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Posts Tagged ‘life lessons’

After this weekend, a new title and role will be added to my life’s résumé – that of mother-in-law. I welcome my new daughter-in-law into our family with open arms, as she becomes another “She” in my life. Please enjoy reading one of my favorite posts from the past.

She, with her copper-colored hair who has survived two breast surgeries and now faces a diagnosis of stomach cancer, hugs me and thanks me for the emotional uplift. I did not know her before she walked into the store looking for clothes to wear for the summer. She is buying clothes for a season she may not see, but is positively projecting her future. I tell her the story of my grandmother who had lung cancer, who denied she had anything but rheumatism, and who managed to live years beyond her original grim diagnosis. She is misty-eyed, yet smiling while listening to my story. We hug again and she leaves the store. I silently thank her for her courageous presence on this earth.

She sits in her wheel chair and waves goodbye from the window. I watch her as she blows kisses to my daughter and me as we drive away from the senior care center. Our hearts are sad that we can’t take her with us, but she does not belong to us and is destined to live in that place for the rest of her life. She has just told us that she “loves us so much.” Her words warm my heart and I silently thank her for allowing us into her life.

She wanders through the store refusing help from others. She approaches me and asks me about the unique sizing. In a matter-of-fact manner I relay the information to her. She looks me in the eye and softly says, “My husband is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.” She tells me of the difficulties of being his caretaker and how she cannot leave him. I tell her she must take time to care for herself. We discuss this matter a bit more. How can I speak of things I do not know? The words seem to flow from my mouth. Then with a look of resignation, she weaves her way back through the racks of clothes and is gone. I silently thank her for her lesson on devotion.

She steps off the plane and my family says, “Is that her?” She is the wife and mother who has not been seen for over two decades. She is the grandmother who only knows of her grandchildren by the photos she’s kept safe in a basket back at home. She comes towards me with opened arms and utters my Chinese name “Lai Jyuh.” Her arms bear the strength of a woman who once hid in the mountains from the Communists, yet, as they wrap around me, I feel the soft tenderness of unconditional love. I silently thank her for sharing her love with me.

These are mere samplings of encounters with women, some complete strangers and some dear to me, that have enlightened my soul. Each encounter is like a shimmery thread that I have taken and gently woven into a beautiful fabric that wraps around my heart. I give humble thanks to each and every “She” who has passed my way.

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The rhythmic sounds of a tumbling clothes dryer and a snoring old dog create a soothing background of white noise as I compose my thoughts. The holidays blew through my life like a gust of wind, picking up bits and pieces of my routine and then rearranging them in chaotic order. The kids blew in, stayed awhile, and then blew out. Life provides us with opportunities to learn lessons every day and these past holidays were no exception. Mindful refresher courses came in abundance during the last few weeks. Now in the quiet of my home and my mind, I reflect on the holidays and the lessons I learned or revisited.

Priorities
No matter how much planning and preparation transpires before the holidays, I will never have enough time to do everything I want to do. With that in mind, I didn’t try to please everyone and I didn’t get together with everyone I wanted to see this holiday season. Prioritizing my time was how I stayed sane and, for me, family always comes first. There’s plenty of time during the rest of the year to bake, craft, and visit with friends. Having all of my kids under one roof is a rarity these days, so I gave myself permission to be selfish with my time.

Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
A week ago my dog survived chocolate and alcohol poisoning due to an absent-minded husband and a gift of homemade bourbon balls. Three hours and $369.00 later, I gratefully carried my little dog back home from the emergency veterinary hospital. Will he get into chocolate, again? I hope not. I’ve learned that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. And, in this case, I’m not referring to my dog! Adoption of new routines in our home – inspection and placement of my husband’s briefcase – will hopefully prevent any future incidents involving my sweet-seeking dog.

Don’t Sweat the Messy Stuff
Laundry baskets of dirty clothes stood in queues outside the laundry room, mystery goop stuck to the stove top, and dozens of unclaimed drinking glasses littered the house. My kids were home and it showed. For all the days my family was reunited, the house was a huge mess, but I was okay with that. Not a lot of time was wasted sweating over the messy stuff and as much time as possible was spent enjoying the mess-makers.

The Best Gifts
Driving around town admiring Christmas lights never grows old. Nor does preparing big pots of homemade soup and listening to my kids slurp them down and then, in a Charles Dickens’ way, ask for “more.” Watching their faces as they opened their presents and listening to their laughter fill the house reminded me that the best gifts aren’t on lists and have no dollar value.

Be Prepared
On Christmas Eve my oldest child complained of a bad headache and by Christmas morning his headache was accompanied by stomach pain. After sleeping most of Christmas, fever, chills, and heavy groans developed. Flu? Appendicitis? By Christmas evening we were in the hospital emergency room. Thankfully, he’s fine now, but next year, before the kids come home, I will remember to check the batteries in my digital thermometer and I will buy a fresh supply of acetaminophen.

Life is Precious
Like a thief in the night, bad news came and stole the promise of the New Year. In the middle of the night, the day after Christmas, my daughter came into my bedroom sobbing. She had just learned that a friend of hers was dead. While consoling her, we talked about Tim, a fun-loving and adventurous young man. Tim came from England, not just to study in the United States, but to fulfill his desire to see the world and to meet and befriend as many people as he could along the way. In the blink of an eye, his young life was snatched away by a drunk driver. Sad and bad things happen, even during the holidays. They are part of life. They make us wake-up, pay attention, and learn hard life lessons – like never take anyone for granted and live life to the fullest.

Growing with Gratitude
At year’s end I received an email with an annual report from my blog host. What started out as a way to share my thoughts, ideas, photos, and passions with others, has turned out to be an extraordinary experience for me. In the process of producing this blog, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. My children now have a journal of their mother’s sometimes quirky and sometimes serious thoughts and also a place to go to for family recipes intertwined with bits of family history. But what I’ve learned the most about while writing this blog is how small, thanks to the Internet, the world is and how large my world has grown! Finding out from the annual report that my readers come from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, simply overwhelmed me. I am grateful for every one of you who stopped by and took the time to read What About This? Thank you so much!

May 2012 find you happily grateful, in good health, and filled with abundant joy!

This post is dedicated to the memory of Tim Selby Barraud.
Photo of Tim soaking up the Oregon sunset – courtesy of my daughter.

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Full Moon Rising - Manarola, Italy - Adam Chang 2007

Day or night? Which time of day do you prefer? There are some (not just vampires and werewolves!) that feel a sense of renewal during the evening. Maybe it’s the peaceful quiet that envelops them as the day’s rhythm shifts and settles down or maybe it’s the sight of the calming moon replacing the fiery sun that soothes their souls. Where I live, evenings are the best part of the day during the summer; pleasant, often-breezy nights replace high-temperature days to create perfect scenarios for outdoor activities. Years ago, before the trees grew tall and before the ambient light from surrounding homes and local businesses grew bright, stargazing was a favorite summertime activity for my family. With blankets to lie on, we would settle down on the steep slope of our driveway and enjoy the spectacular stadium-like view of the dark night sky. Although our neighbors must have thought we were crazy, there was magic in just being together and identifying summer constellations and wishing on shooting stars. I wonder how many of those wishes have come true?

#1 – Starry Night
Ever wonder what prompted Van Gogh to paint his famous Starry Night masterpiece? Here’s an artist’s concept of what Van Gogh’s inspiration may have looked like. Compare the two by clicking on their links. Which “starry night” do you like better?

#2 – How to Save Time
Do you want to save time during the day, so that you have more free time in the evening? Start by being more efficient at everything you do. A video titled How to Do Ordinary Things Quickly shows creative time-saving tips. The clothes-folding segments are fascinating, but I don’t recommend trying to park a car as shown!

#3 – Life Lessons
I’ve linked to Marc and Angel Hack Life before, but here’s another one of their lists that made me stop and think. It’s called 111 Lessons Life Taught Us and it centers around  “. . .  all the things you would love to tell yourself if you could travel back in time to give your younger self some advice about life.” If you could, what advice would you give to your younger self? The list is comprised of submissions from a sister site Everyday Life Lessons. Here are a few examples:

You are capable of loving and of being loved. You deserve nothing less. You are not perfect. There may be parts of you that you would change if you could, but accept that some things cannot be changed. This acceptance isn’t easy, but it makes you a stronger person. Try your best not to dwell on your imperfections. Instead, try to see them as just part of a beautiful whole. The same things that make you different make you beautiful.

No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.

There is a difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up is sacrificing what was rightfully yours, letting go is forgetting what was never yours. We can’t gain if we can’t let go. There’s no love without tears, there’s no happiness without sacrifice, and there’s no forever without goodbye. It’s not giving up, it’s more like . . . letting go.

Complaining is like slapping yourself for slapping yourself. It doesn’t solve the problem, it just hurts you more.

There will be two dates on your tombstone. Everyone is going to be looking at them, but all that’s going to matter is that little dash in between them.

#4 – Somewhere Over the Moonbow
If you’re out for an evening stroll and the conditions are just right, look to the part of the sky opposite the moon, and maybe you’ll see a moonbow. A moonbow or lunar rainbow is a phenomenon that occurs when light is reflected off the surface of the moon. According to Wikipedia, Moonbows are most easily viewed when the moon is near to full (when it is brightest). For true moonbows, other than those produced by waterfalls or sprays, the moon must be low in the sky (less than 42 degrees and preferably lower) and the sky must be dark. And of course there must be rain falling opposite the moon. This combination of requirements makes moonbows much more rare than rainbows produced by the sun. Camping.com claims that “The two most famous viewing spots in the U.S. are at Cumberland Falls, near Williamsburg, Kentucky and Waimea, Hawaii. In both places, sign up for a guided hike to see the moon bow.” Add this to your list of things to see during your lifetime!

#5 – Dream By Day
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.”
Edgar Allan Poe

May you find ways to renew your soul this weekend!

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Today is my Mom’s birthday and I’m wishing her many more: sunny days to warm the freckles on her face, happy memories to fill her heart, big and little reasons to celebrate, moments to laugh with the grandkids, cherished years with my dad, enjoyable times with her friends, hugs and kisses from her children, trays of lasagna and enchiladas, and people to love and be loved by. Happy Birthday, Mom!

#1 – Why I Rule!
Need a little pep talk or just need a daily affirmation or inspiration? It’s as easy as going to Tell Me Why I Rule and clicking on the button. I clicked on the button and this came up: You have learned that everyday may not be good, but there’s something good in every day. A great reminder for all of us!

#2 – Find the Rock
Last week I linked to a computer game that tested reaction time. This week I offer a link to a game that tests your concentration. It’s a shell game – you must keep an eye on which coconut shell is hiding the rock.

#3 – Art Lesson: A Painting Within A Painting
If you appreciate fine art or even if you don’t, you will definitely be impressed with this painting. The amazing details of a painting done by artist Giovanni Paolo Pannini in 1757 are revealed by zooming into the piece frame-by-frame.

#4 – Survival Tips
Would you be able to survive if you were lost at sea or lost in the snow? The site Survive Nature offers survival tips for for six different scenarios. Not being the outdoor-type, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these tips. I don’t know about you, though, but I’m storing the information in the back of my head!

#5 – To Be Beautiful . . .
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Have a beautiful weekend!

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She, with her copper-colored hair who has survived two breast surgeries and now faces a diagnosis of stomach cancer, hugs me and thanks me for the emotional uplift. I did not know her before she walked into the store looking for clothes to wear for the summer. She is buying clothes for a season she may not see, but is positively projecting her future. I tell her the story of my grandmother who had lung cancer, who denied she had anything but rheumatism, and who managed to live years beyond her original grim diagnosis. She is misty-eyed, yet smiling while listening to my story. We hug again and she leaves the store. I silently thank her for her courageous presence on this earth.

She sits in her wheel chair and waves goodbye from the window. I watch her as she blows kisses to my daughter and me as we drive away from the senior care center. Our hearts are sad that we can’t take her with us, but she does not belong to us and is destined to live in that place for the rest of her life. She has just told us that she “loves us so much.” Her words warm my heart and I silently thank her for allowing us into her life.

She wanders through the store refusing help from others. She approaches me and asks me about the unique sizing. In a matter-of-fact manner I relay the information to her. She looks me in the eye and softly says, “My husband is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.” She tells me of the difficulties of being his caretaker and how she cannot leave him. I tell her she must take time to care for herself. We discuss this matter a bit more. How can I speak of things I do not know? The words seem to flow from my mouth. Then with a look of resignation, she weaves her way back through the racks of clothes and is gone. I silently thank her for her lesson on devotion.

She steps off the plane and my family says, “Is that her?” She is the wife and mother who has not been seen for over two decades. She is the grandmother who only knows of her grandchildren by the photos she’s kept safe in a basket back at home. She comes towards me with opened arms and utters my Chinese name “Lai Jyuh.” Her arms bear the strength of a woman who once hid in the mountains from the communists, yet as they wrap around me, I feel the soft tenderness of unconditional love. I silently thank her for sharing her love with me.

These are mere samplings of encounters with women, some complete strangers and some dear to me, that have enlightened my soul. Each encounter is like a shimmery thread that I have taken and gently woven into a beautiful fabric that wraps around my heart. I give humble thanks to each and every “She” who has passed my way.

Read Full Post »

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