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Category Archives: Daily Life

Friends When We Aren’t Looking

Friends When We Aren't Looking

Chloe came to live with me about 8 months ago when R could no longer keep her because of where he was living. It was an uneasy truce at first, between her and Kiefer. Chloe still gets an attitude sometimes just to keep up her street cred. But for the most part, they quite happily co-exist. And when we aren’t looking, they actually hang out.

They’re actually very close to the same age. They have similar coloring. And they’re both very empathetic animals. They’ve both made a significance difference in our respective lives and we couldn’t imagine life without the joy and comfort these two amazing animals have brought us. We’ve both become very close to the other’s pet.

Chloe is one part bad ass, queen of the neighborhood, and dominator of all male cats in the vicinity and one part sweet, empathetic, loving kitty cat with a deep, loud purr and who comes when she’s called.

Just to illustrate her awesomeness, she once jumped out of a three-story window of an apartment building. R heard her land, yawl, and watched her streak towards the local woods. He figured that was the last he would see of her. Several weeks later though he heard her unmistakable meow. However, it was coming from overhead! He followed the sound until he got to the attic trap-door in the closet. And there she was. She had made her way back in to the building and found R’s apartment through the attic!

Chloe also answers to Claiborne and Cookie. She knows when you’re feeling bad and sticks close. She also comes to the sound of your fore-finger and thumb rubbing together – I’ve observed R calling her that way from clear across the yard and she’ll come running.

Though she is definitely still R’s cat, she has now officially accepted me into her life as one of her humans. She often likes to get right in the midst of things whether I’m typing, crocheting, sleeping, etc. She likes to sleep on my feet or against the curve of my back. If you’re not paying enough attention to her, she’ll repeatedly flop against you or poke her nose under your hand until you pet her.

She’s a cookie! And life is definitely improved with her arrival.

Life Happens

I’m coming out of one of those “knuckle-down-and-survive” modes. Again. Remembering (relearning?) to take a moment here and there to really appreciate the life I’m living. To focus as much on being as doing.

I’m thankful for my job. For the talents God has given me and the opportunities He provides for me to use those talents. I’m even more grateful for people in my life who are going out of their way to make me feel appreciated. In my little world of lists and priorities and responsibilities, it’s nice to be a priority on someone else’s list merely because they chose to put you there.

Among other things, experienced a rather difficult and painful root canal. A sweet friend made me a deliciously soft and flavorful salmon dinner. Letting someone take care of you once in awhile – sweet indeed.

 

Reminded

Jack O'lantern Dahlia from Granma's garden

There are days when I’m just so tired of the pain.

I apologize for it a lot. I don’t whine about it much. Really.

In an earlier post, I explained more about my situation. My attitude, and guilt. And my renewed determination to find some answers, to stop the chronic pain.

If it was just not every day…

Ordinarily I take refuge in the beautiful: the color, the shear presence of nature when the discouragement hits. But the colors were just too damn cheerful.

On Monday I had a slight problem with a little overdose. Dr. cut the “prevention plan” dosage by half after that. It was a bit of a trip. And the whole office got to witness, dang it. A coworker had to drive me down to the nearest nurse to make sure my elevating blood pressure leveled. It did. Then whole office knew. Ah privacy, how you allude me at times.

It was annoying. Not catastrophic. A little disconcerting to feel my heart rate steadily increase while my vision blurred. But mostly it was self-pity. A “here we go again” piss and moan.

I’m trying not to whine. I think it probably sounds like it though. (Okay, so it definitely sounds like it.) I’m throwing this out into the ether of the internet world, in an effort to spare coworkers, unsuspecting patrons in the pain reliever aisle, and Facebook users. I’m sorry if you caught it, but hang with me – there is a point to this little whine.

When I walked into the gym tonight, I saw an announcement on the bulletin board for Jarrett’s memorial service (also a previous post). And felt immediately chagrined. Yea, my pain is tough to deal with. But it’s small potatoes compared with Jarrett’s all-too-short battle. And Jess’ on-going battle as she fights to keep her transplanted liver viable. And little Aiden, without his sister, grinning widely through the trach treatments.

As I watched my heart rate on the stair-climb monitor, the words of my semi-conscious mantra became crystal-clear. Each syllable pounded through my head with every foot fall: “thank – You – for – my – bo-dy. thank – You – for – my – life.”

