I grew up in a rather (let’s call it) “frugal” family. I was taught, and at times forced, to enjoy myself without spending cash. Money was accessible for needs; needs that could be verified with overwhelming amounts of scientific data and statistics. Even though we lived with intentionality, my family didn’t lack adventure. We loved road trips and outdoor excursions. We loved the mountains and we REALLY loved shopping with our eyes. Just as my parents did (all those years ago) and still do, ‘grown-up me’ has perfected the art of browsing.
When I need a little escape, I sometimes electronically whisk myself away and make believe that I’m wandering aimlessly through a charming store full of whimsical things: tea towels with witty words printed on them, unique looking jewelry and maybe something slightly off colored too. It’s my little piece of freedom. And for a minute (or ten), I have no heavy life altering responsibilities, like teaching history, math, spelling, science and character to a 4th grader or toilet training to a 2 year old. When I click on my “shopping” apps, there’s no goal or specific thing I’m searching for, I’m just strolling leisurely through imaginary aisles, picking up interesting objects, enjoying them for a moment and then putting them back in their place.
Every now and then, something really unique and special grabs my attention. Last week I absolutely LOVED this one item I found. It was exceptional! It wasn’t so much visually striking as it was beautifully thought provoking. It gently encouraged me to evaluate the way I approach hardships, struggle and all those minor daily irritations. This "thing" that so impacted me was a simple framed quote that read:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”
The sweetness of those words captured me because I’ve always romanticized the imagery of a person dancing joyfully in the rain; carefree and clearly not worried about menial details like messy, knotted hair or runny eye make-up. This girl (as I imagine her) is full of life and fun. She seizes her opportunities to laugh and smile with the people around her. She doesn’t withhold her affection. She’s generous in spirit. She’s affirming and sincere. She’s courageous, honest and wise. She isn’t quick tempered or prone to jealousy, and she’s absolutely NOT plagued by insecurity. She’s dancing wildly in the rain…how could she be bothered by such pointless pettiness?? According to that description, my soaked but still dancing make-believe lass, sounds devastatingly and irritatingly perfect. For those of us ladies who aren’t regular frolickers, we’ve likely longed to harness that degree of carefree abandon.
Sunday evening in the Smith home was aggravating. I sat across our family dining room table from my fellow enforcer, sufferer, favorite person and husband as we exchanged eye rolls while attempting to encourage our four children to maintain civility and class. I felt surrounded by my generally amazing (but in this moment much, much, MUCH less than fantastic) children and an excessive amount of their energy and noise. This particular family supper was essentially food + chaos = my head is about to explode. As the crazies began to settle, and one by one asked to be excused from the table, a few simple words from that sweet quote kept rolling around in my mind, “…learning to dance in the rain”. Grrr! I was so frustrated with the fact that even though I was now sitting in peace and quiet, I couldn’t shake the huge hairy, gnarled ball of stress and fury inside me. The atmosphere in my dining room had shifted, but I still felt emotionally pinned to the ruckus of earlier.
I REALLY want to learn to dance in the rain! I want be capable of shifting from frustration and anger to cheerfulness when it’s time. I want to be lightning fast to forgive, especially when forgiveness is asked for and swift to return to offering warm exchanges. In all honesty, it’s really difficult for me to shift gears after my kids have driven me up the wall and around the house. There’s this one thing that my husband likes to say, particularly when it feels like the sky is falling. He’ll say, “Let the storm rage around us. As long as we have each other, we can get through it.” Those words have always had the same kind of peace ensuing affect on me as that framed quote. He’s always been my dancing in the rain man. And I promise that someday (hopefully real soon) I’ll be there too!