Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Search

I have always been searching for something.  When I was eight years old and in third grade I would walk a little more than a mile to attend daily mass.  The few parishioners that attended had their usual pew seats.  Some to the right, some to the left, but I was upfront and center.  I always knew what to expect-the same folks (all lots older than me), same seats, same sequences of sacred ritual. There was always much kneeling, standing and sitting while I recited the mass quietly with the priest and answered more boldly when the congregation actively participated. 

Easter and Lent was by far my favorite season in the church marked by great sorrow, followed by exultation.  The little sacrifices I made as a kid  eating fish on Friday or giving up candy for Lent were minute compared to all the suffering of the Holy Family.  The sweet fragrance of Easter lilies transports me to this time and the many hours spent in prayer, reflection and searching. 

Today was a gathering of family serving a special breakfast of Belgian waffles and fruit and then a simple, but elegant lunch of roasted lamb with rosemary and garlic, roasted red potatoes, asparagus, fresh green beans, and Caesar salad followed by cheesecake.  A slow peaceful walk in the woods with the dog followed by afternoon prayer and meditation ended our day. 

In this season of renewal, I am still searching for my truth.  Yet this I know:  I will continue to strive to live intentionally and in gratitude.   It is family, my spiritual friends and those slow doggy walks in the woods or along the beach that ground me.   Attending to my spiritual being through prayer, meditation and service will continue to buoy me day by day. Although I did not attend my childhood church today, I am grateful for the reminders that this blessed day of Easter provided me. I remain a Spiritual Being.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Drawing Blood, Drawing Attention

The window has been opened letting the cool fresh air in since earlier this afternoon.  It remains open to the darkness letting the cats come in and venture out.  Harry, my grey beauty stands on the window ledge surveying me hunched over my laptop.  He decides to leap outside into the darkness, the unknown.  Harry is fearless having once captured a bird quadruple his size. The bird fought against capture, the expansive free wing beat against Harry’s upper body, but the bird was not dropped. 

Each night Harry sleeps pressed against my left shoulder.  Just before dawn, he shifts to reclining on my chest.  In partial wake, I pat.  Sleep overtakes me, the strokes stop and the biting begins.   This is a never fail way to get my attention, to draw blood.  I guess I am a pushover because when Harry wants attention, Harry gets attention.

Gratefully, the blackness of night was much more interesting for Harry, at least for now.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

To The Woods

The rain begins to pelt down.  I want to walk and my husband wants to wait it out in the confines of the car.  We have been looking forward to this opportunity to let Rex our dog run safely in the expansive rolling hills.  The dog becomes almost a blur as he runs in haphazard patterns first towards us and then away from us and toward us again.  His soft fur brushes against me as he bolts past me full tilt.  It makes me freeze in place. This frenzied pace lasts only a few minutes and he slows by accepting a treat. 

A little breathless on the uphill, we amble into the woods.  The snow has receded on the paths and at first it takes a concentrated effort to stay on course without white footprints leading the way.

The ground is soft.  Each step gives way just a bit. Familiarity punctuates the path once we adjust to the spring thaw. Boulders remain in place, as do long-ago fallen logs tossed about like pick up sticks.  No matter what direction we begin our walk we always make our way to the highest elevation to take in the view.  During fall when the deciduous leaves are thinning , the bare of winter or early spring, it affords a view of the windy canals of the brackish cranberry bogs. During the summer, we look in the direction of the bogs and imagine.

 There is a degree of constancy in walking these paths even with the changing of the seasons. It is the routine and communing with nature that seems to fill us with peace.  And this is a good thing.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

An Investment

One great day makes all the challenging days recede from memory.  As a Reading Recovery/Title 1 teacher my job is to transfer my passion for reading and writing to children.  Last year during a lesson, a first grader literally cry tears of joy because she could read.  Despite the many distractions during this period in time, most children are invested in their learning and are truly grateful for the support I offer them toward becoming independent readers and writers.

The anxiety I expend prior to parent teacher conferences is all for naught.  Tonight having just arrived home from the second trimester meetings, students are happy and parents are happy, therefore I am happy.  One parent quipped, “You are like the Mother Theresa of reading.”  That is one of the best compliments I can accept. I know I have the best job in the world. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lessons in Creating

The day is gray.  All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep-a good, long restful sleep.   Six thirty in the evening is embarrassingly early to be contemplating sleep, yet I find myself complaining, “I am SO tired.”  Every once in a while, I just need to get to bed early to recharge.  Late nights and much too early mornings have contributed to the feeling that I am slogging through molasses. 

