Minimalist

This last couple of years I have written frequently about our process of letting go and discarding things we do not use anymore. The letting go is an emotional, psychological and sentimental exercise as well as being physical. We all tend to cling to things that have memories attached to them, particularly if they belong to someone we love. I suppose it is because in keeping these things, we feel as if we have a small part of that person around us which gives us comfort.

Throughout this time of discarding things, I have carefully packed up items I knew our children would delight in having….Memories of times gone by…things I inherited from my Mother, Father and Grandparents were put into small boxes for them to unpack at a later date. But, I asked them first before I did so. No sense in foisting on our adult children something they do not want! Each one tells me what they are interested in and as always, each ones choices are as different from each other as they are.

I have already gifted some of my Mothers and Mother in laws things to our daughter who has them in her home where she can enjoy them now. She was given the choice of what she wanted and there were a few things she loved and asked for. It is fun to go and visit her and see these things when I am there. There are not many, because she did not want many, but what IS there, I enjoy, and so does she. She calls it the Ancestor Section which consists of an antique buffet of my Mothers on which sits a wedding lamp of ours and some photos of both sets of Grandparents plus a very few little collectibles. Not much, but enough.. Looking at these family things brings up all kinds of warm and happy memories of times gone by. I think the joy comes in the feeling of continuity of family through the generations.

Recently, we had our young neighbors over for breakfast in our courtyard as a gesture of farewell because they were moving the next morning to New York! They lived here in Texas for 5 years and now they were moving on. They are a young couple with a 14 year old daughter and as we sat and chatted with them, the subject of packing stuff for their move came up. She told me that they had packed the majority of their things themselves because the moving company rates were outrageous. She continued on to say that because she was a minimalist, the packing was not as bad as it could have been.

In our conversation, she began to talk about the differences between her Mother and her when it came to their homes. While she is a minimalist, her Mother is a collector of all things. She is not a hoarder, but she has a penchant for pretty collections which she can well afford as she is a Biochemical Engineer and her husband is an Attorney,

She laughingly talked of her parents attempt to downsize. Apparently, they had too many gardens to care for which became to much for them and she said they sold their home and bought another home that was the same size as their previous home but on a much smaller lot. She asked her Mother why they bought another big house since the adult children are all off living their own lives. Mother said, “Well, we want to have space for our children to come visit”. The daughter said ”But, no one comes to visit other than maybe once a year”. Mother said, “It doesn’t matter, I want people to be comfortable when they come to stay.”

She went on to lovingly mock her Mothers way of life and commented on how her Mother wanted to pass down a family heirloom tea set to her granddaughter who is the only grandchild on either side. Neither the granddaughter nor her daughter wanted it, but they finally took it begrudgingly at the insistence of Grandma. At this point of the conversation, Mother and daughter looked at each other and laughed.

I found myself shrinking inside to witness how some descendants of our generation see us and think of us. I felt sorry for her Mother because obviously her daughter doesn’t understand the mothers life story. She also did not have the intuition to simply be a gracious receiver of something Grandmother held dear. The “art” of gracious receiving did not exist here. Another thought flitted through my mind that many in our children’s generation do not seem sentimental about generations past. Many in the younger generation see things through a different lens than we did. We valued a loved ones material goods for sentimental reasons. So many of our descendants don’t feel that way and I think it is because a lot of this generation in America were raised in a world of seeming abundance.

As she went on talking about her Moms expensive collections which require display cases and curios, I found myself thinking of my own collections acquired through the years…figurines, artists proofs and prints, lovely dishes… (she said “my Mom has TWO sets of dishes and silverware….can you even imagine that?”)

( Uh, yes…I actually can.) ( 🥰 Lol! )

Then she and her daughter laughed while shaking their heads at their Mother/Grandmothers folly. She proudly said, “I only buy what I need. No excess for me!”. Neither Mother or Daughter recognized the intention of love attached to a piece of history behind the family heirlooms being offered. They were simply seeing the gesture as something to avoid.

Now, I DO want to add that as I describe our conversation that day, it may make our neighbor seem insensitive or unkind. I do not believe she was intentionally meaning to be either one.. She was simply and candidly expressing her thoughts and fortunately her Mother wasn’t here to hear it. She was expressing how she felt and it helped clarify to me how my generation may be seen through the eyes of the next generation. Ouch! 🙂

Heirlooms? These were things we once coveted when WE were young and first married. Beautiful antique furniture and home goods were a much desired acquisition in those days. But, in those days, there were still a fair amount of women who were housewives, raising their children while their husband put in long hours to support the family. Because she spent so much time at home, a woman enjoyed feathering her nest, so to speak. Most women are nesters of one form or another. We are a product of the era we grew up in and it all seemed perfectly normal at the time.

In the course of our long drawn out exercise of seeking the “Less is more” lifestyle, I have seen first hand the accumulation of what nearly 50 years of marriage brings about. In our case, we have moved a LOT of times which allowed for some discarding of certain things along the way, so while we are not buried in stuff, we still have much more than we need.

What I have discovered is that material goods hold very little value anymore because there is so much excess in the world we live in. The thrift shop in our small community built a much larger building about a year ago and it is already FULL of peoples cast offs. The cast offs in this area are very good quality because we live in a city in constant transition with people moving in and moving out all the time. One of the Managers of the store told my husband that they make about $100,000.00 a month in sales, which after paying their mortgage and utilities, ALL goes to local and city charities. All workers there are volunteers. This makes me feel good as we drive over with another load of things for them to sell, things we do not need anymore.

When I first started this project, I often felt overwhelmed as I sifted through years of goods that brought about memories. I was one of those Mothers who really believed in what the Norman Rockwell paintings conveyed. This was what I dreamed about and hoped for. What I did not realize was how much times were changing and how those beautiful paintings were depictions of times gone by, not of what the future would present. My material possessions were always purchased with the intent of serving our family and friends and creating memories. It was all innocently done with the best of intentions.

These days, we tend to gather more frequently as a family at our children’s homes where casual is the name of the day. We LOVE spending time with them at their homes where we can be the company versus serving as the Host, Hostess, Chef, Server and clean up crew. Yes! I like this new way of doing things.

If life were a banquet, I see us starting out as an appetizer followed by moving on to the soup and salad of childhood. Then we grow up right into the main course of adult and family living. When we grow old, it is then time to cleanse the palate before ingesting the next course. We clear away our things much as the hostess clears the table in preparation for the final course. Since we have enjoyed the many rich and varied flavors of the main course of life for so long, perhaps the final course will be a delectable dessert, a smaller and sweeter helping of life as we experience the completion of a banquet filled with so many sensory pleasures.

Well, enough reflections for the day. It is time to get back at the thinning out of worldly goods. It has been a rewarding exercise, allowing me to reminisce upon each item I handle while pondering its future. This ongoing project is being executed for the day I am brought home by the angels, where my children can walk in, make quick work of what remains at our house and get on with their lives. I don’t want them to feel burdened by my worldly possessions. Until then, with every load to the thrift shop, my square footage grows along with my sense of peace that comes from simple living. This has been a extended time of counting my blessings! Less is more! Yes it is!

jjb/5/21/2022

Gram without Gramp!

Grandpa died one month after his 71st birthday, leaving behind my grief stricken Grandma who had no clue how to proceed in her new solo life after all those many years of marriage. They had married at a young age and as time passed, they had six children with only three surviving past infancy. Two boys and a girl survived infancy and the girl was my Mother.

I remember my grandparents so well because as a child we spent a lot of time at their house. My Mother was their only daughter and they treasured her existence. I think she would have been a little surprised to hear this because their Swedish ways were not naturally expressive. They did not tell you they loved you…They just assumed you should understand this as a fact. They also did not show their affection with impulsive hugs or any display of affection. They felt their love was best expressed by providing for their children, and they provided well.

As children, we loved going to their home and we felt a grandchild’s pride of ownership in their small one story home. They kept their house in pristine condition. The house exterior was white painted clapboard and the window frames were painted a soft green. The front of the house sported a covered porch where two rocking chairs sat facing the front lawn. Grandpa and Grandma would sit and watch local traffic buzz by on the small rural country road that ran by the front of their house. Their house sat on a corner property where their street intersected with the narrow country road. Because their home sat on a rise of land which overlooked the road, they had the perfect spot from which to “watch the world go by” as Grandma used to say. They had a number of flower beds fronting their property with large sweeping bands of color enhancing the view for people driving down the road past their place.

Both Grandpa and Grandma were born and raised in this small rural community and after they married, they remained and raised their children here as well. As a child, I enjoyed visiting them often and loved immersing myself into their quiet existence. They were very good Grandparents and despite their humble lifestyle, they were happy in their community and they enjoyed having easy access to their Grandchildren.

Many years passed by and then the unthinkable happened. Grandpa died before Gram. She was lost without him, so my Mother invited her to come and stay with us in town, which she did. She enjoyed living with her daughter and Granddaughters but began to miss her home of over 40 years, so my Mother drove her up to her home and dropped her off with arrangements to come back the following Saturday to pick her up.

That week in her home was very heartbreaking for Gram. The house no longer felt like home without Grandpa and she felt like a stranger in her own community. Friends had all become old and many had passed away. New people had moved in which made a lifelong community feel a little foreign to her.

The following Saturday, as my Mother turned into the driveway, she saw Gram standing outside, suitcase packed and on the ground beside her.. As Gram got into the car, Mom asked her how things had worked out for her and Grandma said “Well, when I decided I wanted to go back home for a visit, I assumed it would all be the same as I had left it. Instead, what I discovered is that our home is now just a house without your Father there!” As she spoke, she dabbed away at tears that had begun to trickle down her face.

❤️❤️❤️

My husbands parents owned a farm which sat on 80 acres of land. It was a beautiful place with wide sweeping views on which sat a large two story farmhouse with a long deep front porch overlooking the fields. There was a huge barn and various other buildings that held machinery, chickens, cows and corn, all of which were painted white. This group of buildings sat at the end of a long country lane surrounded by corn fields. They raised two children on this farm, a boy and a girl, and my husband was their first born and their son.

