What Matters


When I was tossing and turning in the middle of the night I managed to doze off and then there he was, standing in front of me was my grandfather.  He looked amazing, so healthy and well.  His skin was smooth and a glowing flesh tone.  He wore a navy blue button down shirt, short sleeved.  He had an easy smile, a peaceful facial expression and he came to tell me that none of my worries mattered.  I didn’t only hear this I actually felt it and I was so grateful to him for this message, so comforted to be with him in my dream.  When he gave me this message I had a vision of this life being made small into a little compartment that I could hold between my thumb and forefinger.  Inside of that little compartment was a lot of noise and chaos and from the outside it was just a small bubble.  Then he reached into his pocket and took out a crumpled zip lock bag.  He reached into the plastic baggie and took out a broken piece of white cracker like a piece of the ones that are given out at Holy Communion services in Christian churches, a broken piece of Eucharist.  My grandfather reached over and put that broken piece of a cracker into my mouth and I chewed down onto it and started crying in my dream until I woke myself up with real tears.  My grandfather passed away 17 years ago and I have not had a dream with him in it for many years.  When he was alive he always wore short sleeved button down shirts.  I miss him very much and I appreciated seeing him in a dream, for a few moments.

Shadows and Sunlight


When I step out of the shower my favorite thing to do is to dig my face into my towel and breath in through my nose. I smell my home, my life, clean, comfort. When I was near the shore I smelled beach, moisture, vacation, humidity. Life is wonderful and heartbreaking, amazing and fleeting.

I’m sitting in a room surrounded by treasured belongings that were once my husband’s aunt’s. The wooden trinkets and books make me feel she is actually here with me. The photo albums I made for her are now here. I can’t read the lines I wrote to her inside of those albums without fighting the sadness away. Holding her antique books makes me want to sit and read every page, touch each leather binding.

All of the special things we accumulate in life; one day they will be left behind. Special and treasured as the keep sakes are, they symbolize our defeated impermanence and the victorious passing of time. I know the glass is half full, none of it escapes me, not the blessings nor the heartaches. Still we are all going to be gone one day and the beautifully bound leather books will be here with the ivory candle sticks and the small wooden horse.

I once visited a friend who was moving into a house that came with all of the belongings of the deceased woman who lived in it prior to my friend purchasing it. The woman who had passed away had no one to claim her belongings, not one living family member or dear friend. My daughter asked if she could keep a few things she liked that day and when I see those things I am reminded of that woman who died alone. That woman’s white and blue painted cookie tin is in our kitchen and when it catches my eye it speaks to me.

“Loss and Possession, Death and Life are one,
There falls no shadow where there shines no sun.”
-Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

Golden Years


I saw some dear lady friends on the beach yesterday. One had her hair styled, short and a sharp blonde color. The other was gray and had bright orange lipstick. One of them had brought a small plastic side table to the beach that they placed between their beach chairs. It held a classic paisley purse and a drink with a straw. One of their beach chairs had the special convertible top that flipped over her head for shade when needed. I could tell from their relaxed posture and mannerism that this was a routine they had been doing for quite some time. I instantly wished that I would have girlfriend days on the beach one day. Maybe my hair would be all gray or maybe I would wear bright orange lipstick. They looked so happy and fabulous. That night I celebrated my parent in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary and many of the friends who were at their wedding attended. I listened to stories about childhood crushes and summer cocktail parties. I couldn’t sleep at night thinking of a lifetime of 60 years, how that must feel and all of the relationships and happenings that filled those years. My husband and I joked that we won’t have a 60th wedding anniversary because of the ages we were when we were married. Sometimes getting old seems like a dreaded slow demise and other times I gaze on it as a golden era. Probably both views are unrealistic but like a little kid in awe of being a big kid I observe elderly years with curiosity and caution. I hope they will be happy and healthy years and I wonder how long this life will last for each of us. “It’s not the length of life, but depth of life” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
What are your thoughts on the “golden years?”

Yawn, Borrrring


I might officially be acting my age.  I didn’t think it would happen since I’ve always felt ten or twenty years behind.  But today’s daily prompt is “what bores you?” and when I let my mind wander to boring things I did not feel annoyed one bit, I felt relaxed.  When I thought of what is boring to me I actually got a small grin at the thought of slow, quiet, dull, boredom.  Maybe I’m heading towards the age when you want to have a rest in the afternoons.  Nap time!  I know I said I am officially acting my age but I am not a napper.  (Fast forward ten years and you’ll find me napping, right?)

