Even in Winter

enjoying the barrier beach

We escaped from winter in Virginia to winter in Rhode Island, though people who know me, know the trip is not about the weather. I consider this place home, and I need to check in every now and again. My son’s family decided to come along, and his daughter Annie LOVES the water.

When we made a quick stop to see the beach, she asked if she could put her feet in the water. 30 degrees!! But she did, and she came back with a huge smile on her face. As long as I am with them, I will never say no to a passion or interest.

Today it is raining/snowing, and we’ll do crafts at the dining room table.

I am enjoying each moment.

This is it.

A friend pulled me up short the other day.

“This is it,” she said. “Stop planning your death.”

I hadn’t realized how much I talk about dying: where, when, how. All the details.

In some ways, I believed that planning would make it seem less stressful. But what has happened is that I focus so much on the end, I forget I am here now. This poem by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer says it all:

This is it, I think, as I lie in bed, not wanting to leave the warmth.

This is it, my feet meet the cold wood.

This is it, I water the orchid.

This is it, I boil water, make tea.

I think, I’ll be a better person tomorrow.

This is it, me dreaming of fresh starts.

This is it, defuzzing the sweater.

This is it, paying bills, answering mail, frying eggs, washing pans.

No life but this one.

No fresh start but here.

This is it, the cat sits on my papers.

This is it, the phone doesn’t ring.

This is it, the floors need mopping,

the letter needs written, the class needs planned.

This is it, me wishing I could be more perfect.

This is it, this. This only. Only this.

This is it, this flutter in my chest

when the sun enters the room,

the natural leaning toward the light.

This is it, this silence.

This cold. This warmth.

This longing. This song on my lips.

A Re-thinking

Holidays bring memories, both good and bad, and create added stress to the already expectation-filled days. This year I’ve done a good job of relaxing through it. My goal was to write every day, take time to intentionally breathe/pause, and to release those expectations. It seems to be working.

My list:

  • Lighting candles at supper every night, even if it’s just a salad
  • Writing poetry every day (and not worrying about form, structure, or audience)
  • Taking a walk, even when it’s freezing (I do need to stop whining to David about it)
  • Sticking to my eating plan (no bread, reduced sugar, reduced alcohol, LOTS of fiber, no meat, and lots of water)
  • Thinking about what I’m grateful for (such a cliche, but it does work)
  • Journaling and exercising every morning

My writing has helped me come to terms with my relationship with my parents. In many ways they were loving, kind, and generous. The past few years, I found myself concentrating on how hard my childhood was– growing up as a “need to please” child, which in turn made me an insecure teen and adult. But writing has allowed me to realize the cycle of parenting. I’m sure my own children have their anger and frustration over my lack of consistent care giving, and I do wish I’d done many things differently. Yet, I am so proud of the men they have become and the fathers they are. What more could I ask?

So this was a recent bit of writing…and made me realize how much I miss special moments with my parents. Today I am grateful for my friend Donna, who shares her photos with me for writing inspiration. A window that I might literally look through, and a window that gives me a different emotional perspective. There are cracks and there is light. How beautiful.

What I Know

Mornings in my childhood home
come with a gift: orange and pink
brilliance sprays across the pond,
and fills the sky. The sun lifts, bounces
its rays off boats. Finally, yellow touches
the miracle blue and drifting white clouds.
I race to the dock to photograph
the horizon again, as I’ve done so often.
How many photos of mornings can one have?

There’s a first time for everything,
and a last.
A walk with him.
A hot cup of coffee on the porch with her.
A few words from a hospital bed.

Perhaps knowing of endings
tugs me out of bed when dawn
barely pokes through the window.

Pushing My Body

getting ready….
water ski “fail”

One of my favorite activities growing up in Rhode Island was water skiing. I’d wake up early and head to the pond to catch the smooth water.

The other night my cousin (8 years younger than I) asked if anyone wanted to go skiing. I had a moment of craziness, and thought, “why not?” It had been 6 years since I’d skied, but how hard could it be, I thought. Like riding a bike :)

After agreeing, there was no turning back. His son, my son, and my grandson were in the boat, and I jumped in the pond. Just getting the skies on in the water is an ordeal (they keep sliding up and under you…it takes some effort to get them up in the “ready” position.)

Finally, I yelled “hit it!” I barely got my butt out of the water when I felt the handle pull out of my hands. As I hit the water, I felt a pain in the back of my head, and in short order, I felt nauseous. Nevertheless, I was in, and I attempted once more. No way. This old body just wasn’t going to make it. I’ve spent two days with a headache and sore muscles. It could have been worse.

I really don’t know what I was thinking. I haven’t been exercising as much as I should. And I’m not 17 anymore! Getting old, making the transition to old age, means giving up certain things. I have been spending much time this summer thinking about how I want to live out the end of my life. It may be 25 years or perhaps less. But I’m not kidding myself now– it will be different.

Even so, I can take care of myself so I stay healthy and active. I’ll watch my grandchildren learn to swim and ski on this same pond. And I’ll love every minute of having generations come back to Carters’ Landing, the place my grandparents built for all of us.

I can’t imagine anything more joyful.

Home Again

We’ve had a busy first week back in Rhode Island, but that’s because I am doing all my favorite things. We also made it to Mystic Seaport and three restaurants with the first set of kids. The family will come in shifts, and I need to make sure I don’t eat as much as I did this week.

Still, I am not complaining. This place makes me feel settled, calm. It is familiar.