You Never Get it Back

When we arrived, we knew it was bad.  We had rented a cabin site unseen (before the days of the internet) upon the glowing recommendation of the owner.  The water was pungent and yellow, the cleanliness was questionable and the furniture falling apart.  But we gathered as a family around the tree we had hauled up with us.   Mother and father, sister and brothers and in-laws, nine of us, and as the new year turned over we went through the following exercise.

Each person was given the task of writing down on a slip of paper the gifts and talents of the family member next to them.  A father wrote about his son, sharing with everyone things the son had never heard from his father.  A sister shared about her brother, sister-in-law about sister-in-law….and what started as a simple exercise turned into an emotional experience of connection.

Today, two of those family members are gone.  A brother lost to cancer at 40, a father to kidney failure.  How important those words are now.

The family gathered again this past weekend, this time in the mountains.  We laughed about our unfortunate accommodations 13 years ago, but remembered what a powerful moment that was for each of us and how we were so glad we had been deliberate about expressing our thanks and love for each other.  Without that planned exercise, we wouldn’t have had that time or the words from those we deeply miss today.

You never get it back.  That’s what I was thinking as we drove home today.

There is no second chance, no “later” or next year.    All you have is right now.  We need to treasure those we care about, gift them with our time, our words and our presence.  This is my personal challenge, and I share it with you.

Give the gift of time.  Time is extremely precious to each of us.  There is only so much of it in a day and our day is full before we even start.  For many people it is often easier to give money than time.  Set aside time for those you care about.  Be deliberate about it.  Pencil it in.

Give the gift of words.  It is so rare that we tell someone why we appreciate them.  We sign a card with our name but neglect to write in our own hand a few lines about why that person is important to us.  We say “I love you” but forget to tell that person what it is about them that we love.  Write it down.  The words are precious and one day may be even more so.

Give the gift of presence.  Sometimes all another person needs is for you to be there.  Not to say anything, just be present.  Human contact and connection.  Relationship and link.

Take the time, be deliberate. All you have is today…and you never get it back.

Changing Gears

Today I just couldn’t let go of my day. Changing gears was alluding me. I had rushed out of work, picked up my boys (late), and raced home. We had activities to get to, dinner to prepare, homework, chores to get done…

My boys needed attention, and I didn’t have it.  What I had was the adrenaline from my day and a patient stuck in my head that I couldn’t let go of.  I was irritable with my boys and I knew it.  I needed to shake off the feelings and be present to them.

I tried blasting music from my iPod, texting with a friend, preparing dinner….nada.  I was preoccupied, lacking in patience, craving quiet, on edge, and yes, prone to tears.  I finally had to stop and think….this isn’t working.  What do I need?  How do I let go and bring myself home where I needed to be?

My behaviour reminded me of my boys at times when they come home from a full day and are just as irritable.  They have trouble changing gears. They are wound up, out of sorts, on edge… What works for them?  How do I bring them back to the present, switch gears, connect back to the family.

I have a little ritual I do with them.  I say to one of them, “Hmmm…I think you forgot something today…” And I tap my index finger on my lips.  They immediately come over for a kiss and I wrap my arms around them and just hold them awhile.  Works every time.

With that came the realization that it is exactly what I need as well. At the end of the day instead of rushing to the hockey rink or the piano or to the myriad of other things that need to be “done”, to pause for a moment, wrap my arms around those I love and sink into the change.

So I went to each of my sons and one at a time placed my hands on their face, told them that I missed them today and kissed their little upturned faces…..and got a hug..times three.

And the gears started shifting….

All I Want for Christmas…

Gratitude.  It was top of my list for Christmas this year.  To feel more grateful for the life I have, to not need more, to feel settled and ultimately at peace.  So while I sit in my quiet house, the chaos of the day having quieted down, the gifts I have asked for have arrived.

Flickr shared by Wolfsavard

The past two months I have had several close friends suffer serious health problems.  All of them went from lives busy with work, kids activities, holiday plans….  then everything in their lives suddenly came to a grinding halt.  When your health fails, that’s all that’s on the plate.  So, I am grateful for my health;  so far my life continues as is, and I wish to not take that for granted.

Working in the inner city once more this week reminded me of how grateful I am for my parents.  I am fortunate that they had no drug or alcohol addiction, no mental health issues or extreme  poverty.  They managed to make things work and keep our family functional and enriched.  It allowed me to develop and grow and have a “normal” childhood, unlike so many in our city.

I am grateful for my education.  My parents somehow instilled in us the importance of furthering our education.  It was not an option for us to learn, our only choice was what to learn about.  It continues to lead me in my career and to passing on that value to my own children.

Lastly, my gratitude falls to those who are closest to me.  There are people in my life who know the good in me and also the not so good in me….yet still choose to love me.  They are the ones who make life beautiful.  You know who you are.

Merry Christmas