It’s good to be reminded. So this isn’t a “so sorry D, hope you feel better” moment. Rather, be reminded with me.

Thank you for life. Thank You.

Climbing with Sunshine

I went rock climbing with a good friend of mine this afternoon. It was fantastic. We experienced that relaxing combination of some good climbs, a lot of good chat time, some really good belly laughs, followed by delicious Pei Wei. There were even a few tears.

I’ve been back in Texas for quite awhile now. My friend has been bugging me to go climbing with her. We used to do it a lot when I lived here before. I’ve been reluctant to go though. For one thing, I’ve felt badly out of shape. But it mostly has to do with the fact that there is only one good climbing gym relatively near by and it’s where Mindy and I used to go.

Shortly after I moved away my other friend (who I went with today) started going more regularly with Mindy. Mindy taught her to climb. It was their thing – their unwound and stretch the muscles and talk thing. I found out today that she was sitting at home, waiting for Mindy to get off work to go climbing when she got that awful call. I remember exactly where I was too.

If you know me personally or have read my blog awhile, you probably know about Mindy. I called her “Sunshine.” She was my good friend and roommate and confidante and salsa instructor. She died in a car accident 3 years ago last September. And the sun was a little dimmer.

So, I’ve been reluctant to go back to the place that was “our thing.” Moving back to the area really brought home the fact that she is gone. Since I was living in another state, it was sometimes easy to forget that she was really gone. I’d been dreading this day – knowing I needed to go back to the gym and move on and experience the pleasure of climbing again.

So yes, there were a few tears. But it was really good to reminisce about  her in that gym, and laugh about her antics, and basically revel in the good memories. It’s been a long time coming. It still hurts. I still get choked up a little when I hear a certain Juanes song, or eat brazilian stroganoff,  or see her reflected in the expressive face and personality of her beautiful niece.

But the bitter-sweet is a little more sweet these days.

I still miss you girl. Your birthday is coming up next week. I wish we could go dancing. I wish you would try, once again, to teach me to shake my booty; you swore it wasn’t hopeless. I wish I could see the sparkle in your eye, feel your hug, hear your infectious laugh. See the way you look at your Johnny boy. Watch you toss your niece and nephews in the air; they are so beautiful, you’d be so proud. Mostly I wish I could tell you thank you, and try to explain what your friendship meant to me, and tell you that though I miss you all the time – it’s a lot less painful and a whole lot sweeter. See you soon Sunshine.

A Moment for Gratitude

A lot of life was packed into yesterday. A beautiful and courageous young woman publically dedicated her life to Christ through baptism.  Five recent birthdays were celebrated. An adorable one-year old baby boy, who’s every day of life is a miracle, was dedicated to God. The shortened life of his baby sister was celebrated and remembered. A young couple got married and we fêted with delicious food and lots of laughter.

The day held a lot of tears, both happy and sad.

It was a long one, yesterday, but of the good sort. From sun-up to sundown I was running from one task to the next; food, flowers, photography, advice, ideas, hugs – involved. Today I’m exhausted. But I wouldn’t trade the involvement for anything. Sometimes life is so beautiful, it hurts.

Yesterday morning, as I was standing at the counter creating a pear, pecan, and raspberry vinaigrette salad for 35 people, I suddenly experienced a moment of intense gratitude. As I julienned the pears, my thoughts had been focused on the list of things yet to accomplish. Flowers on the tables. Appetizers for the afternoon party. Balloons – where were the balloons to be released in honor of the sweet baby girl? And the frosting – it still needed to be whipped before I applied it to the two-layer cake for the evening’s wedding reception. And…

I paused. Pear in one hand, knife in the other, I was suddenly compelled to listen to the sounds around me. Grampy, as he searched for the right spoon to stir his famous punch. Mary, as she worried over the potatoes and whether they would be crispy enough. Grammie, as she joked with one of her three daughters.  Prateek, as he wheeled in a cart full of his son’s ventilator equipment that makes it possible for the little miracle boy to spend the day with us. Yddo, video camera in hand, interviewing the oldest great-grandchild who, at two-and-a-half, is clearly the boss of the clan.

And there in lies the gratitude. Thankfulness for the big family who adopted me into their midst years ago. Appreciation for the chance to be involved, to help, as they experience a day so full of both happiness and regret. And deep gratitude for the knife and pear in my hands and the knowledge of the task before me so ingrained that completion does not require conscience thought.

