Laughter at the Zoo

For one day she was there.  Present.   Connected.  Alive with joy.  For one magical day I had my mom.  Her smile.  Her joy on that day was a rare gift I never expected.

Years before my childhood days with mom were filled with her sporadic anger that erupted from no where.  In a moment she could flare and send a backhand flying across the table and me across the floor.  Her childhood of abuse led to an inability for her to love or be loved.  Anger was what she knew and fell back to too easily.  My young adult life brought more conflicts and pleas for her to get help.  Finally an explosion one Thanksgiving day led to a decision to distance myself for a bit. That bit turned from months to years.  Years.  I never could have imagined. Several attempts to reconnect resulted in verbal lashings and phone calls that ended abruptly.

Then two years ago my stepfather passed away and a request came that mom wanted me at the funeral.  Many phone calls, prayers and tears later, I found myself by her side at his funeral.  A daughter wanting to comfort her mother.  A daughter wanting to be comforted by her mother.  A tiny glowing ember of a relationship renewal.  I invited her to come visit me.  She said yes.  Gulp.

She arrived at my home with suitcase in hand.   She was clearly much older now with signs of dementia and paranoia wrapped around her like shawls.  She jabbed and poked with her words making snide remarks about one thing or another.  She bragged about how she had beat the crap out of me for coming home late one night and how I never did that again.  Woven between those moments were glimpses of tenderness and regret.  My heart felt so sad to see the woman she had become and the loss of so much from the choices she made and makes.

The magical one day was during that visit.  I took her to the zoo.  A real zoo with animals she had only ever seen on TV or in books.  Being born and raised in northern MI, the zoo was not part of the culture there.  I never went to the zoo as a child.  No one did.  It was something people who lived in cities did.  Not country folk like us.  So I took my mom to the zoo.  Her face, the whole day, was lit up in wonder.  We slowly ambled from section to section and I watched her while she watched the animals.  Monkeys, zebras, elephants, orangutans, giraffes…  Her eyes sparkled and she laughed.  My mother laughed.  She laughed.  True laughter.  I can’t remember ever hearing her laugh with abandon before.  We went to the dolphin show.  Complete amazement washed over her as she saw them leap and splash and perform just for her.  Before her was something she could never have imagined was possible.    Oh how I loved watching her.  Not one angry word come from her that whole trip to the zoo.  The trip to the zoo was a gift for mom but it ended up being a gift for me even more.  For that one day, I had my mom fully present. Fully connected.  Happy.

Her joy that day is something I hold on to as I continue to work to have a relationship with her today.  She has returned home and to her hateful ways.   The dementia and paranoia increasing rapidly.  Alzheimer’s beginning it’s journey in her mind.  Sometimes I call and she yells at me and hangs up.  Sometimes I call and she wants to chat.   Most calls are like the one from this week where the tools of distraction that work so well with toddlers and dogs work well with mom.   She’ll remember mid conversation that she is mad and begin to spout away.

“So are you planting any flowers this year, Mom?”

“Oh, yes, yellow ones.  I got some really pretty ones hanging from the garage.  I got artificial ones this year so I won’t have to worry about watering them.”  And off she goes telling me about the flowers.  Then she remembers she’s mad and again the hateful words spew forth.

“What’s new at church, Mom?   Have you been to any concerts?”

“Oh yes, I love my church.  We went to a great concert at the high school last week. ”  Bounce.  There goes the ball to chase again.  She tells me all about the concert and who she saw there and what songs they played and then she remembers she’s angry.

This is life with my mom now.  It’s hard to love someone so prickly.  The memory of her joy filled face at the zoo for just that one anger free day I realize was a gift.  A wonderful gift!  I grab it and hold it as I feel her slipping mentally away more and more leaving feeling more and more helpless.   Such are the blessings in life that are often wrapped in the most unexpected packaging.

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April 4? No, April 12.

April 4.  That is the date that is written everywhere and that I’ve written dozens of times.  He will too.  That’s not the date I remember though. April 12. That’s the date etched in my heart.

April 4, 2010.   I remember a clear blue sky and a day of photos, smiles and family.  Photos of our 3-year-old daughter hunting Easter eggs in my brother-in-law’s front yard.  Some high.  Some low.  Each with a treat inside.  Photos of me with bunny ears perched on my head awaiting our turn to visit the furry white rabbit in the garden gazebo.   Photos of the Easter feast soon to fill our round bellies.  That is what I remember.

