Strange Treasures

From time to time, I consider the following question. If I had to load my earthly possessions in my small car and evacuate, what would my I count as irreplaceable treasure?

Like most, I have photographs. I have two small trunks full of old mementos. The trunks themselves are heirlooms.  Then, there are my books.  I have a lot I would not pack. But, I have previously shared comments about the ones I would try to save.

I have a large pottery jar and an ostrich egg. There is a glass tray of sea shells.  An old flour barrel has some dolls and toys.

I do have a few pieces of furniture I would like to somehow stuff in there. They wouldn’t fit in my car.  So in my imaginings, I allow him to place them in the truck.  One piece is a credenza.  It is full of glassware collected from both grandmothers, my mother and my own purchases.

Three jewelry boxes should go in the pile. For themselves as well as for the odds and ends in them.

My kitchen cabinets are an entirely separate problem. The collection of dishes, pots, pans, casseroles is two lifetimes of work.  My mother’s and my acquisitions are interwoven behind those birch panels.

I am resisting getting up from my writing to wander the house and see what I am missing in my description.

Just today, I pulled from my shelves a small assortment of vinyl LP albums. These are the melodies I would put on the turntable on sultry summer afternoons.  Exotic, dramatic orchestral performances by Mancini or Mantovani.  What does this collection of music my mother acquired reveal about her?

Many of the tunes familiar from old movies that were broadcast on our little television that got two channels, NBC and CBS, until I was a freshman in high school and mother got an antenna booster than allowed us to get ABC, too.

Those albums would go in there someplace. Though I don’t have a turntable to play them anymore, I would rather not leave them behind.

I have had to let go of so many people and so many ideas and dreams for one reason or another. My treasures, strange though they may seem to onlookers, help me feel a connection with my ancestors.  Perhaps my strange treasures will help my descendants feel a connection with them also.  And with me.

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Beginning, again.

Folks who know me personally will expect this to be about the news we recently received. I am not yet ready to put words to that.

New hope. That is what I want to talk about.  Sometimes we go along and things seem to be flat. Like a Coke sitting open on the counter overnight.  Still sweet, but no fizz.  Life needs some fizz to keep one from becoming flat in the soul.

I have a new hope. Someone who makes all the difference.  More than anything, I have been concentrating on the feeling of hope.  Not the kind of hope when one says “I hope so”.  But, the kind of hope that says the rescue ship is sitting at the shore.

Things have been challenging for us this year. I counted up a dozen crises he had to deal with in a couple of months or less.  His health, the children’s vehicles. A tree falling the wrong way.  He always says “the Good Lord takes care of it”.  And not casually, but with absolute unwavering conviction, he knows He is taking care of all the “its” in our lives.

Some things turned out to be blessings in ways we never imagined. Some things just turned out.  I have often felt my prayers hit the clouds and crashed back down.  He (the Father) showed me a specific and powerful proof that He is listening and working things for my good and His glory to use a cliché.  Truth, though.

Recently, I have been shown some things. I have asked for some things in prayer.  Not so much for something to happen or to be granted.  My salvation is secure and I am “forgiven” in the grand scheme.  I needed to ask His forgiveness for some other things and truly acknowledge in my own heart that He granted those petitions.  I asked Him to change my “heart-itude” about some issues.  I asked Him to let me pray for certain things with a pure and sincere heart.

Some special things have occurred that directly impact my outlook and my direction. He also reminded me of a truth I have let get too far from my thoughts.  If His plans agree with mine, I will retire in just over three years.  I am fairly young for that to happen.  But, in my heart of hearts I am a homemaker.  I enjoy taking care of the physical structure we call home.  Additionally, I am a writer.  Perhaps, someday I will even be an author.  Meanwhile, I have new hope growing in California.

My photo was taken late winter. The tree is still bare and the sun is setting.  But there is the hope of spring and the dawn of a new day very near.  So it is with me at this time.  Very near are He and he.  Very near is new hope.

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Hidden Things

What are the hidden things in my mind and heart? What drives me to do things I do? What prevents me from doing things I want or need to do?

I often seek occupation with a hobby. I have tried to get involved in several different types of arts or crafts. I don’t get much further than buying some supplies. Sometimes, I do a project or two. But, then something will come up and I will have to put the supplies in a box and clear the work area. Nothing more happens. Things stay boxed up until I get rid of them. I seem to associate pursuit of artistic things as with my father’s mental illness. He would often reach for the arts when he became manic. Perhaps that is why I won’t let myself like arts and crafts enough to keep going with something. Perhaps there is some other totally different hidden thing that gets in the way.

I make lists. I have written of this before. I make lists and remake lists. I have lists of things I need to do. Lists of things I like. Lists of chores I need to do regularly. I recently noted in my journal that I feel if I could ever get the list right, or get the right list, my life would be all worked out. Life would not feel so hollow. Not sure if that is the right word. There seems to be something missing in my every day moments.  This compulsive behavior has both good and bad properties. In a sense, I rely on the lists too much. I spend too much time working on them. On the other hand, the lists keep me on course to get chores completed, to keep my nine-to-five job duties prioritized, to keep my home supplied with essentials like milk, eggs and toilet tissue. I don’t know why I list. Fear of forgetting. Struggling to put order to my scattered thoughts. I don’t know why I do this either.

