Monday, February 20, 2017

Dear Granny Amy

Dear Granny Amy,
Yesterday, I attended your Memorial Service. So many people shared remembrances about the positive impact you made on so many lives and I am honored to be one of those people. Hearing the stories--some funny, some touching, I began to see the pattern how my interactions with you fit into the beautiful mosaic of your life.

Importance of Connection
Once, you came to my home for dinner and I served a summer salad. I seem to recall it had nectarines, walnuts...maybe some goat cheese? Sharing a meal with friends and family was one way you focused on the importance of connecting with others. You were so flattering and complimentary and asked for the recipe. Yesterday, I learned that you often asked others for recipes. You would recopy them into your own hand, noting who gave it to you, and lovingly store them away. At your service, I skimmed through so many recipe cards, each of them a meaningful memory of a meal shared with a friend. We were invited to take a recipe...after much consideration, I chose Sombrero Dip. It sounds fun--just like you. I picture us dressed festively, wearing sombreros while eating it, and laughing.

Another recurring theme was your laughter. I wasn't surprised to learn you chose the Jester costume for the Henry VIII Ball because that is how I remember you--laughing, colorful. I remember your holiday earrings, your colorful beaded necklaces, and that you always seemed to be smiling. At another table, we were invited to take an item of your costume jewelry. I chose some whimsical earrings made of bottle caps, painted with chickens. They remind me of a blog that Debbie and I love about a metal chicken reminding us that we need to have a sense of humor and that everyone needs some whimsy in their lives. You had so many whimsical collections ranging from hedgehogs to all things Elvis. I think you would approve of a metal chicken collection if I ever started collecting anything.

I remember Katherine and Maggie once got into loom weaving potholders and you brought them several bags of craft loops. Yes, you were generous with gifts, but I was also struck by how many stories were shared of you reaching out to help others. You were generous with your time and your talents, and your values to stand up for that which is right, even when it is difficult. These stories of generosity, to me, are far more valuable than any material gift. Every day, I notice how you passed along these traits of compassion, love and service to your daughter and my dear friend Debbie. She is the most selfless, generous friend I know. I know that she mourns your loss, and lies awake thinking, "I don't have a Momma anymore." I hope she feels and knows that your spirit lives on within her, and within all of us. That, in fact, she has an infinite number of Mommas now, because you have touched all of us, and we carry a bit of your spirit our hearts too.

Love, Allison

"A little less fight and a little more spark, close your mouth and open your heart."--Elvis

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ready for Reentry

A few years back, my friend Donna gave me a little journal called "One Line A Day." It is a five year memory book with just enough room for a sentence or two for each day, although I like to write small and squish in three or four. It's now full of almost three years of memories, and I love to look back on prior entries to see what was happening on the same date one and two years ago.  This type of journal helps me notice the patterns and cycles in my life. Good days follow bad days. Good to know.

One trend I noticed is that the first day back to "reality" after winter break seems to be particularly challenging. In 2015, I wrote, First day back. Started with a local screening meeting and ended with diagnosis of flu. Sitting by the fire with Tamiflu and hoping I feel better soon. Snow tomorrow? Then in 2016, I wrote, First day back--made it through feeling unprepared. R worried about high blood pressure. I'm worried about S making good choices. Paul sick with cough. I go to bed at 8:00.

The perspective of noticing patterns is helpful because I take comfort in the knowledge that history repeats itself. I can look through the pages and remember that I do survive those first few days back and slowly get back into the groove. However, I'd like to take it one step further this year and break the pattern. Instead of lamenting the end of my winter break, and dwelling on all the things I won't have time to do, I'm going to try making a conscious shift in my attitude about that first day back.

I'll take it easy on my expectations--lesson plans may be a little loose and dinner might be a pot of spaghetti and that's OK. I'll consider how great it is to be back in a routine instead of home with so many cookies. I'll think about the people I haven't seen in almost three weeks--my teammates and my students. I'm going to remember that they may be feeling a bit shell-shocked too, and to try to smile extra often tomorrow.  I may still go to bed at 8:00 pm tomorrow night, but before I do, I'll write in my little journal, First day back... and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Looking forward to seeing my teammates...what should we wear tomorrow, ladies?