perspective

Timing

I am finding myself reflecting a lot about time lately. What do I do with my time? Who do I spend time with? What do I need to spend time on? What do I not need to spend time on?

Oddly enough I ran into a very special person at the gym this morning. I hadn’t seen her in a while. Pre-corona to be exact. So four months or so. Not forever but a long time these days. I hadn’t noticed she dropped off social media and our schedules hadn’t overlapped. How did I miss something so obvious? Maybe I let negative time get in my way.

What a pleasant surprise to see her. Then the notion of time surfaced and how she avoids social media due to its impact on her mental state. She stated she got more done not worrying about who looks at what or who says what online. That got me thinking again about time.

Time is precious. How you use it. Who you spend it with. How valuable time matters. Your time matters. My time matters. My time belongs to me not others. I get to choose how I spend my time.

I can do something or nothing. I can be in the sunshine or the darkness. It doesn’t really matter as long as I’m happy with my time investment. Are you content where your time is spent?

As I wrap up this rant on time, I will say I often have to reflect in order to take back what time is mine. Sometimes I allow others to use my time for their benefit. When I do this most take advantage. I have to be aware of my time and it’s value to me because at the end of the day nobody donates time to me.

Does anyone steal your time? How much time do you spend on social media? Is it a need? Is it a want? Can you do without? Time is precious. Spend it wisely.

friendship

Riding Free

This weekend I went for a bike ride. A different kind of bike ride than I normally post about.

The bike is still red but it’s a Motorcycle vs a self-propelled bike. An Indian bike to be specific. I got the chance to ride with a couple of pals and we left early before the heat of the sun was upon us. A quick breakfast at a local spot before we hit the road.

We headed straight for the mountains. I was a passenger so I was in the observation seat. The seat that allows you to take in all the sights, sounds and smells. Care free for the most part. Sometimes it’s nice to just be a passenger. A mindless passenger with no role aside from hold on!

I was specific on the type of ride I was willing to go on. A smooth ride, not a windy switchback ride. That meant we took a scenic route. It was pleasant.

Smelled a lot of fresh cut grass, some cow poop, some yummy baked goods and a little bbq. Got to see some rolling hills, pretty pastures, old and new barns, donkeys, ponies, horses, cows, chickens and a few dogs.

I waved to many people sitting on their porches and gave the side wave to many motorcycles as we passed. I heard lots of birds chirping, a few sirens, a couple of horns and as we passed through a town I heard people.

The sound of people was far less in this tourist town than usual. Maybe only 25% of the normal seasonal volume. It was a bit eerie. The sounds were also muffled as many wore masks. One notable sight was the tubing bus that passed us to head to the river. It was full of people but each and every one had masks on. Talk about a new normal. Below is a quick text break photo op. Got to make sure our connections know all is good when on the road.

By the time the tubers escaped the bus the masks were gone but for that bus ride they were mandatory. It was also noticeable that the parking lot for this normally full tubing place was desolate. I saw one bus load vs. the 10 that would normally pass. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people were struggling in this small town financially due to the pandemic and loss of tourist revenue.

We took a rest at the little town. It was getting hot so we got some water and a snack of beef jerky. I normally like to go into the jerky stores to sample the different flavors to try something new. Not this time. No samples! Thanks again covid. however, I was happy to buy some mystery jerky and support a small business in the area.

As I rode free, I took in the sites, the sounds, the smells and the new normal. Masks and all. I had a great time but it was different sitting in the observation seat this time. I just got to see the new normal from a different lens. This gave me a new perspective.

Safety first with helmets but no masks for these girls on this ride. We had a ton of fun which means we will probably have more bike adventures. Watch out for biker babe stories coming in the future.

Who knows what town we might ride into next……

 

family

A Cast From the Past

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Sometimes you run across a piece of paper that stops you in your tracks.

I was going through some boxes of old family “stuff” when I found a large old brown envelope of sympathy cards.  After sifting through several of them, I realized they were cards sent to my maternal grandmother when my grandfather, her husband, passed away.

Holding those cards transported me back to when I was about 6 or 7 years old.  He was the first person that I can remember dying.   I recall I had a solo singing Jingle Bell Rock in my school first grade Christmas program. I wore a green dress with candy canes on the bib and a white blouse with a scalloped collar.  I remember my mother wasn’t there to see me sing.  At that age, I couldn’t really understand what was happening.  Why my mom sat slumped over on the bed, her back to me, sobbing.

All I knew was my mother wasn’t there to see me sing.

Flipping through the cards now. So many beautiful cards, most simply finished with a signature. Names I didn’t know. People who loved and remembered.

Then, a different kind of card.  No lilies or angels or cursive sympathies.  Flat. Engraved with black letters. Someone had given a book to a library as a way to honor my grandfather’s death.  And it was a book about fishing.

