Posts Tagged With: love

Best Advice I’ve Gotten In the Past Year? “Practice Radical Self-Care”

Great recs found here.

Great recs found here.

The best advice I got during the past twelve months wasn’t directed at me. And it arrived through an unlikely source, a Goodreads question and answer session.

I don’t usually follow or sign up for these sorts of things. I think the author’s work normally speaks for itself. But I made an exception this one time.  When Anne Lamott, the author of “Help! Thanks! Wow!” among other hilarious, heartfelt and honest books, accepted a stint on the Featured Author Chat over at Goodreads, I jumped on board eager to pick up some writerly advice and a few laughs.

The directness in Anne’s writing reminds me of my best friend who passed away early this year. They both have a no-holds-barred approach to communication. Say it like it is. Don’t worry about offending anyone. Speak truth. Let it all fall where it ought to.

Feels like I get an infusion of new oxygen in my blood after reading Anne’s books. I figured I’d more than enjoy reading what she has to say in a different medium.

Little did I know how helpful it would be.

Sure, she answered queries about writing and about her personal life. But then, a surprise question and an even more surprising answer came through.

In response to a reader’s question about how to deal with depression and discouragement, Anne Lamott’s answer jumped out at me as if it’d been highlighted with fluorescent green marker.

“Depressed and discouraged is really hard, and plenty to deal with. My response, if it was me, was to practice radical self-care, by being exquisitely kind and gentle and patient with myself, exactly as I would be with a friend. Love and gentleness are always the answer. “ – Anne Lamott, from a Goodreads discussion 12/12/13

“Practice radical self-care.”

I’ve said that to myself over and over ever since I read it. Even more so since a funeral and burial and the ensuing grief that’s hovered all year.

So we’ve all heard that “self-care” part of the equation over the years, right? But “radical?” And how do you care for yourself in a radical way?

I turn to my usual sources. I like the third Merriam-Webster definition of radical.

“Radical: very different from the usual or traditional : extreme.”

So I’ve looked at how I normally care for myself and I attempt to do the opposite, or at least a ninety degree shift.

Sounds difficult. But I’ve given it a try anyway.

So how do I “practice radical self-care”?

  • Letting myself ignore all my lists occasionally and the usual side of guilt they’re served with
  • I say “not right now” instead of “sure, anytime, anything”
  • Simply sitting and letting my mind go blank, often
  • Crying when the tears want to leak out
  • Laughing even if it goes against all reason or feels wrong
  • Planning something unprecedented, like getting a manicure, or a spur of the moment trip
  • Saying “No”
  • Reminding MSH that I’m not depressed, just grieving
  • Practicing my depression treatment steps, just in case
  • Accepting that sorrow and faith can coexist in the same brain
  • Journaling, several times a day if necessary, letting words carry some of the weight
  • Napping, earlier bedtimes, later wake times
  • Talking about how I’m feeling

The other part of what Anne said, I’d applied in situations involving others, but rarely with myself.

“Being exquisitely kind and gentle and patient with myself.

The key word there: “exquisitely,” as in “acutely perceptive, discriminating, intense.”

Kind, patient and gentle with myself. How could I go wrong? That was easier the first month or two after my friend died. But then I hit some preconceived notion of “times up” on the grieving thing and stopped being so easy on myself.
Photo by Kettie Olsen

Photo by Kettie Olsen

So I try again and again. And I remind myself again, as Anne said, “Love and gentleness are always the answer.”

I get radical. I care for myself. Practice exquisite patience and gentleness. I apply the concepts of love and kindness to myself. Kind of extreme ideas for me.

It’s a daily, sometimes hourly process working through depression, discouragement and grief.

I owe big thanks for such unusually worded advice from someone who’s been there to someone still wandering the path toward a new normal.

*~~*~~*

Categories: Cancer, Death, Hope | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Found: The Music to Your Dance

“Humorous but very intelligent words to live by: Do not argue with a spouse who is packing your parachute.”

Friday Letter to My Kids – Sept. 5, 2014 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

I gotta tell you how happy it makes me that you’ve each found and married the perfect person for you.

You’ve found the music to your dance, the glove to your hand, the screen to your keyboard, the horizon to your sunrise and the ocean to your beach.

That’s so happifying!

