Posts Tagged With: memories

It’s Really Gratituesday Every Day

One of a hundred sunrises I enjoyed.

One of a hundred sunrises I enjoyed.

It’s Gratituesday! I wrote this a while ago hoping to sneak in a quick write before a certain one-year old woke up from a late nap and before a three-year old moved on to a noisier, less productive project. Turns out I abandoned this and just today, a month later I picked it up again. Now it’s nearly November, but I still feel thankful for a Summer enjoyed.

One month snapshot of from my Gratitude App.

One month snapshot of from my Gratitude App.

Favorites

Looking back over the summer in my Gratitude App, it turns out I’m often grateful for those two little people. Also turns out I’m frequently thankful for a favorite six-month old and a favorite thirteen-year old, too.

Walks

And walks. I took a bunch of those this summer, in spite of the heat. And because of the heat I went early enough that I ended up grateful for sunrises nearly every day. Pretty much any activity that took me outside made my gratitude list, family reunion, camping, time on a porch swing, swimming, picnics, outdoor dining, gardening, yard work.

That's a lot of rain for the Sahuaros to drink up.

That’s a lot of rain for the Sahuaros to drink up.

Rain, Oh My

The rain made itself known more than a few times and I’m always grateful for that, even when it comes four inches at a time. But then, my house didn’t get flooded like others in nearby towns did.

Sleep

Not the least bit surprising, sleep came in as a big winner in the frequently appearing in my gratitude list contest. Probably number one if I took the time to actually count. Right after food, bread and chocolate.

Work, the Volunteer Variety

The surprise that showed up often as something that adds light to my life falls in the volunteer work category. You’d think that wouldn’t get mentioned, but I always find myself helped more by helping someone than any amount of help I’ve given.

Quaking Aspen. I like to think of it as a family tree.

Quaking Aspen. A family tree.

Family

Time with family topped the summer gratitude list. Extended family, my kids and their spouses, my four favorites, their pets and of course, MSH.

What didn’t land on the lists very often? Things.

Things.

Should I be more grateful for STUFF? I don’t know. Probably, yes.

I don’t often list as Gratitudes all the luxuries I live with like a washer, dryer, electricity, a home, a safe neighborhood, a working air-conditioned vehicle, a soft bed, plenty of food, clean and copious amounts of drinking water. Do I take them for granted? I hope not. Maybe I view them as background to what seems really important like people or experiences. Maybe I should verbalize some gratitude for those as well.

Proof

Surely I basked in a summer of blessings. I’m glad I kept track of those daily joys. Otherwise, I might have looked back over what looks from this distance, like merely another hot summer endured. Instead I have months worth of happy thoughts and proof that life smiled on me.

And I smiled back.

Condensed sunshine.

Condensed sunshine.

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Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Ghosts Really Long For

Friday Letter to My Kids – 9/26/14

Dear J, J, L and L,

They don't make them this tall or out of metal anymore.

They don’t make them this tall or out of metal anymore.

When telling stories or when remembering the past, the spectacular, fabulous, extraordinary and unusual stand out the most. Those stories get told over and over, those memories revisited again and again. If I’m not careful it’s easy to believe those out of the norm things represent the norm.

Really though, the normal, everyday stuff of life doesn’t usually get woven into a story we tell our kids or friends. The daily waxing and waning of life rarely gets a mention when the memories surface.

I wonder if some of the most precious of daily moments end up lost in the excitement of the rare odd encounters. I hope not. I came across this quote and let myself wonder about it for a while:

“It occurred to me that if I were a ghost, this ambiance was what I’d miss most: the ordinary, day-to-day bustle of the living. Ghosts long, I’m sure, for the … most unremarkable things.” ~ Banana Yoshimoto

I’m sure I have a few million of those daily moments pinging around my brain, waiting to be noticed, recalled and relived, however briefly.

I mention a few here:

"Skysof" by sof from Toronto, Canada - Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

“Skysof” by sof from Toronto, Canada – Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Shooting hoops on the driveway with Big J might not merit a long story, but those sweet HORSE playing times still feel priceless. Closing my eyes I can almost picture specific shots you made and I attempted. Never did get my lay-up mastered. You, however, grew much, much taller and could make any shot you want to now.