A few Zentangles later suddenly, I feel both calm and energized.  It sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but creating touches me deeply if I let go of perfectionism. Since I was a little girl and could handle a dull pair of scissors not meant for a left-hander, I have been creating.  I have not always liked the results.  A sad little representation of an owl crafted more than forty-five years ago and revered by my mother is still on display at what is now my brother’s house.  Please excuse the cliché, but “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  It has taken me almost a life-time to realize that it is not the perfectionism of the final product that matters, What matters is approaching the process with focus, persistence and determination that makes a difference.  And a little bit of patience and self-acceptance goes a long way.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just a Little Glitch

I was already planning what I could do with all my extra free time.  We were without internet in the house this morning. Just a little glitch.  X-Boxes, Play Stations, ipods and smart phones would not function to their ultimate capability.  Our world was rocked.

Don’t get me wrong, I rely on the internet to stay connected with family and friends through Facebook and email.  I get sucked in as easily as anyone, maybe even more so.  The more practical uses of the internet like blog postings, shopping, email,  and messaging saves me a lot of time personally and professionally.

 On my drive to work, I was planning a life of electronically-free bliss, but a little big piece of me wants to hang onto the ease and the connections that are made.   I am really not sure why. It feeds my compulsive personality for I find myself continually checking for emails and messages.  Innately, I know I spend much too much time connected, when other things beckon like a nice late afternoon walk in the woods, tackling my pile of unread books, art work, knitting or hanging with family and friends or (my favorite) cleaning the house. 

I suspect that this is my way of coping with the crush of pressing responsibilities and stress that just won’t go away. A little escapism never hurt anyone.   With  limited use, I must broaden my repertoire of activities that feed me-spiritually and emotionally.  I know it is not technology.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Beach Days

In those days, Camp Ellis was an expanse of endless sand and surf.  There I spent my summers, from just after sunrise to sunset.  I wore a two- piece bathing suit with ruffles on my bottom. Bare-footed. Freckles danced across my nose.  Walking along  just where the sea and sand meet,  I bent to pick up purple prickly sea urchins or tightly bound periwinkles plopping them one by one in my red plastic pail. On rare occasions I found a tiny hermit crab that would not peep out, unless I held my breath for the longest time in trickery. Then he would emerge showing bulging round eyes and antennae. This is how I spent the hour after lunch-the longest hour of the day when my mother said it was important to digest my food before swimming again. Torturous! 

I spent all other hours in the salty swell of the ocean. Hearing my name against the roar of the sea, meant the hour was up and I could safely swim. I tossed off my terry robe and kicked up the sand behind me as I raced plunging, my speckled Styrofoam kickboard leading the way in, keeping me afloat.  

On the car ride home, my skin stiff with salt and parched from the sun, the kickboard settled across my bare belly,  I steadied it, shifting to drape my arm across its’ width.  Ready for another sunny day.

These days, I visit the sea near my home searching for sea glass, interesting rocks and shells.  Now and again, I stop and let the waves gently ripple over my bare feet, until soon they are numb from the cold.  I no longer count my time at the beach by days, but by hours, alone with my thoughts of an earlier time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The In Between

The rusty red brilliance of the wintered over blueberry barrens emerge with the snowy melt.  The hours of light lengthen.   According to the calendar, we can say that we survived another Maine winter.  My feet are still bound warm by woolies and a hand knit alpaca scarf is wound loosely around my neck for the snuggly warm effect.     Winter-like evenings remain punctuated by warming stews and soups, long luscious reads and early to bed under the weighted piles of blankets. All this is comfort amidst the harshness of winter.  I can’t say that I am grieving the passing of this cold season.  There is an impatience that I cannot temper easily.  Gone are the clamp-ons that allowed me to walk safely on frozen ground, gone are the down jackets, snow shoes, ice scrapers and snow melt thrown onto the steps. Gone at least in my mind at this moment, that is until the next spring snowstorm pays the Northeast a visit.  I’m doing my best to accept whatever comes.  Yet, I can’t help it, I find myself anticipating my toes wiggling free in flip flops and that first long swim in the lake-the cool water slipping passed me between strokes.   For now, I try to embrace the in-between.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


The chicks have changed in ten days.  When we got them they were just two days old-little yellow balls of puff, unsteady on their new legs.  Now stronger, every now and again I watch one reach and stretch back on a single leg and spread its’ wings sporting newly formed feathers.  The growth process is fast motion and quite entertaining to watch. 

