I stepped over the outline of fallen leaves on the sidewalk. At first, I thought the area had been stained by leaves as they decomposed over the winter. Upon closer examination, I discovered these perfect outlines appeared to be etched into the concrete. The foliage had left an impression that altered the appearance of the sidewalk.
As I carried on, my mind was filled with the myriad of influences able to leave a lasting impression on my life. Each have the power to alter the way others view me. Many of my thoughts were focused on positive experiences that have shaped my life. These enable me to reflect encouragement to those I come in contact with.
People have also left lasting impressions on my life. One of the most significant was my mother. She shaped my life by both her words and actions. Although she passed away over twenty years ago, her influence can still be seen in my life.
From her I learned the importance of family. I learned people are more important than possessions. I learned to support and encourage. Instead of striving for great things, I learned to do small things with great love.
I learned the fulfillment helping others brings. I learned life isn’t always fair but there is still much to be grateful for. I learned to laugh at myself and with others. I learned people feel special when you make them their favourite foods.
These things, and many more, have permanently altered the appearance of who you see today. I am grateful for my mother’s positive influence. There is no greater legacy than to leave a lasting impression of love.
Our anniversary celebration included a guided hike in the mountains. It was too beautiful not to share, so here’s a taste of my experience.
Minutes from our hotel we had to stop as a herd of caribou ambled across the road. I didn’t expect wildlife that close to town.
It didn’t take long to reach the trailhead and start our hike. I gazed in awe at the rugged snow-capped peaks, brilliantly contrasted against the azure sky. A red squirrel darted across the path and up a nearby pine tree. Our guide told us how these forest creatures accurately forecast winter weather.
I carefully stepped across the icy areas of pathway to a wooden bridge, where I searched for the sound of running water. In the canyon far below, streams were starting to emerge from their winter covering.
From the next bridge, we saw a raven’s nest built on a small ledge protruding from the steep rock wall.
Soon, we came to some spectacular ice falls. I’d never seen a frozen waterfall before and was spellbound. We vowed to return in the winter months and do the guided ice walk along the bottom of the gorge beside these massive formations.
We carried on and up a steep incline. I paused at the top to catch my breath and my attention moved to the area near my feet. There, peeking through the soil with its head bowed low, was a prairie crocus.
Once I started looking, many more came into view. I even managed to find one with its petals opened to receive the sun. These delicate flowers were overshadowed by the larger natural wonders surrounding them. That didn’t make them any less beautiful. They were a sign of spring and brighter days ahead.
They were also a reminder for me to do whatever I can to share joy on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale, like the towering mountains or the deepest canyon in the Canadian Rockies. It may not be noticed by many. But to those who do see, it could mean the hope of brighter days ahead.
Through the beauty of nature, God once again gave me inspiration to live a better life.
Plate in hand, Miss K headed to the kitchen for the last piece of dessert. I noticed a slight hesitation as she approached the counter and said, “You don’t have to have it now. If you’re too full, you can wait until you’re ready. I’ll make sure it’s saved for you.”
She looked at me and said, “Wow, you have a superpower! I was going to ask if you’d save it for me but you knew what I was thinking before I said it.” “Did you hear that?” I said to my husband. “I have a superpower!”
Miss H, (who had already eaten her dessert), challenged me with, “If you have really have a superpower, tell me what I’m thinking.”
“You’re wondering if I really know what you’re thinking,” I replied. Her mouth dropped open in shock that I read her mind! She agreed that I must have a superpower.
My husband and I were still laughing about this the next day. I definitely do not have the power to read minds.
I could, however, understand why they might have thought this to be true. In both cases I was able to discern what had not been expressed in words. This is not always the case.
I wonder if I can develop the ability to look at someone, sense what they need and act on it. In order to do this, I would have to take the focus from myself and my needs and turn it outward. In other words, I would love others as much as I love myself.
This empathy and compassion would enable others to recognize their value, and in turn, contribute to peace, love and fulfillment in the world around me. Love is the best superpower of all.
I resisted the trend for a long time. Finally, just over a year ago, I became the owner of a fitness tracking watch. It keeps track of the number of steps I take in a day and the total gives me a good indication of my activity level.
The problem is, I’ve begun to rely on this number even though I know it isn’t totally accurate. When my arm isn’t swinging enough, no steps are recorded. Washing my hands can easily add an extra twenty or more. It probably all balances out by the end of the day.
One morning I delayed my walk because the watch needed recharged. Even though it wasn’t true, I felt like my steps wouldn’t count unless they were recorded.
