..*~ abundance of appreciation ~*..

The WordPress question this week is Have you ever considered writing a book?”  The short answer is “Yes.”  The longer answer is “Already have a children’s book, just need an illustrator.”  And the funny coincidence is that what I was originally going to post today fits right into that theme.  Yay for cosmic timing, hehe.

While cleaning out my mom’s house this week, I came across a small journal on her bookshelf.  To my surprise, it was a book which I actually wrote for her as a Mother’s Day gift several years ago.  A small, handwritten gratitude journal to record the “abundance of appreciation” I felt for all the small gifts my mother had shared with me over the years.  Today I’m sharing them with you.

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For Mom, On Mother’s Day, May 10, 1998

Dear Mom,

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my life has been like over the past 30 years since I passed that milestone birthday.  I decided that for mother’s day I wanted to write you a book.  A book that lists some of my favorite memories of my childhood.  A book that remembers the little moments.  A book that puts in writing some small part of the abundance of appreciation I feel for you.  I’ve heard it suggested that people should keep gratitude journals to write down those things they’re thankful for everyday.  Mom, every day I am grateful for you.

Love,  Cathy

  • Making my baby clothes (age 1)
  • Adopting our dog Scottie (age 1 1/2)
  • Your dress with all the letters & numbers, the skirt was all I could see. (age 2)
  • Being more concerned about me than about the V8 can I spilled when I tried to get it from the fridge (age 3)
  • Buying me “Chipper” and not “Barbie” (age 3)
  • Making doll clothes to match my clothes (age 3)
  • Staying home with me when I was too sick to visit Baltimore.  We all piled onto the pull-out couch bed. (age 4)
  • Teaching me the best way to lick an ice cream cone– you have to keep turning it so it doesn’t drip. (age 4)
  • Letting me name my baby brother (age 5)
  • Understanding that mud pies are important; giving me pie tins to put them in (age 5)
  • Teaching me to bake bread (age 6)
  • Taking me to Linvilla Orchards.  And introducing me to Dutch Apple pie. (age 6)
  • Signing me up for dance classes with Hedy Tower and not some fru fru tutu lady (age 7)
  • Helping my second grade class in having a party for Miss Semless when she got married (age 7)
  • Becoming a girl scout leader (age 8 )
  • Learning to cook food from all over the world; giving me the International Cookbooks for Kids (age 8 )
  • Making my dollhouse (age 9)
  • Changing my desk into a dressing table just like you have (age 9)
  • Taking me to piano lessons (age 10)
  • Organizing the best birthday parties any kid could have– chocolate fondue & treasure hunts, sleepovers in grand style, the surprise party at Girl Scout camp (age 10)
  • Putting the pink chair in my room (age 10)
  • Using onion powder instead of (yucky) onions in many meals (age 12)
  • Giving me the canopy bed as a surprise when I came home from play auditions (age 12)
  • Teaching me to paint my nails before bed (age 13)
  • Teaching me to apply lipstick just right (age 15)
  • Taking pictures at my Sweet 16 party– especially the one of me on the couch afterwards (age 16)
  • Bringing me tea & cookies on a tray when I had to read all night for school (age 17)
  • Sewing an extra band of elastic in my prom dress and being concerned enough to yell at me for being too thin (age 18)
  • Letting me rummage through your jewelry (all ages!)
  • Encouraging me to go to Barnard (age 18)
  • Feeding me saltine crackers when I said I could not eat (age 19)
  • Becoming a seminary student and a minister (age 20)
  • Driving back & forth to New York City to pick me up from college (age 20)
  • Asking me if Dan was “the one” right after we met and believing me when I said yes. (age 21)
  • Buying me my first Acura Integra because that’s what Grandpa would have done (age 22)
  • Talking to cats.  Training me for cat psychology and then consulting me later (age 23)
  • Helping me decorate my apartment and figure out where all the furniture fits (age 24)
  • Always keeping rooms in your house for Christopher and me (age 25)
  • Teaching me to cook rice pilaf, chicken tarragon and cheesy scallop potatoes when I was very stressed and needed comfort food (age 26)
  • Buying presents for your “grand cats” (age 27)
  • Liking Clinique as much as I do (age 28)
  • Helping me through every step of making my first quilt– and then insisting that I did all the work myself (age 28)
  • Officiating at my wedding and being “the wind beneath my wings” (age 29)
  • Being a role model for me all my life (age 30)

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After I read this, I started to cry.  (Come on, people, you know me– what else would I do?)  I asked Mom out loud why she had to die.  I told her I missed her and that I wanted her to give me a sign *that very minute* that she was okay, she was still with me and that she was listening.  The doorbell rang.  It was my Mom’s friend, the pastor from her local church, who had dropped by on an impulse to help me clean.  (Thanks, Mom.)

