Thursday, February 16, 2012

Marking the Passage of Time

At the park yesterday, Flannery found a stack of logs on top of which she declared herself to be the "Queen of All the Playground!"    The logs were newly cut and perfect for counting the rings that mark the tree's growth each year.  So, we counted, and the tree was over 40 years old.  Some of the years were obviously years of bounty and moisture, when the tree grew a good bit, and other years looked like they were perhaps drought years, because the rings were thinner.

It made me think about how our life is so much like that in retrospect.  Years of bounty, ease, health.  Seasons of illness, fear, grief.  Some years we grow so much.  And other years, we just hang on for dear life hoping to make it through intact.

I hope that one day, my daughter will look back on this childhood of hers as years of "thick ringed" growth.  As much as our life has been at times uncertain--with Robi job-hunting, and me being sick, and being stretched for money and time, and figuring out life in a new city--I really think that these years with Flannery home with us are "bounty years."  It's such a beautiful thing to get to watch her grow and learn, and to be able to be a part of her everyday.  I know it won't be like that forever, and she'll be off to college and making her own life in the blink of an eye.  As it should be.

But for now, I'm tracing my fingers on the rough rings of a tree trunk.  Listening to Flanna hum a Valentine song.  Watching the sunlight stream through her hair.   Marking the passage of time.

And trying to hold all these things in my heart.







Has the past year been a year of thin or thick ringed growth for you?   Does time seem to move quickly or slowly for you at this point in your life? 

Give Proofs of Love

My husband is a much better gift-giver than I am.  He is always thoughtful and personalizes gifts in a way that I feel very considered and special.  For Valentine's Day, he got me fudge hearts and some roses, but not just your ordinary vase of roses--some cool mini parade rose-bushes that I can plant outside later.  I let them sit outside yesterday to give them some full sun, and our dog Padme was so interested in them.  They must smell like some sort of food, hah.

Annnyway.  My husband's thoughtful gift giving is just one of the ways he so often gives "proofs of love" (I stole that phrase from Gretchen Rubin).   Even though I already know he loves me, it still warms my heart to hear him say so, or to receive a special gift or note from him.

I think about my daughter, too, that she often swells with pride upon getting "proofs" of our love.  Special cuddles while watching Phineas & Ferb together, extra snuggle time before bed, little thumbs ups or winks when she's being brave on the playground, and especially hearing us say what we love about her--these little things leave her smiling as she plays or gets ready for bed.

It's not enough for us to assume that everyone we love knows just how much we love them and what we love best about them.  We need to give proofs of love, give proofs of appreciation, give proofs of thought and consideration to our loved ones.

I'm working on it, and aspiring to one day match my hubby in gift-giving ability.  Or even outdo him!  Ah, now I'm just dreaming.







What about you?  Do you appreciate proofs of love?  Do you find it easy or difficult to give proofs of love to those you care about?  I think some people can feel like giving proofs of love can be little forced or fake-ish, especially when tied to a commercialized holiday--but I don't think the receiver ever feels that way.  What do you think?    

Monday, February 13, 2012

Enter into One Another's Interests

Our hotel room artwork just happened to be
a flyer for one of the bands we saw.  Very neat.
When I'm coaching teachers about how best to build the language skills of children, I usually always start by discussing ways to "enter into the child's interests" or to "follow the child's lead" and "engage the child by focusing on their interests."  When building a relationship with a child (which is crucial before you can start trying to teach them anything!), creating experiences of shared enjoyment is really important.  And even more important is the idea of "entering into the child's interest" (not forcing our ideas of fun on the child).  Entering into a child's interest really builds connection.

The same is true of building or strengthening relationships with adults.  When we enter into our spouse's interests, for example, it builds connection.

It's funny, though, how often in my marriage relationship, I forget that I need to try to create experiences of shared enjoyment with my husband by entering into his interests.  We're lucky enough to have frequent date nights, since we have family close by, but too often, I think I plan date nights around what I find fun--dinner out, a nice long talk, a funny movie.  But really, he loves unusual music, and novel/interesting experiences, and learning new things.