April 4, 2010.  Elsewhere, another round belly was the focus of the day.  The round belly of a young mother about to give birth.  She was young, excited and scared.  Her plans were made.   She knew what she needed to do, difficult though it may be.  This child would arrive. Today.  The two parents she’d chosen for him were there.  Waiting.  Parents she’s chosen three months before.  She loved him. More than breath.  She could not provide for him though.  Such a difficult day.  Afternoon came and brought this gift to the sunlight for his first breaths.   He was perfect.  Ten little fingers.  Ten little toes.

As the afternoon turned to evening, plans shifted, jilted and crumbled.  The young mother drew a deep breathe and did again what she knew was right.  She sent the couple home.  They were not the right parents for this special child.  She felt lost, confused, afraid.  A new plan was created to bring him home and find a new family.  Somehow.  One day.  Two views.  Two views that were about to become one.  We had no idea.

April 10.  The phone call.  It was Saturday and I was happily chatting about play and its power with parents of special needs children at my Discovery Toys booth in Fort Wayne.  A vibration in my pocket alerted me to the call.  As the screen turned to view and I saw “Adoption Agency” on the screen, my heart stopped.  It had been a wait of 13 months for our second child.  I surely had not expected the phone to ring that day.  But it did.  It did!!  Oh.  Oh? Oh!  I sought a corner of quiet and the social worker explained the situation.  Yes.  Yes.  Okay.  Uh huh.

The next few hours were a blur of phone calls, hand me down clothes gifted by a team member who happened to have them in her car, excited hugs from a nearby vendor now a forever friend bonded in this special shared moment.    A boy though?  I had been so sure we’d have two girls.  Lily and I had talked for months about her sister, Jasmine, and what life would be like when she arrived.  A boy?  I thought surely this match was not the right one.  What if it was?

April 12.  Two long days later, we made the two hour drive to her home.  A million thoughts go through your mind.  What do we say?  What do we do?  What will she think?  What will we think?  A boy?  Really?  We didn’t have a name.  There are no boy plant names.  Cedar?  Oak?  Maple?  Family names?  Nicholas.  Yes.  IF this was a match, he would be named Nicholas after his great-great-grandfather.

We arrived at the small house.  Later we would learn it was home to this special young mother, her grandmother and her four brothers.   The house and it’s tenants were clearly carefully cared for.   A knock on the front door was quickly answered by our social worker.  She was there with her huge, beautiful, sad brown eyes.   Eyes that he got from her.  Her grandmother lovingly by her side.  He was there, snuggled in a small bassinet dozing in the patch of sunlight from the front window.

For three hours, conversation somehow flowed smoothly.  I wish I remembered more of what was said.  So many emotions tangled up inside.  Disbelief that we might really become parents again after such a long wait.  Excitement.  Sadness for the reality of the situation.  Tenderness.  Respect.  Patience.  Impatience.  Indescribable.  “I’ll go check his laundry,” she said and excused herself to the basement.

Thirty minutes went by.  “Should someone go check on her?” I asked.  Her grandmother went and soon returned with her.

A few minutes more of unremembered words and then the words I’ll always remember.   “I want you to be his parents,” she said.  I know I can never fully understand the courage of a birthmother to decide such things.  The weight on her heart must be enormous and yet perhaps some relief as well.  There in her living room, we hugged her and cried together.   The attorney was called and we left. We perched at an Arby’s table.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Then the call asking us to return.

This is no rule book written for how to feel and what to do in adoption.  There isn’t.  Arriving back at her home to pick up her son who was now ours as well was so difficult.  Our prayer was to be respectful and loving as we knew not what else to do.   She was sitting at the kitchen table holding him.  She was rocking gently back and forth, whispering to him, telling him how much she loved him, telling him how much she hoped that one day he would understand.  Tears from those brown eyes splashed and disappeared one by one into his fuzzy blue blanket.

