Back to Not So Normal

It was a year ago or so that our world closed up, shuttered down and we all went into quarantine. We heard the term “social distancing,” many of us of for the first time. Everything was shut down and travel was non existent. All of the sudden we were trying to figure out where to get masks and toilet paper, visually measuring six feet of distance, and heaven forbid if you had allergies or even sniffled around other people.

But something else happened too. We slowed down. All of the sudden. we weren’t rushing around trying to get every child to every practice, and grabbing whatever fast food was on the way. We were forced to stay home and actually talk to our loved ones. Maybe you rediscovered cooking, or read some of those books you never had time to read. Suddenly no one was worried about traffic because no one was driving into work. We discovered Zoon, and wondered why we hadn’t heard about it before…(Does anyone Skype anymore?) And we realized what it means to have a home office…with all of the family and all that means being at home – the pets, the kids, the grocery deliveries in the middle of the Zoom meetings.

And we looked at our home To Do list…because we couldn’t go anywhere. And we needed our homes to be more than just a place to sleep and do laundry. We actually needed to LIVE in our houses, make a life and memories with our families. We had to work, grow, fix, play and relax all in the same space.

And so, as more get vaccinated and the numbers continue to go down, and businesses open back up…and life gets back to “normal,” I hope we keep the lessons we have learned: That home truly is where the heart is. That we can slow down and it won’t kill us. That we can be happy right where we are, with not much distraction. and that we should never take for granted being able to see and hug those we love.

Life is short. Let us not forget that moving forward.

The Exquisite Grief

IT hits you sometimes, and the strangest things will bring it on. And then all of the sudden, you are right there, a vessel of grief, as if time has completely stopped and you are right there again. That is what happened to me the other morning, as I poured coffee into my mother’s favorite coffee cup, like I had done hundreds of times before. Coffee was our tradition. Every time I visited, when I was ready to go, I would load up my car, then always come back inside for one last cup of coffee before left.

During that last of coffee, we would talk about all kinds of things – hopes, dreams, plans, thoughts, the drive, remembering to call when I got home. There was lots of laughter and advice, and just good old fashioned conversations.

And when I poured that cup of coffee the other morning, I was suddenly acutely aware of how much I missed those coffee conversations with my Mother, and how much I missed her, even after almost 5 years. And I cried, right there over and into her coffee cup.

And the moment was exquisite in its grief, because you can only miss that which you loved.

Seven Dimensions of Happiness

It is well documented that there are seven dimensions of wellness that are needed for a deep sense of peace and happiness. For the first time in my life, all of these dimensions are in line. The interdependence of topics, tasks and territory are not over lapping but are instead in unison. Certainly things are not perfect, but they are beautifully recording the fruition of many years of hard labor, hopes, wishes, smiles and dreams. Indeed there have been mountains of sweat equity, oceans of tears and more prayers than can possibly be counted, to make these seven areas serenade my heart with the opera of my life.

Physical: Getting back into shape, exercising regularly and eating healthy has improved my energy levels and cognitive abilities. So has getting enough sleep, though and having plenty of coffee in the morning (because I am still not a morning person). I am lucky to have not had the virus that I am aware of, and have been healthy through this past year. Now time for all of my checkups, there are many appointments being made.

Emotional: Done with grief and all of it’s trappings, I see the sunshine and appreciate every single day. I am meditating and making sure that my emotional health is a priority. Taking care of the garden and creating a warm living space is also paramount to my emotional well being. Nothing teaches you the importance of taking care of yourself like years of self neglect.

Intellectual: I have people around me who are smarter than I and it is simultaneously incredible and staggering. Because that means I am always learning. There is something to be said about not trying to impress anyone, but rather wanting to soak up everything like a sponge.

Social: Yes, even in the time of social distancing I have been extremely lucky to have a great social network. Though traveling to see friends and family in Georgia has not happened, we talk, text and chat often. That and finding a group of wonderful people here I am blessed to call friends has made all the difference. The local pub, my favorite place for ribs and margaritas, friends that have come for a visit and others who are plannig trips make me smile.

Spiritual: Taking the spiritual journey and converting has been an incredibly fulfilling decision that is feeding my soul in ways that I didn’t even know I craved. Learning the correct history and reading the teachings as an adult brings a new level and depth of understanding. This Friday will be a new first as will a set date in May.

Environmental: My home/life/relationship environment is extremely loving and supportive. I am loved, respected and valued every single day. This has not always been the case. Many times in life we have to fight to prove our worth to others. Never again will I do that or allow myself to wallow in the distrust of others.

