Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Unexpected Visitor — September 6, 2019

Unexpected Visitor

 

Yesterday was a bit different from other days since my recovery began. I had an unexpected visitor arrive. Despite plenty of books to read, knitting to knit, and writing to ponder, the days are often somewhat boring. And it doesn’t help that I’ve had a minor setback that limits my activity level. 
 
Back to my unexpected visitor. Looking out the large window into our backyard, I noticed the leaves on our vine maple fluttering. If there was a breeze blowing, none of the other trees were joining in. 
 
And then I spied him. A small squirrel bouncing from limb to limb. Stopping here and there to find a nibble of something. Then off he’d go either higher or lower on a branch, all the while bouncing as he went. I found myself giggling with joy. Laughter bubbling up inside me. This little fellow was so entertaining. At one point, he jumped from a branch and it came right back and hit him in the keister. Double laughter!
 
Tell me God doesn’t know when we need a boost, and I’ll tell you why I know otherwise. Here sat a woman wishing for a day brightener. And into her backyard came a squirrel with a routine at the ready. As he munched and danced his way through the tree, he also performed acrobatics. And all for this one woman-audience.
 
I felt lighter as he bounded on his way to his next assignment. His little impromptu performance filled me with gratitude.
 
nature, quote, time, trees, Katrina Mayer
Via Country Living Magazine

 

Featured Image Attribution: By Faith McDonald on Unsplash

Forever Memories — August 23, 2019

Forever Memories

 
 
Forever memories are those that stay with you for…well, forever. In conversation with others, forever memories trigger a certain response from you. You want to share the excitement, the reactions you felt, the way the memory has lasted. Almost as if whatever happened was yesterday.
 
A decade or so ago we took a vacation that has become a forever memory. And if you’ve read William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways, you know what blue highways are. If not, the answer is simple. Older Rand McNally road atlases and maps identified the various types of roadways with color. Major highways appeared in red. Out-of-the-way highways running through small, almost unknown, rural towns appeared in blue.
 
Our trip was not as long as Heat-Moon’s nor was it circular as his was. But we did have certain restrictions that forced the use of blue highways:
 
  • The direction in which we traveled remained unknown until our morning of departure. This part of our trip was decided over breakfast. We would pull a direction—north, south, east or west—from a hat. Bob drew north.
  • A hard and almost fast rule depended on one condition. Travel had to be via blue highways unless there was no access between Points A and B other than a major highway. This forced a sense of nostalgia and relaxation as a major component of our travel.
  • We confirmed no reservations for overnight accommodations. And only once had a difficult time finding availability.
  • No time schedule was set for each day. Serendipitous activities awaited us. We visited attractions we’d never heard of and visited parks we’d never passed. Meals took place in some of the greatest eateries along the way.
 
As we headed out of Portland north on Highway 30, we had no idea where we’d end up that night or what we’d see along the way. By lunchtime, we found ourselves at Mt. St. Helen’s and enjoyed a brief visit there as well as had a picnic lunch we’d brought along. The rest of the day we wandered along blue highways. The casual drive presented beautiful farms with old barns and outbuildings. Another bonus was the beauty of the world around us, the peace and quiet of rural Washington state.
 
By dusk, we started searching for a place to stay. A look at the map showed we were not far from Centralia, WA. Centralia is 90.8 miles and 1.5 hours from Portland. It is clear we didn’t make it very far that first day. Yet, our plan was to relax and enjoy this trip, not worry about a schedule.
 
Over the next 10 days or so, we spent our time the same way. We visited interesting towns and places we’d never thought about or heard of. Our travel took us as far north as the Northern Cascade Mountains where we saw snowfall during June.
 
Our memories of this trip are quite memorable. Their uniqueness makes them unforgettable. We have talked many times about how much we enjoyed this trip and how we’d like to do it again.
 
We haven’t yet, but there is always tomorrow. And there are plenty of blue highways we haven’t hit.
 
 
Featured Image Attribution:
Methow Valley, WA in Northern Cascades
Lidija Kamansky/Getty Images
Patience — May 31, 2019

Patience

Outside our family room window, two large hydrangeas are heavy with buds. Knowing what they will look like in bloom makes the waiting hard. My patience with this process is better than my patience in other areas of nature and life.
 
Hydrangea buds open slowly, like this recovery I’m going through. The buds and petals of the hydrangea tease, as do my good days versus not so good days. Patience wears thin at times.
 
Patience is not simply the ability to wait –
it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.
~~ Joyce Meyer
 
Joyce Meyer reminds us that it isn’t only about waiting. Our behavior while waiting is important as well. 
 
Today I’m putting a stop to complaining, fussing, and whining about the length of this recovery. The better choice is to treat my waiting time more like the budding of a new flower. That is, something I’m able to wait for without complaining, fussing, and whining.

