Grandma’s hands

These are my grandmother’s hands. I’d like to tell you about them.

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This summer, I have taken the drive to visit my grandparents during frequent intervals in order to help them out and give my grandma a haircut. I’m not very good at it, but she can’t tell me that anymore, so I do it anyway. It helps out Grandpa, and the nurse that comes in to help them always raves about how great the new haircut is, so that’s good enough. Even though I am nervous every time. Hair grows back, right?

But let me tell you about my grandmother’s hands. These hands picked and shelled peas and snapped beans to fill jars destined for the canner. These hands served lunch to hundreds of school kids (the rolls were amazing!). These hands made one heck of a “squamwich,” taught me how to embroider (while never giving up on me), and thumped my head with a thimble when I got too rambunctious under her quilt.  These hands were never still! When she was sick, or resting, they’d tie knots in all of the quilt strings. When she was listening to conference or the radio, these hands would knit bandages for foreign aide. When she was talking on the phone, these hands did crossword puzzles and doodled on any paper available. Especially little swirly flowers. Those were her favorite. Even eating dinner, grandma would run her hands over the tablecloth texture or across her buttons under the table. If there was absolutely nothing else for her hands to do, grandma would resort to twiddling her thumbs.

Grandma’s hands cut out cute sayings and glued them to magnets for her magnet board. They bought magnets from all the places Grandma visited. These hands gave hugs that always made you feel loved and wanted. These hands sent secret messages when no one was looking. If she caught you at something, she’d rub one pointer finger down the pointer and index from the other hand. It was grandma’s way of saying “shame shame” when she didn’t want the grownups to hear she’d caught us. She’d also rub her thumb across the pads of her first two fingers to show  mock sympathy (“this is the world’s smallest violin”) Grandma’s hands would even laugh when she laughed, resting across her tummy and jiggling when her grandkids would so something funny and clever. Her hands were connected to relief society arms, which always made her embarrassed, but gave much better hugs.

One time, these hands threw a fork at me in a restaurant! We were teasing my grandpa about fliping food in a restaurant, and grandma’s hands slipped! That fork ended up right in my chin.

Oh, and these hands threw away all the skip cards in every new deck of phase 10 cards Grandpa would buy! She hated the skips. She said they weren’t good for anyone! The person playing them had to get rid of a card, the person being skipped didn’t get a turn, and the person at the other end of the skip couldn’t pick up a card to keep playing.

Now these hands have a lot less to do. Grandma doesn’t say much anymore. Grandma doesn’t do too much, either. Unless reading the same Friend magazine or watching the same rotation of pictures in hr digital picture frame count. Grandma’s hands can barely feed herself breakfast. But They’re still Grandma’s… They still twiddle or feel the texture of the tablecloth. They still jiggle when you make her laugh. Some things don’t change with age.

 

see her hand feeling the tablecloth?

 

Grandpa gets pretty tired lately. It’s hard to make up the difference of all that those hands used to  do. I am so glad I get to go “help out,” because it lets me reminisce in what life was like with this bubbly old lady, her jolly husband, and her hands.

I love you Grandma.

Just One Day at a Time

Did you know some people have simple lives? Really! I mean, I’ve heard of those people: the people who only have one thing going on in their life at one time.

Well, those people aren’t me. And apparently they aren’t Ranger, either. There is SO MUCH. It’s not all tragedy after tragedy. It’s actually all good right now (I say ‘right now’ with crossed fingers). We FINALLY have so much direction and so many answers to all the questions of 2013, that my head is left spinning. I wish I had the liberty of posting everything in my heart and every cog I’ve got spinning. I’m dying to tell someone, and the blog is a good place for that. But then, what if a certain “my-life-goal-is-to-be-Keira’s-monkey-wrench-in-the-machine” person finds the information?

I’ve calculated. I have 10 “machines” rolling at once, all with 10,000 “cogs” and “pieces” that I’m trying to get lined up correctly.

