family, perspective

Bad Things Happen In Sets of Three

I have been told over the years that things happen in sets of three. Mainly it’s been around death that I was told groups in threes. I haven’t really dwelled too much about it over the years because it hasn’t been so close to home.

This week life shook me a bit. First the death of a colleague from a not so distant past. He lost his battle with cancer. In his prime he was healthy, fit and the life of the party, many gatherings which I attended with him. As I watch the tributes to him online I have both happy and sad emotions. Why did the world lose such a bright spirit? Why did he exit in what seemed like a long and painful way?

Only a few days after, one of my bright-spirited friends lost her dog. This passing may seem trivial to some but this was her child. The trusty companion had been through schooling, marriage, death and even a pandemic over some 15 years of dog life. I’m sure age was the factor here but it doesn’t make it easier. Saying goodbye to a life companion is hard. So very hard.

Hours later as I write this entry my dad is clinging to life in his own aging battle with dementia. The word is that his time could come in hours or days. Just not sure. Is this the third in the set of three this week? Does knowing make it easier? Are we ready for the passing of such an important family member? So many questions.

Death is unfortunately part of life. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. As I deal with the loss of the week and the pain of life I also thrust forward to see new light. What’s around the corner? What can I be thankful for? How can I keep pressing on?

I don’t shift focus to diminish the loss, rather I use the experiences to strengthen my stride in life. To live as much as possible in the time I have ahead of me. It’s these defining moments in time that I have to find a way to make an impact to honor the life lost. There isn’t really a roadmap to doing so. I just follow my heart.

The clip below spoke to me as I wrote this post and thus I am sharing it with you.

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As I think of funerals today and how they are so different I opted to write this short story to honor not only my connections who have suffered losses but all those who endured a loss and pushed through the new normal of saying goodbye in these pandemic times. Whether it was a zoom wake/funeral or immediate family only gathering, grief and goodbyes are never easy.

In closing, I hope my dad musters the strength to push forward for selfish reasons, but in reality I want him to spread his wings with the angels to take away the pain and suffering of his final days. If he becomes three it was meant to be.

perspective

The Vault

The word vault came up in a conversation recently while I was visiting with the girls in the park one Sunday afternoon. Of course the visit was 6 feet away but it was a much needed time together for a group that missed each other immensely during the corona pandemic. Fresh air. Freedom. Fun with friends. Some of my favorites things in one place.

When the word was said I immediately thought bank vault. Where you store the gold blocks as you see in the bank heist movies. Then I drifted a bit in my mind and thought of the vault in track and field competitions, aka pole vault. Two different meanings of the same word.

In the conversation the vault was referred to as a memory bank as in your brain. The short- and long-term memories we all have and where they are stored, filed away or compartmentalized. The good, the bad, the ugly. All of the above is in essence in each person’s vault. We each have the ability to store, re-engage, or erase the items in our vault at our sole discretion. The power we have with such an important storage facility. Will this memory bank give us strength and comfort or does it provide stress we keep holding on to?

As I drifted off thinking about this word, I knew a post would be forthcoming as soon as I had moment to write. What’s in my vault? What do I re-engage and what do I purposely disconnect? So much to think about. So much power and will. Is this emotional intelligence?

That makes me wonder what is in others’ vaults. Is there happiness? Is there sadness? Is there emotional stress? Is there financial baggage? Everyone has skeletons in their closets or maybe I should say skeletons in their vaults. We all have the choice of when we open the vault, who we share the keys to our vault with and if we ever use what’s in the vault to provoke others.

As I was writing this I drifted many times into thoughts of the word vault and its variables. I thought of many trips to churches over my life and the powerful vaulted ceilings I saw over the years. The detail. The power. The design. What does my vault look like inside my brain? Clearly it’s my design but is it unique, is it an architectural dream or is it made of inferior material?

I actually know what my vault looks like in my mind. I know if it’s easily accessible or not. How many people have a secure vault and how many don’t? That’s more of the mystery to me but I’m a people person and I am genuinely intrigued by the complexity of humans.

I will ponder thoughts over my vault for days I am sure. I will be curious of the contents of others’ vaults around me as well. It may be the contents of said vaults that cause poor responses in times of challenge or struggle. Since we are in the midst of a pandemic I just thought I’d share this word and possibly my wisdom or rant regarding it.

