Making time to smell the flowers

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A.A. Milne

Reading my dear friend and mentor’s blog the other day made me sit and reflect on Mother’s Day and flower giving. Cindy’s blog, (found on my BlogRoll and here: www.laferle.com), was a simple post and a photo of the flowers she received from her son and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law.

My Mother’s Day arrangements have evolved as my children have grown older. I, too, received flowers. My youngest son gave me a beautiful hanging basket, and it touched my heart in so many ways. My husband had a rose, freshly cut from our yard, sitting in a vase next to my coffee and newspaper.
I believe my first experience in receiving flowers was from my dad. He never forgot to give my mom flowers on their anniversary and other special days. Every once in a while, he would surprise my sister and I with flowers on Valentine’s Day.

My husband does the same – he never forgets special dates and likes to surprise me with  bouquets. Every year on Valentine’s, he gets roses for our daughters, daughter-in-law, and our granddaughters. He also brought me the most beautiful flowers for the birth of each of our four children.

To me, no bouquet is sweeter than the handful of dandelions, picked with love by the chubby fingers of a toddler. Who smiles more, the giver? Or the receiver?

I still chuckle at the memory of my oldest son, who was about eight or nine-years-old, bringing me some of the most gorgeous hand-picked bouquets I had ever received from a child… until a neighbor (or was it his older sister?) alerted me that the flowers were coming from the garden of the dentist’s office down the street.

There is such beauty in seeing flowers in bloom. There is such a beauty in receiving flowers given with love, too.  The beauty of the flower compels us to pay it forward by sharing them with others.

When God created these living works of art, I am sure He knew they would touch more than our senses.

He knew they would touch our hearts.

Who smiles more? The Giver? Or the receiver?

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

On being gentle and kind

“Life is fragile…handle with prayer.” – Harold B. Lee

I believe I was about 13 years-old when my mother made an embroidery sampler using the above quote. It hung in a frame and I must’ve looked at that piece a million times throughout the course of my life.

Without dating myself (yes, it’s been a few decades since Mom made that!), I really understood the meaning of that quote yesterday morning.

Yesterday, I made the discovery that I am indeed “fragile.”

After dropping the kids off at school, I had a driver pull out in front of me, only to stop and block traffic to turn left. If she had waited just a few seconds, she would’ve had a clear path. Luckily, I was in no rush, but the rudeness just brought me to tears. Honestly, I thought I was crazy being so emotional over this driving incident – which, unfortunately, happens all the time these days.

But my feelings were very real. And it has taken me an entire day to figure out why this bothered me so much. Seriously, I spent a lot of time praying I wasn’t crazy and for the Lord to give me patience with others.

Why? Because I felt like this driver didn’t care about me.

Obviously, she didn’t care about anyone other than herself and her own time-table. But somehow, I felt like she did this on purpose to me. Didn’t she know what I was going through in life? Didn’t she know that my dad died less than a year ago and that I was having a hard time dealing with his death this week? Didn’t she know that we buried a dear friend last week? Didn’t show know that if I hadn’t paid attention to her lack of patience, that we’d have been in an accident?

I felt singled out by this driver, simply because of this: rudeness is running rampant.

The “I don’t give a rip about the next guy attitude” has really gotten on my nerves lately. How can people be so callous and rude? It’s not ocassional anymore – it’s everwhere! It is on the roads, where people are completely inconsiderate of others. It’s in parking lots, where people  leave shopping carts to roll into other people’s cars.  It’s on our front lawns, where folks walking dogs leave their pet’s mess for someone else to clean. It’s in short, snarky comments and the rolling of eyes. Rudeness has become an absolute epidemic.

Of course I don’t expect a total stranger to know me or my emotions on any given day.  But I do expect that people would behave and treat others with some level of respect.

Is it because I watched my dad struggle the last few years of his life that I put myself in other’s shoes?  If I walk through a fog of emotion, are others doing the same? There is no way to know if the people I encounter today have received a big dose of bad news – a death, a diagnosis that is terminal, a foreclosure notice, a job loss. Maybe a smile or a courteous word is all they need to keep moving in that moment.

If I am fragile, than I will just assume someone else is, too.

It is the least that I can do.

Have you been a victim of rude people? Tell me below in the comments section.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

A quick apology…

I’m pretty frustrated at the moment. After writing a post, and then hitting publish, the only thing that appeared were the bullet points I had used. I mean, just the actual bullet symbols! My word count was “zero,” the photos were gone, and basically a blank page was sent into cyber space with a link to nowhere! UGH! WOOF! I apologize to anyone who questioned their sanity when clicking onto nothing! I am just loving the fact that all that work is just gone, gone, gone.

So, my motivation to re-write it has been zapped. And honestly, it is such a pretty day, that I am not planning to waste another minute worrying about that post. I’ll save that for a rainy day.

Has anyone else experienced that same problem? Where you typed, used spellcheck, added photos, hit “publish” and nothing posted, other than the title? And a series of empty bullet points? Let me know if you have. It’s probably too late for me to fix, because, well, I was so mad I hit “move to trash.” So the blank page was gone, along with the time I’ll never get back.