Cogs 1
source: Tim Green aka atoach, Flickr
  • The private school front is coming along, but just coming along and not blowing me away. I’ve still got to find students. And a location. I’m searching, but something’s just not right. A piece is missing.
  • I’m registered to take a few classes soon at a local college. I feel that these select classes will give me the missing pieces I need for starting a private school.
  • There is progress to the “my ex is a jerk” machine. But it’s slower than I wish. Naturally.
  • There is progress to the “I inherited a mortgage” machine (which I haven’t even mentioned! It’s been a headache. I just have to tread lightly because there is so much family involved, and relationships are more important than convenience).
  • My garden is started. I’ll write a separate post on that.
  • I’ve got a ton of nursery lessons I intended to blog and haven’t yet.
  • I am determined to deal with this major paper-mess next to my computer. It’s unruly. Most of it is anecdotal or cool quotes. I’ve been adding them to Tumblr, because then I don’t have to keep a paper around. It’s working… but slowly… much too slowly.
  • My house is so full of stuff, and I’ve been telling myself I’ll have a yard sale for about a year now… and then it snowed and I said I’d sell it online. And now spring’s almost here and I am telling myself I’ll just throw one big yard sale all at once. And the stuff is still here… I keep saying I’ll just de-clutter my house first. and that starts with the papers. and that’s a slow process. Especially because my penmanship wasn’t always delicate and pretty.
  • I’m behind on making baby quilts for my ward, and there’s a baby due in the ward next month! AHHH! Must unbury [why does that word look so funny?] the sewing machine. I tell myself I’ll yard sale stuff first… You see my thought-breakdown here, don’t you?
  • There is progress on the fertility front. We finally found a doctor with good vibes. Seriously. That pretty much sums it up. We’ve visited with 4 doctors over the past year. We’ve exchanged info between us and doctors in much larger, much further-away towns. And we just barely found one we liked. And he’s right down the street. Go figure. I can’t explain it, but I want to try… It’s like, with all the other doctors, I was just some case-study. They plugged numbers into formulas. They ran tests. That was it. This doctor… If spirits hugged while bodies kept proper distance, it might come close to describing the situation. On the outside, everything was business and question/answer discussion. On the inside, I was a potential-mother of a child of God and he was put in place to help that happen. That’s what his countenance said. He is a man that reverences parenthood and somehow knows what a soul needs to be okay. Also, he left us in the drivers’ seat. All the other doctors tried to make this their drive, their project. He wants to make it ours. He gave us all the facts, but then said he’d help however we wanted. A plan came pretty easily.

2013 Review

In an effort to close old things in order to better open new things, I was looking over my journals and old papers from last year. It’s amazing what hindsight does for clarity. Last year was soooo frustrating! I was spinning my wheels in the mud for an entire year! And now I’m looking  back at the goals I made last year, and over my nasty court battle with my ex. I am amazed at what I’ve gained.

Last year, I was timid, scared, and hoping. This year, I’m confident, patient (okay, more patient), and determined.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

Last year I was a tiny seedling screaming for justice. This year I’m a massive oak, standing firm while winds try to stir me.

Last year, the slightest breeze sent me swerving. This year, gales of wind don’t make me bend.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Last year, the slightest flaw in my diet, my mentality, or my day-to-day life, and I’d have to pick up the pieces of my tumbling tower of strength. This year, I’m in control of my fate. This year, I’m placing the stones.

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

For the first time in my mortal existence, though I don’t know exactly when it happened, I am my own strength.I guess  I feel like I have a wider base, a higher center of gravity. I have gained so much strength! Last year, I let so many outside forces crush me. I had less control and less serenity.I think if I’ve mastered one skill over the last year, it would be that: SERENITY. And by golly, that’s a worthwhile skill! And one I wasn’t even looking for. It was the exact skill I needed, though.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

I can’t get over how much I needed last year. I needed one exhausting year of pushing against a mountain in order to know my own strength. The mountain never moved, but now I am strong enough to make my own mountains.