I refuse to ask for help. Not in a stiff-necked way, but in an “I don’t want to trouble anyone with my incompetence” way. If I ever do ask for help, I am usually so far gone I don’t know what to have someone do for me. So, I just don’t ask and give up until I can go again. I let myself go with unmet needs because of this.

I did not learn this from my mother. She was a five-star general at getting people to help her get things done. She did it with love and honesty and great home cooking. “I want to do project X. Y’all come Saturday and I will cook a roast and some beans and make a cake.” She would get everything to do her project and to prepare the meal. Extra hands would help in the kitchen and on the project. We made grand memories in the process.

Why won’t I even ask him for help with simple things that I struggle with? Little chores around the house that I may be behind on or just need to get ahead on. I don’t know about this one. I have realized I never asked my childhood friends about anything either. They were putting on makeup and I was too embarrassed to ask how they managed to apply eyeliner. That sort of thing. I don’t know where they learned things. I just figured I wasn’t clever enough to figure it out and they were.

He gave me a generous gift card for our anniversary. I spent almost all of it on shoes. What I needed was pants. Shoes and purses don’t depend on my size. Most blouses and tops will go from one size to another without much problem. My top half doesn’t change sizes that much when I am thinner. But, my pants size will change if I ever get my diet and exercise going in the right direction. My crazy mind thinks if I buy pants now, I won’t have money to buy smaller pants. Or that it means I am giving up getting fit. Or what? What is the hidden issue here? Why won’t I buy clothes that I really like and want to wear that fit me now?

I wonder at my quirks. I don’t mind having the more harmless ones. I want to know why I do what I do. Why I behave and respond the way I do. What makes me withdraw into myself and not allow others too close. I want to know why so I can undo the more harmful ones. Even knowing why may not help me change things. But, it is a start.  I want to do better for myself so I will have a better starting place to do for others.

I don’t know why I love the full moon so much. I love her rising over the lake. Is it because my grandmother would come to visit when the moon was going to be full just so she could take us down to the lake to see her rise over the water? Did she really time her visits that way or did it just work out that way very often? My mother’s mother is the reason for many of my favorites. Full moons over the water, jungle print fabrics, canna lilies, pampas grass, cemeteries, red “tennie” shoes to name a few.

I went down to see her the other night. I had almost given up when she appeared from behind the low clouds. I still feel excited anticipating her appearance and restless when her light shimmers around me. Restless to walk along quiet, white sand roads, listening to the voices of the past echo through the stories Granny always told me. Laughing and playing. Yes. I do know one certain reason I love the moon. My granny who loved me and understood me so deeply bound me to the full moon rising over the lake by loving me in the beams of light shed from the evening sky. Here is our August moon, Granny.

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Tears

My little nieces came to visit this past weekend. They are wonderful little folks!

But, it is hard on me when they leave. I cry for an hour or so each time they pull out of the drive to go home.

This house is so painfully quiet most of the time. Our own children have been out and on their own for ten years already. He and I ramble around trying to keep up with things.

I miss my children. Yes, I miss the adult children they are now. But, I really miss my little ones. When they were babies and small children and even big children.

I tried to have special times with them every chance I got. I was selfish with them, too. I didn’t let the rest of the world have much of their time until they were too old for me to keep them close.

I suppose I knew even then these days would come. Days when those amazing grown-ups would call me Mother and I would look in wonder at the marvelous people who honor me with that title in their lives. I suppose I knew even then I would forever miss my little ones.

And so I cry because the little ones who come to visit me now will someday be grown-ups and I will miss their little selves.

Such is life. Hurling through time at the speed of love. Life is far too short to be in a hurry. My motto for many years. Better stop and experience this life at this moment. Don’t rush headlong into the future. It doesn’t exist. Only now is real. Only now fills the heart with love. Only now allows memories to build the beautiful life I so long for.

Let my eyes fill with tears and my heart ache only for a moment. Then let the memories sustain me until the next now happens. When I will not rush to do, but pause to be.

 

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Sinking In

I am always reading self-improvement things.  Books, blogs, magazine articles, whatever.  Always seeking a magical answer.  The question isn’t really clear.  I cannot find a magical answer if I don’t know the magical question.

One concept I have often read about is breaking down the project into manageable tasks.  I am a very organized person.  I always think about projects and plan them in what I believe is the most sensible and efficient order.

Then, I begin said project.  I follow the plan.  The problem seems to be that I believe I can do more than I can do. I overextend myself.  I get halfway through and run out of time and/or energy.

