Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed..."

What a gorgeous morning. Birds singing me through the yard as I wander from garden to garden. Giving the raised veggie beds, flower pots and squash plots along the front walk a hearty drench. Even the skeeters left me alone this morning. Well, sort of. Let's say I managed to get through my watering routine with a little less hassle than what's been the norm most mornings so far.
My heart's a bit lighter this morning too. All the worry over my daughter's health is ebbing now, blessedly. She's on the mend which has my whole family breathing a bit easier these days. With the relief which washes over me I can't help but think of how grateful I am that her condition was something that could be fixed. Not cancer, not a life sentence, but a heart defect which with the aid of a surgeon's gifted hands was fixed in a matter of an hour. Whew...what a blessing! Of course there's recuperation time involved here, but not much more than that.

And oh, how incredibly grateful my family is for the outpouring of support from friends. Since this whole episode began four weeks ago tomorrow my daughter's family has been well fed thanks to the love and support of friends. Her friends, my friends; amazing women who stepped right in when the going was tough. And the meals are still coming as she grows stronger each day. Just as Stephanie and a friend were saying goodbye after a visit near dinner time last night a car pulled up in front of her house. The driver rolled down her window and yelled, "Are you Stephanie? I've got dinner for you tonight!" It was my friend Jan. Steph gave a little laugh and said to her friend, "This happens a lot around here lately."

So today I'm happy to have my life back to near normal. This morning I welcomed waking up slowly while catching a whiff of coffee brewing down in the kitchen. Putting together breakfast and lunch for my husband, my son and I. Classical music pouring through my kitchen along with the sounds of the birds coming in through the window. Pouring another hot mug of coffee and heading out to the garden, stealing some time in my backyard paradise before I head to work.

And being back at work, a job I love so much. Thanking my lucky stars that I get paid to spend my days in a library. "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Cicero said it a gazillion years ago. I quite agree, and am feeling so utterly grateful for having that and oh so much more. The normal everyday stuff which makes my life complete.

Wishing you a perfectly wonderful Tuesday.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

momentous occasions...

28 years ago today i gave birth to a beautiful child. i call her my "long, brown child." my daughter, lindsey dyan. the huz and i just returned from celebrating with her. she's playing in a pick up, fun volleyball league at a local place where they have some pretty sweet outdoor sand courts, complete with those cheezy light up fake palm trees.

her friends were there. high school friends. this was the child that hung around with the notorious "wrong kind." funny though...as it turns out these kids have made mighty fine lives for themselves, our amazing daughter included. and they all stick together. are there for each other, no matter the what or why.

wonderful too is the way these kids embrace my husband and i. parents who stayed together, stuck it out. provided a firm foundation during the turbulent times our daughter weathered. we love these kids, and i'm pretty darn sure they love us too. i can tell.

on the way home my husband and i, as we usually do, count our blessings for how close we are to our children and how close they are to us. we recognized too how our maker knew exactly what he was doing when he brought us together. we're parents, don and i. that's what we were made for, what we're cut out to do. we know that about each other just as much as we know it about ourselves. i know beyond a shadow of a doubt that one day it just so happened that HE said "you, my child, are a mother" and so it was.

and so it is. because it's a work night, we left before our son arrived to celebrate with his sister. we left, along with our daughter stephanie and our son-in-law matt. headed home for a before 10 lights out. or as close as we could make it. (and it's funny...a little earlier, my son in law matt-steph's huz- made sure to order a wine for me and when the waitress asked "and who is this for?" he answered "my mom." frickin million dollar words, no?)

and now i know that right about now our son nick is arriving there to celebrate his sister's birthday, after working about a 14 hour day, no lie. the kid's a workhorse, just like his dad. and he's with lindsey, along with her friends, and her wonderful husband who we love, along with our other matt (as this one's a matt too, both matthew patricks - isn't that a hoot?).

a very close family. a family that has withstood the test of time. a marriage, the huz and i, that has weathered the most severe of storms. and we celebrate because through it all we have rested on the deep and true abiding love we have for each other. a true marriage. a family. in the purest, most honest sense of the word.

i don't care about much else in the world except this, my family. my husband, our children and the families that they've created. life's pure riches. tonight, on the ride home with my husband, the wind blowing wild my hair through the windows of our pickup, i gazed upon the fire flies glowing in the fields. like candles lit in church. only not seeking answers to prayers, but lit in gratitude for abundant blessings. before walking in the house i gazed up at the sky, the beautiful perfect moonlit sky, took a deep breath and exhaled a deep sense of gratitude. i know i write about that a lot, gratitude. but i am. grateful. for my life. for all the challenges we currently face. and knowing that with the love that surrounds me, i can make it through. with the love of my children and the wonderful man i share my life with. sometimes it's just all so big, you know?

summer night's air blowing through the window
touching my face in velvet whispers
and me, feeling mighty fine.
p.s. nans, i miss you like hell. miss my best friend, dammit!

