Surrender 31: In Search of…Eagles

Missouri is one of the leading bald eagle states in the US. Hundreds of the stately birds make their permanent home in my state, due to an abundance of lakes, rivers and wetlands. However, from November until late February, thousands of eagles winter in Missouri, arriving from Canada and the Great Lakes region. Twice in the last three years, I’ve come upon bald eagles unexpectedly, both times in open fields or roosting in trees. Today, Greg and I decided to visit several areas in the regions known for frequent eagle sightings. 

 Photo of Missouri eagles, from Google 

Today was another gorgeous day, truly a gift to be opened and leisurely enjoyed on this last day of January. With the temperature reaching the mid 60’s, and a bright sun in a blue sky, it was the perfect day to surrender to an adventure, even one with an uncertain outcome. 

We first traveled to the tiny town of Stella, MO. Many have spotted the magnificent birds along the creeks and rivers near this sleepy little farm community. With binoculars ready, we slowly cruised paved and unpaved roads alike. We encountered other people searching as well, and comically, we all often ended up following each other around, up and down dirt roads. Greg perhaps spotted an eagle in the distance, wheeling high above a field. By the time he peered through the binoculars, the bird had disappeared from sight. I didn’t see any eagles, but I snapped a pic of this perplexing sign:

 

We left Stella, winding through Cassville, MO, down into the valley where Roaring River gushes from its spring. This ice cold river is home to many trout. It seemed a strong possibility that eagles would gather near this excellent food source. I didn’t see one bald eagle, however, a surprising number of fly fishermen of all ages were casting into the river. 
 

Onward we drove, dipping into Arkansas. Perhaps we needed to visit a larger body of water. Beaver Lake is located just east of Rogers, AR. That was our new destination. I was on alert as Greg drove, my eyes searching the sky, scanning fields, peering among tree tops along rivers. I saw crows, hawks and an abundance of buzzards, but no eagles.  
  
We drove through the beautiful Mark Twain Forest and eventually arrived at Hobbs State Park & Conservation Area, near Beaver Lake. I didn’t spot any bald eagles in the area, but the Nature Center was amazing. I’ve never visited this center before. I didn’t know it even existed. We toured the building. 

I found a helpful chart to identify bird silhouettes:

  
And a startling bat display. I’m glad bats are nowhere near this size!

  
We spoke to a very kind and helpful woman minding the information desk in the center. She suggested several locations on the lake where eagles have been sighted, and gave us a free map. Off we went, into the bright day, armed with our map, binoculars and determination. 

We did not spot a single eagle, however, at our first stop, we parked the car near an arm of the lake, turned off the engine and rolled down the windows. The sound of waves rolling into shore was soothing. The sun reflected brilliantly off of the water, and it was so beautiful and peaceful. Our last two stops didn’t yield any sightings either. But people were out enjoying the gift of the warm weather also, launching their boats, strolling with their dogs, playing with their kids. 

  

All the way home, as the sun was setting, and clouds began to overtake the sky, we watched for eagles. Greg took an alternate route back into Joplin, that allowed us to drive along a river that flows south of the city. We arrived in Joplin without spotting the elusive symbol of America. However, we agreed it had been a fun day, full of charm and beauty. 

I learned today that sometimes what we are searching for arrives unexpectedly, when we least expect it. It’s good to stay alert, and open, and let go of outcomes. And, I don’t always get the day I intend to have, but I always get the day that’s intended for me. Joy truly is in the journey, and in seeing and accepting the gifts offered along the way. 

I did get one photo of an eagle today. It was a wonderful statue at the Hobbs Nature Center. It was the perfect picture of an eagle in flight, captured during a perfect day. 

  

Surrender 30: Happy Birthday Aralyn

Today family members gathered to celebrate Aralyn Miller, who turned two last Monday. It takes a certain amount of courage, and indeed surrender, to throw open the door of your home and  welcome in a boisterous crowd intent on partying. My nephew Eric and his wife Tosh possess both, and graciously invited us all in. They were marvelous hosts for the special event. 

  
  
The birthday girl was pretty in pink, her hair in adorable braids, her outfit matching the party theme of My Little Pony. Aralyn was accepting of having so many people in her home, her bright eyes taking it all in. She wasted no time in requesting cake, officially kicking off the party. 
 

