Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oh, Circle of Life!

This past week or so I've been talking with a co-worker about his mother's imminent passing.  She passed yesterday.  She was 88, she had significant health issues, and she was ready to go. She was able to communicate this clearly to her son,  and he let her know that it was okay to let go. Still, days passed and it took some time before she did.

I spoke with him Monday morning,  asked him how it was going.  He told me she was ready,  but just hadn't let go yet, maybe hadn't quite figured out how. I was struck, after this conversation, and oddly comforted,  by the similarities between waiting to be born and waiting to die. 

When a pregnant woman's time is near,  we get ready,  and we watch and we wait, and we try not to pester too much, but we don't get to know the when of it, or understand the why of the timing. And maybe that is part of the beauty and mystery of it all.

In these past few weeks the news has been full of the passing of some prominent people and I find myself thinking of the not well known who come and go everyday, unremarked except by  those who love them.

And I find myself wanting to hold life, hold it all, more dearly, and simultaneously more loosely, and I don't know how, or if I'm even sure what this means. And so I breathe in, breathe out, and am grateful to just be here, still.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Mommy, it snowed!

It's likely to be a green Christmas this year. Daytime temperatures have been hovering around the low 50s, and sometimes creeping into the 60s. I'm told El Nino weather patterns will push the cold and moisture south and west of us. After 2 frigid winters full of arctic blasts and heavy snow, I'm good with that.

My girls, however, have other ideas. They want some snow to play in. This morning morning they popped up and peaked out the window. "Mommy, it snowed!" they exclaimed. "A little or a lot?" I asked, knowing not much had been predicted. "Kind of a lot, it's covering some areas," was the answer.

The scene in our yard this morning looks like this.


Cute, was my first thought, they're excited. Then another thought hit me......

It's really all in how you view it. To me, it was not much. To them, it was SNOW! I think I have a lot to learn about abundance and gratitude from these two. I'm grateful this morning to be mama to these two, and to have a few moments quiet enough to stop, reflect, and see what's right here in front of me.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Photo - Word - Match: Bucolic

While walking today, I happened upon this Bucolic scene.

Bucolic
Of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life:
"the church is lovely for its bucolic setting"

Have you happened upon a bucolic scene lately? Post a link or photo in the comments.

Happy  Thursday, it's almost the weekend!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Stepping Stones

I am certain that I have shared in the past that I have a strong, creative / crafty side. Artistic seems a bit too formal, to professional and polished to describe what I like to do.

I like to create and have since I was small. I can remember being about 8 and spending hours in my rooms with a bunch of scrap lumber from shelves my dad made, and some of my mom's acrylic paint, painting pictures as Christmas gifts for my  parents, grandparents, and a long list of aunts and uncles

And later wrapping them all. I remember these packages under the tree. I don't have any solid memory of actually delivering them, or of how they were received. But it occurs to me that this was pure, unselfconscious joy in the process of creating itself. And that this is probably a very good way to go about life. To enjoy the process of one's work, and give fully, without expectation or attachment to how the gifts are received or perceived.

But I digress. I went into this weekend with the feeling that I needed to feed that creative side in some tangible way or lose it (my cool, my sense of self, my mind?). 

So I did. I've been wanting to make stepping stones from scratch for a long time. I've made a few from kits and enjoyed the process. And I gave the end results as gifts. My yard can definitely use some. For some ridiculous reason I've hemmed and hawed and not done it. But Saturday we went to Lowes, I picked up some rapid setting concrete (I might go for slower setting next time) and some other odds and ends I needed for this and other minor projects and I came home and I made 3.

They are not spectacular, I didn't spend a lot of time on the design (and didn't have a lot of time to spend, what with the fast drying concrete). Next time I might plan them our more, or maybe even do them in reverse process (mosaic upside down and set in the bottom of the dish), but I actually created something that is now residing in my garden. 






Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fairy day

I almost never write here these days. Being a full time working mama puts a damper on lots of other activities.

