Monday, February 25, 2013

Leapfrogging Grief

We all experience various forms of grief throughout our life. Years ago, I was listening to a recorded lecture by Dr. Wayne Dyer, and he mentioned the following story I share with you now:
A father, who recently lost his son, attends a wedding. At the reception, he is seen dancing. His friend told him that he did not expect to see him at the wedding, let alone enjoying himself. The father replies, “I can choose to be sad or move beyond the sadness and get on with my life, and I choose to get on with my life.”
After the death of my family members, Lee and Barbara, I could feel the specter of grief begin to take hold and follow me like some looming cold, dark shadow. I knew, from experiencing grief in the past, I could just let it happen. I could allow it to move through me by observing it and trying to understand it. But this takes time and I did not want to experience grief like that again. I’ve never forgotten the story about the father choosing to get on the other side of his grief, choosing to get on with his life. I decided I would not let the cold fingers of grief take hold.

While I felt the weight of deep sorrow and heartache, I hadn't given into many tearful episodes.  One morning recently, I resolved to allow myself to fully grieve⎯in order to see if I could not only move through it, but beyond it. I love to listen to meditative chanting music, so I played my favorites by Snatam Kaur and sat in a variation of a lotus pose, cross-legged, on my yoga mat. As I began listening to the relaxing chants, I allowed myself to cry my eyes out, chant, sing and sob. There seemed to be a type of ebb and flow to all this grief, so I just decided to ride it out. When all was said and done, my tears began to dry up, and I felt an amazing sense of peace come over me.

I no longer feel the profound sadness engulfing me. I honored my feelings by bearing witness to my emotions. I can now consider both Lee and Barbara and only feel the love I have for each of them. This leapfrogging of emotions is powerful, inspirational and moves me forward. What do you need to let go of, move through or get on the other side of? Move forward and honor your feelingschoose to get on with your life. Leapfrog anyone?
Orange eyed green tree frog courtesy of rainforest_harley

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jell-O Goodness

Recently, I made up a box of Jell-O gelatin. It had been years since I even thought of making a bowl of the wiggly concoction. That said, I added water to the powder, because that's really all there is to it. After four hours in the refrigerator, I was able to enjoy every jiggly bite.

One could say Jell-O and I go back quite a ways. It all began with Grandma Noella. I never once saw her refrigerator without a bowl of Jell-O sitting inside just waiting for someone to dig into. Of course, if you were lucky enough to be visiting her home, you had to have “push” cream, as she called it, gracing the top. That would be whip cream in a can⎯for the uninitiated who may have no idea what I am talking about. She would say, “Anything with push cream is always better.” Before we went to bed at night, out came the Jell-O and push cream, because Grandma didn’t want to send us to bed hungry⎯like that would happen!

So began my years with Jell-O, and soon I was making my own. My mom had the inspiring 1960’s cookbook, The Joys of Jell-O, along with a variety of bright, shiny molds. As my reading skills improved, I began experimenting with all things Jell-O. I molded, layered and whipped, added ice cubes, ice cream and whipping cream, along with various shredded, sliced and diced cheeses, fruits and vegetables. I was a budding Jell-O chef. My goal was to try all the beautiful recipes in the Jell-O cookbook. “O” the hours I spent scrutinizing its pages. I never achieved the goal, but I enjoyed eating all of my trials and errors⎯yes, errors. While throwing the powder in a bowl and adding water is easy, creating jeweled masterpieces is certainly not.

Over time, I moved onto other things in the kitchen, and Jell-O was left behind. It wasn’t until I made this recent bowl that I thought about my Jell-O fascination of days gone by. Jell-O always conjures up thoughts of Grandma, push cream and plenty of smiles. When was the last time you had an inspiring bowl of jiggly goodness? Perhaps it’s time to feel like a kid again and create your own masterpiece, but whatever you do⎯don't forget the push cream!
Fire Cubes photo courtesy of Matt Reinbold

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bells of Hope

My snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, have poked their little heads up out of the damp soil and are just beginning to bloom. Like diminutive bells, these sweet bulbs are the first blooms in my garden each year. I eagerly await their show, even if it is in miniature, as the flower stalks are only about 4 inches tall. These tiny bulbs seem to withstand the tortures of wet and frozen soil year after year, and they will even poke their little heads above the snow if need be. Truly, they are to be considered stalwarts in anyone’s garden.

Like faithful friends, when they pop their petite heads up and bloom, they remind me spring is just around the corner. Even if that corner is weeks away. Moreover, these little guys signal hope for the new growing season ahead. In their simplicity, they make me smile. Anything that gives one hope and makes them smile is to be treasured.

Snowdrops remind me that hope comes in many sizes. It is up to us to take notice and be aware of the hope, which lingers around us, and may rest at our very feet.

Hanging Out photo courtesy of freebird4

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dear Barbara, a Remembrance…

My friend Barbara died at 84 years young this weekend. I share this with you, because Barbara embodied the meaning of It Is What It Is. With chronic issues such as scoliosis of the spine, osteoporosis and celiac disease, she knew what it meant to get over it and move on.

I first met Barbara and Bob 37 years ago when I began working in the maintenance offices at a local pulp and paper company. Nurse Barbara gave me allergy shots and I knew her husband, welder Bob, from maintenance. Barbara was interested in a hobby of mine; that of collecting weeds, flowers, and various pods to dry and craft into arrangements. In those days, you were not able to buy dried products like you are today. So, Barbara decided she would collect things for me to dry⎯much to the chagrin of Bob, as they stopped along the roadside from here to wherever they were driving. Barbara never left home without her garden gloves and hand clippers; and I was forever nicknamed Podpicker by Bob.

Thus began a long and enduring bond of lunches and garden visits. With her love of perennials, Barbara shared plants with me one cutting or one shovelful at a time. By doing this, she instilled the gift of gardening in me. She followed me through my successes and failures in the garden and as I moved onto Master Gardening, becoming a Certified Professional Horticulturist, working at a nursery and public speaking on garden topics. For more than a dozen years she would sit front and center, smile and beam with joy, as she listened to my garden talks over and over again. She was as proud of me as anyone could be.

Why do I tell you my story? Because Barbara has been so intertwined in mine. She taught me compassion⎯as I watched the quintessential nurse care for many, and generosity⎯as she donated food and time to local charities. She showed me how to work through the ups and downs of chronic health issues with strength and dignity, and just what it takes to be a “hard gardener” (her words) who could tame the earth and help it smile with flowers. With her kind ways, and heartfelt love, we will all miss her; but one thing I know for sure⎯there is a place in heaven for “hard gardeners.”

With love, gratitude and friendship,

Santa Barbara Sunset courtesy of vgm8383