Opportunity.

I’ve been exercising my “paying attention” muscles. As I got into my car, I decided to focus on telephone poles for the drive. I noticed the construction, placement, and what managed to grow on the poles. And I noticed where there were no telephone poles—a rarity in my rural community. Engaging in a “noticing” activity when I’m alone has made routine activities feel fresher and forces me into the moment. I can’t think about the past or future when I’m scouting for something specific. Staying in the moment is something I’m working on, and I’m happy to have found a simple exercise to employ.

Last week I selected “doors” on the way to a friend’s farm. So many well-used doors at the entrances to the barn and outbuildings. I love these faded doors. A door. An access. A barrier. Granting entry. Preventing entry. A door. An invitation. An opportunity. Yes, let’s go in!

Expectation.

Looking forward to harvesting ripe red apples in a month or so. The basis for this anticipation? Belief based on science. The apple blossoms survived a spring cold snap. And small green apples now cover the trees. My faith in applesauce and apple pies rests on apple tree science. Blossom to tiny fruit to ripe fruit. Faith based on science designed by God. And I can almost taste it!

“One of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever seen”

“Surviving the Pink Ribbon” contains practical advice for cosurvivors—those helping someone through cancer. I used some of my own advice to create a gift for a male friend going through cancer treatment. His daughter remarked, “What you made for my dad was one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever seen and it means the world!!” If you’re wondering what I made, you can find it on page 33 of “Surviving the Pink Ribbon”.

Open

The lilies in my garden are open wide. Beautiful. Strong bulb foundation. Petals spread unconfined. Stamen and pistil fully exposed. Open. Accessible. Without barrier. Free. A reminder to check my mind. Without barrier? Open?

Receive.

Seed to salad. I press the seeds into the ground beginning in April. The transformation from tiny bits easily lost in my garden glove to lettuces and spinach always fills me with wonder. Wonder at the design of the insides of the seed—seemingly dead—brought to life by soil, sun, water, and air. Wonder at the process of growth and change. Wonder at receiving the result. I have not created any of this. I receive. I am a steward of what I’ve received. “What do you have that you did not receive?” I Corinthians 4:7

Stay curious.

“People cannot learn by having information pressed into their brains. Knowledge has to be sucked into the brain, not pushed in. First, one must create a state of mind that craves knowledge, interest, and wonder. You can teach only by creating an urge to know.” My late-husband attributed this message to Victor Weiscaugh. I don’t know who Victor is, but I believe he captured a key to lifelong joy – stay curious. Curiosity drives me to read. My next-book stack is never empty.

Delight.

To some (my husband, for example) the little blue, white, orange, and yellow flowers along the driveway are undesirable. While I welcome the color. The delight I take in the color these little blooms bring, reminds me of this quote from W. Somerset Maugham: “If the rose at noon has lost the beauty it had at dawn, the beauty it had then was real. Nothing in the world is permanent, and we are foolish when we ask anything to last. But surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.” And weeds don’t last.

Forward.

In this third month of being mostly at home, I’m getting many projects done including a bit of prep for future grandchild visits. Decades ago, I packed away a few of my son’s favorite toys. In the box was also a favorite of my late-husband’s when he was a boy – his Tinkertoy. I sifted through the cardboard canister discarding the splintered dowels that had been played out. At the bottom of the Tinkertoy container was a solitary dark green soldier peering at me through his binoculars. Reminded me of the way I often feel right now.  Squinting through the cracks as this quarantine transitions into our new normal. Seeing with hope, an expectant heart. Looking forward to reuniting with the familiar and embracing the new.  And that green soldier? Didn’t discard him and didn’t gift him. He has found a place on the corner of my desk. A symbol of moving forward.

Storyteller.

A bracelet announcing that I am a grandmother came with a lovely note describing grandmother as storyteller. Love that! This fall I will have a grandson to share stories with. Two months after that, a young friend will welcome a baby girl, and I will become an honorary grandmother.

Real life stories are the source of my writing. I believe the joys and struggles in our experiences are to be used. We pay tuition in many forms as we move through life: financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual. I believe once the tuition (money, heartache, pain, separation, etc.) has been paid, some learning should be discovered. If not, the tuition was wasted. That life experience has been in vain. My writing goal is to take life’s stories and discover from them, then share the insight. Continue the lesson.  Can’t wait to share stories with my grandchildren!