They were blessed with 6 Grandchildren who would often go and stay with them on the farm. The children enjoyed the wide open spaces and reveled in spending time with their cousins while exploring the interiors of many of the different buildings. They all ran and played as they crossed tall green pasture land and often returned looking like dirty little vagrant children. The more dirt, the better. They enjoyed biking down the long dirt driveway to the mailbox to gather mail. This mailbox sat alongside the gravel road that went past their farm property. Grandpa would take each of them for rides on his riding lawn mower and even let them steer! Now that was a great feeling of power to a younger child. How quickly all those years passed by, and sooner than one can imagine, the grandchildren were all grown up and had moved on into living busy lives of their own.

As their health began to decline, Grandpa made the decision to sell their farm. They held an auction on the Centennial farm where my husbands father was born and raised. They chose the things they would take with them to their small Senior apartment in town, and everything else was sold or donated that day. I still remember my Mother in law walking around the large circular drive, tears streaming down her face as grieved the loss of the contents of her home which held memories of a lifetime. So many things that had given her much joy through the years now sat on big trailer beds waiting to be sold. The sunlight was not nearly as kind to the appearance of their possessions as had been the soft interior lighting inside the old farmhouse. My heart broke along with hers as I watched her linger in front of things she had collected and cherished over the years. I know the loss of her home felt like a death to her.

Time passed again and some years later, Grandpa died. With the passing of Grandpa, Grandma’s dementia deepened and we were not even sure if she was aware of the loss of her husband. 6 months later, her two children and I sat at her bedside knowing her life was coming to an end. Her daughter sat on one side of her bed and my husband and I sat on the other side and as we were casually conversing, we heard her breathing change. We stopped talking and watched a smile appear on her face. Her expression kept changing and the smile grew broader until she took her last breath. We had no doubt that she was greeted and welcomed to her eternal home.

❤️❤️❤️

Around the same time that my husbands parents sold their farm, my parents were having their own aging struggles. My Dad had a stroke not long after he retired which he seemed to recover from fairly well. He was dealing with macular degeneration so his eyesight was impaired.. Mom now had to drive and as time passed, he suffered little mini strokes which contributed to a cognitive decline. They put their house on the market because their bedrooms and bathroom were all upstairs and he could no longer manage the stairs. Here, too, I watched a lifetime of accumulation gathered up and put out to be sold or donated.

These Grandparents were the ones who always arranged fishing trips to Canada for the whole family. We were always eager to be part of this trip every time he made plans and we formed a caravan of 5 vehicles each time we made the trip. Those were such fun days for all involved and one year, my Dad caught “the big one”! It was a 35 pound trout and as he pulled into the dock area there was much excitement and chatter about his good fortune. To this day, memories of these fishing trips are among the most treasured of the grandchildren.

These Grandparents introduced to the larger family a card game named “Peruvian Rummy“, a game they learned while living in South America. The game caught on immediately and was a tool for all of us to interact and bond during friendly competition. There were many, many nights of endless rounds of Rummy as we each focused on becoming the winner of the game.

I also remember Grandpa taking the kids skiing in the northern snowy woods by pulling them behind his truck using a water ski rope. They swished and swooped down old logging trails in the same fashion as when one waterskis behind a boat. The kids enjoyed the feeling of the soft cold snow dusting their faces as it blew off the trees when they whizzed past the low hanging branches.

My parents graciously agreed to come and stay long periods of times at our house (almost as a second set of parents) to give a sense of continuity to our children when we would travel extensively with my husbands job.

But, just as with the others, time passed and it became apparent that they needed to make a location change to suit their new health conditions.

I remember the last day in their house before turning the keys over to the new owner. Mom and I were doing last minute touch ups to the cleaning and clearing out, and we each had a moment where we looked at each other with heart felt emotion. Our eyes locked in place as we felt the mutual sense of loss knowing that this was the final chapter in their home. We embraced each other, but neither of us said a word. There really is no comfort language available that one can use to say goodbye to a place which contained so many memories….memories of holidays and vacations spent there with three generations laughing, loving, socializing and bonding! We walked to the side door of the house and stepped outside. Mom locked the door and put the key in an envelope and slipped it under the door mat as was previously agreed with the new owner.

They, too, moved to a Senior Apartment and Dad died within a year and a half of that move. Mom lived alone following his death for an additional 11 years until one night, following a minor surgery, she too died.

❤️❤️❤️

As I age, I think about our parents and Grandparents more and more frequently and find that I have so many questions I would like to ask them now that would be pertinent to this time in our life.

I find myself remembering back in time to a day when it was my Mother in laws 72nd birthday. I was in my 30’s at the time and I impulsively asked this question.

“What’s it like to be 72, Verona?”

She looked at me for a minute and said, “Well, you know….when you are your age and you hear the number 72, it seems like it is a long, long way down the road! But when you are the one who is 72, you look back in time and realize it goes like this” (and she snapped her finger).

Each year when her birthday comes around, I look upwards toward heaven and say, “There went another one, Verona, just like that!” And I proceed to snap my finger.

Indeed, life passes faster than anyone can fully realize. For those of us who have been blessed to live into our golden years, we begin to see the fragility of life and how quickly it passes us by. I reflect a lot more these days on my past and all the people I have known and all experiences I have had along the way. What suited us in the early years in the way of a home or material goods does not necessarily suit us now, which is why I continue to send things out the door, back to the universe where someone else may find good use for whatever item I am relinquishing.

I try to stay focused on all that is good in the moment and count my blessings every day. My Mother in law was so right all those years ago when she said “looking back…..” As this thought passes through my consciousness, I snap my finger like she did.

Indeed! It surely does go by that fast! Savor the moment for no one knows how many they are going to get!

4/27/2022-jjb

Home again, home again, Jiggity, jig, jig!

Interstate 35W is the route we usually take to our daughters in North Texas and as the years have gone on, the traffic just seems to get worse and worse. Many long haul truckers and semi’s are constantly whizzing by at 70+ mph with cars zig zagging in and out of the traffic trying to get ahead of these monster trucks. White knuckles grip the steering wheel and each year we feel our age more…or, perhaps these drives are what ages us?

We decided that there just must be a better way to go between our two homes so we started searching the maps of the countryside for roads that could take us home even if it took us a littler longer. Hubs found a route and we took it and now wonder why we had not checked this out sooner. We had good 4 lane roads with little traffic and NO semis, thank the good Lord! The countryside was dotted with live oak trees and cows, goats and sheep, so an entirely improved experience.

We happily drove along, sipping our latte’s and nibbling on our tiny scones…(everything has been reduced in size with increased cost of ingredients). This scone was easily only 1/3 the original size purchased previously. That is ok since our waistlines don’t need the calories, but the price stayed the same. It wasn’t until we got back in the car and looked into the scone bag when we realized how much we had overpaid. Lesson learned for sure!

It only took us 20 minutes longer to reach our destination and we felt the time was a good investment for our increased comfort. Soon we pulled into the driveway and after 6 weeks away, my heart did a little blip just to be on our own property. I walked through the front door to our courtyard and stood there with a dropped jaw looking in astonishment at what I saw. Covering everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, was a thick layer of pea green pollen. It was just a terrible sight to be the first thing I saw on my arrival back home.

I let my husband unload the car and I went to work with the water hose and washed everything down with water. The porch was thick with green pollen dust so I methodically rinsed down everything in sight. This has been an exceptional year for pollen but I have never seen it to this extent before! I spent 2 hours hosing and rinsing, moving furniture where needed, and also watering plants along the way.

Once done, it looked welcoming and I felt less stressed…though I felt somewhat emotionally disoriented. After 6 weeks away…it feels surreal and even foreign to be back here. So, I began a walkabout looking at my plants of which many were newly planted a year ago to replace the devastation left behind by our freak February snow and ice storm.

Here stands my newly planted dogwood tree. it is just a baby, yet it put on a show for me. The blossoms are a delight!

I continued along the path and a couple of my cactus caught my eye. I love these little guys who take so little care but offer so much joy!

Further along I spy a few of my perennials blooming…

My purple smoke bush…newly planted last year…

Then I sit down in our swing and turn to look at our fountain!

My pump in the picture below brings back childhood memories of one child pouring water in the pump to prime it and the other child pumping the handle wildly up and down until finally, finally, the gusher erupts! Ahhh, cold water on a hot day! it was definitely worth the effort.

As I sit here, look who comes to visit and take a bath!

Looking me in the eye!
Kiss an angel Good Morning!
Yes it is!

So, as I was typing this, my husband happened upon the scene with a freshly squeezed icy lemonade! I am feeling at home once again and ready to see what God has planned for us tomorrow! Home Sweet Home! It feels good to be back to the familiar!

Texas Roses!

It feels like spring today with warm sun and cool breezes.

Me contemplating this life I have been living….

Pies served daily ? Not so much. Love lives here? ALL THE TIME!

The grill is beckoning me….and my stomach is growling so off I go! I still love Texas no matter where in it I live! Praise and thanks to God for His powers of healing. Thanks also for the gift of life itself for ALL living things.

jjb/4/18/2022

There I am!

I am leaving for home tomorrow and after 6 weeks away, I have mixed feelings. Excitement and longing for my own nest is the greatest emotion, but right on the tail of this is regret and sadness to see this chapter come to a close.

Humans are perfectly imperfect, are we not? We can, on the one hand, feel great joy while at the very same time, we also feel a sense of melancholy. When God created us, He must have said “Let these beautiful beings be complex in every way for a greater learning experience”. The vast array of emotions we experience in our lifetime is unique to humans which creates a very rich, diverse experience.

What started as a health scare for our daughter, turned into a six week period of time where Mother and daughter came together in one place alone. There has been a whole gambit of emotions to be dealt with as our daughter chafed at living under the restrictions of no driving for three months. Her husband travels with his job, so they needed someone to stay with her and be her driver. We realize that we could have hired an Uber driver for her needs, but I felt she needed someone here for emotional support as she came to terms with yet another new health challenge. Before 2020, she was in excellent health and in the last two years, it has been one thing after the other. Not sure what is happening, but, since we have limited control we just pray and make the best of things.

