Last month, I asked a very personal, and possibly difficult, question as a requirement to enter my Birthday Contest. The entries came in slowly, but steadily, thanks to several bloggers who shared what I was doing with their audiences. They gradually sorted themselves out into a few major categories... births, deaths, illness, marriage, transforming moments. Some were far more moving than others, but all reflected the human experience, something we each share though it happens to us on our own terms and timetables. We may not have the same illness, lose a parent at the same point in life, or even discover the love of our life at the same decade in life, but we do share many of these experiences over the course of each lifetime.
I am honored to be entrusted with so many great stories, and plan to share them in a few clusters over the next month. Of course, it was very difficult selecting a first and second place winner for this contest, even when eliminating several 'also-rans'.... and somehow, using a random number generator didn't feel right either. That is why it is so late in the day, on the day that I promised to announce the winners. I have read and re-read each story, thinking about the writing and how each moved me in different ways, and finally went with the humanness of the recounting, the lessons the author wanted to share with all of us reader, and the feelings that these two stories gave me:
The first place winner, who will receive a special package of hand-dyed yarn, cute little tote and tape measure, put together on Friday while I was working at Fibers (it's already too dark to take a photo, but I will...soon), is blogless Shelly F:
"I read your life changing time and the others listed. Mine started out that way. I was in labor for 4 days with my first son, what a little man he was! Then I gave birth to my second son, Jesse. These two boys saved my life, really! Like you, I didnt want to be reckless. If a car was getting to close to me on the highway, I prayed that I would be ok because I was James and Jesse's mama!!
The time that stands out most in my life is April 7, 2008. I got a call at 1am. Jesse was on the phone all in a panic! He had been drinking too much, which he has a problem with at only 23 years old. He told me franickly to call 911. He had tried to commit suicide!! He had stabbed himself in the stomach 7 times. He was airlifted to Washoe and I made it there in 1 1/2 hours from Downieville. I was beside myself, I prayed the entire way! He was in surgery when I arrived and I waited in his room to be. Trust me, this wait was more painful than labor. They wheeled him in, told me his body will be fine, he missed everything! So, I sat and watched Jesse sleep. At that time, I loved him more than any other time of his life. I was so thankful that he was alive, so worried as to what brought him to this desperate point, how did I miss the signs?? I prayed and crocheted and prayed and crocheted. I sat with Jesse for 4 days, never left the hospital. I had the same clothes on the entire time. I was NOT going to leave my baby. I talked and talked with him. We got help for him and he is on the road to recovery. He isnt all the way there yet, but he is working hard on it.
I guess my point of telling this story isnt to make anyone sad, it is to tell people to not take one day for granted. Not one. Love those around you and turn away from the dirty dishes and laundry, sit on the floor and PLAY with the ones you love. Enjoy them to the fullest. Listen to them about the silliest things even when you are running out the door late. This with Jesse was a complete surprise!! Jesse turned 25 on Oct 1st. I sent him 4 - $25 gift cards to ToysRus. He loved them, said he went and bought himself a remote control car. (kid at heart) I sure do love that boy, more every day."
Shelly expressed one of the guiding principles in my life... to live in and for the moment, knowing that is all we really have. That doesn't mean I don't plan ahead, save for the future and treasure the past, but it does mean that I try to let the past failings and injuries fall away quickly, and move forward with joy every day, looking for the happiest and richest way to apply my energy. It's always a process, and some days are less successful than others, but I do agree with Shelly, treasure the moment and play with those you love! Thanks, Shelly.
The second place prize, a $25 gift certificate to Lafayette Book Store, goes to Meg, who did such an excellent job describing how a simple gift, given in the moment by her mother, affected her lifelong philosophy:
I thought of a life changing event I first thought of the fall of 2001 when
life was so so hard. But then I remembered the event that taught me the
resilience to get through those tough times.
I was 9 years old. My family was very,very poor and were getting evicted
from our home. My parents have four daughters and there was never enough money.
My mom and I walked to the hardware store to buy a lightbulb. In the store was
a man with large pack, a walking stick and looking scruffy with beard. He was
asking the clerks how to get to
The next day my parents
found a wonderful, huge house by the ocean that we could afford. And I learned
that no matter what, there is always a capacity to give despite what I think my
circumstances are. I also learned not be afraid of those who need help or to
feel pity, we are always one step away from walking in someone else's shoes.
It's a set of lessons I have kept with me in the 21 years since and a lesson I
teach to my husband, kids, family and friends by example whenever I can."
I was deeply moved by her statement that we always have the capacity to give... if we all started each day with that thought in mind, and took a step to give help to someone else, each and every day, just think of the changes we could create. Thanks for the inspiration, Meg.
There are more powerful stories to share, and I hope you will come back soon to read them. Thanks to all who entered, and please, I hope nobody will feel hurt or left out that I didn't select you as a winner... each one of you is a winner for being willing to share your knowledge with the rest of us.