Reinvention and resilence

“Get your ducks in a row,” the polished silver haired woman seated before me advised.

A few months after my husband Richard passed away from dementia, and a year after my Mom did the same, I thought I better see a grief counselor.

“Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?” I’d asked myself one night in the mirror.

Previously I’d attended a group session for family members of those who’d passed while in hospice, but I left feeling worse then when I went in.

I no longer needed to share my tears and grief over Mom and Richard, but instead wanted to move on with my life. After a decade of caregiving responsibilities related to memory loss for both of my parents and my spouse, I was ready.

Yet I was still mourning what I saw as the loss of ten years of my life.

I felt I’d gone from middle aged to old with the snap of an arthritic finger.

So as I sat with this wise woman before me for my two sessions, I took her advice to heart.

I knew I wasn’t getting any younger, but getting my affairs in order so I could fully enjoy the rest of my days made good sense.

As I sat down by the lake this morning watching sailboats and the family of happy ducks before me, I reflected on the changes I’ve made in the last eight months.

I’ve swapped both houses and communities.

I retired early from my corporate career, and I’m now working in the non profit sector with children.

And I believe I am at peace.

Sharing a muffin with the ducks, I thought too of a former co-worker from my corporate days who experienced rough patches in her own life. She is now an accomplished and very talented poet.

I believe she’s very content and proud of a new book she just published that I finished earlier this morning.

She should be.

And I thought again of contentment as I greeted another former co-employee later at the farmers’ market, a few blocks up from the the lake.

This bright fellow’s become a farmer.

It was an unplanned lifestyle change, starkly different from his corporate life in the city, but it seems to agree with him.

Buying a bunch of red radishes from my friend, my eye caught a basket of colorful notecards with photos he’d taken on his beautiful farm.

An expression of pride immediately spread across his face as I selected the shot of a cheerful and smiling pig to send to an ailing friend.

“You know, these aren’t at all easy to capture on a pig’s face,” he told me, smiling wide as well.

After I left I was thinking how different ships come in during the course of our lives as we venture to different ports of call.

And we always encounter storms along the way.

But in the end, perhaps what provides us peaceful passage may just be those very smiles we give and receive.


Two bright faces were staring me down from a shop window early this morning.

I like to think they were smiling.

Though I’m not quite sure as those faces belong to the felines residing in an animal friendly children’s bookstore down the road.

Still the title of the book behind them shouted out the word “Hooray” enthusiastically.

I did too, though luckily no one was within ear shot.

It was 7am and I’d made the short trip to a neighborhood by the lake for a quick walk and to practice driving the black car that now sits in my driveway every evening.

My red Subaru is currently in a body shop as I was hit from behind on the freeway two nights ago.

And though I was stunned and a bit speechless at the time, today I celebrate that all is well.

I’m substituting yoga poses this Saturday for yellow parrot roses found while walking past ivy covered homes.

One place catches my attention with wind chimes dancing on the upper porch creating duets with the meditation music blooming within.

Once I arrive at the bird sanctuary right next to the lake, I discover something new.

But as I turn, I realize it’s really something quite old.

And appropriately labeled a “Garden of Peace”.

I notice that just beyond there are hundreds of tulips and a scattering of ornate fountains.

You can’t buy a gift as beautiful, I mumble in awe.

I linger a little longer and consider even if the days ahead might be costly ones, I’m so rich with the gift of good health this day.

“Hooray!” I say again as a young jogger turns her head, and laughs running by.

Before I leave my visit to the garden and the lake, I receive one final gift.

It’s the words I see carved into a sun dial that read: “Count only the sunny days”.

Sounds like my optimistic mother, I’m thinking as I look up at the blue sky smiling back down on me this Mother’s Day Eve.

“Oh, you can count on it”, I whisper and nod before skipping on back to the car.


I slept on my living room floor last night. I am in the process of moving and my bed is gone, along with the rest of the furniture.

The dogs have been a little confused with the changes

In looking for their favorite couch yesterday, they circled the perimeter of the den then found a new sunny location below a window that satisfied them.

Later in the evening, Tucker the terrier, tried to find my bed. He’s insisted on sleeping at the foot of it, since joining me from a rescue group 6 years ago.

Tucker inquisitively marched up and down the hall with his favorite squeaky toy, looking for his usual place of rest.

But within a minute, he found me cocooned in a corner of the living room with an old bedspread and pillow.

He immediately nestled in by my feet and started to snore, as he always does. The other dogs did the same.

It gave me comfort to see how resilient dogs can be to change.

And so it seems, are we.

Crazy Days

It’s our annual Crazy Days celebration in town this weekend.

Every year shop owners set off their own brand of fireworks to get locals excited about their bargain goods and festivities.

It seems the shop owners have once again outdone themselves.

It started with the shrill sounds of tornado sirens at midnight on Friday.

One loud wake up call for sure.

I quickly grabbed chi-doxie Grandma Greta in one arm and my lame corgi Maddie in the other. And in spite of the 20 pound weight imbalance, we traveled down the basement stairs in record time.

We’ve got this routine down.

Except for Tucker the terrier who kept running back up to view the light show.

Lucky for us, we dodged a bullet. My troop of 100 foot oaks and elms held their salutes proudly in this latest battle.

Though my neighbor took a hit.

And so went the power for me and the rest of the area.

Those retailers are sure clever.

All the parking spots in town were full extra early Saturday as the weary and powerless stumbled up and down main street in search of caffeine and cake donuts.

I was one of them.

Eventually I found on a spot with the super fuel I desperately needed. Then climbing the hill up to the library with my steaming tumbler, I settled in on a bench to ponder next steps on my to do list:

1. Contact insurance agent about hail damage on roof and siding from storm attack two weeks ago.
2. Get in line for additional tree trimming before next battle.
2. Research post traumatic tree disorder from previous battles lost.
3. Look at local realtor’s cozy condo/fortress listings just for fun.
3. Conduct full risk assessment on how to successfully weather life’s future twists and twisters.

Savoring each sip of brew and smelling sweet scents of flowers surrounding me, I finally relaxed after finishing my list.

Then I looked up and admired the lone sailboat peacefully sailing in the lake down below.

I smiled.

Sure, these may be crazy days.

And I’m no lumberjack, but I’ll always be ok.