I don’t know if I am just trying to do too much or if I am not planning a well as I think or what.  I just know I end up with a mess to clean up and a project not completed the way I imagined.  It is finally sinking in that I need to not only think of the project in steps, but I need to do the project in steps and stages.  Don’t try to change my entire world on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

The next chapter of this saga is about purpose.  I plan a project.  I think about the area I want to improve.  I set about the stages of the project.  I realize I am only trying to distract myself from something else.  I get bored because it is being done for the wrong reason.

If I have a project to complete, I don’t have to think about not achieving the real goals.  I can fool myself into thinking I am busy taking care of important issues.  But, only for a little while.

Suddenly, the curtain is drawn back and the truth comes out.  The great Oz is a fraud and a fake.  The truth is in the ruby slippers always with me.  Just get on with it.  The way is there.  Stop following someone else’s yellow brick road and get back to home base.  Get centered and grounded and back on the real track.

I have set myself a task and a deadline to meet it.  He is backing me 100%.  He is my partner in this life and my champion, too.  Together, we will get me where I need to be.  Following my own brick road.  Not the yellow one.

It is finally sinking in.  I must be true to myself.  I must follow my own path.  I must stop trying to take part in things I care nothing about.  Most of all, I must stop running away from my destiny.  The line in a movie that haunts me and my son:  find and fulfill your destiny.  Perhaps, it isn’t so hard to find after all.

Keep paying attention.  Keep listening to my instincts.  Keep battling the fear.  Keep pushing back the mindless distractions.  Keep pursuing life and destiny and love and truth.

 

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Violets

The weekend was well spent.  A major chore was completed.  I had snuggle time with my great nieces.  I took some time with him.  I got to walk in the woods soaking up fresh air and sunshine, listening to birdsong.

On the walk, I constantly noticed the violets.  Some were blooming and some were just sprouting out of the leaf litter on the forest floor.  I always think of my mother when I see them.  She would love to ride up to the park to see if the one particular section was full of blooms.

The birds have been filling my ears and heart with joyful sound.  I sometimes wish I didn’t have a cat so I could put out bird feeders near the house and watch them come and go.

Everything is springing to life.  It is just coming awake from its slumbering winter.  Time for me to do the same.  Shake off the slumber of the recent days and spring to life.   Push through the debris of things and spring to a fresh outlook.

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Gratitude

I am so very grateful for the blessings of this past holiday.  Thanksgiving Day, my daughter and her fiancé came for dinner.  We had a lovely visit and some fun on the target range.

I am grateful for technology that allows us to video chat with our children half a world away.  We plugged the computer into the big screen TV so we could see them larger than life!  My son! A TV star!

When he was a baby and we were living in California, we could only call home once a week and write letters that required an envelope, stamp, and a few days to get to the recipient.  In his young life, how things have changed!

I am grateful for the extended visit we were blessed with by my niece and her lovely family.  The girls are wonderful!  A four year old and a 9 month old.  He was especially touched by the extraordinary affection the baby had for him.  I was able to work on some of my preschool age entertaining skills.  I am still not at full speed.  Though, I did manage to improvise a princess breakfast table for the four year old.  Served in the living room to enjoy morning cartoons, naturally.

I have plans and dreams and ideas for little girls’ play.  I do have some of the toys set up in the guest room.  I want to work on that area some more.  I sense some more furniture moving may be in order.  I keep saying I need to stop that.  My body doesn’t recover from the strain as easily as it once did.

I am grateful to be included in their lives.  Each of my children and their mates, my niece and her husband and their girls.  Grateful to be able to love and enjoy them.

A friend and I had a conversation recently about bitterness.  Most folks go through difficult times, tragic times, even.  We get to choose whether we will be bitter or not.  I could be very bitter about the things that have happened to my loved ones and the losses I have suffered.  But, I want to be happy.  I want to love and be loved.  I want laughter and fun and tenderness and joy.  I want to be part of the lives of children and old folks.   I want to pass along the resilience and good humor given me by those who taught me to not be bitter.

Life is the stuff that happens in between the troubles.  Life is not the troubles.  Get out there and live and there are bound to be troubles.  Heartache, stress, fatigue, questionable situations.  But, in between, there is magic.  Love, joy, connectedness, tender sentimental moments, lazy moments of companionship, a beautiful spot in an ordinary day.

A friend once told me she was in a doctor’s office and rushing out to her next scheduled thing.  She noticed a rose in a vase on the table.  She paused and thought about me.  She reflected that I would stop and notice the rose and comment on how lovely it was.  I hold that as one of the best compliments I have ever received.  I do try to stop and appreciate beauty.  I took one of those aptitude and interests type tests in home economics in high school. I still recall the highest value I have as indicated by the test. Beauty.  My highest value.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  What the world counts as beauty may not catch my eye.  But, when the beholder sees beauty, whether in the face of a four year old when her mermaid hair is pulled away from her face for a moment or in the toothless grin of a happy baby, or in the twinkle of brown eyes so familiar and yet so treasured…………..oh how this old gal’s heart pitter patters!

Grateful for making my life simple and choosing to see the beauty. Raining Orchids.  The beauty of my simple life.  Yes, that is me.

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