Lotsa Hostas

Tuesday Slice of Life Writing Challenge – May 11, 2021

Once you start exploring hostas, you’ll find they get rather addictive!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

It started with five. Five beautiful Hostas plants from a friend for our sunny border along the front walkway. The plants thrived and grew large enough to eventually split and share their beauty with the backyard. Fast forward another few years when the new neighbors moved in and dug out the hostas desiring to make their mark in the tired landscaping. I acquired a few more plants large enough to split and extend the display across the front of the house.

It’s not the gorgeous medley of green and fragrant flowers that appeals to me most, but the variety of shapes, sizes, and textures of the plants. Through seasons I’ve learned which types prefer sun and which prefer shade. I’ve dug, divided, and transplanted hostas multiple times to areas of our yard desperate for a little love and attention. I’ve purchased a few starter plants to add to the lineup.

Hostas are great for a gardener’s confidence. Maintenance is relatively simple, less the occasional slug and our digging dog. They grow vigorously when conditions are right, and they also thrive even when soil conditions are less than ideal. For our rather large yard, hostas are the perfect solution for creating gardens that make it appear like I know what I’m doing.

Last summer, after I dug up our hostas to divide, I moved onto my mom’s yard after years of neglect due to my dad’s declining health. The fifteen hostas increased to twenty-five across the front landscaping. Five enormously overgrown plants multiplied to fifteen alongside my parent’s home. I saved some clumps to add to my collection. It feels like a little bit of my Dad is with me as I learn to work the soil and learn how to grow things the way he loved to do.

I had been so sure I’d never attack an extensive job like splitting up hostas after tackling my mother-in-law’s garden the previous summer. Her giant plants were spilling over onto the sidewalk. I had decided my aching green thumb couldn’t hurt any worse and was destined for September surgery anyway, so I dug right into the task. Dividing the hostas provided enough plants for my niece to begin her own hostas garden and a few more clumps went home with me. I just can’t stop collecting hostas! Each variety reminds me of those I love. That’s the way it is with friendship and memory gardens.

Despite the cooler (actually freezing!) temperatures here in Wisconsin, the hostas are heartily making their presence known. There will be no digging, splitting, and transplanting this year. They can enjoy a bit of permanence for a season or two while I move onto my obsession with basil.

May the 4th Be with Me

Slice of Life Tuesday – May 4, 2021

We sat down for lunch and I asked my husband what he was watching. Turns out it happens to be May 4th, which is a pretty big deal for Star Wars fans, so of course, what else would be on tv today? It was a foolish question on my part. The weather wasn’t great today and I needed to sit down and ice my knee, so I think my husband was shocked when I said I’d watch it with him. He promised to talk me through it.

As we finished our lunch, my husband patiently explained each character, the various settings, and problems as they played out. I was faintly familiar with a few parts, but fuzzy with most details. It was high time I connected all the pieces, so there I sat watching Star Wars while he did the dishes and shouted useful bits and pieces from the kitchen. I guess he knew exactly what was going on without even seeing the tv. It made me even more determined to make it through the movie.

I’m a terrible fan of the movies my children grew up watching religiously, Star Wars and Harry Potter, specifically. One of two things inevitably occurred when our family gathered for movie night, I’d either fall asleep or be multitasking and miss all the important details like who is who and eventually, the entire storyline. I did, however, avidly support my kids by purchasing light sabers, Lego sets, and dvd collections. Let’s face it, if they were settled in front of the tv for an hour, it was the perfect opportunity to get my own tasks accomplished without interruptions. The family grew impatient with my lack of interest and commitment over the years.

During the summer of 1983, when my husband and I were dating, I remember going to see The Empire Strikes Back at the Orpheum Theater on State Street in Madison, an incredible venue for viewing any movie. I recall seventeen years ago promising my three year old son a new green lightsaber to complete his collection if he was well behaved during my nephew’s wedding. He was allowed to bring along his cherished figurines though and he’s been watching the movies ever since. I recollect my enthusiasm when a student’s Genius Hour project attempted to explain the chronology of the series and explain the complicated saga.