I told her brother when he called that I thought she may be feeling smothered by having Mother around all the time. Thank goodness she could go to work three days a week to give her some breathing room. This left me in another persons home, in a strange town with nothing to do until my time came to drive. Hence, began the projects. I knew if I just sat around for 6 weeks (as if I were a houseplant) things could spiral downward in a hurry due to restlessness and frustration on both our parts. I asked permission first, received it, and then rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

In the beginning she and I cleaned out three full suburban loads of stuff collected from all the closets and cupboards and drove it all to Goodwill. After that, I asked her permission to paint things in need of refreshing and she granted the request. I began painting doors, walls and ceilings in the laundry room, guest bedroom and guest bathroom. While I was in action, I did quite well, but once I sat down at the end of the day, my body went into full body stiffness. It was so crazy. When I was in motion, I felt as I always have. When I stopped, it was like I was an old jalopy seizing up. What the heck is that all about?

I have decided that “what this is all about” are many lessons wrapped into one. The lessons are here in a broader sense of this time together. The physical aspect is only one part of it. Lets face it, I am not even middle aged anymore though my spirit just does not understand this. The reason my body rears up in anger is because the body and spirit no longer match. My spirit is young and my body is old…it is as simple as that. As my Dad used to say, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!”. haha! I always laughed when he said that, but it is clear to me now that he was not joking. It is true!

Miraculously though, as the weeks passed, my body got stronger and stronger. Climbing a ladder was easy peasy and painting a ceiling with a long handled roller with my head bent towards my back became second nature to me. I realized as the days passed that when “purpose” returned to my life, so did love of life itself. Humans are meant to have a purpose of one kind or another as long as we walk this earth, or we become stagnant and useless in our journey.

In some ways, my daughter and I together actually do resemble an old jalopy where early on in this journey we had the herky-jerky motion of one stepping on the accelerator at the same time as the other stepped on the brakes. She is no longer a child but I think she felt like one as I drove her to and from work much like I did when she was in junior high school. She hated it and was vocal about it. As time moved forward, she got used to it and realized she could see an end in sight. On my end, I have always been a person who burned the midnight oil. I have always been a night owl, and because of this habit, I enjoyed sleeping in a little bit in the mornings. Now I was on a new schedule of getting up at 5:30 a.m. and once again, my old body rebelled, but “spirit” firmly put it in its place. This was our new temporary life and “body” may just as well decide to adjust! So there!

I just graduated with an “honorary masters degreein the mastering of keeping my opinions to myself. Oh boy, there were so many moments when I wanted to play the “Mother knows best” role, but I knew it was actually best to not go there. Daughter was suffering so many emotions and adjustments, she did not need to have a manager mother around on top of everything else.

During this time, I learned what it would feel like to be a solitary older Mother living with her adult child and it was unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory when viewed in this fashion. I missed my partner so much. I realize that after nearly 50 years, we are no longer separate human beings. Somewhere along the way we fused and became ONE, so living without the other speaks to what life would be like living as a HALF rather than as a whole. I doubt a person ever feels whole again after such a loss. I only got a peek into this, and the thought of it nearly broke my heart. It makes me feel grief for my friends who have had to continue their journey in life as a half. In truth, we are ALL whole and complete unto ourselves and I do not mean to imply otherwise. I only mean that it “feels” as if we are not whole until life kicks in and we can find our true solitary identity once again.

She and I have had our ups as well as our downs. We have had some words, both positive and negative. We have shared tears and then great joy and laughter. In the end, we came together very well and I feel blessed for having had this once in a lifetime opportunity for a Mother and Daughter to be alone together in one house for 6 weeks. In the back of our mind we knew it was not a permanent situation, which I am sure helped with the adjustment on both accounts.

She says she has finally figured me out! haha! Well good luck with that thought, daughter dear, because my own Mother died never having done so. She used to scratch her head in bewilderment with some of my thoughts and actions. I think the same will be true with my daughter as well when she reflects on me after I have left this earth. Truth be told I haven’t even figured me out. I don’t understand even half the thoughts and feelings that percolate through my mind on any given day. I am old enough to know that we are not really meant to figure out everyone and everything. Sometimes we just go with whatever happens and let our spirit take over. Go with the flow as they say because our lessons are happening all the time.

As for my understanding of my daughter, I am leaving with happy thoughts. I leave with the knowledge that she is not nearly as sensitive as I am which will save her a lot of grief in this world. I used to worry about her feeling lonely as her husband is away often with his career. I realize now that she is very independent and has many friends to talk with to keep her company. She is just fine in this regard. Her love of her dog has seeped into my being and now I love Lil Nugget too. Six weeks of me and Nugget spending countless hours together while A is at work has created a human/canine bond that did not exist before. I was never one who had to have a dog in the home although we did when the kids were young. When Max was brought home as a puppy, he had to follow strict rules. NO getting on the furniture was ever allowed and that especially meant no sleeping with a dog in our bed. This little dog sleeps with A and G. Nugget also likes to curl up on the sofa or chair to sleep. This is allowed in their house rule book. After 6 weeks she sometimes chooses me over A and snuggles up next to me on the sofa. It has become so second nature these days, I find myself absentmindedly petting her as I read my email and she just presses herself against me and burrows deeper into slumber. I have to say, I have grown to love our little grand dog, and it is just fine that she is on the sofa, which is proof of everyday miracles when it comes to me.

Thank you God for this time together of one older Mother and her almost middle aged daughter. (Seriously, can these ages really be so?) Despite the continuous daily adjustment of one human with another, in the end we came together with a new appreciation of each other. Mothers and daughters are a part of Gods lessons to us in understanding that one can love another person even if their personalities are mirror opposites of one another. Where one is weak, the other is strong and therefore, if we are open to it, we learn to hone our life skills through another human being.. I doubt this kind of arrangement will ever happen again, and I am delighted to have experienced it. No matter where you find yourself in life, no matter what is happening at the time, it is likely not a permanent situation. With life comes change so I find comfort in what my Mother used to say in response to their frequent career moves. She would say, “No matter where I go, there I am!”. haha! It still makes me laugh. Yes, indeed, no matter where I go, “there I am!”. Hence, in life’s ever present sea of change, we find the familiar which consists of me, myself and I.

Everywhere I go, THERE I AM! Amen!

jjb/4/16/2022

Fly birdie fly!

It’s morning again….and this time I am sitting in “the office” as my daughter calls it, which consists of me sitting on her sofa in the living room. I am hunkered down in the corner of the sofa closest to her big living room window which looks out on the street.

I am tired today and my muscles are sore from painting her laundry room yesterday while she was at work. It is not easy to paint a small space with big appliances. I was in various contorted positions…up on a ladder, to edge paint along the ceiling, then I was bent over at the waist, squashed between the washer and dryer trying to paint the wall behind them. I had to move both machines back and forth as I painted just to finish the wall. I had no trouble doing any of this….but man oh man, am I paying for it today! I have muscles I didn’t know I had and they are in protest of yesterdays activity. But, I feel satisfied, none the less, for having a beautifully painted room to present to my daughter when she got home.

Why am I doing all these projects? Because I can’t imagine just sitting here day after day for 6 whole weeks. I need to have a purpose and she and her husband are the beneficiary of that same purpose.

Its the work ethic I grew up with. Idle hands were often put to work if you could not find something to do, so we learned quickly to choose for ourselvess. This work I am creating for myself is good for me if sore muscles are any indication. It means that I am using muscles that have been dormant for far too long.

I have been busy the entire time I have been here, always asking permission before each project. Today, I paint the guest bathroom. Why not? Neither my daughter or husband have a lot of spare time for extended projects. Hence they have free labor at their disposal. Our daughter is very pleased and said “MOM! You are a machine!”. I have heard that before!

This writing was put aside as I ventured into more projects including painting the guest bathroom and bedroom, which were, thankfully, the last of the paint projects. All physical work was offered and accepted. Now they have three fully refreshed painted rooms. I also worked outside in the backyard filling pots with flowers which of course is my first love…Being outside in the garden is good for the soul!

It has been an interesting experience living in our daughters house for so long. We are both learning to co-exist in a respectful fashion towards one another. In some ways she and I are much alike, but in other ways we are very, very different. For starters, we come together from two generations which the span from one generation to the next in this day and age is HUGE.

Our preferences are often different. Music is a big one. I love soft flowing music and she loves faster louder music. I love routine from day to day and she flies by the seat of her pants as they used to say. I love deep philosophical discussions whereas she communicates in sound bites. The good thing about being together for 6 weeks is that when one is with a “soundbite” conversationalist, you need a lot time to piece together their thoughts to understand how they think. I have learned a lot about my daughter and most of it is good.

My husband is coming to pick me up to bring me back home for Easter dinner with our son and wife who lives in the same city as we do. We have reservations at a restaurant late afternoon and I look forward to the lively conversation and really look forward to being waited upon. Oh yes, there is that side of me as well. ”Waiter, oh waiter! “ ha! ha!

Time just keeps moving along bringing to me one new adventure and lesson after another. The biggest lesson this time is understanding how very independent our daughter is. She doesn’t really “Mommy” anymore, but she does love and enjoy her Mother/Friend. Her Mother enjoys her back. She is a powerhouse full of confidence and resolve. No one will ever take her down in life. If we were turtles, she would be the one with the shell, and I am the one minus the shell…She has a sensitive side as well, but it is protected with the armor of youth. I am sensitive which some may consider a weakness, but I think of it as a strength. Where we are weak we are strong, or at least we learn to be. Strength with a sensitivity towards others has its place and is needed in this fast paced society of people too busy to ponder the life of another.

My daughter is home today and she keeps asking me if I am o.k. (no doubt because I am so quiet) I am just tired and today is my day to do nothing but read and write and relax. Our projects are all done and she said she felt that these projects have contributed to a stronger bond between us. I am glad to hear this. A health scare on her part brought me here in the first place and has kept me here for 6 weeks. She is doing great and her husband soon comes home from his traveling career. He will be here for her for the next 6 months and then in 6 weeks time she is free to drive to her hearts content. She will be THRILLED!

