Saturday, July 31, 2010

Family Matters

Last summer we started a tradition. To celebrate my parents' 60th wedding anniversary, as many of my family members who could gathered at a lovely inn at Branson, MO.

We didn't go for the shows or to cruise the strip in bumper to bumper traffic. Instead we settled along Lake Taneycomo, choosing the more sedate old downtown and the new Landing to spend our time.

This year we repeated the experience, staying in the same inn and sitting in wicker chairs and rockers on the wrap-around porch. It was very hot, very humid.....but that didn't deter us from the long talks that are the staple of our family.

It was definitely a time for togetherness, but there were also moments devoted to solitude. In the coolness of the mornings, I walked along the boardwalk that ran beside the lake. The mist rose from the water like a silent genie, hovering just above its surface as ducks glided smoothly along its glassy top. Only a handful of people shared my space: joggers and fellow wanderers also seeking the refuge of the quiet morning. It was so nice to be out before both the heat of the day and the throngs of people who inevitably come to share such a beautiful place. Leaning over the railing and watching the day begin was captivating: the definition of peace.....the porthole for contentment.

And the days were filled with their charm, too. My sister drummed up a group of us and brought in so much business to the local dollar store that the clerk rewarded us with free hats!
We perused the local shops, bought trinkets to take back home and ate a LOT of food!

One afternoon we loaded up and headed to Table Rock Lake to spend a few hours at my cousin's house. He took us on a grand tour of the lake with my brother-in-law as co-pilot, my brother and I at the stern and my parents tucked comfortably behind the driver's seat.

Twenty of us took seats on the boat dock, in lounge chairs on the back deck or inside the house to talk about the days of the past and what lies ahead. One niece brought a friend while another inducted her fiancee to our extended family vacation. That's one of the many things I love about us: everyone is welcome.....everyone belongs.

Many people don't understand how our family gets along and why we so enjoy being together.

To me it's simple. We truly love each other.

We are individuals, part of one whole; intertwined with history and a genuine like for one another. I would pick them to be with even if we weren't related. We are connected, not just through blood but through ideas and thoughts, likes and friendship. They are the thread of my very existence, woven into who I am and where I come from.
It's a lovely tradition, this getting together. And no matter where we are, whether home or on the road, we are family. I wouldn't change that for the world.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A 21st

Today my daughter turns 21. Twenty-one. How did the years pass so swiftly?

It surely wasn't that long ago when I held her, as a new baby, in my arms for the first time. Yet here is proof in the beautiful young woman who stands before me.

Gone are the days of picture-making as she sits at her little school desk, pen gripped firmly in her left hand. Disney tunes no longer resonate from her room as she twirls in her pretty sundresses and sings along. Barbies are tucked away in plastic containers and fluffy stuffed animals gather dust from inattention.

It is as it should be. Another autumn is around the corner and a college dorm awaits. I'm excited for her as she begins yet another part of her journey. But I'll miss her...

For now, on this July day, I'll pretend she's mine forever as I tuck the memories close to my heart and savor each moment we share.
Twenty-one. Indeed, they've passed so quickly.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful girl. I Love You!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset...

This was the sky that greeted me yesterday morning. I was lying in bed, just before my alarm went off, and woke suddenly to see a orange glow outside my bedroom window. Since the sun and I get ready for the day at the same time, I had to snap this quickly before I headed for the shower.

By evening, the calm of the day turned stormy as clouds built to the north and south of us. Still, their beauty was magnificent, and these were the images left to me at the end of the day.

Though the only thing we got from the storms was distant thunder and lightning, they left behind calling cards that punctuated perfectly this golden July day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Aftermath of a storm

The storm that hit last night was over by the time we got home. The heavy rains and wind quickly swept across the prairie and though we could see it in the distance, we never caught up to its fury.

The sun was just setting by the time we reached home and I was able to catch the band of clouds at the back of the storm. It was hard not to be mesmerized by the contrast of the serene sky and the puffs of stormy white.

After the sun had gone down it left a beautiful orange glow that was both eerie and beautiful. It swooped down into our yard like a loose canopy, suspended there in golden silence.

