A story about a sixty three year old woman, who’s marriage has frayed, and after not working outside of the home for nearly forty years, she has to now venture out and find employment. The unemployment office finds her the only job they can – a caretaker of a recreation center – that is soon to be shut down- in a very small and failing town. Britte Marie is socially awkward and when upset cleans everything. Everyone is measured by Britte Marie, by their cutlery drawer in their kitchens, although she is quick to remind the reader and herself, that she does not judge anyone,. She is of the type that wants all thing to be in order.
What happens to Britte Marie when she gets to the run down town, is that she is forced into situations and connections with people that are beyond her normal limits. Britte Marie imposes structure that she requires in little bits on those left in the few remaining people and places .
The kids in the small community are a rag tag bunch that just want to play soccer – even if the county has now destroyed their field and they no longer have a coach. They ask Britte Marie to be their coach so that they can play in a county tournament. She has never liked or understood the game of soccer or why people would want to even watch it. As she stumbles through being the adult in charge of the team, she begins to know the stories of the kids and families. Just like anywhere, there is history that impacts who and how they show up in life currently.
She also starts to realize that following one team or another is not always about who the best team is. It can be about who you get to share those times with, who instills hope, who expects to win, and who has the team that aligns with your heart.
Through the learning of soccer, she learns about life once again and of being a part of something bigger than oneself.
It is a story, heartbreaking yet uplifting, of how we can all have an effect on one another. How, sometimes people come into our lives and by just being true to who they are, they stir something deep in others to remember who they are and want to be again too.
It’s a story that reminds us that we are the ones who set boundaries of what we are capable of and what can occur when life moves those boundaries and puts us in a new starting place.
Thanks Anita for the book recommendation. I enjoyed meeting the characters and spending a week getting to know them and their stories.
I will freely admit that when the Covid vaccine came out, I was skeptic and not thinking that I would be one to jump in and get one. I am not one to get an influenza shot – I probably haven’t had one of those in 15 years. I’ve been healthy, so I never felt the need to get a flu shot. I was feeling the same way about the Covid vaccine until it became apparent that I have people in my life that should I wish to spend time with them, I need to make sure that I protect myself from getting something that could adversely affect them. The exact moment that this kicked in for me was seeing a post from a friends daughter – the daughter is a yoga teacher and very healthy wholistic person. Her mom, my friend, has had a heart transplant about three years ago now. The virus that she caught that killed her heart was actually a covid strain that had already been around. Anyway, when the daughter posted on Instagram that she had gotten her shot, my friend had typed in a comment of how pleased she was that they would be able to hug again. I smiled as I read that and said to myself, if getting a shot will allow me to hug my friend again, then, sign me up for the shot.
Problem was, I wasn’t in the current list of those that qualified. It’s been a long long time since I wasn’t old enough for something that had an age requirement.
Well, my age group finally made it to the inclusion list, but all of a sudden, there were no openings for an appointment to get the shot. I’d log in at 2:00 am when I’d wake up in the middle of the night and check, but nothing in my area. I’d log in at lunch and check. I found a couple, but by the time I clicked on them, they were already taken.
Yesterday, I decided that I would just keep checking to see if anything came up, and lo and behold, an appointment opened up at the pharmacy just 8 blocks from my office for today. I was even able to make the second appointment.
I was surprised at how happy I was to actually be signed up to get a shot. I think back to being in grade school and there being a day when we all stood in line at school to get the smallpox shot or was it polio, I can’t quite recall. Everyone got it, so that no one would get the disease. I’m hoping that enough people now also cut down the number of people who are apt to get the covid virus.
For me, covid feels like the bully in the neighborhood, you may fly under the radar and not be effected, but there are those we see getting pummeled and even killed. So, if I can help get the bully out of my neighborhood by getting a couple of jabs, then I’ll do it.
So far, I’ll be the only one in my household getting the shots, but that’s ok. Everyone has to do what is right for them, and this is what is right for me.