I am lonesome for my husband….I have never been away from him for so long, although he did come here for a couple of days two weeks ago. It has been a good and rewarding time, but I am now like a birdie ready to leave someone else’s nest! Fly birdie fly. She flew out of our nest 25 years ago and now I am flying out of hers. I can relate to the euphoria she must have felt back then.

I look forward to wandering around my own gardens, sitting on my own sofa and sleeping in my own bed. I look forward to going back to a contemplative life full of books and flowers and conversation with my other half, my very favorite person in the world! It is with him where I belong, where I will live out my natural life. I was so blessed to meet him so many years ago! I am so blessed to still have him in my life.

Life….It has been a privilege to have had this journey. I look forward to many new adventures!

Change

It is early morning and I am sitting in the middle of a large sectional sofa with my feet propped up on a large ottoman that sits in front of it. I am behind closed doors in the Den of my daughters house and she is still sleeping. It is very quiet!

I feel unsettled in the aftermath of a bad dream where I was in search of home but could not seem to find it. In my dream, I did not know where my home was, and while I was feverishly in search of it, my panic seemed to grow. Where, oh where is my home?

I woke up and rolled onto my back in the dark room trying to reorient myself. I laid there and watched the fan spinning overhead with the chain below wobbling in the breeze. Somehow, its hum was comforting. Oh yes…now I remember, I am at our daughters home for an extended stay and MY home of 25 years is being watched over by my husband. He was just here for a few days and left for home yesterday.

I try to shake off the emotions from the dream so I get up, pad off to the kitchen and make a strong cup of freshly brewed coffee. Mmmmm! Now THIS is the beginning of my usual daily routine and I begin to settle into reality. Its been three weeks I have been here and I have three weeks to go. I have never been away from my husband AND home simultaneously for this long before and there are times when I feel as if I am in a free fall. Our daughter had a health scare which required I be here as her driver for a while and I am half way through the six weeks needed.

Our daughter has been very gracious to me and I am grateful. She even dotes on me from time to time, sliding unto the sofa next to me and slipping her arm through mine as she speaks loving thoughts about our relationship. Those times are savored and I tuck them away in my memory bank to take out on another day when my spirit is sagging for one reason or another. There are other days where something I say makes her bristle but she is careful to not retort back. Goodness! Two women in one house for an extended period of time is obviously a lesson on give and take, but, overall, we are doing very well and the lessons on boundaries and space are invaluable.

Growing old is not for the faint of heart. I feel proud of the independent and strong spirits of our children. None of them are dependent on us in any way, so I guess you could say we did well on our parenting report card. The other side of it is, they are in their prime of life working, some raising families, all chasing that American dream which means they are very busy. Though I know I am loved and welcome here, I also know I do not belong here in a permanent sense. There is nothing I would not do for my children, but I am learning to ask first.

As we continue to add years to our life we look around at all the things we once thought we just had to have. Oh, what joy we felt as we brought our new little trinkets home. I remember when we purchased our first brand new sofa and matching chair. I was so excited about the purchase, I would first sit in the chair to look at the sofa and then sit on the sofa to look at the chair. I was so thrilled! Those years were the building years. We were building a life together and furnishing our newly purchased nest. To think I actually thought this sofa beautiful! It speaks loudly to the influence of good marketing snd inexpensive goods.

I thought this was beautiful at the time.

So now what? There has been a lot written about simplifying ones life and the articles make it sound liberating and freeing to the soul. Sounds good, and after all, a shroud does not have pockets, as they say. I have no trouble discarding things, but I do have a hard time discarding the memories these things bring about. As my daughter and I were bringing things from her house to the thrift store, I was her champion! “Good girl! YOU GO girl! I am so proud of you daughter dear!“.

That is, UNTIL she put what was once MY beautiful crystal wine glasses in a box to ship off. They are a very delicate shade of pink etched crystal bought to compliment the pure white china upon which a single delicate pink rose graced the side of the plate. The water goblets, too, were selected with such care and precision almost 50 years ago. They represent to me our beginnings…the beginning of our marriage and our life together. It was ok to see Grandmas stuff go out the door, for she is in heaven walking golden paths that pass by crystal cathedrals, but I am still here! I quickly grabbed the crystal and said I would bring them home. So, we put them in a box and sent them back with my husband. Foolish….just FOOLISH thinking on my part, because honestly, will I ever use them again? Doubtful! Our children are informal people. It is a whole new world out there and what they see as old-world stuff doesn’t fit into this lifestyle, and don’t even think of leaving them anything that needs to be polished regularly!

I am ready to let go…I am ready to let go….I am ready to let go!

Easier said than done. I KNOW this is a lesson in life made just for me! I felt such joy building our life together and feathering our nest. Each item was selected with the idea of creating my own personal Norman Rockwell painting. Surely those people on the cover of Saturday Evening Post are US, are they not? They’re NOT? What? That was all just fiction in the imagination of the painter? Just an imaginary family picture on a magazine cover? Well, now. That’s a jolt!

I think that many women growing up in my generation saw too many idealized movies and t.v. shows depicting this type of a lifestyle and we sought to emulate it, because it appealed to us. We also witnessed our grandmothers setting a nice table with an ironed tablecloth and lovely dishes for the holidays. I remember those long ago commercials with high heeled housewives vacuuming the new carpet in their house. They wore pretty ruffled aprons, and looked ready for a date when the kids came home from school. Well, I certainly never wore high heels around the house to do my cleaning, nor did I ever wear an apron, and don’t even ask the kids what I must have looked like, but I sure loved setting a beautiful table for special occasions. I thought I was teaching our children about the “finer” things in life, yet these days very few of our children’s generation want any of that type of dinnerware, nor those type of complicated dinners that created heaping piles of dishes. Those days are gone.

I imagine God smiling indulgently as we finally grasp the amount of money and time spent on things that just simply do not matter. Our kids have their own way of doing things and it is different from us. I guess I will just cut a larger swath through my home and cabinets and closets when I get back to my nest and send more out the door. It rocks my boat to say goodbye to the representation of a life well lived, but one has to step out of the past and join loved ones in the here and now.

I am trying to remember the name of a movie where in a scene towards the end, an older Jessica Tandy was sitting on her suitcase in the middle of a small town intersection. She was looking for her house and I remember how that scene stole my heart as she realized the house was gone or maybe boarded up. Jessica Tandy was one of my all time favorite actresses and oh how I loved her scratchy emotion filled voice. I wonder if it was “Driving Miss Daisy”? Or, was it “Fried Green Tomatoes”? Both movies were excellent, and more so because she starred in both. I just found it..It was ”Fried Green Tomatoes” but will leave in both references if you are looking for a great older movie to watch.

Well, anyway, the movie was about a woman who was moving forward towards the end of her life, being faced with some difficult unavoidable changes to her living arrangements and she did it with grace. I am not that kind of old age yet, but God willing it is not all that much farther down the pike as they say. Time….it has a way of rolling up life’s carpet behind us as we walk our journey. There is no going back and so one may as well embrace the change as we move forward. I will try my best, but I suspect that my embrace will have white knuckled clenched fists as I work through it. Lol! Relax, M’am, relax!

For what it is worth….I love my daughter for so many reasons and in so many ways. If the world had more people like her in it, there would be NO wars! ❤️

jjb/3/29/2022

Out with the old…

How quickly we go from the height of our strength, health and beauty to joining the club of the aged. Well, wine is better when its aged and so is cheese, right? Hopefully, so are humans…at least to their loved ones. Where did time go? How did it pass by so fast?

About 3 weeks ago we got a call from our son in law to tell us our daughter was in the hospital again and this time for a 7 minute seizure. At the end of the day, and at the end of all the tests, they could not find any cause. There are a number of possible reasons but nothing conclusive.

Before the pandemic hit, this girl was healthy, but since 2020 its been one thing after the other and not all of them related. Right now, since the seizure, she appears in tip top shape. She is back at work and the reason I am still here is because after a seizure, state law dictates no driving for three months. So I am her personal chauffer. Her husband travels a lot with his career, and he will be home for Easter and will be working from home after that. Then I will go home.

This 6 weeks has been a bit of a gift in a world of constant movement. Everyone is SO busy. Everyone is TOO busy. We rush here and we rush there, always on the move. Now, I am in a quiet zone of non busy and in a zone of just Mother and Daughter. We have had our moments of adjustment, but as time ticks by, we are developing a rhythm to this new temporary life. She had a difficult time at first, losing control of her health, losing her freedom to drive here and there, and having someone being injected into her home and life because of state laws concerning driving.

We have done very well and have filled the time deleting “Stuff” from her closets on her days off from the ICU, and as we have gone along, she gets more and more motivated to get rid of even more stuff no longer serving its original purpose. Slowly, closets are opening up, and the house seems bigger. I think the poor girl felt like she could never get rid of things that parents and grandparents have given her, and once I gave her permission to donate things, her enthusiasm escalated along with her joy.

We are two different generations coming together and discovering how different we are in our tastes of the material things we value and lifestyles. Times have changed and it is important to give our adult children permission to carve out a whole different identity from our own. We packed the Traverse suburban completely full two times (almost ready for the third trip) and off to Goodwill we went. Out went Grandmas china and crystal, out went gifts long ago received, out went all sorts of household stuff no longer necessary to her life. Maybe they were never necessary, but she was too polite to decline.

I told her about when my Mother died how I chose to not take anything of hers home with me other than a tapestry purse she always carried with a chiffon scarf inside that she always wore when it was cool outside. I did not need anything to remind me of my Mother. She was and still is as present and clear in my mind and heart as she ever was. We had a deep love and respect for each other, and now my daughter and I are building the same kind of relationship.