 
    

Cupcakes artfully created the My Little Pony birthday “cake”. After we sang Happy Birthday, Aralyn blew out the candle, with a little help from her mommy. Party goers lined up for a cupcake and a scoop of ice cream, kids settling together on the kitchen floor while adults enjoyed the delicious cake in the living room. Aralyn occupied the dining room, perched like a princess in her chair, creating perfect photo ops as she sampled her birthday treat. 

 

 
  

And then it was right on to opening presents. With encouragement from her big sister, London, and cousin Aubrey, Aralyn revealed her surprises, exclaiming over stuffed unicorns, a bright purse and beaded necklace, and an assortment of toys and cute outfits. She’s inquisitive, this gorgeous girl, and it was fun to watch her toss tissue paper as she delved into gift bags and carefully rip away wrapping paper to uncover the prizes within. She paused at appropriate intervals, flashing a smile as she said “Cheeeeese” for the cameras.

  

  

 

The final gift was a little pink tricycle, which Aralyn immediately tried out. It won’t be long at all before she is pedaling her trike down the sidewalk, as mommy or daddy or sister London trot along behind her. 

 

 
  

I’m an observer of people, learning a great deal about those I study. And watching Aralyn today, as she enjoyed her party, this is what I learned. She is a very bright girl. Although she’s only just turned two years old, she has a keen ability to observe as well, and figure things out. She’s extremely well behaved, a testament to her parents, while still being playful. I laughed as she created a teasing game with her cousin Weston, her little face as mischievous as it was beautiful. 

  

She’s a thinker, with much going on beneath the surface. I only have to look into her big eyes to sense the depths of her perceptions, which she is just beginning to articulate. After the party, as some of us had dinner together at Applebee’s, she had a conversation with me that showed how well she is able to connect events. When waiters sang Happy Birthday to a diner, and I explained what they were doing, Aralyn related that to her own birthday celebration earlier, and then proceeded to list those who had attended her party. I was impressed! 

What a happy day, and what a special, happy girl. I look forward to watching Aralyn grow,  expanding in knowledge and beauty, never losing that spark of joy and mischief in her eyes. There’s great potential in this girl. As I left the party, I paused to give her a hug and a kiss, as she swung on the porch swing with her Gigi. “Happy birthday, Aralyn,” I whispered. “Happy birthday, Yaya,” she answered back with a smile. She’s polite too! That melted my heart. I love you, little one. 

  
  
  

Surrender 29: The Love of Grandfathers

I grew up with a grandfather that the whole family called Pop. For most of my life, he was the only grandpa I knew, and I cherish my memories of him. He taught me about gardening, allowing me to work alongside him, garden hoe in hand, learning about vegetables and flowers. 

 George Harnar, Pop, who served his country during WWII 

My other grandfather, my dad’s father, passed away when I was a small child. I have a few dear memories of him: sitting cradled in his lap, watching him talk, fascinated by his chin stubbled with gray whiskers, playing in his large garage while he tinkered on a car, the intriguing aroma of his pipe. His nickname, selected by my oldest cousin, was PooPaw. 

  Dennis & Grace Lauderdale, PooPaw & Granny

I recently acquired a photo of Poopaw, a gift from my cousin William. He and my grandmother are so young, captured on their wedding day. I treasure this picture, as I didn’t have one of my Lauderdale grandfather. 

I was in 3rd or 4th grade when I realized I had another grandfather, my mom’s dad. Tragically, he was killed in a car accident on an icy road long before I was born. My mother was just a little girl. I learned his name was William, and his family called him Billy. My grandmother remarried later, to the man I knew as Pop. 

  Billy Gregory, playing the violin with his brother Lloyd on the mandolin. 

Although I knew neither of my biological grandfathers well growing up, in the last few years I’ve thought about them often. I am intuitive. My abilities frightened me as a child, and as a result, I grew up with a great deal of fear. While still a little girl, I used to wake up in the dark, which was a terrifying experience for me. I’d sometimes feel someone sitting on the edge of my bed, rubbing my back in a loving and gentle way. Comforted, I’d turn my head, expecting to see my mother. There was never anyone there, that I could see anyway. But that presence brought me a measure of peace. 

Only after I faced down my fears a few years ago, and fully accepted and embraced my intuitive self, did I come to understand who that presence was. My grandfather Billy, whom I never met while he lived, has long been my protector, fulfilling in Spirit what he could not do in life. He has often watched over me, a quiet strength in times of need. I now call him Papaw Bill. 

