Tag Archives: outdoors

What I have learned about grief

flowerGrief is sneaky. Out of the blue grief sneaks up on me. I do my best to prepare for the anniversaries, the times I know it will be hard. But it pops up, unwanted and unexpected.

Grief is strong. When grief hits it can take me down to the ground. Swiftly, I am out of breath and drowning.

Grief does not play fair. I make deals with grief, it can come when I am prepared, when I am ready to take it on, we have an agreement. Grief does not always abide by that agreement.

Grief is a thief. It sneaks in, uninvited, like a bull in a china shop, breaking our agreement and tries to steal my joy.

This is what I have learned about my grief. I say “my grief”, because everyone has a different grief visiting them, not all griefs are the same.

I have learned to give grief a time limit, especially when it shows up unannounced and bullies me into a puddle of tears. I give my grief  time and attention but with limits. I give myself permission to cry, a lot if I need to. I give myself permission to be sad, very, very sad, if I need to.

And then I invite grief to leave.

These are some ways I encourage my grief to leave; I go outside and soak up some nature. I listen to praise music, I read the psalms. I take a walk/run to get some good brain chemicals active. I count my blessings. I do something creative. I feed my soul. I pray.

I don’t always feel like I want to do these things, but I do them. I am persistent, I keep at it until grief finally gives in. Until it packs up it’s baggage and leaves.

So today, I am being persistent, grief swooped in yesterday and knocked me to my knees, but today I am standing. I am inviting grief to leave without taking my joy with it. Having cried myself to sleep last night in the wonderful arms of my understanding husband, I am sitting in my garden this morning. Worship is music playing, I watch the birds drink from the sprinkler, and the momma and poppa swallows try to keep up with the feeding of the littles. I am preparing for a prayerful walk/run with psalms of praise running through my mind.

I will not let grief overtake me. I have so much to be grateful for, I love my life, I will not let grief rob me of my joy.

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ps 23

Gardening Small

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The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden is full of helpful information for beginning gardeners as well as seasoned gardeners. From when and how to start seeds to the when and how of the harvest. This book also gives the reader several options for preparing the ground for the garden.

Great illustrations of how to lay out a garden to optimize space make this book even more helpful . The book is full of practical hints as well as information on companion plants. There is also information on how to extend your garden by suggesting plants to put into the ground right after harvesting an earlier yielding crop.

I can hardly wait for the weather to be warm enough to give this book a practical work out in my garden.

more about the book | more about the author

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Your Family in Pictures a review

9780823086207  Your Family in Pictures

This book is much like a recipe book but for photographs. Me Ra Koh’s step by step advice for getting your family in the mood, or setting the stage for fun and unusual family photographs is easy to follow. Prompting the reader to not just capture the formal family portrait but to also remember to capture cherished every day, such as naps, cuddles, homework time and many other rarely though about photographic moments.

The icing on the cake is right under every photo in the book, the settings she used to get the photograph. While these settings are not going to be exact for everyone who tries them, they give a starting point. I could have used these tips when learning to use my DSLR.

Even though I consider myself fairly accomplished with my camera, I am sure I will refer to this book often for inspiration and tips.

I would recommend this book to every couple as they begin their journey together. I would make a great wedding or baby shower gift.

Click here for more information

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Rich (Stories from behind the cardboard signs)

Solitary

He was leaning on his bedroll, a small piece of cardboard folded up next to him.

I watched him from a distance.

I imagined him as a gentle person at peace with himself.

His face held a slight grin as he watched the sea.

The sea bird sitting next to him stayed for as long as I watched.

Homeless? Probably.

Poor? Not by the look on his face.

Stories from behind the Cardboard Signs

untitled-17Good Morning Eddie

Hello (He always looks surprised that I remember his name)

How was your New Year?

It was great!

Are you staying warm at night?

Yes ‘mam, I spent the night last night checking on my people.

Here is some chicken and napkins

Thanks ‘mam and God bless.

Sally (actually Sammie)

heart

I am going to imagine that her name is Sally, she looked like what I would imagine a Sally to look like.

