blessings, Blog, friends, gardening

Reflecting on Life, Death and the Gift of Blogging

Day 240

I stayed up too late last night and found myself sleeping in this morning. Days like this make me so thankful to be retired. I walked outside to look at the progress in the garden before it gets too hot. We have so many small tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers that I hope will survive the insects and the summer heat.

I plucked a single ripe strawberry off the vine and bit into it. It was warm and so flavorful. Luscious! Normally birds would be darting in and out of the feeders, but while our family was here last week, a black bear decided to dine at the bird feeders. The result was a completely destroyed pole and three smashed feeders – our very favorite feeders of course.

Such is life here. We normally put the feeders out around 8:00 a.m. and bring them in around 7:00 p.m. before it gets dark. When bears look for food, they do not worry much about time of day so we are constantly on the watch. We still have a few feeders in the back but it will be a while before we sink money into replacing the expensive feeders.

We have seen a few king snakes and rat snakes around. We leave them alone because they eat the mice and some of the venomous snakes. They can be quite startling if you are not fond of snakes.

Last night my dear friend had to have her golden retriever put to sleep. I am heartbroken for her. Her dogs have been her beloved and close companions, loved and cared for as all animals deserve to be.

Being surrounded by the ever present reminders of life and death, I found myself reflecting on blogging. I had private blogs back when I was active on LiveJournal. This was a sacred place closed to all but a few close friends and one of my sisters. We shared a lot there. Now that my sister has passed, I keep my LiveJournal account so I can go back and revisit the things she wrote.

After that journey, I started a WordPress blog back in 2010 on the heels of a dear friend’s death. My first post was entitled ‘In Search of Signs of Life’. Funny how threads resurface in our lives. It was a place where I could process my feelings and thoughts around life and death. I wrote a good bit there as my sisters fought their battles with cancer. I have not written there in a long time although the blog is still up.

I started this blog 240 days ago as part of a goal of blogging every day. I think I have found myself over this course time. I am able to reflect without being absorbed. I can be empathetic without becoming depressed. I see and acknowledge what is not healthy for me and move on. I am constantly seeking to expand my experiences and knowledge and I have found blogging an excellent way to do so.

This morning I was honored when a fellow blogger (dare I say friend?) Pete recommended my blog to his followers. I was honored to think he found something of substance in what I share here. Thank you again, Pete.

I appreciate all who take the time to come by and read my blog. It means a lot. Blogging has certainly enriched my life and I have learned so much about us as people. We are much more alike than we sometimes realize. And as people, we need each other. Bridging cultural differences and discovering commonality is a gift. One that I will treasure for a lifetime.

blessings, Blog, children, christmas, Family, friends, grandchildren, memories

Ornaments

Day 52

I love the consistency of my life. It might be boring to some but to me, it is perfect. Our days usually start out the same way and I love that. When we were working, mornings were always such a rush and a blur. Get up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, pack lunch, then a 45-minute drive to work. That part of my life is in the past now and I appreciate the freedom of retirement.

More Tree Decorations

Today, I added some ornaments to the tree. I always start with some of the most sentimental ornaments. I have ornaments I made when my children were small, ornaments my children made in school and ornaments received from friends and family throughout the years.

IMG_7890<==This ornament was made by my son (with a lot of help from his teacher) in 1st grade. He now has a wife and two children of his own so it’s been a bit since this one came into the collection.

IMG_7889==>This one was made by my daughter – it’s a pierced piece of copper. The ribbon has yellowed and every year I add a little glue to keep it together. It’s special though. She, too, is married and has a child of her own.

IMG_7888<==My great-aunt made this for me about 40 years ago. It’s made of wooden spools. The dress was hand-made. She passed away last year. The last of my great aunts and uncles.

IMG_7892==>I once had a dear friend who I thought would be a life-long friend. But some things do not turn out the way we think that they will. I keep it and hang it to remember the good times. Sometimes people are only in our life for a season.

IMG_7885<==My sister passed away in 2010. When I lived in Florida she came to visit and we took a trip up to St. Augustine. She bought this ornament for my husband because she knew how much he loved lighthouses. They had a good and kind relationship.

IMG_7891==>Our grandson made this ornament for us maybe when he was 8 or so. He’s now almost 17. Another wonderful addition with great memories of the sweetest little boy.

IMG_7886<==This one always makes me smile. I made this with my step-daughter and my two granddaughters. It was to be an easy project but after hot gluing all those pom poms we were ready to be done. It was a day filled with great joy and laughter.

 

When my children were small, I made a number of ceramic ornaments for the tree. Many have been broken through the years, but I still have about 5. These are two of my favorites. A partridge in a pear tree and an elephant — because elephants never forget.

There are more ornaments and more memories to be placed on the tree. All in all, it was a day filled with wonderful memories and thoughts of people and times and places that can never be replaced. Tonight I am blessed.

“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.” 
Steve Maraboli

Blog, friends, Writing

Unexpected Benefits

Day 17

I started this blog 17 days ago. I was not sure what to expect and honestly I was not sure I would be able to follow it through. I wondered what I would write about every day for 365 days.

For years I read that it takes 21 days to form a habit. More recent research indicates that number may be closer to 66 days. So, I am far from this being normal for me, but I will say that with every day that passes, it becomes more natural.

What to Write

The thing I worried most about was what I would write. What I am finding is amazing. Every day I see something or read something or do something that turns into inspiration for a blog post.