When my court battle was over, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t see any benefit. But when it ended, I asked my lawyer, “what now?” and she said something that I think back on now and know she spoke truth. She told me she was proud of how much I’d come into my own, and how she didn’t think I’d let anything stop me. I looked back on all the old paperwork the other day, and all the stuff from the most recent endeavor this morning. It’s amazing how much I’ve changed. I think of all the turmoil of emotions I experienced then, and if I were to do it all now, I’d be much calmer. I’d be solid. And a judge would be able to see that. Since that court date, I think about all the bull my ex has pulled. Some of it I let slide. I just add it up. Other stuff, I smile to myself and say nice try. I don’t react any more. I learned how to use his “use-y-ness” against him. I learned to give no reaction. Except a smile. I’m grateful to have learned that skill. I’m also grateful to know that I am worth more than any outside force tries to tell me. I have the power to do what is right, what is needed. And I can use my assets to achieve it. I feel free from the clutches of my ex like never before. The last chains of control are off. The statement that it takes just as long to get out of trouble as it did to get into trouble is apparently true. But the chains were deeper than just court cases. They were locking up my mentality and my emotions. And now… I’m free to feel how I want and what I want. It’s been such a blessing with my daughter and with my husband. It’s also helped me have stronger relationships with my friends and even acquaintances. because I’m allowed to have boundaries now.

But I’m stronger than even that! Last year, I spent so much time so sick! I had to work my way out of every second of illness. It was like climbing a rock-faced pit. Sometimes I’d fall down and have to start all over. I just wanted to be at the top. I just wanted to be all better. No more food-allergies. No more weak moments of eating garbage and then paying for it later. I was so frustrated that people, especially friends and family, didn’t understand what processed food was doing to me! I would let down my boundaries just to keep the peace, then feel sick, berate myself for eating garbage just to please everyone, and then do the whole fiasco again. But then a glorious thing happened. I cut ties. I told the loudest nay-sayers in my life that I deserved better treatment. When they responded and proved that their status-quo was more important than my well-being, I both knew where I stood and that I was enough with or without their approval. I didn’t talk to some for quite a while. When I started a relationship up again, it was on my terms. Can I just say, that was amazing! I’ve learned that toxic people are not necessary in my life. I’ve learned that I don’t have to solve problems for people who don’t care about me for me. I have also learned that people can try to tell you how to run your life, but you don’t have to listen.

I’ve watched my husband experience many of the same lessons, if a bit grudgingly, at times. I’ve watched him grow right along with me. We can grow together, now, instead of just growing individually. It’s so interesting to look back on life… In my past marriage, we grew colder and further apart. The more time went on, the weaker our marriage was. But with Ranger, the longer we’re married, the stronger we are. The stronger our feelings are. I’m so blessed to have this experience of marriage and love.

And all this from a year that I really didn’t like very much.

Invictus by William Earnest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

That Time I was Mad at God

This post is for my friend. It’s taken some time to write because I needed time to think about it and then forgot to come back and write it. I never forgot about her question, just never at a place to sit down and share my thoughts.

There once was a time that I was so mad at God at how my life was turning out. I felt so guilty for being mad at Him, so I’d berate myself constantly. God doesn’t do anything wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done everything I needed to with the resources he gave me. I’d attended all my meetings, I’d fulfilled my callings, I’d kept his commandments. And still things weren’t going my way; instead they were getting much much worse. Almost daily. Family relations were tight. Finances were tight. I kept getting sick.  Nothing seemed to be going right. And I was exhausted.Finally, one day I just gave up. I went for a run to clear my head and the whole time I mentally screamed at God. Full on chewed him out. Told him repeatedly it wasn’t fair and how dare He and that he must not love me at all. Seriously. Stuff we’d be furious our kids said to us. But that’s how I felt. I then sobbingly told him everything I felt was unfair (the perks to running in a small  town: no one sees you bawling in the middle of your run). Just let it all out. And let the shame of my anger go with it. It seemed so shameful to chew out Deity. I wasn’t allowed to chew out my parents, and this was GOD! Totally inappropriate, right?

redrun

Actually, I don’t think it was. Here’s why.

When I had finally calmed down and just bawled while I ran and got it all out, I had a perfect thought pop into my head.

