Good Natured Mom

We are all just walking each other home. -Ram Dass

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The Visit

My usual drive in to work covers back country roads. Today they are beautiful and snowy. The farm fields are freshly dusted white and the roads are clear.  I enjoy the ride in silence I  watch the sun rise orange between the grey clouds and blue sky. It’s breathtaking.

sunrise 01222016 (2)

As my mind become still… I reflect on a recent trip with my parents, careful to replay each moment in order of occurrence.

There is so much to process. To unpack.

The sights, sounds, smells…the conversations…

My mother is the youngest of five children. She has one living brother who is in poor health. We made the three hour drive to see him. Two cousins (whose father passed away in November) were also visiting from their home in the Deep South.  Another cousin and aunt came to visit (the aunt, in her  full length, sable mink, coat…she dressed for the occasion and that makes me smile).

The purpose of the trip:

Bring closure

And above all else… love.

We did plenty of all of that.

Without going too long on the subject…because I can’t put words to the emotion and because some of it is too private, we visited together for almost 10 hours.

What began with a quiet lunch,
polite exchanges, some hugs and kisses, and authentic kielbasa sandwiches

became an afternoon tea complete with pecan, cranberry and lemon straws – a gift from the southerners,
sharing old family photos/identifying forgotten relatives

which evolved into a rowdy evening card game and the largest pizza I’ve ever seen.
merciless teasing – mostly aimed at me, mild annoyances and belly aching laughter

card game

Photo by Liz Szymanski McDaniel

They called it “the stupid card game”. They play it whenever they get together. They played when Uncle Eddie was with them on his last visit.

This is where the healing could be felt the most -to me anyway. Healing through laughter and telling and retelling of stories…through cajoling and pestering, all done with love…through silliness and sadness and the punchiness that sets in when you’ve had a long day.

We all felt grief and sadness release its hold a bit that night. We felt Uncle Eddie’s presence in the humor and wit we shared. And we saw some flickers of spirited-ness from Uncle Bob, because card games have a way of bringing vigor to the weary.

The visit ended with a round of good byes, proper hugs and see-you-soons.

A larger family reunion is definitely in order, but I doubt it will happen. I prefer the crowded kitchen table and eye to eye discussions over full on family gatherings, anyway. It would be lovely to reacquaint with all of the cousins and their families, but it will have to be one family at a time.

And I enjoyed that stupid card game…because Uncle Bob laughed.


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January 6, the day we celebrate the visitation of the Magi, is also the traditional “taking down the Christmas tree” day for my family.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the day of revelation is the day of putting away, decluttering, clearing out and bringing our lives back to normal.

A day of revelation does not, in my mind, mean back to normal.

I’ve been thinking about the new year. It’s not about resolutions, do overs, a list of big races, or big goals. I’ve gone there before and resolutions don’t inspire me at this point in my life. Mostly because I don’t keep them.

I’m also not spending a long time looking back at 2015. For about 35 seconds I did a little year in review in my head. And it was pretty darn good in terms of epic adventures and exciting experiences with family and friends.

10 mile trail run, Seneca 7, road trip with Janel to bike and run with the Iron Cowboy ,  a simulated 70.3 in Lake Placid, Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee…so many stretches and reaches!

And sheesh…I was scared a few times (the Keene decent on the Lake Placid Ironman course, in the rain and fog, the insane in-water start at AGN)…But glory hallelujah! I’m so much more capable, braver and stronger than I think I am. I got through those events, safely and intact – which is always my main priority.  I’m not a huge risk taker. Being scared is not my thing.

But 2015 is over. Let’s keep it moving. Let’s not spend too much time lingering in the looking-back.

What is my epiphany? What is my revelation? Here are some ideas:

Keep it Simple – Don’t over complicate the straight forward solutions. Don’t add unnecessary details which shift the focus off the goal.

Tell the truth – to others and myself. What I believe, what matters to me, what’s right and wrong…say it with courage and have confidence that what I speak is authentic and sincere.

Measure myself against me… and no one else – I am a unit. I am unique. I have strengths and weakness that, in combination, are only mine. That said, it is useless to compare myself to another human being in order to measure my own success or failure. My trial and challenges, just like my triumphs, belong to and have value only to me.

Do something, even if you don’t know what you are doing – I’ve had a passion for wellness, fitness, nutrition and health my entire life. But I never thought I had the right background, smarts, experience or credentials to make anything out of it. Finally, I am starting to see that I don’t have to know everything to make my passions be a source of information and inspiration to others. I’m going for it. One baby step at a time. Writing, posting, sharing, tweeting…speaking out about my experiences to bring encouragement and support to others.

Joan090912…these are sounding like resolutions. Maybe resolutions are really just the beginning of a revelation. Maybe through resolutions we begin to understand who we are and what we can become. Is it possible that the revelation can come through a resolution?

I think so.

Peace and Happy New Year.