The word vault. The mystery. The memories. The mind fuck. That’s the vault in my eyes.

friendship

Flashback Friday

Circa 1988, parking lot hangouts. That’s where you would find me and my hoodlum friends on the weekends. No cell phones back in the day. If you had a car you huddled up in random parking lots and made plans for the night from car window to car window. Maybe it was adventures or maybe you were sitting at the beach people watching, strutting your stuff in your tricked out ride or crushing on your main squeeze.

Now that I painted a picture of my younger days, I am going to fast forward to corona 2020 and a new a kind of parking lot rage. One I can’t take credit for but need to give it a test drive. Two cars, two chicks, windows down, talking up a blue streak, giggling from 6 feet away. Enjoying some sunshine, some shades, blue skies and topped it off with Starbucks.

Talk about about an irony. Thirty plus years difference. Technology exploded during that time and as of two months ago people would text away for a social connection yet today we screamed nonsense out the window at each other just for a human connection. Crazy what solitude does to people but how fun to take a walk down history lane.

I’m wondering how many others out there had their own parking lot hangouts back in the day or even today?

When chatting it up we thought about what the hot topics were back in 1988. I would definitely be having chats about who’s hot, what car they drive and what’s up this weekend.

Chick 2 said she was studying for her SATs or something nerdy to pass time, waiting on the good old land line to ring. She might have even had a rotary phone for those of you who know what that is. Maybe that’s why the phone didn’t ring.

Then we talked outfits. What would Chick 1 be wearing? The conclusion was: high waisted acid washed jeans, big ass hair with Aqua Net spray in it, and a polo shirt of some sort. Chick 2 in contrast was skipping around in her Catholic school uniform. Pleated plaid skirt, high knee socks, saddle shoes and a pastel blouse that her mother ironed.

How could two chicks be more polar opposites? And this is why we have totally different storytelling abilities. Chick 1 was a sports freak in 1988 and Chick 2 was a band geek, again noting their differences.

What’s your story and when are you going to write it?

family

Grocery Store Chronicles

When I was close to 10 years old I would go with my Mom every Friday to shop for groceries with my Nana. I didn’t know it then but I learned so many lessons from these Friday trips.

I learned to care for others. I learned that elderly people needed a little help whether it was transportation or help with lifting or even just social time with loved ones to talk. I learned that I liked Fridays with my Nana because she gave me candy, ice cream or even some change for helping out. I was rewarded for being nice. I was the youngest sibling so I was toted along always. I never minded the time spent and when I look back I’m glad I had the opportunity. I also learned math at the register and so many other little tidbits.

I didn’t really notice at the time how independent my Nana was. She always had her own cart. She always paid for her own groceries. She also put up the divider between her order and ours. She was doing what she needed all by herself with just a little support from us. Not financial support but assistance getting to and from and being social.

There were definitely more cash transactions back then and the clerk even knew how to count change for one dollar or a twenty. Today is 95% credit card and most clerks need to read the change back amount on the computer to complete the transaction. Such a shift over time.

It wasn’t too much longer before my Nana passed but I still remember those Friday trips like it was yesterday. Vivid memories yet I can’t ever recall how much time we spent at the store. I’m thinking it was a long time now that I think back.

Now fast forward to today. It’s corona time! Life has slowed on many levels as noted previously in posts like Nature Therapy. A slower style I have been adapting to and enjoying. Not sure how long the slow pace will last but for now I’m enjoying the relaxation.

Today I had the honor of taking my Mom to the grocery store out of the blue. Masked, observing social distance and limiting touch. How different it was from when I was a kid…. I may have licked the pole on the way out back in the day. Talk about how times have changed! The trip awakened many childhood memories of shopping with my Nana. I invited my teen daughter to go along but given corona she opted for a big no which is a good gesture however another indication of change in time. As I noted above as the youngest I was toted along. Nowadays kids seem to get choices.

In my fast-paced hectic life, I’m used to running into the store grabbing what I need and getting the heck out, whether it’s pre-corona or during corona so I don’t catch anything. Anyway this trip was different. My Mom physically moves slower. She likes to look at all her options. She likes to check her coupons. She like to compare pricing to the ad she had for another store. No iPhone to google a price. No rush to be anywhere. No need for speed. How this brings back memories of shopping with my Nana.

