Random New Year’s thoughts

It’s the New Year, and while I’m excited and grateful about a new page turning, I’m also sad because today is the first anniversary of my sister’s death. Over the holidays, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, about how life is measured in its smaller moments. Better writers than I have pondered these same questions. Alas, I’m only me so I’m going to give you a few of my thoughts too.

Hunker down and read on, or not. That’s the great thing about the Internet and also, its curse. You can click on and off of anything you want in a millisecond. The Internet is like some crazy person at the party, who talks too loudly and wears clothes that are too bright. Maybe he or she also has a flashing lampshade on his/her head, and screams “Look at me!”

Remembering when websites had flashing ads and automatic music? See what I mean? Internet advertising is based upon the almighty click and keeping your face glued to the screen for a second longer. We spend much of our days flitting from one webpage to another.

Silver platter and sign Winter Wonderland (1 of 1)
Silver platter and sign Winter Wonderland are pretty and decorative and lift my spirits in the winter months.

Life, however, doesn’t shout for your attention. The good things, the ones that take your breath away, or return it to you, they are quiet, sometimes, even silent.

  • Childbirth.
  • Your first dance with your husband.
  • When one of your children shares with another without prompting.
  • The smile you share with a passing stranger.
  • The first time your work is published.
  • Autographing the book you wrote.
  • Meeting your heroes, your mentors, and discovering they are as smart and kind as you hoped.
  • Meeting your granddaughter and losing her in the same moment.
  • Having another person who walked through childhood with you and then losing them suddenly.

The list goes on and on. Some moments are big. Others are small. All are important.

This is life, and, recently, everywhere we read the news or watch it, over and over, we’re told we’re missing it.

I don’t profess to have any answers other than these small things.

I’m putting away my phone each evening. I still get notifications on my watch so if there is an emergency, I can deal with it. I can also be present to my husband and family. Because my job is online, I have to carve out some time for myself, and evening is the best time. My mother isn’t well, and after Nita died last year, the burden of her care is no longer shared. My family helps, but the buck stops here. This week, on her birthday, my family and I are moving Mom to assisted living. She is frightened, but also, very brave. She is definitely holding her chin up and trying to trust. That touches and humbles me.

It’s made me wonder how my children will take care of me when the times comes. Because I can’t think about that too long without becoming discouraged, I push the thought away for the time being.

Other tangible things I’m doing, not resolutions, but instead, practical things.

I’m back at the gym. I carved out some time and went back around Christmas. I’m doing cardio, but I’m also lifting weights at least three times a week, maybe more. I feel significantly better when I do these two simple things so why is it always so hard to do?

Chicken soup is good for the body and soul.
Chicken soup is good for the body and soul.

I’m cooking more. Cooking is a creative touchstone for me. Even when I don’t’ have the energy to write, I love to cook. I always have. I love standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine and whipping up something either from my own repertoire or from one of the boxes delivered to my door. I find the creativity of cooking, along with the motion of hand and eye, soothes me. I’ve bought boxes from Green Chef, Plated and Sun Basket. All have their challenges and all are fine. Sometimes, I switch off between them because I’m somewhat limited due to the gluten-free thing. Each box has its own personality, and I find having to shop and cook too stressful while helping my mom.

The weather today is really cold–22°F–but I’m told we’re going to get a warmup. When we do, I’m going outside without my phone and work in the garden, cutting down grasses and removing some of the leaves that gather between the plants. I’ll also cut back the roses. It used to be that I did my rose pruning in February, but the climate has changed so I just do it whenever I feel like it now, starting in January. There is no consistency in the weather so I just play it by ear. So much of gardening is that, isn’t it?

Valentine's Day cyclamen with a Fresh Cut Roses scented candle
Cyclamen with a Fresh Cut Roses scented candle. I don’t know if they make this scent anymore, but you get the idea.

Take more long baths. With candles. Enough said.

Read more books, especially in said baths. I read fewer books this year than before. I want to remedy that.

Silver platter and water pitcher with blue and white lights.
Silver platter and water pitcher with blue and white lights.

Polish my silver and iron the pillowcases. I love hotel silver and use a lot of it day-to-day. When I use it, it doesn’t need polishing, but some of the other stuff doesn’t get polished but once a year. I did several pieces before Christmas and USED them. Now, I have them displayed with blue and white lights on the fireplace mantel. The lights make gray days seem brighter. and the silver reflects their light. Win-win.

I like polishing silver and ironing when I want to do it. So, that’s when I do it. It’s not a requirement in my household. It’s a joy. I like to sleep on ironed pillowcases.

A bevy of beautiful cases waiting to be loved. I like to iron them and enjoy their loveliness against my cheek at night. They remind me of my grandmother.
A bevy of beautiful cases waiting to be loved. I like to iron them and enjoy their loveliness against my cheek at night. They remind me of my grandmother.

Life has a way of polishing us too, rubbing away all the unnecessary tarnish until we get down to our true essence. We can either glisten with reflected light or get rubbed down to base metal. That last part is our decision in the process.

