No Place Like Home

Although I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with extended family over the weekend, I am happy to be home. After arriving home from my grandfather’s memorial, we celebrated my mother’s birthday with immediate family. Now I am composing this post on the 45-minute drive home.

I look forward to my dog bombarding me as I walk through the front door, much like Dino did Fred. I look forward to seeing my teenage son who could not make it to dinner. I am also looking forward to snuggling up with hubby in own bed. It’s good to be back in my own familiar environment. As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”

Bonding Experience

20140411-171305.jpg

My youngest son is really into British culture, especially fashion. He has looked for a hat like this one for months. We found a similar one a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t what he really wanted and was a bit small.

Since my grandfather’s passing earlier this week, my grandmother has been cleaning out his personal belongings. Today, as the family was going through my grandfather’s hats, I found this. It is exactly what my son wanted and the bonus is that it belonged to his great-grandfather.

It was sweet looking through my grandfather’s things and sharing stories with family members, many of which I haven’t seen in more than 40 years. I saw old census records, my mother’s History report card from her junior year in high school, and several old photos.

As much as this is a sad occasion, it is also a bonding experience. I already feel closer to a family I barely knew.

Bent Time

I have been reading a book that explores, among other things, the concept of time.  Incidentally, I am also preparing to embark on a journey that I know will distort time.  My mother and I will be traveling to Colorado to attend her father’s memorial service.

Something I have noticed is that death seems to slow time for those who suffer loss.  Maybe it’s because we become more aware in the days following the death of a loved one, and maybe it’s because we simply slow down.  Either way, I have noticed that the time immediately following a loss or tragedy seems to become a precious capsule to be cherished.

I remember the time surrounding a life threatening surgery my Dad underwent several years ago.  The trip to Florida, the night preceding the surgery, and the moments just before he was wheeled into surgery (in particular) are etched into my brain.  The weeks, days, and months just before my father’s death are even more clear in my mind. And I suspect this weekend will become burned into my memory just as clearly.

I was not close to my grandfather, but my relationship with my mother will make this weekend one of those time-bent weekends.  We will be spending hours in airports and on an airplane together.  Then we will spend a weekend focused on the life and death of the primary man in my mother’s life.  Time will slow and, at times, stand still.

I know these moments frozen in time will become a pat of our life stories.  So I am ready.  I am ready to take in the stories, feel the agony of loss and the joy of reminiscence, and enjoy the time with my mother.  And I am grateful that time bends to make these times stand out in our memories.

Mutual Benefit Plus

I mentioned earlier this week, that I was hiring someone to help me with some clearing.  Well today she started working on my son’s room.  Ironically, the person that was helping me was someone I had met a few years ago and only today did I remember it.  When I became reacquainted with this woman a few weeks ago, I kept saying that I knew her from somewhere but couldn’t place where.  She was a teacher, but I knew we had never taught together, so I kept searching my memory banks but to no avail.

Today, I realized that I had been to her home for a Buddhist gathering with a mutual friend.  It was such a relief to have finally solved the mystery and then I was able to enjoy getting to know her better.  She shared her knowledge of Buddhism.  I told her about my seeking.  We talked about teaching and tutoring.  And we cleared my son’s space.

It was fun to have someone nearly twenty years my senior, singing Elvis tunes, enthusiastically cleaning out a closet.  She helped not only get a room in order, but she lifted my spirits as well.  I love the way it feels when a transaction produces mutual benefit, like paying someone to do a job I cannot do.  But I love it even more when I connect with another person and both of our lives are enriched in a variety of ways.

The Help

The primary focus of my blog is support.  The support we get from others is what makes navigating our paths easier, if not more enjoyable.  Today I want to acknowledge some of the help I’ve had this week as I travel my path.  I am grateful that these people have helped me this week.  By no means is this an all-inclusive list.  It is simply a representation of how blessed I am.

To Karen, thank you for helping me get more connected with my spiritual community.  To Laura, thank you for sharing your trials and triumphs with me, as well as breakfast.  To Kimberly, thank you for sharing your daughter with us, and for taking the time to find out we have so much in common.  To Laurie, thank you for your gift of music and your smiling face (and for helping me find what I needed a couple of weeks ago).  To Antoinette, thank you for helping me find a piano teacher for Taylor.  To Bailey, thank you for putting together my raised bed and planting my veggies.  To Colette, thank you for helping me rephrase my self talk.  To John, thank you for helping me find my inner warrior again.  To Todd, thank you for lifting me up in prayer daily.  To Aunt Andrea, thank you for your love… you’ll never know how much I admire you.  To Kelly, thank you for your endless love and support… without you, life would be much harder and much less fun.

Today I encourage you to express gratitude for the help in your life.  Express it to them, and express it here if you like.

Finding Dimes

finiding dimes

I have to preface this post by saying that I had drafted a post prior that was about writing “fluff” for the sake of keeping my writing agreement.  I wasn’t judging myself, but I was committing to writing the posts that had been lurking in my head but I had not taken the time to write.  Ironically, I lost the draft in cyberspace.  I have never had that happen.  It literally disappeared.  So instead of trying to recreate that post, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and get one of the defining moments of my life out of my head and out into the blogosphere.

