Saturday, January 2, 2016

Operation ILYMT ... A New Year's Miracle

I just opened my email and got a huge surprise. Like the Angel Gabriel bringing good news to sleeping people in Bethlehem, my niece Shannon let me know that a) my previous ILYMT post was not lost and b) it had been published. If others of you have seen it, then you must think I'm as loony as the shepherd who believed the wolf in sheep's clothing was really a sheep. I cannot explain this except to say my computer is messing with me. I'm lucky to have an all knowing, benevolent higher binary power come to my rescue.  Not to mention Shannon. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I'm sure there is a message in all this craziness. It's clear I've got to practice leaning into my daily pauses, because there's really no point if I still fly off the handle and go postal at benign postal workers when my pause is interrupted.  It takes 21 days to form a habit. I've got a year to let the magic of  pausing sink in.

Below is the missing post. It may not be worth all the build up. Thanks for sticking with me despite my obvious lack of skills. I proudly claim the title "writer," not "IT person."

Gratefully yours,
Merry ME

I have just spent a quiet hour reading a year's worth of love notes. Sweetie and Maizey snoozed, while Buddy chewed on a bone. Johnson was out getting coffee. I had planned on working on new years cards since I never even unpacked the Christmas cards I did't t send last year. I decided instead to finish something daughter Wendy and I started this time last year - Operation I Love You More Than ....

I Love You More Than is not an original idea. There are books with that title, but none so sweet as this year's mom and daughter project. I don't remember when or how this saying got started with us. Was it when she was a child? Or maybe when she went away to college? I do know we've been adding an ILYMT note to our letters and emails for quite some time. Wendy even wrote an article about it in her work newsletter back in 2011. In response to a query about how to write a love letter, Dear Wendalina wrote:
"Dear Love-LetterPhone:I'm not a poet. I know it would be a lot cooler if I was, but I think that's the key to the wisdom I impart. You don't need to be a Latin lover or poet to write an amazing love letter. You needn't be a writer, nor have a way with words. Very simply, and like Michael Jordan and Nike implored you to do, just do it. Just sit down and write one. Write something. 
So where to begin? To that end, I quote Roger Ebert who once wrote, "The Muse visits during the process of creation, not before." What the heck does that mean? It means pick up your pen and start writing. Don't let your mind (which is probably yammering something like "I have no idea what to say," or "I'd rather be watching The Wire") get in the way. You can spend a lot of time on it, or just a little. And I, personally, think observations are the key when you let someone know that you've noticed the small things. 
For example, you couldn't go help but walk with a spring in your step if you got into your car and found a post-it stuck to the steering wheel that said simply, "I love the way you look in your jeans."

Wendalina concluded her response with this:
"And you know what? Moms love love letters too. And so do girlfriends who brought you a cupcake the day after you found out your boyfriend was a cheat. And kids and Dads too. It is always cool to be on the receiving end of a love note. So just do it. Write and send one today."* 

Last December, Wendy suggested we try writing a note every day for the whole year. The rules were simple. No pressure. No stressing about missing a day. Just take a moment or two to jot some love down. I'll be honest. Neither Wendy nor I are real good at finishing projects when we don't have a deadline or a paycheck riding on it. Operation ILYMT could have gone the way of organizing our closets or sifting through a year's worth of paperwork. We could have opted for a People Magazine and a nap. But we didn't. We were faithful. Sure we missed a few days, but having permission not to stress made it easier to pick up where we left off.  

I can't speak for Wendy, but I found the discipline welcoming. No matter how crazy our lives got (and believe me in a year with two surgeries in 30 days, extra big work projects, a puppy and kittens it was a crazy year) we found time to connect with each other.  Since we live on opposites ends of the country, Operation ILYMT became a sparkly thread that bound us together in a way  emails, texts and social media couldn't touch.  For me, it even topped Operation Birthday Postcard which was fun in its own way. 

So what did we write about? From enchiladas, to egg sandwiches, to chicken salad to cupcakes with sprinkles, food was the most often mentioned. A close second would be tea, cold or hot. Bella and Buddy and Jimmy were also mentioned a fair amount. What's not to love about any of those things. We also shared pictures or stories or movies that brought us joy. In a weird way, even sad things like funerals helped us find love to share. Many love notes were followed by comments written in a variety of colors. I never knew what to expect when I opened up the document, but was never disappointed. 

I'm kind of sad to see the year end because it means the end of Operation ILYMT. However, since we did so well on this project, we decided to try another one. Taking our cue from the book Q&A a day (365 questions*5 years*1,825 answers), during Operation Question and Answer we will choose a daily question and answer it. The same rules apply - no stress or worry. We do have permission to skip or revamp a question if it seems kind of goofy.  For example, Jan. 1's question is "What is your mission?" I had an answer immediately - to care for people. Wendy didn't like it much.  She'll  probably pick another one, or change the question in some way to suit her. Again, while there will be a kind of continuity, there will be surprises along the way.  

I don't know if you're looking for a new way to connect with people you love, or if you are like the Love-letter Phobe that wrote to Wendalina. Even if all you want to do is take note of the little things that occur in your daily life and write a love note to yourself, I highly suggest this way of saying I love you.

Here are a few examples:
5/4 … hydrangeas in bloom
5/4 … zucchini lasagna! (we)
5/2 ... A sunny day and a picnic with my workout crew. Happy birthday, Molly Jo!  (we)
5/2 … an I love you more note from my Sweetie (me)
4/25 … seeing dolphins swimming in the river. One even jumped up and did a backflip. (me) Wow!! (we)
4/25 …talking to my friend Kathy on the phone. I miss getting to see her everyday at work. (we)
4/15 … celebrating life. Be it a birthday or at a funeral (I did both today), it is good to spend time acknowledging all the good things a person is and does. (me) so true. (we)
3/25 … a hot, cheezy enchilada topped with fresh tomatoes and avocado. (we)
3/25 … my new red and white striped Jones of New York tee shirt with medium length sleeves. I look kind of like Waldo! (me)
7/1...a grilled cheese sandwich with avocado and bacon!! (we) I think I want one of these. (me)
8/15 … a hard workout on a Saturday morn followed by grocery shopping, followed by a loooonnnggg nap. So much to do, but I needed a nap so bad. Happy. (we) naps are Divine. looong naps are Diviner (me).
9/5 … running through the pouring rain with Kurt. (we) (Running in the rain is fun - unless there’s lightning. me)
10/2 …Chipotle guacamole.(we)
10/7 …a walk to get a tea when you’re stressed. Tea really does make things better. (we)
11/13 … This cute face. It’s a quokka (good scrabble word!) me This lil guy is ssooooo cute. (we)

You get the idea.

Today's pause brought me quiet delight. I think that's the whole reason for a taking a step out of the moment so you can be in the moment. Does that make sense?

Thank you Wendy for a great year of mother/daughter moments. I love you more than chubby cheeks and a perky smile.
Merry ME

*Dear Wendalina,, 2/7/2011


jeanne hewell-chambers said...

What a fabulous way to stay in touch and spend a spot of every (well, almost every) day! I may try to figure something like this out as a way to build a relationship with my DIL (who doesn't like to communicate, so there's only so much I can do). Maybe I'll hatch something with photos which will only require her mashing the send button. And here's to a year of no more surgeries! xo

AkasaWolfSong said...

For the past few years I've been sorely lacking in the writing department.
I think this might be a good way to start a fire inside me. Now I need to
find that blank journal I stuck on a book shelf just waiting for me. (LOL)

Perhaps I'll think of Pat Boone singing "Love Letters in the Sand" and just
go for it....

Thank You Again for being so inspirational Mary.
You do a body good!