Delights: September 9 to 15

September 9: “Sweetheart. You know that North Carolina is south of Virginia. Just write it down. Please??” But no, my fourth grader would much rather research the size of Virginia in 1783. And I was kind of interested in that too.

Swift fingers on his school laptop told us that states we now know as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota (in addition to Kentucky and West Virginia) had once flown Virginia’s flag. Swelling with Old Dominion pride, my fourth grader protested Virginia’s geographical drop-off. But I think, after we discussed the complexity in 1783 of governing (or even cohering) such a large frontier without roads or regular mail service, he relented — and, eventually, completed that darn worksheet.

Bonus: My iPhone reminded me that four years ago this week, I visited Hanoi, Vietnam (one of my new favorite cities). I will sprinkle a few photos here in celebration.

Incidental beauty (and beer), Old Quarter, Hanoi

September 10: Kevin joined me tonight to watch the English-language version of Swept Away. (And Jeremiah delayed his evening plans until he could hear brave, insistent Chihiro chirping Jeremiah’s favorite line, “Please, I want to work, please.”) I could watch this film again and again, and see something new. 

My new favorite moment: Addressing the bewitched harpy and spoiled baby, Zeniba says,“But my spell wore off hours ago; don’t you want to return to the way you were?” The mouse (= baby) and the tiny bird (= harpy) shake their heads in horror and resume spinning thread.

Old Quarter, Hanoi

September 11: (It’s hard to type those words.)

Freshly commissioned Spiritual Growth Leaders. A nearly full sanctuary. Platters of egg casserole and fruit salad. Noisy table talk. These indeed proclaimed “Welcome Home” at church today.

During our celebratory brunch, my friend Katharine nudged me to rise during the blessing of teachers and students. (Fourth-grade teacher Shelly later said she would have shouted my name had I not claimed my place.) Nine-year old Avery happily joined me to discuss 18th century transportation and communication — and offered to dye my hair blue. Martin stopped by to say hello — and delightedly accepted Avery’s slice of cake when she heard him wonder aloud how to get one. And I’ve found a new chance for community service and a bit more spiritual growth. 

Among all these blessings, I think, the best part was being in the same room  — at the same table — in the same embrace — of church family. Maybe deciding where to be on Sunday morning has just gotten much easier.

The Temple of Literature in Hanoi

September 12: I floated on my back in about three feet of water, admiring my Sangria-colored toenails. (Shade: “I’m Not Really a Waitress.” Actually I was, once, but that’s another story.) Waves tripped on the distant sandbar and, at 20-second intervals, dispatched low burbles of whitewater toward my head. My choices: drop down and let the foam rumble over me? or do a half-pike twist and dive? Or just let it hit me? All of the above, over and over again, because I think that’s what a mermaid would do. 

September 13: Looking back, the joys of my old job fan out like a peacock’s tail, and today I held one of its feathers. 

I spent more than an hour this morning talking with a law professor who wanted to chat about his new research project. I gave him a few insights and suggestions. In return, he prompted memories of some of the best parts of my old job. Please, I said, call back anytime. And I meant it.

Floating village, Halong Bay, Vietnam

September 14: I pulled my headphones out of my ears: my book was good, but the sunrise was better. I stood on the beach just in time to catch the sun’s gaudy cloud-shimmering pre-glow. Here in Bethany Beach, on the first morning of a 55+ Adult Retreat, I watched quiet people, camera people, walking people and laughing people.

Nine Mennonite girls, their caps fastened against the breeze and their skirts teasing the surf, posed joyfully for a sunrise photo. Behind them, a man knelt on his paddle board and pushed through the waves, followed by a large dog. The man crossed a shimmer of sunrise while the dog, cresting a small wave, veered first toward a sleeping pelican, then toward the man. Standing now, the man shifted his position on the paddle board and the dog scrambled up. Off they went on this lake-smooth surface, a dot on the sea, a friend of the pelicans.

September 15: I’ve started paying attention to what scares me: bicycles, third-graders, disappointed expectations. And I’m coaching myself to notice the times I meet my fears and shake hands. I got on that bike. I taught that class. I agreed to lead that 55+ Adult Retreat.

As you know, an angel sprinkled my bike ride (and knee) with stardust. Third graders are hilarious. And that retreat?

Five weeks ago, I agreed to direct a church retreat for older adults who knew each other but not me. Tomorrow, at Bethany Beach, I will say goodbye to these strangers with hugs and maybe tears. 

I guess I say yes to these new things because I’ve discovered over the years that people (even third graders) are extraordinarily kind to me if I give them the chance. New retreat leader? No problem; we’ll coach you. Shared leadership? We’re glad you invited us in. You forgot to lead worship three days in a row? Hey, we’re at the beach and besides it’s all worship if you look at it the right way.

If I could share a beer with my younger self, I’d encourage her to take more chances. Grace abounds; fling your arms wide and welcome it in.