Perhaps this is simply electronic journaling to some, but there is something more here. Something a little magical.

Now I worry less about what to write and am much more conscious of how I spend my day, making sure I allocate time to write. As a writer, this is a wonderful thing.

I am sure many of us could be more cognizant of the time and energy we put into non-productive things in our lives.

Unexpected Benefits

typewriter.JPGI find that my days have less and less time for social media interactions. I have certain times of the day that I check up on Facebook or Instagram, but outside of that I have curbed that habit quite a bit. I am finding it is a healthy change for me.

I was not the only person who started this 365 day journey. There is a group of amazing women walking this path together.

I encourage you to check out the links in my sidebar to read what is being shared here. This community of like-minded women has inspired me in so many ways.

When I started blogging regularly, I found I also started reading more. I try to faithfully read what my fellow bloggers are writing. And I also seek out other bloggers who are writing on topics of interest to me.

Empathy and Reflection

I have a thing for the written word. When someone pours their heart and soul on the page it is impactful and meaningful to me. Writing triggers something inside me that opens the pathways to memory and feelings so perhaps it is the same for other writers.

sister.JPGThis morning I read a post that gutted me. One of my fellow bloggers wrote about her struggles and it touched me deeply. That is what authentic writing can do — she classified it as ‘raw’ and I must agree. She was so brave and I was honored to witness what she wrote. (Thank you Tanya.)

This entry she wrote not only made me feel great empathy and respect for her, but it also triggered memories of my sister, Rosie. When she was so ill with the cancer that would eventually take her life, we had many heartbreaking conversations about her feelings and her fears. I wrote about one of our conversations back in 2010 that broke my heart. I have never forgotten it. This morning I went back and read it again.

Giving Thanks

To my dear friend Maitri, I am so thankful for your encouragement to join you in this 365 day blog challenge. I was familiar with blogging, but I never anticipated the other channels in my soul that this work would blow wide open.

To the ladies that join me in this journey – thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your words move me and I am forever changed by this experience. Thank you for sharing your simple days and your hardest days. I love being in a circle of women that lift each other up. It is refreshing and enriching in so many ways.

You have added something moving and powerful to my life and I thank you.

“Sometimes that’s all you need my love – another woman’s faith in you.” 
Joy McCullough

birds, Blog, Family, friends, Home, loss, memories

Sometimes There is Heartache

Day 7

When I think of home the memories, thoughts and ideas are so pleasant. But there are also struggles – and loss. When you love deeply and honestly, witnessing the struggle and the loss can be the most difficult part of life. But we do move on.

This week has been precarious for me. My daughter-in-law’s brother has been going through life-threatening surgery and treatment and we have been in prayer mode for two weeks.

My niece has been back and forth to the doctors for months and watching her search to find answers is also heartbreaking.

One of my very dear friends and I talked off and on one day as we worked on trying to find balance and understanding in some difficult circumstances. The warmth, comfort and stability of a friendship is an important part of feeling at home. An outside person you can speak openly and honestly with is a critical part of having balance in our lives.

Keeping strong when someone you care about is struggling is not easy. We want balance. We want comfort. It helps us feel at home and at peace to know our loved ones are okay.

And Then There Was Michael

Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida yesterday. The devastation is horrible to see. I can honestly say I hate hurricanes. I have been through more of these storms than I care to remember and have worried with friends and loved ones through even more. It is the most helpless feeling to have someone you love in harm’s way and be powerless to do anything about it.

weather - 1It will be days before we know the full impact of the storm, just as it was days before we knew the impact of Hurricane Florence. We received a lot of rain – almost 10 inches in two days – but have only had minor wind gusts. Slowly we hear from people and our mind is at rest, but not fully. Not until everyone is accounted for.

My heart breaks for those that have or will have lost loved ones in this storm.

As much as home is in our hearts, it is also the physical place where we live. So many homes lost. Lifetimes of belongings, mementos and memories washed away or blown away in the storm. Such an experience changes the ability to feel safe in your own home. I cannot imagine I would ever feel the same about my home being my safe haven after such loss.

I Never Imagined Life Without You

Last night I received devastating news about a dear family friend who passed away. We were not close in recent times, but at one time we were very close. The loss to this family hit twice in only a few days and I cannot imagine how hard that must be.

There are some people you can NEVER imagine will one day no longer be here. This loss hit me in exactly this way. I woke up off and on all night, listening to the rain pounding against the roof and thinking about the fact this dear sweet soul was gone. I am not sure how to come to terms with this.

Loss like this is multiplied when you think about the people you would call to talk through such things. My go-to people to process feelings like this are disappearing from my life. I talked to my brother and my daughter, but after those two, the people I would have called that knew and understood the loss are no longer here for me to call. That is a tough pill to swallow. Balance is lost and it can be a struggle to regain.

IMG_7084Today I wish you a sense of stability in the place you call home. If you have experienced loss, I send you warm thoughts. Life has a funny way of re-correcting and finding balance even after the most catastrophic or devastating news.

The birds are back at the feeder and the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks will soon leave to continue their migration south.

Everyone is headed home.

“I see now how things even up, how they are squared away,
and how they balance under the law of love and justice.
No year of life is emotionally, spiritually or even materially,
all drought or all rainfall; nor is it all sun.
The road turns a little every day, and one day there’s a sudden twist
we didn’t dream was there, and for every loss there is somewhere a gain,
for every grief a happiness, for every deprivation a giving.” 

Faith Baldwin