I observe and adapt to my surroundings. I go with the flow. The slow flow. And I mean a turtle’s pace to get through the produce section. Then the deli counter where the meat needs to be sliced just right and she needs white American cheese not orange cheese! Then we have to skip the ice cream section because that has to be last so it doesn’t melt. Then if she buys the strawberries she needs the shells to make shortcakes and don’t forget the whipped cream. None of this was in her to buy list by the way. Her time to shop was a field trip of sorts. She needed to get out of the house for a sense of normalcy. She needs to pay for it herself for her sense of independence. She needs to choose what she wants.

The cart started to get heavy but she needs it to rest her weight. She pushes I pull. We must be a comedy show for those crazed folks darting around the store to get what they want as if the place was on fire and here we are puttering around as if time is of no matter. My surroundings didn’t seem to phase me. I was supporting the one I was with. I live life in the driver’s seat yet in this situation I am a passenger. I’m looking out the virtual window to see what’s around.

When you slow down to this pace you observe so much. Some of which can be ugly. For example, a person snagging the last can of green beans off the shelf in their haste and hurry not realizing they just snatched it from the reach of an older person who moves slow. Craziness is what I say to myself but did the person even notice because they were on a mission to get in and out fast. They might not have seen her waiting 6 feet away, waiting for her turn at the shelf when one hurried in snatched and hurried off?

She is in her 80s. She is not phased by corona. She wore a mask so others didn’t judge her but it wasn’t comfortable. It irritated her left eye and moved around causing her to adjust often. She had taken great care to watch a nurse show the proper way to put a mask on in a YouTube video and she said it doesn’t work. I keep touching my face. This is pointless. The nurse video said don’t touch your face. I just shook my head and smiled.

We were in the store close to one hour thirty minutes. Quite possibly my longest trip to the grocery store ever. It was just one cart full. They didn’t have many items she needed and for that I get to get up early and go again in the morning. And she wants to go to make sure I buy the right items.

This is hilarious and awesome all at the same time. One day I won’t have the opportunity to go shopping with my Mom but today I did. Corona didn’t stop her and it didn’t control her tempo, her attitude or her ability to make me giggle. To give you a visual of our shenanigans the photo below is from day 2 of shopping. This visit was Target and I was ever so thankful for the “Caroline cart” designed for special needs folks but my Mom has her own special needs; her limited ability to walk but she doesn’t think she is ready for a wheelchair so this was a great compromise. It also allowed me to zoom through the aisles faster and limit my time to 45 minutes with her all buckled in the seat. She would kill me for posting this but I’m a big fan so it’s an honor for me to share.

In about 40 years time so much has changed about visiting a grocery store. I have my memories and I have today. Now I can’t wait to see what it’s like in another forty years when somebody totes me to the grocery store or maybe they won’t because modern times will send a courier with my groceries.

Do you have any fond memories of grocery shopping? It may seem like a silly question but I hope you have memories like me.

family

The Fog Rolled In Fast

It was a Friday night. A little chilly but tolerable. An outdoor event was on the agenda. All seemed normal until the riveting phone call shattered the ambient air.

A different kind of chill entered the air. A painful chill. A sudden chill. A heartfelt chill. A family member passed that chilly night.

Our beloved Axel the husky was killed tragically when he escaped from a fenced yard. A runner by design but loyal friend to the end. Axel was smart, fluffy and a joy to be around. He was the runt of the litter when we got him, overbite and all. He was just perfect for us.

Like most families we are less than perfect thus a pup with an overbite would fit right in. The breeder said don’t you want to pick a different one? Nope he was the one that we thought was special. We all loved him in an instant.

Year after year he played dress up and entertained the kids shenanigans and photo shoots. Pretty sure he made his way into many tiktoks over the years and he was always photogenic.

Axel never met a stranger. He was well-mannered but affectionate. This tragedy has left me in a fog since I found out about his fate. I can’t turn back time but I can honor his memory.

Axel was a therapy dog for one of my kids. He comforted him when rough times were upon him and he provided companionship when it was time to play. Dogs just know what their humans need.

Every time I run and want to quit, I would think Axel is running along side me in heaven and he wouldn’t quit. When I’m sad like I am now I will flip back in my photo reel and smile and say those are tears of joy not sadness as we had many good years and memories together.

When my family is sad I will support them as we work through this tough time together. The hurt will pass in time but I am forever thankful for my memories.

