Showing posts with label Time. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Time. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Journey Into The Unknown

Recently, my husband ended a 90 day journey to the top of the Main Street stairway in Stillwater, Minnesota. Funny, as I type that, it sounds like it took him 90 days to get to the top! Actually, the journey was a daily one. Every day as he drove through Stillwater he stopped and climbed to the top of the stairs to take a picture. This 90 day mission took him 143 days. What began as a whim on a cold February morning ended as something much greater - something unknown, yet powerfully significant. He says, "It's a great luxury to do things that don't make sense."

There is a white building on the left side of the street. It towers above all the rest and slopes without reason on the back corner. On the backside of this building there is a pair of windows.

Inside those windows lives a beautiful women. 
She is my daughter, Anna.

This is her first apartment on her own. No roommates. No live-in boyfriend. No help from Mom and Dad. This picture was taken the day she moved in. Exhausted from the days events, she is graceful, elegant and filled with passion for her life. I painted the picture of her that you see on the wall behind. The eyes of a then 13 year old. Piercing. Asking their questions of me. Hoping, trusting. 

This picture was taken on that very same day. Low lighting and movement producing a haunting reflection on life. These are how days seem sometime. Fleeting, ghost-like apparitions. We try to hold on, as if grasping at smoke. But the Universe has a different plan.

In the heart of Los Angeles, right next to Beverly Hills, there is an area called Sherman Oaks. This eclectic town is approximately 1,975 miles from where I live. In this town lives a piece of my heart. Sometimes a piece so large that its absence takes away my breath. Sometimes a piece so large that I scarcely can hold the joy that it contains.

This is my daughter, Amanda. 

She and Daniel moved out to California four years ago with an old car, a few suitcases and a roll of toilet paper. They had nothing else...except a dream. A hope. And trust.

Last month I took my first trip to visit Amanda and Daniel. It's crazy what can happen in four years. When I think of all that has happened to me in the past four years - getting sick, fighting for my life, becoming disabled, learning and accepting - and compare it to all that has happened in her life...

I realize that none of us really knows how this crazy journey will go. Not one of us. Yet, we keep walking. We keep loving. We put ourselves out there again and again - being vulnerable - because the risk of losing does not even compare to the gift of being loved. So we chance it. Again and again. When the whole world thinks we're crazy and everyone else gives up. We just keep believing. Because some day...some day.

Some day you take this picture and you realize that love is bigger than you could have ever imagined
and it's worth every tear and every hope and every fear. And that 2000 miles aint nothin'. 

And then there were three, where there once was 
only two. 

This is my oldest daughter Aleela and her husband Keith and the newest addition to our family, Adella Marie. 

Being the oldest isn't easy. It makes you responsible. It makes you determined. Charting unknown territories,  with an impetuous invincibility. Refined, lovely, compassionate. 

They brought this miracle into the world and I can't help but be thrown backwards into the past each time I look into her deep blue eyes. I see a little girl in a pink dress, with a pink bow in her hair, standing on a stump in the yard singing to her hearts content. Unmoved by the world that surrounds her. Freely creating masterpieces of make-believe, joy flinging off the tip of a wand. Pure, care-free and open. 

Oh, my beautiful Adella Marie. What will you become? Where will you go, my precious, precious baby girl. If you are one millionth of what your mama is, you will be rich with life. 

I have no idea what steps you will take. But this I know - I refuse to live a life of fear 
when it comes to this world. And I will work with all that I am 
to show you the hope
and the beauty
and the joy
of this amazing 

In 1987 I was 21 years old. After the birth of my second daughter, Amanda, I was told it would not be a good idea to have more children. Two operations later - Anna May was born in 1993. Three seemed like a good number. A safe number, all things considered. 

1996 I was 30 years old when I became pregnant with twins. Life will do that to you. Throw you that curve ball, when you're not looking. When you're not paying attention. It will just hit you square between the eyes 
with the most amazing

Meet Emma Jane and Sara Jane.
They were a two-for-one deal
I cannot imagine life without them.  

They are the last two at home. They have known a life very different from their other sisters, although the sinew of sisterhood is more powerful than one can ever imagine. I see it between these two and it is the force that binds them all together, connecting them, holding them tightly through every storm. I see a beautiful trust in the knowing that no matter what, no matter what - they are never alone.