I fully understand that for most people, my perceptions of Life and Spirit are beyond what they’ve personally experienced. That’s okay. It is only because I so completely accept myself and no longer hide who I am, that I can share my own experiences now. There is a quote that I love, by Sandri Alexander, that says, “Behind your greatest fear, lies your greatest gift.” I am finally realizing what that means for me. My intuitive abilities, because of my lack of understanding, created my greatest fear. As that fear crumbled away, my intuition was revealed for what it was…my greatest gift. My essence. The truest part of who I am. As I journey as a whole person, I am discovering what I am to offer to the world. 

Which brings me back to my grandfathers. I had powerful ahas about PooPaw and Papaw. My gifts of intuition come to me from both of them, through the Lauderdale and Gregory lines. Both died young, PooPaw at age 52 and Papaw at age 33. My mother was five years old when her father died and I was five years old when PooPaw died. 

I know that as a child, I would have greatly benefitted from their stories of their own experiences, as intuitives. I believe that’s one of the reasons Papaw Bill has visited me so often. What I realized just this week, is that PooPaw has been a presence in my life as well. My two grandfathers, ever near, loving me from beyond the veil, from the realm of Spirit. And Pop, charged with the task of being my substitute grandpa, loving me and caring for me as well. He too “pops” by occasionally for a Spirit visit. I recognize his presence by the whiff of tobacco that I get. 

I have stood daily in my studio, before the picture of PooPaw and Granny Grace, sending them love and gratitude. And suddenly this week, I wanted Papaw Bill’s photo too. My mom has that great pic of him playing his violin and today, I stood at Walgreens, waiting for the prints I ordered from her photo to be processed. As the time passed, and I could hear the technician struggling with the machine, I surrendered to what was. If I needed to, I’d come back another time. I wanted that picture today, however tomorrow would be fine too. 

More help arrived. Whispered consultations ensued. Perhaps a swift kick to the contrary machine was delivered. I stepped forward to say it was okay…I’d return in the morning. At that moment, the tech approached with a grin, package in hand. “Here you go,” he said, “no charge. Sorry for your long wait.” He refused my offer to pay. 

In the car I opened the package. Five copies of the photo were inside! They gave me extras. I had what I wanted, and I could share with my sisters. 

I smiled. “Thank you Papaw. And PooPaw. And Pop. My grandfathers…thank you for everything.” 

  

Surrender 28: Recovering a Creative Life

I have completed the twelve week course as laid out in The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. What an amazing journey it has been. I love that this book came to me at the perfect time, at the recommendation of Elizabeth Gilbert, whom I greatly respect and appreciate. All that I had been learning before I heard Liz speak, and my awakening creativity that was nudged into greater awareness by my return to writing, confirmed that now was the right time to take the artist’s journey. 

 

The foundational pieces of The Artist’s Way, the daily Morning Pages and the weekly Artist Dates, have become an important part of my routine and my journey. I’ve discovered that the flow of words, from my mind onto a blank page, creates an astounding flow of energy as well. It continues to amaze me what shows up in my Morning Pages. I’ve often begun writing with the words, “I’m not sure what to write about this morning…” and then proceeded to rapidly fill three pages with fluid script and even more fluid thoughts. 

  
And I joyfully anticipate the Artist Date every week. Sunday afternoons are set aside for this time spent with my inner, creative child. I’ve gone to movies, walked in nature, viewed art exhibits, created a variety of things, from blueberry scones to vignettes in vintage containers, and discovered a wonderfully artistic and creative series on Amazon Prime. I will continue both practices. 

  
Julia suggests again and again that art and imagination are best served by playing. She reminded me that my inner artist is a creative child. The liberation of my creativity has come by embracing that truth. I make sure that I am having fun as I create. I am made to express myself creatively, whether I am writing, gardening, coloring or rearranging my studio. If there is no joy in what I am doing then that is an indicator that I’m out of alignment with my playful inner artist. 

 

Some of the deepest work that I did during this course involved examining what holds me back in my creative life. I have released a great deal of fear during the last five years, only to discover pockets of it as I explored my desire to write. Fear creates blocks. And blocks clog the creative process, often stopping that flow of energy completely. I’m grateful for the opportunity to banish fear once again. 