My husband and I joked about this and then discussed how it could relate to an underlying belief. If no one sees or acknowledges what I do, does it still count?
I don’t always have the opportunity to see the impact my actions have on others. This doesn’t negate what I do.
Some mornings I stand in awe at the beauty of the sunrise. Other days, I fail to look out the window at the right time. It happens whether I acknowledge it or not.
I don’t keep track of the breaths I take or the number of heartbeats I have in a day but each is a precious and life sustaining gift.
The fitness watch may have caused me to look at life from the wrong perspective. Instead of counting the steps I take, my focus should be on making my steps count.
We determined it had been almost five years since I’d seen her. I didn’t plan to stay away so long, life just got busy. Thoughts of contacting her became fewer and farther apart as the years went on. Making time for this visit finally became a priority and here I was.
My massage therapist welcomed me like an old friend. We chatted as I relaxed between warmed sheets. It already felt good to be back in her care.
Tight muscles were reluctant to yield to her touch. As she worked, I was frequently asked if the pressure was okay. Her goal was to go deep enough to release the knots but not so much as to hurt me. She was careful not to give me more than I could handle at that time. Just over an hour later, I left feeling relaxed and with a better range of motion.
Had she not constantly monitored the pressure used, it may have been a different story.
The next morning, God reminded me that he constantly monitors the level of pressure in my life. He gives me enough to strengthen me but not enough to break me. At times it may seem like more than I can handle. That is because it’s been too long since I’ve spent time with Him. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.”
I was never meant to carry the load on my own. So much of the pressure in my life is self-imposed. Jesus is ready and willing to walk with me through whatever situation I face. That is the greatest pressure relief I could ask for.
When my mother passed away, I inherited her anniversary clock. It had been purchased when I was a baby and always sat on the mantle of my childhood home.
The clock sits beneath a glass dome. It has a pendulum with four brass balls which rotate slowly in one direction and then the other. An annual winding is all that’s required.
I was honoured that as mom’s time ran out, the timepiece she loved came to reside with me. My mom’s life exemplified the importance of sharing time with others. She was a lifelong volunteer and even at the age of eighty, frequently drove ‘old people’ to medical appointments or to get groceries.
The clock has been in my possession for over twenty years now and for most, if not all of that time, has been purely ornamental. In our recent move, the delicate clock suffered damage to the pendulum clip. Since it needed repair, I decided this was a good time to have it restored to running order.
The clock was returned to me a few weeks before my birthday. Both of us are old enough to be considered vintage. That means we’re not yet antique, but are becoming more valuable with the passing of time!
The combination of the anniversary clock and anniversary of my birth have me reminiscing. Moments of time replay in my mind. The joys, heartaches and lessons of my past have contributed to who I am today. How I currently spend my time will influence my life tomorrow. My goal is to invest it wisely.
Only I can give the gift of my time. When I share it with you, I am giving you a portion of my life. By taking the time to read this, you have done the same for me. Thank you, my friends, for spending your valuable time with me today. You have given me the best gift possible.
I walked past many puddles crusted over with ice before I gave in to my desire to step on one and break the ice. This was something I enjoyed doing as a child and it still gives me pleasure now. There is something satisfying about the sound of the ice cracking and seeing the web of lines form on the surface.
Later I witnessed two young girls stepping on the same sort of puddles. The older sister looked at the younger and said, “You can’t break it because you have to be strong – like I am. Let me help you.” The girls held hands and jumped together, cheering when they broke through the ice.
The path I walk goes alongside a meandering creek. In the stillness I hear the faint sound of fractures in the ice. Along the bank I see areas where water flows beneath an overhanging ledge of ice.
I am reminded the water has been there all along. It couldn’t be seen under the covering of ice but was still there, waiting for the right season to show itself again.
This is reminiscent of the hope hidden under the cares of life. When I dwell alone in the shadows there is no chance for the warmth to seep in and melt away the coldness holding me prisoner.
Sometimes we can’t break through on our own. We are stronger together. Let’s reach out and take the hand of another. Together we can break through the ice caused by isolation.
My grandchildren think I’m getting old and forgetful. Age is just a number and most days I don’t feel old, so I can ignore that. It’s the forgetful part that hurts. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my memory and to prove it I’m going to share a typical day with you. Maybe afterwards you can help me convince those kids I’m no more forgetful than anyone else.
Yesterday I got up early and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. The toast was taking forever but at least the coffee was ready quickly. I removed my mug from the Kuerig to find a colourless liquid inside. Turns out I hadn’t replaced the coffee pod. When I reached for a new pod, I discovered my toaster was unplugged. Those things are easy to overlook early in the morning and I’m sure everyone does them.