 

Hope — May 13, 2019

Hope

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
~~ Desmond Tutu

 

 
 
Hope is a rather small word. Only four letters and one syllable. Yet people have survived unimaginable accidents, imprisonments, and illnesses. When asked how they held on, most answered continuous hope. That symbolizes a good deal of power in a four-letter word, only one syllable.
 
How is it such a small word can do so much?
 
From a base of hope, we see courage, confidence, and happiness arise. These qualities become a coping strategy at a time of difficulty or grief or illness. I’ve had many surgeries over the years, several on my spine. But I had never felt as confused and disheartened as I did right after my surgery this past March. Entering the hospital, I hoped for relief from constant pain.
 
Since my last posts (here and here), approximately nine weeks have passed. Recovery began the instant the surgeon saw fit to call it complete. Yet, minor complications and some unknowns created a recovery more difficult than expected.
 
Despite the complications and unknowns, my hope is a reality. The constant pain I suffered since January 24, 2016, until March 6, 2019, is gone!
 
During these nine weeks, hope has been my mainstay. Of course, there are days when I am discouraged. Or there is a minor setback. But when hope kicks in other feelings surface. The courage to push on through those exercises even though it hurts comes to the fore. The confidence to overcome this stumbling block arises. And a sense of happiness envelops all I must do.
 

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us
toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God,
hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
1 Corinthians 13:13 MSG (emphasis mine)

Hot Summer Nights | A Day in the Life (Episode #9) — August 8, 2018

Hot Summer Nights | A Day in the Life (Episode #9)

We’re having a heat wave!

Oregon is HOT in our neck of the woods. Usually, summer days aren’t filled with temperatures nearing 100 or humidity starting the day at 70% or more. We’re accustomed to average summer temps in the low to mid 80’s, low humidity, and nights cooling down into the 60s or even high 50s. 

Mornings now you can hear the sounds of neighbors doing what you’re doing–opening windows and doors to let the cool morning air in. At our place, in Meyers Woods, this will keep the house cool throughout the day with the help of shade from our old growth firs and cedars.

Many older homes in the area have no air conditioning. Oregonians are somewhat complacent thinking that global warming isn’t going to affect the Pacific NW. Best we think again, dear neighbors!

But global warming and current days are not my subject matter today. I want to talk about…

Hot Summer Weather

Back in the day, the 1950s.

There was no evidence of air conditioning in any of the homes on our block. None anywhere we knew about. But people fared the summer weather without a hitch.

I grew up in Nashville, TN. The south offers a hot summer for the most part. The humidity can often be as high as the temperature. Mosquitoes are everywhere.

Clothes Pins or Pegs
Pixabay | Ryan McGuire

Unlike Oregon and the NW, summer nights in Tennessee didn’t cool off much. But I didn’t mind. I counted lightning bugs and stars until Mama or Daddy called us at bedtime.

Monday was wash day at our house, and Mama laundered sheets and pillowcases. A favorite activity was handing her the clothespins, or some call them clothes pegs, for hanging the wash.

Going to bed with air-dried linens made summer nights a delight!

Hot Nights Meant Bedtime Delight.

Windows were open as far as they would go. Hopes were high for a slight breeze or a hefty draft blowing through.

I could hear Mama using the Coca-Cola bottle she used to dampen clothes for ironing. This signaled the preparation of cooling sheets, as she called them, for the long, hot night. 

Each sheet was dampened as much as she felt necessary to keep us cool enough to fall asleep. When she brought the sheet to you, Mama carefully laid it over you spreading it to its full size.

Now the hope for breezes was at its peak. And as soon as someone felt a breeze, the whole house knew–there was either a long “ahhhhhhhh,” or a giggle, or one big yawn.

It was time to fall asleep and dream dreams.

What memories do you have hot summer nights?

Perhaps there’s something you’d share with us in the comments below, or perhaps this is good fodder for a short writing piece you’ve been putting off. 

Either way, my hope is that it’s not so hot where you are that you can’t sleep! Sweet dreams!

Seeking Balance, Harmony and Inspiration in Life — July 26, 2018

Seeking Balance, Harmony and Inspiration in Life

Ever Tire of Feeling Too Busy?

As a full-time legal secretary, wife, and mom, I felt busy. I longed for the days of retirement. People said when they retired there was never enough time for all they wanted to do. How could it be?
 
Now I know. With retirement in our lives for a combined 17 years, it seems each day reaches the brim of overflowing. Yet there are always things still left undone.
 
Add in my chronic pain and minor injuries (both of us) and it seems even more overwhelming. Facing surgery and recovery, I realize the time has come to make changes in my handling of this gift called life. Read with me for a few more paragraphs to see what my plans entail.
 
