Being Present

Choral singing is one of my favorite things, and this year will be my sixth season with the Lima Symphony Chorus. You can learn more about the Lima Symphony here.  The sound is amazing, but even more amazing just before time for a performance, when all the music, the words, the notes, the rhythm, and the little pauses between the notes all come together as one nice harmonious sound.

It was interesting tonight to see out the corner of my eye how everyone was sort of swaying the same way at the same time on some of the music. It was as though we were all doing the same dance to what we were singing. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this before, this spontaneous movement, feeling the lift of the music together. It made me smile.

I am most present when I am in this group because I have to pay attention to the director and what I’m singing. All the worries of life are put aside because I’m there for one purpose, to learn the music and sing it well.
How difficult it is to learn to be truly present in all other areas of life. To just be right here right now. To carefully listen to what someone is saying without thinking about what I am going to say next, or what my opinion is on what I’m hearing. To look that person in the eye, sense their body language, and show them the respect and honor they deserve. And to learn to simply be, to know that this moment is enough. 
What went before is done, what will come we don’t know. Just like that favorite flower that blooms with all its might, I need to learn better how to be present.
“Take no thought for tomorrow. It has enough trouble of it’s own….”

Random Thoughts – On Welcoming Our Grandson

The longest drive (in my mind)
Text messages from my daughter
Phone calls along the way
(Embracing digital communication!)
Arriving in time
My daughter crying when she sees me
Me crying with her, tears of joy
The Grandparents Paparazzi
Our grandson, seen for the first time
Lots of loving arms
The sound of a newborn baby’s cry
Little fingers and toes
Garrett’s eyes
A new family
The look of being overwhelmed
Home, at the new little family’s home
Being Present
Soaking it all in
Fear when things don’t go as they should
Experiencing son-in-law and seeing him as husband,
father, protector, provider
My son-in-law walking in the door, seeing the dog
Being there.
Soup cooked, cookies and biscuits baked
(Grandma doing her own nesting)
Puppy kisses
Sun coming through the window
Baby booties that just don’t stay on
Precious little hands and feet
My daughter and her friend embracing, more tears
Breast pump, microwave sterilizer, bottles
Leave taking
Dreading to leave, to part
But knowing that leaving also means returning
The end of the pregnancy but the beginning of raising a child
The feeling of that baby’s head against my neck
The baby sounds
Tears, tears, tears
You’ll be okay, you’ll be okay.
Phenomenal experience
Seeing my son being the Uncle
His wife gently supportive and loving
Driving to our house, so far away
Measuring the hours, the distance
Thinking of them all the time
Finding all the text messages on my phone
Hugging my daughter and letting her cry
Being there to do that
Notes on pieces of paper
My list of what to pack when we get “the call”
The list by my daughter’s bed noting the timing of contractions
Being the grandma

Calling my own parents, the great-grandparents

The Heart’s Desire

This took months to finish. 
It was created quickly but then had to sit a while until I could process what it represents, and hear it’s message.
The finishing touch is gold sewing thread that connects the hearts in a beautiful simple web.
I originally thought of this piece as a way to symbolize stray heart beats, because someone close to me has atrial fibrillation that needed to be corrected by ablation. 

And it has a new message for me, one of community, of co-existing as people who are different, realizing that deep inside our heart muscles beat the same. Since we are so connected, what one does affects us all.
Life last winter was all about seeing him through that scary heart procedure.
Life right now is about celebrating a new life, a first grandchild into the world.
Life today is about wanting to live in a community where all are different but love is what unites us, a life without the bias of religious beliefs and condemnation, a life where color is celebrated and not feared.  Life where the wallet and the certificates don’t matter,
where what does count is that we simply Are.
This is my heart’s desire.

Celebrating Home, Creativity, and Family

My first collage

Pictured here is a collage I have made with a favorite  oatmeal cookie recipe and my Grandma Handell’s photo. I love doing this! I have been inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts book, “Taking Flight.”  But more importantly, as I made this and put the different layers on it I thought about home making, about Grandma and what she taught me by example.

I saw a painting in the back of a craft magazine that touched me. An elderly woman is sitting in a stuffed chair, looking rather lonely and forlorn. The caption said something about not having anything else to create. I found it rather sad. This is what happened to Grandma in a way. Her eyesight failed due to glaucoma, her health and mobility failed and she was sooooo depressed that we could not reach her. Many of her last months, days, years were spent in the lazy boy chair by the phone. Waiting. No longer working with her hands.
One of Grandma’s braided rugs
In my garage is what remains of a wool braided rug that she made long ago. It is falling apart, probably stained from animals and bugs and who knows what…but I can’t bring myself to destroy it or throw it out. Because she created it, and I remember her doing it. This was a big deal; a huge table set up in her sun room just for the rug making. I helped her rip out part that was not sewn together right, and we both had blisters on our fingers from it. But I helped her. I helped her do something “grownup.”
Grandma Handell

Many of the quilts I slept under (pieces of which appear in my art now) were made from old dresses and shirts, even old wool coats. She used what she had. How can we ever know what all that time at the sewing machine did for her, what the countless yummy meals she cooked for family and friends caused her to think of, or how much she liked the look on our faces when she baked those oatmeal cookies or cinnamon rolls? Our lives were the better for it.

These pieces of art I created are celebrations of that which lives within. Learning to listen and wait for that instruction to come from the heart, seeing that it will work even though my head says maybe not, and learning to be content with the outcome. Being brave enough to share it with someone I love, or put it on display in my own home so others will see it.

I wonder if someday a grandchild of mine will be putting something I created into a memorial or put into a piece of art, or even think of it?  What kind of life do I want to live now? What kind of legacy do I need to leave behind when my journey in this body, on this earth, is finished?  Food for thought….