Perceptions of age have changed since a couple of generations ago and I was wondering to myself recently what middle age is now.  Sometimes I think I am middle age and other times I think that is a bit of a strong label (denial).  Well, thank you Dictionary.com:

World English Dictionary
middle age
— n
the period of life between youth and old age, usually (in man) considered to occur approximately between the ages of 40 and 60

I guess just like pink is the new black and 40 is the new 30, boring is the new nap time. Bring on the boring, it’s fine with me.  What do I find boring?  I find boring to be very relaxing.  Yawn! -smilingbug

(photo is a screen capture of an image google search for “middle age”)

Missing Someone


A young woman passed away last weekend unexpectedly while having a wonderful day with her family on a nearby lake. I saw her photo in the paper and one of her family members was quoted as saying “We lost our little angel…God took her home at a early age and we will miss her dearly.” I have thought of that family often in these days, have layed in bed thinking of that young lady and her loved ones. In an accident that took a split second, a father lost his daughter and a brother lost his sister, so many lives were changed forever. I thought of their birthdays, weddings, vacations, everything that will come in that family’s lives and how they will be missing her. It’s often said “they are with us in spirit” and I relate to that but it does not make any of the pain go away. Today I sat to look ahead at summer plans with our family and something I have tried not to dwell on is there, staring at me and not letting me evade it any longer. This is the first summer we will visit family and a very special aunt will not be there. Thankfully she lived a long and blessed life but I had thought she would be with us much longer. When my father-in-law wrote me a card after her passing he said that she left some big foot prints. Some people are one of a kind. A while after she was gone someone in the family decided to give me a pair of earrings that I gave to her years ago while we were on a wonderful trip together. (A trip I almost did not take because of the expense, thankfully I went.) She loved those earrings and I don’t think I’m saying that because I gave them to her. They matched her favorite colors well and she wore them often. My heart is conflicted when I look of the earrings now. As we fret over our busy schedules, our full plates and overflowing in boxes, life is going by one day and one month and one year at a time. This aunt did not let life pass by, she picked up the phone, wrote the email, sent the card, made the plans. Plus she did this type of thing with all of her loved ones including dear friends, children of dear friends, long time colleagues, all people she cared for…and there were many of them. Her level of caring was remarkable and don’t get me started on her sharp and clever personality. I only wished I had known her my whole life, she was my aunt by marriage and not for long enough. Part of me doesn’t want to do any of the things we used to do with her because none of it will be the same without her. But life is not about digging your heels in the ground, it’s about acceptance. They say the deceased would want us to celebrate their lives instead of being sad when they leave. Of course she would want us to go to the beach, play at the lake, gather for dinner at sunset. Even if we are missing her silly faces, her perfectly dry sarcasm and how much she cared. I will miss her so much this summer. Last summer as I said good bye she said “Now that you’re leaving I don’t know what I’ll do with myself.” Then she said with a straight face, “I can’t go to lunch with anyone, all of my friends are dead.” I laughed at her and continued to laugh all the way to my gate at the airport. Life is for living, loving, laughing. Thankfully we have this day to live it, to write that note, make that call, smell the rain, watch the clouds, love, laugh. -smilingbug

Older and Wiser

My Dad once told me “getting older is wonderful” (and I wrote about that in a past blog) but I’m starting to think he meant getting wiser is wonderful or getting to the point in your life where you feel on top of your game is wonderful. Jerry Seinfeld’s interview on Howard Stern was rerun recently and he had a refreshing view on aging which I agree with but it also addresses getting wiser and mature but not old in an elderly sense. I’ll paraphrase what he said here: “The war is over… (and) it’s a very nice place to be…
If you’re a little lucky in life you should enjoy getting older because you’re gonna see more. When you’re young you can’t see what’s going on so well. 
When you’re older (…you say) oh I see what’s going on here. 
I love that.” It reminded me of something a friend once told me which was roughly: In your 30’s you’re “am I doing this right?” In your 40’s you’re “I have arrived” and in your 50’s you’re “F–k you.” (a little graphic but you get the point) I believe these concepts are what could be wonderful about getting older. Diane von Furstenberg said in a June 2013 interview with Talk magazine, “Yesterday for lunch I met the most incredible 90-year-old woman…I just thought, Oh, my god, I still have time ahead of me.” -smilingbug


Diane von Furstenberg. Photo by Robyn Twomey.

