Question?

Question of the week-
Which is harder
Only seeing faces
On a screen
Or seeing faces
In-person, yet
From a distance?

The computer screen
Filled with little faces
Smiling, waving, singing
An adventure
Controlled chaos
No group hugs
Yet, welcome connection

The short visits
In-person, tho
Physically distant
No pats on the shoulder
Yet, beautiful smiles
Kindly delivering
Much-needed messages

Both experiences
Bring a rush
Of emotions
Tears, happy and sad
Despite attempts to
Swallow the lumps
In my throat

Maybe it’s not
A question of difficulty
Instead, a reminder
Both complex
And beautiful
Of how desperately
We need each other
Up On the Roof by Carole King/Gerry Goffin
"And if this world starts getting you down
There’s room enough for two…"

Quarantine Dream

I had the strangest dream. The first dream I can remember from the last several weeks.

I was walking alone in our neighborhood. The sun was setting, it was beginning to get dark, but I did not turn around and head home. As I continued walking, I noticed a stranger approaching.

I remember feeling a little uneasy. What should I do? Turn around? Cross the street? But no, I kept walking. And soon, this stranger was right in front of my face.

We were soon having an in-depth conversation. I was sharing details of a personal, emotional story with this person I had never seen. It struck me as odd to be sharing this story with a complete stranger.

One other thing struck me as strange. This person seemed to have no sense of personal space. He was listening intently, but his face was only a few inches away from mine. A little uncomfortable, to say the least. Yet, I continued talking.

I had to laugh as I gave this dream some thought. The idea of reunions has been on my mind. I picture a day when I will go back to school, meet a friend for coffee, visit family. In each scenario, those involved physically knock one another over as we reconnect with hugs, laughter, and tears.

If I spend too much time on that picture, sadness creeps in. Right now, we don’t know when that will happen. But our plans remain aimed at that day somewhere in the future. And as we plan, we hope.

Until then, my quarantine dream reminds me of the importance of connections. Get ready friends, I am looking forward to some “knockdown” hugs. And though I also hope for new connections in the future, I’d prefer ones that are a little less creepy. 😉

Unknowns

Our current circumstances are filled with many unknowns.

There is a new virus spreading quickly. How long will it spread? I don’t know.

As a teacher, I will be planning for distance learning. What exactly will that look like? I don’t know.

I must stay at home. When will I be able to hug my extended family and friends again? I don’t know.

Upcoming travel plans have been canceled. When will they be rescheduled? I don’t know.

I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of that phrase. 😉

I may be oversimplifying, but somehow admitting that I don’t know helps a little. It forces me to take a step back and breathe. To realize these circumstances are new to all of us.

Earlier today, I found myself feeling frustrated over some of these unknowns. The voice inside my head kept saying, “Just breathe.” Then I remembered an exercise I often have students do when it is time to regroup and focus.

  1. Breathe in through your nose. 1, 2, 3, 4.
  2. Breathe out through your mouth. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
  3. Repeat as often as needed.

I just did the exercise twice. Yes, I know it is simple. But right now, simplicity is what we need. At least, it is what I need.

So, what else is on my simple list? Coffee, music, texts, and phone calls are near the top. Zoom and FaceTime are also on the list. But grace and love are at the very top.

As I breathe out my frustrations, I breathe in the need to show grace. And showing grace is an expression of love. And I don’t know about you-sorry, there it is again-I need all the love and grace I can get right now. Especially during this time of unknowns.

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 59:16

Faces

Dear Friends,

This past week was our Spring Break from school. One whole week to relax and do whatever I wanted. Except, it really wasn’t. Yes, I was able to relax and spend time with family. But no coffee with friends, spring clothes shopping, last-minute trips out of town, etc.

I tried not to worry about establishing a new routine or what would happen in the weeks to come. But now it’s Saturday, and a new week is almost here. It is time to think ahead just a little.

This morning it hit me what I’m going to miss the most when Monday comes-faces. I see so many faces each day. Faces help us know how a person is feeling. We can see happiness, disappointment, struggle, or excitement with one single glance.

We can also receive what we need from the face of another. If I am the one showing sadness or struggling, a smile from another person is powerful. It shows that someone else sees me and recognizes how I’m feeling.