Often times when I talk of Emma and Sara people will say, "Oh, a surprise " But isn't everything in life a surprise? We are lucky that most often during our day things happen to go as planned. Gravity still pulls in the right direction, the alarm clock goes off when it's suppose to, the milk is still in the fridge... But it's all up for grabs, really. Yet we trust.

On September 28th, 2006, Judge Eric J. Lundell granted me a judgement of divorce from the father of these five daughters. He was my first true love. I met him at the age of 16 and married him at the age of 18. We had so many dreams. And for 22 years we watched most of those dreams come true. We also experienced the painful end of others. There are very few things in this life that shake your foundation like divorce, all horribly painful, all life changing.

In the middle of my writing this morning an old friend from work called to just say hi. She herself has experienced one of these "things" when she lost her husband to cancer a couple of years ago. She talked of how Fall made her reflective. How in that reflection there was sometimes a bit of sadness. She talked of the colors and how the leaves fall off the trees and things begin to shut down for winter, and how that brought about feelings of death. But only a "little sadness" she said, because like the new relationship she now finds herself in, and like the flowers that eventually burst forth in Spring, "things must come to an end so that others may begin."

It is our ability as human beings to take tragedy, in it's finest hour, and turn it toward reclamation. A holy redemption. The freedom to begin again.

I don't even know where to begin when it comes to my "second chance" at life. I think I've only had a dozen or so of them! But if it would not have been for the miracle of love and forgiveness, I would never have had the chance to be the step-mother of Casey and Maddie Johnson.

Being a step-mom is not something you grow up thinking about. In fact, in my day, the only vision of step-mom's were that of Lady Tremaine from Cinderella and the Queen from Snow White...not really images I like to emulate. It's tender, risky business. Hearts are at stake. The hearts of children, of mothers and of fathers. You tread this area like walking through a room full of the dark. Slowly and softly.

There are simply no words to describe how blessed I am in this regard. There's a knowing that comes before this kind of love.It's what makes love all the richer. It's like sunshine after the rain. Like spring-time after a long winter. It's what keeps us loving again and again.

I started writing this morning because I was missing my daughters. It's tough sometimes, having kids live so far away and being too sick to travel. When I feel this way I have a tendency to start telling myself stories that are not very helpful. So I thought that maybe if I just started writing, I might work things out. Kind of like the journey that my husband was on - the 90 day journey that I wrote about at the beginning of this article. The one that went from 90 days to 143 days. He didn't really know what was going to become of his mission, he just knew he needed to be on it.

It's when I try to make sense of it all, when I try to ground my feet in something that really isn't there, that I struggle. My husband is so right. It is a great luxury to do things that don't make sense. Isn't that what loving is all about. If you think about it - most days it doesn't make good sense. But we do it anyway. We love, we trust, we hope...and we love again.We venture into the unknown.

No one has taught this to me more than my daughters.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

22 Days...

It's been 22 days since I last posted. I'm not really sure where the time has gone, but I can tell you there's been quite a bit that's filled up the space! As I lay in bed this morning thinking on what I wanted to write about, I decided that instead of planning things out I would just begin where we last left off - the day I found myself behind that speeding ambulance - Tuesday, February 28th. Where we go from here, at least as I type these words, remains a bit of a mystery! We'll see how this goes...

This picture was taken the very same day my mother was transported to the hospital. Coincidence? Not much. You see, about two months ago my husband set out on a mission. Every day on his way to work he must travel through the wonderful little river town of Stillwater, Minnesota. The bridge in this picture is the infamous Stillwater Lift Bridge, the object of much controversy due to its lovely historic value and the necessity of it's replacement. The mission? To park his car downtown each morning as he passes through on his way to work and climb the 160 stairs that run up the cliff to this vantage point...and take a picture. Rain or shine.

February 29, 2012
These are the stairs. One by one, each seven inches above the last, he climbs his way to the top. I don't really know what goes through his mind as he puts one foot in front of the other, but I can't help but think of Sisyphus as he rolls his stone up the mountain. If you are familiar with the Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus, he describes how the gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll back down from its own weight. What had begun as a sort of punishment, in the end proved to be the source of Sisyphus' joy. "The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy!"