Remembering Them


There is so much going on each day: we’re laughing, complaining, being silly, working, sending text messages, paying bills, watching shows, running errands, making meals, posting meaningless thoughts on twitter, taking ridiculous photos, cleaning, dancing to our favorite tune. The amount of silly going on here is quite high although we are also working, cleaning, scolding, doing, rushing… like any other busy household. My daughter’s favorite cause is a local children’s cancer organization called Shining Stars. We have their bracelets and totes scattered around and at times I wear a bracelet for a few days and look down at the bold words “CANCER SUCKS” and pray for them, remember what some of them are dealing with while I run to the market or mop the floor. There is so much to do in this life, so many responsibilities, to-do lists and keeping up with day to day living. Then there is all of the fun, the movies, celebrations, family times, lazy days. Meanwhile I think of my friend who lost his battle with cancer and how he didn’t even read the magazines I took to him. No amount of to-do’s or favorite movies could capture his attention, not even food interested him. Do not miss the opportunity to appreciate your ordinary day, seize it and be grateful for it. -smilingbug



I heard a statistic on the radio that said 65% of people are unhappy. On the one hand it seems like a high percentage, on the other it seems understandable. I asked my daughter what she thought about people being unhappy and she said “everyone has a problem.” My sons answer was a word: perspective. Sadly, some people are dealing with unimaginable heartache, stress, pain. But others’ pain is self inflicted or imagined while their lives are generally very good. It’s true that life is filled with struggles and challenges but it is also filled with joys. The Helen Keller quote says it best, “Although life is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” One of my kids told me I had to watch a video about a teenager dying of cancer and how he wrote a song to tell his family what life meant to him. At the beginning, the teenager named Zach says “you don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.” It is said all of the time (carpe diem) but imagine really living each day and each week as if you did not have countless ones left to live. Perhaps it can not truly be captured unless one has looked at death in the face like survivors of near death experiences, cancer or other illnesses. Zach’s song is called Clouds and since I saw this video I look at the clouds in the sky and remember Zach and people like him. There is a time in the video when Zach is overcome with joy and says “it makes me want to keep going.” What an amazing young man. I hope everyone clicks on the link and watches Zach’s story. Life isn’t perfect but appreciate everything exactly as it is right now. Don’t wait to be happy. -smilingbug

My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech
Click here, 22 minutes you’ll cherish.

Don’t Sweep My Feet!


Every time I sweep I think of my Grandma saying “Don’t sweep my feet or else I’ll never get married” each time I swept her workspace at our family business. It was a superstition of hers. She said it every single time anyone was sweeping, without fail. She never worried if it got old or lost its punch. She was married and had been most of her life to my Grandpa. I miss him so much and it’s difficult to believe that he has been gone almost 17 years. It just doesn’t seem I could have lived all of this time without him being near but here we are. Talking with a niece recently about a loved aunt who passed away she told me that she imagined our aunt with all of her friends who were also gone, sipping wine, reading on the beach and enjoying their favorite pleasures. She joked that her warped Catholic view of the afterlife made her feel better about missing our aunt. Atleast she has a vision of the afterlife. I thought and joked to her “I have to work on my warped view of the afterlife” but no matter how I try I can’t make anything of it. I miss those people who are gone. All of the life events that pass, I wonder how this could be going on, day after day and year after year, without them. It’s not possible that they could be absent from these meaningful moments. My daughter says she isn’t afraid of dying but is afraid of losing all of the memories of this lifetime that mean so much to her. We are here for a tiny flash in the scheme of time but we are so attached to this life. A man on PBS talking about mother’s day today said “Dinosaurs were mothering their offsprings 65 million years ago.” How can the scrapbooks and memories of each one of our lives stack up to that? I remember a good friend who was losing a battle for his life saying that he was ok with dying but didn’t want to miss everyone. It breaks my heart and yet it’s a part of life that is as normal as the sun rising and setting each and every day. What I got most from my niece’s conversation about those who have passed was a loud and clear reminder: Appreciate the joys and the highs, count bleasings. -smilingbug