So, although I won’t see all those faces on Monday, I will be thinking about them. Those colleagues who greet me each day. The students I greet each morning as they enter the building. Those few ornery boys who still call me grandma every time they see me. My friend who sits across the table with a cup of coffee.

As I think of those faces, I will also pray. For that is one thing I can do no matter where I am or what the circumstances. These are unsettling times with many unanswered questions. But I have faith that I will see all those faces again soon-live and in person.

Until then, I remain thankful for technology and social media. And with that thought, I will share a picture of my face from this morning. Hopefully, you will see joy and contentment amid uncertainty. And be reminded that I love you.

Take care of yourselves, sweet friends.

Kelley

“I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” 3 John 1:14

In the Quiet

For Rob and Erin ❤

The house is quiet
Guests have all
Gone home
I am tired
A good tired
Resulting from a
Weekend long celebration
A momentous occasion
Symbolized by
Prayer and scripture
Rings and vows
Flowers and music
Beautiful bride
Handsome groom
Surrounded by friends
And family, making
A commitment to be
Faithful and true
In all things
Accepting each other’s
Strengths and weaknesses
As they join their
Lives together
The wedding
A clear reflection
Of their hearts
A beautiful beginning
Built on
Faith, hope, and love
A lasting reassurance
Forever present
In the quiet

“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” I Corinthians 13:7-8

Come Together

When I was a child, I looked forward to visits with family. I was always asking to go next door to visit Grandma and Grandpa Mahar or walk over to Aunt Sharon’s house. I loved it when the family would visit from out of town. Everyone together, talking and laughing, catching up-all felt right with the world.

As an adult, I cherish family time even more. Through the years I have experienced the many reasons families come together. Births, deaths, graduations, weddings, funerals-No matter the situation, there is strength in being together. Whether it brings celebration or grief, each event is part of this life.

Yesterday, our family celebrated one of those happy times together-a wedding shower for our son, Robert and his fiancé, Erin. Our home was filled with family and friends, young and old, life-long and new. It was a great day!

The happy couple. ❤

We ate food together and played games. We smiled while watching Rob and Erin open gifts, thankful for all the expressions of love. We enjoyed each other’s company.

Lovely flowers thanks to my friend, Marina. 🙂

Yet, even in the celebration, there were also tears. Tears for those family members no longer with us. Thoughts of how much they would have loved the day. Thoughts of how much they are missed.

Our lives continue on, though we have no guarantee of our length of time. And we honor the memories of those who came before when we come together.

A Birthday Embrace

As I have said before, I enjoy celebrating birthdays. Whether observing my own (which happens to be tomorrow) or those of friends and family, a birthday represents so many different things.

From the moment we enter this world, that date serves to remind us of important milestones. From the one-year-old birthday party all the way to a sweet sixteen, each shows us how far we’ve come.

The celebration itself doesn’t have to be elaborate. A favorite meal and cake of your choice are nice. A simple way of saying, “Today is your day. You get to choose.” This was often the practice for me as a child. And it continued for my own children.

Singing is also a must. Hearing friends and family crooning in unison, “Happy birthday to you,” never gets old. Followed by making a wish and blowing out the candles, of course.

Celebrating my own birthday also reminds me that I am getting older. I have some new aches and pains. I see new wrinkles when looking in the mirror. But that reflection shows so much more.

Hopefully, it is a reflection that shows growth. A growth that encourages me to push through the aches and pains and look past the wrinkles.

https://pianogirlthoughts.com/2018/06/14/birthdays/

Thanks for celebrating with me as I gracefully embrace my next over-half-a-century birthday. ❤

Well, my plan is for it to be a graceful embrace anyway. 😉

Presents of Presence

My birthday is rapidly approaching. It falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving this year. My oldest son, Robert, was born on my 27th birthday. This year, he turns 25 and I turn 52. I am always happy when we can celebrate together.

Robert called yesterday about last-minute Thanksgiving plans. He also asked what I wanted for my birthday. I really could not think of anything. “Since we will be together for Thanksgiving, I thought we could celebrate,” he said.

Later in the evening, I told my husband about our chat. He quickly responded, “Did you tell him his and Erin’s presence here for Thanksgiving was enough?” No, I had not thought to say that.

