life lessons: at the far end of mothering

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I almost never see a dandelion patch without thinking of a little child – student or son – arm outstretched with a loving fistful of droopy, yellow dandelions for me. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve received one, I’m caught a little surprised at how nostalgic I feel about the prolific yellow bane of our backyard.

There are scads of books on mothering and parenting and raising children.  How-to tomes. What to expect, what to avoid, how to be hands-free and all that. Maybe mothering today’s a bit more complicated.  Or so it’s probably always been to anyone who’s living it.

Personally, I’m at the far end of the mothering spectrum. And I’ve found few books to guide me. There’s a few about boomerang kids, but not much else beyond transitioning through the teen years and we’re past that too. And as far as flying objects go, I’m not much worried about boomerangs and more concerned with balloons.

I’ve had a whole handful of four, beautiful, bright, helium-filled, boy balloons and one-by-one each string loosens from my grasp. One day soon, the final of the four will lift, floating off free. And away from me. As should be. After all, independent, self-sufficient, productive citizens are the end-zone goal.

It’s just that when it comes to expecting … no one ever talks about what to expect at this point in the child-raising timeline. Saying goodbye is  not something you think about as you rock your infant, chase after your toddler, or sit across from your child’s teacher at a parent conference. Honestly, raising children is about as in the moment as it gets. Who has time or energy to think about the future when the here and now is so very consuming.

Truth is, the little dickens start leaving and living their own lives from the very first defiant, No! They have thoughts, dreams, and ideas of their own, and sooner or later – you’re in the way. You know it’s coming, but somehow you don’t expect it. Each milestone stands on its own, a point on the timeline toward departure. And once that last balloon wrests itself free, you watch it float skyward and wonder whatever in the world you’ll do next.

It’s been a wild ride couple of decades through each age and stage, but no fair lasts forever. Near as I can figure out, mothering young adults feels no less puzzling than the first years did. It’s another stage, another question mark in the life-long series I signed up for. I’m guessing I’ll be finding my own way just as my children find theirs – each of us simultaneously starting a new stage of life, on our own – together.

life lessons: jamaica

 

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An Open Letter to the Sandals Corporation:

It’s been two weeks since I walked your Jamaican Ochi Beach Club beaches.  I remember our last morning swim in the Caribbean.  Every. Single. Day. It’s hard to be home – not because home’s that bad – but because Jamaica’s that good.

And it’s all about the people.

Here’s the point I want you to understand, Sandals:  you spoiled us silly and we wanted for absolutely nothing during our stay at your resort. You planned for every possible wish, want, or desire. Food. Drink. Entertainment. Activity. Shopping. The works.

But honestly, I’m not really comfortable with all that attention. I’m okay with a beach and a towel. Some fresh fruit. My love by my side and a beautiful sunset.  And anyway, all that spoiling is not what keeps me coming back to Jamaica. (Nine times now.)

It’s the people I come back for.

Sandals, your people are your greatest asset.

I miss them and their unrelenting optimism.  And let me tell you, the Jamaican people have taught me a lot about gratitude.

Because life in Jamaica is hard. Your people struggle. I know you know that … you’ve established a foundation to help … but I’m quite sure it’s not enough. It never is. And truly, it’s something I think about a lot.

Your people aren’t just doing their jobs, Sandals. Your people inspire.

I want to sing on my way to work in the morning, like they do, light on my face and hope in my heart. I want to bear life’s hardships with as much grace, dignity, and optimism.

In the end, I suppose daily life is all about gratitude.

Your folks know all that – and more.

So, thank you, Sandals, for your hospitality. I am ever so grateful for my time in Jamaica. But much more than that, I’m so grateful for the Jamaican people.

You all have much to be proud of.

In gratitude.

 

the glory of slow

Recent travels taught me the glory of slow. So lately, I’ve been moving about half speed.

Normally, I run at a high internal pace. All the gears hum. And it feels a little like I’m vibrating. Get it done. Do it now. Before time runs out. Before the sun sets. Or rises.

I now understand this is a race I will not win.

With only a few adjustments,  I’ve discovered I’m getting just as much done – maybe even more – than I did when breakneck was my go-to pace and I felt all frenzied inside. I’ve just about done away with a to-do list, trusting in myself instead to know what needs to be done and then doing it … one, and only one, task at a time.

I may not live a life of leisure exactly, but I live more leisurely and delight in this new tempo. Decisions are deliberate. Any movement I make is just this side of meandering. I’ve even been eating breakfast. At the table. On real dishes. I begin each morning with my bed made and end each work day with my desk cleared.

Like changing the shutter speed on my camera,  I’m learning how to manually slow the speed at which I live like the pace at which I shoot, so I’m able to study, frame, and capture the moment.

Life’s more gentle at a slower speed.

So whether traveling afar or walking to the end of the road, go slowly … and let your travels teach you.

 

life lessons: in spring

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Maybe the most difficult time for a flower is just before its bloom.

Still tight and taut, but ready and waiting. Endlessly waiting. Eternally waiting. Impatient. Tense. And probably cranky.

But bloom it does, finally and slowly. Unfurling and stretching, open face forward into the warming sun.

Free.

The release renders the wait all that more poignant and perfect.

Necessary, after all.

So many life lessons learned just out the back door.

Spring hope.

The Verbs of Kindness

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A verb:  an action or a state of being.

No grand gestures here.

To do. To act. To be.

Kind.

In no particular order:

  1. help
  2. respect
  3. include
  4. encourage
  5. care
  6. welcome
  7. listen
  8. smile
  9. praise
  10. notice
  11. offer
  12. share
  13. greet
  14. thank
  15. give
  16. invite
  17. compliment
  18. accept
  19. honor
  20. love

If you need a verb in your day … take one.

If you have a verb to add … leave one!

Thanks.

 

A Sudden Burst of Beautiful

We’ve experienced a sudden burst of beautiful in New England.

 

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There’s sun. Warmth. Brilliant blue skies and water to match.

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We’re all out and about, and life here’s pretty much postcard perfect.

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There’s pansies out front,  a peeper frog chorus at dusk, and the all the birds sing hallelujah each morning.

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And I’m pretty sure I can speak for all of New England: We’re just so grateful it’s Spring!

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Share your Spring!

Please?

 

If you must, you will.

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One hundred days suddenly doesn’t seem long enough.

I’m well into week one of #the100dayproject and I’ve been experimenting.

As promised.

To myself.

Who needs a studio when there’s just-right light, a stool, and an old crate? Our mudroom basks in the softest of morning light this time of year, and just when I wasn’t looking, there it was: a gentle caress of light across wilting tulips.

Experimenting never looked so beautiful – to me.

And maybe that’s the single biggest understanding I’m gaining about #the100dayproject. It’s not about followers, or readers, or any kind of audience at all.

My audience this time around feels like an audience of one.

There’s peace and a comfortable solitude in the quiet moments of creating. Me and my pen. Me and my camera. Me and my thoughts. My photographs. My words.

Me… and myself.

I’m a new believer:

If you must, you will.