I will miss her when I go home and I sure hope she will miss me. I think she will. I know she will. In my mind, she is still that little girl in a picture of our family from long ago. In my presence she is a strong, independent 43 year old for whom I prayed and prayed when I was pregnant with her. “Please God, give me a girl”, I prayed over and over. When she was born, I was beyond thrilled. Now, 43 years later, I am still thrilled. God is good!

jjb/3/29/2022

Gifts

Have you ever found yourself pondering your life and how the people you have encountered along the way came to be walking the same path as you at the same time?

Through the years I have done this type of assessment a lot. How was it that I was born at the time and place I arrived? Why was I born into my particular family? Why was I born into an area of the world so different from the places where millions of others presented themselves? I always pondered these questions as I learned about the world around me, knowing that somewhere on the other side of the world there were people born into abject poverty or into a place where fear was rampant due to the criminal element that surrounded them. The same is true when I pondered those born into royal bloodlines and extreme wealth. How did this all come to be our reality? As for me, I think I was very lucky. Like the story of Goldilocks, where this porridge was too hot, this porridge was too cold, and this porridge was just right, my life was “just right” with no excess of anything. No excess wealth and no excess poverty. It was always filled with the right amount of many factors that contributed to my well being. Some people think life is a random event while others think it is pre-determined.. I am open to whatever our creator decided for it to be.

I was thinking of this on my way home from the airport this morning after dropping off one of my dearest friends. She arrived a week ago today and we pretty much talked nonstop the entire time. As I sped along the highway, I was counting my blessings for the merging of our two individual paths in life so long ago at another time and place. How is it that we clash with some people in this world and instantly bond with others? It is a mystery.

If there are four seasons in life I suppose I would now have to say that I have entered the winter of my life where there is a shortening of the days and a slowing down of energy…a period of rest and contemplation. I am most decidedly blessed to have been granted the experience of this part of life where similar to the ending of a song, it becomes quieter, slower and drawn out until its completion…

I met my friend when I was in my late 20’s. My husband and I and our family had recently moved to a small northern Minnesota town due to my husbands job promotion. We had three small children and the day I met my friend, the children were playing quietly downstairs as I was wallpapering a wall in our house. To my surprise, the doorbell rang, so I put down my project and opened the door. There she stood…She was tall and thin with dark, shoulder length hair and a broad smile. The minute our eyes met, we both felt a strong connection. She was collecting for the Heart Association and she made a point of showing me proof of the legitimacy of her donation request. I laughed out loud at her concern that I may think she was a fraud looking for money.

As is often said, She and I “hit it off”, and as a result, many phone calls, lunches, and outings occurred while we slowly built our relationship. We were fortunate that our husbands really liked each other as well, so there were many times, as couples, we found interesting things to do which allowed for the guys to come to know each other better as well.

We had only lived in that little town for around two years when another promotion pulled us far away to another state. Despite the distance now between us, she and I remained in touch by letter, phone call, and an occasional planned visit.

Through the years we have shared our life stories with each other, a little bit at a time, as time allowed. Bit by bit, we became ever closer as we began to see how synchronized we were in our morals, thoughts, religious beliefs, parenting, etc. etc. etc. Like a small seed planted in fertile soil, our relationship grew and expanded and began to bear fruit. The fruit consisted of the many ways we helped shape each others thoughts and how we helped each other expand our awareness of the complexity of life, family and friends. The fruit was also the absolute acceptance of each other exactly as we are. There was no competitiveness, no envy, no negativity at all. There was only positive energy flowing and no expectations of changing the other.

My personality traits are those of a social introvert. I can spend vast amounts of time by myself but I DO love the company of others where we can talk and laugh and share thoughts and feelings. I just don’t need this type of socialization on a daily basis. I connect this aspect of my personality to the environment in which I grew up. We lived in “the woods” of the U.P. of Michigan at a time where a child’s entertainment was not provided to them. A child had to figure that part out on their own, so in my case, it consisted of a lot of solitary activities. I also had cousins, cousins, by the dozens anytime I wanted a playmate, but for the most part, I spent a lot of my time in the imaginary world of books. Sometimes I would take a book up into the middle of the woods nearby and lay down on my back on the soft moss covered earth. I would then prop my book up on my chest, and proceed to get lost in the next adventure. Oh how I traveled far and wide in those days, one adventure followed by another in the far outposts of my mind. I would occasionally lift my eyes from the book to observe the long shafts of sunlight streaming down through the tall stand of trees as I pondered recently read passages.

As a result of my childhood, I have never needed a huge circle of friends. Rather, I was selective about who I spent time with, which inevitably led to my friendships becoming more than just surface laughter. I have always said, “Give me one good hearted “salt of the earth” friend with a great sense of humor and I am good to go!” No gaggle of girlfriends for me!

I think that we somehow manifest our desires by how we imagine things because the universe has presented to me one good friend after another. Not a LOT of them, but boy oh boy, the quality of these people has always been spot on for me to love and enjoy.

This is true with my husband as well. No truer love has ever existed for me than that which I have for him and he has for me. Oh, yes, blessings abound! When I was young, I always imagined what my husband would be like some day and now here we are, nearly 1/2 century married, true friends on so many levels!

I am sitting here now in the quiet of my house, imagining my friend sitting in an airplane, lifting off in the Texas sky, flying back to the north country. I feel satiated and loved after a wonderful week of shopping, lunches, sharing thoughts and feelings and the reminiscing of stories from long ago. At the same time, I feel a slight bit melancholy because I realize how far we have come and how much shorter the path is that lies ahead of us. Death is real to us these days as she is now a widow of three years. Instead of two couples engaging with each other, we are now a threesome and we are ever mindful of the fragility of life. As she is strongly encouraging us to come and stay a month with her next summer, using her home as a place where we can come and go, we nod our heads smiling, saying “Yes, yes” knowing that this will only come to pass, if God is willing for it to be so!

My life has been full of many kinds of relationships…some good, some bad, some best left forgotten. This friendship falls into the good….the very, very good category. I guess one would call her a gift to me. A gift from God to make up for some of the losses I have endured. In the checks and balances of life, she is one of those rare bonuses!

As they say, be careful what you focus on because that is what you will bring into your life. Fortunately, I am one who usually focuses on what is good and right. I see life’s gifts, and she is certainly one of them. Bye, bye Nancy, I will be savoring and focusing on this visit for a long time to come. God bless!

jjb/1/25/2021

Getting it right!

It has been 21 months since the beginning of the Pandemic and life has been turned upside down and inside out. The majority of the news has been rife with doom and gloom and dire predictions on every aspect of our life. One has to search extensively to find uplifting stories that stir our hearts and bring a smile to our faces. The sheer magnitude of negative news and misinformation is staggering. After a while it just clutters up the mind and weighs a person down..

Yesterday I started putting up Christmas decorations. Usually this is something I enjoy doing. All through the many years, Christmas music has always wafted about our place as I pulled out time worn holiday decor from their storage spots in our closet. Each item brought back memories from long ago. This year, rather than reveling in this tradition, it somehow became a chore!

We no longer have a large Christmas tree. We did away with that years ago when climbing a ladder to decorate a 10 foot Christmas tree became a risky task for an aging body. We settled on a small 4 foot table tree which remains decorated year round. After Christmas, we simply put a large plastic bag over it and store it in one of our closets. I do not miss the time I used to spend dressing and undressing the tree each year nor the time it took to painstakingly store Christmas bulbs in little partitioned boxes.

The tree was set up in no time on our buffet table. After setting it in place, I pulled out a choir child centerpiece of my Mothers that goes back to 1965. Every time I see that piece, my Mothers smiling face comes to mind. My goodness, my heart still misses her. She was such a good Mother and an even better friend. Life goes on, as they say, but there are always those special moments that come about that I wish I could share with her and when I wish I could have one more conversation with her. Lifting this centerpiece out of the storage box brings about the yearning for a reconnection to my Mom.

In the center of our family room and in front of the fireplace sits a large square coffee table and this is where the centerpiece rests each year, and this is where I place it now.

I then set about decorating the mantle. I struggled with this for some unknown reason. I just could not get it right. While it looked nice, it gave me no joy. Why was this?

On to the dining room table…another centerpiece.

I put all holiday items not used this year into boxes to be taken to the thrift shop. Some were more difficult to part with than others. I suddenly felt weary so I just left the boxes designated for the thrift shop sitting about and went to sit down in my chair. As I looked around the room at the Christmas decor it felt cluttered and overdone.

My feet were aching from moving around in slipper socks on hard porcelain floors. No forgiveness there. I felt very tired and my spirit lagged! What in the world was the matter with me?

I fell asleep in my chair and when I woke up I realized a lot of time had passed. Looking at the clock I knew I better go to bed and catch a few winks of sleep because it was well after midnight. I toddled off to bed and I slept soundly for a few hours but then I awakened from a bad dream. The dream was disjointed and in it, I was searching for my place in the world. Somehow I did not know where I was, but I also could not remember my way back to where I belonged. I tossed and turned and finally got up and came back out into our family room and my chair. What in the world was going on here?

I think the Pandemic has completely altered my view of life and what is really important. For much of the last 21 months I have been packing up small boxes of things and sending them to the thrift shop, It isn’t difficult to part with things if one does it in small amounts. Bit by bit, our things keep going out the door. Bit by bit, I enjoy the space that emerges as things are lifted up and sent off. I always offer these things to the kids first and sometimes they happily take things and sometimes they politely say “no thank you!”. No hard feelings on my part for I am happy to purge one way or the other.

Interesting to me is my uneasiness with the Christmas decor. How much of this seasonal fare does one need after all? This morning I eliminated the mantle decorations and the table decorations entirely. I kept my Mothers choir child centerpiece (purely sentimental) and the 4 foot tree on the buffet table, along with a few decorations under the tree. Everything else was put in a box for the thrift shop.

My spirit lifted! Well, now, things that once gave me great joy no longer serve that purpose because I am no longer the same person. I guess you could say I am evolving.

