The Unsinkable: April 14th

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For the last several years it has come like clockwork.

I check my calendar, my phone, or hear the date on the radio and I get this tight twinge in my stomach when I realize... is April 14th. 

I get the immediate feeling like I've forgotten something. Something very important. I have somewhere to be. It is someone's birthday who I need to call. There was a job or a favor I need to be at. It creates a chaos in my brain.

I try very hard to be aware of what day it is and what responsibilities I have for the day. From my daily planner, which I keep in my purse, to the weekly-planner I keep in my bathroom, to my "Men of Maui" calendar on my fridge (It was a gift), I try to stay one step ahead of myself, to the my best of my control, so I do not miss anything.

That is the way my life has been since I can remember. I was nine years old when my little brother was born, concreting my role as the oldest of four children. Since the four of us had varying interests and talents growing up, it created a very crazy schedule for my parents. Ballet, soccer, t-ball, swimming, choir concerts, tournament weekends, you name it. My friends with young kiddos, I feel your heads nodding as you read this...

My final years in high school provided me the good routine of keeping my planner close by. This habit proved useful as I juggled a few jobs on campus in college as well as just trying to finish school itself. Post-college I couldn't exist without my planner. I had moved back to Florida, was working three jobs, training for a marathon, and all the while trying to be a good human and a good friend. My roommates will tell you I scolded them constantly for not recycling but never actually took our recycle bucket to the center. Sorry boys. I'm still not perfect to this day!

I'll let you in on a little secret I've learned recently: Life in chaos + Trying too hard to control the chaos = Missing life. 

This morning (still April 14th as I write this) I woke up feeling a bit, mmmhh.. off. My immediate family has been hit with some scary illness and overall uncertainty, which I always let get to me far too much. As I sat under my bed covers early this morning, I considered trying to validate staying in bed a few more hours, maybe re-watching some episodes of Queer Eye on Netflix, even though I had already finished the season the night before.

With a groan, meant for no one but myself to hear, I rolled myself out of bed, showered, and decided to go eat free breakfast at my parents house and enjoy some company and sunshine on their porch.

My afternoon resulted in exactly what I wanted those first few steps out of bed to get me to. 

I got to spend my morning with two of my favorite people. Mom & Dad. Leaving my sweet, healing dad to have to rest at home (sadly), mom and I set out to climb one of our favorite family hikes, deciding to take a route we hadn't done in a while. We felt lost for a little bit, but were comfortable with the hills and the terrain (despite our dying glutes!) so we knew we would find our way back somehow, and maybe found the coolest trek we ever had together! One of the small trails led us to a small herd of deer, which we both cooed at for way too long. But I loved sharing this moment with my mom.

After our (much longer than it needed to be) hike and feeling super healthy, I let my mom take the reigns for the next track of our record for the day. We ended up at a health bar that I know my mom LOVES. I love it too because I always feel skinny and super pretty and successful when I leave there. If I had done the hike alone, I probably would have gone to get pizza, at Little Caesars afterward. This is why we need moms...

My mom loves cheese too (because she isn't a crazy person!) but real cheese kind of makes us both feel like crap so she had been telling me about this cheese at the health bar that was made from CASHEWS. Don't get me wrong. I like cashews. But how to do milk a cashew? And how do you make it taste like heaven?! Feeling skeptical, but also trusting of this woman who grew me inside her body, I tried the cashew cheese. And it was GLORIOUS!

One first thought in my mind was, "who even had this idea?" and then also "what would it taste like on pizza?" 

So then our afternoon gets even better. My mom wants to go look at some of the antique shops downtown for "something she is looking for," and if you read my last blog, or have known me more than about 30 minutes, you know this activity is MY JAM. We were both drained from the hike that should have taken 1.5 hours that actually took almost 3, but repurposed furniture and really, really old glassware and other things we didn't really need to exist in life were the in fact "life-source" we needed keep trekking on to own this day.

So here we are:

My mother is looking for a (#1) clear (#2) glass (#3) fancy (#4)"candy holder" (#5) with a stem that (#6) isn't too big and (#7) is also the perfect thing in her mind that we may never find until we die.