So, I've been trying to enter into his interests more.  This weekend, we took a cooking class together.  We learned something new (how to make rack of lamb!), and it was sooo yummy.  Then, we went to Athens and saw one of his favorite artists,  Jeff Mangum (from Neutral Milk Hotel) play.  It was gorgeous and thought-provoking music, and we had a great time.  A connection-building time.

The cool thing about entering into someone else's interest, is that usually the experience actually makes us happy, too.  Not because we change ourselves or our own interests, but because the experience usually builds connection, and social connection is key to happiness.



Feeling disconnected from someone you care about?  How can you try to enter into their interests this week?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Experience Nature

a Camelia tree by our driveway
One of the things that has made me happiest this week has been to see the insanely early blooms on our trees.  I think getting to see some rejuvenation in nature has really helped me feel like I'm healing and making a fresh start.  It's been energizing, even, I think.


our neighbor's tulip tree (Japanese magnolia) - my favorite!
Hopefully the cold weekend ahead won't ruin the beauty all around!  Although, if we were to perhaps get snow, I guess I'd be okay with the trade.



What brought you a bit of happiness this week?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Time Heals all Wounds

First, I want to apologize for not updating this blog at all since my resolutions post.  Crazy, crazy craziness ensued shortly after I wrote that.  

Craziness to the tune of a stomach bug that just wouldn't go away.   Craziness to the tune of me going to my general practitioner and asking him to figure out how to help me get past said stomach bug.  Craziness to the tune of my brilliant doctor immediately recognizing the need for specialists.  

Craziness to the tune of my doctor sending me straight to the hospital.  To meet with a surgeon.  A wonderful, grandfatherly and kind surgeon, but a surgeon nonetheless.  

Craziness to the tune of having a CT scan that revealed an intestinal obstruction.  The same type of difficulty I'd had 5 years ago, when I was pregnant, which had landed me in the hospital for 4 weeks being totally IV fed until Flannery was born.  Luckily back then, the obstruction cleared with time and GI rest. I wasn't so lucky this time.  

This time around, I needed surgery.  There was a strap of scar tissue from a surgery I had had as a baby, that had wrapped around part of my intestine, pulling it and twisting it so that nothing could get through.  The surgeon--that kind, grandfatherly surgeon--he snipped the scar tissue, took a few photos of the before and after, and stitched me back up.  

And then more craziness ensued.  Recovery.  

Pain.  Nausea.  Morphine.  Itchy side effects.  A crazy haze of pain and darkness and fear.  With waves of relief interspersed here and there.  A desperate alone feeling.   Fuzzy vision.  Prodding nurses trying to collect blood from unwilling veins.  Kind nurses telling me about their three children.  Manipulative nurses trading meds for walks in the halls.  My calm husband always there beside me, sleeping on the strange chair-bed each night.  Harsh fluorescent lights.  IV poles beeping.  Care that seemed so violent sometimes.  But always with waves of relief interspersed here and there.  

And then, somehow, the fog cleared.  And I was myself again.  I got to come home.  I ate warm broth my mom made from scratch.  I stopped the pain meds.  I started understanding conversations again.  My vision cleared.  I was able to read again.  My brain could follow along when I read paragraphs.  My husband's nervous forehead stopped looking so pinched.  My daughter started forgetting to be careful when she hugged me.  My mom sat down and watched a show with me and laughed a bit again.  We all finally exhaled.  

And then, today, I drove again.  Not too far.  Just to renew the car tag with my hubby.  And then, we picked up Flanna from school, and my husband took us all out to dinner.  It was breezy and cool and crisp out.  I wore jeans for the first time in almost a month.  I had pasta and shrimp.  My daughter drew pictures and played on her iPod during dinner.  We were just your average family.  I was just your average mom in baggy jeans.  

And that, my friend?  Is how time heals all wounds.  




What wound are you healing from?  What has helped you through the healing process and back into life again?  For me, it was going outside, seeing the japanese magnolias blooming, watching my husband have endearing conversations with our kiddo, and thinking about work projects again.  Those little things pulled me up out of lethargy and toward recovery.  And time.  I know that time played a big part, as well.