A couple of you took a long and circuitous route in locating that person, but the journey seemed a necessary part of the finding for you. A couple of you found love early and without hesitation. Either way, I’m thrilled to see you each content and loved and cared for so well.

Original art by Kami

Original art by Kami

I lucked out too because I totally adore each of your spouses. They’re cool people, confident, calm, easy-going, and fun to hang out with. It’s like I got a set of bonus kids just for showing up.

I love seeing how your spouse loves, cares for, admires, helps and cherishes you. Even better I’ve observed a synergy where they make you a better person, a richer, more well-rounded, more vibrant human and you have the same effect on them. Your eyes light up around your sweetheart. Your whole countenance brightens. You seem more you.

I’m not delusional. I know marriage isn’t all roses, chocolate and champagne. Each of you and your spouses each seem well suited and well matched for the challenging and occasionally uphill path of the commitments you’ve made. That fact alone does my heart good and lets me rest easier. Knowing you’re loved and in love and in it for the long haul makes me smile.

Already it seems you’re light-years ahead of where your dad and I were even twenty years into our marriage. It’s like you figured out the right way to pull off a marriage by watching us stumble around like dingbats. From what I can tell, you’re doing an awesome job at this whole married thing.

I can’t seem to get this scene out of my head from the movie “Princess Bride.” Maybe it’s simply to remind me to laugh more often at and in my own marriage.

Here’s the quote:

“Mawage.

Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…

And wuv, twue wuv, will fowow you foweva…

So tweasure your wuv.” ~Princess Bride

I hope you laugh often with each other. That’s definitely served as my saving grace over the past few decades of married life.

Here’s the one really great thing I figured out: it only gets better over time. You think you can’t love them any more than you do now, but you will. And in a ways that’ll surprise you.

I’m excited for what awaits each of you as couples. You’ve picked the scenic route and that will make all the difference in your travels together. Enjoy the ride!

Love found you all and in that finding life begins again and again and again.

 