February 29, 2012
A lot happened right before the above picture was taken. A lot happened before that day my mother found herself fighting for her life. On February 27th, 2012, at 12:56 in the afternoon, my first grand daughter, Adella Marie Baune was born into this beautiful world.

February 27, 2012
These are the feet of this little one so dear on the day of her birth.

February 27, 2012
This is her mother and father, in the moments after her arrival, in the holy space of bearing witness to the miracle of life. It is a day filled with moments I will never forget.

March 2, 2012
Just a few short days after Adella was born, we had our first snow day of the year. Quite different from the perpetual state of blizzard that we had the year before, this winter has been extremely calm. Nevertheless, Mr. Johnson made his way to the top and snapped his picture. This is one of my favorites.

March 4, 2012
They say in the Midwest, if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute. How true! This picture was taken out my kitchen window. It was 45 degrees this day and nothing but sun. Little did we know the beautiful days that were to come!

March 6, 2012
On Monday March 5th, after a long infusion day at the hospital, my husband drove me to my daughter and son-in-law's home to spend five days being Grandma! The picture above is of me sitting on the floor the morning of my first shift. There simply are no words to describe the sights, smells and sounds of a new baby. My heart so full, I could hardly keep the tears from drenching us both.

March 7, 2012
I almost posted this picture first. This is a picture of my father and mother visiting Adella in her home for the first time. From that ambulance ride only a week before, to this moment, the world seemed to turn upside down and spin backwards in-between. We just never know what the next second will bring, but when you find yourself in moments such as these - let gratefulness burst the seams of your heart.    

March 11,2011
On Sunday, March 11th, we drove to Stillwater to run errands. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity of a beautiful day, we stopped so my husband could climb the stairs and take his picture. Little did I know that the picture of the day would be of me! This is the shot he snapped on his decent.

I would have loved to accompany him to his summit, but illness makes these endeavors simply out of the question. I will say though, that watching him made me so very happy. He's an interesting guy, this man I married. Quirky, eccentric and gifted with the absolute most bone dry sense of humor I have ever known - I cannot imagine one day without him. He is the most beautiful man I have ever known.

March 14, 2012
The average temperature for our area on March 14th is 45 degrees. This day it was 73! Within the next three days we would top out at a glorious 80!! You can see the ice on the river melting in this sun drenched morning shot.

March 17, 2012
I love Saturdays. On Friday night I composed a list a mile long of things that needed to be done. After morning coffee, some good reading, fiddling with a few stones and being serenaded by Mr. Johnson... we totally re-evaluated the nature of the list. It was a beautiful day.

March 17, 2012
This is a picture of my daughter Sara. She is the second part to a two part deal...her twin sister Emma. Both girls absolutely love to cook. On this Saturday Sara decided to make a double layer lemon raspberry meringue cake! It...was...heavenly!!

March 17, 2012

March 17, 2012
Picture perfect!

Another event worth mentioning is the decreasing of our household size by one. A happy/sad event, our daughter Anna moved out of our house and into her first home the beginning of this month. As is the case in any household where there are more children than bedrooms, this created quite the opportunity! The picture below is of the room our daughter Sara occupied prior to Anna moving out. The color, like the cake...raspberry!

THIS is the room now! Thanks to the painting handy work of both Emma and Sara, the aforementioned room went from raspberry to chocolate on March 17th!! We now, for the first time ever, have an official "spare bedroom"!!! I think the last time I lived in a home with a spare bedroom I might have been 17 and living at home with my parents. I find myself just sitting in this room in glorious amazement. Drawers and closet empty, this room is ready for company!

March 18, 2012

March 18, 2012
I swiped this picture of Sara off her facebook page. For so many reasons, it just makes me feel good. Finding ourselves in yet another 80 degree day, Emma and Sara decided to take to the road and walk down to the local BP gas station. 

Since becoming sick, I find myself living much of my life as a spectator. I think this is a natural progression the older we get anyway, but being ill has sped the process along a bit. I don't really mind it though. Life is slower and the viewing comes easier and with a certain amount of wisdom that I didn't have in my younger or more healthier years. 

There's been a lot to look at the past few weeks. A lot to watch. 

Camus describes what he thinks Sisyphus looks like as he pushes the stone back up the hill, "one sees his face screwed up, the cheek against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two clotted hands. At the very end of his effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved." 

This is life.

