Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Healing doesn’t mean you aren’t grieving anymore

In the beginning you believe the worst possible thing that has just happened to you and your family is the absolute worst possible thing ever. That no family, no person can possibly be grieving as deeply as you are. And time passes and your focus shifts slightly beyond your own searing pain and you see that someone else is hurting too. That others have experienced similar events.

That it’s not all about you.

And that’s the first baby step to healing. That realization that you are not alone, that others have similar stories, similar, though not exact, pain.

I’ve started reading Cheryl Strayed’s “Brave Enough.” I’m not very far into it — barely started in fact — and already this quote of hers makes me stop and reread. And nod in agreement. And read it again. And want to share it with all of you.

“”When you recognize that you will thrive not in spite of your losses and sorrows, but because of them, that you would not have chosen the things that happened in your life, but you are grateful for them, that you will hold the empty bowls eternally in your hands, but you also have the capacity to fill them? The word for that is healing.”

And now, not an hour later, I’m reading a blog written by a woman who has been through trials most of us couldn’t imagine, including the sudden death of her husband a year ago. A line down near the bottom of the post stops me again. And makes me want to share it (and her) with you.

“Emotions don’t get better. We get better at holding them. They don’t get less heavy, we get stronger.”

Both women are right. Out of trials and loss and grief and pain we get stronger. And often we grow in directions we might never have moved without the experiences that left indelible scars on our souls.

I never wanted nor dreamed of the losses that changed our family. But given that’s the way it is, I’m pleased to continue the growth, spawned but not defined, by life events.

Wherever you are in the cycle of life, I hope you can see the light and hope and growth shining ahead of you. If you need a hand up, there are plenty of people willing to take hold. And if you’ve moved into a good place yourself, glance around once in awhile. Someone might be there, just in the shadow, ready to move, but needing a little nudge.

I’ll get off the soapbox now.

1954 Dad and Mom

1954 Dad and Mom


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Bits of this and that

Katie and I are officially camping right now. Only we’re not.

I have the last concert of the season tonight, dress rehearsal was last night. So after rehearsal, late in the night, I gathered her up and we drove over to the State Park where I have a campsite reserved.

Katie was very confused. I woke her up out of a sound sleep when I got home, asked her if she wanted to go camping, she ran to the back door very excited to camp in the back yard, and I picked her up and put her in the car! Oh no she thought! Where are we going? This can’t be good! This is not normal! I like normal!

What's going on mama?  (This is from last year because I haven't taken the camera to camp yet this trip!)

What’s going on mama? (This is from last year because I haven’t taken the camera to camp yet this trip!)

Once at our campsite, in the dark with only stars overhead she sniffed a bit, wanted to go on a long walk (which I vetoed…it’s good to be the mama) and finally consented to getting in the tent. But she wouldn’t settle down. This was not right! It smelled different! What are we doing mama? Where are we? Why are we here? Where’s my daddy?!?!

Eventually she settled down and we both shivered through the cold night until 5:30 when, according to Sheltie rules, it is important to be wide awake. So we went out, walked down to the bath house, both of us did what we needed to do and we walked back to the tent and went back to sleep.

It all worked out.

Last year we camped a lot!

Last year we camped a lot!

But now we’re back at the house while I get ready for tonight’s concert. She seems very sleepy. I am too.

We’re playing a bunch of music tonight, and will be joined by selected 7th graders for two pieces. They came to rehearsal last night; they are very good and play like they’re in high school. Oh but the drama of it all! I’d forgotten what it was like to be in 7th grade, so confident, so giggly, so out there. They made our band sound great and it will be fun to preform with them tonight.

And totally unrelated, this happened a couple of mornings ago at home.

Mom and Dad visited for a moment.

Mom and Dad visited for a moment.

A good friend painted the mockingbird on the rock when my parents died. It’s a long story, but I consider the mockingbird to represent my mom, and when one pops up around me I always say hi because it feels like a visit from her.