It was a full circle moment for a couple of reasons.  First, I am a librarian.  So a book memorial has special meaning for me.  And then, my daughter, Dianne, who bears the name of my mother, loves fishing.  So knowing there is a book out there, in a library somewhere, all about fishing, to honor my granddad felt both sublime and bittersweet.

Finding that card was like a cord running through generations. A moment of connection with a long distant past. I had no idea my grandfather loved fishing, even though he lived a stone’s throw from Lake Chautauqua.  It was a smile down from a man lost decades ago as well as his daughter, to me and my own daughter who shares her name.

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family

Loss

Today was a hard day. I had to bury my dad.

His passing during the pandemic did not make saying goodbye easy. In actuality it was far more complicated than I could have imagined.

The delays started with scheduling. Only one funeral a day impacted how many days after death the funeral would actually take place. This was the first oddity.

I am choosing to write about this only because many will never know or experience how the pandemic impacted saying good-bye for me and my mom. Life offers perspective from many viewpoints. For me I thought this was an interesting perspective to share.

There was no wake. No time for folks to come and pay final respects. There was only a small window of time the day of burial for a selected handful of people to pay respects. This alone makes mourning the loss hard. So many didn’t get to see him off as we might have envisioned.

Some couldn’t come because of fear of germs. Some chose not to attend because of riots. Some were not able to attend because of their sheer age and restrictions in the area. This made my mom very sad.

No hugs for loved ones. No special memories shared. And how could I forget those who could come had to wear masks and keep their distance when all everyone really wants to do is give a hug to show your love and support for the loss suffered.

One vivid memory I have of the day was when my cousin stood about 15 feet away, fully masked saying “I’m going stay over here just in case you have corona.” Who wants to feel like they have a disease when burying their spouse. So bizarre but this is how today is.

Despite all of the above, the send off was as beautiful as it could be with current environmental conditions. As we forge ahead in our grieving process we will hold on to the memories made over time. There were many. Choosing to focus on what we had vs. what we lost is how we choose to move ahead.

I will immerse myself in a project to honor my dad. I will find a way to carry his spirit in all I do. I will find a way to let my children know of the values he gave to me.

I hope this funeral perspective let’s you think of how others may have been impacted by loss during corona above and beyond the loss of privilege of toilet paper.

family, inspire

My Farm Girl

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When I was young, I wandered through all kinds of interests, career possibilities, and whims.  After I gave up my dream of delivering the mail, I considered becoming a meteorologist.  A singer.  A poet.  A jazz musician. A teacher.  Probably lots of other things I don’t even remember.  I took one of those career surveys in high school and it told me to be a ferry boat captain so I probably even considered that. (Briefly.)

Along the way all sorts of things would capture my fancy for a while. So many rabbit holes my teenage and twenty-something brain went down… e. e. cummings poetry.  Philosophy.  Feminism.  But the one I remember most was Southern Self-Taught Art (aka Folk Art).  Who knows how I stumbled across it, but I dove headlong into that world, reading and learning as much as I could about the main personalities, what they created, and where they lived.  I studied it, immersed myself in it, planned trips to meet artists and see exhibits.  I was fascinated.

Through every whim and detour my Dad was right along with me.  I had a pile in the kitchen (that drove my Mom crazy,by the way, a pile in the middle of prime real estate) where I kept important papers and mail.  Every once in a while a newspaper clipping or magazine article would appear on that pile.  It might be an artist profile, or an ad for a nearby art auction.  My Dad would have circled it with blue ball-point pen and written my name next to it, then ripped it out.  Always looking to extend my knowledge and experience.

And so wherever my interests went, my Dad followed close behind.  He learned as much as he could about what mattered to me. We went on road trips to meet artists.  He even had pieces commissioned for me.  When I was young, I thought it was so awesome that our interests always seemed to line up. My Dad and I just always seemed to like the same stuff!  What a lucky coincidence.  Once he was gone, I realized that he was really just interested in me.  My growth.  My enjoyment.  My plans.  My life.  It was essential to how he parented me.

This morning I did the same for my youngest daughter.  She wants to be a farmer when she grows up.  I’ve made connections with some local farms and send her tidbits about farming when I run across them.  This morning a local farm offered an opportunity to come work on a project.  So we jumped in the car with gloves and water and away we went.

Do I care about farming?  Not really.  I love the country, sunrises and sunsets, and back porches, but farm life is a lot of work.  I didn’t mind carrying all the gravel buckets (all my CrossFit farmer’s carries finally came in handy!) but I mainly wanted to spend time with her as she learned.  We talked.  We worked.  We enjoyed the sun, petting the huge farm dogs, watching the sloppy pigs, exploring the farm store, and just being together, imagining what she might be and do if she became a farmer with land of her own.

 

So no, I don’t really care much about farming.  But I do care much about her.  And when I love someone, I often find their interests interesting as a way to deepen my understanding, connection, and support for them.  I love that my Dad made me feel like all my little whims were worth learning about and pursuing. It was one of the ways he made me feel worthy and important.  I hope I make the people I love feel the same way.

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