Art That Warms the Heart

What I miss most right now is sharing art time with my granddaughters. These creations are the work of seven-year-old Sloane.

(For Cee’s On The Hunt For Joy: Let kids decorate.)

Set a time limit on negativity.

“Joy needs room to breathe.” Dr Andra is my hero today. Her words are on point.

Thriving Under Pressure

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

The timer principle can also…

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Do Grandchildren Prolong Life?

CheekyAuggieA recent Facebook post suggested that babysitting contributes to prolonged life for grandparents.  Given how exhausted I am after spending time with my granddaughters, I find that hard to believe, and yet… there is an undeniable glow that lingers for days every time I am exposed to those precious little souls.

“You spend all of your parenting time trying to calm your kids down, just so you can wind them up when you’re a grandparent,”  I told my son-in-law, after having hidden in the bathroom waiting to pounce on the two older girls, chasing through the house.  My ruse was so effective, I even managed to scare my daughter.

“You always wind them up, Mom!”

A grandmother’s prerogative.

I can’t seem to hug, cuddle, or coddle them enough, and at six, five, and a year and a half, they seem happy to let me.  I love it.

FloppedFinnIf grandchildren help us live longer, it is because they reawaken aspects of ourselves we may have long forgotten.

Finn, now in Grade One, is outgoing, fearless, and a total goof.  With her silly dance moves, and repertoire of different accents, she reminds me of a younger me – I was known for my imitations of Lily Tomlin.

Sloane, at five, is much more sensitive, and girly.  From infancy, she has been a giggler, and it seems she and I just have to look at each other to set the laughter in motion.  She is inquisitive, and always wants me to tell her stories.  I get the best hugs from Sloane.Sloane Colouring

August, born a year ago May, is not talking yet, but her communication skills are unquestionable.  If I’m in the room, Grandma is where she wants to be, her chubby little fingers grasping mine as she pulls me around.   Life for her, is nonstop exploration, and she is a little sponge, learning from it all.

My grandchildren give me love, unconditional, and remind me that life is precious, and that joy is never out of reach.

Maybe they are helping me live longer, after all.

(All photos from my personal collection.)

 

Yellow Swirls of Love

Wearing a bright yellow taffeta dress, a sash of satin ribbons at the waist and flowing with swirling layers, my granddaughter arrives for the movie.  We’ve been trying to get in to see Beauty and the Beast for weeks now and finally secured tickets.  th

“Well look at you!” I exclaim, arms open to receive her in a big hug.  On her feet are pink, tasselled moccasins – a Christmas gift from yours truly.  Her thin blonde hair, caked with the oil her mother must apply everyday to control eczema, is pulled back into a tiny braid.

Small for her age, my four-year-old granddaughter makes up for it in presence.  She seldom stops moving, hopping about in excitement.

“Popcorn! Popcorn!”

It’s 9:30 in the morning, but her mom obligingly lines up to make the experience complete.

We’ve come to the theater with lazy boy chairs, an innovation that has made movie-going accessible for people like me (if only they’d turn down the volume).  Armed with our treats, we settle into our assigned seats and await the movie.

images.jpg“She had to dress like Belle,” her mother explains.  I hadn’t seen the dress before, but seemingly she has a closet full of hand-me-down dresses, barely worn by their predecessors.  Sloane refuses to wear anything but dresses.

As the movie starts, she whispers that if it gets too scary, she’ll hold my hand.  She’s not afraid of anything, she tells me, but is concerned that I might be, and it’s an offer I am certain to take advantage of often.

When Belle appears, Sloane is quick to point out that they both have braids.  She is glued to the story, and only at the end when Gaston is threatening to kill Beast does she show fear.  I remind her that the Beast is strong and will survive.  She repeats what I say to reassure herself.

After, I ask her which part she liked the best.  Without hesitation she answers:

“All the parts, Grandma!”  Her blue eyes are wide, as if to say:  How could you ask such a silly question.

“Did you enjoy the movie?”  My husband asks on the way home.  th-2.jpg

“Very much so,” I answer thinking about my favourite part:  the tiny hand that held mine making sure I wasn’t too afraid.

 

Lessons From Ballroom Dancing

Early on in our relationship, Ric and I signed up for ballroom dancing classes. It was a small class for beginners, so we thought it might be a good fit; both of us loved to dance.

“I’m not very good at letting someone else take the lead,”  I confessed on the first night.th-2

“In dancing, you have to let your partner lead or it won’t work.”  The fiery red-headed female instructor chastised me.  “At the same time, if you do not clearly communicate what you expect of your counterpart, you will fail,” Lula told Ric.  “Dancing requires that you are in sync with one another.”

Not wanting to be marked out every class, we made notes about the steps we were learning and went home to practice in between sessions, but Ric was not always able to attend due to Monday night council meetings.

“Ric had to work tonight, so he couldn’t make it.  I hope it’s alright that I’m here alone.”

“Of course,” the male instructor, Rod, advised me, “I know what it’s like when you drive long haul.  Must be hard that he’s away all the time.”

I opened my mouth to respond, and then shut it.  Somehow, this couple thought that Ric drove truck and I wasn’t about to correct them.  Ric and I laughed about it later and decided not to say anything.  Besides, we were there for fun, and this added to the moodth-5

The lessons were progressing well, and we’d even started attending local dances, so we decided to sign up for the second level.  These classes were much more serious than the first set.  Now that we had basic steps down pat, the instructors were focused on fine-tuning our technique.

“Try not to flap your wings,” Rod said tapping Ric on the shoulders during a waltz.

It was true – Ric was flapping.  Neither of us had noticed before, but now that Rod pointed it out, we couldn’t stop noticing and for some reason, I found it ridiculously funny.

“Quit flapping,” I’d call out as he twirled us around the floor.  I laughed so hard at one point that I had to run from the dance floor before I had an accident.  th-3

Lula and Rod were not impressed.  They started to give us the cold shoulder, disapproving of how lightly we were taking their efforts.  We didn’t sign up for the next round, but we continued to dance until knee surgeries slowed us down.

When ME/CFS struck me down, dancing seemed like a thing of the past.  Then last fall, Ric took me on a cruise.  He carefully planned out how to get me there – breaking the travel into three days either side of the cruise allowing for me to recuperate along the way.  On board, he rented me a motorized scooter so that I could get out of the room.

“My goal for this trip is that you and I have one more dance,” he told me.

I had my doubts, but midway through the two-week excursion, I knew the time had come.  “Let’s go find the music.”

Only a handful of couples were in the club on the top floor of the ship.  The night was young, and most people were still dining, but a live band was playing as if the room was full, and when we heard a familiar tune strike up, I nodded that I was ready.

Ric helped me onto the dance floor and gently took the lead, and I gratefully followed. We only made it through a few steps before my energy gave out, but we lingered on the dance floor as long as we could, holding each other and reminiscing.th-1

We learned a lot from structured dancing lessons.  I discovered that letting someone else take the lead isn’t about losing control as I’d always feared.  In relationship, we both take turns leading and as long as we are clear in our expectations, it usually works out for the best.  Relationship is, after all, not unlike a dance.

We both came to appreciate that it didn’t matter who others thought we were, as long as we knew ourselves.  In fact, it didn’t matter what others thought of us, because we weren’t there to impress; we were there to enjoy each other.  Life doesn’t always have to be a competition.

Perhaps the best part of ballroom dancing, for us as a couple, was the laughter.  We were able to let loose and have good clean fun.

Lastly, even when it seemed that life had given up on us, and dancing was a thing of the past, we did it anyway.