Sunday, October 2, 2011

under construction...

last year around this time i created a vision board for the first time, set my intentions with a prayer and a promise. at that time i'd figured fall was a good time to plant the seeds for change.

come the fall, summer's efforts take a final bow in blazing glories of color. the big show before the earth takes its winters rest. on top the earth sleeps, but below life continues to happen. roots soak up nutrients, gain strength for the big "come back" in the spring.

i look at fall as my true "new year." a time to hunker down, go within, clean my spiritual, mental and physical house and make way for something new.

last fall, on the eve of the autumnal equinox i went to work and set my intentions on my board. i placed the board on the wall in my kitchen, the room i frequent mostly in my home. i'd like to think that it inspires others as well as me. it was neat seeing family friends stop and read my little note cards and gaze at the photos placed here and there around the board. and i think that for me it added to accountability factor - these people who mean the world to me reading my hopes, plans and dreams for the year ahead.

i'm a little late this year in getting my board up. i've been working on my list though. for months i've been working on it. this year i'll be focusing more on health, wellness, self improvement. stillness. peace. developing a deeper spiritual life. and keeping promises to myself about writing, creating, resting. i'm going to post my list here, on my blog. and my journey. blog and life: under construction and transformation.

this morning i read something that stuck with me all day, really hitting a mark. it was about the butterfly. these days those fluttery, gorgeous little insects are so overdone. everyone loves butterflies. but probably everyone always did. now they're just "gone commercial." anyhow, the piece that i read reflected on how when the caterpillar goes from chrysalis to butterfly it's an incredibly painful experience. for the butterfly, stretching out of that cocoon/chrysalis and moving those wings really hurts! but look at what happens...from little caterpillar to cocoon and then to butterfly, the beautiful transformation. ah...inspiration!

i know what i need to change in my life. i know some of it won't necessarily be pleasant and sometimes might hurt. but in order to make the transformation my heart so desires, there isn't any other way. it's so worth it though.

i have a big week ahead. catering a wedding for the first time with my sister this weekend. nervous? you betcha. but when the dust settles on this big event i'm putting my vision board, and my life wishes on the front burner. my new vision board will be up within the next two weeks. before that happens i'll reevaluate my lists, add or subtract where need be. i can't wait. but the excitement, the change, the commitment starts here, now.

no time like the present to begin to live the life we're destined to live, no? no time like the present to give ourselves the best gift ever - attention. personal housekeeping.

ever transforming, always desiring to reach...


Monday, August 1, 2011

a simple request...

a simple request. cold milk. peaches. it was the last two things i heard my dad ask for. cold milk. peaches. on his death bed, in his last days, that's what he asked for. not on the same day. on different days, close between, during his last week of life. not i wish i'd scaled the himalayas. not i'm so sad i never went to maui. not i wish i wish i'd made more money or gone more places or had more stuff. nada. just cold milk. peaches.

i bought peaches a few days ago. couldn't pass them up on my trip to the market. they called me as i walked by. PEACHES. bought cold milk that day too. bought the stuff that dad asked for during his last 4 days or so. not without hardly a thought though. just bought them. i guess i could say that's "peaches and milk" in itself, no? being able to just do that?

as i've made my way through the "stages of grief" over the past year, cold milk and peaches reverberated through my mind. not the actual peach or the glass of milk, but the simple request. the "simple" of it. because through my dad i learned that that's what it all boils down to...the simple things.

the fan blowing my hair around as i write tonight, the feel of the cool air about me. looking over and seeing my husband snoozing on the sofa, the overwhelming love i have for him. an email exchange with friends today, the lifelong kind, that had me in stitches at my desk (sorry eliz, yes, between writing newsletter text i was planning that camping trip that you're going to cover for me for at the library), getting in my silly little car and laughing my ass off at how happy i am for this little new to me dream. listening to my xm station (it came with the little car) music from the 1940's which is the music of my life, coming home, watering flowers, petting the cat, reading a good book. peaches and milk, that's what it is, my life...the day to day - peaches and milk.

