Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Going Back


Michael winced at the pain in his shoulder. It had started hurting by about the fifth time he put the oar in the water.  How was he going to make it home? Michael let the small boat float a bit as he took another drink from his water bottle and used the handkerchief from his pocket to wipe the sweat from his brow and neck. Irritated that the water levels had dropped, he wasn't able to drop the motor into the water.  Using an oars would be the only way he would be able to return.


The morning he set out for home, he swore under his breath as he approached the dock.  He didn't have a plan, he wasn't prepared for the elements. Michael knew that the phone call from the Sheriff was important, but he still wished he hadn't answered the phone. His father had taken ill and hadn't been to town in months. The road was almost impassable. First, washed out by floods and then so many huge holes that formed when the water receded.  The Sheriff tried to check on him but couldn't get his boat through the muck. He returned with a smaller boat a second time. With the water levels so low at this time of year, the Sheriff wondered if Old Man Lemond's boat may have been stuck in the mud and he couldn't reach out to anyone for help. The second time the Sheriff reached the narrow end of the channel,  Old Man Lemond greeted him with a single shot from his old shot gun. No words were exchanged. That single shot was a warning to stay away.


Ms. Zimern tried calling every few days, but the phone stopped going to voicemail and now just continued to ring.  Ms. Zimern was actually the one that alerted Sheriff Wallin to the fact that Lemond was ill in the first place. She was also the one that made sure the Sheriff knew he hadn't been into town for a couple months for his staples of bread, frozen meals and powdered milk and plenty of canned goods.


Ms. Zimern was always incredibly friendly when she called Sheriff Wallin. Quiet and kind, that was Ms. Zimern.  Michael was 9 when his mother died, and Ms Zimern had been called in to help care for Michael and his little sister, Nicolette. She had never married and found that caring for other people's children brought her so much joy and filled the void.  When she started cooking for their family, she also found herself then putting the children to bed at night and anticipating Lemond's return home from the long shifts he worked at the factory in town.


Ms. Zimern cared for Lemond much more than she would ever admit.  She once had dreams that they would marry one day and raise Michael and little Nicolette together.  Such dreams never came true as Lemond held onto to a liquor bottle much tighter than any relationship he had ever had. Lemond grew cold and distant and as his children grew, the need for Ms. Zimern became less. When Michael turned 16,  she visited once a week to clean their home and to cook meals for the next few days which included plenty for leftovers.


When Michael turned 17, Ms. Zimern said it was too much for her and couldn't return.  Lemond had gotten drunk, came home in soiled clothing and tried to take advantage of her.  In that moment, any dream she had about possible love and companionship dissolved right in front of her eyes.


Michael left home at the age of 20. He had stayed at home two extra years just so he could keep a watchful eye on his little sister.  When Nicolette graduated from High School, she ran out of the front door of the old cabin at the end of the narrow channel and never looked back.  She and Michael excelled in their Freshman year at a small community college and once he saw that Nicolette was going to be just fine on her own, he knew it was time to start his own life. He dropped out of the school that they both attended and decided he wanted to pursue art while going to night school.


Michael's artwork was dark. Mostly paintings of trees, grass and water, the vines were what grasped most people's attention.  They often were reaching out for people, strangling them and sometimes even pulling people into the deep. Night school enabled Michael to experiment with other mediums. Sculpture, clay, drawing, but he always went back to painting.  He was at rest when a paint brush was in his hand. 


Michael came to the realization that that all he ever painted were scenes from his home.  Where everything was green, muddy and wet. He felt a release when he painted. A calm would wash over him and he knew he could continue on.  Michael took jobs here and there, washing dishes, cleaning barns, helping with cattle and horses, but only to pay his rent and put food on the table. He was fortunate to sell a few pieces and then scored a showing at the local art gallery.  Every wall was bare by the end of the show. Commissions started pouring in and life became a bit easier.  


Michael began creating art full time and found a great space for a studio with an apartment above.  He called Nicolette each week to check in with her. He started sending her money each month so that she wouldn't have to worry about anything.  She was grateful that her brother helped her pay off student loans and pay her rent. 


When he left home with Nicolette in tow, he knew that his dad would just fall further and further into oblivion.  Michael tried calling home a few times, Christmas, his dad's birthday, but was always greeted with a snarl, "Who is this? Why are you calling?"  The conversations always went downhill from there since his dad was probably double fisting bottles just to get through another day. 


Michael knew going to see his father now that he was ill, wasn't going to be easy. If he fired a shot in the air at the Sheriff, chances are it would also happen to him.  Michael also knew that he would need to announce himself as he slowly approached the property at the end of the channel. 


Toiling over the fact that this might be the last time he saw he father, Michael realized his chest ached just as much as his shoulder.  This was stress, he kept telling himself. ~You are fine.  Just check on him, tell him who to call when he needs help, say goodbye, and go. That is all you have to do.~


As he neared the property at the end of the channel, he observed that the water was no more than about 3 feet deep. No wonder the Sheriff couldn't get his boat down there the first time.  Michael shouted, "Dad! Dad, it is me, Michael! Dad, I am here to see you!" 


There was no response. Michael announced himself again and his father never emerged from the small house.  Slowly floating up to the rickety old dock, Michael reached out to grab the first metal post. He proceeded to throw a rope around the post and stepped out of the boat.  Fearful that the dock wouldn't hold his weight, he gingerly stepped on one board at a time until he reached solid ground. 


Discovering that front door was secured, he walked around back to see if that door had been left unlocked.  It was unlocked just as it always had been when he and Nicolette lived there. His dad intentionally left it open for when they returned from school.  Michael knocked as he entered. Old Man Lemond was seated at the kitchen table bent over resting with his head on his arms. There were dishes and trash here and there and Michael knew that his dad must be passed out from the liquor that had already been consumed that morning.


Michael hesitated as he prepared to place his hand on his dad's arm.  That is when he saw the handwritten letter on the table and the discarded pen.


Dear Michael and Nicolette,


I am sure by now you know that I am sick.  Liver Cancer. The doc said maybe a few more weeks.  I don't know. Each day gets more difficult. I hurt a lot and the pills he gave me don't seem to help.  I am lonely and it is time for me to go. 


I love you guys.  I am sorry. For everything.  Your mother and I loved you both. I am sorry I was never the dad you needed.  That I couldn't be the dad you deserved.  