I spent much time as well delving into my childhood and reconnecting with the quirky kid who grew up to be an independent woman who doesn’t mind being different. I’ve learned  from Little Cindy and I have new admiration and appreciation for her. I have ideas for ways to further explore the gifts she offers, that I’m excited to carry out. 

 

Trust has been another integral part of this journey. In the final chapter, Julia writes that while we may know the next right action to take, we don’t know what’s just around the bend. By trusting, I learn to trust more deeply. Trust is my companion this year, as I surrender to the flow of life…and the creative process. I can see the Divine at work in my life. This book so closely paralleled my own journey as last year concluded and 2016 beckoned. It has been the perfect accompaniment. I am delighted to discover that there are two more books in this series. After a brief break, I’ll begin in Walking in this World to continue along the creative path. 

Lastly, The Artist’s Way confirmed multiple time that Surrender was my word for 2016. I love the quote below, which I also found in the final chapter. I am surrendered. I am trusting. I am excited to see what’s around the river bend and content to thoroughly enjoy the journey now. I join Liz in highly recommending The Artist’s Way, to any who desire to discover more about his or her creative self. 
  

Surrender 27: Creating a Collage of Ideas

Tonight my sister Linda, my mom, and I met to continue working on our vision boards. We had a special guest, my grandson Dayan, who joined us before heading to his Wednesday night youth group. He elected to sketch, while the rest of us flipped through magazines, in search of inspiration for our boards. 

 

This is the furthest I’ve traveled into a new year, without having a board up. Yet I’m finding I’m okay with that, and totally surrendered to the process, no matter how long it takes. As in life, it’s the journey, not the destination, that is important. We’ve set next Wednesday as the completion date, however we will all continue on if we don’t finish by then. 

 

I enjoy casting a vision with my family members. Dayan joined in on the lively conversations while he sketched landmarks of Egypt and we cut out images. We discussed everything from current world events, to politics, to celebrities. I appreciate that in my family, everyone is allowed to share their thoughts and ideas, without judgment or correction. It makes for interesting conversations, covering a broad range of topics, with our chatting punctuated by frequent laughter. 

  
As we finished up for the evening, both working on the vision boards and talking animatedly, I had a realization. Our varied ideas and beliefs join together to form a colorful and fascinating collage, as unique as the boards we are creating. And like the boards, that collage of expressed individuality  is a current snapshot of where we presently are in our journeys. A few years down the road, and the collective, figurative vision board will shift, as we each shift and grow. 

  
It might be fun next Wednesday, when the four of us gather again, to have Dayan transform our conversations into an idea and belief collage. What a great reminder it would be of the value and uniqueness of each person and the solidarity and strength of family. 

  

Surrender 26: National Peanut Brittle Day

Right before Christmas, I purchased all the ingredients to make peanut brittle. My intention was to make the brittle and give it out to the kids on Christmas Day. It was more than just a treat to enjoy during the holidays. The kids’ Papa Bob, who passed away last July, was a wonderful confectioner, and well known for his peanut brittle. He made batch after batch of the candy every December, well up into his 80’s. 

I did not get the brittle made before Christmas. Almost daily, I’ve thought about making that candy. And yet today, those bags of raw peanuts were still waiting on the kitchen counter. As evening approached and I was considering what to write about, I felt that nudge to check the daily holiday list. Today happens to be National Peanut Brittle Day, just the impetus that I needed to get cooking.

 

Bob Moore’s Peanut Brittle is his own sweet concoction, based off of an old Moore family recipe that he adapted. The candy isn’t too hard, or sticky on the teeth, making it very easy to eat. It is unique, as far as I know, in that you cook it in a skillet and you do not use a candy thermometer. Dad taught me to make the brittle years ago and that lesson is a cherished memory. I stood beside him, watching and listening as he made several batches. Then it was my turn, and he stood beside me. 
 

There’s a knack to his method of candy making, which is very organic. Dad taught me to use my senses of smell, sight, and hearing to make the brittle. I confess that before I started the candy tonight, I was beset with doubt. It’s been five years since I’ve made a batch. I had a list of ingredients and not much else to go on. Did I still have the ability to get the candy right?
 

I looked up peanut brittle recipes online. None came even close to using Dad’s method and the different suggestions on when to add the peanuts, and whether to add water or not, and when to add the baking soda just added to my doubt. I squared my shoulders, asked Dad for guidance and surrendered to my instincts. 