After wandering about a couple of antique shops and being unsuccessful in finding her prize, we stop at one of my favorite thrift stores in town, the YWCA thrift store.

Alright, time to get back to the fact that it is April 14th!

While my mother looks over the glassware, I wander over to the picture frames and then the wall hangings. Then the kitchen goods. Then the sports equipment. And I eventually make it to the movie section, which is still solidly made up of 98% VHS tapes. I look at these beautiful tapes lovingly. I silently tell them that unlike chokers, high wasted denim pants, and Minecraft, they won't get to live again. Their stories, yes, but in their most true, natural, encased in plastic, rectangle forms, no... The 90s may have come back, VHS never will.

I have scanned the VHS section in thrift stores for the past 10+ years. Seeing always, my favorite film of all time: Titanic. And there it was of course. Sitting there in all of it's double-VHS-package-box-glory in the YWCA thrift store. But wait, to the left of it was a none other than a Special Edition: Titanic. Also in VHS but still, "SPECIAL!"

As a person with a TV only slightly larger than my laptop screen, no cable and no real internet connection in my home, I struggled with the thought but made the executive decision with myself that buying the "Special Edition" of my favorite film for $2.40 and the "working" VHS player for $7.99....just wasn't worth it. 

Yet, I left the thrift store feeling quite introspective. Why did I love this film so much and why was it strong enough to make me even think about buying a VHS player!? After getting home late this evening (still April 14th), I decided to Google the history of this date, already knowing in the back of my mind that I knew exactly why this date holds significance.

On April 14th, 1912, making it's way across the Atlantic Ocean, the "Unsinkable Ship" hits an iceberg and not only begins to lose it's reputation, but begins to lose lives. The RMS Titanic begins to sink. 

When I was about 16 years old, I learned I was more connected to this historical tragedy than I knew. My great grandmother, Elma Carlson, had a ticket to board the RMS Titanic on it's maiden voyage to America.

In the nick of time she got word of a cousin nearby wanting to escape to America as well, but one month sooner. Elma sold her ticket to the "Unsinkable Ship" and was already safely in the states by the time the news of the tragedy of the Titanic came around.

I can only image what went on in her heart and her head upon hearing the news. To think back to what that ticket on the Titanic could have done to her. Poor as dirt. Sleeping in the bottom cabins that flooded first. But God had a plan for her. To get her to America safe. And because of that plan, I am here today. (And A LOT of other people too!)

Some days I do wake up feeling like I'm not strong enough to take on the day. Some days I just do my best to decide to take it on at my weakest anyway. I don't wish to wake up every day feeling anxious like I do on April 14th, but I am thankful that it is a yearly reminder that I am ALIVE! God planned this!

Elma found love, happiness, and made glorious Swedish pancakes that have been passed down through multiple generations! (Still perfecting mine, great-grandma!) I never got to meet her, but I am honored to tell her story and to come back it's purpose.

I don't think Elma ever had a planner. 

Or a white board in her bathroom telling her all she had to do that week. And definitely not a "Men of Maui" calendar, but something tells me she would have liked it! As a teenager walking through the gates of Ellis Island, the only thing she had to do was be brave. I can only imagine what life was like then, but I know she kept fighting. I know because I am here today.

You see, when I see April 14th on my calendar and worry that I have forgotten something, it is because I have. Sometimes I forget to live each day in the present. If you aren't present in your day, it is very easy to lose your purpose. "Stop striving and remember God just wants you to be you" is what my sweet mentor recently said to me.

We don't always want to be comfortable in our present self. We want to eat better, exercise more, create more time for self-care, etc. What April 14th reminds me is that we are in the skin we woke up in. God's love is unsinkable. And I do believe he wants us to be ready for our path to take turns. To miss icebergs or to hit them head on. Having my planner and setting goals is nothing I plan to change soon, but I am working to live in the moment, and being quiet enough to hear God's little teaching moments.

Even when they come on the VHS rack at my favorite thrift store...

...or on a random date on the calendar. 

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