All of the previous attempts to draw me into the world of Stars Wars failed. Today, forced to sit still, I gave it another try. As we watched together, my husband answered my questions, offered extra insights, and confirmed my thinking. Before I knew it, the credits were rolling by and I realized the brilliance of George Lucas. The movie ended on a cliffhanger leading me right into the next movie.

Over Budget and Overboard Again

Slice of Life Tuesday – April 27, 2021

“I was only $4.54 over budget this year,” I proudly remarked as my husband and I wheeled our carts across the parking lot toward the car. We found everything on the list except for the whimsical corkscrew plant I enjoy for our patio.

“Really? I thought we usually spend more than that.”

I couldn’t tell if he was satisfied or questioning whether we had purchased enough. Either way, it didn’t matter because we both enjoy the flowers, fruits, and vegetables throughout the summer and rationalize that since we spend most of our time outside, we shouldn’t scrimp.

Little does my husband know that I was only referring to the budget for Honeymoon Acres Greenhouse. There are other, closer to home greenhouses I like to visit, but Honeymoon Acres is our new favorite place we discovered last year and vowed to return to each spring to get what we need. It’s a bit of a drive from home, but we were planning a hike nearby and could combine both outings in one trip.

Before heading out, I looked back in my notebook at my garden plans from last year. I studied my neatly organized lists designed for efficient shopping by vegetables, herbs, seeds, flowers, perennials, and other supplies such as potting soil, a new spray nozzle, and gardening gloves. I’ve learned to keep notes and lists after too many years over planning and overspending.

Last year’s garden notes with comments added in color
Last year’s shopping lists

I will admit, last year, during the lockdown, we went a little overboard. I tried growing potatoes, beets, and onions for the first time. We added an extra garden space in the back yard, and I experimented with growing in containers too. Lettuce, arugula, and kale worked well in pots, along with three plantings of radishes. Normally, we’ve kept things simple, growing mostly tomatoes, peppers, and beans. After planting beans and peas three times, I gave up and considered them a contribution to the neighborhood bunnies. I still had my basil, lots and lots of basil.

The summer-long adventure proved to be rewarding and therapeutic, but we decided to restrain ourselves this year and reign in our gardening goals. We agreed to whatever we don’t grow, we will purchase from the local farm stand, so I created a revised list on my phone during the hour drive to our hiking destination. It consisted mainly of tomatoes and herbs in addition to the flowers for the front porch and patio.

This year’s shopping list

I felt confident with the downsized plan when my friend called and asked me if I wanted a few plants she had started from seed. She had extra. How could I say no to trying a couple more bean plants, snap peas, and hot peppers? What could one more basil plant hurt? I said sure because a few are not too many. A few is three. Right?

Yesterday, my friend delivered twenty-six plants! I’m back up to the same number of tomato and pepper plants as last year. Luckily, I am huge fan of basil because she brought me eight more plants! This summer, I’ll be experimenting with a few new plants, Brussel sprouts, egg plants, and artichokes. So much for our trimmed down plans.

Hopeful

Slice of Life Tuesday – April 20, 2021

On Saturday, I received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine. I drove to my appointment feeling anxious from overindulging my thoughts about all the possible reactions. In and out in under half an hour, I drove away, hopeful the vaccination would allow me to feel a little less fearful than I have been for the past year. The remainder of the day was the right amount of busy to distract me from thinking more about my initial worries.

On Sunday, I awoke with nothing more than a sore arm, but as the morning wore on, I got a serious case of laziness. Hoping for nothing more severe than a little arm soreness, I gave myself permission to stay in my comfy clothes and hang out on the couch all day. I grabbed another book from my TBR pile, reached for my favorite quilt, and opened up Alone, by Megan E. Freeman.