My pension is now managed at the bank in town.  They also have an account that will pay for my final expenses.  Burn this house. It isn't worth much.  
The boat is at the bottom of the channel. The truck wouldn't start. I couldn't walk to town. I didn't have the energy. I didn't call anyone to come get me. Who would I call?


Tell Ms. Zimern I am sorry.  Tell her. Don't forget.


Thank you for... 


Michael quickly flipped over the single sheet of paper to see what else it said. That was it. Nothing more. His dad must have passed out as he was writing it.  He stuffed the paper in his pocket and reached forward to wake his dad.


Old Man Lemond wasn't to be woken. Michael checked his neck for a pulse and placed his hand his front of nose to check if he was breathing. He has passed away probably within the last 12 hours Micheal thought. He sat down next to his dad and just sat in the quiet for a few minutes.  No tears, no emotion. Just an acceptance of what had happened in the hours before he arrived. 


Michael reached for his cell phone to call Sheriff Mallin. He told him his father had passed recently while writing a letter.  And that they could probably get out to the house if they brought a 4x4. Sheriff Mallin was stern and serious, but never offered an apology to him that Old Man Lemond had passed. 


Michael went to clear out a few things from the bedroom. His parent's wedding picture, his mom's dairies from the bedside table where they were always kept and the Family Bible from the coffee table.  He took his grandma's silverware from the hutch and both the high school graduation pictures which hung in the hallway. That was it. Nothing else of worth, nothing else that was treasured. He found a duffel bag in the bedroom closet and placed each item in there.  


As Michael prepared to leave the house for the last time,  he paused and went back to the kitchen. He pretended for just a moment that his dad was sleeping. He reached and touched his hand and saw that he was still wearing his wedding ring. Old Man Lemond had never recovered from losing his wife. Michael bent over and kissed his dad on the top of his head. 


At the end of the dock,  Michael sat down after placing the duffel bag of belongings in the boat. He removed his shoes and let his feet dangle in the water. When he got back to town, he would see if he could hire Ms. Zimern to clear out the home and then would place the property up for sale. Someone would like this land for hunting and fishing. But this land wasn't a property he ever planned to go back to. 


The Sheriff and Coroner arrived within a half hour and removed their hats.  They took pictures and notes, made a few phone calls and then told Michael it was okay for him to leave.  Michael then told him that he would be in town for a few more days and that he would plan on having his dad's remains cremated and buried and that he would take care of the arrangements with the local funeral home.  No service was necessary. Sheriff Mallin clasped Michael on the arm and nodded at him. Michael then returned to the dock and the boat which had carried him home.


Michael sat in the boat rowing slowly and knew that there was no going back. He would not return again. 


That evening, he called Nicolette. A brief call, only to explain what had happened.  No tears, or consolation needed. Just an exchange of information. He then called Ms. Zimern. He shared the news. He asked her if he could hire her to clear out the house, and she immediately said yes. She went on to explain that she somehow knew that this would be the final way that she helped both he and Nicolette. She said she would indeed clear out the possessions and either leave or sell the furniture.  He explained she could keep any cash she made. 


"Ms. Zimern, my dad wrote a letter to my sister and I that I found on the kitchen table.  He asked me to tell you that he was sorry."


There was a long silence before Michael heard a stifled sniffle.  "Thank you Michael for telling me that."


Michael returned to his home, to art and the life that he created and loved. He hung three picture frames in his hallway.  His parent's wedding picture and Nicolette and Michael on their graduation days. The Family Bible and their mother's diaries were kept in the duffel bag under his bed. 


Michael was thankful for the last letter that his dad had written.  He was thankful for an apology and thankful for a bit of closure. Micheal wanted to try something new. He felt inspired. No more darkness, no more vines and water and despair.  Michael was going to focus all of his efforts on the sky, landscapes and nature. Scenes filled with light, with promise. Paintings filled with hope for the future. 



Friday, August 9, 2019

Notice


It is true. I am a noticer. The one that notices more than I sometimes care to admit. 

I notice when a smile doesn't quite reach someone's eyes.

I notice when a smile is shared only because one was offered.

I notice when someone lets go first when I hug them.

I notice when I am the one that always initiates text messages.

I notice when someone is no longer included in group invitations to participate in activities.

I notice when friendships have played their course and one friend is still holding on for dear life.

I notice when someone hates their job, but sticks with it as the burden of supporting their family is a driving force.

I notice when children are lonely and wish for more friends and listening ear.

I notice when I wear out my friends with conversation.

I notice when I have hurt my daughter yet again when disciplining her and words have been too harsh.

I notice how my husband easily collapses into the comfort of my arms when he returns from another endless challenging day at work.

I notice the joy that others take when they are gifted with the company of my son.

I notice the light that now has gone dim in the eyes of someone who has given up on their goal or their dreams.

I notice the joy of someone who has realized they are not alone.

I notice the turmoil in a person's heart when they discover their marriage isn't a marriage any longer.

I notice the love exchanged in just a look.

I notice the excitement of parents who have children returning to school very soon.

I notice the dread on children's faces when they realize school starts in just a few short weeks.

I notice the happiness that washes over someone when they are finally included.

I am the noticer. The one that notices more than I sometimes care to admit.



Saturday, August 3, 2019

I Regret Nothing- A Collection of Poetry and Prose Is Available On Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Regret-Nothing-Collection-Poetry-Prose/dp/1080416307/ref=sr_1_1?crid=9LGLYN0K45D7&keywords=kelli+j+gavin&qid=1564848446&s=gateway&sprefix=kelli+j+%2Caps%2C142&sr=8-1


I Regret Nothing- A Collection of Poetry and Prose - is available on Amazon.com.

This is actually my fourth solo book, but the first to be published. I have had 9 other anthology book inclusions.  My first solo book is a large collection of non-fiction short stories and is currently being edited.  My second book was also published this week. It is a book about my son, Zach who is an amazing artist and has Autism.  My third book is still a work in progress. It is a collection of fiction short stories.  This book of poetry and prose came together over time and quite by accident. As my husband was reading my first book, he recommended that I remove all poetry and prose and create a book containing just those. So a happy accident it was as it came together seamlessly. 

The following link contains 7 of my books that are all currently available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kelli-J-Gavin/e/B07VM93XVB/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1


Thank you for reading my blog and for checking out my books that are available on Amazon and for supporting small book printings.