Because I have issues with social media in general, I have gone through long periods of time where I just don’t even log into FB at all. That has generally suited me just fine, except for those updates that some only post on a social site to share that will be missed if one chooses to not participate in said sites.
That was made all too apparent to me when I recently logged in to post something and found a note from a long time friend who posted that her cancer which she has fought back several times, is now to the point where she no longer considers the ravages to be worth the war. With her normal grace, she has informed us all that she is ceasing further treatment and is calling in hospice.
So, Let me tell you about my friend Judy Rupnow Wick and our story together.
Not too long after I moved to Colorado back in the mid 80’s, while I was figuring out what it was I wanted to do with my life, I took a job as a waitress at a newer sports bar down by the then McNichols Arena and Mile High Stadium. She was one of the bartenders and I was one of the servers. We served many of the regulars that find an establishment and call it their own, as well as the many sports and concert enthusiasts that frequented us on their way to the local events. Like any spot that is lucrative, we made good money and so turn over in staff was minimal. We had the same staff almost from the very beginning until the place shut down. In that time, we became family. We celebrated, screamed at times, laughed a ton, hung out even when we weren’t working together, celebrated good times and cried together at the hard times. We even had an annual flag football game for a few years.
That is Ted and I on the far left and Judy in the Pink.
When I got engaged and planned the wedding to be held in the midst of a hiking trip in the Colorado mountains, Judy was the one who managed to also get the time off to come along – no small feat in a busy place with limited staff. Had she not been there, I may not have gotten married. Her calm presence after I had a heated argument the night before with my betrothed, along with the frustration of some of his friends – that had previously assured me that they had the equipment and knowledge of what to bring on a back packing trip – yet showed up with book bags as their gear, was enough to have me hiking in another direction. Her wit (making fun of the “mountain men” who would wear their book bags on their back one minute and the front the next, because they couldn’t get comfortable in them), her ability to talk it out in non-confrontational methods, and the 7 mile hike up hills, allowed for the sting of harsh words to release from me and soak into the surroundings and be purified as nature is always willing to do.
After our beloved Ironworks Bar and Grille shut down, Judy and Jim were married and moved to Minnesota not too far from North Dakota. Distance lengthened the time between our visits, but not the connection. Lucky for me, her sister was still in Denver, so I tagged into many visits just by going over to Audrey’s house. Once Judy started the dog agility, I was lucky again that every now and then, there would be a trial in Denver that she would attend. This even allowed Devin and I to be able to go and experience the drama and excitement of the trials, and see the comradery that she now had with that group. She really did land into another whole family with the agility peeps.
Judy had moved to Minnesota and also into counseling for many years. She is a natural good listener which had also made her the great bartender that she was in our working years together and of coarse, a great friend.
A couple years ago, after her first battle with cancer seemed to have been won, I was again able to meet up with her at a dog agility trial in Minneapolis as I was passing through on a very quick but wonderful trip up through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Judy always made time to reconnect whenever and wherever possible.
She was back here just a year or two back and we actually were getting the main crew from our Ironworks days together, but she had to leave just one day prior to when the rest could gather. My fortune, always being on the lucky side, provided that I was at least afforded lunch together before she had to take to the road back home. We all missed Judy at that visit.
I’m sad to say that my stubbornness to not give Facebook my time, also caused me to miss the updates that Judy’s cancer had returned and was worse. It was a gut punch to hear that my friend has been once again in treatments and declining in strength and reserves needed for handling the toll that the drugs and exertion takes.
Judy, I can feel the calm in your words, the grace of being ok with where you are, where you’ve been and allowing the loved ones who are with you, hold you as your soul prepares for the journey beyond. I am so very blessed to have had you in my life for so many years. I cry as I write this because it hurts my mind to contemplate you leaving our plane of existence. But all the while my eyes stream with sadness, my heart is still aglow for what we’ve had that cannot be taken away. I know that I will be on a hike, or see a dog, or hear a laugh and know that you are still with me even when your body cannot be. We all want to say that we will have lived a good life when our time comes, no matter what that age is, and I pray that this last segment on this journey reminds you of what a great life yours has been. I want to also let you know that mine has also been amazingly better because you were a part of it. Thank you. I love you now and forever.