As I read about Maddie’s story of survival, I thought about my survival of this pandemic. I wasn’t alone for the past year like Maddie, but there was still an overwhelming sense of loneliness on many days. I discovered new ways to accomplish things and appreciated the “silver linings” as the months trudged on, each one adding a new thing to my life, replacing something removed.

Maddie learned new ways to use all available resources in her quest for obtaining food and fuel, including the library. As she read book after book, learning useful information like how to build a fire, she also enjoyed the fiction section and eventually landed in the poetry section. She discovered Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope,” written to appreciate the capacity for hope in good times and in bad. I rediscovered the poem. I thought about the coincidence and timing of reading Alone. In the poem, written by Dickinson in 1862, the theme of hope through adversity seems relevant for today’s call for resiliency during the current pandemic. Reading Alone was the perfect remedy for the mild reactions I experienced.

Star Fish

Slice of Life Tuesday – April 13, 2021

I slowly turned the page, and there it was, not quite halfway down page 184, my favorite quote from the book. There were already seventeen, two by two-inch post-its randomly sticking out from the edges, but I tore off another and scribbled in all caps FAVORITE QUOTE with a bold arrow and carefully fastened it eleven lines down where the words began.

That's what the best books do.
They make you think,
and rethink
how you see
yourself,
others,
and the world.
Most of all, they make you feel.
Feelings toward people who aren't like you.
Feelings you didn't know 
you had.

Yesterday I finished reading Star Fish, by Lisa Fipps. I consumed it in one afternoon only stopping to add my eighteen post it notes along the way and to refill my coffee cup twice. The post-it from page 184 took me back into the classroom.

It echoed the language of readers workshop where my students read like BHH readers. I discovered the Book, Head, Heart (BHH) Framework while reading Disrupting Thinking, Why How We Read Matters, by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. I knew immediately this way of getting kids to think textually, intellectually, and emotionally was a perfect fit for my style and philosophy of teaching. I read more and thought more about the framework with each book I read the remainder of the summer.

The next school year, I introduced what it meant to be a BHH reader. Students were great at paying attention to what was in the text but rarely developed deeper thinking and emotional connections with texts. We began to use the prompts, “What did I take to heart?” and “What did I learn about myself or others?” “How will this help me to be better?” and “How has this book changed my thinking?” became the language of the classroom. It appeared that students began reading more for themselves and enjoyment than for a correct response on an assessment. It became my catalyst for getting students to read beyond the text. It also took a while to undo the I-don’t-know responses as the environment shifted to one in which taking risks to share our deep thinking found a permanent place in our classroom.

Getting back to Star Fish, this book will, and should, cause readers to pause, take to heart, and challenge their thinking as they read about Ellie’s struggle to find her self-worth after years of being fat-shamed by others. I cannot wait to share this book with my summer book club and see how many girls are lured by the same quote. Our shared enthusiasm for reading and love for books is what kept us together after school ended three years ago. This summer will be our third season of reading together, and I’m ambitiously searching for books that will push them, ignite them, and change them. Star Fish is just one of the books to do it.

Hen House Showdown

Tuesday Slice of Life – April 6, 2021

I am not a farmer, but I have a dog and enjoy tending my flower and vegetable gardens in the summer. That’s something. On occasion, when my friend is out of town, I get the opportunity to pretend I’m a farmer and I help care for her chickens. The friendly favor is rewarded with a supply of farm-fresh eggs. I don’t have to do much more than refill the feed and water dispensers and collect the eggs each day. However, there’s one small thing I’ve never revealed to my friend, and that’s how much those adorable little ladies terrify me. They do! The good news is that I faced my fear of the chickens this week. Here’s how things went down in the coop.

