Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day--for old memories

Memorial Day is for remembering. It was set up to honor the soldiers of the Civil War, but it has come to mean remembering our loved ones who have gone on. I put a picture of iris here, because Memorial Day weekend used to be the Iris Society's big show, and Grandma and Grandpa English always won ribbons. The first year I met John, they won Queen of the Show, and gave me the medal, because they entered "for me." It was also the last time they entered. They moved on to Day Lilies, Cactus, and Rock Gardens after that. What a great memory.
I started a walking program, and my favorite place is Canyon Rim Park. It is soooo gorgeous, and usually I have it all to myself. Today, being a holiday, there were family activities going on, and it was nostalgic. I really miss "family". Of course I miss individuals, but I miss the many things we used to be and do as a family.
When we lived on 10th East and the kids were little, we would put one in the backpack, and one in the bike seat, and bike to Liberty Park to play, then go out for lunch or dinner, usually pizza--my choice in those days.
On many holidays we ended up with Kentucky Fried Chicken at Grandma English's house, followed by frisbee or softball or football at the Rosecrest schoolyard. Many Sundays were spend at Grandma Stirling's for dinner, with lots of people running around, and Sherry showing us her mouthful at the dinner table. Sometimes we would go to the Rosslyn Heights schoolyard to play. I think now of my poor mother and her workload doing it all herself, and all of us just laughing and hanging out together. I miss those days. If I had it to do over, I'd help her more. Alf still tells his ethnic jokes, but they aren't politically correct anymore (like they ever were).
We don't get together with Pat and Kathy and their family anymore. Allison and Sue still like each other, and we do have the Easter Egg tradition, which is a good thing. Mary Kay, for her first Christmas back, loved the bowling idea, and wants to keep it going, even willing to plan it next year. But I think how spread out everyone is, both in locale and ideology; it's quite interesting to see the disparity anymore.
I remember taking all the cousins up to the University to play in the water fountains. We would also take bikes, wagons and trikes to toodle around on.
I miss the Moab Marathon activities, meeting everyone in the park after the run, then hiking in Fiery Furnace, flying kites from the parking lot. Ditto the St. George Marathon.
I miss the river guides annual river trip on the Snake, camping out at Gros Ventre campground, eating meals with everyone.
I miss the trips to Lake Powell with Carolyn and Alf's family and boat, water skiing. I remember the first time Jonathon and Allison water skiied; what an exciting time that was.
A trip down Memory Lane is a good thing: I still have my memories! I think I should have appreciated the moment more intentionally in those days. If I had advice to give young parents, it would be to Pay Attention. Don't miss anything while you're doing it. It goes by too fast, and the only thing you can count on is CHANGE. Everything changes so fast, and we never know what tomorrow will bring. Be happy in Present Time. So, I'm going to take my own advice, and be happy with what Life presents to me in Present Time. I'm going to pay attention, especially to my grandchildren. And I'm going to keep making memories.
Love to all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Life is a Verb

Several weeks ago, Sarah posted a book review on her blog. It was a self-help book, one kind she says she never reads. Well, if you know me, you know that I've spent 30 years reading self-help books. Call me crazy, it would probably be true, but I always felt I needed to know more about the world, how it works, how to have successful relationships, how to see the world through eyes that might find kindness, compassion, empathy, acceptance and love. Isn't that what everyone wants? Maybe like the David Wilcox song, I had a hole in my cup that holds love....or probably more correctly, withholds love. I kept thinking everyone else knew something I didn't, and if I could just figure out what it was, the "Secret - Of - Happiness" would be mine. Not that I wasn't happy; I think I've been an eternal optimist, or at least very naive. This is a long introduction to the topic for today. THE BOOK.

LIFE IS A VERB, by Patti Digh (ironically pronounced "Die")
37 Days to Wake up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally

This is the book I would have written, if I could write a book. This is what I have wanted to teach my children, what I want my grandchildren to know. It is full of lovely quotes and poems (most of which I have already collected through the years), anecdotes, fresh ways to look at the world, and mostly it affirms Life in a big way. I can read two pages a day if I want, and my heart opens wide. I'm a better person for it. It is funny, poignant, provocative, heart-warming and inspiring.
The author lives in Asheville, NC. and speaks internationally, teaching these principles to large organizations. She is mother to two daughters, one a teenager, one a toddler, and we see life through her eyes as a mother, as well as life through the eyes of her children. The world is a better place because of her life, teachings, commitment and insight.
When I used to recommend books, I would say: "This is one I would want if I were stranded on a desert island." However, this book would not be needed if I were stranded; it is absolutely essential for navigating the sea of humanity we live among every day. I checked it out of the library, have renewed it, and now will be buying my own copy. Check it out here. Even if you read two pages, your life will be better for it. Thank you, Patti. (Her website here, which links to her blog containing many of the essays in the book.)
And love to all.