There is a beautiful woman and her given name is Khushbu. She did not favor the name as it sounded harsh and ugly to her. What she did not know nor understand was the magic of the name.
Here is the story of how that name came to be:
Long ago, in another lifetime, there was a flock of birds that each had a ruby feather and an indigo feather atop feathers with the translucence of pearls. Light would play upon their quills like the sun on a shimmering ocean, casting hues of ever changing colors, the brilliant ruby and indigo plumes constant accents. But while other birds had songs to sing in many choruses, these had just one call. It seemed that the rarity of their beautiful plumage was offset by the limit of only one call. That call was the sound Khushbu.
Since they only had the one call, they learned to use it for any situation. They screamed the sound loudly to signal a warning. They chortled it as a giggle when sharing amusing moments. They sang it softly as a hug when expressing love. They let it ring roundly and joyfully when gliding on a wave of wind in the warm sun. It became a call that could express any mood, deliver any message depending upon the fluctuation of the tempo, the accent, the tone in which it was presented.
This beautiful community of birds lived in only a small region that had not been inhabited by people–until the day a hunting party stumbled into their vicinity. The men had been sent by their king to find treasure to increase the king’s wealth. When the party saw this flock of birds, the likes of which they had never seen before, they set about trying to design a way to take a breeding pair back to their king. Surely, such rare beauty was worth more than the gold found in rocks so many other places!
The party began to lunge at the birds trying to snatch one from a branch. Each time, they would hear another bird squawk a loud, warning Khushbu and the bird they had nearly caught would fly away to its flockmate. The hunters, however, thought it the mating call and so tried to imitate the sound. Expecting to lure the rare birds to them, they in fact sent their prey to safety. Next, traps were tried, but still the birds eluded the party. Running low on supplies and getting close to the time they were required to report to the king, the frustrated exploration party left. Knowing the king would be furious to hear of such beautiful birds and yet not have any for himself, the group conspired never to speak of what they had seen. Instead, they agreed that to recall that secret part their trip, they would simply utter “Khushbu”.
What they did not realize was that when they began making the birds’ cry, it relayed the true emotion of the speaker. The magic of the call of the birds had been transferred to the people without them even realizing it. Hearing the varied tones and tempos of the strange sound, others in the kingdom asked the hunters what it meant. To keep their secret, the party declared it was merely the name of the fragrance from flowers they had come across. Such was the aroma, they explained, that it had a different smell to different individuals and thus the word, too, had a different sound from the different individual making it. This is how the word Khushbu became first a word and then a name that others know to mean fragrance. But the truth of its origin remains: in the speaker’s speaking of the name, the attuned listener hears the inner feelings, an emotional expression, from the sayer of Khushbu.
Thus, to the woman born to this name, birthed at a tumultuous time for those raising her, the name sounded harsh, frightening; for that was the prevailing emotion of those voicing it. In her early hearing was reflected, not the ugliness of the name, but rather the unpleasantness of the elders’ situation and emotion. If she takes the time now to listen to how others voice the name, she will hear the love from those that address her with an open heart, the skepticism from those who would challenge her, the fear from those who would want to control her, the joy of those who wish to share in her greatness. She will learn to distinguish when the emotion relayed in her spoken name reveals that of the speaker or that of the spoken to. She will feel within herself the joy, the sympathy, the ferocity, the freedom, the playfulness, the courage, the love–the many and mixed emotions conveyed when her name is uttered.
The name “Khushbu” is a name of great magic that belongs only to those who are keen observers, those who can feel deeply, who can decipher what – even the speaker – may not know is being relayed. There may not be a more beautiful name–or a more sensitive soul who holds the power to interpret the magic of Khushbu.