Occupational: I love my career and am so blessed to be able to do what I love for a living. I temember being told that I was a writer when I was 13. I didn’t beleive it and thought the person was crazy. No, they were right, even if it took me a little while to figure it out. Now, every day I am paid to write. Every day I am paid to do what I love.

Life is short. And in the interim, I am looking forward to this Spring, this summer and everything it has to offer. The garden, the fruits, the flowers, the love, the trying and yes, even the hard work. because it takes hard work to get here. and it takes making a decision every day to love your life and truly do the best that you can. Life is good and I am happy, from the deepest parts of me all the way to my eyelashes. That someday that I dreamed of being happy and fulfilled is here.

Happiness of Little Wonders in Small Hours

I remember many years ago, in the summer of 2001, my Mom and my sister were arguing over which would go better for me that year – my personal or my professional life? Because very rarely are the two going great at the same time. Now for the first time in many years, all facets of my life are in tune. Not only in tune, but singing in glorious harmony and going great. My personal life is wonderful. and my professional life is great and challenging. Both are going well at the same time. And yet it is so much more than that.

It is well documented that there are seven dimensions of wellness that are needed for a deep sense of peace and happiness. For the first time in my life, all of these dimensions are in line. I have worked for many years, wading through the mud and muck of life to get here. To have my life in harmony with all of it’s many moving parts. It almost seems like a dream when I think of the path traveled to get here. Did I really go through all of that? Wow. and now there is Peace and happiness.

But how do we keep this state of balance? There have been many books written about this topic. Some say it is living with intention (that is one of the things that got me to this wonderful place). Others say it is hard work, others say prayer, and still others say setting goals. I don’t think that it is a one size fits all solution. I think there are many factors. Certainly all of those are important, as I have also done them and believe that they have set the foundation. But how to put all of that together to make that peace come to fruition? What is that one, magic ingredient that brings it all together?

I don’t know what works for most, but for me I think the key is shifting my tendency from big chunks to smaller tasks. I tend to only do things in big chunks, the “go big or go home” part of me that wants to sit down and do a task in one swoop. The older I get the more I learn that life doesn’t work that way. You can do things little by little. If you have 20 minutes here, 5 minutes there, even an hour in between, you can work on tasks. Even if you don’t complete them, you have made some headway.

You don’t have to read a book all in one day, you can read 10 minutes at a time. Soon, you have finished a chapter, then eventually the book. You can fold a little bit of laundry in the 20 minutes between meetings. Or you can empty the dishwasher in the few minutes of waiting for the coffee to brew. You don’t have to block off 2 hours for a workout….you can do some crunches during one break, then some planks or squats on another. Whatever it is that I have to accomplish, if I knock out small pieces at a time, over time the goal will be accomplished. But that takes patience which is hard for me, so it is something I must work constantly keep in mind.

Life is short and is made of those small times, the minutes in between our work and our dreams. You have the power to make them ordinary or to make them little wonders. Build what you want your life to be and the great thing is that you don’t have to do it all at once. Small moments, like pebbles, can build a mountain over time. So make them count, because your life becomes that with which you fill those moments.

16 Seasons

Four years, 16 seasons., 48 months, 1,460 days; that’s how long you have been gone Dad. It’s hard top believe that it has been that long since I held your hand, heard your voice, or looked at your face.

If seems like many lifetimes have happened since then, but I know you and Mom are with me, watching over me. My rational mind knows that, but my heart still misses having you physically here. I miss hugging you, hearing your voice, seeing your face, hearing you laugh and seeing that smile. I miss going fishing with you. We didn’t go very often, but I loved when we did. I loved how you laughed at me when I tried to cast the line.

I love where I am and am happy. I wish you were around to see it, to see this life I have built for myself. I wish you could see how happy I am now. But then, I am glad you are not here for something things. I think Covid would have scared both you and Mom. But I think you would love where I am in Texas. You would love the house, the neighbors and especially the food – particularly the Bar-B-Q.

There are still so many questions I would love to ask you, so many conversations. SP many hugs and sharing boiled peanuts. I miss being called PJ, and Chief-Beer-Fetcher-in-Charge. I miss giving you socks.

But as much as I miss you, and I do with my whole heart, I am OK and Happy. You were the best father in the entire world, and I am so extremely thankful that you were my Dad, and that we did get to spend those last 7.5 months together. It was my honor and my privilege. You and Mpm, gave me so much and suppported me no matter what, which is something I could never repay. But taking care of you was someting I could do to show how much I loved and valued you.

I know that you were at peace, and I know Mom was right there with you to take you over. And I know that the two of you are having a great time in Heaven, talking, doing, sharing and love. And laughing at me, your silly girl, down here.

I love you always, and miss you forever. Give Mom a hug for me. Please visit me in my dreams.