Thursday, August 1, 2019

Walls Signs and Truth Bombs


I have to admit it. I love wall hangings made out of wood. I even don't care if they are a cast in plastic or metal. I like funny sayings and clever quips. I like decor that makes people stop in their steps and spend time reading, comprehending and digesting.  I like when I see one in a store, or a wall at a friends house or out and about and it makes me laugh out loud.

This past Tuesday, my family was at Parkway Pizza. If you haven't been to Parkway, please make a plan to go soon. They have a huge amazing menu, including many Gluten Free and Vegan options. When we sat down,  I took a look around as there was some new art work on the wall and signs about upcoming events.  I then spied a wood sign on the wall in the corner by the front windows.

Live. Laugh. Love. (All crossed out)
Don't Be A Jerk.

I laughed out loud, much longer than necessary and read it to my husband.  He smiled as he found the humor in it also.  I can't stand the signs that say Live Laugh Love, or even Hashtag Blessed.  Some just seem repetitive and trite. But Don't Be A Jerk resonated with me. 

Every day we come into contact with people we know and people we are meeting for the first time.  Some of these people are kindred spirits and others are challenging and the kind of people we work very hard to avoid.  Some of those people are cranky, constant complainers, horrible to other people and look for any reason to make their presence known as they are difficult and invoke dread on behalf of everyone that surrounds.   I admit it.  I am an avoider. If I meet someone who is all of these things, I will from the start deem them as "not for me." I tell myself that it isn't necessary to be friends with everyone I meet.  But that is really a cop out.  I don't want to put in the effort. 

Past relationships with difficult people have made me realize that it is usually me that puts in the effort in relationships. Especially when I think it is my job to crack away at the hard exterior shell that someone has worked so hard at perfecting around them. Why is it my job? Why me?  Chances are if the person is difficult with me, they are challenging with everyone. I am not a fixer, I can't fix people.  But I can be kind, I can soften them.  And I usually do.  I show them that I love them and will stick with them. I will show them that I will keep showing up, and keep coming back.  I am not walking away.  Sometimes I end up being the first person that doesn't walk away.  And the idea of that makes all the difference.  Even if a real true friendship isn't forged, the fact that I didn't go running for the hills from the start, matters.

While I acknowledge that I really don't want to put in any effort for nothing in return,  I remind myself of two things.  I just need to be kind and don't be a jerk.  Kindness.  It isn't always easy.  It requires us to flex some muscles that we don't use very much because when it is hard,  we won't work at showing it.  Don't be a jerk?  I can use my adult words and not return ugly with more ugly. How do I do this? By the grace of God.  It has nothing to do with me. It is all Jesus. 

I would be kidding you if I told you that there weren't a few days that began with the prayer- Jesus, please help me not be a jerk today.  -  Those are the days when I might be feeling quite poor, the days when sleep eluded me.  Those are the days when I am overwhelmed, have too many deadlines and not enough help.  Those are the days when parenting is such an exercise in tongue biting,  I don't think I am cut out for it.  But those are also the days when Jesus hears my prayer and sometimes I am even able to not be a jerk.

A difficult client. Or even a boss or coworker.  A challenging marriage. The parent who continually oversteps. Children who seem to not fear you or even God.  The woman in front of you at the check out lane.  The man driving behind you so close you are sure he can make out the odometer on your dash.  It doesn't matter who it is. 

We all need the reminder to be kind and not to be a jerk.  This week, my reminder came from a wood sign while enjoying pizza at Parkway. 




Saturday, July 27, 2019

She Is Clothed



I am at the Chaska Library on this beautiful Saturday morning in July.  Where else would I be? It is Saturday. It is summer.  This is my expected location at least until 11:30 am when my children will let me know that they are done with their desired activity, (which is always computer time and searching for kids movies on dvd) and we will head home for lunch and the then figure out what the rest of our day entails.

This morning, we left the house early as River City Days is this weekend in Chaska, and I wasn't sure what the crowds would be like.  Our first stop was Red Bench Bakery.  Three tables, maybe four were taken. All three comfy chairs in front of the stone fireplace were empty as if they were just waiting for us to arrive.  I wondered if they had been cleared out just before we got there.  Rather than make our selections and exit quickly, the kids and I enjoyed the comfy chairs and that Chai Latte with almond milk seemed to really make my smile a whole lot more grand.  We knew that the library wasn't going to open for a bit, so we decided to drive in search of a garage sale or two. We found a moving sale and enjoyed looking at all of the items they were parting with. We ransacked the free bins for jerseys and bought a few Peanut's dvd's for Zach.  (Yes, he already has them, and yes, I knew it.  He loves them, what can I say?)

We then headed to the Library so that we could take a leisurely walk through the commons area and shop at the Library Book Sale. Table after table of books, movies and magazines all at amazing prices. I would guess that there were over 5,000 items available in the commons this morning.  And absolute feast for fellow bibliophiles.  I found three classics (Shirley by Charlotte Bronte, Gerda in Sweden, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck,  and a John Irving book I have been wanting to read. Lily found a kids book of poetry.) Lily then took a gander through The Chaska History Center and enjoyed the World War I and II exhibits which she commented that she wants to go back and bring dad with her next time. She also enjoyed the fact that the woman who welcomed her gave her permission to raid the candy bowl on the welcome desk.

Lily then joined Zach and I in the library where it was a little bit cooler and little less chaotic.
Why, you may ask, do I share this mundane glance into our Saturday morning? Because it is anything but mundane. Leggings were worn.  Oversized tee shirts were donned.  Chai Lattes were consumed.  Books were poured over. Smiles were shared.  Videos were watched. Children were content. And this mom?  This mom knew it was a great start to a new day.

Not every day is exciting. Not every day is filled with adventure. But every day can be great when we set our minds to it.  When we do not race on to the next activity. When we take extra time to sit and share stories with each other. When we enjoy comfortable chairs that were ours for the taking.  When we just take time to be together.

I do not have any grand plans for the rest of this day.  It will be hot, we will swim. The kids will enjoy popsicles on the deck.  We will grill chicken tonight and pair it with a salad and pineapple for dinner.  And we will probably enjoy a gluten free brownie with cashew milk ice cream for dessert. And all of this sounds like a mighty fine Saturday to me.