Seldom do I see a slippery slide without recalling climbing over a ladder full of kids waiting for their turn so that I could rescue Little J at the top. I smile as I remember your eyes bigger and legs stronger than your bravery at two-years old. You pulled that stunt more times than I remember. Your body kept growing and finally caught up to that daring spirit in you. Now I hear about you jumping out of airplanes just for fun and I’m not the least bit surprised.

By DavidMaisel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

By DavidMaisel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

Big L and Little L, could you guess how many times we ventured into the “woods” in Oklahoma to that odd little park hidden in the middle? It was like we were the only ones who knew it existed. That’s where we found that hunk of fool’s gold and invented a story or two about it. How many times did one or both of you puke from spinning on the tire swing too long and too fast? I can practically smell that sticky sweet sweaty kid scent on your tan little bodies if I think back on those ordinary days we shared. Now each of you have spun off into your own worlds of insanely busy lives that seem to you mundane and yet make up the stuff of memories and stories you’ll cherish.

Waking from bad dreams and middle of the night snuggles, countless bowls of cereal and plates of scrambled eggs, finding shoes and tying them, making and packing up peanut butter and jam, tunafish, or bologna sandwiches, thousands of cloth diapers and thousands of disposable diapers, laundry and dishes, tacos and spaghetti, chili and chicken pot pies, cookies and brownies and scotcheroos, TV transfixed or Lego obsessed, baby dolls and Barbies, balls and blocks, forts and fights, homework and housework, chores and board games, fireflies at dusk, picnics with ginormous squirrels, bath times and story times and bedtimes by the thousands, and so much more filled our ordinary days.

Rebecca Palmer. Crazy Quilt, 1884

Rebecca Palmer. Crazy Quilt, 1884

And yet, looking back from a distance, each day now seems extraordinary and magical and exhausting and exhilarating and boring and exciting. Those tiny scraps of daily this and that, threads of nightly here and there, became the cloth of our stunning, breathtaking, wonder-filled, average family life.

I like to wrap myself up in it some days, when life feels questionable or queasy or tired, and simply feel love.

Always loving you,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

 

“To be really great in little things, to be truly nobel and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Categories: Family, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Stories I Tell Myself

“Two old friends met by chance on the street. After chatting for some time, one said to the other, “I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name. You’ll need to tell me.” The other stared at him thoughtfully for a long time, then replied, “How soon do you need to know?”

It’s Gratituesday! Today’s gratitude is brought to you courtesy of the word “Memories.”

Memory morphs. It changes. It softens and fades. Certain aspects take on larger dimensions while other seemingly significant details diminish.

I love how I can close my eyes and be in a moment that occurred weeks or months or years ago. I also love how I don’t even have to close my eyes for a memory to play itself out in my head, tiny detail by tiny detail.

Sometimes I don’t love it so much. Not all memories carry pleasant and soothing gift wrapped packages. Nope, some carry regret, sorrow, heartache, stupidity, shame. The potential hazards of a ride down memory lane can trip a person up and send them reeling.

Who I Am

Either way, happy or sad, delightful or melancholy, ridiculous or sublime, memory feels like part of who I am. Memory makes up the marrow in my bones. It keeps my heart beating. It gives meaning to every single thing I do, every choice I make.

I can’t imagine losing memories, like a person with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Huntington’s, or any number of other disorders or diseases.  I’d be no one anymore. I’d not be me at least, without my memories. So much of my joy in life comes from my ability at will to conjure visions of holding my babies, or remembered dances in the moonlight, or crazy things I’ve done like belting out an early morning wakeup song in the middle of nowhere.

"While we live, let us live."

“While we live, let us live.”

As life can often weigh me down with gradually sneaking age and circumstance, having a memory to recall an adventurous few years of climbing cliffs as the world falls away below me reminds me I am not just this aching back, this tired woman, this struggling human. Recalling my years as a young mother when I feel all a bit lost among those with vibrant families remind me I’m more than I appear to others. Chance encounters with my past in fleeting thoughts often brighten a day heavy with worry. Memories remind me that I consist of all that I’ve done and experienced. I’m so much more than what I see in the mirror.