Innately, they peck for bugs, although there are no bugs to be found in their little pen.  Earlier today, I watched the brood chase one chick with what was thought to be a worm. It was held tightly, a prized possession.  After dropping it suddenly, the smallest picked it up and ran helter-skelter with no one in particular taking notice of the thin thread of brown wood dangling and life-less.

The thought of gifting them with a worm came to mind, but it is out of the question.  We still have a ground cover of snow. A few weeks ago temperatures hit fifty degrees.  I began to believe that spring had arrived, but soon learned that it was trickery, like the worm.  Regardless, I insist on thinking spring.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Losing It

I am not quite sure when I began to lose it.  All of a sudden, it crept up on me. I have never been good with names-that hasn’t changed. One morning, I couldn’t remember how to operate the shower. For a split second, I panicked uncertain that I would be able to retrieve the sequence of steps necessary to get water.  A few deep breaths later, I was under a warm stream.

With a cart full of groceries, I forgot the pin to my debit card.   Under the watchful  (and critical) eye of the cashier, I began to try a historical series of personal pins frantically pushing buttons.  There was a rush of heat that rose from my neck, droplets grew on my brow and my breath was ragged and shallow. 

“I am so sorry, I have so many pins.   I can’t keep them all straight, “ I apologized and began to write a check.

I misplace small things like my car keys and then much bigger things.  I have been known to stand in the middle of a parking lot and pivot on my toes trying to catch a glimpse of the gray roof of my sedan. 

Most recently, I lost my camera.  For the longest time, it sat in my bedroom awaiting a long needed service call for cleaning.  Days ago on the morning of my birthday, I discovered the disappearance.  For hours the house was ransacked.  No camera.  Thoughts ricochet haphazardly. 

Did I let one of my kids borrow it for a project?  Did I lend it to a friend?  Did I move it?  Where did I put it?  Was it taken? Is it safe?  Will I ever find it?  Will I ever recover it?  What if I never find it?

I have lost it.

Recently, I read somewhere that it is important to have a positive relationship with your brain.  Right now my relationship is rocky.  It is strained at best.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Small But Mighty

In those days, Auntie all of four feet something, with fly away short white hair, a round face and a “no teeth” smile gained everyone’s attention when she spoke.  I think we were all a little afraid of her and we found ourselves doing things we otherwise wouldn’t do. The problem was she was out of step with what was cool and sometimes what she did was not within the social norm.
Each Sunday after church, we would make the twenty-mile trip from Biddeford to Portland to visit Auntie and her husband Gene.   My brother would show up to her house with his pants hiked up to his armpits. You ask why? That is the way auntie liked it.
 On her adventures (of which there are many), she would order one clam cake to split among herself, my uncle, and my three siblings, then using the establishment’s inside picnic table she would unpack an elaborate picnic with fried chicken, garden cucumbers, tomatoes, and biscuits to dine with a view.  My older siblings, nearly adults were so mortified, so that they would find a used Styrofoam cup (often filled with cigarette butts) to give the illusion that they were paying customers.  In my aunt’s mind they were paying customers because of one clam cake. 
 When I was five years old, I remember her ranting at my mother for dying my hair. Auntie was adamant and despite my mother trying to convince her otherwise, my aunt thought my mother regularly colored my hair, when in fact the sun had done all the work. 
Seldom did Auntie sit still and watch television. On occasion, when they thought that Auntie was safely engaged in a puzzle, a game of cards or tea with my mother, my uncle and my brother would sit in the front room and enjoy watching a show or movie.  Unexpectedly, but not surprising Auntie would confidently walk into the television room, change the channel and facing my brother and uncle announce, “I don’t like that show.” Then she would walk out of the room to rejoin my mother.
Since I was young, I desperately wanted to learn French, Auntie’s native language.  She had never allowed French to be learned because she reserved it as a “secret” language between she and my mother. Auntie has been gone for more than forty years, and I still do not know French.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Letter Dear

