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Archive for June, 2014

Sign: Creating A Summer I Love

A sign in the cottage I use as a constant reminder to add the right ingredients.

It’s been several weeks since I declared my intention to Create The Best Summer of My Life, complete with a promise to provide REGULAR progress reports. I’m happy to report my summer is being filled with a balance of pleasing ingredients. In the daily conscious choosing, however, I decided to drop “regular progress reporting” in favor of occasional disjointed musings. In the end, it makes for a much more appealing recipe.

Journal Entry

Journal Entry: “How I Spent My Summer”

After my initial declaration, I created a hope-filled journal entry entitled, “How I Spent My Summer.” I used both memories from my best summers along with plans for this one.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 1970, the summer I turned 16. It was my last innocent summer. I was in love for the first time, and my heart had not yet been broken. My parents were not yet divorced. I had no summer job. For the first time, my twin cousin visited without her parents. My life was full of freedom and fun. I went to the pool, visited parks, and hung out with a fun group of church kids. No one in my crowd used drugs or alcohol, although there was a fair amount of heavy petting. From that summer, I chose the ingredients of freedom, fun, swimming, parks, and believing in true love.

Several times my good friend Ann has texted an invitation to join her at the neighborhood pool—right in the middle of the work day! It’s new for me to rearrange my work schedule for the sole purpose of spontaneous fun, but it’s on my list!

One weekday morning I loaded both dogs in the convertible and drove to Kanawha State Forest for an early hike in the woods. Just this morning I refused to accept a transcription job of poorly recorded tapes. From experience, I know listening to the droning background noise and muddy voices will culminate in frustration and a nasty headache. No, thank you. Not this summer. Instead, I happily accepted a typesetting job for a client’s second novel. It fills the workday with enjoyable reading while my fingers get a little exercise.

One ingredient I’ve been using sparingly is multitasking. It’s hard to be really present to my life when I’m focused on doing more than one thing at a time. I choose minimal juggling this summer. Instead, I concentrate on being, rather than doing, and living at a slower pace.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a LOT on my to-do list. To reclaim a little extra time, I asked my hairdresser for a wash-and-wear style, and I’ve stopped the daily make-up routine. It’s amazing how quickly I can get ready when all I have to do is take a quick shower and get dressed.

I think last night is a fair Best Summer representation. The love of my life and I ate grilled chicken salads on the back deck, enjoyed a small fire in the pit, watched the dogs playing in their kiddie pool, and chatted while playing Scrabble. Early to bed and up with the sun. Another day. Another opportunity to choose delicious ingredients.

 

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memorial

Memorial in the Woods for Mom’s Ashes

I spent a couple of hours this morning reading journal entries from the year after my mother died. What a story they told. Grief stitched its way through the tapestry, leaving knots of sadness here and threads of gratitude there. In awareness of my mortality, I frantically set out to live life more fully.

The busy-ness of that year was both comforting and numbing. I traveled nearly 20,000 miles (by car, by plane, on foot), perhaps trying to outrun the pain, but more likely simply because I could. After nearly five years of care giving, I was finally free to come and go as I pleased, and, boy, did I ever come and go as I pleased!

This grief retrospective was triggered by present circumstances as my husband prepares to travel to Phoenix to attend his step-mom’s funeral. Our son is accompanying him, the ever strong, compassionate, resilient one.

There have been other deaths in the last two weeks. My friend said goodbye to her father. My former neighbor lost her precious aunt.

As I approach my inventory to choose yet another sympathy card, the cycle of life appears scrawled on the sides of small greeting card boxes: Birthday … Graduation … Wedding … Anniversary … New Baby … Get Well … Sympathy. I sigh deeply as I notice the words Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Why do I still have those? No parents, but I still have the boxes of cards. As I think about throwing them away, tears trickle down my face. Oh, I remember now why they’re still there. Maybe they can stay a little longer. Not ready for that step quite yet, it seems.

The grief journey takes as long as it takes. That first year was incredibly difficult, as I embraced and moved through the pain, one step at a time. Just last month I sorted through Mom’s recipe books and cards, put a few in with mine, put a few in storage, and threw out the rest. The process was full of smiles as I remembered the dishes she used to make. I joyfully baked her “Easter Cake” and shared it with friends. No tears, just happy memories.

Today as I stand on the fringes of the wordless grief of those around me, I breathe deeply, close my eyes, and envision their inner spirits being rocked in the arms of angels, comforting, protecting, loving. I pray they will find the strength and courage to work through the grief, however long it takes, and that they will be gentle with themselves on the long and winding road to a healed heart.

 

Mom's Ashes

Still missing you, Mom. XOXO

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