Saturday, July 23, 2022

Three Minute Resurrection

     Almost at the two-year mark for when my dad suddenly became seriously ill. I’m not sure what I expected at this point. I suppose I hoped to be less surprised, less shocked, and less disappointed by the turn of events, and then by how everything unraveled in such a devastating fashion.

    As I see memories come up in my feed, from just over two years ago, just before the bottom dropped out of everything, I am so grateful that I had no idea what was coming. I am slowly sorting it out and beginning to accept that nothing could have changed the outcome. Maybe it could have been slowed, or prolonged, but the outcome would have ended the same. This is progress. I still don’t always believe these truths, though. Someday I hope to embrace this completely.

    There are still plenty of days where I hope for a shift of time and space. Some days I still secretly hope that the outcomes I wanted will suddenly transpire. That has always been one of my main coping mechanisms, spending a good portion of my days residing in fantasy-land.

    Happily, my dad has one cousin that is still alive. She is named after their grandfather the same as my dad. She recently turned 89. I was messaging her and her husband, sending birthday greetings and wishes to her. I asked her if she would write down memories from her childhood, whether just her own or ones that involved my dad as well.

    She answered me right away, telling the story of when their own grandmother had died. She was fourteen, my dad’s brother was ten, and my dad was seven at the time. As was the tradition at that time, the wake and the funeral took place in their grandparents’ house. The three children were tasked with walking to the front, where their grandmother’s body was in her open casket, and they had a corsage that they were to put on her, the oldest cousin, Wilma, being the one to pin it on their grandmother’s lapel.

    As the three children solemnly walked to the front, my dad, the sweet seven year old, leaned over and whispered to his older cousin to be sure to be careful and not stick grandma with the pin.

    This made me laugh out loud. My dad always had that sweet nature, not wanting anyone to be hurt. It also reminded me of my own struggles at age seven in trying to understand what death meant, what it meant to be dead. I had a little friend that died in an accident when I was five, and at age seven I still would wake up in the night and call for my mother, asking questions about why my friend died, and what it really means to be dead.

    In  hearing this new to me story, for a few brief minutes my dad was alive again.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Health and Rememberance

     My previous blog post was about the mission statement I had to write for the wellness program through my employer wellness plan. Little did I know the very next day some of those thoughts would be put to the test when I myself was suddenly very ill.

    It became crystal clear to me that now was a time I needed to focus on myself and self care. Self care is something that often gets kicked to the side as we live our every day lives-trying to fulfill all our obligations to our jobs, our families, our friends, and communities.

    I found myself needing emergency surgery to fix an issue with my gallbladder. I had not really had previous issues, but now I found myself with continual excruciating pain that had to be dealt with.

    I was a little leery about the fix, as I remembered my dad had such terrible problems when he had his surgery decades ago. Well, technology advances over time and as I much as I enjoy being like him in some ways, I am not him, I am me, and my body will react differently. Happily, my husband was told while I was in the recovery room that the surgery was textbook, and my recovery has been steady ever since that day in the beginning of April.

    I wish that recovery from a broken heart was more of a steady progression toward wellness like my physical recovery has been. It is such a journey of starts and stops, and steps backwards, and sometimes no progress at all. I think that is my big take away in the almost year and half it has been since my dad died. You just never know how you will feel about it on any given day. I don't you think you ever really get over it, but you learn to live with it better, you learn to give that pain a back seat, or a side seat to every day events and moments. It is still there, but it doesn't always color every little thing.

    And eventually more of the happy memories come forward to lend their glow to present moments. This is the first year that Memorial parades and events have taken place since the pandemic started. My heart was not ready for a large event like that.

    I am more about the small every day remembrances being done to honor those that have gone before me. I am all about enjoy desserts, having the sampler platter like my dad would if there is more than one ice cream being offered, eating all the cookies, and enjoying a second piece of cake.

    Last summer I took a trip down memory lane with the Tony Hillerman books my dad introduced me to many years ago. We are big mystery readers in our family. This summer I might revisit Sue Grafton's books. We'll see.

    Tonight we will watch The History Channel special on Teddy Roosevelt, as in 2020 the Washington and Grant specials were a big deal in our household while my dad was with us. He was a huge history buff, and that has been passed down to us. 

    There are so many ways we honor and remember those that have gone before us, do what every brings you peace, comfort, and happiness-especially if it involves ice cream.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Mission Statement-Begin to Heal

     I do take part in my employer's wellness program, not so much because I believe it will impact my overall health by much, but because if you do participate, and do contribute to your own health savings account, they will also make a donation if you complete certain physical and educational tasks through this program. The main task for this month was to write a mission statement for ourselves.

    My statement currently fits in with my belief on how we can help heal the world and make this experience of living better for ourselves and each other.

    The first task to recognized the things I can do for others, and the things I cannot do for others, and then to act accordingly.

I often feel helpless and overwhelmed by all the sorrows and difficulties in the world, like there is nothing I can personally do to alleviate those suffering from the impacts of war around the globe. Then I do nothing because I am overwhelmed and I end up feeling so hopeless. 

In reality, I can at least take an action to help in my own community, to help alleviate the suffering of others-such as people that are undergoing treatment for various illnesses and need blood or platelets. I am able to take a 4 hour block of time out of my day once a month or every other month and do a donation of a triple unit of platelets. It can’t fix global ailments, but it can help with local suffering, and if we all follow that lead-of helping out when and where we are, we could heal the world bit by bit, by healing our own communities.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

So, This Is 100?

     I have been thinking all day about what  I might post. Should I do a final re-cap on my baking journey and goals from 2021? Should I shake the dust of 2021 from my shoes and focus on the goals and dreams that are 2022? Then when I logged into my blog I saw that this is going to be my 100th post. It feels like it should be monumental, that I should somehow mark it with some special wisdom. 