People that know me know I tend to be a bit “airy fairy.”  (If you are intuitive, a healer, or have some other spiritual gift, please don’t think I am being flippant.  I believe the reason Angels can fly is because they take things lightly… including themselves.)  I am always looking for signs and symbols.  I consult my dream book on a regular basis.  And I have had lots of uncanny experiences.  I have no problem with the the notion that I have these because I am looking for them.  I do believe that perception is reality.

A few months after my dad passed away, I began finding dimes.  It struck me as odd because I began to realize it was always dimes, not quarters or pennies, not other objects, but dimes specifically.  I found them everywhere and often.  The first few times, I thought little of it.  After a few weeks, I began to think about this oddity more and more.  I had never heard of anyone else having this experience, but it had become so pronounced that I began to talk about it to other people.  Finally, my teenage son decide he would “Google it.”

Knowing my son, I don’t think he really expected to find anything.  I think he was doing it more for comic relief because he was sick of me telling him where I found my latest dime.  I was blown away when I read all the accounts of people who had begun finding dimes after losing a loved one.  Much of what I read held that finding dimes in random places were signs from a loved one that had passed.  Some think the message is specific, other think it can be very individualized.  Now before I lose you, hear me out on this.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe this or if you think it is utter nonsense.  When I read the internet articles on the subject I gained something very valuable.

I chose, after reading extensively on the subject, to view these dimes as a message from my father.  This message was one of love and comfort.  My dad had a way of letting me know things were going to be all right, especially when it seemed as though things were hopeless.  Notice I said, “chose.”

Whether the fact that the dime is the thinnest coin, with the smallest diameter, thus easily lost, or whether it is an instrument of communication used by those from the great beyond is irrelevant.  For me, the end result is the same.  When I find a dime in the washing machine, on our lawn, under the seat of my car, or at the bottom of a swimming pool, I heed the message.  It doesn’t matter whether this message is from the great beyond or from my own memory banks.  “Dad loves me, and it’s going to be all right” comes across loud and clear.

I didn’t do it initially, but now when I find a dime, I keep it.  I had a pile of them on the nightstand beside my bed.  Now they are on the top of my dresser beside some flowers from my father’s memorial service.  They serve as a daily reminder that I am loved and that everything will be all right.

Do you have any signs or reminders for yourself?

Hoping Spring Has Finally Sprung

Although we have certainly had warmer days already this year, I heard something tonight that was music to my ears.  As my son and I got out of the car, I heard frogs singing from the nearby creek.  We stood outside and just listened for a few moments.  I am hoping spring has finally sprung.   

Turnaround Tuesday

This morning was difficult.  I had lots of fatigue, pain, and stiffness.  I got out of bed at 6:00 am, and made my way to the couch where I slept another 4 hours.  When I did get up, I didn’t feel like doing anything.  I made myself go to the YMCA, where I got into the whirlpool and sauna.  This coupled with the fact that it was sunny and warm (79 degrees) really helped my spirits (and body).  We also had dinner delivered by the angel that has been cooking for us on Tuesdays.  Now it is evening and I am feeling much better… and grateful for all the things that have turned my day from a rough one to a pleasant one.

Snow Day

Being a teacher, I always looked forward to snow days because it was an unexpected day to catch up, get some things done around the house, or just wake up when my body was rested instead of when the alarm clock gave the command.  (I especially loved those snow days when the meteorologists’ predictions were wrong, or when the weather was cleared up by lunch time.)  As a mother, the best thing about a snow day is having an unexpected day with my kids.

Placid

Recovering from trauma is a process, with it ups and downs… three steps forward, two steps back… and can be unpredictable.

Yesterday was a pretty good day until, on my way home from a trip to the store, a bus pulled up right behind us at a red light.  I thought I had overcome all of my anxiety surrounding buses.  Evidently, I have more work to do.

After having been hit by a school bus while walking to my car in November, I worked with a cognitive behaviorist who recommended exposure therapy.  Right after my accident, the hair on my neck stood on end every time heard a school bus drive by my house.  This was particularly difficult as three buses pick up children in the morning and the same three drop off children in the afternoon.

My therapist suggested I overcome my fear of the bus by gradually getting closer to it until I could tolerate the fleeting feeling of anxiety that always came with hearing it.  After standing at the front door with my walker when the bus came by in the mornings, I eventually had my husband take me outside in my wheelchair when the bus dropped off my son in the afternoon.  This strategy enabled me to pass buses on the road with no physiological symptoms… until yesterday.

When I realized there was a bus behind our car, I felt a bit queasy.  Then I heard its brakes and almost immediately developed an excruciating headache.  By the time we got home, I felt physically sick and cried intermittently for the next 30 minutes.  I felt completely drained and remained on the couch for the next several hours.

Having participated in a trauma survivors’ class and individual therapy, I knew that I needed to talk about what I was experiencing.  I talked to my husband and gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling.  I forgave myself for having what I saw as a setback.  Although I was emotionally exhausted, I was feeling better before I went to bed.

I slept late this morning, and woke up feeling calm.  In fact, I had the thought that I felt unusually peaceful.  Like a still lake, I felt emotionally placid.  The day was peaceful and quiet, with no surprises.  Once again, I am grateful for a good day and the fact that there are increasingly more good ones than challenging ones.