I noticed her as I left the parking lot. She was sitting behind a cardboard sign, five or six white garbage bags all around her. She had on several layers of clothing, her face was dirty, and wore the wrinkles of a hard life. I started to drive by but decided to pull over. I got out of the car and dug out one of my beach blankets from the back. She had gotten to the car by that time. I grabbed a couple bags of hotel toiletries, I told her that I did not have money to give her but I had this blanket and these toiletries. Her eyes lit up, her whole face broke out in a toothless grin and she exclaimed “Soap!” She thanked me like I had handed her keys to a warm house and walked back to her spot on the sidewalk.

I know I posted this before but I have a follow up, I had not seen her for several weeks, and I had been wondering about her so when I saw her I stopped. I asked her if she needed anything in the way of toiletries, she wanted shampoo, I dug around in the bag and pulled out shampoo and a few other things. I asked her name and was surprised to find I was pretty close in my guess, her name is Sammie.

Cowboy

Stories from behind the cardboard sign part 3

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I stopped at a rest stop, he was sitting there with his cardboard sign and can. His face was lined with a million stories. He wore rough work clothes, worn work boots and a cowboy hat that had seen decades of use.

I summoned my courage to stop and talk to him. His face was compelling, it had a million stories in the wrinkles and crinkles, I wanted to hear at least one of them. I told him I did not have cash but I had some energy bars in the car, would he like a few? He looked up with hazy blue eyes that still had a twinkle to them, he said yes he would love them.

I sat next to him, handed him the bars and a bottle of water. He thanked me and told me that he was so ashamed to be sitting here asking for money, he had a small trailer to go home to, but he needed a medical procedure and he did not have the money for it. We chatted for a few minutes, he told me he rode in rodeos, worked as a cowboy on ranches, he said there is no retirement fund for those jobs. He reminisced for just a minute about how he loved that work.

I mentioned to him I was a photographer and that I would love to take his picture, he very politely declined. I told him was I understood, but in truth I was so disappointed, he had the most interesting face.  He told me he had done things in his past he did not want his face on that “web thing”. I told him I respected his privacy.

He questioned why I would want a picture of him, he was just an old wrinkled man. I explained about how his face drew me to him and how I thought he had many stories. He smiled shyly, and shook his head a little embarrassed.

He was well-spoken, shy, and a little ashamed, but he would not trade the “cowboy days” and would still be riding if he was able. I left him with a hand shake, and wishing I could hear more. I still check out that rest stop when I pass in hopes of seeing him again.

 

Author’s note:  I spoke with this man “Cowboy” last spring. Out of this conversation came the courage to actually do this project that has been in my head for years.

 

Stories from behind the cardboard signs – Part One

I am beginning a series of short stories, I have been curious for some time about what brings someone to living on the streets. I have been curious about their stories. Here is my first “interview”

_MG_8311 His name is Eddie.

When I ask him where he sleeps, he says the manager at Wilco lets him sleep in the alcove as long as he is gone when they open and leaves the area clean. But he only goes there if he really needs shelter, he does not want to wear out his welcome. He has several places he goes. He use to sleep in the bushes next to a small lake nearby, but they cleared out all the brush. He says “We lost a lot when that happened, but it is beautiful there now.” He loves walking that area and seeing the improvements and how nice it is now.

I ask if I can take his picture, he looks down and shakes his head no. I tell him  it’s okay, I tell him I am working on a project but I can tell his story without a picture of him. He tells me that he does not want people to make fun of him. He said people think bad about him and don’t even know him.

He tells me about people who drive by and scream at him to get a job, he tells me he wants to work. He would do anything, pull a few weeds, wash windows, then he shows me his hand. Half healed wounds, still weeping, cover his first two fingers, I could tell stitches that were needed never happened, the wounds looked like they had been very deep, I imagine from a knife. He told me they had been infected, he found some place to soak them in salt water, he cried like a baby. He told me it is still painful but he just works at odd jobs anyway. “You just have to grit your teeth and do it.” He tells me he is just a man looking to do small jobs for a little money.

As we are talking he is waving and smiling at the cars going by. One stops with a bag of cans, I tell him goodbye..

As he walks away he looks back over his shoulder “God bless you”.

What struck me was his lack of bitterness, his peaceful demeanor. He seems anxious to talk about himself but not too sure about sharing. At one point during our conversation he looked at me and said, “You know I could still fall in love, probably not today, but maybe tomorrow”. The one thing Eddie has not lost is his hope.

