Red-Light, Green-Light 

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One day I noticed that although my jeep looked good from afar, up close it was covered in sticky muck, and layers of dirt had settled in upon that. Yuck! When had it gotten so filthy? I just love my jeep, but I don’t have the cool kind that looks even better with an inch of mud splatter on it. Even the neighborhood kitty had stopped leaving his signature paw-print trail in the dust. Time to go to the car wash.prints

Luckily, I have a car wash that is freaking awesome, so I set out mentally singing, or maybe not just mentally-more like belting out-my car wash song. Which just so happens to be that groovy 70’s hit cleverly named Car Wash. (I’m deep like that.) 

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bee1-01No line at the old Speedy Bee-Bonus! I decided to go all out with the $12 wash. Next is the tough part. The coveralled attendant gives hand motion signals like he’s landing a plane-and all I have to do is get my tire in the track. Not as easy as it seems. The red/yellow/green light-up board takes it from there. The problem is, the ground traffic controller doesn’t even make eye contact. He is on auto-pilot, so I have to navigate carefully so as not to hit him, all the while hanging my head out the window like a shaggy dog…because it’s tricky and I’m not always the best driver. Finally green-lighted and Jeep in neutral, I’m on my way. It’s dark as a tomb. As the colorful neon magic soap squirts all over my window I can’t see a thing. That always gives me a little silly feeling in my stomach, partly because I’m claustrophobic, and partly because I’m not the one in control of the car. And I am all about control.

As the car moves forward I’m able peek through some of the foam, but not well enough to see what’s coming next. Floppy mop things flap against my car, and a steady cascade of water trickles down.

Rub a dub-dub. I still can’t see the end of the line.

Next, a monsoon of water comes pouring down, now I’m apparently in the rinse cycle. Slippy slippy slidey. Then some sort of waxing agent causes the water to bead up all over the surface. Then a final rinse, and high powered blowdryers buffet the car.

 

 

The water droplets disburse off the window and I am now able to see directly ahead of me. Like a porthole. Ahhh-let there be light! Chug, chug. A bit more patience and one final push and I’m finally at the exit. But I’ve got a red-light.

Wait for it…wait for it…green-light! All systems go! Because if you don’t go, you will be playing bumper cars with the cars behind you.

(Don’t ask me how I know that-I just know.)

Then zip around the corner and snag my vacuum cubby to finish the “inside” job.

As I remove the mats, vacuuming and spiffing up the interior, I notice this old jeep cleans up pretty well! image

I’m fond of my jeep. Like an old friend. Puts up with me even when it’s grimy and neglected-and still performs the dailies with no complaint.

Me? Not so much. 

Because sometimes my life can be like my old jeep. Everybody’s life, really.  Messy. Layers of debris clutter up till we finally take notice that we need to deal with it. Then we have to ACT-staying in that same condition is simply not an option.

So then it’s cleanse mode. We need to infuse the good and happy, but first we have to chip away at those old layers of dirt. To start with, we have to align our course in the right direction. Then we have to be patient through all the steps. Scrubbing away at the old to reveal something better. To complicate matters, we can’t see ahead-so it’s one foot in front of the other until the light pokes through incrementally, and we can see that we are indeed on the right track. It seems tedious and takes way longer than it should. Then one day, we emerge into the sunlight. Restored and bright and shiny and renewed.

Ready to go wherever the road may take us.

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Dirt’s gonna fly. It’s simply a fact of life. And sadly, some of that dirt’s gonna stick to us.

But when it does, we can know without a doubt that with time-a little patience (or lots)-and some mental elbow grease, it will all come out in the wash. mud-splatter-vector

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Just Desserts

 

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When you raise four kiddos, you see your fair share of fundraisers. Everything from overpriced coupon books, wrapping paper, candles, and popcorn…to car washes, chili feeds, and trips to Sonic with tips benefiting the team.

These are usually the bane of any parents existence, with a few notable exceptions. One being those Sonic-day fundraisers, and my personal favorite, the cakewalk.