After we were finished for the day, before I drove home, I went back to the bookshelf.  Right there, next in line for packing up, was a small bright green book of Hazelden Daily Meditations for Women called “Each Day a New Beginning.”  Mom had left only one bookmark in it, on this page:

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September 18

“The future is made of the same stuff as the present.”  ~ Simone Weil

The moment is eternal.  It is unending.  When we move with the moment, we experience all that life can offer.  Being fully awake to right now guarantees rapture even when there’s pain, because we know we are evolving, and we thrill with the knowledge.  We are one with all that’s going on around us.  Our existence is purposeful and part of the whole of creation, and we can sense our purpose.

Nothing is– but now.  And when we dwell on what was, or what may be, we are cut off from life– essentially dead.  The only reality is the present, and it’s only in the present that we are invited to make our special contribution to life; perhaps at this moment our special contribution is to reach out to another person, an act that will change two lives, ours and hers.

We must cling to the present, or we’ll miss its invitation to grow, to help a friend perhaps, to be part of the only reality there is.  The present holds all we need and all we’ll ever need to fulfill our lives.  It provides every opportunity for our happiness– the only happiness there is.

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So there you have it.  There were some people in my life who died before I had the chance to tell them all they meant to me, or to ask the tough questions, or to have the honest discussions.  I feel so blessed to know that my mother and I left nothing unsaid, nothing unresolved.  And apparently, the conversation continues.

Today’s Gratitude List

xmas family

Today I am grateful for:

  • Family.  Writing.  Journals.  Hopes.  Dreams.  And packrats.  Because when you put all that together, you get the amazing blessing I received yesterday from my Dad.  In the middle of a routine day of getting work done, taking care of a thousand things and trying to juggle my usual life, my father handed me two neatly-typed packets of information he had saved for over 30 years– the autobiographies he and my mother had written which were included in my brother’s adoption paperwork.  What a gift!  A peek into the hopes & dreams of my young parents, an affirmation of their faith & commitment to family, a testament to their persistence & once again a permanent reminder about how lucky I am to have been a loved & cherished child.  Thank you, Dad.  You rock!
  • 

What are you grateful for today?  Share it with someone you love!

tree of life

the gym. introductory post.

For those readers of mine who have an evil streak, you may have noticed it has gotten a bit colder where you are.  That’s because hell froze over last night– I joined a gym.  Yes, you read that right.  A real gym.  I’m sure pigs are also flying in some part of the world. 

Why is the idea of my joining a gym so unbelievable?  Because I’m an outdoor runner.  Wind in my hair, new things to look at, lots of distractions to keep me from getting bored.  My favorite workouts are times when I’m “Broadway Musical Running.”  Works like this:  I listen to something like “Hand Jive” from Grease or “Jump, Jive & Wail” and run, turn cartwheels, shake my booty, do fancy jumps on and off park benches.  Yes, you’re reading that right– I generally make a fool out of myself in the name of fitness (and in the name of de-stressing and keeping my sanity).  But hey, who cares?  I’ve got my Ipod on and …what?  whaddyou say?  I can’t hear you laugh anyway.  So there.  Hehe.

But last night I came to the realization that I simply have not been putting in the effort needed to make my physical health a priority.  I knew I had to do something drastic if I’m ever to get back to a happy homeostasis.  I’m not skinny, nor do I want to be.  But I used to be able to do this:

trapeze

and this:

silks

and this:

fire butterfly

And that was all fairly recently– like only two years ago!

Lately my workout routine has consisted of weight lifting 27 bags, trying to catch my breath when the walls come crashing down, or crying hysterically at the drop of a hat.  (Which I guess could be some sort of intense interval training… I don’t know… Anyhow, I digress…)

The point of all this is that I took a leap of faith and joined a gym.  It was okay.  The people were cool.  The place has a pool.  It’s close to my house.  And I didn’t die of shame when the trainer calculated my BMI, smiled and said:

“Wow.”

“Wow, what?”

“Well, you don’t look it– I honestly didn’t think it was gonna be that bad.”

*sigh*

(Disclaimer:  He really was a very nice guy, we had a great conversation & tour, and I did sign the papers with very little “selling” involved anyway.)

So this morning at 6:00 am, while it was still dark outside, I was indoors running and secretly peering around the blank TV screen attached to the treadmill, slyly spying on the other gym members to see if they were real people like me.  Turns out, it was okay.  Maybe I’ll actually enjoy this “crazy new kind of workout”  (insert facetious eye roll here) and you just may be hearing more about this “gym” thing in future posts.

… I wonder how those gym folks would respond to “Broadway Stairmaster” …

fire