(P.S.  I returned later with some Neosporin, disinfecting wipes, and bandages. He was surprised, his eyes misted a little.)

I kept going

runYesterday, I ran the longest I have run to date. I owe this to a bluejay, a swallow and two women I have never met.

As I hit mile one, fatigued, hot and sweaty, I was thinking I would just go a little further and turn around and walk back. I could try again tomorrow right? No harm, no foul. I am not really competing with any one but myself and who would blame me? I had already done a couple hours of yard work. Just then a car pulled out of a driveway, a woman in the passenger seat waved and gave me the biggest smile. It felt like she was cheering me on. I kept going.

A little later I noticed a bluejay hoping from fence post to fence post just ahead of me. He would stop and watch me until I got a little close then fly to the next post. It detracted me enough to get a little past the 1 and 3/4 mile mark without really noticing it. I kept going.

I let myself talk me into stopping at 2 miles, same reasons as above. Just before I got to my stopping point another car pulled out of a driveway, this time the woman in the passenger seat waved, smiled and gave me a thumbs up. That simple gesture lifted my spirits, put a smile on my face and gave me just a little more energy. I kept going.

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About a half mile later a swallow decided to fly with me, weaving in and out of the grass in the field next to my route. He would get ahead, then come back and do that little ballet flight that swallows do. This went on for about 1/4 of a mile. I kept going.

By this time, turning around and going back was further than just going on. I kept going.

I thought, in our lives, in our spiritual journey, how many times does God send jut the right person at just the right time to encourage us? More than we know.

I want to be that, an encourager, someone who smiles at the stranger on the corner, the haggard mom in the store, the gentleman shuffling along with a walker. Just a smile is all it takes sometimes to keep someone going, to make their day just a little more manageable.

I want to be that person that not only keeps going, but I want to be the person that encourages others to keep going.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

 

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Recently I decided to start running again. When I say again, don’t think I have run recently, it has been many years, 40 to be exact since I “use to run”. I have not run since high school. There were several things that got me started, I want to lose some weight, I want to be healthier, a friends blog, and the realization that at my next birthday I am going to be closer to 60 than 50, (Whew, that really snuck up!) I want to be one of those “seniors” that stays active, and does things, so I am committing to run.

I started last week when my new running shoes came. My commitment is to run 3 times per week. My short term goal is to run a 5k in June. Sounds easy enough, right? Sure, but life has already threatened to get in the way. Next week is a full week. Several appointments after work are going to make it hard to stick to my commitment. My first thought was, “Well, maybe I will really start the next week”. But I know me, if I don’t keep with my commitment now, I won’t. Life will always get in the way, always and I will always be putting it off until the next week and then the next and pretty soon I won’t even be thinking about it anymore.

So I have to make a plan, and then another if that plan is not going to work, and then another. I need to make back up plans for the “just in case”.

I have done a few things that I hope will help me keep my commitment, one is huge for me, I am telling people, that makes me accountable. I am not comfortable with this, I want to be able to hide if I fail. But here it is for all the world to see, I am now accountable, you all now know.

I bought really good, and also important, cute running shoes. The really good part is so I don’t injure myself and have to quit running, the cute part is well just because.

I bought good wireless headphones, music in my ears helps me stay focused, and the wireless part because wires bug me. 🙂

I looked for an app that fit my style and would help me achieve my goal. This app “talks” to me and tells me when to warm up, when to run, when to walk, and when to cool down, it will methodically, over the next 9 weeks, guide me to run 3 miles.

A couple lessons already learned, I can’t look too far ahead. It discourages me. Just a few feet, just far enough so I don’t trip.

Another important lesson, I have to run my mile, not anyone else’s mile. My second run I thought I needed to improve my time by a certain amount. I pushed myself too hard, I almost quit part way through the run. I nearly sent myself into a full blown asthma attack. I felt like I was sucking on my inhaler like a pacifier. It is not important at this point how fast I am going, just that I am going. Today’s run I slowed down, ran just hard enough to challenge me but not hard enough to kill me. 🙂 I finished, and felt really good.

My goal this week was 3 runs, I met it. It feels good, now to make plans to meet my 3 run goal next week.