Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When It Doesn't Seem To Be Enough

Give Thanks

Two simple words, yet they hold so much grace, power and richness in their sounds.

The turkey is in the oven happy and stuffed. The Waldorf salad is made in honor and memory of my just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without her salad.
Pies are baked. Pans are ready for their assortment of goodies: Sagaponauck Corn Pudding, biscuits, mashed potatoes and the most wickedest gravy this side of the Pecos,
if I do say so myself.
A soft rain settles on the rooftops; turning leaves drip down upon the grass as the Earth begins a slow wake on this Thanksgiving morning...
doors open to let the outside in.
A dog, literally, lays at my feet, candles of pumpkin and spice dot the living room, dining room and family room.
As I sip my pumpkin-spiced coffee in my 'oak' leaf coffee cup, I find myself in humble gratitude to God for all that has come my way in so many ways.

I want for nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

I am so blessed...
and so very thankful this Thanksgiving Day.

And yet, 'thank you' just doesn't seem enough.

Reflections upon the last few years leave me with so many views.
Part disbelief of all that has happened in 3 short years.
Part sturdy resolve in making it through.
Part pure 'little girl scared' at what was, what did and what could have.
Part peaceful spirit in knowing that God was taking care of me all along the way...
and continues to.
Part grateful beyond expressed words to my children and all of my friends who have carried my wounds, my dreams, my hopes, my outlook, my heart and my hand
when I just couldn't carry myself.

And yet, 'thank you' just doesn't seem enough.

This ornery 'squirrel in the forest' will be the first to proclaim 'I'm no bible thumper!' And the truth is, I'm not. But I go to church. I adore my pastor whose sermons are like taking a mini-college course. I learn about God, about faith, about the Bible, about our world's history, about my role on this planet, my challenges, my goals, my fellow man and this year, mostly about prayer. I have found myself walking down a 'prayer path' that was not part of my plan. Hesitantly, I have created talismans for this powerful practice, shared it with others, gifted some with it and tried to make sense of the power prayer so obviously has.
This Thanksgiving Day, two special people in my life are able to enjoy this day in ways that were only
hoped for, wished for...
prayed for.
The scope of the good that comes their way can only be explained in human terms as a 'miracle'.

And yet, 'thank you' just doesn't seem enough.

Each day the news reminds us all of the challenging times our world is in. Part of me has to chuckle for this has been the norm in my world for the last 3 years. I've turned my back to shopping in a frenetic crazed state of mind, buying things like there is no tomorrow. Newspaper ads, commercials, signs - all telling me how I have to give my hard-earned money to someone for some gadget that will bring 'unbridled joy and happiness' to my world bounce off of me and drop like stones.
Lessons learned these last three years have shown me the joy, the beauty, the gift of the written word...the simple token....the shared meal.... time spent together.
And once again, I will emerge on the other side of the 'holiday spirit' having not used a credit card or gone into debt to buy one gift this season.
Simplicity will have deeper meaning and give truer Christmas spirit -
to both the receiver
and myself.

And yet, 'thank you' just doesn't seem enough.

To tell God 'thank you' from deep within my heart ....
To hug my children and kiss their sweet cheeks
(um..even though they are 17 and 28 I can still do that, right??) ......
To hug my friends, tell them I love them and to thank them for
helping me along my path in this life.....
To silently tell the universe 'thank you' for all that I have, all that I've experienced,
for all of the lessons I have learned whether I wanted to or not....
Each 'thank you' is meant from my heart.
Purely, wholly, truly and simply.
But it just doesn't seem to be enough...
...or is it?

May your day of Thanksgiving bring peace, joy and love to you and
to all whom you share your world with.
I know that I appreciate you being a part of my world.
Happiest of Thanksgiving Day to you and yours

thank you.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Knitting Knotes....and other 'purls' of wisdom

So many things going on....much on my mind. I loved what my friend, Meags, wrote on her blog just the other day. She has been away from blogland for a while and she recently wrote that she had be 'thinking'...that October and November are 'thinking months' for her. I found that to be such a 'right on' statement, for I have found the very same to be true for me. The paradox is that as the Earth begins its dormant stage and prepares for a winter of slumber and rest, my mind revs happen that encourage me to look for the lesson within. Every fall I have this grandiose idea of a quietness edging in...the beginning of rest and huddling in. And every fall I find that events happen, things arise causing much reflection and learning from. Instead of being the squirrel in the forest fluffing up my nest in a hollowed tree for the winter and checking on my stash of acorns, I'm the one standing in the middle of the forest, hands on my hips going 'So what's up with this?? What's the lesson to be learned from this?? And quite frankly, this wasn't part of my autumnal plan!!!" Nothing more disconcerting (or bemusing) than an indignant squirrel who has many lessons to learn, whether she wants to or not.