“I am so glad you finally got that all out. Now we can talk.”

bluerun

God doesn’t need shame. Me chewing him out doesn’t make him less of a deity. In fact, I felt such peace and serenity after getting it all out, like I could finally accept Him as deity. It felt like God was saying “I’m so  glad you finally decided to come to me so we can talk about this! I’ve been waiting. I know you’ve been feeling like life isn’t fair. I’m so sorry you’re hurting so badly. But I can’t help you until you’re ready. I’m so glad you’re finally ready to be with me again. I miss you when you distance yourself.” God loves me so much, he just needed me to come to him with how I really felt. But I was so embarrassed that I was mad at God that I distanced myself from Him. Not openly, but emotionally. Shame kept me from coming to God with my frustrations.

What an amazing parent! To rejoice in my anger because it could bring me back to Him. I learned a lot about shame that day. And parenting. And love. And God. He and I still have some trust issues to work out, I’m not denying that. But He’s waiting for me. When I’m ready, we’ll be there together.

So to discuss gratitude: Sometimes we’re not grateful for things. And that’s totally okay. I don’t think we should fake gratitude. It’s like hiding in shame. Instead, find that one good silver thread. Be grateful for that. That’s all you have to be grateful for. Otherwise, let yourself be angry! You don’t have to be grateful for anything you’re not feeling. As long as you do feel it. And if you can’t find a silver thread, that’s okay, too. Just be honest with yourself and with God. Some day, that gratitude will come. It doesn’t have to be today. Just let it teach you.

 

Day 26: Problem Solving

**Sorry this took so long. I got distracted with my map…**

dareIn my family of origin, I was the problem solver. When philosophers discuss how our strengths are also our biggest weaknesses, their discussion holds true in this personal strength. I was so good at problem solving I solved problems that weren’t mine. In recent  years, within my search for “seven,” I’ve learned to let that go; but  I still have to walk a fine line in problem solving. Sometimes I forget that I’ve still got to solve my problems myself instead of expecting them to be solved for me. I also forget that some problems aren’t mine. Interestingly enough, we just had this discussion with our daughter yesterday. We talked about how sometimes God has an answer that he wants you to find and that we need to come to him for help and guidance, because he can see more than we can. Sometimes, however, like with Mohonri Moriancumer (The Brother of Jared), Heavenly Father wants us to come to him with a solution. Today is devoted to recognizing the difference between our problems and someone else’s. It is also devoted to coming up with our own solutions.

First of all, we must weed out the problems that aren’t ours. While I was processing this concept, it got so complicated in my head, I drew a “map.” Then I showed it to my friend and she was so distracted by the boxes and the arrows, that for her I made it more complicated. Sorry if you fall into the latter category. If you do, create a nice  boring outline and work with that. ;c)

problem

How you solve the problem depends on what the problem was. If there was one cut and dry solution to every problem, it’d sure make life easier, but since we’re here to gain experience, I can be grateful that there isn’t. Let me know how it goes. 🙂

Why Seven?

In college, I took a Religious Contexts class. I also studied an Old Testament Symbology class. And while taking said classes, an interesting thing came to my attention. The number 7. In the Old Testament, and throughout Semitic religions, the number 7 appears over and over. We took a day discussing that biblical numbers are often symbolic, i.e. the number often tied to sacrifices is symbolic to help those following the Mosaic law in remembering the reason for the symbol. 7 is the symbol of perfection, wholeness, completeness, and exactness. It sums all of these concepts up, and many more. They all go perfectly together, and yet are different concepts in my mind. I like that there is one word that can put them all together, even if it’s just in my head. And I guess that’s what I’m looking for. Perfect completeness. Whole perfection. to me, completeness means the project is done, but not necessarily perfect. I can have a complete object that has lots of nicks and dents. And perfection, at least in mortality, is rarely complete. I can be a perfect piano player, but by being so, I’m probably terribly imperfect at something else. In order to be perfect at something in this life, I will have had to sacrifice something else, creating imbalance, being incomplete.

Symbolism in a biblical context suddenly made sense. And made Leviticus and Deuteronomy a whole lot easier to understand! And enjoy, for that matter. Imagine my surprise when in my Religious Contexts class, the number 7 was still rampant! It’s everywhere! And I’ve yet to find a time when discussion of the concept of 7 didn’t fit into my understanding of it. Holistic religions, Ancient Egyptian, Chinese culture, art, it’s everywhere!