Enjoy those moments. Those moments that don't seem spectacular.  Those moments that often fade into the background because we let them.  Those are also pieces of each day that can be something absolutely amazing, if let them.

I Am Here Journal- Designed By Ed Westwick






Help support the Jenesse Center and survivors of domestic violence by purchasing this beautiful blue nautical themed journal designed by Ed Westwick. Gorgeous cover, thick paper and the ability to add additional pages makes this journal a must have for any writer or note taking enthusiast. 

See the link below for more information.






Thank you Ed for the beautiful journal and for supporting worthy causes around the globe! 



Sunday, July 7, 2019

Slipping Down

I laughed the first time I heard the saying -

I may look like I have it all together, but inside my shoe, my sock is slipping down.

To be honest, I feel like that a lot.  I have been told many times throughout my life things like, "You make it look so easy."  -I am not sure what "it" is.  "You are such a good mom." -My kids have been fed and they have on clean clothes if that is what you mean. "I don't know how you do it all."  -My house is a disaster of epic proportions and I am so very tired. I went to work today and did the dishes. Hardly accolade worthy.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I am lying. It isn't that I am portraying a fake persona and finally have everyone convinced that I know what I am doing.  My mom told me that my smile that comes naturally could be deceiving.  When I was a teenager and first heard this from her, I was confused as I thought she was insulting me.  After hearing it a few times, I asked her what she meant, because it sure sounded as if she was being mean.  My mom explained that she actually envied me. I was so confused.  She went on to say that no matter what I was experiencing, no matter what had happened, I always seemed able to locate a readily available smile that seemed genuine. She wished she could do that.  She wished that what she was thinking and feeling didn't always show on her face and in her body language.  My mom told me that she knew my heart, and she knew my joy and she admired that I was able to find something that could make me smile in each new day.

When I was 12, my parents divorced. My parents relationship went from being married to trashing each. When I was 14, my dad moved to Washington and never returned.  Also, when I was 14, I became ill with Lyme Disease and felt pretty horrible for a number of years.  But I went to youth group, I made new friends, I began to date, went to camp, attended youth conferences and went on missions trips.  I acted in plays, I sang at special events and at county fairs and at the state fair.  I went to college, I met my then future husband.  No matter what I had experienced, life had to go on. I wanted to do more, see more, experience more.  I was forced to put one foot in front of the other. And I am so very glad that it was my mom pushing me along the way.

As an adult, I have struggled with a number of physical issues.  Needing a number of surgeries, trying to figure out pain management, and desiring a pain free day, I struggle. I am usually quite honest when someone asks me about how I am feeling. But I worry that I have become a bit of broken record.  I complain. A lot.  I don't want to be known as the complainer.  I am now able to identify what kind of day it will be usually quite soon after opening my eyes in the morning.  I have good days and I have not so good days. But I feel that after my most recent surgeries this past January, that I have more good days than not.  However, one of things that I have really worked on is being very aware of and thankful for is the good that I can find in each day.

A day is made up of many moments.  Some boring and mundane, some heartwarming and edifying. Others funny and laugh worthy, while still others that fill us with emotion until inevitable tears break loose.  Each day is a sum of its parts.  Those parts become a whole.  Even on the toughest of days,  I force myself to identify what good can be found.  Yesterday was one of the not so great days for me.  I struggled with pain the entire day. Transitional movements were the worst. (Sitting to standing, laying to sitting.) However, I got a lot of work done yesterday on the computer. I took my kids to the library.  I enjoyed an almond milk chai tea at Red Bench Bakery.  I watched 4 little girls play and splash in the pool.  I cuddled with my son.  My husband and I enjoyed many games of cards together at the dining room table.  These things made me incredibly happy on a day where I could have felt nothing but discouragement.

A friend who was going through rough patch once told me that the only thing she enjoyed each day was that first cup of coffee.  I responded, "How wonderful that you have coffee! Imagine if you had to start your day without it.  That would be a horrible day."  After repeating this and other such things to her, she started to realize what I was aiming at. We spoke about our daily challenges and our triumphs. I told her how I had to make a concerted effort to explore the good in each day and sometimes, I even had to intentionally create fun. It changed my mindset.  Now, I know when I become a Negative Nancy, I need to go on a new path and search out the good.

That smile you see?  It means- I have missed you.  I am so glad to see you.  I love hearing stories about your kids and sharing with you stories about mine.  Thank you for meeting me.  I enjoyed our time together. I can not wait to spend time with you again. -That smile is meant for you.  That smile is real.  Thank you for making me smile.

Tomorrow might be another hard day.  My sock might totally be slipping down.  I have to leave for work quite early and then have to come home and clean.  But you know what? I will laugh with my morning client. We will be silly together and take breaks to love on her cat and admire her healthy patio flowers. I will laugh with my kids and swim in the afternoon sun.  I will make a great dinner for my family and probably swim again.  I will seek out the joy that is mine for taking.

My house might not be completely clean by the time the guys arrive for bible study tomorrow evening. But it doesn't matter.  Because I will probably have located my smile by the time they arrive. And there is always Tuesday. I work on pulling up my socks then.








Wednesday, July 3, 2019

WHAT DOES THE WORLD NEED TO HEAR RIGHT NOW?

 https://jaylongwrites.com 


My friend and fellow writer, Jay Long,  posed an important question.  What does the world need to hear right now?  I poured over this question and others for quite a few days.  I found myself going down rabbit holes of thought and knew that I needed to focus.  

I came up with a few bold statements that I think the world needs to hear.  

This president won't end us. Just hold on.

Stop trying to promote sin as acceptable. 

Choose to help rather than complain and add to the problem.

No one will change their mind about politics or vaccinations based on what you post on your social media platforms.

Focus on relationships.  Love people deeply. Hold on to them tightly.  For time passes too quickly.


While pondering these statements, I figured out why I had ended up going down so many other trails.  These may be statements that the world needs to hear right now, but they are not ready. They have turned their attention elsewhere, and their ears have been closed to outside influences.  I believe that we have been bombarded with messages of hate, and distrust, with greed and malice.  With everything that seems to be thrown at us daily,  we as a human race have shut down. We have turned inward and have become ambivalent and judgmental.  Rather than listening to others, embracing other ideas and enabling ourselves to be influenced by positive people, we shut it all out. Almost as if we are flying solo, or have decided to forever be the captain of our own ship.  When keeping others at arms length, I find it can become a lonely state to thrive in. We weren't meant to do life on our own.