As much as the memories of that day are fuzzy in parts, others are crystal clear.  What happened next is one of them.  This young mother who had been through so much.  Whose heart was breaking.  This young mother stopped rocking.  Took a deep, slow breath in.  She whispered, “ok,” stood up and turned to me.  Those big brown eyes looked at mine and said, “He’s your son now.”  Wow. I will forever admire her and love her with a depth that is hard to explain.  The love and courage of a birthmother is incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  We are so thankful to have her in our lives and so thankful for our son!  She trusted us to keep our promise of an open adoption and we have loved watching her grow as he has as well.  We’ve learned that open adoption does not take away the painful side of adoption but we pray that it has helped lessen it.

April 12.  That day?  That’s the one I remember as the first day we first met Nicholas.

 

 

As Much as my Blue Eyes…

Recently my church did a series on depression.  Our pastor asked members to share their experiences with depression.  Below is a piece I wrote and sent to him.  It helps explain my cocooning for the past two years a bit and my rise toward the sunlight more so than ever now…perhaps you can relate?  Hugs if so!

Depression?  I know it well.  The dark tide that ebbs and flows through life washing over days, weeks and sometimes months.  It’s sticky tentacles wrapping between thoughts pulling you down and making footprints into lines dragging through moments.  My grandfather, my mother, my sister, myself.  Depression spreads from family member to family member.  As far back as I can remember, it’s shadow has come to visit me from time to time.  This past year it’s presence more frequent than years before.  

Before,  I would wallow in the darkness of it.  Wandering library aisles looking for suicide plans.  Plotting…dreaming…wishing I were really brave enough to make it stop.  Feeling alone.  Different than others.  The negative voices whispering louder and louder.  Always.  Always, though there was a seed of light within my soul that, while it sputtered in those dark times struggling to stay lit, it fought to shine.   An often unknown source of breath would blow in and fan the light to grow and the darkness would fade away once again.  I was an upbeat, forward thinking, life loving person most of the time.  Each time determined that that this visit from depression would be the last.  I’ve learned much since those early years…

I’ve learned the genetics matter.  My mother’s family is mired in depression.  I inherited it from her as much as I have my thick hair and freckles.  It is part of me and always will be.  My father’s family is alight with love and grace.  That is a part of me as well.  The two forces tug back and forth.

I’ve learned that kindness breaks the hold.  I’ve broken down sobbing in places one blushes to do so….yoga class, the grocery store, at stoplights, in the dentist chair, while reading an advent prayer at church recently….  Each time a kind soul noticed, comforted me, held me, cared for me.  The darkness runs then.  To know that I am not alone makes a difference.  I’m so thankful for those people who didn’t turn away when it was easy to.

I’ve learned that reaching out to others matters.   Noticing the silence, tears or distant look of another and reaching a hand out to help turns depression away.  Depression does not like company especially with someone who has looked it in the eye and and can link arms with you in battle.  Each act of kindness is a seed that blooms into light.

I’ve learned depression visits many.  Speaking up, sharing my story from the heart, asking for help…each step in those directions is often met with meeting others who have been traveling beside me invisible in the fog.  Truth is there are many, many, many of us on this road totally unaware of just how not alone we are.  Speaking out from our vulnerability is powerful.

What I learned 4 years ago was THE key.  It’s the one thing that depression has no chance against.  When it begins to weave into my thoughts, it’s what I cling to and am lifted every time to the light again.   My faith.  Four years ago I discovered the truth I had been missing all my life.  That Jesus was real.  That he really did live and he really did die. For me.  Cliche but true…that changed everything!!  Everything.  I know that depression is as much a part of me as my blue eyes are but now I know that it doesn’t have a hold on me any longer.  When I slip, as I have this month, into moments of worry, I turn my eyes above and ask for His help and like a knight galloping in, He arrives and chases it away.  I know I have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about, nothing to lose.  He will provide for me, love me, protect me and guide me. Always. No matter what.  Before depression would visit and settle in for lengthy stays.  This past year, while it has tried to visit often, it’s visit are scant.  Evaporating quickly and the light returning brighter and brighter.  Praise God!

I’ve also learned the my depression along with the patchwork of challenges that is the quilt of my journey are gifts.  They teach me lessons I could not learn otherwise. They give me my unique vantage point from which I can help others because I understand.  Deeply understand, to my core, what it feels like to be buried in the dark sure I could never rise from my covers again.  I get it. I get them and through my wounds, God can use me to heal others.  I am blessed indeed!  