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean at Bethany Beach, Delaware

Bonus: Gazing at that sunrise photo, I realized that all those clouds amplify the glory of the sunrise. Maybe I need that preliminary fear (or at least nervousness) in order to shine.

Readers, to receive notifications by email each time I make a post, just scroll all the way down this page (next to the “word cloud”), look to the left and click on the black button that says “Join Me!” And if you think a friend might enjoy these, please share the Delight!

If you’d like to browse my past delights, please consult the “word cloud” featured at the very bottom of this post. Find a theme or two that interests you and sift through the sands. Or learn a bit more about my Blog by visiting my Welcome page. You’ll also see links to four essays that were published in print magazines. I’m glad you’re here!

20 thoughts on “Delights: September 9 to 15

  1. Great photo memories….and such an inspiring post too. Paying attention to what fears you and just doing it. Thanks for a suitable Friday lunch time lift!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Barbara, for bouncing the inspiration back at me!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Disappointing expectations has long been a fear of mine. I have been trying to overcome this in retirement (with some babysteps success)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your own fear of disappointing expectations. It’s taken me a long time to realize that my competence is higher than I think AND that people’s kindness is also pretty high. The more I challenge that particular fear, the more it diminishes. Keep your own successes rolling!

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      1. Thanks, Carol Ann – I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts on this. My biggest fear is actually shirking my responsibility. Nerdy but true! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lots of joy, as always, but what grabbed my attention were the pictures of Hanoi, so vibrant and busy and brimming with life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Laurie. I’m glad you like my photos of Hanoi. I went on business and want to return some day with my family. Kind people, great food, beautiful sights. A wonderful place!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am basking in your Hanoi memories while I consider your weighty considerations – the ebb and flow of both require pause and thought.

    Your Hanoi umbrella ceiling jogged my own memories of our visit some years ago – it remains one of our family favourite travel destinations and we have a mind to return.

    You inspire me to do better: “I’m coaching myself to notice the times I meet my fears and shake hands”. I will keep in mind that the first step is saying hello and stop averting my gaze.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once again, Ju-Lyn, you found a nugget of wisdom in my post and covered it in gold. You are so right: the first step is saying hello. Our fear is just trying to protect us; we should make friends with it.

      I’m thrilled that Hanoi is one of your family’s favorite destinations. I’m eager to return. I loved the city — and the kind, helpful people — so much.

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  5. I do admire the way in which you confront your fears. To be honest it’s something I struggle with a bit, so I’ll try to learn from your example. Thank you for hinting at a way forward.

    On a brighter note, I love that photo of the dog on the paddleboard. Very inspiring, all fears confronted and vanquished!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Mr. P — I like how you connected the dog on the paddle board with the idea of confronting fears. I imaglne the dog never considered fear, unlike me! But maybe that’s part of the lesson too? One of my tricks is to weigh the benefits against the risks. Sometimes we over-value the risks and under-value the benefits; the dog doesn’t do that — and just hops aboard!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wise words, Carol Ann. The latter years of my working life were plagued by the need to carry out formal risk assessments whenever we embarked upon a project or activity that strayed from the norm. I often thought that we should carry out a risk assessment on the legal requirement to carry out all those risk assessments!

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  6. Dumb question alert: what do the words ‘disappointing expectations’ mean? Is it that we set lower expectations of ourselves than would be possible absent our fears? Or is it more indicating a regret we hold onto, for too long, for having not lived up to the expectations we had for ourselves? Either way, I am inspired to try harder to live life without so many of the limits fears impose, but I am curious. My fav this week is the commentary on the role clouds may play.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Joy. You ask an interesting question. I intended disappointing OTHER’S expectations (for example, leading a lame retreat among people who look forward to it each year).

      But I like how you turned the phrase inward — what do I expect of myself? If I don’t meet my expectations, do I experience regret? And if I experience regret from not meeting my expectations, is that regret more or less intense than the companion regret of not trying (or setting my expectations for myself too low)?

      Avoiding regret is one of my biggest motivators. I’ve figured out that what I fear either is not very likely to occur or, if it does, it won’t be as bad as I anticipate. (In other words, I work hard to temper my fears with realism.) And then I judge my resilience. I’m tough, smart and nimble (like you) — therefore, I really can “deal” with the possible bad outcome. So I just go for it!

      And the clouds do sweeten the sunrise.

      I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

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      1. I can’t think of any particularly insightful thoughts to offer hear. Downer Debbie chatter pops automatically into my head, but I try, with more or less success, to ignore her. You seem to really enjoy your life. I think this pandemic has given the hermit in me too much license. Can you suggest a place to begin a study of mindfulness?

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  7. Excellent photos good post ! Beautiful place! Thanks for sharing your memories 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for visiting, Priti, and for sharing your very encouraging words!

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      1. It’s my pleasure. Do visit my blog also.😁

        Liked by 1 person

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