Reflecting on those conversations caused me to consider the idea of presents. My thoughts quickly turned to presence. The older I get, the more I realize the preciousness of someone’s presence in my life.

The occasions when all my kids and soon-to-be daughter-n-law are together, sharing the same space and time? Those are the times I am truly filled with joy and contentment. Instances when I share space and time with my parents? Feelings are the same.

I could go on and on. The presence of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends remind me how quickly time passes. And time spent with them, even when brief, is a gift.

Just this morning, my daughter was reviewing our plans for the next few days. Thanksgiving dinner, birthday lunch with a friend for me, a movie outing for her. Then she smiled and said, “Don’t make any plans for Sunday.” I don’t know what she has planned, but I know it involves her presence.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Our home will be filled with good food and laughter. But more importantly, it will be filled with presents. Not ones which require unwrapping, ones which allow embraces.

Embraces which say:

I love you
I've missed you
I'm so glad you're here
Your presence is the best present I could ever receive

Front-Yard Goodbyes

I’ve had many experiences, too many to count, with front-yard goodbyes. A close friend or family member prepare to move away or go home after a visit. I walk them to the door. Hugs given and received, well-wishes spoken, but it doesn’t end at the front door.

We walk outside together, down the sidewalk. One more hug, one last “be careful,” conversation continuing until the car door closes. As they drive away, I stand firm in the yard. We wave, and I watch until they are out of sight.

These memories range from my childhood all the way up to this very day. Each filled with images of people I love. People I hope to see again soon. People who are difficult to watch drive away.

An emotional reaction from me is pretty much a guarantee. Sometimes it is immediate. Uncontrolled tears flow for all to see. Attempts to dry them to no avail.

Other times, my reaction is delayed. Although I feel sad as they drive away, there are no tears. And just when I think, “Wow! I didn’t cry” they are mentioned later in the day, and I’m suddenly fighting back tears.

Whether the emotions are instantaneous or deferred really does not matter. What matters is time. Taking the time to say goodbye not only once, but two or three times. Taking the time to follow, stand firm, wave, and watch.

Showing them how much they are loved through a simple front-yard goodbye.

A Simple Decoration

When our oldest son, Robert, graduated from high school it was easy to choose a theme for his graduation party. Music! Music had been his life for all of junior high and high school. And he was going to the University of Arkansas to study music education. I ordered a cake and found this simple music note tree centerpiece. Silver and black, covered in music notes, it was the perfect addition to the table.

Music note tree.

After the party, I put the decorations away in the closet. No thought was given to them for the next two years until Rachel graduated. Even though Rachel would study special education in college, music had been a crucial part of her secondary education as well. At first, I kind of joked, “Hey. Wonder if I still have that music decoration from Robert’s party?” Once I found it, there was no question it would once again grace the table.

I knew it would be four more years before our last high school graduation. So, as I put things away after Rachel’s party, I was determined to hold on to that centerpiece. I placed it back in the closet, in the same box.

I would sometimes see it during closet clean-outs but was careful not to throw it away. Yes, I probably could have bought another one. But it would not be the same. A new one would not have been present at the other two graduation parties.

I chuckled this morning as the music-note centerpiece was pulled from the closet. It decorated the table for its third party. This one to celebrate the high school graduation of our youngest, Ryan (also a musician) and the college graduation of our daughter, Rachel. It was a beautiful day filled with family and friends, yummy snack food, and two delicious cakes.

After the party ended, I began to think about that centerpiece. I’ll readily admit that I am often sentimental over things which others might find simple or unimportant. This particular item could easily fall under one of those categories. So, why was I so determined to save it? What did it represent?

For me, a sappy mom whose kids are growing up way too fast here’s what I came up with:

  • Importance of music in our family
  • Commitment to education
  • Celebrating accomplishments
  • Love of family and friends
  • Support of siblings

None of those things are simple or unimportant. On the contrary, they are part of what makes this life so beautiful.

Our music note centerpiece may have reached its end, but memories of the celebrations it graced will continue to make me smile. Memories of my children’s accomplishments. Memories of family and friends who love us and took time to celebrate with us. ❤