"There is no sun without shadow, and it's essential to know the night." 

The moment my mother held Adella was made sweeter by fact that she had taken that ambulance ride only seven days before. The gift of an 80 degree day was made warmer by the March blizzard that blew right before it. A Saturday with my husband was made all the more precious by the letting go of a list made the night before. A river fresh and flowing after a long and frozen winter. The end of one story so that another can begin. 

This is life. 

Some might think my husband ridiculous for climbing those stairs every morning. Just as some might pity poor Sisyphus as he rolls that stone up the hill yet one more time.

I imagine them both happy. 

March 20, 2012

Monday, October 10, 2011

Impermanent Things

Impermanent Things 

Peter Himmelman

All these impermanent things
Oh how they fool me
Dominate and rule me
They keep me waiting here forever
All these impermanent things
Well their beauty's never aging
But their worthlessness's enraging
You know we all stand alone when we're together
Why keep hanging on
To things that never stay
Things that just keep stringin' us along
From day to day
All these impermanent things
Present yet elusive
Passive yet abusive
Tearing out the heart in utter silence
All these impermanent things
Well they point in all directions
Like secondhand reflections
And they're leading us to subtle shades of violence
Why keep hanging on
To things that never stay
Things that just keep stringin' us along
From day to day
All these impermanent things
Well they're trying to convince me
Baptize my soul and rinse me
Purge my mind of honesty and fire
All these impermanent things
Well they all add up to zero
They make-believe that they're my hero
Then they fill my mind with doubt and false desires
Why keep hanging on
To things that never stay
Things that just keep stringin' us along
From day to day

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Keep It Sacred

Time is an interesting thing.
I really had never given it much thought, other than the fact that there just wasn't enough of it, until about a year ago. Eckhart Tolle talks about "clock time", that which we need for practical purposes. And "psychological time", that which is the egoic mind's endless preoccupation with past and future and its unwillingness to be one with life by living in alignment with the inevitable isness of the present moment. Both, constructs of the human mind.

Take a look at Nature, for example. This world turns, the seasons come and go, the sun rises and sets - and there is no care for what time it is. In this moment the leaf is on the tree, in the next, it is not. Like Tolle says, "Everything seems to be subject to time, yet it all happens in the Now. That is the paradox." To try and understand this concept, just think of how the world would be if there was no clock time... really think about it.

Every October my egoic mind slowly begins its movement towards my own endless preoccupation with the past and future. Why October? Because this is when we first start seeing and hearing about...yes, here it is...


Christmas 2010, in the basement with all the kids!
Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree, I love how the snow looks on the pines outside my window, I love the time spent with family and all the excitement that comes along with having way too many people is one small room. What I don't like is the pressure that time puts on me - or better stated, that I put on myself. Time to decorate, time to bake, time to shop... and then add a dose of chronic illness and it all becomes quite overwhelming.

I have gotten much better over the years. Transitioning from young motherhood to Grandma (yes, I will be a grandma in February!!) has helped significantly. It's easier to let things go and let the next generation take hold. But I still do my fair share of fretting.

This morning I read the most wonderful blog post by Julie Daley on her site, Unabashedly Female. I highly recommend taking a peek. She speaks to the rhythm of life and how this has nothing to do with time. And how honoring that rhythm is nothing short of sacred. It's a good message and one that I plan on re-reading weekly - at least until January 1st!

Not only do I NOT want to get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays - I can't. Not unless I want to end up in the hospital. Which, although it may get me off the hook for some things, really isn't all that much fun. So I have decided to come up with a mantra for this year. By definition, a mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation". This is my mantra for the 2011 Holiday Season...

Keep it sacred .

Kind of like, keep it simple. Which, I believe, that if I do indeed keep it sacred - simple just naturally follows.
Honoring what is holy, honoring my own body, honoring those that I love, honoring the present moment - this is what it means to hold my day sacred.

What to buy...    keep it sacred
How to decorate...    keep it sacred
How to entertain...    keep it sacred
How to use my time...    keep it sacred
What thoughts to occupy my mind...    keep it sacred
What words to speak...    keep it sacred

If I hold onto this concept of honoring the sacred in my day, then I am taking the first steps towards creating transformation. Transformation that not only blesses me, but blesses all those around me. And honestly...
what better gift is there?