“In like a lion, out like a lamb,” is a great way to say hello on this first day of March, where we mark the winter-to-spring shift during the month.
For all the tension of what this rhyme could mean for the forecast, the weather doesn’t resemble a lion at all in the Denver metro area. Nothing ferocious or stormy about our immediate forecast. In fact, there’s a very lamb-like nature to the start of this month instead.
Most assume this myth or folklore is a sort of weather prediction. A few theories about astronomy do float around, with the constellation Leo, the Lion, on the eastern horizon at the beginning of the month, closing with Aries, the Ram on the western horizon. But for the rest of us, this is about figuring out what’s going to happen next. We do love to determine with great fanfare whether we’re going to have six more weeks of winter, Groundhog Day, or not. And March is no exception.
A few days ago, I threw out a question to anyone who would answer.
What two words would you use to describe me?
When I get your answer, I’ll respond with two words for you.
The words I received were extremely insightful and, full disclosure here, helped me reply to an assignment my co-host had given me for our weekly podcast. What I didn’t take into account was how receiving and sharing two simple words would impact me and each contributor.
Today my stomach is in knots.
I’m finding it hard to let go of the details of torture, abuse, imprisonment and malnourishment from this week’s horrific story of the parents of 13 brothers and sisters, who held them captive in dreadful conditions in their Riverside County home.
“There are cases that stick with you, that haunt you. Sometimes in this business we are faced with looking at human depravity,” said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin when he announced the charges the parents are facing that could keep them in prison for life.
The only reason we know any of this took place is because one brave 17-year-old girl, who’d plotted her escape for two years, climbed out a window with a phone and told her story to police. I can only imagine what it was like for those first officers on the scene, finding children and young adults chained to their beds.
Reporters have swarmed the neighborhood to try to figure out whether there were any signs. But because the parents so carefully kept their kids from contact with anyone, it appears that no one heard, saw or suspected anything was amiss. The few encounters, when the children rushed away from a stranger, didn’t prompt any intervention. Even aunts have told the media they were prevented from seeing the family, so no one outside this nuclear family knew the horrors that were taking place next door.
ROI: the measurement of return on an investment relative to the investment’s cost.
Loss: the fact or process of losing something or someone.
I thought it was a scarecrow that caught my eye while driving in Mexico last month. But when we made a U-turn to check it out we found a dummy propped on a chair holding a note. The note explained why it had to be burned up and then added a request for the coming year. On New Year’s Eve it would be filled with firecrackers, set ablaze and tossed into the street in front of a cheering crowd. Gerardo, the dummy, apparently had an issue with one-liter beer bottles and is hoping for better beer in 2018.
If I had to attach a note to an effigy of myself for the past year, what I would write? 2017, at first blush, was a year of loss: my mother died, a family relationship was broken, and several attempts at new ventures wound up stalling.
“Do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
As I reviewed this past year it dawned on me that in spite of (or possibly because of) all the suffering, the light that broke through the pain was more powerful than the darkness. This light didn’t show up overnight, it was a process that came in many forms: through spiritual connection, writing, listening to books on long car rides, reading books and sharing life with people who challenge and support me.
Here are three steps I want to share that helped me move from each instance of loss to light.
“I need to get outside,” my 81-year old father turns and announces as he swings his arms back and forth standing alone in the middle of the garage.
He’s holding a broom, grinning from ear-to-ear, after my mother called from the basement to report him missing. He drops the broom to pull up his pants, which tend to slip down his small frame from time to time because he doesn’t notice they’re unbuttoned.
“Let’s go this way,” I direct him and open the side door that leads into the backyard. Squinting in the light he shuffles through the garden to the porch and sits down.
“Dad, where were…?” and then I stop myself. I try not to ask my father questions anymore, but it’s not easy. I had to be taught.
“Questioning your loved one with Alzheimer’s causes confusion, frustration and anger,” our instructor told the 12 of us who’d gathered to figure out how to manage our parent, partner or ex husband who was morphing into a different person, “because as the plaque and tangles increase in the brain, they clog the memory centers.”
So instead of questions, I make statements. If he doesn’t like my suggestion, he’ll change it up.