Archive for August, 2012

One of the most beautiful things about noticing beauty, or joy, or pretty much anything is that the more you pay attention the more there is of it.

What are you paying attention to these days?

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August 7th.
This used to be just like any other day, passing uneventfully by until 8 years ago my grandmother passed away, then three years later I am finding myself again frantically making phone calls throwing clothes in a suitcase and trying to make a flight from South Carolina to Minnesota as quickly as possible.

And now tonight five years later, gathering again with family eating together sharing more laughter than tears I can’t help but think how much has changed.

I am to the place now where the sharp pain has subsided, where life has woven itself back into the tapestry of my life and where chances are the mention of Mitch or Grandma will bring warm nostalgia and the desire to share a story.
And as I think about what has changed the most it all revolves around the word more…

If you ask anyone who has lost someone recently what they want it would be more…

More time

More chances to share the love they have

More time to mend the fences that were built to keep a safe distance

More appreciation of the gifts of the ordinary days, the lazy Sundays together, the impromptu picnics in the backyard just because, a moment of appreciation of a shared meal, of having someone to share your day with, the voice at the other end of the line

More appreciation of life as a precious gift

More laughter


One of the gifts of grief (be it from a death, a loss of a dream, a loss of the life you thought you wanted etc.) is that when your heart is broken open it naturally creates more space for love if you let it.  The walls that we have built to keep ourselves “safe” no longer do, and the world suddenly seems like a very difference place and it is up to you how it changes you…

For me so many things have changed…

Hugs are longer and tighter.

Love is more freely given and received.

It is easier to discern what is truly important.

What has gotten me through the past five years without a doubt is the love of friends and family, those who went out of their way to take care of me when I needed it most, those who shared their stories of grief and loss and growth, those who let me be where I was… some days in the darkness of loss, and sometimes in the light of all the gifts that have been shared… all of those who with words, thought and deed held me in love as I stumbled my way through a difficult time.

Today I am more grateful, more appreciative, more overwhelmed by beauty, more present in the moment, more authentic, more honest, more open, more compassionate and more forgiving.  Not every day of course, and I have my days when I don’t even want to be with myself… but more days that I live in the place of genuine gratitude for the gift of one more day in this life, of one more day being surrounded by the people I love and that love me so deeply and fully.

So here is to more…

More appreciation of each other right now in this moment.

More fun and laughter.

More enjoyment of each day.

More life squeezed out of each day.

More love.

More love, I can hear our hearts cryin’
More love, I know that’s all we need
More love, to flow in between us
To take us and hold us and lift us above
If there’s ever an answer
It’s more love.

Dixie Chicks



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Safe in your mouth…

There is an adorable e-mail that goes around every so often about how 4-8 year olds responded when they said “What Does Love Mean?”

One of my favorites is this one:

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”

It reminds me of my friend who calls her grandmother every week, and every week her grandmother responds the same way, with a lilt in her voice and sheer joy that she is calling.  What a gift to be received like that, to be celebrated each time you call.  One of the many ways that grandparents make our lives better.  So often now that the demands of life have transitioned and they no longer have the priorities that can so often get in the way it leads to the ultimate priority- sharing love.  Speaking from my experience, I think the greatest gift that grandparents give is to love without reservation, to celebrate their grandkids as the most amazing thing since sliced bread, to give lots of hugs and provide a place of comfort and safety.  It is my wish that everyone have that experience either from their biological grandparents or the ones that they have adopted in their heart.

When my parents were going to visit my grandpa in the hospital one day they took my niece who is “4 but almost 5” up to visit as well.  She had made a Get Well Card for him and on the inside she had drawn this picture:

Art by Annabelle

But what struck me about it wasn’t the picture- adorable and advanced beyond her years as it may be (as a doting aunt I am required to say such things ;)), what got to me was when I had asked her to explain it to me.

“This is me, and this,” she said sighing as she touched his picture lovingly she paused for a moment to look at me “this is great-grandpa” and with a silly little smile and his name safe in her mouth she said with every cell of her being what we as adults long to say but so often hold back.

To love, to hold another’s name safe in your mouth is perhaps the most important thing we can do for one another.

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It has been a little bit since my words have found their way to this page, and so much has happened in that time.

I spent the better half of last week with my Grandfather who was in the hospital and although it was bittersweet to see him there there were also so many gifts that I came away with from his time there:

It is always a scary thing to see someone you love in the hospital.  And as I was driving up to visit him I was rehearsing the speech I would give to the nurses about how important grandpa is to all of us and how special he is… but as soon as I got there I realized there was no need because they were already aware of just how special he was, and they were so incredibly kind and provided the best care they could.  I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes as the nurses and doctors would come in and treat him with such care and respect:

At the hospital we were able to see people come and go, in various states of health and dis-ease… and it was such a reminder that this body that I live in is something to give thanks for.  I can run, I can walk, I can move without pain… and what would happen instead of trying to change it and focus on it’s flaws… what if instead I loved it for what it is already doing.  What if I truly appreciated the fact that my heart is beating strongly, my lungs take in and out oxygen and my blood flows to the places it is needed without any input from me… it was such a reminder to live with such gratitude for my health and my body.

I can’t fix the health problems he has, I can’t reverse the hands of time… but I can do something important- which is to be there in the midst of transition, I can offer my presence, my love, my gratitude for all that he has given me and shown me.  I think all too often we dismiss the power of our presence, we underestimate the power of our love and compassion.  We have ample opportunity to share the love and concern we have for one another, but too often we allow fear and doubt to get in the way.  We don’t believe that our little effort can possibly make a difference, but your words, your presence, your kindness can make all the difference.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ― Mother Teresa

So send the card saying that you are thinking of someone, call the person that you know is struggling and offer a few moments of your time to listen and to be present.  If you don’t know what to say you can start by saying “I don’t know what to say, and I don’t know how to make it better, but I do want you to know I can listen.”

Today is the anniversary of my cousin’s death as well… a man who died far too young and as I surround his family in love and prayers I have been thinking about what he would want me to do on this day.  I believe he would want me to seek out those I love to remind them that I love them, that he would want me to remember how important we are to one another, to remind each other how important words of comfort and compassion are.  I believe he would tell me to offer a hug to those who need one, and to live my life fully and deeply.

In thinking about death and dying I have been reminded that we all have choices about how we truly live, and it has caused me to pause to appreciate the gifts in my own life, the friends and family that are such gifts to me, the love that we share, and how important it is to take a moment to appreciate and delight in one another.

So pass on words of love, share your joys and struggles and continue to be present for one another in the midst of life and love, growth and loss, pain and pleasure and everything in-between.


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