But today I went for a walk on my lunch break. I am fortunate enough to live in a really beautiful region, especially in spring.  More fortunate still to have my office back up to the Cayuga lake inlet.

Today was sunny and cool and I took a walk along the inlet.

I feel rushed and less than focused on the present moment often these days. I walk quickly and am lost in my own thoughts.

But something about this day drew me in and didn't allow my mind to wander.
This is what I saw. ...

I'm pretty sure these are the kinds of places where fairies reside. Just saying.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Wisdom from Mama: Putting on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

I miss my mama. She has been on my mind lately.

I lost her two and a half years ago, and the ache of this has dulled some with time. I think there are days now, that are full enough, that I don't think of her. Not many, but some. And I still miss her so.

My life is intense and challenging right now, and I doubt at times whether I'm strong enough weather the current storm. I would like to lean on her, to sit with her in the midst of all of this. And I can't anymore. But recently, a new acquaintance, who didn't know her and doesn't know me well, looked at me and said, "You know the words she would say to you. Say them to yourself." I don't run around looking for advice, especially from relative strangers, but this kind of in-my-face message is hard to ignore, and probably should be heeded.

The gift and the curse, at times, of having a strong, opinionated (controlling?) mama, is that many of her words will be forever in my head. The work of growth and maturity is to sift through those words, and choose to hold on to those that are gifts and make sense, and to let the others fade. This is not always an easy task. 

My family loves analogies, and my mother was no exception. One of her favorite analogies about handling motherhood with grace was that of the airplane oxygen mask. She said to me often, and I'm sure to many other mother friends and family members, that "mothers need to put on their own oxygen masks first, and then attend to their children's.They need to take care of themselves first." They announce this with every plane pre- flight safety demonstration, "If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person."

It makes sense that if we pass out ourselves it's not possible to assist someone else. This is is easy to imagine in acute situations such as airplane pressure loss. It is muddier to apply it to everyday life. I remember my mother saying this often, but I don't recall practical recommendations as to how to do this, and she didn't follow her own advice very well.  As so often happens, I was schooled more by her actions than her words. And at 43, I don't know how to put on my own metaphoric oxygen mask first. 

I don't believe that women in this culture are raised to make self care a priority. I believe many of us are in running around making sure that our children,our spouses, our coworkers, our pets, mail carriers and accountants have all their oxygens masks on before considering our own. No wonder we are figuratively gasping for air in this life.

The question, then, is what is my oxygen mask? What is essential for me, for each of us, to thrive? 

I can come up with a pretty good list of what I think I want, so that I can really be okay, and that list includes things like clean floors and laundry washed and put away, and trips to amazing places, and romantic dinners and perfect weather, but boiled down to what's really essential, it becomes relatively simple. These are the things that I need so that I can show up for the rest of my life:

  • Knowing My Children are Safe and Cared for. This is so critical for me to be able to relax. In the early days of parenthood, I wanted to keep them right at my side. Now I just need to know that when they aren't with me, they're being taken care of well. Not that all will be perfect, but that they are safe and well.
  • Rest. Good quality sleep is ideal, but down time while not handling any specific tasks also goes a long way.
  • Alone time. I never thought about whether I was an introvert or an extrovert until I had children. Then I discovered I was an introvert. I LOVE being with people. And I NEED time alone to recharge and process. Often now, when I feel most strained, I recognize that that it is directly related to being full with the day, full with conversation, full with caring for my children, and not having any time to empty. 
  • Exercise. Last spring, when my life began to implode and, of necessity, my working hours increased, I started walking to the post office daily to pick up the company mail. I began to notice that whether I felt good, or, as was often the case, tired, overwhelmed and blue, that 15 minute walk made me feel vastly better.
  • Good Quality Food. Eating regularly is vital for me. And it needs to be decent food. Not fancy. I love to cook, but there's not much time for elaborate meals these days, and the kids don't appreciate them anyway. But good, whole food with plenty of vegetables, adequate protein, and not a lot of grains or sweets really makes a difference in my mood and energy level.
That's really it. Everything else should be second.