There’s always the dog door

There’s always the dog door

My brother and sister-in-law were in town for a wedding, staying in my guest room. Waiting for them to come home from the rehearsal dinner I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, falling asleep on the couch. (Allergy medicine was involved.)

They came home and rang the doorbell. I didn’t stir. They knocked on the door. I didn’t stir. They called my cellphone, which was right beside me. I didn’t stir. They called my home phone. I didn’t stir. Finally my brother came in through the (large) dog door. (My dogs were away at camp.) I still didn’t stir. After I woke up I didn’t realize they were home until I went to the back door for something and saw their car in the driveway. They were already sound asleep.

Life is like that sometimes. Not the being so tired that you’re comatose part. But the part about having to find a different way.

I’ve been listening to a biography of Muppet Creator Jim Henson while in my car. Besides his manifold creative gifts, Jim had the quality of being able to hold things lightly. Over and over again he made pitches for shows that were never picked up. He spent hours working on a Broadway show that didn’t happen. (Just today Disney announced plans for a possible Broadway Muppet Show.) He pitched pilot after pilot to the network, not just creating a proposal but creating actual muppet characters and producing skits. Either the network suits didn’t get it. Or if they were enthusiastic, they couldn’t find a time of it. For years he worked on this dream of having a weekly television show only to be turned down time after time.

Meanwhile, at the insistence of Lorne Michaels and the network, the Muppets were part of the original cast of Saturday night Live. (Yeah, it sounded strange to me as well.) Obviously, they didn’t click with the cast and writers but Michaels liked Jim so much he didn’t want to fire him.

At this same time, through the work of his agent and connections made while doing a special with Julie Andrews (who herself had been given a special because her network show was cancelled after one season, a casualty of going head to head with Mary Tyler Moore) Jim was offered a syndication deal. Originally skeptical of syndication, Jim allowed himself to be talked into it.

The Muppet Show was born. When the agent called with the news Jim didn’t ask about money or budget. He simply said, “I love you.” There was, of course, no issue with Jim being let out of his SNL contract, and everyone parted with relief.

He had his dream. Not on the timetable he’d wanted. Not in the way he envisioned. But he had his dream.

Sometimes we miss what could be possible in our lives because we insist that they can be possible in only one way and on only one timetable. But the truth of the matter is, sometimes they have to come through the dog door.

What are you wiling to hold lightly?


Lessons from landscaping

Lessons from landscaping

by Peggy Haymes

First things first: this post has nothing to do with pot, marijuana, mary jane or funny cigarettes. Nope, I’m talking about the regular fescue.

I’ve been in my house for nearly nine years now. Every single year has been a battle to grow grass. The backyard was the first casualty. Between lots of shade cover and a new dog, the grass the previous owner/flipper had hurriedly cultivated didn’t stand a chance.

My natural area in the front started spreading slowly. I have two sections to my front yard – the top years directly in front of my house and the sloping bank. Originally the edge of my bank was grass covered. Since the bank was steep and I could only mow it by running down the hill with the lawn mower (note: I DO NOT recommend this) I extended the natural area on the bank. Up top I have more trees than sun and I’ve gradually been giving up the fight.

This year I took the plunge. It doesn’t look like much now but I’m converting it all to natural landscaping and garden. I’ve taken advantage of the one sunny spot to plant flowers and an herb garden.

You see, in order for me to have grass I’d have to lime the soil, seed, fertilize, water… and then mow. It didn’t seem to be the most environmentally responsible thing to do. Plus, in the last three autumns I’ve had shoulder issues from wrestling my mower over what remained of my bank. I’m glad to give it up.

I finally decided that grass just wasn’t meant to grow in this yard. Instead of fighting my landscaping, why not work with it? Instead of trying to make it into something that it’s not, why not nurture its strengths into beauty?

As I thought about the process I realized that perhaps I’d stumbled on a truth that was true for more than just my landscaping. We tie ourselves into knots trying to fit into someone else’s expectation of who and what we should be. We kill ourselves pursuing a dream that’s not even our dream. We try to be the green expanse of fescue when our soil is really shade trees and ground cover, flowers and herb gardens.

Do you need to let go of some grass?



A Worthless Walk

As I ran around the track this morning  I was joined by a class of kids from the high school up the hill. At least, that’s what  I assumed they were. They shuffled and strolled around the track while their teacher stood silently at one end, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were ducking behind the tennis courts to take a short cut.  I am normally so supportive of anyone moving in any way, but I have to tell you: the day the doctor first let me walk around that track after five months of being non-weightbearing,  I walked faster than most of those kids.

Maybe because it was nearly the end of May but the teacher seemed to be checked out. There were no shouts of encouragement, no words of prodding. Just silent waiting. It was all I could not to revert to coach mode and start yelling at them myself.

As I watched them endure the torture of a lap or two around the track, I felt very sad. I felt sad for a group of kids who were so oblivious to such a fine morning and who were so disconnected from their bodies. But mainly I felt sad because they didn’t have anyone to push them to do better. They didn’t have it on the track. I wondered if they had it anywhere.  I knew what my own  running coaches and mentors meant to me. Three and a half years ago I could barely shuffle around the track. Last Saturday I ran ten miles. Between there and here I had people who pushed me to keep going, to take one more step, to do the things that my mind was convinced was impossible.

The late Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser was found of using the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our chief want in life is someone who shall make us do what we can.” We all need people in our lives who will push us. If we have been open to growing as we grow up, we internalize those people. Eventually we are able to find inside our own selves that voice, that push, that word of encouragement.

Recently  I saw a tweet from the “life is good” folks: “You can give up, give in or give it all you’ve got.” We all need that part of ourselves that’s able to say, “Come on – give it all you’ve got.”

I was sad because those kids wasted their walk this morning. And I was sad because I didn’t know how many of them would also waste their walk through this life, shining less brightly than they might have done, doing less than they could have done, being less than they were created to be.

What about you?