A lot of clutter and uneasiness had taken root in my mind and emotions these past 21 months due to being inundated with an avalanche of negative news and dire warnings. Happily, it now seems to be dissipating since shutting off the devices that delivered them to my psyche. Eliminating social media was also helpful. I desperately needed a feeling of solitude and peace wherever I could find it. Rather than listen to everyone’s else’s life narrative, I chose to investigate and marinate in my own thoughts as I worked out in our garden. I enjoyed communing with the birds, the bees and the plants while pausing for a moment now and again to give notice to a soft breeze on my face or the warm sun on my body. I have allowed myself the luxury of time spent reading a good book here and there and relaxing time reclining back in my chair, eyes closed, taking in some beautiful soul stirring music.

My goal to surviving this Pandemic is to cultivate a relationship with self and to enjoy communing with my creator. I am reclaiming my place in this world, and MY place is “within”. This is where I find comfort and joy and where I find a sense of belonging. I still enjoy spending time with friends and of course I love my family and the times I spend with them, but all the rest is just a bunch of noise. In the Bible there is a short verse where it is written “Be Still and know that I am God”. As I remember my dream, I realize that finding my way to where I belong is to understand that while I am “in” this world, I am not to be “of” this world. I don’t have to let the people and events of this world intrude onto my inner space where God resides in the form of the Holy Spirit.

I continue to feel a sense of urgency in wanting ALL excess clutter removed, be it material goods or mental processing! My mind wants peace and quiet and a place where I can hear God speaking to me! It has been difficult for me to tune Him in amidst all that horrific negative static.

Simplifying feels like a good way to honor Christmas. Jesus was born in the most simple and humble of places, yet the story of his birth was majestic. Imagine in those days the quiet vast expanse of inky black sky dotted with countless stars under which the Wise men traveled. Imagine how one star stood out from all the rest as the brightest of lights beckoning and guiding their way to the Christ child. Imagine the stable wherein the focal point was a Mother, a Father, and a brand new baby Jesus. No clutter….just a simple place where animals and humans stood anchored and connected in the sweet smell of soft hay.

O.k. The coffee cup is empty and now I need to pack up the discarded pile of Christmas decor. Another trip to the gift shop is in my future.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and I pray that in the not so distant future we will be living a life that encompasses

more love than hate,

more joy than sorrow,

more positive than negative,

more good than evil

and a life devoid of the all distractions that clutter brings.

I am forever indebted to my Mother and all my loved ones who introduced me to a living and personal God! I am never alone. I will always keep close to my heart God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! I do not know how I would have managed in this life without Him.

Praise be to God!

Luke 2:7 ESV

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Jjb/12/3/2021

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If I could only fly

We have dinner baking in the oven so we poured a glass of wine (me) and a cold amber beer (him). We then hooked up my iPad to our Bose speaker and chose to stream Merle Haggard and a montage of his Gospel songs on utube! (Yes, really! Merle sang gospel music) We forgot how beautiful his voice was until we started to listen to his deep rich tone! Within a minute we settled into a trip down memory lane. It is my opinion that there is nothing he could not sing well.

As we listened to song after song, I thought of the many country music singers who have sung songs of praise to God and Jesus! I find that part touching. So many of these country music legends have lived rough and tumble lives, yet they all loved their Mama’s and Jesus, both who were the most likely to love and forgive them unconditionally!

Mr. B is melancholy tonight, eyes welling up as we listen to sentimental old time songs. We have a very dear relative who is on hospice, and we know his time is short. Even though we previously received notice of his condition and prognosis, it still comes as a shock when someone actually begins their journey “home.”. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…and all that.

The queue line ahead of us to go to heaven is getting shorter and shorter and we are ever increasingly aware of this. We have never been people who counted our years on earth in any serious kind of way. Naturally, the birthdays serve up a reminder of how long we have been walking this earth, but we have never really put serious thought to our demise. After all, our spirits are eternal and in our case, because we have been reasonably healthy, we motivate about our world with the joyful sense of living in the day while anticipating and planning for what is ahead.

Lately, however, we have received many notifications of people we know who have died. We are losing the world in which we grew up and lived for so many years, one relationship at a time. As I reflected on the departure of so many friends and family, it came to me that an interesting representation for this ongoing loss would be the visualization of removing pieces out of a completed jig saw puzzle. Each person’s piece in our life’s puzzle is taken out as they die, leaving a hole where they used to be in the picture of our life. Through the years, these pieces were inserted, one at a time, as we continued to build our picture, and now, all these years later, they are being lifted back out.

From birth, we begin our life within a circle of loved ones and as we grow older, we accumulate more and more people in our life by way of friends, loved ones, children, children’s friends, acquaintances, and the list grows through the years. The same is true for our accumulation of material possessions. A friend said once, “Isn’t it interesting how we spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of them?” I thought it to be a rather profound statement from someone who was only about 30 years old at the time. Of course, she was talking about our material possessions, but it applies in a different way to our unintended loss of loved ones as well.

As we face our final destination, we realize that we cannot take anything with us, not material goods nor even the people we love. We are forced to let go of everything we have gathered in our lifetime. All we take with us are the lessons we have learned about living and loving. Life’s meaning has always been about what we leave behind as we depart this earth and I am not referencing our material goods. I am referring to what we leave behind in the way of experiences and memories with others while here on earth. The ultimate harvest is about our relationships with other people, how we treated them and how we made them feel. Our journey here was never about us and what WE would gain. Rather it is about how we give of ourselves and how we have gifted and blessed and loved others.

As we sat there over dinner, listening to the music and talking, I began to imagine our loved one finally releasing his spirit from his earth bound body. I imagined him returning to God and to the promised land where there is no more pain, hunger, thirst, fear or loneliness. What will be greeting him upon his arrival to that distant place is a pure, unconditional love…the kind of love we have yearned for all of our lives. His spirit will soar and swoop with an unbridled joy not known or experienced here on earth. While we weep over the loss of this dear soul, we also give up thanks for having been blessed with his presence in our lives. We also give up thanks for his final and most important reward, which is life everlasting!

He was a very important piece to my life puzzle, having been a part of it my entire life. He was like a brother to me, and it has been written that the sibling relationship is the longest relationship we will ever experience on earth because they were there with us at our beginning and can be witness to the many events that shaped and formed the person we became.

In my puzzle of life, I would say that he was a corner piece, an important connecting piece to all the other pieces that were added as I grew up. The loss of his piece will undo the completed frame of my puzzle which means the framing of my life back to my birth will not feel as secure as it once did. Some people are foundational to our being and he certainly was that for us when we were young children.

But, life goes on. His life will continue in an expanded glorious version while our life will continue on in a slightly contracted version due to his departure. Memories of him will sustain us and as we imagine his spirit taking flight, we will rejoice in knowing that we will be reunited with him again someday. Oh the conversations we will have then about the lessons given to us while here in this realm. FINALLY, there will be a pulling back of the veil giving clarity around all the things we just do not understand while on earth.

I used to say to my Mother as we talked of such things, “I will tell you what, Mom…when I die and go to heaven, I am going to have a LOT of questions for Jesus to answer!” She said to me, “Oh, J…when you go to heaven it will all become CLEAR!”

Yes, I believe she is correct about that. If I could only fly…and I will….. someday at an appointed time and place. Until then, we do our best to matter in this world and to make a difference!

jjb/6/15/2021

Down though the years…

A long time ago, when we were fairly new empty nesters, we were having a conversation with a friend of ours. He traveled a lot with his work and said that one morning when he woke up, he found himself on a fold out sofa bed in his sons apartment’s living room. While he laid there orienting himself as to where he was, he wondered where all the years had gone? His story gave me a smile because he really was surprised to find himself in that time and place not having fully realized the journey! This is how time slips away unnoticed.

This is also how it goes with raising kids. From the moment they are born, our life seems to go into a fast forward mode. When it came to our own adult life, we have been so incredibly busy, the words “savor the moment” simply came down to wishful thinking. That is, until all the kids had flown the nest and we were left with mountains of extra time to fill. Savor….how do we “savor” something with which we have had no previous experience?

Our granddaughter graduates high school this weekend. As I look at her and see her excitement over her next big step of leaving home for college, I am sure that her parents are filled with a lot of conflicting feelings.

Of course, they are happy for her because as parents we want our kids to be happy and to advance in life on their own terms, remembering our own launch into life so many years before. On the other hand, they are facing the beginning of their own nest emptying out. For the first time they are facing the fact that she is going off into a world where her parameters are no longer the same as their own.

We parents live under an illusion of having control which comes to us when our children are born in a very vulnerable state, totally dependent on us for survival. We nervously step up to the challenge, making so many decisions for this newly minted baby. Then as the baby begins to grow, they begin making their own decisions while we still have a modicum of control in their lives. We encourage them and guide their choices while we still have some influence over them.

The years go by and before we realize just how quickly it has all gone, we watch them walking across a stage to receive their diploma…a certification of completion which says they have earned the right to choose which path they will begin their new independent life.

Long ago I read something that said our children are placed into our safekeeping but are only on loan to us from God. They do not belong to us. They belong to God. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. I was so aware of this when our daughter was in the hospital and so very sick! Prayers poured forth laced with heavy bargaining, though I know that is not how we should do things. I know who is in charge of the universe and it is not me! I prayed for her recovery and for a renewed contract to us on the loan He granted to us of this beautiful and beloved human we brought into the world.

I was listening to a lecture recently where a woman said that a person should not be afraid of death nor should we be afraid of life. We should not make our children afraid either. Living life fully means to embrace whatever comes and to face life fearlessly. Life contains adventure and risk and we should not go though life with the hand brake on. Without doubt, there is a lot of darkness in this world, but there is also a lot of light. As we seek the light we should also BE the light for others, sharing our knowledge and love and wisdom.

Our granddaughter is a light filled personality. She is going to be such a positive addition to the world with her kind and sensible ways. Her parents did a very good job of raising her.

No wonder they are so proud of her.

No wonder she loves them dearly.

The world needs people like her and I am grateful and delighted with how she has turned out! She has the mindset of giving back to the world and has already been doing so for a while now.

The generations march ever forward, each seeking their own way. I am glad we have been blessed with a life long enough to watch not only how our children’s lives have evolved and how they contribute to society, but so too, our grandchildren.. We are in the spectator section once again, watching and cheering them on!