A special Thank you to Nancy for the edit provided on this story.
This is a strange and hard time for many. Some are secluded, some are going through tough times, some are bored and some are being overworked. Put me in the overworked column. I can tell you that from interacting with our customer base from all corners of the US and Europe, that people’s emotions are all over the place.
Anyway, I’ve a friend that is going through a particularly hard time and so I’ve said to this pal that I would send a story every now and then as needed for a distraction. Sometimes we need something unexpected that isn’t from the news, or part of your current surroundings to take your mind off of the bubble of your own space. So a story or few thoughts strung together it will be as much as I can manage.
It may be a tad like the times I was writing of my days of training and planning for my Australia trip and all over the spectrum – as one just never knows what will inspire on any given day or week and come off of the page.
I imagine that there will be some stories that I will send to her personally in text or mail, but while I have this platform, I thought I would share a few here as well.
I also may not link everything to Facebook, so if you want to know when a post goes up, you can subscribe and receive an email. (it does not put you on any mailing list except for post notifications)
And if you don’t want to be notified, that is ok, maybe just check back in once in a while to see if there has been a post update.
I awoke this morning thinking of oh so many people that I am thankful for. People who have shaped me by being directly and indirectly in my life. Some so close that I can’t ever imaging life without them, some on the periphery but like a spice to a great recipe, still would be missed if not included.
One day recently as I began my morning of brushing my teeth, I acknowledged to myself that I almost always think of a friend – even if it is ever so briefly – when I brush my teeth. This stems from a story and laughs from when we shared a room at a retreat once. I decided in that moment to go about my day and try to recognize when people would pop into my head.
Picking out clothes to put on brought on a slew of people. As I went through drawers and closet, I had visions of the people who gave a piece of clothing to me, shopped with me, was part of a trip where I purchased, or the style, slogan or color just reminded me of someone.
Walking outside it the moonless near black sky and looking at the stars brought on more people of times shared under similar skies. (been leaving for work at O’dark thirty in the morning lately)
Tunes or discussions on the radio as I drove to work reminded me of people.
Deciding to have tea, coffee or just hot water when getting to work reminded me of all different people as I contemplated choices.
Calls from customers all day could bring up someone based upon their location, speech pattern, or their vocabulary and tone.
The walk in the park at lunch brought up so many people as the trees seemed to remind me of shared times both there and in similar surroundings.
A laugh in the grocery from someone several isles over had me smiling huge as laughing friends and family filled my psyche.
I looked out the window at work and saw the last leaf fall from the tree that resides in my view and thought of the book “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” and the friend who had gifted the book to me over 40 years ago.
I passed an upright piano in the window of a store and thought of one of my great aunts. I don’t know that I have but maybe one real memory of me being in the same space with her, but her memory is passed along in the stories from my Mother and other family members.
I saw someone along the road walking and it reminded me of a gentleman in our community that works at the local grocery and has turrets and how much I have learned of acceptance, perseverance and living your good life from just observing him over the years. Someone whom I know so little of, but still has an impression upon me.
Every smell, taste, site and movement of my day brought up someone or a host of people.
Just thinking of food is enough to fill books of memories with people and the association, so you can be sure every meal that day was a thanksgiving meal filled with friends and family gathered in my heart instead of around my table.
People coming to mind happens to us all and is something we all do every day, but pausing to acknowledge the thoughts as they arose was not something I always do. So if you are reading this, it means that you have been in my thoughts because you are in my life and it is good because of you. Thank you for what you have added to my life.
If you are reading this and do not know me, you are also amazing because you are in the memories of someone else’s life and you allow them to pause when the moment strikes as they think of you.
I love when I get responses from folks from a post. I love when it stirs a memory which gets shared, I love it when it’s just a comment and I love it when it prompts something more than was there.