I took one last picture from the back door, loving all the elements at play: the bright blue sky, vibrant pink clouds with a scattering of smaller ones at the forefront and the gray storm beneath.

In their wake they brought refreshing cool air and left a lasting loveliness I'll not soon forget...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Story remains...and continues.

This afternoon the kids and I went to see "Toy Story III." I knew I was in trouble when I got choked up 5 minutes into the movie.

Maybe it was the fact that the two people sitting beside me, also sat beside me in 1995 as we watched the movie that started it all. Except then they were 3 and 6 and the days of graduation and college were something in the distant future. How was I supposed to know that time would pass so quickly? The sweet, tender ending found me fighting to hold back sobs as I contemplated the fast-approaching day when I step into my own home of empty bedrooms and find remnants of the children they used to be.

When we first talked of going to the theater, my daughter went through the old toy box and found their original Woody and Buzz. Their simple design were no match for the 'new and improved' versions that now line the store shelves in fancy boxes and packaging. And yet, like the characters in Pixar's brilliant movie, these toys were also once well-loved. And then it was only a matter of time before they too, were shelved as the children of yesterday put away their play things and stepped into tomorrow.
I think the things in life that touch us the most are those things that reflect our own feelings and experiences. Whether that is watching a movie, listening to music, or sharing a conversation. Connecting with where we've been and where we're going is sometimes difficult or even hurtful, but it also lets us know there's still hope and love and courage to go on.

Who'd have known that two fictional characters could ignite such profound emotion? Growing up, moving on, looking forward. Those are changing things, and even though that change can be - and usually is - good, it can take some readjusting.

For awhile the cowboy and man from "infinity and beyond" will hang out around the house as we reminisce about those days of long ago. Then once again they'll find their way back to yesterday, living on in the memories of playful days in little hands and voices. I'm sure I'll join them there from time to time; remembering, too, how it used to be, yet looking forward to what's yet to come.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Starting again

These past few months I've been on a journey. It's been a chapter in the making for some time now; trying to find a balance in my days as I transition from one place to another.

There have been all kinds of things to write about, but I could never seem to formulate or articulate any of my thoughts. I stared at a blank screen more than once, willing words to come, but just as that watched pot never boils, pressure to produce seemed to bring about just the opposite.

Though my words were stilled, my heart was not. I have felt intense emotions these last few weeks: some good...some not so good. But the fact that I feel something gives me hope that the words will eventually come.

So if you're still there, know that I'm still here.
It's time to begin once again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bring on Spring

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a sunset girl. Though I've seen a many spectacular sunrises, it is dusk's display that always captures my attention. 

It's been a long, cold winter and many of us are struggling to reconcile our bodies with the grayness that has seemed to encapsulate us these last few months.  Sunshine has been rare and spring can't come soon enough. 
A few nights ago, even though there were more clouds than sun, I noticed how the light was reflecting off the side of our house.  It almost looked like a painting and I hurried to capture the texture it created. 

Though winter has its own loveliness, I'm tired of the show.
The calendar says spring is a week away and with his forecast of sunshine this week, the weatherman concurs.
I hope they're right.  I'm ready to have my life - and my sunsets - back.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Best Laid Plans

This is Bill.  We work together every Sunday in a wonderful environment that gives us the opportunity to help others.  Over the last nine months I've gotten to know Bill pretty well and look forward to the days we spend together.  He has shared many stories of his life and is in the process of writing down his journey, beginning with his earliest recollections of life on a small Kansas farm.

Last week we talked a lot about writing.  Though we both enjoy it and have the best of intentions, the words of our minds and hearts so often get put on a dusty shelf for another time.  Other things seem to step inside the limits of our creative boundaries, taking their place.  Sometimes it's the necessaries of life....but more often it's insignificant distractions that steal moments from things that need to be said.

We don't have tomorrow.  Only today.  Time to put aside the excuses and get down to business.  Even if "business" is simply the things we love to do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Year

Even though I don't officially make resolutions, I always wish - off the record - for things I'd like the New Year to hold. But wishes only go as far as your motivation and desire. You have to work towards dreams and guard them with a fierce protection to ensure both their safety and success in coming true.

So here's to 2010: a new year, a new decade and a new opportunity for matter what name - or form - they take.