The Three Piece Trapezoid

Seven pieces.  Simple on the surface but, with a willingness to dive below, seven pieces that hold an endless array of possibilities.  One moment they can be a crane, next a gate, then a lio
n.  From China in the early 1800’s, tanagrams have intrigued puzzle fans.  There are now over 6,500 puzzles to solve from these seven simple pieces.

Today’s tale is of three of these pieces that wove their magic and a boy in a classroom.  A boy with wirey glasses and hair to match.  A boy with freckles on his nose and a problem to solve.  We sat side by side and and began.   I presented him with a squarepeople tangrams_1
with dark lines drawn to divide it into seven simple pieces.   With scissors pulling to and fro, the pieces came apart falling into a scattered s
tack.  Next, some fun explorations….two triangles make a square.  Or is that a diamond?  Two triangles make a bigger triangle.  Parallelogram and trapezoid  were new shapes to learn and new words to wrap around the tongue.

We moved from two pieces to three pieces connecting and exploring.  We made a rectangle and a parallelogram.  Each time, my teacher brain quickly seeing the solution and then guiding my young friend to make the discovery.  And then it happened.

Three pieces, 4, 5 and 6.  “Please use them to form a trapezoid,” the paper said.  My teacher brain mentally flipped and rotated them.  Um…well.  Hmm.  My brain flipped more, rotated more.  My freckled friend’s fingers flipped and rotated the three pieces as well.  His eyes lifted in an expectant gaze for a clue as to what to do.  Together we were stumped.  We called over another teacher to puzzle with us.  Three minds working on three pieces.  Still nothing.  We called over another teacher to help. Four minds working on three pieces.  Seriously.  We’ve got this!  Nope.  Nothing.
We all paused not sure what to do.  We’d run out of adults to ask.   Then my puzzle partner innocently said, “Let’s ask Google!”  A burst of laughter was followed by three
teachers reaching for their iPhones.   A flurry of keyword searches was met with mumbles of, “nope, not here.  Not possible.  Must be a typing error.  Maybe we should just skip it.”

Meanwhile, the boy looked at the pieces and looked at the pieces.  He continued to try this and that.  Suddenly, he leapt from his desk shouting, “I’ve got it!”  And, indeed he did!  Three teacher brains and three iPhone Google brains were bested by a small boy.  A boy that didn’t give up.  Oh I so want to save a snapshot of that moment in my mind forever.  That smile on his face.  That glow in his eyes.  That pride.  Oh.

What I’ve not shared with you in this tale so far is that this boy is special.  This boy is in a classroom for children who share a label of ED.  Emotionally Disabled.  This boy struggles greatly with his emotions and is prone to outbursts of frustration with the smallest of things.  This boy i
s not able to be part of a traditional classroom because of his challenges. But this boy.   This boy is amazing!  His emotional challenges are one piece of his puzzle.  The other pieces show him to be intelligent, funny, determined, creative, artistic.   Amazing.
Is this not true for us all?  Do we not all have pieces of our puzzles that we love for others to see and those pieces that
we like to knock off the table and hide under the rug?   How wonderful would it be for us to each show ALL our puzzle pieces and be loved no matter what?  To show our puzzle pieces and know that others will walk alongside us and help us place those hard to fit pieces?   Today I’m thankful for a boy and a three piece trapezoid that taught me to celebrate all of my puzzle pieces and to seek out and celebrate the unique puzzles all around me with all their amazing pictures just waiting to be connected.

Sitting at my Desk with Tears in my Eyes

As my youngest heads off to Kindergarten in the morning, here’s a look back at the day big sister made the walk…

Oh my. It really is as hard as they say it will be. I tried to prepare myself. I tried to savor the last few days but here I sit in the rubble of my office sniffing with a box of Kleenex close at hand. My little girl is officially off to Kindergarten today. Today.

As the piles around my office will attest, my focus has been on treasuring the last few days with my sweet girl. We went back to school shopping and found a fabulous sparkly skirt with a matching glitter covered horse for the first day of school, sniffed some perfume for a touch of fancy, dined together and went to see her first big girl movie, Brave. What an perfect movie pic for this mother facing Kindergarten launch sooner than she’s ready.  Another day yesterday filled with State Fair fun, hugs, kisses and denial that the dawn would bring a major change for our family.