I then started thinking about what do other people in my life need to hear.  

Thank you for loving your friends the way you do.  For perusing them earnestly with requests for their time. Thank you for always being the organizer and making sure that we can always get together.

Thank you for your embraces. Thank you for always making sure that I let go first. Your hugs are life giving. Thank you for giving of yourself when you know others are hurting.

You are an amazing dad.  I see you. I see the difficult situation that you are in.  You parent each child as if they were your own.  You are loving and encouraging to all of your kids.  And this mom admires all that you do.

I am sorry.  I am sorry I left things up in the air. I am sorry that I never addressed your questions and may have stringed you along.  I still care for you and I always will.

I am proud of you.  I am proud of the young woman you are growing into.  I love your heart and your passion and the way you are not afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve.  I love the way that you love others. 

Thank you for trying. Thank you for giving me second and third chances.  Thank you for laughing and knowing we can try again tomorrow.

It still hurts me, too. The lack of closure. I treasured you for so long.  You were in my life, and then you were not.  I wish we had a chance to talk. Maybe we will someday. I hope that we will.

I admire your hard work and perseverance.  I know it isn't easy and your life has been challenging.  You inspire others without even knowing it. 

I love you.  I always have.  Don't give up on me, because I will never give up on you. 

These things are easier for me to say to the people I love. To the people I live life with daily. To the people I will always treasure, even if time and space has separated us.  They also need to hear these things. We often become so involved in the details of each new day, that we forget that other people are there for us. To support us, to encourage us, to tell us that it is all going to be okay.  

What does the world need to hear right now?  Love others. Encourage others.  Pour into the lives of those that you love.  Support others until they don't need the daily help any longer.  Take the focus off self and discover the difference you can make when you do something for someone else.  Stop focusing on your own ideas, beliefs, ideologies and even your own misconceptions, and start embracing the people around you. 


I may have written this because it is what I needed to hear right now. 















Monday, July 1, 2019

Let's Do This


Let's Do This
For- Writers Unite!
By: Kelli J Gavin 



I arrived in the city three days after my 21st birthday.  It has been three months. Three months of sleeping on couches. Three months of washing my clothes in a wash basin in dirty showers. Three months of working 12+ hours a day at two separate jobs I do not care for. Three months of not going on more than 3 auditions. My whole goal of being here in the city was to find "The Job". To find "The Role" that will bring me satisfaction. That will make me not have to work so hard. That will make life just a bit easier.

I was told to get an agent right away.  I tried 6 different agents in the first month I was here. Only three even agreed to a meeting with me.  One told me that I needed to have established film and stage credits before they would ever entertain the idea of representing a "no name" client. She also informed me that high school roles and local fashion shows shouldn't be included on my resume. I thanked her for the tip. The other two agents couldn't even bother to return my call.  Of the three agent I met with, none of them agreed to represent me.  One was a hack with an office above a Japanese Fusion restaurant that smelled like grease and unappetizing food.  His hair was greased back so severely, that I became convinced that he was using the grease from the kitchen down below.  Agent number 2, laughed at me when I asked if they would represent me, and he said he would keep my name and number on file and call me if they had any new representation openings. The third agent asked me for an up front agent retainer of $7,500.00. I informed her that if I had that kind of money, I wouldn't be sleeping on couches and worrying about having clean clothing each day.  I made a swift departure.

When the discouragement set in, I knew I needed to distract myself. I needed to make sure that I kept busy and that I saved some money. I needed to find a roommate and get a place of my own.  I was motivated, I had a plan. I accepted that I needed to concentrate on making money and getting my own place to live and then I could refocus on developing my career. Sleeping when I could, I sometimes had to remind myself to eat.  I worked hard, made great money in tips and did well.  Here I am.  Three months into this journey.  Three months of disappointment. Three months of sub par living conditions. Three months of working myself to bone.  But it is all worth it.

Tomorrow,  Calista and I are moving into a tiny sixth floor walk up studio apartment.  There will enough room for two single beds and a couch.  That is about it.  An efficiency kitchen with a mini fridge, a micro and hot plate.  But it is ours.  I met Calista my first day on the job.  We clicked and knew that being roommates would work.  She slept all day and worked all night at the corner bar and restaurant.   I would make sure to make myself busy and stay out of her way when she needed to rest. My goal will be to keep my job at the location on the corner where we worked together and I will quit my other job next week.  By quitting the second crappy job, I will have more time to research auditions, find out about local casting calls and explore the city and all that has to offer.

I do not know if I will ever land "The Role".  But I do know this. It isn't for lack of trying.  Even if I only ever work at the bar on the corner, I plan on being the best waitress my customers have ever seen.  I will be so helpful and fast that they will ask for me by name and request to be in my section when they return each weekend. My plan from here on out is to excel at everything I do.  100% effort as I put my best foot forward. I feel like this city is waiting for me.  Waiting for me to explore. Waiting for me to dive into adventure.  Waiting for me to embrace it fully.  And I am not one to disappoint. 

Okay Life.  Let's do this. 




Thursday, June 27, 2019

Welcome to My Circus- for Mercurial Stories



I am at a loss for words.  I didn't even know what to do first. Where I should start.  I slept in today.  Oh, a glorious extra hour.  I have been so tired, not sleeping well and I was reveling last night at even the idea of a much needed, long sleep.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I am a mother of 5. Let me repeat that. 5 kids.  Our house is what I like to refer to as organized chaos. More of a focus on chaos than organized. 

The hour of extra sleep that I was so looking forward to, became something I would regret, the moment I heard the crash at 7:32 a.m.  And when I say crash, I mean more like the sound of an explosion. Not a single sound that only lasts a moment. More of a cacophony of echoed crashing that never seemed to end. I bolted upright in bed.  What was that?!  Was I dreaming or did I actually hear a disaster happening just one floor below my bedroom? I swung my legs over the side of the bed and listened. And sure enough, The screaming and crying started immediately.  

"MOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!" Etna, my oldest had this way of calling me when there was a real problem. Almost as if the elongation and volume of MOM was the indicator to me that there was really a serious problem on the main floor rather than just calling me because someone was lazy and wanted a glass of water, with ice cubes, crushed, not whole. 

