When Beth and I went to Ohio, we had the pleasure of staying with her uncle, Dick Bill, and his wife Lynn. Dick is known as DB...even his kids and grandkids call him DB. It didn't take me long to start calling him by that either. Every once in awhile you come across people who make you feel incredibly comfortably right away. The Bill Family certainly has cornered this market. I immediately felt like I was visiting old friends.
Soon after we arrived DB began telling great family stories. I was immediately immersed in family folk lore and within a half hour I thought I could actually remember some of the memories. There is nothing like a great storyteller. Those with this impressive skill have the listener at the heart of their story, rather than themselves and what happened to them in the tale. DB reminded me of Tim's uncles...all are great storytellers. You find yourself leaning in to hang on every word and they lower their voices at just the right parts...and the stories all have these great morals or insightful punch lines that keep you thinking about them for days.
On the first night, Beth's cousin Laurie (La La) came over with her son Bam, who is about 7, and is a dead ringer for Harry Potter, right down to the round glasses, except he has blonde hair. He had that little munchkin voice (I'm such a sucker for little kid voices) and was thrilled to have an audience to read books with. Towards the end of the night DB pointed to Beth and asked Bam "What's her name?" He stalled a bit...not remembering her name..and to help him out, I whispered "Beth" in his ear. It was a great game of "telephone" because he yelled out "Puff! Her name is Puff!" We got quite a chuckle out of it but it didn't end there. The next day when he came over he walked in and said hello to everyone he passed. "Hi DB...Hi Nana Lynn...Hey Puff" From that moment on, Beth had a new name.
I heard a lot of great stories from Laurie of when Beth was younger and all the trouble they got into. They also had great stories of camping and riding horses, two things I absolutely love. When people treat you like an old friend, when in fact you are a stranger, it is so much easier to find the commonalities and have easy conversation. I have always stressed about going to work or personal functions where I don't know many people..."What will I talk about with these people?!" After this weekend, I realized conversation is easy when you welcome the other person into your world and instead of throwing questions at them, you just include them in your stories.
The stories continued the next night when Beth's cousin Kristi (Ki Ki) came over with her adorable little girls Frankie and Lexi. Beth was telling Kristi about my blog and we started discussing how we all are trying to take pleasure in the little moments...but first we are all trying to slow down to see the moments as they happen. When I started on this journey, I did feel like I was in the minority. That I was one of the only ones unable to see the moments when they presented themselves, that I was one of the few struggling to find simplicity in my life, and to really get back to basics and what truly mattered. What I have found out along the way is that everyone is in the same boat. We might all be at different points on the journey of figuring it out, but life is moving too fast for everyone and we are all struggling to stay true to what is important to us. I just decided not to hide my struggle anymore. And when I started talking openly about it, that's the point others felt comfortable to say "I feel the same way too."
I know I felt I was failing at my life because I couldn't do it all well. I'm a serious overachiever and don't like to fail at anything. Or I should say, I didn't like failing. I have uncovered a big piece of Little Kelly. I know I can't do it all anymore. And I'm okay with that. And I have figured out where I want to spend my time. I don't care that I haven't painted the second coat on my front door in a year or that I haven't organized my basement. But the other day, I picked the kids up from school and I handed them each a giant sprite and a full size candy bar. I told them to eat up...we were headed to a surprise. I took them mini golfing and we were the only ones there. We had such a great time. Admittedly, when the kids heard the word "surprise" they assumed I was taking them to get some teeth pulled without anesthesia. Clearly I haven't done enough of this in the past but they will remember that day for a long time...and there will be many more like it in the future.
On day three, we were invited to Kristi's house to watch the Ohio State game. Let me just tell you...out there they are SERIOUS about college football. 'Nuff said. Towards the end of the day, Kristi and I were chatting and she said "I woke up this morning with both girls snuggled in on each side of me, still sleeping. I heard the dog moving around downstairs...she needed to go out. I started to get up but then thought about our conversation and I just sat there enjoying the moment with the girls while they slept. It won't stay like this forever." Then she added quickly with a laugh "and then I got up and took the dog out." See? It's like it's viral....we are all starting to slow down and take advantage of the moments when they are presented to us. I love, love, love it!
On our final night we spent some time with DB in his office while he shared many more great stories. I learned that his father was a man of few words but was a great letter writer. DB has been going through his father's letters that he saved over the years and sending funny and inspirational quotes out to family members and friends via email each day. I loved this idea for so many reasons. It is clear that DB is a very thoughtful person and his emails show how much he cares about those he is writing to. Beyond that, it demonstrates how important his family is to him...both past and present. Above all, he is keeping the memories of those who have passed alive and well each and every day. To me, he epitomizes the person who lives in the moment, who has made family their focal point, and who truly knows what is important and where to spend his time. I bet he brightens the face of everyone he emails every day. I know he does this for his own enjoyment, but I hope he understands how much these little acts mean to people.
Who knew when I went to Ohio I would meet a La La, a Bam, a DB, and a Ki Ki...to name just a few? I just want to say thank you to the Bill Family for making me feel so welcome and for sharing their stories with me. And I was able to recognize that this trip was more than just about going to the Country Living Fair on a girlfriend trip with Puff. It was a great opportunity to see people who are living a life where those little moments are recognized and celebrated.