Suddenly I am back in a dark brown cabinetry kitchen with a squash-yellow refrigerator and standing at another counter with a too-big apron tied around my waist. I am making nachos and it takes all my concentration. I am seven years old.

I had begged Mom for the opportunity to make dinner by myself. Wisely, she suggested a very simple menu and I’d never been so proud as I placed the platter of crispy nachos on the table before my family. From then on, throughout our childhood to the time we all left for college, my siblings and I had a rotating schedule – three meals a day, three kids. By the time we were pre-teens, Mom and Dad rarely had to cook.

By the 3rd grade, I had a part-time job outside our home. And by the time I enrolled in college, I’d worked at everything from janitorial to babysitting to long, hot summers on the farm. I’d worked alongside my parents on mission trips, Vacation Bible School programs, banquets, and even a couple of TV programs. We camped, hiked, rode dirtbikes, and traveled the U.S. My dad spent one long, muggy summer sanding and refinishing a huge gymnasium floor by himself, instead of contracting the job out, so that he and Mom could afford to take us to Disney World. And though they didn’t quite understand the obsession, they supported my love of horses in every way possible.

Now I’m an adult. And the busy life of my childhood has morphed into an extremely active adulthood. The kitchen counter in the church in Texas is a long way from the kitchen counter in our home in rural Pennsylvania. And with the bustle of activity around me and a long-list of things to accomplish, it’s a strange moment for a walk down memory lane. But the gratitude in my heart and the symbolism of the pear in my hand are not to be denied. I’m here because of my parents.

Knowing that the day would be as hectic as any other, I’d texted them earlier that morning to let them know what I was up to and to tell them how much I loved them. While it wasn’t the usual conversation we often have, I knew they’d understand. Like I said, I’m here because of them.

I know how to prepare a salad because my mom taught me, and then trusted me to branch out on my own at a tender age. She laughs about it now and claims it was all a part of her diabolical plan to never have to cook again. My brother is a very competent cook and my sister and I took to the kitchen with alacrity. As a teenager and young adult, she ran food service kitchens at schools and camps with delicious and competent results. I’ve catered and thrown parties for years. We both love to experiment. We joke that someday, somewhere we’ll start our own business.

I know how to work hard and I possess an intense need to be of service because my dad first led by example and then taught me by putting a paintbrush in my hand on community service day when I was 6 years old.  My parents read us Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue stories about secretly helping others and then supported us when we wanted to follow the example of the stories and leave anonymous notes and gifts for their students, never doubting the heart behind little packs of gum and pictures drawn in crayon.

From camping trips to music lessons to mission trips, each one of those activities and skills learned as a young family has become something we can share today. All three of us spent many summers working at summer camp. Like my parents, my siblings are both teachers and the connections they have with their students is wonderful to behold. My parents support of my love for horses made possible my involvement in equitherapy. My sister sews clothes for students and, with her husband, leads out in song service and produces hilarious talent shows. My brother coaches basketball that encourages sportsmanship and teamwork; he still spends summers at camp. There is always someone in need of assistance. And we learned quickly the feeling of joy and satisfaction earned when you do something for someone else; not for the acknowledgement, but for the service.

As I finish the salad, set it on the table, and enjoy a big hug from Grammie, my heart is full. I love this family dearly. And I’m grateful I can be there for them on this bitter-sweet day.  Later in the evening, I will spend time with a lovely young couple.  They may not have a lot of material goods but they possess a lot of joy and love and big ideas and they’re ready to embark on their journey to make a difference. My friends and I will be there to support them too.

I find myself wishing my parents were there to receive the hugs too. The gratitude should be for them. I’m here with the skills and desire to be of help because my parents taught me those skills and values. They led by example. So when that lovely, warm feeling of joy and satisfaction bubbles up inside of me, I realize I can’t possibly thank my parents’ enough. But I’ll try.

In my head

Yep, this is a lazy post. But this is where I’m at and I couldn’t say it any better.

 

 

 

God, grant me wisdom and patience. Please.

Super Woman vs Abiding Woman

In the context of my post regarding the ability to ask for help this comparison really struck a chord, particularly #1-7. Points to ponder.

 

Courtesy of Royal Daughter Designs