The sun could not be stopped though and this morning, Daddy, little brother and I walked her across the street to school. She was giddy, prancing like a pony, about to be set free. A smile on her face containing more excitement than a million dollar lottery ticket holder. Her Mama’s heart though was full of many emotions. I was excited for her as well to have reached this major milestone. Sad for the time lost with her lounging in the morning connecting. Excited to have some one-on-one time with her little brother to connect with him more. Nervous for the friends she will make and hope that she’ll make good ones. Cautious, as a veteran elementary teacher, and knowing the challenges that come with the job. Happy to be part of a new community full of possibilities. Most of all I summon feelings of bravery willing them to the surface to ripple over me in waves readying me.  Knowing that many others have traveled this path before and many others will follow in my footsteps.

One of the toughest parts of parenting is learning to let your children go. To give them their wings and freedom to explore the world. As much as we want to envelope our children in our embrace and promise them that no harm will ever come to them, we know that is not reality. Life will lead them to times of great joy and great sadness. Our job is to nudge them out of the nest from time to time to strengthen their wings so one day they will fly high and make positive changes in the world in their own way.

I Understand the Bear

A patch of sunlight, day by day, creeps it’s way along the ground.  With it, warming inch by inch the cold Earth.  The drip, drip of water wrapped snuggly around the ground gives way and melts into a trickle, then a stream, then a rush of water ever downward in it’s quest.  Crocuses first, then tulips begin their upward quest.  Spring arrives and winter is fading away.

Around the bend and up the hill, a nose first twitches and then an ear.  A paw follows. The soft black fur shifts from the round indent.  For months, she has slumbered.  From a time when every instinct was ripe with awareness that now, now was the time to rest to now, a time when warmth returns,  and awareness of a new beginning just ahead.  The mother bear emerges with her new cubs in tow to go explore the world.

With the turn of the key at My Toy Garden’s last retail day last May,  exhaustion weighed upon me to my very bones.   A few more months of sale/no sale of the business followed by the purging of very last paper clip and curling ribbon remnant and I fell into the sleep of a hibernating bear.  Every inch of my being, physically, mentally and emotionally was spent.  Those years immersed in the magic of the toy store will forever be in my top treasured memories.  The toll on me was greater than I realized.  So, I choose the path of the bear and fell into a deep sleep.  I disconnected from all but the essentials.  I connected with my family, my children, myself.  I read, ate and yes, slept.

Spring has arrived now and with it, the twitching of my paws.  Twitching to begin to write.  To create.  To share. To invite pondering on this journey called life.   To connect with others once again.   Slowly, I am awakening to the next steps I am drawn towards.  I’m excited to return to the keyboard to create and see what plan and purpose there may be for me.   I invite you to come along with me and see!

8 Hours North and 8 Hours South

This is a tale of two summer Saturdays. One that followed the other in the recent weeks that have passed. The first was Saturday, June 14. This Saturday takes place an 8-hour drive to the north of my home to the land of my childhood. To northern Michigan.   My stepfather has passed away and so I’ve been beckoned back. The journey presents many challenges including lost relationships I’ve yearned to heal. Relationships with my brothers. A relationship with my mother. A chance to begin again.

Northern Michigan is a land of fairy tales at times with it’s endless miles of forests to explore and ribbons on rivers winding through. Life there is very simple. Dairy farms dot the land including the one I spent many hours at with my best friend. People live from the land with large vegetables gardens in many yards and a gun cabinet part of the home to bring the main course of the day to plate. Food is treasured here for the effort it requires. People are born there. Come of age there. Die there. The cycle repeats generation after generation. They treasure each penny that is hard earned and savor the smallest of indulgences.

The second Saturday follows on June 21. This Saturday takes place an 8-hour flight to the south. To the Dominican Republic. To a small resort perched on the northernmost coast of the Punta Cana beach that is a fairy tale of its own. A resort where their focus is on pampering and my very thought or utterance is responded to. A mere mention that I like bananas and within an hour bananas appear in my room. My room. My luxury tree house more aptly put. Climb the Robinson Crusoe wooden stairs to the thatched roof lined walkway to the portal to paradise. Inside a rainfall shower awaits along with a spacious balcony with a couch perfect for napping overlooks the ocean just steps away.