Immediately, the process came back to me. As I stirred the mixture, my senses went on alert. I was watching for the color to darken, sniffing to detect the faint aroma of cooked peanuts, and listening for the pop of peanuts as they cracked in the skillet. 

 

My first batch came out just a bit too dark. I let it cook a minute after I heard the first peanut pop. No worries. Feeling more confident now, I quickly made a second batch. There was the color change, the aroma, and the pop of peanuts as they split. This batch, this peanut brittle, was perfect, lightly golden brown, setting up on the marble slab that was given to me by Dad Moore. I smiled. 

As I studied the two batches of peanut brittle, I saw the differences. The first batch, although slightly over cooked, would still be edible I decided. As clearly as if he truly was standing next to me, I heard Dad say, “It’s okay. I always ended up with a dark batch, Hon. I ate it myself.” 

Good advice, Dad. 

  

Surrender 25: Burns Night

My Scottish heritage keeps my awareness alerted to events in the “home country”. This evening marks an important celebration in Scotland. Burns Night is held in honor of the country’s most well known poet, Robert Burns. 

  
January 25 is the bard’s birthdate and Burns Night celebrations feature a dinner with haggis, neeps and tatties, and whiskey. Poetry readings, of Rabbie’s most famous works, are common, as are songs and music. 

Robert Burns was born January 25, 1759 in Alloway, Scotland. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and the pioneer of the romantic movement. He wrote hundreds of poems and lyrics. Among his best known work is Auld Lang Syne, Tam O’Shanter, Address to a Haggis and A Red, Red Rose. Burns died July 21, 1796. A few years after his death, his friends began the tradition of gathering to share a haggis dinner, stories and poetry, to remember Rabbie. 

 

As an American with Scottish blood, and a Midwestern at that, I had to devise my own Burns Night celebration. There was no haggis to be found in Joplin. I will plan ahead for next January and order a wee haggis so I can honor the poet properly. I’ve already checked. I can order a complete haggis dinner for Burns Night through Amazon! 

And I passed on the whiskey, this time. I had a cup of hot Scottish thistle tea instead. I did enjoy reading through some of Burns’ poetry. I especially liked Up in the Morning Early. And I contributed to the collage of photos that makes up the portrait of Rabbie above. I’m in there somewhere, sporting my tartan scarf. What a cool idea, organized by the About Scotland website. 

Lastly, I very much appreciated this reading of a couple of lines from My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose by Scottish actor Sam Heughan, star of the series, Outlander. You can listen here:

My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose

I loved this description of Robert Burns that I found on the Scottish Poetry Library site:

“If ever a poet understood the character of his nation, he was Robert Burns. The language he was most fluent in wasn’t so much Scots or English – it was the language of the heart. All too human in his personal life, he carried that humanity over onto the page. Nothing was too small or too large to escape his notice, from a mouse in the mud to God in his heavens. A poet for all seasons, Burns speaks to all, soul to soul.”

What a beautiful way to characterize poet Robert Burns. He does indeed speak soul to soul. Happy birthday Rabbie. 

  

Surrender 24: The X Files 2016

I’ve been excited since I first heard that The X Files was being revisited this year, in a six episode mini series. I was a huge fan of the show, which originally aired from 1993 – 2002, on the FOX network. In my house, Sunday evening at 8:00 was designated X Files time. I very rarely missed an episode, and my family gathered to watch it with me. 

 

This campy, sci-fi show had an enormous following. Each week viewers tuned in to watch FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate the strange and unexplainable. The cases were dubbed the X Files, and the show was full of government conspiracies, alien technology and the darker side of mankind. 

I was sad when this series ended, although there were two movies released in the years following, to keep the mythology alive. 

  
With the “reopening” of the files, and the reunion of Mulder and Scully scheduled to premiere this evening, I made sure I was present, surrendering completely and happily to this continuing story. 

As the familiar theme music opened tonight’s episode, I was grinning. It was like welcoming back an old friend…several friends actually. Returning for this series are David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, as Mulder and Scully, Mitch Pileggi as Skinner, and a surprising appearance by William B Davis, as the Smoking Man. I say surprising because this character supposedly died at the end of the series, in 2002. 

  
Being essentially a six part movie, the story will build over the next few weeks. Tonight’s premiere reintroduced Mulder and Scully, who are no longer in a relationship. It is hinted that stress and Mulder’s depression killed the romance between them. The chemistry is still there however, which was and is, an essential part of this show. The child that the couple had together is mentioned, only in passing at this point. 