On a farm they’re called morning chores, so I arrived bright and early and strutted toward the chicken coop to get started. I opened the nearby Feed Shed and scooped a tin of scratch to scatter around the outdoor pen, making sure to aim for the furthest corners from the doorway in hopes of a quick getaway. The aggressive way chickens peck and scratch to gain access to the feed is a bit intimidating, so I made a mad dash to exit the chicken run and entered the coop by way of another door. Once inside, I quickly adjusted the board of the hen-size doorway that separates the outside area from the hen house. I breathed a sigh of relief when no hens made it inside with me. My method had never failed me.

I flicked on the light switch. Wire egg basket in hand, I turned to the nesting boxes and began collecting eggs only to discover two hens still sitting. I gulped! Now what? I’d have to think of something while I gathered up the eggs in all the other nests.

I collected a couple eggs here and a few more eggs there until I got down to the last two nesting boxes on the bottom—the same two boxes where two hens rested comfortably upon their clutch staring at me. Do they get sad or mad when their eggs are plucked from underneath them, I wondered. I couldn’t actually see any eggs, but why else would a hen not budge from her position unless she had something to protect, I thought.

Luckily, I was wearing gloves for protection. I tried gently nudging Hen Number 1 from her nest without success. I stepped back to formulate a plan, took a deep breath, and tried a second time, again without success.

I returned to the Feed Shed and grabbed a handful of scratch to lure them out of their boxes by sprinkling a trail that led toward the little doorway. Clearly, these two hens had the upper hand. My birdbrain idea didn’t go according to the plan because the minute I opened the little trap door, two chickens barged right in to join us instead of two exiting according to my master plan. I was definitely outwitted and now outnumbered. The newcomers gobbled up the scratch. Hens Number 1 & 2 remained where they sat. What next? Time to face my fear. These two ladies weren’t budging.

Gloves still on, I plunged my hand right into the box underneath Hen Number 1 and decided to take what I came for. She barely scooted aside when I saw five eggs waiting for me. I repeated the process five times. One…two…three…four…five eggs went into my basket. With each egg, my confidence grew.

I offered my gratitude to the hen not only for the gift of her eggs but for her mild-mannered disposition before turning to my next challenge, Hen Number 2. She appeared to be slightly larger than H1 and barely noticed the previous extraction two nesting boxes to her left. She sat contentedly without so much as a cluck or a cackle. The daily egg gathering routine didn’t phase her, but my feathers were still ruffled by the trap door fiasco.

I dipped my hand underneath H2s plump bottom to retrieve the last clutch of eggs. Instead of attempting to push her aside, I tried lifting her and saw two more eggs. They were quickly and efficiently added to my basket.

I won’t really know if I conquered my fear of collecting eggs in the company of the hens until the next time my friend leaves town and asks me to help with the animals. If she happens to read this, chances are she won’t, but I sure hope she does because the eggs were delicious!

This April Fools To Do List is No Joke

Even before turning the calendar to the new month I had my basket of Sharpies in a fine assortment of colors and a notepad labeled ‘List’ laying out on the kitchen counter. I prefer my lists to be colorful, as if it might influence the likelihood of task completion. The real pleasure comes when I can permanently and boldly cross each item off in basic black as chores are accomplished.

To Do List

  • Dust
  • Vacuum
  • Wash floors
  • Clean eggs
  • Grocery shop for Easter meal
  • Yoga
  • Walk Bella
  • Give Jeff a haircut
  • Clean both bathrooms
  • Laundry
  • Give Bella a bath
  • Recycles out to garage
  • Patio furniture out
  • Return Mom’s watch

Before the clock struck eight, I was already into my mission with a load of laundry spinning circles in the machine. Only six more loads to go.

  • Start laundry

I downed an allergy pill with my morning coffee before I started dusting. Allergic to trees, dust, and mold, dusting isn’t usually my chore, but as I said earlier, I’m on a mission. I heard my mother’s voice, always dust first before you vacuum.