from here on, when life is the total shit (which thanks be to god, my life pretty much is) i'm just going to say "peaches and milk!" awesome, wow, holy crap, this is the shiznitz begone, it's now "peaches and milk!!" in memory of my dad. and how that's who he was, a man of simple pleasures, a man of family, a calm and gentle man if ever there was one.

peaches and, that's what you were. you were the sun and the moon and everything strong and safe to me. i can't believe...i cry at the cold reality that it's been a whole big wide year since i've seen you. but i guess that's not entirely true, as i've seen you in the forest preserve when i go for my morning walk. i see you in ella's face when she says "i miss my pop pop." i see you in my sister's eyes for oh, how she so looks like you. i see you in the night sky, ever more so this summer as the crickets and cicadas sing their zizzy little songs of love. i see you, i feel your love wrap around me in the twist of the summer breeze.

a year. 365 days to say "this is the first" this or that without you here. but you have been, here. and those words, probably your best lesson taught yet - peaches...cold milk. the simple stuff. a summer night. my son upstairs safe and sound. my stephanie, healthy...vital, celebrating her 13th wedding anniversary this night. my lindsey, calling me to ask if she can order me a few good bottles of wine....everything i'll ever need is as simple as peaches and milk - it's all right here beside me. my family. just like my dad, it's all i need...not the fancy stuff, just this.

been away from this writing place for a long time,

but all the same,

wishing you

peaches, lots of fresh sweet summer peaches

and a tall glass of icy cold milk...


p.s. thanks to katie for the nudge. i'm not a fancy writer, but i do so love the craft.

photo: my daddy with ella. he never said so, but i just know she was his favorite:)

Friday, March 18, 2011

special gift, special friend...

i can't wait to share...
this is one of the birthday gifts
i created for my darling nancy -
sister of my heart & too far away friend.
her birthday was a bit over a week ago, so...
for my nans i knew that not just any gift would do.
i wanted to make her something special,
as she is so very special to me.

so along with a hefty supply of my homemade granola
(which nans refers to as her "comfort food")
and a week's worth of crocheted dish cloths
(a casual hint before christmas -
"what i could really use are some of those crocheted dish cloths!"
see nans? i didn't forget; i just hope they stay together!)
i created a set of jewelry, especially for her...

i've long wanted to play around with the fun vintage
collections of findings, charms and such
that i've spied in the craft stores,
on etsy, and pretty much everywhere.
so on a rainy/snowy saturday morning a few weeks back
i went in search of the perfect pieces to create
a one of a kind gift for a
one of a kind friend.

it was such fun matching pieces i already had
along with treasures i found at the store.
i was in heaven that afternoon in my craft room...
at my work table, thinking of this dear friend,
working on these fun pieces, an audio book
spinning a story for me in the background
(the widower's tale by julia glass - excellent story).

i was thrilled with how the necklace
and matching earrings turned out.

the charms are not without their meaning...
the heart represents our relationship.
we are, indeed, sisters of the heart,
and the bird represents flight;
flight as in although my nans is far away
this is to remind her of how i look forward
to the time when she will again "fly away home"
to me, to her book club gals,
all of us who miss her and can't wait for the
time when we're together again.

i adore the corner of my house that's left just for me,
a bedroom left vacant by daughter #2.
it's mine now and i love it.
and i simply love the possibility
of the things yet to create.
when i take time, make time
to let my imagination take flight.
and what better inspiration
than a gift for a friend
who is, in turn, a gift to me.

happy weekend...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

on shamrocks and the color green...

funny, isn't it, how on st. paddy's day we all feel a bit luckier wearing a bit of the green? there's not an irish bone in my body, but i feel it too - a touch of luck for me courtesy of the tiny green crystals that accompany the silver shamrock accessorizing my otherwise blah all black outfit today. i wear the necklace in honor of my gram - elizabeth shirley mccauley milanich. does a name get any more irish than that? well, except for the milanich part, which is serbian and courtesy of my gramps.

my gram was as irish as the day is long. red hair with a gorgeous natural curl, deep blue eyes, and a smattering of freckles that made her only that much more lovely. beautiful, really. because of my gram, i can't get through a rendition of "danny boy" or "when irish eyes are smiling" without a good cry. for my gram was that - a true irish rose with eyes that smiled like no other.