Also present were the usual government conspiracies and connections to alien presences and technologies. Mulder has always believed that “the truth is out there”. But as this episode proves yet again, the truth is slippery and difficult to find and hold on to. “Trust no one”, another of Mulder’s mantras, seems to apply still as well. 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s X Files opener. All the mysteries and plot twists are there, and the characters behaved in familiar ways and yet appeared to have shifted in ways I would expect, journeying as they have the last 14 years. I both look forward to the next five episodes…and wish there were more than five to enjoy. 

Truthfully, I’m just glad the show is back at all. I’m willing to suspend my own beliefs, or find proof for them, as the case might be, following along with the investigations of two of my all time favorite fictional characters. Welcome back X Files. I’ve missed you. I still DO believe. 

  

Surrender 23: Truly, Madly, Deeply

In the ten days since Alan Rickman passed away, I’ve spent time reading about his remarkable life and watching film clips on YouTube. I greatly appreciated this versatile actor, who portrayed villains, lovers and even aliens with equal portions of grace and skill. I didn’t know him, personally. But I’ve certainly felt his absence from the earthly realm since his death. 

While processing his absence, in my own way, one film has come up repeatedly. I’ve seen many of Alan’s films, but not this one from 1991, Truly, Madly, Deeply. I made plans to eventually watch all of his movies, over the next few months, as a celebration of his talent and life. And this movie, although not the one I had selected first, kept catching my attention. For me, that’s a nudge. The repetition is an invitation to surrender to the flow to see where it goes. When a free version of Truly, Madly, Deeply appeared on my recommended list on YouTube yesterday, I knew this would be the first of Alan’s films that I watched. 

  
 

Truly, Madly, Deeply stars Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman and Michael Maloney. This romantic comedy, rated PG, was written and directed by Anthony Minghella and has a run time of 1 hour and 46 minutes. 

Nina (Stevenson) is dealing with nearly unbearable grief after the sudden loss of her young husband, Jamie (Rickman). In spite of the best efforts of her family, friends, coworkers and therapist, Nina is struggling with swirling emotions, including anger. She just wants Jamie back in her life, and in that longing, during times of need, she imagines that he’s there beside her, speaking to her, giving her advice. 

One night, as Nina plays the piano, mourning her husband, she hears Jamie accompanying her on his cello. They were both gifted musicians and often played duets together. When she slowly turns to look over her shoulder, Jamie is standing there, impossibly present. 

  
Nina fears Jamie is a figment of her imagination, but she doesn’t care. Jamie, her Jamie, is back and that’s all that matters. They laugh together, play the word games they invented, dance, sing and play duets again. Nina asks questions about dying and the afterlife. Jamie fusses about the condition of the flat Nina has purchased and expresses his continuing dislike of the government. 

This strange new life should have been ideal. Except Nina and Jamie shift into who they truly are, not just their best versions of themselves. Jamie, who is dead after all, is always cold. His attempts to get warm cause Nina to be too hot. Her messiness inspires Jamie to tidy up, and rearrange the flat, which displeases Nina, who was learning to create her own space. 

 

And then there are the dead friends Jamie begins to bring home. They accumulate in the house, watching classic movie videos all hours of the day and night, and they too are freezing cold, collecting piles of blankets to warm themselves under. Nina exclaims that the rats that plagued her home are gone, apparently terrified of spirits, but she now has a ghost infestation. 

In the midst of the growing chaos at home, Nina finds herself dealing with a blossoming attraction to a living man (Maloney) that she seemingly met by chance. When she and Jamie have an argument over the guest ghosts helping him to rearrange the living room once again, Nina asks if this was really what their life was like before. She had remembered the wonderful times, the fun times, and had glossed over the ways they could irritate each other. 

  
As life rights itself, Nina realizes the real reason that Jamie came back to her. 

Oh, this was a beautiful movie, and Minghella’s directorial debut. I’m not sure how I have missed this one, but the poignancy and timing of this film were not lost on me. Minghella wrote the screenplay with Juliet in mind and asked his friend, Alan Rickman, to star in it as well. That depth of friendship between the director and two performers is evident in the intimacy of the movie. 

There were many teary-eyed moments for me, because of Alan’s recent passing, and due to the nature of the film. And yet how powerful the story was, and the lesson. The living must go on living, even as they miss their loved ones. Cherish the memories, speak to the departed, for they are listening, but don’t get stuck in bereavement. Live, laugh, love. The ending of the movie was a heart breaker, and absolutely right. 