Dear Handwritten Letter,
You have had quite a long and revered history, which is ironic because presently your future is uncertain.  The fast paced communication of today like e-mail, social media and instant messaging have all, but snuffed out your existence.  I can’t quite let you go.
 We have been through too much together.  You’ve seen me through loves lost.  Remember those tears I cried when I learned he had another? My loneliness extinguished as I collected thread after thread of lines that bound me together in strength following the loss of my parents.  Those kind words saved for when I needed it most. That is how a broken heart began to heal.
  I learned of the ordinary day to day nuances experienced by my grandmother while I was away, and I realized that there are no ordinary moments, just extraordinary moments. Words brought me to her, to her day when she dined on bran cereal, two slices of lightly buttered toast on whole grain bread and black coffee.  The consistency of my grandmother’s predictability, chronicled in her impeccable slant of cursive read once, and re-read and re-read again comforted me in my loneliness.  My grandmother long passed, now precious moments preserved within you.
On one of my darkest days, you mysteriously dropped at my feet, a bundle tied in satin ribbon, the recipient my mother, the sender my father.  My hands trembled as I untied the ribbon. Holding the first envelope lightly between my fingers, I examined my father’s perfect penmanship each line uniformly spaced, the stamp carefully cornered, one long edge opened clean from the swipe of a letter opener. My breath quickened as I carefully slipped the pages from within and slowly unfolded them.  My eyes opened wide taking it all in as I read.  
Love. Life. Plans.
I read another and then another and stopped.  I had all the information I needed.    
My father’s words sounding desperate at times, also revealed longing and devotion for my mother.   Their stormy marriage left me wondering a lot about their feelings. Later that morning, I attended my father’s funeral, holding onto thoughts of their love despite the troubles.  The contents of these envelopes gave proof of their feelings; that is how I survived that day.
Today, while others exclusively prefer instant communication, I prefer the thoughtful crafting of your message and savor the anticipation of a response.  With pen in hand, I write.  I write of ordinary things, like my grandmother did. I write as the observer.  You, dear letter preserve my thoughts, my feelings, my history and the history of the time I live. You ease the burdens of loneliness, sorrow as well as celebrate the joys of the yesterday, today and tomorrow.  You have the capacity to penetrate the heart.   You can’t leave just yet. The world needs more of you. Won’t you just stay?

I, Remain Sincerely Yours,


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Navigating Through Fear

There is a storm raging outside.  The wind howls.  I take my glasses off and slip them into my pocket, the snow a horizontal curtain.  This weather reminds me, of my recent scary trip south to be with my brother at an appointment.  Driving again in this weather makes me want to throw up.  I punch the radio button to distract myself with tunes.   

Most cars are moving along, while others are slowly cautious.  The roads look slushy and icy.  I glance at my speedometer.  30 mph.  A quick check in the rear view reveals that there is someone behind me.  My eyes remain on the road ahead.  Not one to cave to the peer pressure by other drivers to speed up, I yell to the guy on my bumper as though he can hear, “You’ll have to wait.  I’m going slow.”

As the cars seem to roar towards me from the opposite lane, gripping the wheel I pray aloud, “Please stay on your side of the road.  Don’t smash into me!”

Suddenly I realize, I can only control my little Toyota Corolla.  Deep breaths clear my mind, and I come to just as Mandi, the DJ on KISS (who happens to be my niece) awards a listener concert tickets to Bare Naked Ladies, Ben Folds Five and Guster.  I imagine Mandi’s smile through the phone line, as the two discuss these bands. I laugh at myself because I cannot recall a song by Bare Naked Ladies (who I at least know are guys) and I have never heard of the other two bands or maybe it is just one band.  I haven’t a clue.

Sometimes, my ability to laugh at myself helps me through tough times in my life, all those slippery slopes. I’m determined to land on my feet.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Diversity At The Table

My great-aunt ran a boarding house in down town Portland.   It attracted a myriad of people while the staunch rules of a curfew and no visitors deterred a good many other folks.  Most notably, there was the tall, thin scholar who could speak seven languages and a short stout Hungarian woman, Mrs. Shevenall.  When the scholar spoke to my uncle, his English was refined, formal and without a noted accent.  His clothes and how he gracefully moved about the room was so different than how my grandfather shuffled around his apartment.  There was an air of worldly experience.   Mrs. Shevenall spent a good deal of time with Auntie in the kitchen and as requested made the most luscious dish to ever pass my lips.  As I recall the dish had broad flat green beans, fresh garlic and tomato, a marriage of flavors, color and texture.  Whenever I returned, I would beg Mrs. Shevenall to cook this.  Despite my numerous attempts to replicate it as an adult, I have been unable to achieve the delicate balance of ingredients.  At six years old, my culinary experiences were limited, but after tasting a bit of European cuisine and liking it, I was willing to try just about anything. These two boarders helped me to discover that the world literally was bigger than the twenty-mile radius that I had been exposed to thus far.

