Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Paying mind to precious time...

With all that is going on in my life right now, I'm realizing the necessity of minding my time. Prioritizing any given moment. I was saying to my husband this morning that it almost scares me how quickly my little kitchen business is taking off. "Be careful what you wish for, right?" I said to him, and his reply was "that's exactly what I was thinking."

This was as I was pushing yet another batch of banana chocolate chip bread into my oven before dawn. As the banana bread aroma swirled through my house I was busy mixing up a batch of granola. The cool thing about what I'm doing is that it allows me time to think while being creative. My thoughts this morning center on the absolute importance of staying on track, organizing my time properly. An hour sidetracked for me at this point is trouble - be it for one of my book clubs, my kitchen business, or my library job.

One thing I want to be very careful of though, is to make sure that my busy-ness doesn't take me away from what's true in my life - the people that I love. My husband, kids, grandbabies, my parents, and my amazing friends. If it weren't for those people then I wouldn't be who I am. It's with their support and love that I have the gumption to do what I do. And what is it all worth if I become too busy to carve out time to be with those I love?

I remind myself constantly - it doesn't take much, it need not be a big planned out production just to get together with friends and family. Just a quick phone call to say meet me for breakfast, I'm going grocery shopping, what to come with? Let's do lunch - I have an hour. Come for dinner, it won't be anything special but I just want to be with you. That quick phone call quickly manifests into golden minutes, a precious hour or two.

I want to be so careful about this - taking time with the beautiful people I'm blessed with in life. An impromptu dinner with my folks, re-working my Friday schedule so that I can grab a precious half hour with my grandson and get him on the bus, taking an hour lunch and staying a half hour later in the work day so that I can squeeze in lunch with a friend...I don't want to lose sight of how essential these moments are. And I don't want for a second for take for granted that people will just always be there, that there will be "enough time later for that." My friend Mary taught me well there.

Call a friend and say "I love you." A cherished friend did just that last night, those words meant so much. The next time a request for your time is made, eek out a spot. I was talking with yet another friend at work yesterday about the richness of life right now, in this moment. How happy we are with the simple, yet abundant lives we're leading, despite challenges we're both dealing with. And I said to her, you know Kelly, these are the days, just like the Natalie Merchant song. Because they are. Right now. Today. As long as we have today, what more do we need?

"Kiss your life. Accept it. Just as it is. Today. Now.
So that those moments of happiness you're waiting for
don't pass you by."
p.s. In mention of the amazing people in my life, Iwant to thank my beautiful sister, my best friend always in my life. Without her i'm just a bump on a log. Thank you Cyndi - I love you.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lucky me, lucky us...

I am basking in the warmth of my kitchen, the oven giving off the last of it's heat from one more marathon baking session. The aroma of baking bread remains in the air. I couldn't resist stealing a moment to write before the second round of busy-ness takes over my day.

We're off to do the Richmond Farmers' Market this morning, only this time the fruits of my labor and love go on without me. I have to work "the real job" today - the library. My husband, my wonderful husband, is taking my place today. He has his notes - bread made from organic multi grain flour, granola sweetened with honey and fruit juice, all of that. Last night he created and printed labels for my products. This morning as the last loaves were coming out of the oven he was busy tallying up my inventory for today's market. Then, with a packed truck, the camera, a banana, a granola bar and a mug of coffee in tow, he was on his way.

My sister Cyndi (the best sister a gal could ever hope for) will meet Don up at the market. Together they'll wrap breads, arrange my granolas, set up my booth and sell the beautiful fruits of my labor. With my hands, with my heart, I put my love into what I do. And for my husband, my sister, to help me out in such a big way...well, how does one say thank you enough? Just knowing how they believe in me, in what I'm doing, the support they're giving me - there are no words to express my feelings of gratitude.

As my husband was leaving I gave him a hug and a kiss and thanked him for doing this for me. He replied by saying "Thank YOU for doing this!" And as he was backing out of the driving he added, "This is about us." What a huge statement. What a giving man. I wish I could be a mouse in his pocket today - to watch as he and my sister work together on my "wish and a dream."

My husband and I have had quite a summer together - with his unemployment we've spent more time together than ever before in our almost 32 year marriage. It's almost as if we've been reintroduced to each other after all of this time raising kids, taking care of a home, working. And each day we grow closer together, happier each day. This is the definition of a "good marriage." Over coming obstacles, weathering storms, loving without fail (especially when your at your worst), supporting and believing in each other.

I can't believe Don's doing this for me today (for us, actually). This is something that's completely out of his comfort zone. But then again, he's learned lots about himself through all of this, and has challenged himself in new ways. I think he's learned a lot about me too. He knows as I do that when the two of us work together amazing things happen (our family is proof of that!). And we both know that no matter what, we have each other. That's all we've ever needed. That's all it takes...

much love to beautiful sister and "hollywood handsome" huz...
Photo is from a date Don and I went on over the summer.
Out on Lake Michigan on a "full moon" lit night.
One more happy memory in a lifetime full of blessings.

