All of us will mourn in our lives. Perhaps it will be the death of someone we love, or a relationship gone wrong, a loss of health, or a job terminated. A mourning heart can convince itself of all sorts of things that aren’t true: My husband didn’t really love me or I could’ve made him stop smoking if I really wanted to. Maybe you’ve heard some of its criticism, too: My friend never liked me. I didn’t deserve that job.
And, of course: It’s all my fault. Continue reading →
It’s hard for a perfectionist to live with ‘good enough’ but it’s even harder for most people to live with a perfectionist. Neil and I had different ways of doing things. I always folded towels into trifolds; Neil folded them however they fit in the drawer. I washed the dishes right after dinner; Neil washed them before bed, or even worse, before breakfast. I can’t even count how many arguments we had about whether the toilet paper should unroll from the top or the bottom. It was hard for me to relinquish control of the household when I went to work, just as I am sure it was hard for Neil to always be under my watchful eye.
One night I came home after a long shift in the ER and crept upstairs to kiss the girls tonight. I saw a strange chunk of hair on the steps, but didn’t pay much attention to it. I set it on the handrail to throw away on my way back down. My two youngest daughters shared a bedroom back then, and both were sleeping soundly as I tiptoed in and blessed their foreheads. I checked my oldest and blessed her, too. All was peaceful and quiet as I went in to the bathroom, until I noticed what I thought was a mouse behind the standing towel rack. It turned out to be another chunk of hair. I didn’t scream loud enough to wake the girls but I did get Neil’s attention downstairs. Continue reading →
We were guests at a Memorial Day celebration. Children ran around laughing and playing, and adults sat chatting and sipping cool summer drinks. Curiosity captured the crowd’s attention when a huge truck backed up the long, narrow driveway. As everyone watched, the drivers got out, adjusted some mechanical gadgets, and slowly raised a huge, portable rock wall.
The kids swiftly lined up to give it a try, and with the complete fearlessness most children possess, scrambled to the top and rang the bell of success. There wasn’t really anything to be afraid of since they were all belted into place, and three people could climb side by side and talk to each other, so gradually the adults tried it, too.
“Come on; let’s go get in line,” Neil urged. “No, you go ahead without me.” I had all sorts of good excuses: I don’t have the right shoes, I forgot my sunglasses, I have to help the hostess, but as I watched everyone else having fun, I gradually convinced myself to try it.
With all the nerve I could muster, I started the climb. The belt wrapped around me like a diaper so there was no way to fall. Yes, I thought, this is fun and safe! Concentrating on each foot and looking closely at the wall’s indentations in my path, I slowly made my way up. I specifically avoided looking down just to prevent any sudden panic and within a few minutes I made it to the top and proudly rang the bell.
“Woo hoo!” My daughters called up to me. “Way to go, Col!” Neil yelled. I enjoyed my success and the fabulous view of fields and farmland until I realized there was a line below me waiting for a turn. It was time to go down.
Oh dear, it was time to go down. Continue reading →
Earlier this week I sat on the dock at my brother’s lake house, determined to clear my head of the chatter that’s been rattling around in there for the past two weeks. I was going to meditate; I was going deep inside myself to my center.
I got into a comfortable position and stretched for a few seconds. Then I concentrated on my breathing: four counts in, six counts out. I succeeded a few times, and then a schedule conflict popped into my head.
But I was prepared for this! I had a pen and notebook at my side to write down any important thoughts that intruded on my quiet time. With the conflict successfully recorded on paper, I was free to put it out of my mind and go back to my breathing.
Four counts in, six counts out. Again, I was successful for a few cycles, but then I got concerned about the coffee pot inside. Had I turned it off? This was my brother’s house and I didn’t want to burn it down. After careful consideration, I decided there was still enough liquid in the pot that it wouldn’t catch fire before I was done meditating. Good. Back to work. Continue reading →
I sat at my desk toward the end of the day, looking at the beautiful row of flowering pear blossoms outside my office window. As I watched, a couple came out of the hotel next door, heading to the restaurant across the parking lot. She was pleasantly dressed, and wore her gray streaked hair pulled back from her face. He wore jeans and a button- down shirt, strolling comfortably in well -worn boots. They were just an ordinary couple on a trip together, talking easily, on their way to dinner. I was fine with that, not sad or jealous at all. I almost looked away in time, almost got my attention back to my desk, but then I saw it.
They were holding hands. Continue reading →
Have you ever noticed that pain has a way of distracting us from the peace that’s right in front of us? I was reminded of this recently, when my oldest daughter visited for the weekend, and we sat at the kitchen table, sipping coffee and catching up. Something caught my attention, flickering outside the window, and when I stood to investigate I looked right into the tiny face of a hummingbird. He didn’t fly away, but hovered there, watching me just as I watched him. And I smiled, appreciating in that moment a simple, joyful, peace. Continue reading →