Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Things Remembered

     A few weeks ago, my husband and I were in Utah for a weekend get away with some dear friends.  We had a bit of time to kill before a movie started, so we decided to walk around a local mall.  In the middle of the mall was a kiosk which shimmered with glittering silver and glass trinkets of all kinds.  Like a magpie, I immediately changed course and headed for the shiny kiosk of wonder.  At one corner of the kiosk were shelves filled with snow globes.  I'm sure my eyes widened as I stood transfixed by the whimsical orbs.  My wide eyes scanned the rows until they fell and stopped upon the one.  It was every little girl's dream world, somehow encapsulated in a glass ball.  Two white horses, a mare and a foal, stood in the midst of a few shimmering, silver trees, while delicate glittering snow floated softly and silently through the magical globe.  To add to the splendor of it all, the globe  played music!  It took about two minutes of staring at the snow globe before I knew that I had to buy it for Morgan for her birthday.  Morgan began taking horse back riding lessons this summer and she loves the horses.  Add to that the fact that she is a pink wearing, fairy-tale reading, day-dreaming, princess tea party throwing, girly-girl to the core, and well, there was just no way to prevent the universe (with the aid of my credit card) bringing the girl and the globe together.  With some effort, I pulled my eyes away from the hypnotic orb to find someone whom I could pay.  I half expected the Wizard of Oz to appear from behind some invisible curtain, and was slightly disappointed when a rather ordinary, all be it very pleasant, woman, emerged from behind the counter. She removed the snow globe from it's glass prison, and asked me if I would like it engraved. Would I ever?!  The only thing that could have possibly made the gift any more treasured would be to have it engraved with a personal message.  I had her engrave, in a delicate, cursive font :  Happy 9th birthday, Morgan.  Love, Mom and Dad.  I must here insert that the chosen message took me a good ten minutes to decide upon.  By the time I  finally decided, and looked back on the relative simplicity of the chosen message, I felt a little like Ralphy from  A Christmas Story, beaming with pride over his descriptions of a Red Rider BB gun with a compass in the stock.  But, however simplistic, the message added the perfect finishing touch to the perfect present.  Somewhere deep within me, my eight-year-old self nodded approvingly. (also, somewhere deep within me, a voice intoned, "my precccious", but that could be another issue altogether).  Dirk, however, apparently not in touch with the eight-year-old girl within, shook his head noticeably (I think perhaps he even grunted a few times in apparent physical pain), as the muggle woman behind the counter took a chunk out of our bank account with one smooth swipe.  It was only as I walked away, treasure in hand, that I looked up to notice the name of the store.  It was Things Remembered. "How appropriate", I mused.  The whole atmosphere of the store had made me feel like I was once again a little girl in pig tails, hunting for leprechauns and fairy rings and dreaming of becoming The Little Mermaid when I grew up.  It was definitely a nostalgia store.