I grabbed my robe as my see through holey night gown was such a painful sight, that my kids would easily find yet another thing to make fun of.  I quickly opened the bedroom door, only to find the screaming and crying and one of my kids losing their mind, only increase in volume.  Did they hear me open the door and chose to make it worse than it already was?  I descended the stairs maybe only hitting one or two of the stairs as I had become an expert and scaling whole flights when everything seemed to fall apart quickly.  

I rounded the corner and wished I was still in bed.  The baby sat painting the wood floor with the honey that had been spilled when the plastic container hit the floor.  My 5 year old sat next to the baby eating raisins and offering them to the baby.  My 8 year old was sitting in a pile on the floor holding his ankle like death was pending. And then I saw the mess.  Or the war zone as I will now refer to it from this day forward.  From what I can deduce, my 8 year old attempted to climb the shelves in the pantry to reach the upper cabinet where the kid sugar cereals reside. Said 8 year old, almost 9, had failed to realize that the shelves would never hold him and decided climbing the shelves rather than locating a chair was the best means of acquiring said kid sugar cereal.  When the five shelves crashed down to the floor, the contents they held followed, and my eight year old fell to the floor screaming.  My 10 year old was still sitting in front of the TV in the living room completely oblivious of the chaos that surrounded her. And Etna. Sweet 14 year old Etna, stood next to the kitchen sink crying her eyes out in a state of disbelief at what just happened while she was in charge of her siblings.  

But was Etna really in shock? Because let's face it.  This crap happened all the time at our house.  Hands stuck in mouse traps,  dog poop on the walls, chocolate syrup squeezed on couch cushions. Etna was crying because she knew I would need her help cleaning up the mess.  Everyone stopped crying when they realized I was in the room.  I grabbed the baby and handed her to Etna. I told her to strip the baby and give her a bath in the kitchen sink. I washed my 5 year old's hands and sent him to watch TV with the 10 year old.  I met eyes with my 8 year old and knew right away that he was okay.  Maybe a bruise or minor sprain, but we weren't dealing with gushing blood or protruding bones. I wiped his tears, kissed him on top of his head and picked him up off the floor from his messy food pile. I wiped cracker crumbs off of his pants and removed a stray crouton or two from his toes.  I told him no more gymnastics in the kitchen, to always locate a chair or ask for help.  He smiled at me, I ushered him into the living room with an ice pack from the freezer for his ankle to also watch TV. 

Leaning into Etna as she thoroughly washed the baby in the sink, I kissed her shoulder.  What would I do without this precious girl, my first born? My helper, my sweet girl.   "Thank you, Etna."

"Mom, I am sorry, you didn't get to sleep in. I... I tried."  Etna apologized.

"Et, it is okay. You know your brother.  He is my climber. What can I say.  And a hungry climber."  I took the baby and dried her thoroughly with a clean towel from the drawer, wrangled a new diaper onto her and placed her in the high chair.  Etna quickly followed behind with Cheerios in hand and placed them on the tray.  

"Come and eat!" Etna shouted as she pulled bowls from the cabinet and milk from the fridge.  Her long arms easily grabbed three of the desired kid sugar cereals from the upper cabinet so that each child would be able to choose their favorite.  

Children being fed, I started to tackle the mess of all of our pantry food lying on the kitchen floor. No, I didn't get to sleep in, but had a very successful purge of all of the shelf stable food and now my floors are super clean from sweeping, scrubbing and mopping. So there's that. Maybe tomorrow the desired and elusive sleep will be had.  But until then,  I still need to figure out clothing for my brood and activities for this hot day. 

These are my monkeys. Welcome to my circus. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

When You Can Not Go Any Further



I am in love with the state of Tennessee and the Smoky Mountain National Park.  We are here vacationing and staying at a cabin at Shagbark in the mountains.  Our best friends from Georgia met us here and we are enjoying spending time together.  Meals shared around our table of eight.  The last three days we have played dominoes and watched movies, and played charades together in the evening. We have also enjoyed going to the local Baptist Church on Sunday morning, tried to swim in the too cold pool, gone to the aquarium, gone shopping, played mini golf, and arcade games.  And we have spent hours catching up laughing together.

Today, we headed into The Smoky Mountain National Park and planned to go to the Grotto Falls.  We found out soon after getting into the National Park that the road leading to Grotto Falls was closed.  We decided to head to Rainbow Falls.  2.7 miles straight up.  I thought I could do it, but I couldn't.  I had surgery five months ago, and thought I was fine, I was not. The pain set in almost right away.  I only made it about a 3/4 of a mile up. If I had been walking on flat ground, I probably would have gotten a lot further. But today was not my day to climb the mountain to Rainbow Falls.

I had to encourage my husband to go ahead and continue without me.  He didn't want to go. He was concerned about leaving me alone without cellphone coverage in the mountains. I told him I would be fine. I had no intentions of going down the mountain myself and promised him I would stay put and explore.  He was hesitant as we had already encountered three bears. I finally convinced him and he raced to join the rest of our family.

The reason I wasn't sure that I could descend the mountain on my own is because of my crazy cyborg eyes.  I have intra ocular lenses in my eyes and struggle with depth perception.  I never feel sure footed especially on steep terrain, rocky paths or uneven ground. I decided I would for sure stay put when I realized that I didn't even have keys for our vehicle.  The National Park was very busy today, so I knew that I would encounter quite a few people along the beaten path.  And I knew they would be curious why I was remaining in one location and by myself.

First, I knew I needed to scope the local area and make sure that I knew my surroundings. I came up with a plan if I encountered bears or if I felt in danger for some reason.  There was a large tree I could hide behind.  I knew there was a stone rock wall I could carefully climb down to get out of the way visually. And I can scream and people were almost always within sight, but would for sure hear me.  I had nothing to fear.  I spent more time enjoying nature than anything else.  Pine cones, huge acorns, twisted vines, poisonous centipedes and huge red body daddy long legs.  The singing birds were a beautiful sound along with the constant sound of running water in the creek.