Friday, June 11, 2010

quoting john keats...

"i scarcely remember counting upon happiness -
i look not for it if it be not in the present hour -
nothing startles me beyond the moment.
the setting sun will always set me to rights -
or if a sparrow come before my window
i will take part in its existence..."

feeling mighty passionate about life, the upside down and right side up of it. and blessed. looking forward to a really good weekend. tomorrow morning i'll meet with my new earth book club gals - truly the most amazing women i know - all of them. the afternoon brings celebration - my niece caity's high school gradutation and all the excitement of her impending college plans.

gathered together with supportive and god's honest true friends. a felicitous family celebration. good food. simply the best conversations, all around. quality time, quantified. perfect recipe for a satisfying weekend. a fine break from life's nine to five.

living in the now
and in the knowing
that now is the best place to be...

wishing you your favorite kind of weekend.
p.s. photo...sunset on the sonoran dessert in arizona on my last evening there
trying to keep hold of that sedona state of mind:)
its a good place to be

Thursday, June 10, 2010

jeepers...six days since i've checked in.
so many "blog thoughts" running through my mind;
reasons to write, to reflect.
running on empty but trying not to pay attention.
scared but trying not to let it show.
juggling everything in life as best i can,
and knowing that although it may look good from the outside
one false move or unexpected quick turn
and my house of cards will tumble into a heap.
but trusting, leaning on faith.
"pray" being my answer to those asking how they can help.
believing that this strange and kind of scary story
will have a happy ending.
and i do believe that.
in the sound of my daughter's laughter,
her unique sense of humor through all of this,
watching her kiss her children,
seeing how she holds them...
i just know it will all be okay.
that's what faith does
revealing rays of sunshine on the far side of a cloudy sky
in the warm hug of a friend
the sweet child scents as i kiss my grandbabies on their heads
the feeling in my heart that god is in control.
so much in life is beyond our control,
that's the hardest part i think.
but what i can control,
how i react,
that power rests inside me.
i choose peace. i choose to trust.
i'm so happy, thankful and feeling very blessed
for how everything is at this very moment.
and knowing my family rests surely
in the palm of his hand.
blessings abound...

Friday, June 4, 2010

brave girl? indeed...

each day i receive "daily truth" messages from the brave girls' club. messages to uplife, inspire, motivate...all that. call it coincidence, kismet, whatever, but these messages always seem to contain just the right words at just the right time.

today too, at just the right time. i stood in the shower this morning, water pouring over me, hot, hotter, hotter even yet, trying to file away the stress i've been carrying over these past few weeks. as i stood there in steamy meditation i contemplated the worries fogging up my mind. i thought about how people my age are often described as being the "sandwich generation." right now i feel less like the filling of a sandwich and more an object caught in the grip of a vice.

i wrapped my arms around my head, cradling my addled mind and let the hot water pour over me. reminding myself once more, "you'll get through this. keep it in perspective. you are strong and things will be okay." recognized as well that i too have a breaking point and that it's important to set boundaries for myself. boundaries that keep me healthy and sane.

eventually i had to shut the water off and leave the sanctity of my shower stall. face the day and everything that comes with it. move forward with faith that everything will be okay. remind myself to "let go and let god." when i popped open my work email the following message was waiting for me. again, perfect words at just the right time. so perfect that i wanted to share them with you...

Dear Sunshiny Girl,

You are so much stronger than you think you are. You are so much smarter than you think you are. You are SO MUCH more beautiful than you think you are. You are absolutely, positively more courageous than you ever could have dreamed you are.And...even when you don't feel like you can go one more step.....something miraculous always happens to make sure that you do....making you even more incredible than you knew you were. And...every day, you learn more, you love more, you find more reasons to be grateful...

Don't let those little doubts hold you back any longer...and please don't even LISTEN to the big doubts. Move forward with peace, happiness and assurance....everything really IS on your side as soon as you decide to hold hands with it.xo

good words for me this morning. perhaps for you too. i'm going to plan on having a darn good weekend. tomorrow morning the grandbabies have soccer and flag football games. there's lots of fun to be had in that - watching three year olds play soccer and five year olds play football. then we'll attend a welcome home party for our friends' son who has just returned from a second tour of duty in iraq. life is really good. hot showers, wise words, good friends and the sound of children playing.

happy friday, happy weekend

p.s. to learn more about the brave girls club visit http://www.bravegirlsclub.com/
attending a brave girls camp is definitely in my future plans
my friend melissa found brave girls first and shared it with me
p.s.s. go chicago blackhawks - beat those flyers!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

comfort squared...

don’t groan, but i really like making dinner after working all day. my kitchen is my refuge. my safe harbor and solace. my ridiculously happy place. granted i like my job fine enough, but when i walk out the door at quitting time, breathing in freedom along with the sticky hot fresh air wafting up from the parking lot, i’m home free. seven minutes, door to door, and i’m back in my element.