Lots of love,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

(Happymess with an “M” – not a typo.)

~~~~~

“A good marriage is where both people feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.” ~ Anne Lamott

 

 


Categories: Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love is the Main Ingredient

So on Gratituesday this week I waxed poetic about all things bread which you can read here if you missed it. A few recipe requests came my way and I decided that I could definitely oblige.

Here, then is my contribution to the carbohydrate section of your recipe collection.

Yes, I’ve been lazy and didn’t retype them, except for the last, beyond well-loved and over-used, recipe card.

Does anyone know if there’s an app out there for a digital recipe box?

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English Muffin Bread. It’s a bit messy thanks to the cornmeal, but delish.

Here’s the recipe that my middle daughter gifted me:

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You’ll thank me for this one once you’ve made it.

 

I’ve tried to give credit where it’s due, but sometimes I have no idea where I found the recipe or who gave it to me, or if it’s their original creation or from a friend of a friend of a friend’s relative. Y’know how that goes.

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Perfection on a baking sheet.

The important thing about the above Braided Bread recipe is to combine the ingredients in order, like it says. I should highlight that in my book. I love this recipe for three reasons: 1) It’s fast. Two hours from “mmm, I want bread to oh, my this is delectable, pass me more butter, please.” 2) It only takes one bowl. I cheater knead it in the bowl and let it raise in the bowl I mixed it in. 3) It tastes like I imagine heaven will taste, if it has a taste.

Just as lovely as a food can be. I've tried it as a cinnamon and brown sugar braid with icing drizzled over it. Equally delightful.

Just as lovely as a food can be. I’ve tried it as a cinnamon and brown sugar braid with icing drizzled over it. Equally delightful.

This one, as noted, is from my friend Susan. She’s the kind of cook I’d like to be when I grow up. Anything she sets her hand to makes a person feel loved, comforted and completely at home.

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Just reading this can improve your mood. Imagine actually eating it.

No matter what’s been going wrong in your life, if you whip up a batch of these and eat a few you’ll be able to carry on with hope in your heart and a smile on your sticky face. (Also a Susan recipe. At least, it’s very similar to one she makes.)

Mom and Dad had a house fire thirty something years ago and one of the casualties was Mom’s recipe box. Ouch! This banana bread recipe is as close as I’ve ever been able to get to what she made. (It only looks like it’s been through a fire. Lots of lovely drips, splatters and messes go into making a recipe card look this loved.)

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A much-loved, well used recipe card.

Here’s the translation and one small adjustment:

Mom’s Banana Bread

1/2 cup shortening or margarine (I use real butter instead)

1 cup sugar 

Mix together then stir in:

2 eggs

Then add:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mash 3 ripe bananas 

(if you must you can add 1/2 cup, more or less, of chopped walnuts.) 

Bake in a greased and floured loaf pan at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

MSH prefers his with nuts, I don’t. Guess who wins? I’m the baker. Actually, I make two loaves, one with nuts, one without.)

So, there you have it. Five of my most beloved recipes. Go forth and bake something for yourself or for someone you care about.

Oh, and remember, “Love is the main ingredient.”

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Gospel truth. More important than yeast.

 

 

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vacation Bubble

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful. Yes. That’s it.

I’m grateful.

Sometimes life just stuns me with so much, yes I’m going to use the word, AWESOME.

I’m in awe.

Three months ago I got this app on my smart phone that’s basically a gratitude journal. I can write in one thing I’m grateful for or a whole long list of them. I can even add a photo for the day.

Family reunion fun!

Family reunion fun!

Maybe for today I’ll simply list what I’ve written down in that app over the past week.

  • Air travel
  • Seeing one of my sisters
  • Earphones for my own personal soundtrack to block out the world as needed
  • A good book to read
  • A chance to visit Mom and Dad
  • Lulu the cat’s magical ways with my parents
  • Walks with Mom
  • Bright yellow birds in the fields
  • Cool temperatures
  • Amazing views that keep changing
  • Relaxing
  • Life slowing down to a summer’s pace
  • Seeing Mom succeed at sewing
  • Emotional renewal
  • Writing
  • Happy chubby baby pictures
  • Stroking the cat and enjoying her purring
  • My Grandparent’s phenomenal legacy
  • Chilling with my older brother
  • Meeting my newest nephew
  • An early morning solitary walk in the mountains, twice
  • Kickball
  • Ultimate
  • Family Reunions
  • Hugs from my other two brothers
  • Flush toilets
  • Campfires
  • Early bedtimes
  • Meeting my newest niece
  • A warm shower
  • A soft bed
  • Salmon for dinner
  • Hanging out with my other sisters
  • Nature’s amazing offerings

I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. If I could use words to convey this overflowing feeling in my chest I’d find them, but for today words don’t come close.

To anyone I’ve come in contact with this past ten days I want to say, “How sweet it is to be loved by you.” (yup it’s a James Taylor song) You’ve made my life phenomenal and filled it with joy.

I’m blessed and very aware of it.

All week long I've enjoyed views like this.

All week long I’ve enjoyed views like this.

Sure, I’m living in a kind of vacation bubble for almost two weeks. But, it’s not one of those vacations that involve hitting all the sights or spending tons of money or eating exotic foods. These past days revolve around family and nature. Love and beauty serve as foundations and structure for each day here.