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The cakewalk is an under-appreciated moneymaker with benefits. Charitable bakers bake up their personal best in a cake-off that would make Duff Goldman and Buddy Valastro’s heads spin.

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The array of yumminess is too much for one person to take. (ok…me! I’m the one person.) Not the kind of too-much where you walk away, the kind where you buy a ream of tickets so you get to play well…and often! I’m nothing if not a winner. (And I’ve got the array of clothing sizes in my closet to prove it!)

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The cakes are usually displayed on a banquet table with a dollar store tablecloth and not much fanfare. This does nothing to take away from their iced beauty. As my grandma always used to say “No point in gilding the lily.”

A cake in its natural habitat needs no hullabaloo.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that one simply doesn’t pick out a cake. The cake picks you! A cake siren song of sorts, that the sweet-toothed or pleasingly plump can attest to.
As with anything else, If you want to play, you got to pay. (Now that’s my kind of gamblin’.) So tickets in hand, you proceed to the inner circle…of construction paper that is. Numbered squares form a large circular gameboard of sorts. You are the pawns.

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Next comes the best part. Because a cakewalk is not just about cake. No…there is more to the cakewalk than meets the eye. There is also music. (And who doesn’t love cake and music? Together. Hum and yum, or yum and hum, whatever works.)
Now there’s no guarantee what kind of music you’re going to get. I’ve heard everything from the church organist banging out a dirge, to songs I haven’t heard since painfully awkward sock-hops in my pimply teens. It usually depends on the age and lifestyle of the super-mom coordinating the event.

High-maintenance mom means wildly inappropriate popular music, so she can be cool. Sporty mom means the cakewalk will turn into a full-blown competition, power-cake-walking to Eye of the Tiger. Scholarly mom means orchestra or opera, so we’re all going to suffer as she makes it a combo: learning experience/sugar fest. (Eyes will be glazing over all right!) Hippie-chick mom wouldn’t be caught dead at a cakewalk, but she just might heckle (passively) from the sidelines. (She’s still cross that no one supported her Veggie-Walk suggestion.)
Circumstances may vary, but the premise is the same. Pick a square, any square. When the music starts-GO-and when the music stops-STOP! The emcee will call out a number, and if you’re the lucky one standing on that number-You Take The Cake- literally!

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So in this case, you actually want your number to come up. If you’re one of the sorry stragglers left over in the end, you will go away empty-handed, or it will be slim pickins. Either store bought cake, because somebody’s kid just told them they needed a cake that day-or horror of horrors-somebody let their kid do the baking, and brought that cake-fail anyway to bolster little Johnny’s confidence. If you’re ever forced into that situation, please do the right thing. (Grab the store cake and run!) image

Life really isn’t all that different from a cakewalk. Sometimes you think you have a myriad of choices, and it’s exciting and almost overwhelming. What to do, what to do. With an enthusiastic start, you briskly move along, eye on the prize. Sometimes, the stars align and you walk away with your desired choice. All is right with the world.
Other times, your first pick may not come through, but luckily you had a back-up plan and can still walk happily away.
Then there are the other times. The times when things get tough, and then still tougher, and life shows you that it’s no piece of cake after all. In fact, everything seems out of sync.

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What started out as a vigorous walk soon slows into a foot-dragging saunter. Around and around you go. It seems as if your number will never be called…(kind of like the DMV).
But you keep on keepin’ on. One foot in front of the other. You don’t feel the progression at first. In fact, it can seem like you’re never going to get anywhere. Like cement boots. But a baby-step is still a step forward. And as any mom can tell ya, those baby-steps soon lead to great strides.

So what if plan A didn’t work out? Or B,or C, or even D?

Don’t forget the rules of the cakewalk.

Just walk. And stop. Catch your breath, and walk some more.

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There is light at the end of the tunnel. And walking out of darkness and into that light is a glorious thing, no matter how long it takes. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, that light at the end of the tunnel is…candles…on a cake! And that would be just desserts.

Having my cake, & eating it too!
Having my cake, & eating it too!

🍋 If you only walk on sunny days, you will never reach your destination.

From the book Aleph  by:Paul Coelho