     Back at home later that week, I glimpsed the black and white striped bag (containing the precious) in it's hiding place in the closet as I reached for a pair of jeans.  I stopped short as my eyes fell upon the name of the store, neatly printed across the front of the bag.  "Things remembered", I mused again.  Sometimes the simplest of phrases can strike a chord somewhere in the recesses of your heart or mind.  It can awaken something in you which has long been forgotten.  Suddenly I was transported back to my girlhood bedroom in our little Virginia townhouse.  I was sitting at a small wooden bench, which folded out into a desk.  A crayon was clenched so tightly in my hot, chubby hand, that the wax almost melted.  I was coloring furiously, passionately, and purposefully, the picture of ponies in the book that lay open before me.  Sweat beaded around the wisps of baby hair which still framed my round face.  I  remembered how much I used to love to color.  I am not sure, out of a childhood filled with happy memories, many easily more exciting than sitting alone in my room coloring, why that particular memory came back to me.  But the feeling that came flooding through me as the memory unfolded was that of complete and utter contentedness.  I had not been doing anything significant.  The coloring book which I was putting my whole little girl heart into filling with beautiful colors, has long since disintegrated in a landfill; or perhaps, with any luck, it has been recycled numerous times and is now in the fibers of the tissue box which you will certainly be pulling out by the end of this sentimental post.  Lately I've been doing a lot of introspection.  I deactivated my Facebook account again, partly in an attempt to rediscover my own identity; and not who "friends" on a social media site identify me as, but who I truly am and always have been.  In a way, the memory of exerting myself to the point of heat exhaustion to color a meaningless picture of Little Ponies, helped me remember who I am.   I am the the girl who pours her heart out performing small acts which no one ever really notices or cares about. Now, instead of coloring ponies, I wipe noses and floors, vacuum rugs and fold laundry.  I am and always have been a nurturer of people and a beautifier of spaces.  I have always put my whole energy into striving to improve whatever tiny portion of the world I may occupy.  It is only recently, through outside influences, such as Facebook, that I have felt the need to do anything beyond that.  I would read posts about people running marathons and getting PHDs and I would feel that my life was too small to be significant.  I began trying to be more impressive, more witty, more popular.  I was always filled with this nervous agitation that I needed to think of the most witty, "like" getting status update.  I was basing my self worth on what a few hundred acquaintances who had known me in a former life "liked" or did not "like" about me.  I had completely lost sight of the contented, beet faced girl coloring in the corner; so happy to be making a small contribution of beauty and color to the world.

     So now, what to do with this memory and awakening that my inner psyche has gifted me?  I don't think pulling an Emily Dickinson is the answer.  I can't help anyone by shutting out the world completely.  I had contemplated ending my blog writing, until I received the nicest hand-written note from a friend the other day, stating that she was inspired as a mother by my posts.  Her kind words helped me remember why I started this blog in the first place; to reach out to other mothers through expressing the emotions that we all sometimes feel and laughing at the experiences that we all go through.  Her note was an affirmation that my blog is doing just that.  So, for Tiffany, and anyone else who may be reading this; here is the advice I have for the week: Remember who you are.  Not who the world says you are.  Not who social media tells you you should be.  Not who the airbrushed woman with four dogs and a spotless house (as if) on the cover of Good Housekeeping says you can be if only you would shape up.  Remember who you are.  It's who you have always have been.  I am a nurturer, a beautifier, a dreamer and a writer.  And I am content being a stay at home mom.  It is the perfect environment in which to nurture and beautify.  Of course there are those days when catching the next available flight to China and changing my name and hair color briefly sounds like a viable and desirable option, but at the core of who I am, I find peace in my small and mundane domestic responsibilities.  It is important to live in the present, but sometimes the only way to do so fully is to unearth the past.  In today's world it is so easy to lose sight of who you are or what your purpose is.  After having three children, it is easy for me to forget just about everything, including the fact that the car keys do  not belong in the freezer.  Sometimes you need to take a few moments apart from the world, encapsulated in your own little globe of thought and memory.  Sometimes the best way to find peace in the present is through things remembered.   


  1. You're right on the mark Shan! And having figured that out, I'm sure you finally understand your great worth--yep, just the way you are. Our family loves you dearly, and count you as a most loved member of our household. Remember that it's oftentimes the adversary who would have us see ourselves as less than who we really are. Welcome to the "imperfect-but-trying our best Stanger family. We love you!


  2. Pfft, it's a good thing you're not going to stop blogging! I was just thinking a few nights ago..."'s been a while since I've seen a blog from Shannon..."


  3. So true and beautifully written as always!

  4. You guys were in Utah?! Awwww, shoot! Come visit next time! :) Yeah, I went to write on your wall that when we visited Idaho, we drove by our old house and yours (y'all were in church) and missed you guys terribly! Next time we come up for a visit, we'll let you know! LOVE this post, as always. You are tremendous writer. Always thought provoking.