Whether we wake up on our child’s sofa bed in an apartment or in a guest bedroom in their home, the operative word is guest. We have had to learn what that word means. A perfect guest is someone who blends into the life of their Host. We mind our manners, our words and our actions. We are on their turf now and they get to call the shots!

I find myself wondering how our son will feel someday in the not so distant future on that first morning he wakes up in his daughters home and realizes he has now become a guest…a loved guest, a wanted guest, but a guest nonetheless. 🙂 Only then will he understand the journey we have been on ourselves, each generation passing the torch to the upcoming generation.

jjb/6/5/2021

Having a moment…

Today has been one of those days. It started out simply enough with a quiet morning, a cup of coffee, and a walk in the courtyard while planning my day.

We have been absolutely swamped with yard work since the historic Texas snow and ice storm destroyed over 30 percent of our trees and bushes this past February.. 23 years of growth gone in a few days. I rarely cry, but cry I did as we walked around our property assessing the damage shortly after the storm. So many of our plans and plants gone, gone, GONE ! This at a time when we have a very limited access to landscapers who could take care of the storm aftermath due to them being swamped with excess work. So here we were, Mr. B and me, day after day going out there to cut and trim and dig and plant. Not exactly what we had envisioned for ourselves at this stage of our life. I had actually envisioned the two of us sipping Mimosa’s on a summers eve while swinging on the swing in our courtyard. Instead, we were gulping water to quench parched tongues as we labored away.

That said, we are now a few days away from June and everything has been sorted out. Things don’t look as full and lush as they did before the storm, so we are now watching baby bushes and trees growing upwards and reaching for the sky. Hope springs eternal.

As I walked around assessing the new plants and their growth, I was surprised by how my grief over the loss of my plants and trees had morphed into a “looking forwardto how things were going to shape up.

We are now on the 15th month of the Pandemic. Life has been severely altered from what it was before. Will it ever go back to what it once was? This is doubtful because life is on an ever changing trajectory forward. I am a person who does not embrace change, even though I understand that change is at the very heart of our journey through life. It is how we learn and grow.

As I stepped back into the house, I got a call from Mr. B sharing with me that our daughter was in the emergency room with acute kidney failure. I was stunned because this exact same situation happened to her last year when she was struggling with covid. We discussed the situation with her husband and we were put on standby mode for driving the 4 hours up to support her. Her husband is back in town and taking very good care of her and both she and he said to “sit tight”.

I felt like I was abruptly jerked back in time to the last time she dealt with this. She is part of a group of people who are known as “Long Haulers”. She is one of those people who dealt with the symptoms of covid far longer than most. We thought her 4-5 months of lingering and ongoing symptoms were finally gone for good. But, here now, after about 6 months of good health, her body reared its ugly head in the form of acute kidney failure and an inflamed pancreas. I have to say, this incident took my breath away because I thought we had left that particular route of our life journey behind. We are now on what could be defined as a detour back again.

This time I found myself reeling with emotion. Is this going to be her future? Will she live a normal life punctuated periodically by health crisis? The bubble our family has lived in for so many years felt like it had developed a pin hole and was deflating around us. I found myself imagining many life altering scenarios which made me feel helpless and afraid. There are just too many “what if’s” to consider, and it overwhelms me.

The thing is, we have dealt with problems before, but those were things that affected us personally. Some were pretty tough to get though but we managed. We have had times where I felt a lot of fear where I could barely breathe. This is what happens to someone not previously challenged. What we discover is that with each challenge, we grow tougher, more resilient and more courageous. Our faith grows too!

Faith does not come to those who are sitting on a peaceful lagoon under a cloudless, sunny sky. There is no real need to check our faith then. We may talk philosophically and theologically about faith in those times, but it is a “thinking mans” lofty ideal rather than a work in progress. The test of faith comes to those who are seeking a strength they do not possess. A test of faith comes to those of us who have taken our unblemished good life for granted, assuming life would always be a joy filled ride. But then we blow a tire and swerve to avoid hitting a tree and end up in the ditch.

This morning after the phone call, I was wiping down my kitchen counters and my imagination was high jacked with troublesome thoughts of what could be. In those moments, I looked around our lovely home and realized how little any of the physical stuff really matters to me. Of course I have been in that mental zone for a long time now, but today it really spoke to me.

One does not realize it at the time, but when we decide to have a child, we are signing up for a life long journey filled with enormous love, parental pride, celebrations of achievements, and a rediscovering of the world through the eyes of a child which give us many joy filled moments. However, these moments are also punctuated by the wringing of hands and concern over another person’s welfare. Their pain is our pain, their disappointments are our disappointments, magnified! I think we actually feel their dips and lows in life more acutely than they do. I doubt I ever worried nearly as much about my own life outcomes as I have over my children. I had no idea how completely invested I would be in the life of our children and that emotional investment grew right along with the child. By the time they were adults, we were so melded into their life that we almost felt like we were having an amputation done when they left home. Of course, we adapted to this in time, but the commitment we feel toward them never leaves us.

What value does life hold without our loved ones? I was remembering the day of our daughters birth and how fervently I had prayed for her! Every day of my entire pregnancy I prayed for her and had total faith that God would reward me with a daughter, and He DID! I remember holding her in my arms and my joy spilled over onto everyone in the surrounding area.

This little girl was a force to be reckoned with. She was never the shy retiring little flower at the edge of a garden! She has held her own with her two older brothers and has held her own with her moral compass and principles in life. She is strong, decisive and focused. She has a confidence about herself that I did not achieve until I was much older. I admire her greatly.

She has been a blessing in more ways than I could ever have imagined during the gestational months I carried her! I always imagined her in my life as I grew old. Yet, there are never any guarantees! Thinking of this made my eyes well up. No guarantees! It makes me think of that old saying “When man makes plans, God smiles”. Indeed….we just never know.

There is a major thunder and rain storm passing over as I write this. High winds, heavy rain and lots of thunder. The angels are bowling in the sky, we used to say. It matches my mood.

I have talked with our daughter and she is being pumped with fluids by IV. 4 one liter bags so far! Thank you God for this day and age of modern medicine! Thank you God for the reminder that prayer and faith are sometimes rewarded. I have thought of so many people who have dealt with significant loss and my heart goes out to them. This Pandemic has altered the lives for most of us forever. I, for one, will never take anything for granted again, most especially the relationships and love of those who are near and dear to me.

Please, Lord, take care of our “little Tootie” as her Grandpa used to call her. Please also give comfort to all those who are burdened with so many of life’s problems. I pray that we can soon move forward and away from this Pandemic life so that we may live the way You intended for us to live. Thank you Lord for the reminder that we should live one day at a time. “Do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough troubles of it’s own.” So, TODAY, Lord, I pray for restored health!

Amen and amen!

jjb/5/28/2021

Where did she go?

Once upon a time, in the woodsy northern territory of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a young girl freely roamed the countryside in the summer months when school was not in session. She had many Uncles and Aunts who lived in the area along with a multitude of cousins. She had a brother, a sister, a set of parents and two sets of grandparents. Love was in abundance and she felt it. Her life was simple and each day took care of itself. She is me and I remember it all so well!

Summers were a time when my Mother would let me sleep in as long as I wanted and I always slept in late. My bedroom walls were wallpapered in a very soft moss colored textured pattern and as the sun would shine in the window on that side of the house, the room glowed a soft green and I often felt as if I were waking up outdoors. As I slowly woke up from a deep sleep, I would stretch out in my bed and lay there watching the dust motes dance on the shaft of sunlight pouring in through my bedroom window. I could hear the birds singing in the trees and the flys buzzing around the windows. I could hear a dogs occasional bark off in the distance. Someone was already mowing their yard and I enjoyed hearing the motor as it went back and forth cutting the grass. These were some of the sounds of summer, and I also enjoyed the quiet within the house. Mom was always very quiet on those long ago mornings. One could hear her in the kitchen with the sounds of dishes and cutlery being moved about. She was our short order cook who would make breakfast for us as we arose for the day. It was a peaceful existence and she created this for us.

My world was my own to explore because there were no set expectations for how I should spend my day. In those days, kids were allowed to be kids and we spent our childhood summers in a lazy, unscheduled, unfettered fashion where each day just unfolded before our eyes.

I seriously doubt if any of the kids in that time and place even knew for certain what day of the week it was during the summer months because one day was pretty much the same as the next. The only exception to our unscheduled time came about on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings.

Most of our Saturday evenings were spent after dinner in preparation for Church and Sunday School the following day. Our Mother orchestrated the preparation by making sure we had our baths and shampoos before bed. She also made sure that her daughters hair was rolled up in curlers. Our Sunday Church clothes were laid out for the following morning. Shoes were cleaned or polished and a couple of nickels were tied up inside of our hankies for the Sunday School offering. The next day, after we attended Sunday School, we would go upstairs to the main church and sit next to our parents and/or grandparents for the church service.

In my minds eye, I can still see and sense my long ago family sitting beside me in our modern day church pews. I can almost hear them singing along with me to the same old hymns that were sung long ago in that little white church on the hill. For us rural folks, Church was also a social event tied up with learning our scripture lessons and listening to the Pastor share his insights on how God would want us to live. We saw many extended family members and friends at our church and everyone knew everyone! I remember how proud I was of my Mother as I watched her exchange pleasantries with friends and neighbors after the service. She had a sweet soul and a kind heart and people were naturally drawn to her. She was a beautiful woman who took pride in her appearance. In my young girls view, she radiated a glow around her, all the way from her smiling face to her animated way of talking and laughing.

Because my Mother was a self described perfectionist, she preferred to do all household chores by herself just so they would be done to her own specifications. We didn’t have chores as children and we did not receive an allowance. Because we lived in such a rural area, there was no need for kids to have spending money, other than the occasional nickel or dime our parents gave us to buy candy if we were somewhere near where they sold it.