This week I received a response from the post: https://www.thelaughyouknow.com/when-you-say-yes that made me glow and had the feeling of showing someone a garden to which they take care to cut the variety of flowers and create an amazing bouquet.
*Someone sought to pull a thread…
And Lo! It pulled several others
That wove together string by string,
Spontaneous deeds of gentleness and giving.
*As open hearts and their ripple effect wove a magic textured tapestry,
The human fabric emerged endearingly strong,
From ‘good,heartfelt expressions of humanity’!
*In the fog of thinking on ones feet,
‘To do or dont’ brings existential confusion!
In a sudden leap of faith , the risk is taken..
Then blessed assurance!Evident comfort and sanctuary for another unknown,
Propelled by impulse, initiative, gut feeling, intuition.
*To clad a stranger,recognise a need
From the largesse of the hearts own treasure,
Extend the benefit of the doubt,
Give unconditionally without count or measure.
*Some people remind us by example
Through trying times and tales that edify:
When in doubt and judgment ,humbly stop to remember,
There,but for the grace of God go I!
This week I received a call from home while I was at work that yet another unexpected visitor had appeared. This one came up into the yard and passed by the downstairs patio doors and then was seemingly gone. Devin called in hushed yet excited tones as it had been a young bobcat. We had only ever had reports of one other seen in our vicinity and Ted and a neighbor had been the only ones to sight it last fall.
I mentioned to Dev that it would be great if that kitty would go up to the compost pile and take care of the mice that had taken to burrowing through the sawdust and refuse we pile into it. Wouldn’t you know that as we were speaking, he went upstairs and there the little guy was – standing at the edge of the compost bin.
I returned home from work a bit later anxious to see if the visitor might still be around for me to catch a glimpse of as well and lo and behold it was resting in a limb of the tree just above the compost.
We were able to watch it come down from it’s perch maneuvering down the trunk and other branches with an ease that defied gravity. It hung out at the compost for a while longer before fading back into the local wilderness not to be seen since.
Then later, as a direct response to the last post, I received a message I felt was too lovely not to share. I think I’ll save it for tomorrow.
Last year at Christmas, the co-worker that I job share the most with, gave us all a plastic cup with his face on one side, and the back of his head on the other side. This was one of those kid style hot/cold cups. So thinking we may have coffee in it, he also gave little bottles of Bailey’s Irish Cream to accompany the cup.
I think half the staff may have downed the bottle and pitched the cup.
One cup and Irish Cream must have been given near one of our showroom seats and left in the cup holder. It is likely that customers then walked in to view and try out seats and so the sales person simply put the cup and liquor into the storage space of the arm to hide it from view.
This event was forgotten and a few weeks later, our customer service team got a call from a customer who was quite perplexed. His complaint was that he received his seats and there was a kids cup in the arm with some guy’s picture on it, and a small bottle of alcohol in there as well.You see, those seats were sold off the floor and when packing, the shipping department neglected to check inside the storage arms. While embarrassing to have to address with a customer, it remains a funny story for my staff and crew.
I decided that if he is nuts enough to give us each such an obscure gift (he is quite the joker), then I could be nuts enough to take it on vacations with me. I decided that I would take his likeness in that cup with me when I went on my trips and at the end of the year, give him a montage of where he had been in spirit.
The idea came from the Flat Stanley project that kids did in school. Everyone would get a cutout of a guy and color him and send him to people they knew in other places and ask the receiving party to include Flat Stanley in their activities and document with photos and then send back. A great way for kids to learn of other places and the people in their lives.
So my Josh Cup has been to: Seattle, Tennessee, Georgia, New Mexico, Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington DC, Dominican Republic, and camping throughout Colorado. I’d have to say it was a good year to be a Josh Cup and well, I was blessed to be the carrier on those trips.
Some of these trips need their own posts to tell the stories, but here is the montage. Put your headphones on or turn up the volume as it is set to music.