The ratio of good to bad memories isn’t balanced. I’m not sure where the ratio falls. My answer depends on what day you ask me. Today the scale tips heaviest on the abrasive side of things, the hard roads, the thorns, the losses, the mistakes. But give me a few days with a few night’s full sleep and I may say just the opposite. I try not to whitewash things, but I also don’t want to muck about in negativity and regret. Maybe that’s where fiction first found its birth. Hmmm.

Maybe That’s Why

I suppose that’s part of what drives me to write. I write my memories, both good stuff and bad, along with my changing view of those memories, as a way to re-acquaint myself with me. It would be a shame to let all those years of work and learning and experience just slip away as I inevitably fade away.

Hopefully, writing the memories down in various forms will let me live a little longer, but not just as a legacy or in a personal history.

As I write my memories, I relive them and in that living, love again and laugh again.

 

~~~~~

The title for today’s post grew out of this quote: “How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.” ~Julian Barnes

 

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

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

It Was a Wonderful Life!

Yesterday I got the chance to watch the second installment of home 8mm films that my Dad has transferred to DVD. If something like that doesn’t fire up the old neurons of memory, then nothing will!

North Ogden Utah Ben Lomond Peak

Ben Lomond Peak (Photo credit: OwnUtah.Com)

I was the opening shot, well, me and Mom. I looked extra adorable in my frilly bonnet and chubby cheeks. Mom looked stylish as she always did and does. There followed scenes of my older brother in various stages of helping Mom in managing this new little sister he had.

Loved seeing Dad do his famous tricycle riding trick. He’d kneel on the back and pedal with his hands. That’s not an easy feat to pull off, but he could do it with a grin.

Ah, they were so young! The world seemed new and young. Life was new. For me, that is when the world began. (Insert a long, audible sigh here, if you would please.)

I cheered my baby self on when I lifted my head, crawled, walked and fell down. I watched, amazed, as I saw myself grow from a baby to a five-year old in less than twenty minutes. Looking back on my life, sometimes that ‘s about what it feels like. Yet, my childhood had a timeless quality about it that felt as if I’d always be a child. I was protected, provided for, well-loved, and given a wonderfully varied exploratory life filled with fun and adventure.

English:

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A trip or two to Yellowstone National Park was a highlight and a memory I still cherish. The bears ran as freely and as abundantly as chipmunks. Even without the film memory jog, I still remember the fishing bridges there, seeing fish thick in the water. Nothing can erase the memory of the smells of Yellowstone, the sound of footsteps on the wooden walkways, the feel of my hand in Mom’s hand.

I watched as we enjoyed breakfast picnics in the mountains, trips to Bear Lake, camping trips, hikes up Ben Lomond. What child could ask for more? Not me. I was happily allowed to explore my world, taken out and about often to see the wonders that this life has to offer. I think I fell in love with it all at a very early age because of exposure to so much abundance. I haven’t been able to narrow in on one particular favorite. The world is full and rich and I have tried to take in and be a part of as much of it as I have been able to.

see mum, i can garden

(Photo credit: moirabot)

One thing I found particularly fascinating in this DVD that I’d hardly noticed in the first one was the backdrops in each scene. There was the beautiful hexagon shapes in the Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt on the bed my brother and I were playing on. The cars that drove past were classics from the 50’s and 60’s. The television was vintage, the furniture now collector’s items. Even the drinking glasses were particular to that era. What I wouldn’t give to own a set of aluminum colored drinking cups now!  The piano I learned to play on, the one destroyed in my parent’s house fire, made an appearance. Changes in the landscaping of the yard, neighbor’s houses I haven’t seen in decades, the up close view of the mountains that surrounded my childhood home all served as key elements in the background to this trip down memory lane.

Feeling very nostalgic today. Wishing for a time machine to visit those innocent, sweet days of love and learning.

Thanks Dad and Mom for the DVD, for the amazing childhood, for a wonderful life!

Categories: Family, Love, Memory Lane, Nature, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Keeping the Past Alive and Well

