LIFE IS LIKE A CAR WASH

An anecdote from not too long ago to share:

My daughter and I went into a drive through carwash not too long ago, as I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time yet to clean the house this week, never mind my car, and  decided it would be a quick little thing to check off my list.  We pulled into the car wash and stopped on the designated area, indicated by the red “stop” sign.  After all, I’m a rule follower.  After a minute or so, the “arm” of the carwash collapsed onto the side of my car and got “stuck” against my car after we heard the loud bang it made against the car, not moving for a minute or so, or at least for what appeared to be an eternity.  My daughter and I looked at each other and immediately burst out laughing.  The arm of the carwash retracted, went back to the “starting position”, and the car wash stopped with soap ALL OVER my car. We could barely see out the windshield.  We immediately laughed a little harder.  I decided to drive through the car wash slowly to check my car, then decided it likely would be a good idea to go inside to speak to the clerk.  She came out, re-set the car wash, and the car wash worked fine the second time.  It was, just “one of those things….”

After we stopped laughing, I immediately realized the parallels to life.  Life is truly like driving into an unknown car wash like this at times.  We do what is expected and what we need to do, yet we have no control over what happens while inside that car wash.  We even pay money to help sway the odds in our favor that the outcome in that car wash is what we expect for that moment.  However, every now and again in life something happens, and we don’t get the car wash we expected, or planned on, or needed, etc…It is clear to me that life with all its uncertainties happens as it will, and we most often don’t have any control over the outcome.  We do, however, have control over our choices about what to do about it.  That is, what we do about that car wash IS well within our control. If we explore our options, we see that we can cry, we can get angry, we can become paralyzed with indecision about what we must do, OR……..we can choose laughter. Laughter truly is the “best medicine”. I chose laughter whenever I can, although at times one has to look hard to find it. 

I am happy to report that my car no longer has soap on it, it was not dented, AND we had a GOOD laugh over the whole thing. Someone very dear to me once told me, it is the “end of the story” that really matters, but certainly the middle of the story is where the fun is sometimes.  After all, life is far too important to be taken so seriously.

Life is good; choose laughter every time you can. Carpe diem, friends………

photo/dreamstime

MORE LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BUTTERFLY

Today my daughter, “Teen Traveler”, and I set out to journey towards South Florida to release the malachite butterflies we have been raising from caterpillars for several weeks now. Since this species lives in South Florida, we knew we had to do the right thing when we purchased the caterpillars and get them into the South Florida vicinity to release them. Since the lifespan of the butterfly is usually only two to four weeks, we knew we shouldn’t keep them very long after their metamorphosis into a butterfly.

We drove two counties away and released them near an orange grove, as they feed on rotting fruit and flower nectar, and we wanted to ensure they had plenty to eat. We had a bit of a certain indescribable sense of sadness when we were driving to let them go into the wild.

My daughter said she was sorry to see them go. I explained to her that the butterflies are like many beautiful people we encounter during our lives. People come into our lives, and people go from our lives when we change schools, jobs, cities, etc…Life changes. Life changes a lot. The people that we are fond of don’t always stay around forever. Sometimes even death separates us, but we are somehow in some way, or in many ways, touched by their presence when we had them in our lives. I told my daughter that we can learn a lot about life from raising our butterflies.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Like the butterflies that change forms from egg to several different types of caterpillars (instars) before assuming their final form, we, too, go through many changes and stages in our own lives. Sometimes we are not our most beautiful until we’ve gone through different stages within ourselves.
  2. People come and go in our lives, like the butterflies we raise, and we enjoy them while they are here. We try think about their release date, as we can enjoy the moments with them while we have them. All the moments.
  3. Sometimes the caterpillar hatchlings don’t make it to adulthood, despite our best efforts. Life is sometimes hard at times, but beautiful nonetheless.
  4. You have to work hard to find a place to blend in and settle, finding what you need, before you can become a chrysalis. Working hard helps. These caterpillars certainly were VERY busy.
  5. Sometimes we need rest, like a butterfly chrysalis, before we emerge as our best.
  6. Sometimes we want to stay holding on the warm hand that protects us before we find the strength to move on to do what we know we ultimately have to do. Staying on that warm hand for a while is good for a while, but then we have to find our own way as we become adults and move on to college, etc..
  7. Although the butterfly’s life is short, it always leaves behind something beautiful after it dies. The butterfly lives on, like us, in the generations that follow.
  8. We need to be very patient. Good things often take time.

