My Hands – My Children – My Heart

Late last week I was helping my two sons clean some of the rooms in the home they recently purchased to get it ready for the big move-in day. As I scrubbed, vacuumed, and dusted I began to notice my hands. Age spots are beginning to appear, and I am in need of a manicure but as I gazed at my hands, I began to think about all the wonderful experiences my hands have provided…my now fondest memories…the everyday normal things that often get overlooked ~ of my children.

I remember how my hands cradled their fragile bodies, and my fingers gently stroked their soft cheeks as I held them close to my heart the very first moment we met. 

My hands wiped their tears, tucked in blankets, and made lunches. They held kite strings, picked up countless Lego’s, bought Hello Kitty products, and sewed on scout patches.

They turned the pages of nightly bedtime stories, taught bedtime prayers and played good brother/ bad brother puppets to help them end their day laughing.

These hands held on tightly while crossing the street or offering comfort. They clapped with joy at first steps, band performances, little league games, swim meets and academic achievements ~ both large and small.

They combed and braided hair, folded laundry, and buttoned shirts. They have touched shoulders, waved in greeting, and pushed in playful gestures.

They tickled tummies, rubbed backs and tied bows. They pushed swings on the playground and held on tightly around their tiny waist as we slid tandem down slides. These hands clasped tightly in prayer as I waited for them to return home after their first solo driving experience, or a late night out.

These hands waved goodbye and gently wiped the tears off my own face as each one of my children left to find their way in this world… as I bravely smiled.

These hands close daily as I give thanks and praise to God for choosing me to be their mother. Even though my children are grown up and living their own lives these hands still serve them. I don’t get to see my children as often as I used to, but they definitely know these hands are always here for them.

“For all the things my hands have held the best by far is you” 

– Andrew McMahon, Lyrics from Cecilia and the Satellite

Book Club Spontaneous Combustion

This past June I hosted our monthly book club meeting. We are a small group of nine ladies, and we have been “book buddies” for 12 years! Reading books (some have been good, others not), talking about the books, laughing, eating, and laughing some more are what we do during our meetings.

Isn’t the Hummingbird Cake cute? It is hard to tell from the photo, but I baked it in two six-inch pans and served it on a small cake dish. It was absolutely delicious, everyone raved at how flavorful it was, and there was just enough left over to share with my husband! I am providing the link to where I found the recipe in case you want to give it a try. You won’t be sorry!

I love to try new recipes and these gals are such good sports to let me experiment on them – even when things don’t go as planned! About an hour before they arrived, I decided to bake the crab dip and cook the ham and cheese pinwheels (made with my favorite puff pastry) at the same time so I would not have to busy myself with this task when they arrived. The plan was to keep them warm until time to serve.

The crab dip took the longest, so I placed it in the oven for about 20 minutes ahead of the pinwheels. In an effort to keep the kitchen from getting too warm, I wanted to get the pinwheels done in one take so I put as many as I could on my largest baking sheet and placed this in the oven along with the crab dip. They only needed to bake about 15 minutes which was perfect – everything would be ready and in place when everyone started to arrive.

After a few minutes passed I started hearing sizzling sounds, so I gave it a few more minutes and decided to take a peek. As I cautiously opened the oven door, to my horror, I discovered flames of fire on the bottom of my stove!!! My quick-thinking husband grabbed the tray of pinwheels out of the oven and shut the door. I was not about to let the crab dip burn up, so I opened the door again and quickly removed the dish from the oven.

Fortunately, the fire quickly went out and there was no damage done to the stove whatsoever. The pinwheels were cooked but, some were thrown out because the pastry was still a little doughy. The crab dip was (thankfully) unscathed.

What happened? Well, in my attempt to bake as many pinwheels as possible I used a cookie sheet with no rim – so any grease from the ham spilled over onto the bottom of the oven causing the fire. I just wasn’t thinking!

My friends arrived, I shared my story, and turns out (everyone agreed) the pinwheels tasted good in spite of their crunchiness! We then started discussing our book (The Authenticity Project, by Clare Pooley) and all was forgotten.

We took the month of July off, and our August meeting is fast approaching – we are reading Verity, by Colleen Hoover. Looking forward to our discussion on that one!

Giving a Voice to the Words in My Heart

It is one thing to regret something you did …. or something you said that you probably shouldn’t have… but what about something you should have done ~ but didn’t? 

I am not referring to the failed opportunities you were given when you could not quite hit the mark.

Or the countless times you heard “No”. At least you put yourself out there and, in the end, it just might have made you a stronger, better person.

I am referring to something like a relationship you did not nurture or (in my case) the opportunity I did not take.

I wish I had told my parents how very much I loved and appreciated them. I wish I could have said thank you for the great life they gave me. Their strong faith, deep love for each other, and a shared sense of humor filled me with admiration.

My parents were getting older, and it began to dawn on me that one day our precious time together would come to an end. I began to think about the things I longed to say to them. For example, how much I appreciated their encouragement and support with decisions I made such as deciding to get bangs cut when I was a preteen to raising my children as a young mother. From the painful decision I shared with them when I decided to end a marriage to the joyful decision of purchasing a home by myself.

From my childhood, I fondly recalled many moments of playful teasing, joyful conversations around the dinner table, and listening to my dad tell jokes – he sure had a way with words! Everyone loved my parents and was drawn to their warm, gentle and humble natures. I wish they had known how proud I was to introduce them to my friends!