  • Dust ✔️
  • Vacuum ✔️
  • Put clothes from washer into dryer and start another load

My husband and I went through the specifics of the grocery list and he was out the door. I don’t think the Jeep was at the end of the driveway by the time I was already on my hands and knees washing the floors, just me and Mr. Clean. I actually enjoyed the physicality of the task today. The race was on to have the floors done by the time the shopper returned. Focused on the task at hand, I sent a quick thumbs up emoji when he texted the biggest ham was 9.87 pounds so he grabbed it. Unfortunately, he didn’t see the detail about getting two clumps of asparagus and arrived home one short. No biggie. We can eat more ham since he bought the biggest one.

  • Wash floors ✔️
  • Grocery shop for Easter meal ✔️
  • Fold clothes from dryer and start another load

Things were moving along well, so I moved onto the bathrooms. They aren’t as hard to keep up with now that it’s just my husband me, but today the shower was calling for attention. Since the pandemic started, I’ve become an even bigger fan of Lysol and Chlorox wipes as they both kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria and by the time the groceries were walking in the back door, the crisp linen scent of Lysol gave notice of another completed task.

  • Clean both bathrooms ✔️
  • Fold clothes from dryer and start another load

Time for a break. It wasn’t even 10:00 yet and my confidence was high. I rolled out my yoga mat and did a Yoga Rinse with Adrienne to renew, restore, and refresh. Taking in some nice, slow, easy breaths I rinsed away the thought of the To Do list and let the weight of the remaining lineup wash away. With my mind and body feeling at ease, I meditated with an intention of letting go of outcomes for the day. It wouldn’t be the end of world if I didn’t get everything my list done.

  • Yoga ✔️
  • Meditation ✔️
  • Fold clothes from dryer and start another load

Since I was already in the basement changing loads of laundry, I gave my husband a haircut so he’d look renewed, restored and refreshed for Easter. While I clipped, buzzed, and snipped we struck a bargain. I’d walk Bella while he hauled out the patio furniture. On his way out he grabbed the recyclables and brought them out to the garage.

  • Give Jeff a haircut ✔️
  • Recycles out to garage ✔️
  • Walk Bella ✔️
  • Patio furniture out ✔️
  • Fold clothes from dryer and start last load

Break for a lunch of leftovers.

I’d been putting off taking Bella to the Doggy Wash so that she’d be renewed, restored, and refreshed in time for the holiday weekend. It’s also a two person job. Jeff hold and offers treats. I do the sudsing, rinsing, and drying. We were in and out in less than 20 minutes. On the ride home, my husband smiled and said, “You’re really going all out to make this holiday perfect. Aren’t you.”

I thought about it for a minute and realized he was right. I was going all out. I’m so grateful and excited to be having my family together, even if it’s just the six of us, for Easter dinner this weekend. Five of the six of us have been vaccinated, so it finally feels safe enough to gather. My mom won’t be alone. My kids will be home. That seems like the perfect reason to go all out. “I am,” I smiled back.

  • Give Bella a bath✔️
  • Put last load of clothes into dryer✔️

Twenty-seven eggs from my friend’s farm still needed cleaning. There will be more again tomorrow since were helping out with the cows and chicks while they are gone. When that happens, we’re the lucky ones who get to keep the eggs. It’s a win win business transaction because there’s nothing better than farm fresh eggs.

  • Clean eggs ✔️

There was only item left on the list and, for a brief moment, I considered letting it go for another day. My To Do list was a masterpiece of colorful checked offed tasks in brilliant blue, neon pink, and optic orange. I gave it one last satisfied look, tossed it in the garbage on my way out the door, and drove to Kohls to return my mom’s watch.

  • Return Mom’s watch ✔️

Mission accomplished.

31 Words for 31 Days

Slice of Life Writing Challenge- March 31, 2021

Today marks the final day of the 14th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge. This was my second year joining the challenge and definitely won’t be the last. For me, March matters because it’s the month I dedicate time to something I value. For thirty-one days I share little bits and pieces of my life with other writers. The feedback I receive is uplifting, inspiring, and generates confidence to continue writing. Thank you to The Two Writing Teachers for making this all possible.