 
 

Achieving a Balanced Life

Balance is something we all count on in our physical world. Walking, running, biking, hiking, and any number of physical activities need good balance. Some of us have excellent balance, and some of us are likewise blessed, or not, with poor balance. I fall in the latter category (no pun intended).
 
Poor physical balance doesn’t mean I can’t have a balanced life. Life itself is:
  • Incrementally divided by time and how you spend it;
  • Affected by our activities, whether physical, creative or otherwise;
  • Based on our relationships and others’ impact on our lives;
  • Enriched by solitude.

1. Time and How We Spend It

Due to chronic pain and an unhealthy spine, I’m spending far more time on the computer than I should. Both sitting and standing are painful so those options aren’t as available to my writing as I’d like. Besides my writing, there is a newsletter and blog post reading. Then comes social media and email correspondence keeping me current with writing friends. Social media also helps keep up with family. More and more, everything requires a computer.
 
Bottom line, too much of my time seems front and center with my laptop. And I’m beginning not to enjoy it so much. You might say it’s because of my current spine pain and impending surgery but that’s not what I’m feeling. It’s what I’m going to call “computer burnout.”
 

2. Activities, Creative or Otherwise

If I’m going to be able to sit more comfortably after surgery, I want to quilt! If I could have a day or two a week in which I cut quilt pieces and sew them together, I’d be a happy camper quilter. And improved sitting means I could play the piano more often. Improved standing means I could work on my flute music. Both of these I miss because of (drumroll, here) “computer burnout.”
 
Also, I volunteer as a mentor in the Mothers of Preschooler program at our church. It requires only two Friday mornings a month, but there are other outside activities. Then new births among our group which include cooking for the family until mom is back on her feet again. Case in point: One of my mentees this past year gave birth to triplets. Although they were born in May (quite early in fact), they are just beginning to transition home. We’ll be cooking for them soon.
 
A great love of mine is being a “groupie” for the bands my husband makes music in, among them a Dixieland jazz group. I enjoy getting to know the other members and their spouses. And it’s great fun helping now and then hosting refreshments at a concert.
 
Bob and I enjoy supporting our church home and family in many ways. Each which requires a time commitment. This is something I’m not willing to give up yet.
 

3. Relationships and How They Affect Your Life

If I overload my day, I easily grow frustrated and a bit testy (don’t ask Bob what he calls this, OK?). This isn’t fair to Bob, especially if he’s in the middle of a new design project or new music or whatever he’s engaged in. My frustrations taken out on him make him feel less important than he truly is in my life. And it works both ways.
 
Time for keeping our relationship rich and loving should always be at the top of our list.
 
Friendships need a similar consideration. We never should take out on a friend our daily frustrations. Keep this in mind and you’ll feel better and so will your friends.
 
Don’t forget family, including children, parents, siblings, and even your pets. They don’t deserve to receive the brunt of your disgruntlement. And most importantly, they need to hear you say, “I love you.”
 

4. Solitude

Bob and I both tend to be introverts. Solitude is important to each of us. And one’s desire for some alone time doesn’t bother the other. I probably have the advantage here. Bob has music rehearsals two nights per week plus an occasional Sunday afternoon. Concerts and performances come at odd and random times. As I mentioned above, I love to go along and support him.
 
We are both avid readers. Often we find solitude sitting in the family room reading. Soft classical music may be playing in the background. It’s amazing how you can find solitude in the same room with another person. We spend many pleasant hours that way in our home.
 
Solitude is an important part of self-care and we need to bring this to the forefront of our own well-being. Time to reflect on your life, values, memories or to spend time in meditation is healing in many ways. Don’t ever forget to take care of yourself.
 

Conclusion

I’ve taken a long time explaining myself (sorry!). What I need you to know is that my posting schedule with the blog will soon change. In fact, I missed posting last week.
 
Starting today, I will be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites much less than usual. I will continue to participate in a few groups a bit more actively because of their relationship to my writing.
 
Beginning with this post, I’ll be posting every other week, when possible. Surgery, recovery, and rehab will dictate sometimes. Those who requested my posts via my newsletter will arrive as they always have. When I post, you’ll receive it under cover of my MailerLite account.
 
My newsletter schedule will change as well. The newsletter will no longer come out on the third Wednesday of the month. Instead, I plan to make my newsletter quarterly rather than monthly. This change will take place beginning in October. The first quarterly edition will arrive in your inbox on Thursday, October 4, 2018.
 
 
I hope you will each take the time to review your own lives and commitments. Take time to look for balance, harmony, and joy in your life. If it isn’t there, figure out why and then make whatever changes are necessary.
 

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Featured image:

Via Pixabay attributed to Suju