“Home” for the Holidays

What was happening? Describe the circumstances.  During the week between Christmas and New Years I was sitting around the table in the evening after dinner with my husband, our children and their spouses with the young grandchildren playing in the background. Nothing profound was being said, just reliving the same old stories and memories of years gone by.

How did it feel? I felt so complete like the proverbial chicken with her chicks gathered around her. Wholeness. At home. Peaceful. Contentment. The word “happy” is so overused and hardly means anything anymore but I felt truly happy.

What meaning do I give it? Coming from a family where I was the only child I have always longed for a connection with family members–to be a part of something larger. Also, having lost a daughter, I had the feeling that my remaining children and their families were all safe at that moment–I couldn’t ask for more.

What did I choose to do with the energy? What happened? I was so filled with emotion that I wanted to share my feelings with the family gathered around me. I tried to explain to them how happy I felt at that moment and how they were each and every one of them part of that moment. Unfortunately, I think my grateful tears left them uncomfortable and eye rolling at Mom’s mushiness!

–Gathering wisdom. What you learned about yourself.  Nothing really new. The experience just confirmed what I already knew about the importance of family and connection in my life.

–What did you do in response? After gathering my composure, I reminded myself that their response wasn’t important nor did it minimize my feelings. They are young. They’ll get it sometime later in life and hopefully will look back with fondness at that too. What was important was that I tucked that frame in time into my memory, which brought to mind the several times in Scripture where it is said of Mary, “…and she kept these things in her heart,” which also brought the connection I so long for.

Lunar eclipse

What was happening? I went up to the 6th story rooftop terrace of our condo to watch the recent lunar eclipse.

How did it feel in my body? It was exhilarating and solemn at the same time. I was in total awe of the universe and it’s Maker. I was aware of only the sky and myself. It made me realize how limited our vocabulary is because there is really no word to describe the wonder of it all. The order of it all. How everything was perfectly aligned, literally, to make this event happen. And I also felt so small in the vast darkness I was experiencing but at the same time I felt like part of it all.

What meaning did I give to it? It was a reminder to me how big our Creator is. If he/she can do things like orchestrate a breath-taking eclipse, surely he can help me with much more mundane things in my life. It made me thankful that I am part of the big beautiful universe—so much more than anything manmade. It also reminded me to savor sacred moments such as this to pull out and ponder when things get rough.

What did I choose to do with the energy? And what happened? I chose to “just be” in that moment. Just me and the universe! And the more I did that, the more in awe I was and appreciative for experiencing those moments of grace.

Gathering wisdom: I was reminded of how much I truly enjoy nature and how much it recharges me. Looking back I’m also thankful that I was “nudged” by the Spirit to go up to the roof since it was 6 flights up that I had to walk and I was ready to talk myself out of it. I need to honor those kind of promptings.

What do I choose to do now in response to my learning? I need to make time not only at my leisure but especially during stress to focus on the wonder of things in nature.

Overwhelmed, anxious then relieved, peaceful

  1. What was happening? I began my day by checking my calendar book to see what activities I had planned for that day. Instead of focusing on just that I looked over to the previous few days “unfinished business” and became overwhelmed. Chores, errands, phone calls to make, bills to pay…the list seemed endless…and I seemed so far behind.
  2. How did it feel in my body? I felt tightly wound, almost shaking. It felt like I was a hamster on a wheel—running and running and getting nowhere before I could even start.
  3. What meaning do I give it? I am project oriented probably because I like to be in control and I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when the project is done. Seeing all of these unfinished tasks on paper made me feel overwhelmed, unaccomplished, worthless, like a failure.
  4. What did I choose to do with the energy and what happened? Being as overwhelmed as I was I couldn’t even focus on where to begin and although it seemed totally counterproductive, I decided to take a walk on a nearby nature trail. I began the walk very uptight, asking myself what was I doing here with so much waiting for me to do at home. As I continued on the walk I started to let go of that and enjoy the beauty around me. I started to BREATHE again. It felt as though my tension was actually leaving my body down my arms and through my fingertips.
  5. Gathering wisdom: I think I was given the message in childhood that the more you do/accomplish, the better person you are. (I am valued for what I do, rather than for the person I am.) Although as an adult I know better than this, that thinking is still a part of me.
  6. What do I choose to do now in respect to my learning? I need to remember to balance “always doing” with “just being,” have more realistic expectations of what I can do in a period of time and know my limits.

Exhilaration, Peace

  1. What was happening? I was driving over the causeway to Sanibel Island (my favorite place in the world!)
  1. How did it/does it feel in my body (then and/or now)? It felt exhilarating as I was moving from the mainland to the island, looking over where the Caloosahatchee River and the Gulf of Mexico meet. All of my senses were heightened. I could feel the warm sun and gentle breeze move over me as I drove across the bridge. I could hear the sea birds welcoming me to the island. I could see the beauty of God’s creation above and below me. I could taste the sea air. I could smell the freshness of life. I felt exhilarated and at peace all at the same time. It felt like I was “coming home” and so grateful to be there.
  1. What meaning did I/do I give to it? I think it was a reminder for me of how life is meant to be. Something joyful and naturally comfortable and taken in to the fullest.
  1. What did I choose to do with this energy? And what happened? I chose to spend the day in complete attention and mindfulness of my place in the beautiful sanctuary of this island. The more attentive I was, the more I was aware of all that surrounded me and how blessed I was to be a part of it.
  1. Gathering wisdom: The experience reinforced what I already knew but forget constantly—that I was made to be in the moment and enjoy all life has to offer NOW. I am not meant to be worrying constantly about what might happen or could happen. Doing so blinds me to all the miracles (large and small) that are happening at any given moment.
  1. What do I choose to do now in response to my learning? To try harder to be in the present, without worrying about what waits around the corner, in order to take in all the blessings life has to offer. I will try to use a mantra/word (Sanibel?) to bring me back to the present when my mind starts to race with worry.


Helplessness, Frustration, Fear

  1. What was happening? I found out that our 19 year old granddaughter moved out of the safety of a maternity home with her baby into the home of a much older male “friend” just 10 days short of moving into independent housing arranged through the home.
  2. How did it/does it feel in my body (then and/or now.) I felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness especially since she lives 300 miles away and there was nothing I could do at that point to stop her. I felt frustration because she didn’t listen to any of my “words of wisdom” or take/appreciate all the help those who love her offered. I also felt fear for what the final outcome will be since her mom, our daughter, made similar choices years before and the outcome wasn’t good. I feel a knot in the core of my being and I want to literally scream to release that tension.
  3. What meaning did I/do I give to it? I know my feelings and reactions all go back to our daughter mentioned above. Watching the entire situation unfold is reliving what we went through years ago with our now deceased daughter. The similarities are uncanny. Déjà vu.
  4. What did I choose to do with the energy?…and what happened? I tried to center myself with deep breathing and prayer. I reminded myself that I am not in control of the situation (so hard for me) and that I can’t force her to accept the help she needs. I remind myself that she is not my daughter and the outcome may be different.
  5. Gathering wisdom: I am learning (slowly!) that I am not in control of everything around me. I cannot fix everything bad that happens to those I love. I do not need to feel guilty because I can’t fix these things. That part is a relief! I am reminded that when I fall back into this habit of thinking I can control all things, I am playing God and that is something I don’t want to do! This is an ongoing learning process for me but I am pleased that when I step back and look at a situation such as this at least I am aware and can identify what’s going on.
  6. What do I choose to do now in response to my learning? I can still offer her advice but I need to accept that she may chose not to take it. I also need to accept that she will make mistakes and that she needs my unconditional love and support in order to keep the lines of communication open.