And the rainbow? Well, after mom died someone in dad’s church gave him a little prism that on sunny days spread a rainbow across his kitchen. That’s still on the windowsill of our lake house. This particular rainbow was created by the sun shining through my front door. I’ve never seen it before, and certainly not shining on mom’s mockingbird.

So I figure I got a joint visit this week. Made me smile pretty wide.

Hope it makes you smile too.

You HAVE to smile at me!

You HAVE to smile at me!


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Jubilant

In our household when you think jubilant you can only picture one thing.

Incoming!

Incoming!

To see other interpretations of ‘jubilant’ check out the original post. Or, take a peek at a few of my favorites so far here, here, and here.

I hope there is a little jubilation in your life this week! Katie and I have planned an adventure. I’m sure she’ll tell you all about it soon.

I'll tell you later!

I’ll tell you later!


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Blinded by the dark

The power went out sometime during the night, and we sleep with blackout blinds so the bedroom is pitch black when I wake. I reach around for Katie and find her upside down at my feet. Wondering what time it is I get up to look for my phone but I’m afraid to leave Katie on the bed in the blackness. She resists me picking her up but finally is safe on the floor as we inch out to the living room which is illuminated a bit by the outside gray.

It’s 4:30 a.m.

Our ‘automatic’ generator is not running but I can hear one chugging away somewhere down the street. A big truck with squeaky brakes and a rumbling diesel engine is out on the road, flashers and headlights glowing as electric company employees look for the problem.

Katie growls and barks.

With nothing we can do to fix the problem I carry Katie back to the bedroom, close the door so husband can poke around with a flashlight, and we settle back to sleep. Or not. Katie is restless and I’m afraid of her falling off the bed. But she wants to be close. My little non-snuggling dog presses her hip against mine and gives a big sigh, a sign she’s going back to sleep. But then she’s up, carefully picking her way across pillows to lay near my head, licking my arm and panting. She wants to hold my hand in her mouth, but I gently disengage and scratch her ears. She curls up against my shoulder and sighs again. Then moves slightly away and whimpers a bit. I wonder how much she can see, whether she thinks she has lost her sight. I wonder if being blind would bother her.

And so we wait, Katie and I, we wait for the light to return.

And then…the first hint. The solitary warble of our robin, first tentatively, then stronger, then bursting into full song. The crack between the blinds and the window casing lightens just a bit. The freeway, a mile away, begins to hum.

Katie sighs contentedly and rolls over as I get up to raise the blinds and let the morning in.

Imported Photos 01295


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Williamsburg – Katie’s version

Katie here. Mama says she’s too busy weeding the garden to tell you about Wiliamsburg even though she’s promised more than once to do just that. Mama makes promises all the time and then doesn’t do the stuff she promised. Like take a certain dog to a park. If you know what I mean.

Conversation on the courthouse steps.

Conversation on the courthouse steps.

Anyway, I guess it’s up to me to tell you what I heard about mama and daddy’s day at the colonial village, even though I’m still mad at them for going there without me. I hear it’s a dog friendly place! They said they saw lots of doggies there and I don’t understand one little bit why I couldn’t go.

Mending.

Mending.

Ahem…

So mama said she was very interested in all the places they visited, and particularly took lots of pictures of the people that were explaining the different houses and occupations. Like the lady that was showing how residents used to spin the yarn…

Beautiful colors

Beautiful colors

…and the woman that was weaving thread into fabric.

Explaining how the loom works.

Explaining how the loom works.

They visited a lot of houses too, this one was the home of Payton Randolph who was the first president of the Continental Congress. She described how the slaves interacted with their owners inside affluent homes like this one, and how some owners gave their slaves freedom while others did not.

Important politicians lived in nice places.

Important politicians lived in nice places.

Their personal slaves slept on pallets outside the owners bedrooms.

Bedroll stored in a corner

Bedroll stored in a corner

The governor’s palace was pretty spectacular too.