A few years before they died, I decided I would go over to their house and let my heart talk. I tried to plan ahead, and I found myself getting “choked up” just “thinking” about the words I wanted to say. (That is just the way I am when emotions hit. My voice usually cracks, and tears begin to trickle down my face as I struggle to get the words out. My throat literally seems to close up.) I was concerned it would upset them to see me struggle. I could imagine their worried faces and their effort to try to console me forcing me to stop before I was finished. Would they tell me they did what they did because they loved me, and my thanks was not necessary? On the other hand, if I actually could speak clearly, would I have been able to remember every single thing I wanted to say?

Unfortunately, I concerned myself with these obstacles for so long that I ran out of time. I know how much they would have appreciated those words of love and thanks. What parent wouldn’t? I did get the opportunity to say a few things to my mom as she lay dying (16 years ago), but I am not sure if she even heard or understood. I would like to think she did. Unfortunately, my dad died quickly (20 years ago) with just my mother by his side in spite of the effort all of us kids made as we rushed as quickly as we could to get there.

I know they knew I loved them. We said those words so often to each other. I just hope they knew how very much.

I am older and wiser now and am more confident I could actually speak the words coherently. I now long to give a voice to the words in my heart to some of the dearly loved people in my life – and I intend to get started.

“I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say…I just wish I could have told him in the living years”   – Mike & the Mechanics, 1988

Weigh In Wednesday

Just putting this out here as an attempt of accountability.

I have been dealing with sciatic nerve pain in my right leg since pulling my back this past April. If you have ever had sciatica, then you can relate to the level of discomfort.

I thought I would find relief by applying ice and taking it easy ~ but my attempt at self-care eventually led me to visiting our family doctor which led to an x-ray (bulging disk and a little arthritis) which then led to some physical therapy (I was not impressed with the facility and eventually quit going) which led to an MRI (my first) which then led to my receiving a sacroiliac joint injection. (Not as painful as it might sound).

The good news is I am now feeling about 98% better. The bad news is – due to cutting back on movement and not cutting back on eating – I gained about 8 – 10 pounds!!! I have never gained so much weight in such a short period of time in my life (other than being pregnant) and I am disgusted with my lack of self-discipline!!!

So, today I have set a weight loss goal and hope to achieve my goal by mid to late September. By putting this out there for you to see I hope it provides the motivation to succeed rather than humiliate myself! I am not going post about my weekly progress, but Wednesdays will be my weigh in day. I mainly wrote this post for me but if you have managed to read this far – thanks for your support! 😊💛 😊

Metaphorically Speaking – Portaging (a new word for me)

I had never heard this word until my book club read “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. In one of the chapters, one of the main characters, Molly, is learning about the Wabanaki Indians. This tribe often had to migrate across water in canoes. Travelling across the water was doable, but once they reached the shore, they had to carry the canoes, so the additional items they brought with them had to be manageable. They simply could not take everything with them when they moved so they had to determine what was important to bring in the canoe and what they needed to leave behind.

We have all had to (metaphorically) portage – it is just the way life goes – and we have to decide what is important to keep and what is important to let go. Portaging can occur when we leave or enter into relationships with others. Portaging can occur when we make a move to a new home or new job. Portaging can occur during a renewed spiritual journey or the struggle with maintaining faith. Portaging is whatever we decide to take with us and what we decide to leave behind when we encounter transition times of our lives and can have a profound effect on the quality of our life.

I have had several significant times in my life, where portaging has been necessary ~ although I did not realize this is what I was doing. Through much trial and error, I began to realize I had to weed out the emotions and/or circumstance that could weigh me down making it difficult to move forward or…. from completely sinking. Determining what to put in the “canoe” differed with each journey/transition. I wound up discovering, however, there are three common things I always carry in my canoe:

  1. Support: In order for me to progress I need to put my ego aside and ask for help. I thankfully receive a lot of love and support from my family and my circle of friends during these times. The various moves from one state to another, the new babies that grew into the challenging teenager years, the ups and downs of marriage, divorce, and death of loved ones become a lighter load when I ask for help.
  2. I had to decide if these transitions were going to make or break me: When I was newlywed my husband and I moved 800 miles away to southeast Texas. During two full days of driving two separate cars – one of them towing a trailer with everything we owned – we headed towards a destination I knew nothing about. While driving alone, all I could think about was leaving my close family ties and friendships – it was very daunting to say the least. Once we settled, I could have very easily given into my feelings of loneliness. I chose to make the best of it and forced myself to step out of my comfort zone. Eventually I wound up attaining a Bachelor of Science in education at the nearby university and got involved with a women’s club where I met and made some terrific life-long friends. We eventually wound up moving back to our home state after spending ten years in Texas – with intermittent short-term transfers to Baton Rouge, LA and Niantic, CT.  I can say with confidence I returned a better person than when I left. I did some much-needed growing up, made life-long friends, and created some incredible memories.
  3. Faith: I relied on my faith and the power of prayer to guide and help me through these transitions. I will share that there was a time during one of these transitions when I was extremely frustrated, worried, and felt so helpless. It seemed as if God was too busy to hear my prayer, so I became frustrated and discouraged and decided to step away from my prayer life. Please understand, I never lost my faith; I just had to step away for a while until I could make sense of it all. The thing is, I never have made sense of that situation and I never fully understood the how and why of that transition; but I eventually came to realize ~ through the grace of God ~ how much that particular transition provided a positive influence in my tolerance of others, empathy for those struggling, and a surprisingly deeper faith.  In times of joy and sorrow I still rely heavily on my faith and although it is number three in this post, it is and will always be the number one thing I put in my canoe.

As the new chapters of my life unfold, I am certain there will be more canoes to carry. I am grateful that I have, so far, arrived at each destination with more courage, resilience, and compassion than I ever thought I could.

As I look toward the unknowns of the future, asking for help, deciding on whether I will allow this transition to make or break me, and relying on my faith will always go into my canoe.

What do you include in your canoe?

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