Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Cenote

Where do I even begin?

It's been a rough couple of weeks. The church I am a member of came out with a new policy that has been extremely difficult for me to digest. (That is an entire separate post that will probably never happen).

The terrorist attacks in Paris.

The Syrian refugee crisis.

Tonight, as I knelt next to Peter's bed to pray with him, I freely spoke to my Father in Heaven about some of these things. Namely, the refugees, or "people with nowhere to live and not enough food to eat, and children with no parents. Help us be kind and always help when and where we can." (I'm constantly trying to reinforce to Peter that the most important thing in life is to be kind).

After I finished the prayer, I stood up to give Peter goodnight kisses and he was wiping tears from his eyes. He didn't want to tell me what was wrong at first..."I'm fine. I'm not sad." But a moment later, " I AM sad. What about those children with nothing to eat and no mommy to help them grow up?"

All I could do was hold his head in my hands and cry with him. "Life is hard, Peter. That's why it is so important to help and do what we can for people. We are so lucky to have our family and food to eat and a warm home." With that, I kissed him and hugged him with soft, motherly fierceness and retired to my room to read.

Through my remaining tears, I opened to the last few chapters of Chelsea Dyreng's " The Cenote" and found myself lost in a Mezzo American world filled with love,grief, laughter, marital strife, legends, and forgiveness. Once again I was in tears. This book is PERFECT for a book club. Her story telling is brilliant and the subject matter is relatable to the vast majority of people. I'm not going to tell you what the book is a metaphor for. Just read it. You must. You must!

Get the book HERE. 

It will enrich your life and open the door to some great questions and conversations. I love books that make you think and stay with you. I prom dress that this is worth the read. 

So with all of these instances of pain and sadness this week--there has been a sweetness and an awakening to them. (Perhaps not with the first issue in this post). I've thought and felt things I don't necessarily feel the need to share, but the bottom line is I have felt a softened love for the human race (once again) and been reminded of how much we need each other, how essential forgiveness is, and how we must love one another or die. 

So say a prayer. Read a good book. And keep on loving. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Lesson From My Special Needs Friend

It was at about mile 4 when I saw him. His large, 3-wheeled, cherry red bicycle headed toward me. I had a mile to go before making it home to the chaos and responsibilities of my life. I was deep in thought about my struggles, my fears, my hopes. And I was also at the top of a steep climb on the paved trail.

I knew this bicycle, and I knew the man on it. His name is Kent and I attend church with him every Sunday. He sits in the very front row, mumbles to himself, and rides his prized bike everywhere he goes. He LOVES ringing the bell at church to signal it's time to change classes. He carries his iPad with him everywhere with a zoomed in digital clock displayed on the front so he always knows what time it is...to the second. I'm not sure what the "label" of his condition is, perhaps somewhere on the Autism spectrum,  I just know he has a kind and innocent heart. 

Determined, he peddled hard as he reached the base of the hill. He had his usual backpack, gloves, hat, and all sorts of other gear with him. I wasn't sure if he would recognize me but without skipping a beat, I continued my run toward him (I was at the bottom of the hill at this point), I switched directions, grabbed the metal basket on the end of his bike and while already pushing him uphill briefly asked, "Need some help?" 

He nodded vigorously and together we made it up the hill in no time. Neither one of us missed a single step or push of the pedal. There was no stopping to say, "Hi, Kent! Do you remember me from church? Would it be OK if I helped you?" 

Not only that, but once he made it to the top of the hill he just carried on and didn't even look back. I loved it. I loved that I was in the right place at the right time to help him up that hill. He got me entirely out of my thoughts and into action, which is what it seems I always need. And it's extremely likely he had no idea who the woman pushing him was. He is childlike in that most endearing of ways. 

I guess my takeaway from this experience, what I love most about it, is that helping him was so easy, so effortless. The way he accepted my help, with no hesitation or apologies, was so refreshing. My act of kindness was so small but something about the way he rode off to his destination without looking back made it even more special for me. I was going my way, he was going his. We were at different speeds, with different abilities, but we helped each other seamlessly. 

I smiled to myself the rest of the way home.

In print, the experience sounds so insignificant. "So a lady helped push some guy biking up a hill." But the feeling, the timing, the innocence, the blue sky and clean Park City air--it brought me back to the root of my spirit and my life.

He was going his way, I was going mine.  But we helped each other and showed love using hardly any words and no judgements or expectations. 30 seconds of bliss.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Goodness, Gracious Neighbors!

Every Halloween, our extremely generous and talented neighbors do FREE Halloween portraits for all the neighborhood kids and their friends. This year did not disappoint!  Honestly, it was a REALLY great Halloween. The weather in PC was spectacular and I loved how our family-themed costumes turned out.  

Of course I thought of our Lucy. My kids do such an incredible job remembering her and incorporating her into our everyday lives. "Let's carve a pumpkin for Lucy." "What would Lucy dress up as this year with us?" Or..."I'll get some extra candy...for Lucy."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Psychiatric Circus

First of all, there are a million and one more photos of my trip to Rome on my Instagram account (@smallyspice). Secondly, you may need to know Bice Family humor in order to understand the underlining theme of our trip--"Psychiatric Circus".

One of the first things we saw as our driver took us from the airport to our apartment was a huge billboard for some sort of (I assume) Halloween show called "Psychiatric Circus." My dad made some comment about it and my mom and I got an excellent laugh out of it. He didn't realize it was a Halloween show and his comment was hilariously misguided.

My dad had surgery on his foot 6 weeks prior to this trip and had a hard time walking. A boot on his foot and a cane on the ready, we slowly made our way through the streets and sights of Rome. It was MAGNIFICENT. But each time my mom and I stopped and waited and looked back to see Russell hobbling toward us, we'd flatly state, "Psychiatric Circus". It never got old. And the day it poured rain and my dad pulled out the trusty emergency poncho I was carrying in my backpack (see photo below) and proclaimed, "Walking on cobblestones is hard enough, but walking on slanted cobblestones is another story," is the day Psychiatric Circus hit its peak and we could not stop laughing. (I know, we are mean. We laugh at my dad a lot. But it is all done in a spirit of love. I don't understand families who don't make fun of each other).

The day we walked in circles on end and tried in vain to catch a bus home, only to end up on the same street corner 2 or 3 times (then later learned our apartment was just up the street) was another popular scene in our Psychiatric Circus. So. much. laughter.

Our little apartment for the week. "La Casa Del Peonie"

Insert laughing until you cry Emoji. 

Read about Michelangelo's giant pinecone in the Vatican courtyard HERE. It's fascinating!!

Psychiciatric Circus on tour. 

Warning to all psych patients: Look out below. Slanted AND wet cobblestones. 

Our 5 star hotel the last night in Rome was such a treat!

This was our view at breakfast. 

Another incredible treat was a weekend visit from our friend Tanja who lives in Switzerland! (As well as the Swiss chocolate she brought for us). She added an invaluable bit to our Psychiatric comedy routine by proclaiming that my dad had a "sweet ass". She meant "Sweet tooth" but couldn't remember the phrase in English! (Please insert laugh until you cry Emoji again). 

These photos are just the TIP of the iceberg, but you get the idea. So much delicious food. So many charming streets. So many well-dressed men. So much history! So many sights--Vatican, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, etc, etc. So much charm. So much fun. So many incredible memories. A huge thank you to my parents for allowing me to tag along. 
More photos below if you feel like scrolling further. Ciao Belle!

P.S. I spent an extra night in alone in Rome after my parents left to fly to Istanbul. THAT was trippy.