I took some time to read through the comments I received from fellow slicers this past month and decided to write a poem for my final slice incorporating a few of those comments.

31 Days in 31 Words

Writing daily for thirty one days
Inspired me.

Putting pen to page
A beautiful snapshot
A lovely tribute
Well told

Thank you for noticing my
Daily writing for thirty one days.

Currently

Slice of Life Writing Challenge- March 30, 2021

Currently, I’m reading The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates. In her book, she recounts the stories of the many women she has met through her work and travels with the Gates Foundation for the past twenty years. She describes how one moment of lift in a woman’s life is sometimes all that is needed to change the course of their life, their family, and their community. She writes, “If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high leverage investment you can make in human beings.” As I read about these women I am constantly asking myself what I know now in a deeper way than I knew before and I have much, much more to learn.

Currently, I’m writing down three things I’m grateful for each day and have been doing this since last March. What began as an effort to notice things that bring joy during a pandemic, has created for me a habit in which I see and feel increased rewards throughout the day. I knew my habit was having an impact when my husband politely told me I didn’t have to say thank you for doing the dishes every evening. I plan to continue giving thanks. I’ve really enjoyed reading the March posts from Stephanie at A Lit Life and hope to try a month of writing letters of gratitude similar to the way she did for this challenge.

Currently, I’m loving the feeling my house gives me since repainting and decorating three rooms during this pandemic. Stuck inside with time on our hands, we gave our family room, guest room, and living room facelifts. Each room feels fresh and new. Soft, smooth luxury laminate replaced the disgusting carpet in the family room. Brand new pull down shades in the guest room took the place of the dusty, crooked, mini blinds with the broken strings. New curtains, sofa, and a bold area rug now reside in the living room painted a calming shade of Shitake mushroom. I’m loving the options I have. I can watch tv in the family or escape the March Madness and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the living room. I can hide away in the guest room for an afternoon nap or set up my sewing machine in the brightest room in the house.

Currently, I’m learning how to cook using an Instant Pot I received from my friend. At first, it felt like I was betraying my true love, the Crock Pot. One thing I’ve learned from using the IP is combining spices and herbs to create layers of flavor throughout the dishes. It took a few tries to get simple white rice right, but one attempt at chicken wings was all it took to convert my loyalty. Other successes have been oatmeal, pulled pork, Pho, turkey chili, and Hot & Sour soup. I’m most proud of the Hot & Sour soup and can finally stop my endless search for a restaurant that makes the soup as scrumptious as The House of Lee. That’s where I first discovered Hot & Sour soup, but unfortunately the restaurant closed years ago and every bowl elsewhere hasn’t compared. The perfect blend of heat and sour, just the right amount of tofu and bamboo shoots, and ribbons of egg swirling throughout the broth could not be found until I used the IP. It’s even better the second day.

Thanks to The Two Writing Teachers for this month long writing opportunity. Thanks also to the many slicers who’ve shared their writing. Your stories have inspired me to continue my writing life long after the challenge ends tomorrow.

Yoga Flow

Slice of Life Writing Challenge- March 29, 2021

What started like this…

Yoga mat rolled out and ready to go.

Turned into this…

I opened Pandora’s box.

I don’t consider myself a packrat, at least not since I’ve experienced the life-changing magic of tidying up. I’ve gone through every closet, drawer, and cupboard, but somehow I missed the cedar chest given to me by the little old lady next door to our cottage. She said if I could get it down from her attic, it was mine. I taught myself how to refinish furniture at age fourteen on the chest and have been stuffing memories inside ever since. Some of its contents have changed over the years, but the things that remain still have their grip on my heart for one reason or another.

The embroidered dish towels for each day of the week reminding me how Grandma Walk taught the chores for each day. Now that I’m older I know they were used as a diversion to my homesickness that disappeared once we began the chore of the day. Grandpa was a quick study and inserted his own “chores” on those less desirable days like mending. I learned how to iron handkerchiefs on Tuesdays. I learned how to fish on Wednesdays.

