Hold on loosely…

Yes, there is definitely a nod to the song by 38 Special, but this post is far from rocking.

It’s heavy, because my heart is heavy for so many around me, and for myself too.

Working at a church gives me a front row to the joy- and the pain – of so many individuals. Most days I’m able to keep enough emotional distance that I don’t lose sleep. I’ve been to more funerals than most, and often it just makes me appreciate life and those around me.

Today feels different. Today is different because I lost a good friend. He was more like a brother. In fact, he called me sis. I’ve known him since 2003 and we even worked together for a few years. His wife and I are very close, and their daughter grew up with mine.

It’s just not okay that this family has lost such an important member. The lucky thing in all of this is that he wasn’t alone when he breathed his last. His wife was on one side and his daughter on the other. He wasn’t in pain. He is dancing with angels, though I’m guessing his dance skills are as terrible and awkward as ever.

One of my fondest memories is the night we drained a bottle or two of wine and tried to determine how I was his sister. Was I his sister – or his wife’s sister? We went round and round and never landed on anything definitive.

But this I know. He was family. And he left too soon. And he will be missed by many. None of us are promised tomorrow. Which is it so important to appreciate each person, each moment, each day.

Hold on tight, but also, hold on loosely.

what I’m learning about grief …
is that it need not be

a heavy gray shawl
to wrap myself in,
clutching my arms tightly
across my chest

nor …
need it be
a granite rock
that I should try
to push away

neither is it …
… at least, no longer …
a vast dark ocean
ready to pick me up
and slap me down
without warning

what I’m learning about grief …
is that it is not me,
but that it offers
to become a friend

a friend …
who will lightly lay a hand
on my shoulder
when tears come in the dark

a friend …
who will laugh
out loud with me
at remembered silly moments

a friend …
who can still hear
the music of our life

what I’m learning about grief …
is that this friend
doesn’t intend
to leave me

but promises
to hold my hand
to carry my memories

a friend …
who will bear witness to my love
as I venture
toward the next day
and the following night

hurting

By Nancy Cross Dunham

So tomorrow I’ll bring some food and some tissues, and we will cry and laugh and cry some more. And we will hold on to the memories, and to each other, and trust God for all the rest.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Sign me up for that!

It’s New Year’s Eve and I couldn’t let this occasion slip by without observation. I’m not doing a 20 things for 2020 list, or telling you how to reach your goals.

My take on entering 2020 is as simple as this photograph.

You could say I was excited!

More specifically, my expression reveals something worth considering as I set goals, make lists, break in my new planner, and generally prepare for a fresh decade.

It’s this: if I am not THIS excited / energized / enthusiastic about something, it’s a NO. It’s coming off my agenda, my calendar, my mind and heart, too. I am no longer interested in anything or anyone who produces a mediocre half-ass response.

Okay, I’m not referring to grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, or filing paperwork. We know these are necessary. Maybe sometimes I can smile like this afterwards – that I did something I didn’t really want to do. But this isn’t about chores, this is about all the OTHER stuff. The extra things, the recreation, the enrichment, the glorious things of life.

What I’ve realized over the past year is that I have had a lot of free time. Some of it was wasted on things that were really not fun or fulfilling. Or spent with people who did not bring out my best. Life is too short! My energy and time are too precious to waste on anything that doesn’t bring this expression to my face.

Or yours! When was the last time you were SO excited about something?

My friend invited me to an aerial yoga class, which I had been curious about, but had yet to try. It was every bit as challenging as it was fun, AND afterwards we grabbed a bite and had a great time catching up.

So it was a perfect GNO, and I was delighted to be where I was, doing what I was doing, and with whom.

I want one of these for my house!

That is what I hope and plan for 2020. That I can be enthusiastic with the endeavors of my choosing that lie before me, and that any company I keep will bring additional joy. As I ponder the future, I know I am going in with a fresh perspective and an optimistic smile!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Table for one, please

There are times when I am perfectly content being on my own. Dining in a restaurant is not one of them. Especially on Sunday after church, when it seems most folks are connecting with family or friends, it seems weird to be solo.

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Recently, this was the very situation in which I found myself. Because my daughter just began serving at a new restaurant, I drove there with the intention of being the friendly face in her section. I would give her some encouragement and a fat tip while enjoying a meal with Prince Charming. When he was unable to join, I found myself there alone.

This is what I imagined my experience would be… without the todka vonic.

Sure, I could have easily sat at the bar, but that wasn’t her section, defeating the entire plan. That’s when I noticed a single lady also waiting for an open table. I asked if she was dining alone. When she confirmed this truth, I confessed my discomfort and asked if she would share a table with me. She agreed, and we proceeded to enjoy a lovely lunch.

While we didn’t have a lot in common, our conversation was certainly pleasant. It turned out she had been recently widowed – a major life shift after 35 years of marriage. Grief is a heavy companion in the early phases, and my church experience helped me to proceed with grace.

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I tried to simply be a good listener, but I think I may have been a little too forward in my suggestions for her healing. I tried to frame it with, I know this ___ has helped others, and this ___ has helped me. Be a mentor, volunteer somewhere, find a cause and get involved.

Why in the world would I know what she should do? I don’t even know what I should do most days, and I’ve known me forever! This woman and I had only met a few moments ago. My hope was that she was encouraged, but I’m not sure a bunch of ideas from me provided that. I know better than to offer my opinion so freely. It’s clear I still have work to do.

She did thank me at the end of the lunch, and I found a card to share my contact info. I don’t know if she’ll ever call, or look me up online, but I was glad for our shared time. Neither of us sat alone, and my daughter received her encouragement and a bit of cash.

when-do-servers-make-the-most-tips

My lunch companion shared that sometimes the messages we need to hear come in unexpected ways. The message I needed was that it’s good to reach out to a stranger, and also, that listening is better than talking. Maybe the message she got was to politely decline the next time a stranger invites herself to the table?

This is where having faith comes in. I’m going trust that somehow we both gained something good from our shared table. The next time I have an opportunity to befriend a stranger, maybe I’ll skip it and find the courage to dine alone. Or, maybe I reach out and practice doing a better job of listening.

It’s all about observing, and evaluating, and doing better than we did before, right?

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

Stranger things…

The world is a strange place these days. It’s probably always been like this. It’s that now we are aware of it on a global scale. It used to be that only the people who lived on the corner were oddballs.  Now we know about oddballs worldwide thanks to the interwebs.

I’ve got a couple of strangers to tell ya about…

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