Coming & Going

This Labor Day weekend, I am looking forward to an extra day of rest following the two first weeks of school. I need to relax and take care of myself. Part of that care includes time with family.

That is one of my first thoughts when it comes to holidays-who is coming and who is going.

This time, Gart and I are staying put. Though not always the case, a welcomed choice this weekend. Even after our recent extended time here, we need to be home. Sleep in our own bed, sit outside in our own backyard…welcoming the ones who are coming.

On this Saturday morning, the house is quiet. Our youngest, the last one at home, is at a friend’s. Our daughter, who recently moved out, is traveling. Our oldest and his wife will be here this afternoon.

Witnessing my kids at this age causes me to reflect on my own younger days. Days when I was the one always coming and going. Days when my Mom and Dad were the ones staying put.

It’s a funny thing, seeing myself through my parents’ eyes. Waiting patiently to hear about a friend, that recent trip, or to actually be together in person.

These are the moments that remind of the beauty of life-moments of growth and understanding. Realizing what a privilege it is to be the one staying put. To be the one watching and waiting, experiencing all the comings and goings from my front door.

Hearts Breaking

Sometimes
Silence
Is not an
Option
Yet, this day
Words
Fall
Flat
And though
Emotions
Run
High
Attempts at
Expression
Feel
Numb
On this day
Notes
Speak
Loudly
Only as
Music
Plays
Softly
In this moment
It is my
Obligation
To hear
The cries
Of tired
Hearts
Breaking

First Loss
Album for the Young
Robert Schumann

This Road

The road
Once clear
Now obstructed
By unexpected
Roadblocks
Detours
Up ahead
Which way to go?

A new road
Comes into view
Along with
A new role
Not the one
Expected
Or desired-yet,
Gracefully accepted

Potholes trigger
Full stops…
But, gentle truths
Faithfully
Push forward
Erasing any
Thought of
Turning back

Moving ahead
A quiet whisper
Provides assurance-
Trust and follow
Nothing can take you
Out of my hand
Don’t turn back
This road is best

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:16

Take me Home, Country Roads by John Denver

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

My Favorite Color is…

I recently purchased a new phone. Of course, one of the first things to do with a new phone is choosing the wallpaper. I enjoy seeing a personal pic of some kind when opening my phone. With more than 7,000, I have plenty to choose from.

I chose a nature scene. Bright blue sky, billowy white clouds, and dark green trees now grace my home screen. As I opened my phone this morning, the combination of colors in this particular pic caught my eye. Blue, green, and white complimenting each other to create a beautiful image.

If asked about my favorite color, I always choose blue. I can’t remember ever having a different answer. Something about my current age, tendency to be reflective I suppose, made me stop to ponder.

Strangely enough, this particular picture provided some insight. The patch of clear blue sky by itself is beautiful. However, when seen in contrast with fluffy white clouds and green trees, it is transformed. Its beauty is magnified. And it is not a matter of comparison. It is a matter of compliment.

Kind of like people, you know? We may each be someone’s favorite. Favorite teacher, friend, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc. But that doesn’t mean we simply stand alone, happy to be the chosen. No, we celebrate the need to exist in compliment. In other words, I can’t be the favorite aunt without loving my sweet nieces. 😉

I will always have favorite people in my life, and blue will continue to be my favorite color. But hopefully, I will remember to truly see all the people around me.

We all have a purpose, a place of belonging. And just like the colors in my photo, we have the power to bring out the best in each other. When given a chance.

Friendly Reminders

Now that school is out for summer, I look forward to many conversations over coffee with friends. I love the connections which begin and grow from this practice. They bring renewal in ways which often surprise me.

Sometimes they also bring friendly reminders. Here are a few much-needed ones I recently received.

  1. Perfection should never be my goal.
  2. Honesty in friendship is a necessity.
  3. Daily prayer provides daily renewal.

The first reminder concerned perfection, an ideal we are bombarded with on all fronts. You can be the perfect wife, mom, friend, teacher. Fill in the blank. That goal always leads to disappointment. Why? We are not flawless creatures. We do not live in a picture-perfect world.