My daughter held the butterflies in her hand in the butterfly cage during the whole ride to our release site. She was so gentle with them that it was such a tender moment whenever I glanced her way. When the engine to the car stopped, she asked if she could release them in the car before we released them into the wild. She thought it would be fun if they flew around the inside of the car for a while. We let them out of the cage in the car, but they didn’t fly around for some reason. I’m thinking that the car air conditioner was a possible reason, as the butterflies really like the temperature to be above eighty degrees before they fly.

My daughter gently lifted the butterflies onto her hand again when it was time to release them outside. She waited until they both flew away, having the peace of mind that they were well, and she somehow added something back into the circle of life. She was relieved that she didn’t damage their wings or legs when she touched them, too. I knew she didn’t, but she was concerned.

On the way home, we found a beach with few people on it and enjoyed some time together in the warm blue waters, laughing together and finding some shells.

“You tucked me in, turned out the lights
Kept me safe and sound at night
Little girls depend on things like that

Brushed my teeth and combed my hair had to drive me everywhere
You were always there when
I looked back…

…And when I couldn’t sleep at night
Scared things wouldn’t turn out right
You would hold my hand and sing to me

Caterpillar in the tree
How you wonder who you’ll be
Can’t go far but you can always dream
Wish you may and wish you might
Don’t you worry hold in tight
I promise you there will come a day
Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
Flap your wings now you can’t stay
Take those dreams and make them all come true

Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
We’ve been waiting for this day
All along and knowing just what to do
Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly, butterfly fly away…”

-“Butterfly Fly Away” by Billy Ray Cyrus

Life is good. Carpe diem, friends…………….

COPING WITH CORONA WITH A CONTEST OF THE DAY

photo courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Many years ago one of my best friends who shares my same sense of humor and I decided we would challenge each other to a contest to use an archaic word in a conversation with someone else that day. The word was to be used in normal conversation without a laugh or smile, never letting on to the other participant in the conversation that we put each other up to that word. Now this is my friend who has been with me through so many times where we laughed so hard that we almost cried. One time I actually choked on my food in a restaurant for real. You know when you laugh so hard that your stomach actually hurts, and you almost can’t breathe? I know this feeling well and love it. There is something about laughter that is simply delightful. One word we used that day was “hijinks.” Another was “hoodwinked”. Try using THOSE words in a conversation with a straight face!

WebMd.com tells us that laughter increases blood flow, may reduce blood sugar levels, and may reduce stress to increase an immune system response. That all may be true, but a good ol’ fashioned belly laugh simply feels good, if nothing else.

Fast forward to today. I was just on the phone with one of my best friends, laughing about one thing or another as we normally do. Reaching out to my best friends daily while I am social-isolating during these stay-at-home orders makes me smile. Game ON! I told my friend about the word a day contest I had with my friend many years ago and it turns out this friend had as similar contest with her friend in SIXTH grade! Game ON! Tough competition. Maybe the first person who uses the word first the next day could win eating the first piece of pizza the next time we met. I love a good contest and have been DYING to win a contest that would allow me to eat the first piece of pizza. I will surely pick the BIGGEST piece with the MOST toppings. When else can I deliberately eschew the good manners that my Momma taught me?

Hmmmm………what word to pick? I remember telling my friend a while back that it fascinates me that there are many words in other languages that cannot be translated and that I remember reading that there was actually a word in another language that meant something like “the roof of my mouth is burning or on fire.” A GREAT word to win the first-slice-of-pizza contest to be sure. We agreed to that word:

“Pelinti”: word in Buli, the language of Ghana in West Africa. Pelinti means “moving food quickly around your mouth after you’ve belatedly discovered that it’s still piping hot,” according to syntacta.co.uk. Evidently pelinti happens to me EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY NIGHT while I eat pizza during our Friday pizza and a movie celebration in our home. I think I should have the hang of it by now, but no.

So….. go ahead and find a reason to laugh until your belly hurts. When was the last time you did that? It feels GREAT. And throw in a contest of the day to cope with Corona. You might be glad you did. Maybe YOU can win the first slice of pizza next time.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends……..