I do have other pets to help me soothe my sorrow because they know when their human is sad. I am grateful for this but anyone who has dealt with a tragic death knows all to well the ripping from ones arms is so very different than the death of somebody aging.

Unplanned. Unexpected. Unwanted. Those are the ugly U words that come to mind today as I sit in fog holding onto to memories. Say a prayer for my pup in doggy heaven as he chases squirrels or whatever he so chooses to chase. You will be missed Axel!

These bold blue eyes will forever be visible in our hearts. 💞 As with any loss of a family member one must mourn. This post has been sitting for a bit until I was ready share and honor his memory. Lost but not forgotten.

giving

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

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Since we’ve been at home more in recent days (following social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines), passing the time has presented challenges. Yup, to put it bluntly, at times we are just plain bored.

My daughter had been asking to go shopping for painting supplies for about a month, well before the virus hit our home state. Then, like many other families, we went from extremely busy to having very little to do, but unable to go out and get much of anything that isn’t truly necessary.

So, I started rummaging.

And out came…watercolor paints (metallic, matte, at least 4 sets!), watercolor pads (in 2 sizes!), paintbrushes, pastels.  Voila! Art is possible.

Where did it all come from? When my kids were younger, in addition to the toys and candy-stuffed eggs, I would always put an art supply or two in their Easter baskets. Who knows why?  Just to balance things out.  Most of these art supplies were left on the living room floor along with the torn candy wrappers and cracked plastic eggs.  I’d eventually tuck the artsy stuff in a drawer along with the ones from the year before and all the other art supplies I’d collected through years of teaching, student-ing, and projects galore. Now, it’s all coming out to play.

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In these times of slower pace and waiting, many people are taking up old-fashioned pleasures.

Friends are asking, too…the group chat question about sidewalk chalk…so many people are chalking messages of encouragement or just drawing on the driveway with extra time.  And, lo and behold, of course I have a shiny unopened box of 48 Crayola sidewalk chalks! (I’ve probably had it for 5 years!) Sure, I will share them! Don’t thank me, thank the Easter bunny! (and, okay, my hoarding tendencies…which this whole situation does not help, by the way. But that’s a different post.)

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(Seriously, that big box of sidewalk chalk is in this Easter photo from 2011. Yes, 2011!  Over a decade ago!  Yikes!!!)

Add in a long-ago purchased rolling table from Ikea that I never set up and presto, it’s our own little mobile art station.  And we’re using the portion of the chalk we kept to cheer up outside.

Making stuff and sharing art and time are doing our hearts and minds good.  When I think of Easter coming in a couple of weeks, I am not sure what it will look like.  But for now, we are celebrating and sharing with creativity, with gifts from Easters past that are suddenly gifts all over again.

How are you passing any idle time, in old ways or new? Board games, card games?  Share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

friendship, health

My Photo Reel is Real

Recently I looked back on my photo reel for multiple reasons. I needed to showcase a moment. I needed to cherish a memory. I needed proof of something with a date stamp. So many reasons with purpose.

Having a photo reel is as real as it gets. It’s a book of pictures. My memory reel. Having this at my fingertips on Instagram, Facebook or my iPhone is confirmation of the digital age but also purposeful.

No need to dig through boxes to find the right year and month. I can just scroll online. Such a time saver. Such a space saver too. Then the assembling of photos to make a tribute is equally amazing. With today’s digital age we can add music and edit as we wish.

For those out there that say too many pictures are annoying I say screw you. My online catalog of photos is my photo reel for my real life. I plan to use these photos when the need arises.

Everyone has a purpose. In my purpose work I connect on many levels. Photos and videos are part of my connection. As I wrote about taking the class and read the book in the past, I am choosing to add one more dare: TAKE THE PICTURE!

Capture the moments. Save them your way (public or private). Use them when you need them most. Don’t be shy. I loved polaroid pics back in the day and the instant gratification they provided. Today my thrill rolls ahead with time and is captured in my growing photo reel(s). I also love that my friends know how I much I like pics (see above).

My life is worth sharing. I choose to share my photo reel or a portion of it. Say cheese!

In today’s turbulent times, make sure you capture the time you are spending in isolation. Create a virtual friend group and connect with photos and videos. I know I am actively doing this with my private groups to foster community and share smiles. It’s very therapeutic and may be vital to some in isolation.

Use technology to your advantage today, tomorrow and the next day. See the clip below from a recent friend share:

 

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