Governor's palace

Governor’s palace

The foyer was lined with swords and guns as a sign of wealth and power.

Lots of wealth on display.

Lots of wealth on display.

And the Capitol Building was amazing. It held two sides of government, the Colonialists and the King’s representation. They each had their own side of the building, but met in the center, up above the arches, to discuss policy.

Mama and Daddy learned lots of history here!

Mama and Daddy learned lots of history here!

But mostly mama and daddy visited and talked to people that represented the regular day-to-day lives of people. Like this little boy selling lettuce from the back of a wagon…

Lettuce for sale!

Lettuce for sale!

…and this silversmith making a bowl.

It's a slow process.

It’s a slow process.

There were lots of people interacting with the tourists. This guy was explaining a battle, using stones and twigs, to a group of children.

What if you moved your troops to the east?

What if you moved your troops to the east?

He made it into a game letting them make strategic decisions. Mama said they were all having a great time trying to win the battle.

Mama said there were lots of pretty little places too, gardens tucked into spots behind houses, or out along the street.

Simple and beautiful.

Simple and beautiful.

It was a beautiful spring day. Not too hot, not too cool. Seems to me it would have been a perfect day for a certain sheltie-girl to go for a walk with her folks in an historic village. Just saying. It’s not like mama didn’t pet a sheltie or two or three while she was there!

THREE of them!!

THREE of them!!

That’s right. I know she cheated on me! This is exactly why I’m still giving her the cold shoulder, not that she’s noticed or anything.

OK. Enough whining. Back to the tour.

Mama and daddy also went to a concert that evening at this church.

Episcopal church

Episcopal church

Lots of famous people have attended church here. People like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. And President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Thomas Jefferson sat here!

Thomas Jefferson sat here!

Mama and daddy sat in Thomas Jefferson’s pew to listen to an oboe and organ candlelit concert. It was nice even though mama said the seats were very uncomfortable, I guess to keep people awake in church!

The other musical thing they got to see was the pipe and drum parade.

On parade.

On parade.

Everyone enjoyed watching and listening to them pass by…even people (and dogs) inside!

Are there treats involved in this event?

Are there treats involved in this event?

All in all I guess mama and daddy had a wonderful time even without me. They said they were looking out for my best interests when they scheduled me for camp instead of going with them. But I think they just wanted to keep all the fun for themselves. I’m going to protest louder if they do this again. I might even hire these guys to play outside their bedroom window for a few nights in a row.

After the parade.

After the parade.

That might work.

Meanwhile I guess I should forgive mama. I guess I can take the higher road. Especially if it leads me to a park.

Mama had to pay the price of leaving me behind!

Mama had to pay the price of leaving me behind!


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Disoriented

We came back from our road trip to a typical spring in Michigan. Snow and sleet, frost and freeze warnings all in mid-May. It’s confusing. Just last week I was running on the board walk at Virginia Beach in shorts, getting overheated while wearing a long sleeved technical shirt, hair up under a hat, sun blinding my eyes.

Ah the memories.

There were times during the trip that I felt disoriented too. We spent a lot of time exploring the history that permeates Virginia.

Returning to another century.

Returning to another century.

Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown.

And then we’d drive back to our hotel room in Virginia Beach…

Crazy place.

Crazy place.

…filled with tourists and cars and bright lights and seafood buffets. For a moment, standing on the top of the parking deck back at the hotel I had to shake my head to clear it. Which world was real?

Maybe neither.

Even out on the road we slipped between the seasons. Where it was early summer in Virginia…

Green hills of Virginia.

Green hills of Virginia.

…driving back through Pennsylvania a day later we watched spring arriving all over again.

Regressing into spring.

Regressing into spring.

It was all disorienting, almost surreal. But then Katie came home and took us under her paw. We’re back to reality now.

Thanks Katie-girl.

Good morning mama!

Good morning mama!

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