How many vacations can you describe that way?

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday, Love | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Adopted by Love

Like Aspen groves, Kathy's extended families provide support in unprecedented ways.

Aspen groves expand through an extensive root system in a colony that gives strength and vitality to every tree in the system.

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for all the open arms, hugs, expressions of sympathy, shared tears, flowers, cards, notes, texts, messages and understanding I’ve received since Kathy passed away.

I know friends of the deceased often go unnoticed and unacknowledged, but that has definitely not been the case here. I’ve been cared for and comforted by both sides of her family and by my family, acquaintances, strangers and friends in wonderful and unexpected ways.

I’ve been included as if I were a member of her and her husband’s extended families. I should not have been surprised by all these kind relatives of Kathy, of course they’re just like her; warm, welcoming, kind, sensitive, funny, generous, perceptive, direct and filled to overflowing with love.

Every conversation with one of them, every hand or arm extended, every gesture of kindness toward me felt like her speaking, her arm, her hand, her kindness, her presence still in my life.

Just like Kathy always managed to do, they turned the situation around. Instead of me providing comfort and sympathy to them, they filled me with warmth, surrounded me with empathy and cradled my heart, gently lifting me and sending healing and strength my way.

How thankful I am for such kind people who have helped ease the sting of such a loss.

I wish them comfort and healing. I wish them moments of clarity and joy. I pray they find solace often in every day things. I hope they hear Kathy’s voice in their mind from time to time whispering words that only she would know to say to them.

I pray they occasionally hear her laughter in the wind and see her smile in the faces of the family around them. I hope they feel as much love from each other as I felt this weekend in their presence.

If that happens, I know they’ll be okay.

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The People Who Stand By You

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful for the family I grew up with. What a wild bunch Mom and Dad had on their hands. What a crew we still make!

photo-18 copy 22We don’t often all get together since a few of us scattered with the wind a couple of decades ago. In fact, when the batch that live near Mom and Dad get together and post the inevitable Facebook photos or videos I admit I feel a bit jealous. Those days I wish for Star Trek abilities of teleportation. “Beam me up, Scotty,“ I wanna yell. Scottie was the name of our first dog, who long ago left for wider and wilder playgrounds, so it seems a pretty reasonable request.

But this week will not be one of those wishing days.

Thursday will be one of those rare days that we’re all together for a few fleeting hours before schedules, and jobs and planes and children and a million other commitments scatter us again.

Seven Siblings and Dad and Mom. Solid. Bound up in a crazy mess that is us. We don’t come close to perfect. Are you kidding? Four sisters, three brothers, and two parents who, not so surprisingly, happen to be very human.

Ages ago, when my big brother and I hit the teenage fan and all crap let loose, a set of twins and a sister were caught in the crossfire, followed not so closely by the two babies in the family, a girl and a boy. How Mom and Dad kept their sanity I know not.

I can guess.

Prayer.

Perseverance.

And Love Anyway.

They didn’t believe in giving up. Thank heavens. And we don’t either.

So, today I want to thank Kent, Kathy, Nyles, Nyla, Kelly, Becky, and Mitch and JoRae.

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum: Gift ...

Original model of the Enterprise from the 1960s’s “Star Trek” TV series (Photo credit: Chris Devers)

Thank you for being tangled up in my DNA and my mental pros and cons. Thank you for loyalty and faith and laughter and realness. Thanks for the family I needed then and that I love now.

May you all “live long and prosper!”

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Will Do It For You

Recently discovered this song by Phillip Phillips.

Still resonating in my head and in my heart. I think it hits home, plucks those chords running through who I am. It reminds me of all the people I love so dearly. It recalls the love I’ve received so selflessly over the years in spite of it all.

The video adds another dimension of meaning and beauty.  I’ve included the lyrics afterwards so you can really catch the meat of it all.

Thanks to such wonderful artists who had a hand in this one. It’s all you, I’m just happy to share the splendor of what you do.

Phillip Phillips Gone, Gone, Gone is a track from his début album “The World from the Side of the Moon”.

When life leaves you high and dry
I’ll be at your door tonight if you need help, if you need help
I’ll shut down the city lights,
I’ll lie, cheat, I’ll beg and bribe to make you well, to make you well
When enemies are at your door I’ll carry you way from more
If you need help, if you need help
Your hope dangling by a string
I’ll share in your suffering to make you well, to make you well

Give me reasons to believe that you would do the same for me

And I would do it for you, for you
Baby I’m not moving on
I love you long after you’re gone
For you, for you
You would never sleep alone
I love you long after you’re gone
And long after you’re gone gone gone

When you fall like a statue
I’m gon’ be there to catch you
Put you on your feet, you on your feet
And if your heart is empty
Not a thing will prevent me
Tell me what you need, what do you need

I surrender honestly
You’ve always done the same for me

And I would do it for you, for you
Baby I’m not moving on
I love you long after you’re gone
For you, for you
You would never sleep alone
I love you long after you’re gone
And long after you’re gone gone gone

You’re my back bone, you’re me cornerstone
