I experienced an English tea room recently while visiting my Uncle Tom in New Orleans. He took me there because the Queen of England shares my birthday of April 21. Many think that her day of birth is in June. Don’t be fooled. She celebrates in June because the weather is more desirable to ride her horse around the square. I guess being queen, she can call the shots. I ate a lovely lunch on fine china and drank tea with an extended pinky- that led to many trips to the loo the remainder of the day- and left me feeling content and cultured. The “takeaway” moment for me, however, wasn’t the delectable scones, (well a bit of a take-away considering some of the scone left in my purse) but the memory of dining under a sign that boldly stated “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”.
According to our server the poster’s origin dates back to London at the beginning of the Second World War. It was intended to raise morale in the event of bombings, and explosions that could occur. Obviously, my issues are insignificant in comparison- although there is a lot of gas in a house with teens- it has become my new mantra and I plan on using it often in the year ahead.
New mantra in use
Little did I know that I would be reciting it over and over again so soon after leaving my uncle’s. I left for the airport from his home at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning and arrived home Sunday at 5 p.m. Mind you, I am a grateful that we live in a world where it takes hours and not months to arrive at a desired destination and that there is little fear of a tribal attack or getting some freaky disease, but is was still daunting. Apparently, I chose to fly during one of the worst storms in decades. I experienced THE most horrific landing of my life. You know you are in trouble when the retired Royal Air Force pilot sitting next to you grabs your arm and says, “Hang on love. Things are going to get a bit wild.” After my initial disappointment from realizing that a man has never said that to me in another venue, I took a deep breath as we skidded down the runway and quietly repeated “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”. I used my new mantra numerous times that day; on the runway in a little prop plane that never was able to take off; while in line for three hours waiting to get another connecting flight home; and in my Super 8 Hotel room where the weather conditions forced me to spend the evening. I discovered a full size fridge. Thankfully it contained leftover Chinese food and an unrecognizable alcoholic beverage instead of a body. Oddly, I was at peace that day, while my fellow travellers were less than composed, seeming to believe that the United Airways staff personally brewed up the storm to make their lives miserable.
Keeping calm at home
Now that I am finally home safe and sound, I use my calming chant daily— sometimes hourly. On the occasions when I find myself sitting in the passenger seat with my driver in training teen, I calmly explain that A. We are not in London and the right side of the road is the way to go and B. Turns are best taken at speeds less than 35 mph., I KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. When my furnace dies, the water heater has a leaky nipple (tough to keep a straight face with that one) and apparently there is moisture in my crack—in the basement that is—I KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. Upon hearing, “Mom, I kind of dropped your phone in pumpkin muffin batter,” or “Mom, Maggie (the pooch) just ate a Fiber One Bar from the pantry,” again, “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”. Of course, my new found mantra has its limits. As a cancer survivor, during a recent scan, I resorted to “KEEP CALM- take an Ativan- AND CARRY ON”, but it did help.
A friend and fellow cancer survivor uses a visual to maintain her serenity. She imagines herself floating down a stream. Of course, life has a way of throwing some heavy currents her way, and when it does, she doesn’t fight the turbulence. She moves with the current and has faith that tranquil waters are up ahead. However, these are my words of summation not hers. My buddy Virginia would say, “GIRL, what are you thinking, swimming so hard? All you have to do is float through the rough stuff until you get to the smooth waters? By the way, you have too much sh** in your stream.” Either way, whether you choose to visualize or chant again and again and again, as long as it takes, I wish you a frazzle-free, unruffled year ahead with smooth waters. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!