But I digress, a bit.

What I have been learning is how to refine my knitting technique. Oh sure, I whip out autumn scarves with a flurry like falling leaves and mindless glee. But I've always wanted to 'get down'....and I don't mean all James Brown-like. I've wanted to work with smaller-sized needles, with lighter yarn, with a more 'delicate' pattern. There are patterns that work on circular needles, double-pointed needles, using stitch markers and 'reducing down to shape a crown'. I'm dying to make a pair of socks!! I've been all over the internet looking at pictures, patterns, videos. One such sight had the adorable picture of a
'pumpkin' hat (and a pair of matching booties) for a little one and I instantly fell in love! I had to make that pumpkin hat!!


I know...I know... then why make a little one's pumpkin hat?? Because I wanted to. It was just the project to try my goal on. And know me and autumn! So off I went to purchase yarn and smaller needles. May I just say I am a needle snob!?! I will only use bamboo needles. I adore the feel of a natural product (as opposed to aluminum) and I make sure to always use my 40% off coupon from Michael's to make my purchase.

As I am rather 'butt-bound' due to my knee (this is killing me, by the way, that I can't go to yoga OR work in my garden during this glorious weather, but I digress again...), I have been using my spare time to work on my little pumpkin. Knitting is relaxing, rhythmic, calming...almost like a tangible form of meditation. I've totally enjoyed working on my technique with the smaller needles and yarn. I did alter the pattern a bit by not working 'in the round'...choosing to go 'tubular' and then sew at the seam and top 'vents'. I knitted the leaves and added some curly vines to the hat - every pumpkin should have at least a curly vine or two!!

And voila'! A pumpkin ready for picking!

On another 'knote'...I have to mention that last weekend I was given the priviledge of teaching a class at a women's retreat hosted by my church. Now mind you, this is soooo not like me. But my pastor (she is just an amazing woman!) and our spiritual director knew of my early post about making a 'prayer mala' and wondered if I would mind teaching this at the retreat. I was honored and excited to share this with the gals! But to be honest, there was a part of me that was a little concerned that it might not be received as enthusiastically as I am about it. I was a bit afraid the women might think stringing a bunch of beads onto some wire and calling it a 'prayer mala' might be a little ....oh...too 'new age' or weird for them.

Shows how much I know.

The women couldn't have been more receptive or eager about the whole project! The spiritual director and I had gone shopping for gemstones and beads a few weeks earlier. I had typed up a info sheet that describe each gemstone/bead and the meaning behind it (some offer peace, abundance, calming, etc.) They gathered their choice of colors and types and began stringing and it never stopped! I was crimping and finishing malas up until after the end of the day! I was so thrilled that so many 'strangers' were eager to share this with me! Several made two - some even making one for a friend in need. It really was a powerful thing to see. I know how much I use mine, and how much it means to me. Something tells me that those women are getting much out of theirs, as well. I know I did out of the whole experience.

Plans today include working on a gift for a dear friend who just received a very tough medical diagnosis. Maybe a pot of chili for dinner. Typing up sub plans for Tuesday's workshop and hopefully, beginning a new knitting project! I guess that fluffled-up nest will have to wait another day.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mother Knows Best

It's been a quiet time for me here on my blog, but oh! my mind has been a whirlwind of thoughts, lessons learned, ponderings and reflections! Many times I have seriously thought of posting, only to find myself confused as to how to scribe my mental thoughts. When the next day comes, and my thoughts are no less organized, I feel frustration, hope for tomorrow and then the cycle continues.

So, for lack of anything profound to picture or post about, I will put my thoughts to 'paper'... apparently they will not quiet down until I do this....


I recently took a day off from work to spend the day remembering my mother on the day of her passing. I had these grand plans of sitting at her grave, remembering, crying, missing and delving into the grief and pain and the thoughts that I have not been able to feel for 5 years due to other circumstances. I had mentally planned for the way it was to be played out.

But little did I know, so had my mother....

