Want What You’ve Got! (wall)

20130311-222142.jpgWhen my first-born left home to attend my alma mater – three states and one thousand miles away – a hush fell over our home.

Our daughter is a force of nature, so of course the absence of her energy and activity (plus a steady stream of like-minded friends) left the rest of us sort of reeling in the wake of her exodus. There were days in those first months when I would have welcomed a whisper or a word from the walls inside her room – anything to ease the disconnect of being the one left behind.

On one such day, as I was passing in front of the wall between my children’s bedrooms, the dusty frames displayed there caught my eye. Years before, when our daughter was in middle school and our son a little tyke, we decided to use this wall to display school certificates and awards. Being blessed with children who have given us no shortage of frame-able material, the wall quickly filled and we never were successful at keeping it current.

I wondered how this display made my son feel – the remaining occupant in our partially-empty nest. I thought about all of those articles I had read on how to handle the transition when a child moves away (don’t make their room into a guest room or office – at least not until sophomore year). The ridiculous thought – what if these walls could talk? – prompted me to begin removing frames from this neglected gallery… and a great idea was hatched.

As it often goes with great ideas, however, birthing them is a whole lot easier (and more fun) than actually parenting them to completion. When I decided to make this wall into a whiteboard – so that it could speak – we were in the WalMart paint department while the fumes of new vision were still fresh, with plans for sanding and painting the wall in the hall over the fall break.

That was 17 months ago.

One might argue that my lack of follow-through in this project was fueled by a desire for things to remain the same… the family together under one roof. The comforting buzz of music and noise from upstairs. It is hard to Want What You’ve Got when those you love aren’t where they used to be (even if where they are is where they need to be).

Some of us are in that place where the life-transition grace period has expired and it is simply time to move on.

Some of us have great ideas and wonderful plans that were placed on the back burner far too long ago (can you smell the scorch?).

Some of us need only Want What We’ve Got in order to turn that corner or to light a fire under that pile of old frames, removed from that paint-thirsty wall, so that who we are becoming can emerge and find land-legs.

This past weekend I rallied the troops and we now have a shiny white wall where the past used to be. Who knows what this wall will say now that it’s marker-ready? There are notes to be written, reminders to be shared, math problems to be worked out, art to be created, poems to be dreamed, scriptures to be wrestled with, prayers to be prayed…

Life to be lived.

Some of us need to… Shhh! Can you hear that? I think your walls have something to say!

Daily Questions: What unfinished projects are parked in your queue? Some of them have likely out-waited their usefulness, yes, but which ones are still relevant? Want What You’ve Got when it comes to unfinished business this week! Schedule them or dump them – stop carrying that weight around! What life-transitions are overdue for you? Where are you digging in your heels, waiting for tomorrow to turn this corner or make that change? What dingy walls in your house and memory need a fresh coat of paint?

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Leftovers

Leftovers salad

Leftovers

I walked away from the conversation with face still flushed, pulse still elevated, thoughts still racing.

Don’t get me wrong – it was a necessary conversation. One which I would have regretted not having, despite the intensity and confrontational nature of the thing. One which was brought on by something so deeply seated that I didn’t realize how strongly I felt until the words started flowing.

You recognize the feeling. You’ve had this conversation, too.

In the car, on the way home, I sorted through my thoughts about the matter…

  • What had been accomplished?
  • What had been resolved?
  • What had been aired and not settled, and can I be okay with that?
  • How had things been left, as we parted?
  • Is the relationship intact even if the differences remain?
  • Are there any leftovers?

You know, LEFTOVERS… Unsettled feelings. Unresolved issues that will resurface again. And again. Pin-pricks from words that were meant to be hurtful. Emotions still swirling, and the uncertainty as to where they will finally land.

Leftovers.

Like those leftovers you keep in your refrigerator; the remnant of a meal, perhaps a meal shared. Or a meal enjoyed. Or a functional meal – one that met your caloric needs without any extras or frills.

You see, the thing about leftovers is that they do serve a purpose, but it’s a limited purpose. A purpose with an expiration date. A purpose with a deadline. Leftovers are destined to be disposed of.

If the ‘meal’ is the conversation I had today, it was something I needed to eat. I will absorb that which my body needs to maintain health, to give me strength and to increase my energy to cover the output I will inevitably be required to produce. This ‘meal’ served its purpose, whether it was fun to eat or not. Maybe the company at the table wasn’t choice. Maybe the food didn’t taste quite like it should have. Maybe it wasn’t the most delicious feast I’ve ever consumed.

In the car, driving home, the meal is over. It’s time to decide what to do with the leftovers.

I might throw it all in the trash now – I’m not very good at using leftovers wisely (or it just wasn’t that good the first time).

I might save it all for later – it was more than I could digest in one sitting.

I might save just the parts I want more time with – the stuff worth chewing on again.

I might put it in the frig, which means I’ll have to reheat and revisit it sooner than if I place it in the freezer to preserve it longer; to extend its impact on me.

Regardless of the choice, the fact remains that leftovers go bad. Keeping them around too long results in things like ugly, smelly (greenish) growths or less than appetizing separation of ingredients. Consuming leftovers that have been left over too long can make you sick. Really sick. Even if they appear to be okay, your leftovers can make you miserable inside.

Holding onto leftovers which have passed their safe usage date is never a good thing. Even if you have no plans to reuse or rehash them, leaving them in the frig takes up space you could be using for the good stuff and might even taint the rest of what you plan to use for another meal, another day.

Why take the risk? Use your leftovers while they still have value and can still be put to good use! And remember – every leftover has a shelf-life. Some shorter, some longer than others, but no leftover is good for you forever. Pay attention to what you’re allowing to take up space in your frig. In your freezer. In your head. In your heart.

Eventually, all of our leftovers stink.

By the time I reached the driveway and found the key to my front door, I had settled on a few leftovers worth keeping. For awhile.

But I don’t intend to hold onto them too long. I don’t intend to wait until the leftover goes bad, gets rancid, grows fuzzy green hair and is transformed into something I don’t recognize. I will reheat them, chew on them, use them up and then dispose of my leftovers when their contribution to my life has been exhausted.

Trash the stuff that will only serve to make us sick and stain our Tupperware.

We’ll be healthier for it, my friends.