You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving
You’re my headstart, you’re my rugged heart
You’re the pokes that I’ve always needed
Like a drum baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum my heart never stops beating

For you, for you
Baby I’m not moving on
I love you long after you’re gone
For you, for you
You would never sleep alone
I love you long after you’re gone
For you, for you
Baby I’m not moving on
I love you long after you’re gone
For you, for you
You would never sleep alone
I love you long, long after you’re gone

Like a drum baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum baby don’t stop beating
Like a drum my heart never stops beating for you
And long after you’re gone gone gone
I love you long after you’re gone gone gone

 

Categories: Love, Music | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Yin and the Yang

It’s Gratituesday! Today I find my heart filled with gratitude for a sweet companion. I often wonder at his patience with me. I marvel at his resilience when I’m criticizing, nitpicking or complaining. I’m amazed at his willingness to stick around.

Seesaw

Seesaw (Photo credit: nzgabriel)

At first we were both equally antisocial, avoiding double dates, making friends, making connections. But over the years, very slowly, I’ve picked away at my shell of shyness and found that I need and want people in my life beyond family. Friends have become part of who I am. And he has occasionally, and carefully, waded into a few social puddles with me.

I tend to seek the limelight and he will be mortified that I wrote about him here, so publicly. I try to respect his privacy while still writing, honestly about my life and that is why I refer to him as MSH, My Sweet Husband.

The Joy of Flying

The Joy of Flying (Photo credit: caribb)

Just as he said he would when we were dating, he has traveled far and often for work and I’ve been left to tend to hearth and children. Not quite as often we have followed him across the country, crisscrossing it, then settling, sort of, here in the heart and heat of the desert.

I joke that all his traveling is what has kept us together. It sounds funny, but it’s been the reality. And, I’m afraid that cuts both ways. for the two of us. And yet, that old missive that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is as true as any fact you can hold and touch and taste.

He’s kind of my opposite, which is probably a good thing, but doesn’t always feel like it is. His willingness to take chances probably balances out my complete and total lack of desire to risk much of anything. We’re still working on this one. And many other things.

The idea of Yin and Yang, seems to describe our relationship better than almost anything I’ve ever run across.

“two complementary principles of Chinese philosophy: Yin is negative, dark, and 

feminine; Yang is positive, bright, and masculine. Their interaction is thought to

 maintain the harmony of the universe and to influence everything within it.”

The harmony of our universe has been a constant flux of give and take, up and down, sorrow and joy. It hasn’t always been fifty-fifty. But we have become an interesting balance of and with each other.

The man I married wasn’t interested in things that got you dirty, like camping, or the outdoors. But that changed as I embraced that part of my life and pulled him into it. He became the avid camper, the rock climber, the rappeller, while I became afraid of heights and decided I’d prefer a cabin to a tent. His ideal home would be in the wilderness and mine, somewhere between wilderness and civilization.

Yin and yang blue

He has always looked forward to the future, and I have always been firmly settled in today.

How we’ve managed to stay together so long is more a testament of what weathering a storm or two or three will do to a relationship than any other thing we’ve consciously done. I’m grateful he hasn’t given up on me. And I’m glad I haven’t given up on him.  We are a pair, oddly matched, but strangely well matched.

We do have some things in common.

We share a love of music. We share a passion for knowledge and learning. We love to dance. We share a love of our children. We share similar spiritual values.

We share a love I didn’t think was possible. In that I am more blessed than I deserve.

As Robert Browning wrote, I repeat to MSH, my love, my sweet companion:

“Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”

Thank you MSH, for the ride so far!

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday, Love, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Entwined Together in a Fortunate Accident

afternoon banyan

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,

And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

– (Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Is love really blind?

It certainly makes no sense most of the time.

Love goes against reason and logic. When we look back on decisions that involve “love” and ask ourselves “What was I thinking?” we can safely assume we weren’t thinking. Love was simply operating in place of brain cells. It’s like we are blind, but not physically, just mentally and emotionally.

I came across an idea about love the other day seems to capture the essence of real love. Real love. I know, that’s a pretty strong declaration. I’m standing by it.

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” – Louis de Bernieres from “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Exposed gnarly roots in Fall River Park

Categories: Love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ziggy’s Wisdom, Mom’s Hands

Ziggy always shared some bit of wisdom. This wall hanging I have at home, a gift of cross stitch from my Mom, has some of the wisest words that little roundish guy ever spoke.

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Give a little, get a little.

Seems like a good philosophy.

What will you do today, or tomorrow, to start your day with a little love?

To check out Ziggy cartoons and other bits of wisdom click on one of the links below.

Ziggy Comic Strip

More Ziggy Comics

Categories: Love | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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