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Market on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday.

Lying in corpse pose on my mat are the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls handmade by my mom. The pair rested on my bed comfortably for many years before getting stuffed into the back of my closet when I hit junior, replaced by puffy letter pillows spelling my name. The couple resurfaced again after my daughter was born, but with little interest on her part. I guess she didn’t realize her grandma had sewn the dolls the same year she made my Halloween costume so I looked like Raggedy Ann and won the school costume contest. My daughter will appreciate me saving her stuffed Corduroy and the cassette tape of her retelling the entire story in her precious two-year-old voice unable to pronounce the word escalator.

Forty-six years I’ve held onto the stuffed kangaroo I received from my dad after I had my appendix removed. I think he felt awful about having to buckle me in the car and drive me to the hospital. Next to Corduroy is the hand puppet I bought with my own vacation money in Montreal and I’m transported back to the cobblestone shopping street where it was purchased. My hand no longer fits inside the way my eight-year-old hand did.

Folded neatly there is a pile of old football jerseys and my high school letter sweater earned for playing on the tennis team. I’ve been using the mantra my coach drilled into my head my whole life since —P.M.A. Positive mental attitude! The jerseys have worked their way out of hiding one by one when the kids wore them for school spirit days. They enjoyed wearing them so they could hear stories of their dad’s days on the football field catching his now famous “bounce pass” during the Wisconsin Illinois game in ‘82.

There’s a stack of Make A Plate melamine plates my kids made along with the ceramic photo cups with I Love You Daddy and I Love You Mommy. Tucked in the middle of the stack there’s a plate for camping and a Go Pack Go dish for the Packer parties we use to host. I heard my son Tim making breakfast and brought his “Timmy” plate out for him to use. He chose not to and gave me the look. He’s 20 years old.

My daughter’s entire literacy journey is delicately jammed into a plastic bag. Boy! She had beautiful handwriting in first grade. I spent an hour reading through her journals and stories of our camping trips, Christmas traditions, and the life cycle of the many Monarch butterflies we raised and released. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards declaring we are the best mom and dad ever. A snapshot of how welcoming a baby brother nearly ten years after being an only made her life complete and she could move onto the next mission—convincing us to get a puppy.

There’s the vintage Trundle Bundle sleeper set I went home from the hospital in with my baby blanket, stiff and fraying from all the years. I can’t believe I’m using the word vintage for something that belonged to me, but I looked it up. I have vintage stuff!

I set my drishti on other vintage items including my grandparent’s wedding photo, with them both looking so stoic, and if I must say, a bit too serious for such a happy occasion. My grandparents were married for over 66 years. I breathed in and out smiles and sighs as I leafed through other photos of times past. There I was with my siblings, me in my corrective shoes, and my husband posing so angelic for his annual Olin Mills photograph. There were wedding invitations and obituaries yellowing over time, a bold headline, AMERICA UNDER TERROR ATTACK, announcing the day of disaster on September 11, 1991, and a special Collector’s Issue of People magazine’s tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales.

It’s hard to say what goes into one’s decision about what to save and what to toss. The sentimental stuff is always the hardest. According to Marie Kondo, “truly precious memories will never vanish even if you discard things associated with them.”

I guess I can toss the random snow globes I haven’t put out in at least ten years. I suppose I can wash and start using the crystal vase my daughter won in a golf tournament. Or better yet, add it to the pile waiting for her. The stack of wrinkled artwork can go too. I’ve framed the keepers already.

As the memorabilia filled up the space on my mat, I felt the same happy brain waves I feel during my actual yoga practice. It helped create space for my creative mind. So, if you’re unable to think of what to write about or how to proceed, just roll out your mat.

Namaste

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book reviews from Rhythm the Library Dog

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