My parents sent me the first of five DVD’s they’ve made from our family 8mm films. We loved watching these flickering gems as kids. There’s nothing else like seeing your very own past play out on film, even if it’s a past you don’t remember.

English: Bell & Howell Regent home 8mm film pr...

Bell & Howell Regent home 8mm film projector (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This one opens like a major motion picture doing a flashback. There on my screen was romance and nostalgia that a filmmaker only dreams about creating. Yet, it was simply real. And mesmerizing!

Most of the early shots are of Mom, since Dad was the one holding the camera. She was so young, and such a flirt in front of the camera. That surprised me, though it shouldn’t have. Dad shows up building one of his famous snowmen. This one had on a flannel shirt and had arms. Try doing that yourself sometime. It isn’t easy.

When my older brother shows up as a newborn, so do my Grandparents. My heart skipped a beat or two at this point since I haven’t seen the four of them ages. I still have a kind of achy feeling banging around in my chest, a combination of love, heartache and homesickness. So much of who I was, who I am, is wrapped up in memories of my Grandparents. I was glad they visited today.

Watching my older brother get chubby and independent was priceless. Then came my other brother, who looked so happy and was so loved for his short few months of life. I wish I had met him. Seeing him bouncing around, laughing, being hugged by his big brother, made him more real, more alive, more mine. What a gift.

Just before the DVD ended, I appeared on the scene, dressed in a white dress and a white bonnet.  It seemed I ought to be able to remember that day, that dress, those feelings of being so welcomed and so loved.

There’s a joy of  having the past recorded. I felt for a short time as if I’d  climbed into a souped up DeLorean and went back to my past.

I can hardly wait for the next few installments. Even if they probably contain embarrassing scenes of me attempting ballet.

Life revisited. What a joy!

Life. What a blessing!

Categories: Family, Memory Lane | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Forget Comfort Foods, Try This Instead

Comfort foods.  I could wax poetic about all the varieties, textures, tastes, emotions and colors of myriad edibles.  So could you.

Have you ever considered “comfort memories?”

It’s self-explanatory.  Here’s an easy example.

My son can put himself to sleep by remembering himself through a specific ski run at a specific resort.  Recalling the swoosh of the snow under his board, the bite of the cold across his cheeks, the trees as they blur past, the feel of his muscles as he moves to catch a curve and negotiates the bumps and jumps, all combine to relax and calm him into a deep and restful sleep.

Nice way to put yourself to sleep, huh? I think so.

I have a way of relaxing myself when I’m feeling ill or in pain that, if I remember to remember it, works very well to comfort and ease my body and mind. It’s rooted in how I was cared for as a child when I was sick. It’s definitely a comfort memory.

Asleep on the couch

Asleep on the couch (Photo credit: geekdreams)

I recall pillows propped on the dark green couch, blankets tucked around me, with the TV on low and bluish across the room.  I remember the smell and taste of the concoction Mom would mix. It consisted of a bit of warm water, a spoonful of paregoric, and some sugar.  It was a licorice smell and taste, somewhat bitter, but eased by that spoonful of sugar.  My tummy always settled out if I was nauseous, my sore throat eased.  Sleep came easier in spite of noise or fever or pain.  I can still feel the coolness of the pillowcase as she turned my pillow to the cool side when my fever was high.  There would often be a cool cloth on my forehead and smoothed across my hands and arms, pulling the heat from my body and sending a swell of relaxation through my tired, aching limbs. Even if she was only checking my fever, Mom’s hand on my cheek let me feel cared for, loved and safe.

If I can conjure that image, those sensations, then I can settle into a rest that reminds me of that love.  I can relax and let the discomfort of whatever hurts lift away from me, even if only momentarily.

To know such care and comfort should fall to every child.  Every adult should be able to pull from the library of memory such a book, filled with tales of love and triumph.

What memories bring peace to you?  Is there anything you can recall from childhood, or adulthood, that on remembering, brings comfort, peace, joy, relaxation, love?

Categories: Family, Love, Memory Lane, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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