Each time, I have the good pleasure to eat something beyond the ordinary fare of poultry, pork, fish and potatoes, I am grateful for my early culinary experiences.  My risk taking has extended to my children, most of them anyway.  We regularly eat sushi, pot stickers, and curry at home. My adult son treated me to a birthday dinner and we were talking, just this evening about his love of Thai and Indian food.  My daughter having lived in Costa Rica for years is able to create authentic dishes.  Having accessibility to recipes and produce from all over the world makes this diversity at the table possible.    

Sunday, March 17, 2013


“They tell me it get easier with time,” my newly widowed friend leaned toward me and whispered in a tone that told me he had his doubts.  Early on, I used to measure my loss by days.  Now after ten years, I measure by years. It is easier with the passage of time, but it is still not easy.  Competitive in nature, I thought that I would be the best griever.  Acknowledging my sadness should have propelled me through Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief, right? I went on long walks, looked through photos, my siblings and I gather and shared stories.  Stories that made us laugh until our sides ached and stories that prompted us to pass the Kleenex box around.  Intellectually, I reasoned that I could continue to have a relationship with my mother and father, but that it would just be different.  Different in that I would not physically see them, be able to embrace them.  Adjustments always take time.  How much time is enough time?  When will my heart stop aching in longing to hear my mother’s voice again or feel my father’s strong, smooth hand in mine?  How long will it take before I fully accept? 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Close Encounter

I come from a long line of them, so some days I believe that I am wired like this and will remain so until my last breath.  While there are other times that I recognize a capacity to trust and detach from the outcome and live in the now.  Despite my efforts to overcome, I am a chronic worrier. 

The other day while I was driving my son opened the door for some reason and promptly closed it.  In a flash, I pulled him toward me so he would not get sucked out of the car from the vortex force.  Science and experience does not prove that this will happen in a motor vehicle going 25 miles per hour.  This fear is a childhood fear that I did not outgrow.   Driving through Scarborough marsh on occasion, the brackish water would flood the roadway.  Instead of closing the road, vehicles would be directed through the water.  My older sister or brother would hold me tight as I would simultaneously shriek and cower under the shield of their body.  I envisioned floating away to the ocean and my mother losing total control, being washed out to sea.  While some fears had little basis, they were real for me. 

There was a period of time, in my childhood that the next-door neighbor would babysit me along with her three children.  We would play toss with a small rubber ball, climb trees, ride bikes and hang out with the family dog named Sandy.  I had always wanted a dog, but my mother adored her cats.  Sandy would be nearby as we played, ever present and loyal.  It was a carefree existence really, but I grew to hate it following an incident that remains clear fifty years later.

One day, my babysitter got a phone call.  We all tumbled into the Rambler and soon I heard the sad purpose for our trip, Sandy had been hit by a car.  Sandy was dead.  We would pick her up to bring her home to be buried.  I remember a short ride in the car and then returning to the car to come home, I remember nothing in between. 
I remember closing my eyes tightly, because I did not want to see Sandy’s still, dead body.  The babysitter, despite pleading with her to allow me to sit in the backseat with a healthy distance between the dead dog and me, forced me to sit in the front seat with the dog at my feet.  I did not want to come in contact with death. My feet curled around on the car seat as I coiled making my body as small as could be.  A quick initial peek at the buff colored dog revealed just how close I was to the unthinkable.  Alive one minute.  Dead the next.  I do not know why I am afraid to view dead animals or to touch them. In my four year old self, did I worry about catching it?  Did I overhear a conversation about the health risks of touching anything dead?  Recently, it has only been my close experiences with my mother and father’s passing that I have been able to look at people that have passed. 

I am trying to overcome my fear.  I know that in my lifetime I will continue to encounter death and ultimately will experience it up close and personally.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Girl Scout Cookie, Why Yes!

Sometimes I wonder what my eating habits would be like if I was only responsible for myself?  Generally, I make healthy choices with the nightly little tidbit of chocolate or black licorice, but there is junk food in the house and in the past I would always fall prey to its tasty, junkie qualities.  I  seemed to have some excuse. 

“Girl Scout cookies, why yes, all to a good cause.  It has been a really hard day.  I deserve something sweet.  I feel like something crunchy like a Kit Kat bar.  Oh, ice cream.   A little bit won’t hurt. The carton is almost gone.  I might as well…”

Recently, the doctor recommended introducing fermented foods into my diet like kefir and sauerkraut.  For years, I have had bouts of painful inflammation in my foot, hands and hip.  In my experience, fermented foods have eradicated the inflammation and pain.  Surprisingly, I do not have cravings. 