    Except that I don't have any great advice. The more I think on it, the more it turns from a happy thought to anxiety. Isn't that true in life? It sure is for me.

    And that brings me back to my exploration of words that I started towards the end of last year. I think there have been times in my life when I have not fully appreciated or respected the power that words have, the words we choose to replay in our minds, the words we assign ourselves, our situations, and others. 

    I must become a better caretaker of the words I use when I speak to myself and to others. When I tell fictional stories, when I tell my stories, and when I help others tell their stories I need to use great care and respect with the words that are used to convey these truths.

    Here's to the hope of a new year, to the community that comes from sharing our stories, and the hard work of thoughtfully choosing the words we give to each other.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Words Matter

     As a writer, I love the power that words have to convey emotion, to tell the stories I am trying to tell. As a regular human being I sometimes hate words, for the power they have to cause pain or division. I know this truth, this aspect, as I have seen it too many times in my own life and in the life of those I care about.

    I want to focus right now on the power of words to give comfort and healing. As some people know, this past year has been an extremely hard one for our family, not just because of the world wide pandemic that everyone has been struggling with, but because of the deep loss in our family with the passing of my father, and then my mother's many struggles with her health and well being.

    Hospice used their words of guidance and encouragement to help me be prepared for the reality of our situation, to know that the actual end was extremely close, so that I could make strong choices such as fighting to be in the care facility with my dad, and then knowing when the time was at hand to stay 24/7, that there was no turning back from this.

    And then when the unfathomable happened, just before what would ordinarily have been a joyous Christmas holiday season for our family, it was the words of friends and family that brought great comfort. A dear friend of mine has been through a similar loss with her mother just two years before. Her priest had passed on comforting words to her, among them the thought that God takes home the ones He has the most tender heart for during the Christmas season, the souls He holds in closest regard. Those were words I clung to then, and still cling to today for comfort.

    Little could that priest know that his words of comfort to my dear friend, would later be giving comfort to others, to me. We never know what sort of impact our words will have on others. I am trying to be more mindful of the words I choose to share with others, of the stories I am creating for myself, and for them, to help us all be able to write the best outcomes possible.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Pause in the Journey

     As summer winds down I took a pause in my baking journey. This holiday weekend I chose to work with one of my standby cookie recipes, my sugar cookie recipe. I decided it was not time to delve into any new recipes. Several of the new recipes I have in my queue appear to me to be more autumn oriented. My sugar cookie recipe is year round for me, changed to be seasonally appropriate depending on the cutters I use. Since I bought several new cookies cutters at the summer sidewalk sales, I figured now is a good time to try them.

    I also made batches of my citrus trio cookies, as they seemed to be a great addition to my end of summer theme I wanted to create. I was quite pleased with how they all turned out. It was fun to indulge in some cookies just for me. I still created several gift plates, had sets of cookies I brought to two family gatherings, and my best friend was able to use several plates of cookies at her family gathering as well, so I felt I was being true to my journey for the year in that regard, while sort of recharging my battery for my creativity for myself.

    This Labor Day, as I pause to reflect, one aspect I have been grateful for on my baking journey this year, is taking the time to learn and work on new recipes just for the sake of learning something that I want to know more about and share with others. People have said in the past that I should do this as a business or as fulltime work, but for me that would take away the joy and relaxation that I experience when I bake, the ability to shut off my anxieties and just be. 

    One practical offshoot of this endeavor has been allowing myself to look at other labors or work that I do in my life with a new perspective. I have never had the best relationship with any of my past jobs in my younger days, always being way too dependent on them for my daily existence, for all aspects of my life, and so afraid of what might happen if I ever unexpectedly lost that integral part of my existence.

     Learning for the sake of learning has been the tool I needed to change how I relate to work. It has allowed me to take the time to step back and look at how I relate to my tasks and make changes that might not seem practical to others, but are necessary for me to finally have a healthier relationship with the concept of work, learning, career, and how I fill my time on a daily basis. 

    This Labor Day that is my hope for others, that they too may be able to figure out what it means to labor, to work, to create, to contribute to their life and their community, and how to do so in productive and healthy ways.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Baking with Crisco

     So, as I have been sharing my baking journey this year, friends and family have been sharing recipes with me, and challenging me to try some of their favorite treats. This has been an unexpected bonus to me as I never know what interesting tidbits I might learn.

    The other day I was overjoyed to receive an message from my dad's cousin, Wilma. She then advised she would be mailing me her mother's, my great-aunt Jessie, cookbook from 1930. Wilma and her husband John did not waste one moment of time getting to the post office. The book arrived just a few days later.

    I decided that my next new cookie recipe to try would be one from this cookbook, The Art of Cooking and Serving by Sarah Field Splint, published in 1930. 

    I knew I wanted to do the orange sugar cookie as it would fit in nicely with two of my other new to me cookies from this year, the key lime and lemon cookies. Another reason I wanted to do an orange cookie is because Wilma and John are from Florida and I figured this would be a nice little tribute to them, oranges always are associated with Florida in my mind. 

    I wasn't sure how it would go as I have never baked or cooked with Crisco. I knew I wanted to be authentic to the cookbook and follow the recipe exactly as printed at least for the first batch. I was able to find some Crisco at our local grocery store. They didn't have any of the cans I remembered sitting on the shelf in my grandma's cupboard back in the day, those were all sold out. I did manage to snag the last packet of butter flavored Crisco sticks and used that. It was easy to work with and the dough was very creamy and smooth.

    I now have what I call my Summer Citrus Trio. This has been one of my more popular gift plates of cookies. They are just fabulous!