I also had some great conversations. Met a couple from Wisconsin who were a little concerned about me and stayed with me a bit to make sure I was really fine like I said.  They were worried about the bears because just as we sped up and passed them, the momma bear decided climbing on a car in the road was appropriate. They have had a few encounters with bears themselves in Wisconsin.  The woman from Texas was sweating very badly in the 98% humidity.  She was panicked because they had passes to the Dolly show and she wasn't going to miss the show because of a hike she didn't want to go on in the first place. The funniest conversation I had was with a woman who was more upset about the amount of moonshine she still had in her stomach than the fact that she knew she was never going to make it up the mountain either.

My day was exciting.  I spent a lot of time by myself, but I had a great day.  I enjoyed God's creation, spoke with some interesting people and came up with a makeshift survival plan if I was assaulted by bears.  Rather than getting upset that I physically wasn't able to go all the way to the top, I was thankful that I made it as far as I did. I was overjoyed that no one was asking anything of me and my job was to be immersed in my surroundings.  No, I wasn't able to enjoy the view from the top, but the view from where I was, was pretty amazing.



When you can not go any further, when your body gives out, when pain takes over, when your heart can't do it anymore, never view it as giving up.  Today I made the wise decision to stop, catch my breath and let my body heal. I wasn't giving up, I was changing course. I was experiencing an unplanned adventure that I may never get the chance to experience again.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.  It wasn't a fluke, it wasn't an easy out, my body just wasn't ready to climb a mountain.  And that is alright with me.







Saturday, June 15, 2019

Vacances S'il Vous Plait

I woke this morning is a town called Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.  Near Nashville, our family has enjoyed being on the road the last few days.  Leaving Minnesota bright and early this past Thursday morning, we drove straight through to St. Louis.  We were ready to be out of the car. We enjoyed a good dinner out and then went back to the hotel for a swim.  The "heated pool" made us long for a non existent hot tub.  We all were more than happy to fall into a deep sleep that evening.  After breakfast at the hotel and a mandatory Starbucks stop, we drove to the Illinois side of the river and enjoyed the Gateway Arch from top of an amazing three tiered ramp.  It was a beautiful park and we took our time before getting back on the road.

Once on the road, we headed to Nashville. We thought it would take us less than 5 hours, but we were greatly slowed by multiple accidents on the freeway.  Once in Nashville, we drove around a bit,  briefly enjoyed a few sites and then headed to the hotel and out to dinner at Cheddar's. Now, my family usually enjoys this restaurant in the southern states.  It was not a great experience.  Our meals took forever, my drink wasn't great, our waiter was actually rude when I questioned the small portion of the dinner portion of crap salmon I was served, my daughter was disappointed with her meal and Zach wasn't interested in it at all.  We tried. At least we had dinner in us.  We headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a wonderful swim in a quiet perfectly heated pool.  A quite evening of cards and a movie before heading to bed.

As we woke bright and early today, we packed up, ate breakfast again at the hotel an headed to Starbucks for our mandatory visit. 
Now on the road to Gatlinburg and The Smoky Mountains, we are enjoying a peaceful drive and the beautiful rolling hills and trees.  So excited to spend this week in the mountains at an Airbnb. And even more excited to meet our best friends there. We have missed our friends as we haven't seen them since February. The 8 of us haven't all been together since last summer when they came to Minnesota for a visit. We then traveled to Stockholm, WI together for a nice stay at The Refuge.

This week will be filled with great conversation, excellent food, lots of games played, walking and exploring, admiring God's creation, swimming and more great conversation as we catch up on each other's lives.  I can't wait to hug our friends. To love on them and hug them again.

Our kids are as excited as we are.  Vacation may commence....now.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Bucket


Bucket
By: Kelli J Gavin 

I have been told it is too small
My bucket, that is
Too small to hold it all
Hopes and dreams should be big I am told
Bigger than what my bucket can hold
I believe it is just the right size
It contains everything I need
Happiness
Memories
Love
Faith
Kindness extended to me
Forgiveness
Lessons learned
Gratefulness
But what it contains is mine
A little bit of who I am
Of what I have become
When I pour it all out
I gaze at where I once was
Savor where I am now
It is all together inspiring to me
That my small bucket holds
Everything I need
Hopes for my children
Dreams for my loved ones
Satisfaction of a life being lived well
Stop worrying about my bucket
Start addressing the hole in yours

Friday, May 31, 2019

Notifications



I received your text message. Seeing it was from you made me smile.

I am so thankful for the prayer you sent by email last evening. Thank you for praying for me and encouraging me.

Thank you for reaching out to me on social media. I love the fact that we can share in each other's day and connect when we live so far away from each other.

I love the jokes you sent me.  I laughed much longer than necessary. Thank you for making me laugh today.


Ding. Vibration. Ring.  All day long every day.  Our phones vibrate, ring, light up and alert us that someone is attempting to get into contact with us.  Sometimes, the notifications are annoying. They alert us while we are working, when we are with a client, trying to make dinner,  or working with kids on homework.  We silence our phone and stash it in a location to be picked up later when we actually have time to address other matters.  But there are also the notifications that make us smile.

When my phone rings, and it my sister or my best friend, I am so excited to see they are calling.  An email from a friend I haven't stayed in contact with very well can change the course of a day.  Even the occasional like or heart on social media. Or the comments of, "You are not alone, me too."  "I miss you, can we get together next week?"  "I love seeing how much your kids are growing up!" These notifications warm my heart, enable me to treasure relationships even more and crave community.

But that is the point.  Technological touch points throughout the day should encourage us to take one step further.  To reach out to the friend going through a tough time and actually sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee together.  To meet that group of friends that has promised to get together for the last year and haven't been able to find a time that works.  Our days should be filled with the physical presence of loved ones, not just the online presence.

My favorite notifications make me smile and sometimes blush. They make me feel good about relationships and affirm what I have been investing in and what I have been encouraged by.  Notifications are often the -I love you, I am thinking of you, I am praying for you, I miss you - that we all need and want to hear.



Friday, May 24, 2019

Close Attention



I wondered for three days if my feelings were justified.  Three days.  I had been hurt by an acquaintance when they were rude to me.  I love being a writer.  It brings me great joy to write about life, what makes me happy, what challenges me and what helps me connect with other people. The person who hurt me asked me about being a Professional Organizer.  I refer to being a Professional Organizer as my day time job.  The person asked me if I was "still holding on to the dream of being a writer."  I knew exactly how this conversation was going to play out.  I explained that I was very much a writer and just because I haven't sold a book to a publisher, doesn't mean that I am not a writer.  She scoffed and replied, "Well, I am glad you are having fun with your hobby," and then changed the subject.