This is not a medical endorsement.  Please check with your physician before altering your diet.  I am glad that I checked with mine. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Despite the fact that I have been happily married for more than 30 years, some of my most cherished memories have been by myself. Smearing pigment upon white canvas, getting my hands dirty blending shades of blue, purple and pink. Carrying a curiosity of what it will become.  Feeling the strength of my body glide through the cool waters of the pond, wanting to give up, but not having that choice. Slowly ambling through the woods of evergreen and hardwood, trying to forget about the burden of responsibility that is sometimes too great.   Burying my feet in the cool sand and playfully wiggling the grains off with my bright red painted toes.  Holding the camera, noticing details, bounties, and snapping “the shot.” Dipping the paddle deep into the water to propel the kayak forward while hearing the eerie, yet beautiful cry of the loon. Driving south. Praying in silence. Twisting a red ripe tomato off the vine with juice and seeds running down my chin. 

I needn’t apologize, but recognize that there are many more memories to come.  Yet, I acknowledge that I would not be happy alone, but for moments here and there.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In the Middle of Living

Not long before my mother passed, she was sitting on the couch with her legs propped up on an oversized hassock, Woman’s Day and Family Circle magazines mixed with the several issues of the local newspapers-The Portland Press Herald and the Journal Tribune surrounded her.  She must have been thinking about this for some time because the question seemed to pop out of nowhere, “What did I do in my life that was great and significant?”  Then with barely a breath taken, incredulously she added, “Nothing!”  I was dumbfounded.  My sweet, sweet mother sacrificed so much for me.  “Are you kidding?  Being a mother is pretty great! I would not be who I am today without you.”  A little older now, I understand her query. Had she lived her life in a virtuous way? She was sick and had good reason to reflect.   

Tonight we spent sometime at the funeral parlor, honoring a dear friend that passed.  He was relatively young, in his early 60’s. He was beloved in our community.  The line snaked out the door. He always had a smile and was ready to help another. 

Walking back to the car hand in hand with my husband, I was reflecting on this fragile life, my family and my partner of 32 years. How would I choose to live my last few years, months, days, or hours?  Have I used my God-given talents to serve others?  Have I treated others with respect and compassion?  Have I been truthful and trustworthy?  I don’t have to wait to be sick to ask these questions.  I can be in the middle of living my life and reflect. ?  I mustn’t wait for some tragedy to shake me out of my sleep.  Isn’t this what living mindfully is all about? 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


It has been ten years.  Some days it feels like ten long, long years while other times the memories are so fresh.  I used to like to take his strong hands in mine, his fingers just the right size-not too big and not too small.  Inside work for most of his adult life saved his hands from the hard, harsh labor that many hands are subjected.  His palms soft and smooth, while the tops of his hands were free of excess wrinkles or age spots.   He cared for his outer self, visiting the barber regularly, nails trimmed, cuticles pushed back and he seldom lived a day with stubbly whiskers.

Ironically, self-care does not come as naturally for me, as it did for my father.  My hair is cut short in a no fuss wave, my back needs regular itching attention because of dry skin and I barely recognize my wrinkly hands as my own.  I take care of the most important, or at least try.  Most of the time, I eat three meals a day with plenty of vegetables, nuts, beans, poultry, fish and fruit.  Walking in the woods or along the sandy beach makes me happy.  I stimulate my mind through reading and am working to develop my creativity through writing, drawing and painting.  It is always a trick to balance my spirituality, health, intellect and creativity with the needs of others. 

I have fallen short of living my life with intention and mindfulness when engaged in tasks related to self.  Only recently, have realized this impatience.  There is always so much to do, before I finish one task I am thinking of the next.  My movements are efficient, fast and often are not executed mindfully.  If my Oral B toothbrush was not electronically controlled, I would zip through two minutes of brushing in thirty seconds flat.

Just the other day, I registered for the 21- Day Meditation Challenge with Oprah and Deepak Chopra and completed the first day yesterday.  For a few years now, I have started and sputtered with meditation.  Faithfully, for months, I did it twice a day, with positive results.  I still lived with stress, but somehow I was able to deal with it easier.

It is true, I will always have challenges in my life and I will always be responsible for taking good care of myself.  As I prepare to participate in Day 2 of this challenge, I acknowledge that I am who I am and tomorrow I will wake with new understanding.