I’m writing him a card and putting the link in the card. I hope he enjoys it. It sure gives me a smile to revisit.
I recently got to be part of a real surprise. I’m talking about the kind of surprises that are so good, that even when told, you don’t quite believe them.
Recently, my niece was to be married with just immediate family and a few selected friends at a resort in the Dominican Republic. As luck would have it for me, I was able to be a last minute fill in for my nephews wife who wouldn’t be going.
Just a month prior to the wedding, both my niece and nephew were out to our house for a visit as the bachelor party just happened to be in Denver. We didn’t know then that a spot would be open for sure, but we did joke that someone from our family could fill any opening that came available. Just a few days later, I did get a call asking if Devin or I could come. I guess we are the two most likely to pull out a passport and jump in a plane.
Devin’s passport had expired, but I said we could fast track the renewal and I would pay half of his trip to get there and room share, but if he wanted to go, he would need to pony up the other half because I wasn’t willing to fund the entire trip and not get to have any of the fun. After some brief calculations, he decided it was a bit too rich for his blood and I should just go. Lucky for me, Ian was totally fine with it being either one of us as he and I have a history of having really great stories when we get together. So, it was decided (after consulting with bride and groom) that I would go. It was also decided that we should just keep it a secret for a few more weeks and surprise my Brother and sister in law (the parents of the bride of coarse)
As fate would have it, Dave, Heidi and Ian were on the same connecting flight out of Washington DC that I was also on to get to the Dominican. I had taken an overnight flight out of Denver and arrived in Dulles around 5 am . I made it to the United club area for some breakfast, coffee and a bit of work on the computer. Before I knew it, Ian was texting me that they had landed and would be off their plane and headed to the next gate soon.
I decided to call my brother Dave as if I knew he would be in the airport at this general time and wish him a good trip. He picked up his phone as expected and we chatted as he walked from their arrival gate to the departure gate of the next leg. I was standing behind the doors of the United club as they passed, so I simply exited and followed at a safe distance so that he couldn’t hear me speaking behind him as well as on his phone. Ian turned around and I waved so that he knew my location, and I kept bodies strategically blocking the view of Heidi as she too would sometimes take a full look around. I could see that they had gotten to our departure gate, so concluded my conversation with Dave and waited for Ian to come find me to plan the surprise as the gate was around a corner and he was hoping to catch it on camera.
Ian came out, but said his mom was right behind him and would see me. Well, there wasn’t any place to hide at that point, so I just backed up a little bit more to make sure we wouldn’t be in sight or earshot of Dave when she learned I was there.
I was just finishing up giving Ian my hello hug when she walked up and was surprised to have run into me at this airport at the same time they were there. It didn’t even dawn on her that I was there to go to the wedding. She just figured I was traveling and happened to be in same spot at the same time. Even when Ian said that I was his “date” for the wedding, she laughed it off as a joke. It wasn’t until we both just stood there nodding that it was true, that it sunk in that I was indeed going.
This time she screamed a little, hugged me harder and was in true delight.
We then walked around the corner to surprise Dave. He was sitting facing the direction I was coming from, so he saw me coming, but the connection from recognition, to registration to realization was like a movie across his face. The realization brought the tears and shock that I was there to share in their trip.
I don’t know that I’ve ever surprised two people as fully as that morning. There has been some hard surprises this past year for them, so it was great to be part of a good one.
The wedding was awesome, beautiful and perfect. The resort was beautiful, immaculately maintained and had an impeccably trained staff.
I’m ever so thankful to have been considered to go as a fill in, to have the passport on hand and be able to go (even if it was touch and go with work as they were none too happy), and to have had that time with family that I don’t get to see enough of and meet the friends of the bride and groom and see what a wonderful group that is. It was a bit odd for me to have everyone there (except Dave and Heidi) call me Aunt Sally all week, but that was fun too.
I’ll get to the Ian and Aunt Sally stories on some other posts.