Winter Wonderland

The Winter Storm that made an appearance in our area last week brought back some wonderful memories of our years  in Colorado.  Since everything shut down in our neck of the woods, we had no reason to be anywhere.  We just hunkered down together and enjoyed the day by the fire.   We became like kids again as we watched the flurries pile up on the rooftops and the ground.  We marveled at the transformation of our Southern neighborhood into a rare Winter Wonderland.

Our youngest was five when we left Colorado, and remembered very little about our Winter adventures.  I was all too happy to fill him in on many of the memories that I held so dear.  The most vivid one was his penchant for eating icicles.  He did not discriminate…..he loved them all, from the pretty, sparkly ones that hung from our patio table, to the gray ones that clung to the wheel wells of our vehicle.  To this day it makes my stomach churn just a little to think of what might be living on these icicles that took the brunt of whatever road sludge I happened to drive through.  Consequently, it was a constant challenge to keep him away from these icicles.  Each time we went out our front door, he would race at full speed toward the car, yelling ‘Icicle, Icicle’.   I would sprint after him, dropping purse, books and whatever else I carried in an effort to swoop in and grab him just in the nick of time.  Thankfully, he was usually too exhilarated by the race to be upset that I wouldn’t let him eat the icicles that he worked so hard to try to reach.

This time around, at age 17, he was not interested in eating icicles.  However, he DID eat the Monkey-bread that I made on our Southern Snow day.  Also a throwback to our Colorado days, whether we had flurries or a full-blown snowstorm, this warm cinnamon and brown-sugar treat was baking in the oven.

Then there were other memories:  stepping in a small, icy puddle in sock feet.  Taking 20 minutes to wrestle a toddler into his snowsuit, mittens and snow-boots only to have him announce that he had to go potty….NOW!!!  That feeling of vulnerability as your car hits a patch of ice and is sliding across the road, and you are powerless to stop it.  The sense of panic that you feel when you don’t take the time to brush the snow off the top of your vehicle and then brake a little too hard at a red-light, sending an entire wall of snow sliding over your windshield.

Of course, not everyone’s experience last week was a trip down Memory Lane.  Many, including a cousin of mine, were caught up in the mass exodus from Atlanta, and wound up spending 10-24 hours in their cars.  Also, one of my uncles was stranded for about 6 hours outside of Birmingham.  Many people were inconvenienced, and even endangered at times.  However, the brutality of these conditions was tempered with stories of people bringing food, and leading stranded people to local businesses where they could stay warm.  It seems with each crisis that we encounter, there are those who step in and do something to make things more bearable for those who are suffering.  It is something we could all do, and it is as simple as giving a smile or an encouraging word to someone who appears to be struggling.  Can you imagine the impact if we strive to reach out at least once a day?  It could change a life, even our own, for the better.

The Deep Freeze

Well, our little corner of the world has joined the rest of the Nation in weathering this fierce blast of cold.  School is out tomorrow…a rare weather day that is usually reserved for avoiding hurricanes, not the cold.  There are the usual calls for checking on those who are elderly or living alone, or who may not have the resources to keep as warm as they should.  Everyone is advised to stay indoors if possible, to avoid the risk of exposure to the severe cold.

I have seen many people on social media post that they are setting up ‘nesting’ areas for neighborhood stray animals.  It may be on the porch or under a carport, but these ‘rest stops’ provide a spot with a blanket, food and water for vulnerable animals who are just passing through.   In addition, I hope that those who have nowhere to call home are able to find a warm place to spend the night.

If we all ponder a few moments, I’m sure we can think of  someone we know who would benefit from a friendly checking-in.  It would only take a few minutes, but they will know that someone is thinking of them.  We will benefit far more from reaching out….to reconnect with an old friend, or to make a new one.

Please stay safe and warm.

Reflections and Resolutions

I love that we have a ‘season’ for starting over, so to speak.  It’s funny that it comes on the heels of a time that we spend remembering.  The holidays give us a reason to reflect on things, to remind ourselves of the events of years past.  We gather with loved ones, and suddenly all the old feelings come back….some good, some not-so-much.  We somehow fall into our old roles in the family dynamic, and some of the issues that we struggled with through the years are staring us in the face once again.  However, as we gravitate to those we love this time of the year it reminds us that there are those in this world that we will love, and who will love us, no matter what we say or do.

Then, to balance this time of looking back, we make a 180 degree turn and face forward, looking toward a New Year.  We resolve to do things better, or start new things, always in that quest to improve ourselves.   And it can be a helpful, healing thing to take a personal inventory.  It has helped me learn my limitations.  For example, I no longer resolve to lose weight beginning January 1.  Too much pressure, and by January 5th, I’m polishing off a bag of Oreos.   By myself. However, I love taking this time of the year to organize, purge and figure out how to simplify things.  This has become a necessity, as caregiving has become more complex, and dropping the ball on the important stuff is not an option.

So today, I began with the refrigerator….as I was cooking our New Year’s dinner.  It made sense at the time:  We would need room to put the leftovers in, so the assorted mustards and jellies that I’m sure we bought when we moved here in 2003 had to go.  It was so liberating to decide what we no longer needed.   Unfortunately, my friend Guilt was helping me sort through the stuff, and she kept saying over and over:  “why didn’t you finish this mustard/jelly/you name it before you bought more?”  “Why were you so wasteful?”  I had no answers for Guilt as I continued my purge.

Eventually, I was rewarded with a beautiful, uncluttered refrigerator, and a New Year’s resolution that had never occurred to me before:  to use what we have before we buy new.  Maybe now Guilt will become a still, small voice until she finds something else to remind me of.   And I have a goal to accomplish in the New Year.

I would love to know what kinds of New Year’s resolutions you are making, if any.  Is it something you renew year after year, or something new?

I hope the year 2014 is everything you want it to be!!