  
Because I keep thinking of Alan’s absence here on earth, I was particularly struck by a poem Jamie and Nina recite to each other, near the end of the movie. Called Absence in the film, the use of the very word that resonates within me concerning Alan made me realize this was why I was guided to watch this movie now. In part it reads, 

Forgive me. If you no longer live, 

if you, beloved, my love, if you have died, 

all the leaves will fall in my breast, 

it will rain on my soul night and day, 

the snow will burn my heart, 

I shall walk with frost and fire and death and snow, 

my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping, but I shall stay alive, 

because above all things you wanted me indomitable. (by Pablo Neruda)

I am grateful for many things around this experience, not the least of which was, that I surrendered to the flow of events that brought this movie to my awareness. It is an excellent film to watch to process grief and the pang of missing someone…even a man who has touched my heart in countless ways, without ever actually meeting me. 

Every part of me that longs for more, that soars over art of all kinds, that hopes and dreams, that misses someone I never really knew…all of me matters to the Divine. How do I know? Because even the small and seemingly insignificant trifles of my heart stir the Creator, who responds with love and grace and invitations to grow. I matter. All of me…truly, madly, deeply. 

  

Surrender 22: Getting to Know All About You

I had granddaughter Aubrey with me this afternoon and evening, picking her up from school and keeping her until her daddy and stepmom were finished with a banquet. She is a joy to be around, making me laugh, making me thoughtful, in turns. We ran errands, watched an episode of Doctor Who together, and shared pizza with her papa before we landed at my sister’s house. Linda had three of her grandkids this evening and Aubrey got to play with her cousins. My mom joined us as well, making a fun and rowdy bunch. 

  

I picked up an idea from my friend and colleague, Jennifer, that involves asking kids questions to see how well they know their parents (or grandparents). I asked Aubrey if she would like to play, and then surrendered the idea to her. As our Doctor Who episode was finishing up, she suddenly turned to me and said, “Ask me those questions!” The game was on. 

These questions were about me, asked without any promptings. 

Aubrey is 7 years old. 

1. What is something I always say to you? You are kind, you are smart, you are important!

2. What makes me happy? Being with me. 

3. What makes me sad? If one of your friends dies. 

4. How do I make you laugh? By making funny faces

5. What was I like as a child? Kind (that melted my heart!)

6. How old am I? Uhhhh…72? (😳)

7. How tall am I? 5 feet 

8. What is my favorite thing to do? Color and watch Doctor Who

9. What do I do when you’re not around? Color

10. What am I really good at? Coloring…said with laughter. 

11. What am I not very good at? Skating! She giggled a lot on this one. 

12. What do I do for a job? Sell people houses

13.What is my favorite food? Soup

14. What do you enjoy doing with me? Having fun! 

I was very impressed with Aubrey’s answers, well other than the one about my age! She does know me well. And we had great discussions around her answers. I can see why she thinks I color all the time. On her visit to my house today, she noticed my dining room table was taken over by an assortment of colored pencils and a coloring book. 

Aubrey took the game further, and I happily played along. As we drove to Pizza Hut and waited for our dinner, she asked me questions about her, and I helped her record the answers. 

 

Here are some of Aubrey’s questions with my answers…and her corrections, if needed. 

1. What’s my favorite food? Pizza

2. What do I want to be when I grow up? A police officer (teacher)

3. What’s my favorite color? Purple

4. What’s my favorite restaurant? Golden Corral (Japanese Steak House)

5. My favorite toy? Shopkins (Monster High)

6. My favorite super hero? Super girl (Wonder Woman)

7. Current favorite movie? Star Wars

8. Favorite tv show? Sponge Bob

9. Favorite soda? Sprite

10. What’s my favorite thing to do? Play with toys (swim)

This was a great exercise for us. I appreciate this girl. She was not only willing to play, but she took the game further. I enjoyed her questions. And I realize she is growing and learning and what was a favorite last year or last week, may not be today. That’s good. It keeps me alert and aware of how she is shifting. 

These grandchildren…they continually amaze me, spark creativity and fill my heart with gratitude. As with the draw and tell story idea from yesterday, I look forward to playing the question game with the other grandkids. I hope no one else thinks I’m 72 years old!