Our family lived down the road from a small lake where I would swim daily, weather permitting. I was often teased about my love of the water and was jokingly warned that I might possibly develop gills on the side of my head just like the fish that inhabited the lake. I knew they were kidding, but the image stuck in my head.

I did not lack for anything, nor did I have anything in excess. When I walked to the lake for a swim, I walked down the road wearing my bathing suit under a pair of summer shorts with my towel thrown over my shoulder, so different from my city cousins who would come to the north country to visit. These cousins had beach bags filled with their swim suits, towels, sun tan lotion, beach balls and/or inflatable tubes which they would inflate upon arrival at the lake. Huff! Puff! I would watch them slather Coppertone Sun tan lotion on their bodies and when I inquired what that was, they began to explain that it was to help them get a sun tan. Half way through the explanation they looked at my rich deep tan and said “Never mind…you don’t need it”.

No wonder I miss this young girl, this long ago version of myself where I was so tenderly cared for! Growing up has its advantages and in my case, I have certainly been blessed. I have a wonderful husband who cares for me as well as my Mother once did and I happily return the favor to him. I have nice children, grandchildren, good friends, and a lovely place to live.

Yet, despite this very nice adult life, I often reflect on her …that young girl from so long ago. She, who lived amongst a very large clan of people in a community that existed in much simpler times. It was a place where we all knew we “belonged”. Many generations were born and raised there and some remain there even today. In modern times, the newer generations often move far away, following the path of their careers. Each move promises nicer cars, bigger houses, and more vacations, which are all nice in their own right. But at the end of the day, nothing material really satiates our spirit. What each of us really want, really yearn for, and really need is love and acceptance and a feeling of belonging.

Sitting here now, as I think about those days, I feel a sense of longing and melancholy, which seems odd because I have been gifted with such a rewarding life. I am content in my journey, having been blessed with a husband who has been both my sail and anchor in life’s waters. His sail is always there, giving us a lift and speed and direction. His anchor is always ready to stabilize us during life’s storms. Together, we have wonderful children and grandchildren. So, why then, the yearning?

I do not really know why this yearning comes over me. Somedays, I miss that much younger version of myself! Yet, I know and understand that she belongs back there in the recesses of my memories. It is nice to go in and collect her every once in a while to laugh with her a bit as she and I enjoy a shared memory. Memories are wonderful, but as I move forward in life, I need to remind myself that it is in the present where I will be living and making more memories. I think all of our good times are stored in our memory vault for those less than perfect future days where we feel sad or lonely or lost. They are there for us to pull out, relive and remind ourselves how rich and rewarding our journey has been. No ones life is perfect, but life is often filled with perfect moments. These moments are little gifts for us to revisit, enjoy for the moment, and then put back again. It is not good to live in the past, but a visit now and again is perfectly o.k. and is often satiating to our spirit.

“Where did she go?” you ask….Well, she is right here. She has always been here. She and I are each a part of all the ages I have ever been which makes up the fabric of my life. . The good Lord knew that a reunion between my present and past self would be balm to my spirit on those days where I feel a yearning to go “home” and I think that is why he gifted us with memory.

Where is home, our one true home? Home is wherever I am at any particular time, and wherever I hang my hat. It is a collective of all the places I have ever lived and left behind as I continued my life’s journey. I do know where my real home is and my journey will eventually lead me there, deep within the heart and spirit of God!

I enjoyed those childlike memories today….memories of a childhood well lived while I was being well loved. No wonder I like to go there for a visit. For now, though, this visit has filled my cup and it is time to step back into the present, which as we all know is the “GIFT”. I think I will also enjoy unwrapping this gift as it unfolds! From the looks of it, it holds much promise for what will be revealed.

jjb/5/21/2021

Out with the old..

It is interesting how much we change as the years go by. People come and go in our lives, our views on life, once so black and white, have turned to gray, and material goods we once thought we could not live without, are now going out the door to serve someone else.

Yesterday was a very dark day emotionally for me. My mind was spinning with thoughts of the worlds troubles of which there are SO many! I was also dwelling on the recent death of a good friend. In fact, we have lost 3 friends in just the first 4 months of this year. Two of them were sudden enough to take my breath away. Here today, gone tomorrow, as has often been said. The finality of it for the ones who knew and loved them is jarring! There are no more chances to say what we wish we had said to them. No more chances to see their laughing faces. No more “do overs” whatsoever!

This past week for me has been filled with a lot of restless and sleepless nights. I have tossed and turned in bed as I wrestled with a lot of thoughts about what the future could possibly have in store for us. The death of good friends is a stark reminder that we are all at life’s train station with no clue about which train we will be leaving on or when.

For me, the Pandemic has certainly reinforced the Bible verse, “Be Still, and know I am God”. A year ago, most of us were yanked out of our overly busy lives of comings and going’s and dropped into the quietness of solitary (or near solitary) living. In this solitary quiet, I think many of us have discovered new facets to our inner self. Reflection is very good because it uncovers many aspects of how we think, why we see things in a certain way, and why we respond the way we do. When alone, we are not influenced by the opinions of others which frees us up to be true to our own beliefs. What I have once again discovered about myself is that I just do not want to be bothered by so much “stuff” anymore. I no longer want it here collecting dust as it takes up space in my house. I also don’t want to have to care for it. Of course, I have a few favored pieces that have sentimental value, but there are many things that come from a time in our life when each piece had a purpose to serve. These days, we live very differently than we did when our family was still young. I want to use my time differently by living large rather than caring for material goods.

As a result of my reflecting, I have reactivated my unfinished decluttering project of a couple years ago by pulling more things out of the closets, putting them in large bags and boxes, and bringing them to the thrift shop. The rule I use for now is if it hasn’t been used in 5 years, it needs to go and serve someone else. When this sweep of the house is finished, I will then conduct another “go round” where if it hasn’t been used in a year, out it goes. Each trip to the thrift shop gives me a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of becoming lighter and freer. I have been purging for a couple of years now, and it gets easier to say goodbye with every new purge.

Yesterday, I was in a text conversation with our daughter, sending pictures of things to her first before releasing it to the universe. Some things she wanted and others not. I have my wedding dress that has moved with me nine times. I always thought that maybe someone in the family would be interested in it, but as it turns out, no one is. We live in a day and age of abundance, so the younger generation isn’t nearly as caught up in the sentimental attachment to ancestral things as my generation was. I asked our daughter if she was ok with me releasing the dress and she enthusiastically said, “I think that is great! Someone is going to be so happy to be able to buy that for themselves!” (Funny…I was ok with her not wanting it.) The dress had served its purpose in its time and now maybe it would serve a new purpose for another person with a new love and new vows! Or….maybe it would be utilized in someone’s craft project. It doesn’t matter…just so it is useful!

Bit by bit, more pieces of our life go out the door. Things that were once needed and useful but no longer serve us. We say a quiet thank you to each and every thing that gets put into a bag or box for how it added or served in our life in one form or another and then we say goodbye!

Our thrift shop is owned and run by the Catholic “Ladies of Charity” and they do a fantastic business in the area in which we live. On the backs of their receipts is a list of all the charities they contribute to and there are many! I always feel so good when we bring in another load of goods from which they can make a profit and can forward the blessings of that profit on to places that need the financial support.

I wish I would have heeded a quote I heard many years ago when I was in my 30’s. My friend said, “Isn’t it interesting how we spend the first half of our life accumulating things and the second half getting rid of them?” It was profound to me at the time, but it did not stop the accumulation of things. Everything purchased was bought with the idea of our family expanding several times its original size, but it did not grow as large as I had anticipated. I also did not anticipate adult children having so much of their own stuff! We live in a day and age of ‘much too much!’ Everyone is dealing with too much stuff!

Our goal going forward is to live very simply before we die. I told our younger son that in the end, all I want is a nice room with a recliner, a bedroom, a small kitchen and a bath. He looked at me with a look of horror! haha! Of course I was kidding, but, honestly, as we age, our needs keep shrinking. A long time ago, I remember reading a card in a gift shop that caught my attention. On the front of the card was written, “The more you have”……..and, then on the inside it read, “The more you have to worry about!” No truer words have ever been spoken. The older we get, the less we want to take care of things. In our case, all of our kids live in very nice, well appointed homes. We love to go see them and spend time with them. They come here too, but not as often as we thought they would when we built the house, because everyone is busy working and living their own lives and we are all very spread out geographically.

At our home, the two of us actually only use about 4 rooms on a daily basis while the rest of the house sits unused. These rooms are the kitchen, family room, bedroom and bathroom. So, WHY do we have all this extra space? We are not in a hurry to downsize, but that seed has been planted and it is continuing to expand in our thoughts. Perhaps we will sell our house someday, and if that ever comes to fruition, we will have had a lot of the discarding done already. Yay us!

So, going forward, my incentive is to keep carrying stuff out the door! Just since last week, we have brought four large SUV loads of stuff to the thrift shop and now another large group of filled boxes and bags await the next trip over.

Adieu! Adieu! To you and you and you!

Well, the closets are calling to me so off I go to make more room! I am going to need more boxes! My goodness, I think the house is getting more spacious by the week! 😁

To stay vibrant and viable in this life, a person has to change with the times. We need to let go of the past and leave behind those things (and those people) who do not give back joy or serve a purpose to our life. I often think that a lot of our unhappiness and stress stems from not knowing when to loosen our attachment to things and people, and to just release!

Creating uncluttered space in a home brings peace and serenity.

Inspiration picture!

jjb/5/13/2021

The Best Blessing of all!

I was swept off of my feet, by a man who was sweet
When I was a mere slip of a girl.
As we danced our first dance, our attraction advanced,
With each little dip and swirl.

I was really quite sure his intentions were pure.
I could tell by his modest replies.
It did not take long as we swayed to that song,
To know he was one catch of a guy.

My smile became brighter and my heart became lighter,
When we married and started our home.
It makes my heart leap to feel a love rich and deep
for Al, the man in this poem.

48 years have gone by, which brings tears to my eyes
To feel so lovingly blessed.
I pray that someday we’ll still dance and sway
Together, in our heavenly dress.

JJB/4/30/2021