Sweat the Small Stuff

Ausma - White Cloud, Michigan
Entered on April 18, 2009
Age Group: 65+
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This I Believe

Sweat the Small Stuff

I believe that the beauty and uniqueness of our lives is in the details. I have had a big life but what ties the memories to my heart are the small, seemingly insignificant details.

I was five years old when our family escaped from our native Latvia and joined the thousands of homeless refugees dodging bombs in war torn Germany. In a bomb shelter, after an air raid that closed both air holes with debris, my mother sang a prayer and that little melody pushed back fear and panic. What could be more insignificant against the roar of low-flying aircraft and sirens than a fragile melody, but that little song carried the power of faith and calmed this child’s heart.

The DP camps set up for refugees after WWII were vast, cold and frightening places. During the six years that we were transferred from one camp to another, one bright yellow memory surfaces – a stick of Juicy Fruit gum. My father worked for an American Colonel in Nuremberg, Germany, and on weekends he returned to the camp with a stick of gum in his pocket for my sister and me. Oh, the pleasure of that sweet tasting bit of happiness. Another delightful memory was of Omite, our grandmother, who would peel the occasional apple in an unbroken spiral and then hang these twisted ribbons of fragrance around the room. When dried, she boiled them to make delicious tea. The aroma of apple peelings stirred hope in a dingy barrack’s room. After we arrived in the United States we were very poor and had little in the way of personal items. I remember the intense joy when one of the good-will boxes contained a new pair of white bobby-socks that stayed up around my skinny ankles. An amazing new country but what I recall with particular joy is the gift of new bobby-socks!

My one great passion in life has been horses – grooming them, feeding them, riding them – anything that keeps me in their company. I have spent hundreds of hours riding but the one magical moment when the horse and I are in perfect harmony moving as one being is a sensation beyond description. Not all memories are easy. After a bad fall with a horse, I spent weeks in a hospital lying motionless on a Striker-frame bed with a broken back and hip, and yet what I recall almost instantly from this time is not the pain and uncertainty but the friend who brought green ribbons for my hair and a chocolate malted. The smallest act of kindness can shine a light at a dark time.

The saying is “Don’t sweat the mall stuff”. I believe the opposite is true. The big stuff happens but it is the small stuff that imprints itself on the heart and keeps for a lifetime. This applies to daily life which is enhanced by small things like a bouquet of flowers, the fragrance of freshly baked bread, a splendid sunrise, a grandbaby’s smile of recognition, a crocus blossom pushing its lavender face through the snow, or a random act of kindness. Magic happens in the details and it weaves gold threads through the tapestry of our lives. Little things mean a lot.