i've a few facts to share today on the wearing of the green...legend has it that the custom was born with the color of the shamrock. st. patrick himself was said to have used the leaves of the shamrock to teach about the trinity - the stem representing one divine nature and the green leaves are the three persons which comprise that nature; father, son and holy spirit. i like that idea, what it symbolizes.

another explanation for the wearing of green on st. paddy's day dates back to the 18th century. the irish were said to have worn green in an attempt to remain invisible to leprechauns. i guess the story goes that the little guys were color blind when it came to green. leprechauns had the stinky little reputation for pinching people, did you know that? me either. but if you wear green, they can't see you, therefore they can't pinch you:)

on the flip side, some folks say that the green is actually thought to be the leprechauns favorite color, therefore considered to be an unlucky color in ireland. an irish bride would never be caught wearing a stitch of green on her wedding day!

so there you have it. i guess either way - whether you're wearing green or not - beware of the pinch of the leprechaun. ha! with that, on this gorgeous st. paddy's day in chicagoland (where temps are expected to be in the mid 60's), i leave you with, what else?, an irish blessing...

may your blessings outnumber
the shamrocks that grow
and may trouble avoid you
wherever you go

wishing you the luck of the irish,

p.s. corned beef, cabbage and a hearty loaf of rye are what's for dinner tonight.
i can't wait!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

notes on lent and the blessing of a good friend...

there's nothing quite like a having a friend that you can share your faith with. someone to discuss the wide open range of heavenly things and how they apply daily to our lives here on earth. i'm lucky enough to have such a friend. her name is carolyn and if i had a dollar for each time i've said to her "i'm so glad we met," well...i'd have enough for a plane to ticket to somewhere, that's for sure.

we met over a shared sandwich. well, we weren't sharing the same sandwich actually. we weren't even sharing the same table. i was sitting with a few friends and carolyn was at the table next to me. i happened to notice that carolyn was eating the same sandwich as i was - a "to this day memorably delicious" panini with warm, savory goat cheese, apricot preserves and almonds tucked inside. i've yet to recreate this sandwich, but it's on my list, none the less.

at a break in the conversation at my table i leaned over and said to this stranger, "isn't that the most delicious sandwich ever?" she started with a laugh (which has since become music to my ears) and whole heartedly agreed with me. that gave opening for carolyn to ask me about the conversation we'd been having - books, book clubs, etc. her best friend having just moved out of state and across the county, carolyn was in particular need of the company of friends - a group to become a part of, and had also had a long expressed interest in becoming a part of a book club.

not one to leave anyone on the sidelines of life, i eagerly invited carolyn to join us for book club and long story long, she's been a part ever since. not part of just one book club, but of all three that i lead at the library. i'm happy to say that in the time since, we've become dear friends as well. friends who share interests, hobbies and above all else, a strong and abiding faith.

last christmas we became "advent buddies." carolyn found a little booklet of daily scripture readings and devotions which led us through a month long celebration of the season of advent. the shared experience lent a much deeper meaning to christmas for me. i truly needed that, the "more" part, as it was the first christmas where my dad would be watching it all from heaven.

since then, and in the weeks leading up to lent, carolyn and i both agreed that we'd like to progress from "advent buddies" to "lent partners." again we went in search of a method of study, a booklet to guide the way. find one we did, and we are now on our individual yet together subsequent lenten journeys. we haven't discussed the "what we're giving up" part of lent, not on purpose but pretty much because it just hasn't come up. and that's not what's most important, i think, about lent. people get so hung up on that part and fail to dig deeper into the true meaning of repentance, of giving up, of letting go.

turning away from, confessing, admitting to things which cause us to stumble. things which hide our true nature, and in turn cause us to hide from god. and to have a season in which to come clean - repent, be renewed - isn't that the greatest gift? to sacrifice, to be made new, to draw ever closer to a loving god that gave everything he could possibly give - what more could i ever ask for? nothing. absolutely nothing. my life is a gift. and carolyn is a gift, a friend to share my faith with. a friend to ponder life's ultimate questions with. who is honest, loving and of such integrity. and her laugh, heavens...her laugh. if only you could hear.

