant other, "none of that matters."

But it had mattered to me.

The look on my son's face when I arrived at his school with enough green construction paper to create origami jumping frogs for the entire class. Seeing my kids digging into a meal I knew they liked (even though they drowned it, and everything, really, in ketchup) at the country home's kitchen table, with a backdrop of the wallpaper I now realize was tacky and the fresh, pre-summer breeze flooding through the windows, dusty as the windowsills might have been. Showing up at church as a family in color-coordinated clothes, knowing full well it was the only time any of us had been coordinated in any form all week. Curling my daughter's hair so often that the moms at swim class were shocked when it didn't dry curly after her lessons. Reading Treasure Island aloud to the kids on a creepy, stormy day with a fire going in the fireplace when the power went out for hours, then roasting hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner. Having a day here and there when I felt clean, pressed, and somewhat en vogue, not like the diaper-changing, bottle making maid I often was.

All of those things mattered to me. They mattered a whole lot. Which is why one morning, long after the kids were kids, and the "foo-foo" mocker had exited the scene, when I read these words, they struck me just as deeply as if I'd been illuminated by a sudden burst of sunshine:

"Keep thy heart with all diligence: for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

The heart. Everything, everything else flows from it.

If the heart isn't right, ain't nothing right, and inherently we must know this.

Heart-sick. Heartache. Heart-broken. Heavy-hearted. We know exactly what's wrong with us, and yet we try to slap a Band-Aid on everything other than what needs healing the most. Should we tend to our hearts first, everything else would abate.

There are so many things, externally and internally, that are after our hearts. Know why? Because if our hearts are toast, so are the rest of us. So it seems simple for the adversary to go for the biggest ship in order to sink the rest of the fleet. Saves a ton of time.
I've noticed that my heart's been a little depleted lately. When that happens, I have to think about what fills my heart, and then force myself to do that, even if "others" think it's foo-foo, non-productive, not valuable, or a blatant waste of time.

One of the things that fills me is making places "my own", by exploring them and creating memories there. Riding my bike on the newly discovered "Strand" along the river in Cascade. Walking the gravel roads, trying to find Lions Gate Manor in Lava Hot Springs. Crunching along the ice with my dog on the paved path that goes through McCall. Hiking up the bear and cougar-laden (I didn't know) paths at Twin Springs Resort. A golden morning in the mountains on a solo trip up the hill by a cabin we'd spent the night at, thinking of my late father-in-law, "Granpa Jim", and reciting Robert Frost's 'The Road Less Traveled".

This morning I'm going to take my bike and ride the nearby path, just before the sun comes up. God himself says this isn't a waste of time; He says it's worthy, vital maintenance. That everything I do will hinge upon my keeping my heart with all diligence.

So go ahead.
Keep your heart.

I'm keeping mine, too.