I have come to realize that people do not view writers as writers unless they are on the New York Times Best Sellers List.  That a writer isn't a writer if they haven't written ten books and their name is recognized by the masses.  These two ideas are preposterous.  When this woman referred to writing being my hobby,  I knew that she already had a preconceived idea of what she thought a writer should be, and I didn't meet her expectations. She also thought that whatever I had to say wouldn't be relevant and changed the conversation immediately.

I could have retaliated. I could have spoken up for myself.  I could have volunteered all the ways that I am an actual writer.  I have written over 250 short stories, articles, book reviews and poems that have been published in print and online. I have written and conducted a memoir writing class and created a solid curriculum and instructions for writing a book of 30 short stories in 30 days.  I have 9 anthology book inclusions in the last two years.  I have written two books. One a non fiction short story memoir and the other, a children's book about my son Zach as a teen with Autism. I am working on my third book of fiction short stories. -But I didn't volunteer any of this information.  She isn't a friend. She isn't my intended audience. There isn't a reason under the sun why I should ever feel the need to justify something that I love doing.

I love when people tell me about their lives. About the jobs they enjoy, the work they struggle with, the unrealized dreams of what they hope to do someday.  I also am so excited when I hear of accomplishments and successes. I love knowing when things aren't working out the way someone has planned and how I can be praying for people. I love when my circle of friends live life together and share in every life happening.  This is what friends do.  They love each other. They support each other. They pray for each other.

I wonder how you have been hurt. Started a small business and all of your friends told you they thought it was so great, but no one bought anything or supported you? You shared your dream of what you wanted to do someday and then were told it was impractical and that you shouldn't quit your day job?  Worked yourself to the bone and proved yourself to be a loyal employee only to be passed over time and time again for the promotion you desired?  Finally succeeded and some never really committed to memory what you actually were working so hard to accomplish because it wasn't viewed a worthy? People and relationships are hard!  People are prickly, sometimes downright abrasive and often not supportive.  They are self centered, unwilling to praise others and do not let themselves be excited for someone else's success. To me, that is a sorry state of existence.

I love observing people. Their word choices, their mannerisms, the flow of conversation and even the words left unsaid.  And in all these years of observing people, I have learned that it is very important to pay close attention to the people who don't clap when you win.

Never beg for affirmation. Never work for a friendship or for someone to like you.  Sometimes, it is time to circle the wagons and tighten your sphere down to the ones who naturally clap when you win.  To pare your relationships down to those that matter.  To surround yourself with people who build you up and not tear you down.  To only love  people that love you and take mutual joy in all of your successes and walk with you through the dessert of pain and suffering.

Those three days that I spent wondering if my hurt feelings were justified?  Those were three wasted days.  My feelings were justified and I do not need to look elsewhere to understand this fact.  There is a reason why this woman who hurt me is an acquaintance and not a friend and involved in my every day life. Her referring to my "hobby" reminded me exactly why she has been kept at arms length.  The next time she and I come face to face, I will be kind, I will greet her warmly, and I will move on.  Because I do not plan to waste energy on those that do not clap for me.



-Side note- Do not greet me with a round of applause the next time I see you. You know who you are my snarky friends.




Power




I have found myself many times thinking about trials and suffering. Probably because I have seen more than my fair share in my lifetime. My dad left my family when I was 12. I took ill with Lyme Disease when I was 14. Struggled with family dynamics and relationships when I was an older teen. I had to dropout of college because we were poor and I ran out of money. I married young and then struggled with infertility issues.  Dealt with harassment in the workplace. My first child had severe developmental delays and was later diagnosed with Autism. My husband was diagnosed with a medical condition that will forever change his life and he will never fully recover. I took ill again and faced 4 significant surgeries over the past two years. So many trials, some have questioned how I continue when faced with such adversity. That inner strength is Christ in me.

I was raised in a small family in the country in Minnesota. My parents were encouraging and poured into my sister's and my life. They provided a faith foundation and made sure we went to a Bible preaching church and answered our questions about God and His Son Jesus. We were provided with Bibles and shown how exciting the stories and lessons from the Bible were. We were able to attend summer camps and youth retreats where our knowledge about God as a loving Father and as the creator of the Universe grew. Our parents understood the importance of us as children developing a faith in Jesus that was our own. Not just a faith that our parents practiced. As a teenager, I discovered a saving faith in Jesus and continued to seek after Biblical knowledge, spend time in The Word and spend time in prayer.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. -- In this verse alone, I found that faith was about hope and assurance. Two things that most people continually desire in life. But the most important aspect is confidence. Confidence in the saving grace of Jesus who died on the cross for my sins.

I do not practice a religion. I do not associate with a denomination. I identify as a Christian (a Christ follower) who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I place my faith and my trust in Him. I have placed my life in His hands.

With any faith or belief system, it is often personal, yet life changing.  And my Christian walk has been just that. Through each trial, in every challenge, I am reminded that I am not alone, I have a personal God who cares and provides for me.  I am also reminded that suffering is temporary and lasts but a night, and joy comes in the morning.  (Psalm 30:5)

I am joy filled person. And it is the Joy of the Lord that is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) I love life and live it to the fullest.  I enjoy being a wife, a mother, and friend. I want to encourage, help and serve others when I can and pour into their lives the way my parents did for my sister and I.  I also love being a writer.  I write about life and what matters. I write about my family and relationships with other people. I write about what hurts, what makes me smile each day, and I write about the importance of a personal faith foundation.  My strength isn't self supported. I have absolutely nothing to do with it. I am faulty human at best.  But I am strong because the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside me. (Romans 8:11)

When I tell you I am just 10 weeks into recovery from extensive surgery, most would still be curled up in bed and resting at home.  I get up each day, I pray and I ask for strength.  Strength which I do not possess on my own, but strength that is found in Jesus. When I smile and laugh and enjoy each day that is given to me, I know that each day is an actual gift and we are not promised another. So I choose to live each day to fullest, to seek out others who choose to do the same and share my faith. That is where my true inner strength is found.  A confidence in what I hope for, yet can not see.







Going Back

Michael winced at the pain in his shoulder. It had started hurting by about the fifth time he put the oar in the water.  How was he goin...