after a quick switch from work clothes to play clothes, i fasten on an apron (i really do. i love ‘em!) and settle into my kitchen to create. after splashing a little red wine into a glass, i plug in the latest audio book i fancy and get to work. good work. fun work. if i could, i’d do this for a living. but alas, i cook for my huz, who is always mucho appreciative of my creations. perish the thought of marrying a fuss budget fella who’d screw up his face in distaste at trying new things. not my guy – he’s always game for whatever i make. lucky me, for a million and one reasons, but that’s a big one.

last night i made a dish out of one of my new favorite cookbooks. yes, i still buy them, despite the fact that i have a virtual cookbook with a simple google. i thought for a moment about fancying up leftovers in an attempt to clear out the fridge. but no, not tonight. i had looked forward to making and eating this dish all day. had talked about it, as a matter of fact, with my co-workers before leaving the library.

the dish? baked cheesy farro out of “giada at home,” a new cookbook by that diva giada de laurentiis. yum. oh wow, yum. comfort food at it’s comfiest. who cares that it was hot and humid outside? comfort food defies all seasons, as far as i’m concerned. and while i chopped, sauteed and stirred, i listened to the final cd in the audio version of the latest book by sandra dallas, “prayers for sale.”

what a sweet story. lots of stories, in fact, and good stories too – all wrapped up in a first rate novel. the story tells of unlikely friendships, loyalty, hardships, forgiveness and redemption, along with a fair dose of humor. it’s stories like this that just keep me reaching for another recipe, thinking what else can i make?

stories do that to me. and mixed with the art of working with my hands in my kitchen, well...that pretty much sums up heaven to me. pour a good glass of wine, push “play,” roll up the sleeves and dig right in. and the tasting? yum. seriously, that recipe goes on my list of favorites. it was bliss.

my strength isn’t photography, so i don’t have any fancy pictures of the fruits of my labor. but rest assured, it was pretty...pretty delicious. i highly recommend combining audio books with kitchen work. for those of you who aren't as enamored with cooking as i am, it might just make the work just that much more enjoyable for you.

i’m on to a new story now – “the forgotten garden” by kate morten. it’s a good one too. along with a new chicken recipe for dinner (another giada) i’ll also be whipping up some gingersnaps. that recipe comes from another one of my new favorites which i’ll fill you in on another time.

to good food and stories
and the simple things in life...


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"things do not change; we change..."

i'm taking advantage of a rare opportunity today. my mind wanders to "the blog" frequently throughout the day and i think to myself, yeah...i need to write about that. or, wow...that would make a good subject for a post. random thoughts and bright ideas that most often never find their way here.

but today i'm in sort of a melancholy frame of mind. achy (and i don't know why), moody (probably 'cuz i'm achy), too lazy for the gym (which is most likely the culprit for the aches and moody disposition). gazing out over my garden this morning, and while swatting swarms of relentless mosquitoes out for an early bite, i was moved by my feelings and thought wow! good idea for a post! and i have the benefit of another hour before i have to get ready for work.

what's heavy on my mind this morning is a disappointment. disappointment in myself that i always seem to be "starting over." starting fresh. the old "today is a new day and i'm going to keep my promises i made to myself" mantra. i asked myself, how many more times in your life are you going to start over? how many more times are you going to make promises to yourself, only to break them and suffer disappointment in yourself? aren't you stronger than that? if you can't keep promises to yourself, then what? if i can't be true to me, then can i really be true to anyone?

heavy stuff, i know. and i also know we all go through this, times like these. i'm tired though, tired of wanting to live my life better, healthier, more authentic to who i truly am, only to end up back at the starting line after a good stretch - a few days, weeks, maybe a month or two. i so long to be true to my words - words which are promises i make to myself. words spoken to my mind from my heart about who i am and how to honor that.

seems to me that today is a good place to start, once again. it's june the first. the sun's coming up. the air smells glorious...cool, summery, heavy with a mixed scent of dew and yesterday's rain. everything i'll ever need to make the changes in my life that i so long for is already right inside me. i don't want to keep repeating the same promises. i'm dog-tired of wishing for a life which i know for sure lies completely within my reach.

if only i believe in myself. believe enough to trust that i can do and be everything that my heart longs for me to be. to trust that i'm strong enough to overcome and surpass whatever might block my path. the path that leads to who i really am. deep inside i know...i'm far stronger than anything which might keep me from becoming that which my heart desires.

there now...the day feels better already. because i wrote. because i recognized promises i've made to myself which i haven't kept. because i shared that disappointment here. i know you've felt the same way many times too. i say let's make this real, today. take the first step in being all that you are meant to be. the you that is dictated by your heart, not by what's expected of you.

happy tuesday...
make it yours.

quotation - henry david thoreau
photo taken on an "artist's date"
i did that a few times last summer
just me and the camera
one more thing to add to the list:)