This world includes an endless parade of delicacies and beverages that magically appear. It includes helicopters that land on the beach and whisk people away on adventure. A few steps in one direction to grab a mask and fins followed by a few steps another and you enter a world of coral reefs and playful fish. This world where money flows like rivers. People here appear and disappear and others take their place.

These two worlds – one 8 hours to the north and one 8 hours to the south – are so different from one another.   I live in between literally and figuratively.  Part of me is pulled to return to each and part of me resists. To be near family and to connect with them in northern Michigan would be such a blessing. For my children to know their cousins, aunts and uncles would be a piece I’d love for them to have.   I would miss the many things to explore that come with suburban living.

To live in a land of pampered plenty would seem, on the surface, a paradise.   To look deeper would reveal a life of loneliness I suspect.

I’ve learned much in the last 2 weeks of traveling. One is that I’m far from perfect. Two is that a place to live is never perfect either. We can spend our days longing for here or there when what is best is to love where we are at this moment of time and love who we are with. Choose to be thankful for the blessings bestowed on us in this place wherever that may be and be alert for the lessons to be learned along the way. I am excited to return home and begin anew there forever thankful for the lessons learned and lessons yet to come!

Farm

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My Word of the Year

Dear My Toy Garden Friends,

Who knew such power could be found in a pizza place? Surely not I. My friend, Mary Kaye had invited me to a new adventure of hers and the location she choose was a meeting room at Donato’s Pizza. Who knew? What happened that night has played a major role in my life decisions of the last few months. But before we go there, let me tell you a bit about Mary Kaye.

This woman is one of those women you never forget meeting even it is was for just a brief moment of time. She is always wearing something with a splash of color that announces her arrival and makes dark clouds hide in shame. Her sincere smile draws you in and you know you are in the presence of someone special. Her zest for life is huge and her love for others is a driving passion in her life. In one visit, you are likely to be laughed with, cried over and have her eyes connect with yours in simple understanding. She is one of the craziest people I know and I adore her!

Her new adventure was called the Word of the Year Project. Have you had a word or phrase that when you heard it, it popped out from the others around it? A word that when you heard it, it rang through you to your toes? A word that continued to whisper through your actions for days, weeks, months to come? A word that you needed to pay attention to? The goal of this new adventure was to help people identify what their word is and then to help them create a piece of art that captures the essence of that word. Mary Kaye was just the person to lead us through.

After some quiet meditation steps to center our thoughts and some other guided imagery activities, the word that lit on my shoulder was just the word I’ve needed this year. Patience. Oh so not an easy word though is it? It is only through focus on this word that the events of My Toy Garden have unfolded and led me to where I am now. Patience is truly paying off now!

So where am I now, you are asking? I so appreciate the stalking of the store Facebook page and the messages asking for updates. It’s an exciting time for My Toy Garden! The man who appeared that Tuesday afternoon and I have meet several more times since that day. He is still very interested in buying the store and having it remain as much the same as possible. Let’s all say, “Yeah!” He had been doing planning to open a store in Fishers when he realized that it might be the better option to buy a store that is already all put together and has a fabulous customer base. Smart idea, right? We are working through the details of things and are hoping to announce the official sale of the store within the next week or two. That means My Toy Garden will reopen this summer…one day very soon! Can you believe it?! God is amazing! Thank you again for all your support! Stay tuned for reopening news soon!

The agreement with my husband was that when the store sold, I get to go on an all inclusive beach vacation for a week by myself. Oh, pinch me please! It will only seem real when I sink my toes in the sand there. Now I’m pondering where….thoughts to share with me on that? Comment below!

Patience

 

Flashlight in the Darkness

Dear My Toy Garden Friends,

Friday was the day the tears began and fell through the weekend. May 9th was a date I’d had in mind for weeks and weeks. On May 9th I’d know I’d told myself. On May 9th, I’d know what the next steps for My Toy Garden would be.