If this is my only challenge of the day, I’ll count myself very lucky indeed!

Lessons learned from a wet paper

“The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day.” – Wayne Gretzky

Every morning, I talk to my dad and tell him how much I miss him. On Sundays, Thursdays and Fridays, I miss him even more. Those are the “new” home delivery days for our sort-of daily paper. Yes, the paper is published daily, but budget cuts and cost-saving plans now make for a three-day home delivery service. Out of tradition, we still get home delivery of the Detroit Free Press, “our” paper, and just seeing the masthead makes me think of Dad even more.

After a night of downpours and thunderstorms, I woke up to coffee brewing (I so love programmable coffee makers!) and, while on my way to the front door, I wished Dad a good morning.

Hey Dad, I bet you’re going to be ticked this morning,” I chuckled to myself as I opened the door.

I was right. He’d be livid. Heads would be rolling downtown.

My paper was soaking wet, even though it was in a plastic bag.

Dad was a circulation guy, just like his dad. A late paper was unacceptable, unless it was due to a late press run. A wet paper was completely unacceptable. Period. End of story. Trust me when I tell you that you wouldn’t win an argument with him over a wet paper. If you were one of his carriers, you would be told to “think ahead.” If there was even the slightest chance of that paper getting wet, you were going to go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that paper was dry – even if you had to triple bag the blasted thing.

I know this because my brothers, sister and I all had paper routes. So did our friends, our cousins and, eventually, some of our spouses. We learned from him how the newspaper “food chain” works. Here’s how (imagine him throwing in an expletive or two for emphasis):

“The carrier can make or break the paper he or she works for. Don’t you know that papers aren’t made for free? Someone has to pay all the people who get that paper on the doorstep every morning. So, the advertising rates are based on the circulation numbers. Circulation numbers are based on sales, particularly home delivery subscriptions. Sometimes content comes into play, but nine times out of ten, people quit the paper because of lousy service.

“So, if people quit over service, how do you justify ad rates? Or if the advertiser gets mad and takes his business to the competition, what do you think will happen? How do you pay people when revenues are down? You don’t. You lose numbers. You lay people off.”

Whoa – that’s one serious business lesson to learn.

Customer service skills were drilled into our heads at a young age, along with the world’s strongest work ethic.

Needless to say, the areas of circulation that were run by my dad were like a well-oiled machine. He knew the people to put into the right places to, in his words (and with his famous nod), “get the job done.”

At the time, I didn’t appreciate having to spend an extra minute on my route, bagging papers “just in case.” But as time has moved forward, and I am out and about in this world, I realize just how important those customer service skills are, and see the value in his lesson.

Sitting here, having a refill of coffee and waiting to get a dry paper, I lift up my mug and say, “thanks, Dad.”

And I will try really, really, really hard not to use an expletive as I patiently wait…

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Can we call a truce?

Here we go – again. All will be quiet on the front, and then boom – the proverbial bomb drops and the war begins. Is anyone else growing weary of this tired topic?

By now, most people have heard a zillion times about the resurfaced “Mommy Wars” after yesterday’s television and Twitter reports. Working mom vs. stay-at-home mom. Apparently, this conflict will never cease.

Why must this fight continue? Why must all comments on either side of the subject continue to be taken as an insult? Why is stay-at-home mom vs. working mom even a debate?

To say that a woman who stays home to raise her children has “never worked a day in her life” is ignorant. Mothering is a tough and thankless job, in the immediate sense. There is rarely a moment to breathe between changing dirty diapers all day, dealing with overly-curious preschoolers and supervising teenagers. Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t easy – the work is hard – but the rewards are plenty. I know that because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom.

That being said, my heart is compassionate for women who balance work and raising a family. It isn’t easy to be up all night long with a sick preschooler, then try to find someone to watch the child because you have used up all of your sick and vacation time due to the baby being sick. Your mind wanders during a meeting because you are missing yet another skit at school – you couldn’t get the time off. Being a working mom isn’t easy – the work is hard – but the steady check helps to raise the family and secure their future. I know that, because I was also a full-time working mom.

Each one of our choices comes with a price. We know that, and don’t need to be reminded of that. My heart breaks for the women who don’t have a choice. The women forced into work because life threw them a curveball. Or the women forced into resigning the work they love due to a change in economics or family-life.

We mothers are our own worse enemy. Instead of respecting and appreciating the choices we have been blessed with, we are so busy beating each other up over who is correct in their choice. There is no right or wrong, ladies! It is a choice!

Instead of looking at a stay-at-home mom as an unitelligent lazy dolt, look at her with thanks. This is the woman who watches your child walk home from school, making sure no harm comes to him. This woman may be chaperoning your daughter’s trip to the zoo.

And stay-at-home moms, stop looking at working moms as women who are greedy and put the needs of their family behind a paycheck. Look at these women with thanks. These are the women who are on-call when your child gets sick in the middle of the night. These are the women who teach your child how to read.

We should be banding together to keep each other propped up, not tearing each other down.

Enough is enough!

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb