Even an Introvert Can Comfort a Stranger

IMG_2282The back of my beautiful house looks down onto the river. Many people walk or bike the trail that meanders alongside it, and in the summer people kayak or canoe or float inner tubes in the water. One day, I was driving down my narrow gravel road and saw three young people walking. Two boys and a girl, they looked to be in their early twenties. They were wearing wet bathing suits and dragging a single inner tube behind them. They had no shoes, and as I steered around them, I noticed the girl’s feet were bleeding. I realized they must have come up from the river.

I looked down at the comfy slip-ons I was wearing on my way to the grocery store and stopped the car. As they caught up, I offered the girl my shoes. The gratitude in her face was overwhelming as she reached out and took them with a joyful smile. Her companions looked surprised, but they shrugged and kept walking. Continue reading →

Missing the Present for Seeing the Future

Neil and I had hoped to retire at age 62. I knew his death would have financial ramifications, but in the last few months I started to wonder just what they would be.

In an attempt to help, my financial advisor gave me a checklist for assessing my future plans. I have to admit, this was hard. Not just because of the detailed financial budget questions, but because I had to look to the future.

Until then I had started to adjust to my present and cherish my past, but I had not yet been able to embrace my future. Neil and I dreamed of exploring the world in a little camper. We were going to drink coffee all morning, then sit around the campfire counting stars and drinking beer or wine all evening. We were going to surprise our relatives with unexpected visits. We were going to stay with friends at the beach, and while Neil napped or read in a hammock I would explore the shoreline collecting shells. Continue reading →

Trust the Pilot

Have you ever been in a hot air balloon? The pilot uses a propane fire to heat the air inside the balloon, and since hot air rises, the balloon floats upward. As the air inside it cools, the balloon descends. The pilot can’t really steer, but he goes up and down until he finds a wind current that carries him in the direction he wants to go.  The balloon can’t travel any faster than the wind – if there’s no wind the balloon just sits there in the sky. The passengers are carried in a basket made of wicker which is a fairly sturdy, flexible material, and can absorb some of the energy shock during landing.  And speaking of landing, the pilot is improvising moment to moment. He doesn’t know where he is going to land until the end of the flight based on the wind currents he finds and the geography he sees. He needs a reliable ground crew to pick him up wherever he lands. Fascinating, right?

Neil and I thought so, too, so we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with an early morning hot air balloon ride. Continue reading →

Come out; come out, wherever you are…

untitled mischiefOne Saturday morning, Neil was in charge at home while I went to the store. The baby was sleeping and Gina was visiting a friend’s house, so all he had to do was entertain four-year old Jacquelyn. I had the harder job. The grocery list was long, the store was crowded, and by the time I got home I was cranky.

I found Neil on the patio chatting with a neighbor. “Where is Jackie?”
“I think she’s in the living room,” he said, completely unconcerned she wasn’t planted at his feet. Continue reading →