I did go visit her grave....and remember....and cry....and grieve. But I also listened to a total stranger, Paula, who literally walked up to me in my private grief ... and tell me that she felt compelled to come over and give me a hug because I looked like I needed one. She was there with her elderly, frail mother, Wanda. Paula's father had passed away in August and her mother suffered a heart attack a week later. Paula proceeded to speak of her fears of losing both parents 'together', of being an only child, of her abusive husband of 35 years (a Vietnam Vet, as my father was), of her stomach problems (!), of her seizures, the tests she's having to undergo and on and on. At a pause in the conversation, I offered her a red rose from the bouquet I had brought to my mother's (and grandfather and grandmother's grave as well) grave. She thanked me and then pressed a small leaflet from the Seventh-Day Adventists into my hand. Her frail mother was paying her respects at her husband's grave this whole time and had grown tired, so she had gotten back into the van. Paula realized it was time to go, so she bade me good-bye and good-day, hugged me again...and I watched her as she walked over and laid the rose down on her father's grave site and then got back into her van and drove away.

I sat for a while....wondering about this encounter. This is the second such strange one I have had while 'visiting mom'. I tried to be back into my grieving state.... "Where was I?".... but I just couldn't do it....the moment seemed to be gone. After a few minutes, I packed up the unused flowers, my purse and as I walked back to my car, I passed by Wanda's father's grave...the one she had laid the rose down on.

It was no where to be found.

The spot I had watched her bend over and lay the red rose down on.... well...

There was no plaque...and there was no rose. Nothing.


I met up with my ya-ya, Norm, for lunch. We had such a nice time...she is a beauty of love, grace..... She says things to me at times that settle like sparks...but I seem to let the slowly burning-out embers rest in place...and I revisit her words more than she realizes. She treated me to a wonderful time with plans to meet again in the evening for a dinner with our other ya-ya, R. It was time for me to move on. I had a date with another good friend who was in need.


I spent the afternoon with my good friend. We made lists, phone calls, plans and I was happy to be in his company. We accomplished much and I was at ease the whole time. We sat on the patio of a coffee shop in the glorious soft breeze across from a dialysis center, one similar to the one my mother had to go to three times a week during her final month and which factored into her death. Watching the patients come and go, I reflected on the irony of my position that afternoon. What my plans had been...and what they were playing out to be.


That evening, my ya-ya's and I met up for a patio dinner. I brought a picture of my mother. Dear R brought pictures of her baby daughter and mother; they, too, had passed on (that anniversary being the next day). We women had lost our 'girls', but we were celebrating their lives together so that we could laugh, cry and support each other during these fragile days. The evening dinner was wonderful and a very dear memory was made that night.


But, wait. This day. It had not gone as I had planned. Not nearly at all.

Why? WHY???


Because my mom had other plans for me. I learned a lesson that my mom was determined to teach me that day, much to my chagrin and petulance. You see, my mother was a selfless woman with a strong, fun, spirit. She was not a 'boo-hoo' woman....I rarely, rarely saw her cry. She often told me 'how the cow ate the cabbage' and more than once offered her loving advice to get 'up and blow the stink off of you.' She never sought attention and was practical about the important things in life. Skip the drama. Face the facts. Move on. Make the best of it. Keep your head up. Never give up. Persevere.

My mother would never, ever have wanted a big deal made of her passing. Yes, I could grieve. And cry. And miss her. But to spend a day 'boo-hoo'ing about her being gone would have ruffled her feathers. I now know that my mother's wish was something along the lines of "Okay...sit at my grave and cry for 15 minutes if you want to and miss me and remember me and bring flowers.... if you must. But that's long enough. Sitting here crying about me is not doing you any good, me any good, nor anyone else. There are things that need to be done today. Don't waste your time here. Go. Go do something good!"

And so I did.

Instead of indulging my self-pity and sorrow, I, hopefully, helped others in this delicate balance of life, find their way through the day. I hope I offered Wanda and Paula, be whatever they were, comfort, kindness and a small token of love, if but for a brief moment. I hope that afternoon I was able to bring comfort to my dear friend. I hope that what we accomplished during those few hours made a difference, and hopefully, brought some peace to his heart. And that night, as I wept sweet tears holding my mom's picture in my hand and sharing a happy thought of her with my ya-ya's.... I hope with my heart that I was able to bring love, comfort and support to my ya-ya, R... who's loss is greater...and who handles it all with such grace and diginity. I hope I was able to help all of these people that day.... for God knows... they helped me.

I do believe, truly, that my day was spent doing exactly what I was suppose to do.

Mother knew best.