Admitting our imperfections and hearing someone else say, “Me, too” is powerful. That one simple phrase takes away a small piece of the loneliness which often accompanies my inward thoughts. It provides a beginning, a binding with another heart.

The second friendly reminder was honesty. Truth, even spoken by a friend, is not always easy to receive. Just this week, a friend said to me, “I have to talk to you about something.” She went on to share observations about certain attitudes and my need for an adjustment. 😉

Although her words were difficult to hear, they brought a sense of relief. They took me back to the beginning realization-I am not perfect. And that is ok! I can, however, seek to be better.

Another friend reminded me of the importance of daily prayer. It holds the power to renew my mind, even when I don’t know what to pray. It also reminds me that God loves me in spite of my faults. And affirms my purpose at this moment, on this day.

As summer begins, my heart wants to soak in these beautiful reminders. I’m quite certain more reminders will be needed in the coming days. But for today, I am thankful for honest words from caring friends. And I will end this day with a prayer for rest and renewal.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

Tomorrow is a new day! Grab a friend and a cup of coffee! ❤ ☕️

School Year Successes

Reflections often bring mixed emotions. Whether it’s looking in the mirror or taking stock of an entire year of teaching, there are always things I wish I could change. For this end-of-the-year review, however, I’ve decided to focus on the positive.

One of my main goals this year was making sure all students who entered the music room were able to participate on some level. In particular, I wanted to connect more with our friends receiving special education services. Professional development early in the year was both challenging and encouraging, and it reminded me of the importance of these connections.

So here are my top three successes:

  • A smile
  • A high-five
  • A music stamp on a hand

All three involved the same child. A child who would not come into my classroom last year and this year spent most of his time sitting at the back. I intentionally approached him slowly and quietly, and he eventually smiled. When I got my first high-five, there were definitely tears. And allowing me to put a music stamp on his hand? That was a big step!

Did he sing or play an instrument? No. However, he listened, sometimes colored, and participated in his own way. He let me enter his world for tiny little snippets of time. And for that, I am grateful.

Sunsets~Reflections~Perspectives

So much is happening during a sunset. Colors mixing, clouds moving, the earth spinning.  We see the amazing results, but not each individual change as it happens.  Red and yellow turning to orange-Blue and red turning to pinkish purple-all while signaling the end of another day.

Each day the sunset is different. So many variables-types of clouds, wind direction, viewing location, etc. The two things that never change-it is beautiful, and it is fleeting. I always wish it would last longer, change more slowly.  Instead it reminds me of how fast time is passing.

Recently watching a sunset from the nineteenth floor of a high rise, I could almost feel time moving forward.  Those last few moments, right before the sun fades beneath the horizon, there was a split-second sense of how fast this Earth is spinning.  And though the sky still glowed an orange hue, the sunset was over.

From this same location, I noticed the sunset’s reflection in an office building across the way.  That brought a new perspective.  As pretty as the reflection was, it couldn’t compare to the actual sunset.  All of the intricate colors were not visible, nor did the reflection show all the changes that were happening.  The picture it provided, though pretty, was not complete.

How does this compare to my own reflection?  My only guide for checking my appearnce, yet I am so much more than that sometimes blurry image. And many things have the power to affect the way I view that person in the mirror.  Lack of sleep, difficult day, feeling low-all impact how I see myself on any given day.

The next time I feel unsure when looking in the mirror, thinking the image is in some way lacking, I plan to remember that sunset.  I must acknowledge that who I am is complicated, full of thoughts and ideas, changing all the time.   And just like the sunset, I am so much more than my reflection.

Life’s Roles

Daughter first

Sister second

Years later wife

Mom times three

Cousin, niece, aunt

Friend and teacher between

 

Each role gives purpose

Brings responsibility

Delivers sorrow 

Causes growth

Provides joy

Creates life

 

 I look ahead

The future unseen

New roles yet to come

Hopeful to embrace each one

Through smiles, laughter, or tears

And continue down this path to becoming me