For months I’ve felt like I’m surrounded by pitch black darkness. The kind of darkness you can taste…that presses against your eyes in an invisible blindfold. In my hands is a small flashlight that shows me a tiny bit. Enough light to show me just one more step to take. I’ve been blindly following this path wondering where it will lead and trying hard not to worry. Trying hard to trust that His plan is always the best one. The post it on my desk says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And a light onto my path.” I’ve uttered it many times a day for the last few months.

My steps are quickening right now as I even more tightly focus on today and today alone. Friday, May 9th, came and went leaving me with the feeling that perhaps His plan is for the store to close. My Toy Garden was created in a whirl of magic that sparkled on it’s walls for the last 3 years. Maybe, just maybe, the purpose for which it was created has been fulfilled. Tears flowed for four days as I struggled with wanting my plans to be THE plans in my constant battle for control. Perhaps you have those battles too?

Then at 4 pm yesterday a man came into the store. A man who had been here a month ago in the early stages of the clearance sale. A man who told me he had been planning to open a toy store in Fishers. “You know,” he said. “I’ve been thinking. Rather than create a store from scratch, it might make lots more sense for me to look at buying this one.” Um…yup! I totally agree!

So the conversations begin and my flashlight continues it’s search one step at a time. In a blink that light can land on a pair of shoes that might, just might, allow the store to continue to on. There is still time for other pairs of shoes to step onto the path but not much. I plan to begin to sell the fixtures very soon. (If you have had your eye on any bookcases, tables or other pieces, they might be yours next week.) Now is the time to think who do you know that has had a dream to own a toy store? Invite them to contact me and we can chat. Today, today…where will my path lead to today… Thank you so much for being part of this journey! I will so miss the many conversations I’ve had with you!

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Almost 3 weeks ago now I stood atop a cliff with my toes hanging over the edge. Behind me a journey of steps sure and straight at times and wandering and faint at other times. But each with a forward purpose guided by a higher power. As I lifted my head, I saw an endless horizon. Far below, a bottom I couldn’t see or know what was waiting there. A breeze that was faint months before was now whistling past me lifting my hair in ever changing arcs around my head. My heart, while racing a bit, was steady. It was time, I was sure, to take the next step. This one was to be a different from the ones behind me. This one was to be off the edge of the cliff.
So step I did. One last exhale and my finger pushed send launching the “I Have Something to Tell You” newsletter to your inboxes. No returning to the ledge. Trusting that this step was certain. For the last 3 years, the My Toy Garden journey has felt one far beyond my doing on my own but one guided by a higher power. As sure as I was to begin the journey, I am sure that the leap off of the cliff was the right step too. A time to trust in a greater plan than I could ever make on my own.
So now here I am….falling…falling…falling…. For days now….falling…. falling… To my surprise though, I am calm. I am peaceful. I am happy. I am not sure how this fall will end but I am sure that all will be as it is meant to be. The picture of my nephew below has resonated in my thoughts. I have felt since last October when I first listed the business for sale privately, that it will sell. That it will continue with a new owner who has the time and talent to maintain and take it to a new level. To make the next dreams I have for it reality. But who? I can see the seeds that were strewn about years ago blossoming and growing into a beautiful garden. In the center is something missing. It’s time to find the centerpiece that will begin the next season of the store. I need your help to find it.
My business broker has met with a woman who would be a wonderful new toy lady. She is someone who wants to keep the store as it is and sprinkle more seeds to grow it. She is someone with the time, talent and enthusiasm to take over. She is working on the financial pieces of it and that’s where you come in. I feel that it’s not one person I’m looking for but two perhaps: one to run the store and one to invest in the store. I believe I have found one. Now I need to find the other. Who do you know that is ready to make a difference to families in the Carmel community and partner to keep it open? I feel it is one of you or someone you know that we are looking for. Please share the press release below anywhere you can to help us find an investor or a new owner. Time is running short as the shelves empty. I suspect in another 2-3 weeks the shelves will be bare of almost. All things truly are possible though. I believe. If you or anyone you know has questions, please let me know.
I think I see the bottom coming clearer and my parachute beginning to open. I’m looking. I’m listening. I’m trusting. And praying. What cliff are you standing at the edge of? Be brave. Listen for guidance and if you hear that your next step is to step off, then step off and know that you will be caught somehow, someway. The way is not for you to know. Trust. Thank you for being part of this journey. It’s going to be an interesting next few weeks!

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