Friday, September 4, 2009

This morning I write with a heart full of the bittersweet. I'm sitting in the sun feeling the gentle rocking of the boat. Every few moments my skin is tickled with cool droplets of water; the spray off the fishing line as my husband makes his casts onto the water. And the sun, warm, but with a cool and comforting breeze blowing by, sending me into a delirious peaceful calm on this gorgeous Friday morning.

This is the blessing. Being here, right now in this moment with my handsome husband. Hearing the birds sing-songing, the crickets buzzing, the bubbly sort of sounds of the water as it laps at the sides of our boat. My heart is overwhelmed by the honest and true blessing of this very moment. This day, which Don and I have promised to spend together. And knowing that in our lives, at any given moment, the tides can swiftly turn.

Such is the case with a family we know well of. A woman, a wondrous soul, who just a few short months ago appeared to us happy, healthy, and involved up to her ears in the life of her family. Constantly giving of herself, of her time, her resources, Mary appeared to me tireless in her efforts to be the ultimate mother, wife, whatever the situation called upon for her to be.

Mary was Team Mom for my son Nick's college lacrosse team. Her accomplishments went far beyond what I could imagine doing: coordinating team dinners, cook outs, team apparel sales,
hosting the entire team and coaching staff for meals, making sure that the boys had snack bags, restaurant meals and all creature comforts as they traveled over seven states competing in their inaugural NCAA lacrosse season. And as if that wasn't enough, she even made sure that our visiting competitors were fed as well!

Mary was the heart and soul of the team - a true Team Mom in every sense of the term. In all the years that I held the same title, I know as God's honest that I couldn't have held a candle to Mary's efforts and accomplishments. This wonderful little blue eyed, strawberry blonde lady was a giving, loving, one-woman power house.

In an email sent from her son to our son Nick, we learned in late July that Mary had been diagnosed with stage IV colon and liver cancer. I last saw her at the celebratory team dinner in May. She was the highest (and to be truthful, only) bidder for a necklace and earring set which I had made and donated to the silent auction fundraiser for the team. She seemed thrilled to have "won" my humble creations - "they're just my color!" she happily exclaimed. She put the necklace on at once and wore it throughout the afternoon.

Seeing her that day. Thanking her for all of her hard work. Leaving her with the words " me if you need help Mary. With anything. We'll be there." I would have never for an instant thought that would be the last time we would ever speak with her.

Yesterday we received word that Mary had passed away. We were stunned. Still are. And as I sit writing we are only just now receiving word of the arrangements being made to honor and remember Mary. The wake will be this evening. We'll be there, along with our son, to remember and celebrate this marvelous life - a life of love and giving, and to offer our condolences to her family. A husband. Two sons. A daughter. Seven weeks. From diagnosis to the end. Gone.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I'm a girl of simple pleasures. One who sees the blessing of a hazy moonlit night (last night. I just had to get up and watch out the window.) The blessing of the wind dancing my tangly hair into knots. Realizing the blessing of looking into the eyes of the people I meet, and reaching even further to see into their heart. For Mary, I don't want to waste a moment, miss a blessing, pass up a chance to drink in the simple abundance of a day. Feeling the breeze. The warmth of the sun. The sound of the water. Having the man I love a short and simple arm's reach away. This is true wealth. Being here. Living, loving, and giving.

God must have had a pretty important job up in the realm of His Heavens to have needed to call such a special angel. God bless you Mary. And thank you for all you have done.

Today. Don't wast a second on ill feelings, regrets, anger, hate, disappointment. Reach out. Love that husband. Kiss your kids. Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself some love. You have today. Don't let a minute of it pass you by without being grateful.
For. Just. This.

grateful for this present moment...
Later...wrote this post earlier today, but wanted to record it here just as it was written this morning. It's after dinner. Don cooked up his "nothing else can compare" fish fry for Nick and I on this, Nick's last night at home before he returns to school. Words cannot express how good it was to just come home and be together after attending Mary's wake. The visitation was held at a HUGE Catholic Church in Northbrook. The line of those waiting to pay their respects to Mary and her family formed to the back of the church and out the door - more than a hundred at least waiting their turn. It was early, there were still hundreds I'm sure yet to attend. The picture that stands out foremost in my mind is of her husband, now standing alone without his bride by his side. Another, that of her college age son, sitting in the pew, surrounded by his friends, his girlfriend at his side, her hand tightly entwined with his own. I look at my men tonight, my husband, my son. I listen to their voices, their shared conversations. And I am thanking my God that I am here with them, tonight. Not taking a minute of this blessing for granted.