on that day, at the restaurant, i opened up to a stranger. not an accident. there are no accidents where god is concerned. and through opening up myself to carolyn, god has opened himself up to me in a way i've never experienced. through advent, through lent, through ways yet unknown to me. and through the musical laughter of a good friend.

his ways are marvelous, they are mysterious, they are perfect in every sense. and they are right for me. for that i live my life as a prayer, in gratitude.

his love,
his peace,
may they be your's...

photo: early pre-spring morning in the forest preserve:)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lost in thoughts of you...

today i wish there was a place i go could
where i would see you
your gentle, loving, father face
not like the last time i saw you
but maybe a month before that
when you were in the car, ready to go
and we were talking, even though mom
had the car running and exhaust fumes
clouded our conversation
i can remember how your face looked
in conversation with me
and after you left, i’d wished i’d taken
that conversation more seriously.
‘cuz i had a feeling about that conversation,
that day, seeing you enjoy your family,
playing with tyler and ella
oh, the look on your face that day
the next time i saw you there was worry
mixed with pain and exhaustion
but even still, on that day,
we had a little bit of conversation and
i cooked for you and you said
“honey, this is so good”
i guess that’s my fear, dad, that i will forget...
your face, your loving eyes
and the gentle sound of your voice.
for just one moment,
i just wish i could hear your voice again.
for this moment, in my desire to see you
i look up.
my eyes fixed on heaven.
my worry abates.
the sound of your voice fills my mind.
music, to my ears.
“there’s a new dawn for me”
you told me and i know
you’re home, but you’re here too,
watching me, listening, guiding even still.
and today, like so many days since you’ve been gone,
i want you to hear me say,
i love you dad.
like my heavenly father is with me,
i will never let you go.


this post went right from heart and onto the page - no editing, which probably shows -
but sometimes i think we need to do that. just let it spill. say the words. feel the emotion.
today i do, feel a lot of emotion, and this is my healing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January writing promp..."I used to think..."

When I was young, I used to think that I had the power to compel people to change. I thought that if I loved hard enough, believed enough and prayed my guts out I’d have the ability to make change happen. In addition, my immaturity had me believing that change was easily rendered. I gave so little concrete regard to change in its true context, treating it as little more than a word, a wish, a prayer – change for myself and change in others.

I’ve grown though and always, isn’t life the best teacher? Similarly, through intense study and discussion (with my amazing women’s group), I’ve come to appreciate the true essence of change. I’ve gained insight into the fact that change and the power to do so resides only in the individual. No amount of wishing, hoping, “gently” manipulating or controlling will bring about change in another.

These days I find that I’m reminding myself often that the only one I have the power to change or to control is me. Expecting anything more than that is futile – wasted energy, wasted time. When it comes to dealing with the expectations of new outcomes, I look right in the mirror. And in dealing with people in my life that I have a difficult time with, that’s were I begin. That’s where I go – inside myself, with keen awareness that although I can’t change situations or the behaviors of others, I do have that control in how I react.

Transformation is impossible when applied to things which are out of my control, but when I apply it to me, transformation, change, is limitless. Sounds simple, but from a gal who has been known to be a bit of a control freak for the better part of her life, it’s not, hardly. But in identifying and understanding my lack of control regarding others I have found such peace. Likewise I’m finding that the change I was so hoping for tends to happen by osmosis – either I see things more clearly, or in a different way, or I remove myself from the situation or the individual I’m at odds with. And too I tend to give things to God and let him pick up where I leave off in frustration.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi’s quote dances ‘round my mind often. It’s not an easy practice, but with practice I’ve experienced an enormous sense of liberation - liberation from worrying about things and people I can’t fix – liberation from worrying about things and people that aren’t my business to fix. These days I’m minding my own business. Being the best that I can be and just letting go. I’d like to think I’ve become a better person for it – a better wife, mother, sister, and friend. I love, I pray, I let go and I let God. And you know what? In the end things work out exactly the way they were meant to be without any help from me.

Change is good, change is real.
Change happens when we're willing to do the work.
On ourselves, that is.

striving to do better, everyday...