You may not have picked up on the theme here, but soothing the soul is often about the quotidian mysteries, those chores which require hand and heart. If you pray at the same time, well, you’re only doing what St. Benedict suggested centuries ago. I think he had something there.

St. Benedict and the cup of poison; oil on wood; end 15th c.; anonymous Austrian master; museum of the Melk Abbey, Austria. Yes, I know he's being handed a cup of poison. Yes, that apparently happened. Not everyone wanted to hear his message.
St. Benedict and the cup of poison; oil on wood; end 15th c.; anonymous Austrian master; museum of the Melk Abbey, Austria. Yes, I know he’s being handed a cup of poison. Yes, that apparently happened. Not everyone wanted to hear his message.

In 2018, I expended a lot of energy caring for others. By doing many of the things, above, I filled my reserves again.

Speaking of prayer, I’m going to spend more time in my church, alone, in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I find it gives me strength and comfort and has been a great source of both for the entire year of 2018. It’s not everybody’s way, but it’s mine.

I’m grateful for it. Before you think I’m maudlin, I’m not. Today is a hard day, but it’s also a blessed day. I read a book, saw a concert last night and spent time with part of my family. It’s time to stride bravely into the new year. What will you do this year to make your life a little slower, a little sweeter? I’d love to know.

 

 

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeannie says:

    Thank you for this post. It has touched my heart and encouraged my spirit. I have just arrived home from a long, solitary road trip where I was also taking care of my mother. We siblings have agreed it is time we move her to assisted living and have begun the preparations. She will not be happy, and it will not be easy.
    Once again, thank you for your words.
    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Jeannie, I’m sorry I’m just now answering this. I apologize. I’m still in the process of moving my mom. My heart goes out to you and your siblings. There is nothing harder than caring for our parents as they enter the final stages of their lives–however long that may be. I can only offer my prayers that you will all find comfort in the little things, the good things, that this time in life contains. Nothing in life stays the same. Most of the time, however, we don’t realize the changes because they move slowly. We notice when something big happens. Much love to your family. I’m grateful my words offered some comfort. ~~Dee

  2. Heather says:

    This was so touching and authentic. I hope you read those books, find solace in your cooking and release through exercise. Thank you for your words Dee.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you dear Heather. I am finding solace in these quotidian mysteries.

  3. Toni Gattone says:

    Dee, reading your blog soothed my soul. You are such a gifted writer. May 2019 be all you hope for, and more! Salute!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Toni! I think 2019 has to be better than 2018. 🙂

  4. indygardener says:

    A beautiful and thoughtful post, Dee!

  5. Laura Bigbee-Fott says:

    Lovely, lovely post, Dee. So grateful that you share so much of yourself here. We seem to be in the same place in our lives. Thank you for your grace — it’s truly an inspiration. I hope that if you’re ever in Nashville, you’ll come visit me and I can give you a tour of my flower farm.

  6. Penny Post says:

    I think one of the nicest feelings in the world is getting into a newly made bed with fresh bedding that hasn’t yet been crumpled by sleep. Lovely post, hope you find time to do all the things you want.

  7. Loree says:

    “Life has a way of polishing us too, rubbing away all the unnecessary tarnish until we get down to our true essence….” wise words Dee! Hugs on you.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hugs to you too Loree! Hope your garden is staying dangerous. 😉

  8. Sonia says:

    Oh Dee, I remember you posting about your sister last year and thought how difficult it would be to lose a sibling especially on a holiday My brother passed away unexpectedly in his 30;s and it was hard to accept because he was so young. My Mom has really never got over losing him and then my Dad a few years later. I moved her in with us from Florida over a year ago so I could make sure she was getting good care and we could spend the rest of her days together. It’s exhausting some days but I try to focus on the positive things that bring joy. A cup of tea in a pretty mug or watching birds at the feeder helps get through gloomy winter days. Gardening is my therapy and having fresh flowers in the house helps brigthen our days too. I think this year I’ll focus on simplifying our home and getting rid of things so I can spend more time doing the things that really matter to me like gardening and traveling with family. Prayer is so important in my life and I will be praying for you and your Mom as you move her into assisted living.

  9. Nancy Hallman says:

    Dee, sending a hug. I loved reading your post. Wishing you good things in the coming year— peace, beauty, and love!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you, sweetheart! May we all find those same things in the new year.

  10. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    One thing I have done is deleted my Facebook account. I kept getting hacked, twice anyway and that was one time too many. It is amazing how much more time I have. I like to read. I can escape most any time I need to with a good book.
    I can certainly imagine how you feel about your sister. My sister has either dementia or Alzheimers. I am taking her to a neurologist soon to find out which. It is really sad having her slip away right in front of me. We carry on. Do what we can and pray for help with the rest. I am wishing you a Happy Healthy New Year with many Blessings.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, deleting your Facebook was probably wise, wiser than I. I’m so very sorry about your sister. I have no words but know I am holding you in my heart. Mom and I are visiting a neurologist at the end of January.

  11. CGW says:

    Gpd/ . . . ( and Annie). . . the sun will come out tomorrow. . .!!

I love your comments. Thanks for letting me know what you think.