After breakfast, I threw a load of laundry in the washer and went to get dressed. Where was the antiperspirant I bought yesterday? I clearly remember taking it from the shelf and putting it in my shopping cart. Was I charged for it? I found my receipt and it was on there. That young cashier must have forgotten to put it in the bag. I hope the store will replace it for me.
There was no sound from the washer so the load must be finished. My new front load washer had been confusing at first but I’ve got it all figured out now. I opened the door on my laundry closet to see there was still time left on the display. What went wrong? Why had it stopped? Carefully, I checked inside to discover everything was dry. Not knowing what else to do, I closed the door and hit the start button. The machine came to life. My problem-solving skills are quite impressive.
While I was waiting for my laundry, I decided to call my friend, Sheila. I punched her number into my cell phone and nothing happened. The keypad looked a little different this morning and I couldn’t get a dial tone. Silly me, I opened the calculator by mistake. So many of these buttons look the same, it probably happens to lots of people.
I put my laundry in the dryer and went to look for my car keys. I know I had them yesterday but I was a little flustered when I got home from the mall. My car was missing when I came back out with my shopping. I was beyond distressed and went back inside to report it stolen. The nice security guard drove me around the parking lot and we found it parked on the north side of the building. I could have sworn I parked on the south.
I kept looking for my key fob until the dryer stopped. I’d resume my search after the laundry was folded and put away. Nothing was dry so I ran it through the cycle again. An hour later I was still faced with wet laundry, but I had found my keys. I must have left them in my pocket and that’s how they ended up in the wash.
In the afternoon, an appliance repairman came to fix my dryer. He had a look and told me I’d left it on the air only setting. That explained why there was no heat. The good news was the repair bill was only for a service call so not too expensive.
I don’t remember much about the rest of the day, so it couldn’t have been very interesting. I did have a pleasant surprise, though. When I was gathering ingredients to make dinner, I found my antiperspirant in the door of the fridge!
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that my day contained the type of things that happen to everyone. So, who wants to help me convince my grandchildren that my memory is just fine?
An art instructor gave advice on the painting I was working on. Personally, I thought it was beyond redemption and was tempted to give up. I could blame it on my lack of ability, the materials, or the environment but that wouldn’t change the ugly picture in front of me.
Since it couldn’t get much worse, I decided to implement the tips I’d been given and carry on. The painting evolved and a tentative hope was born. When the final brushstrokes were made, I stepped back and looked at a work I didn’t think was possible. I was proud of what I’d accomplished.
Something the instructor told me echoed in my mind. “Every painting goes through an ugly stage. Keep going and don’t give up because you’re not finished yet.”
We are in an ugly stage of life right now. The global pandemic has us in a holding pattern and I, for one, am getting impatient to move on. It feels like we’ve been stuck here forever.
Even in this, I have options. One is to give up hope the situation will improve. When despair takes hold my thoughts turn to what might have been, rather than my current reality. I focus on what I’m missing and not what I have. During these times I’m tempted to blame everything around me for my negative attitude.
The truth is, this picture is not finished yet. My better choice is to keep a positive outlook. Today’s decisions will impact my future so I need to be intentional with the brush strokes I make on this canvas of life. The picture is still evolving and I have hope for the outcome.
The ugly stage won’t last forever. When it’s finished, I want to be able to look back with pride at the picture that’s been created.
Most mornings find me walking down a side street until I reach the entrance of a local park. The paved path gives me the option of traversing the perimeter of the park or taking one of the many branches that veer off at different spots along the way.
In winter conditions, I tend to stick to the same route. Even so, I encounter different challenges in various places. Within minutes one day I went from a clear dry path to a section where I had to pick my way carefully around icy patches, before a coming to some small snow drifts to wade through.
Not only does this keep the walk interesting, I know these kinds of changing conditions also apply to my walk of life. A brisk pace can quickly change to one where I have to watch my step. If I’m careful, I can get through it unscathed.
A few days ago, I had another challenge on my walk. A skimming of snow appeared to give me solid footing. I quickened my pace and was caught unaware by the ice beneath. My foot slipped and my arms instinctively rose to a ninety-degree angle with my body. I felt like a tightrope walker, attempting to maintain my balance. Somehow, I managed to stay upright.
My focus now was entirely on the next safe step to take. Although this sounds like a good thing, it did cause another issue. With my eyes downcast, I wasn’t fully aware of my surroundings. Before I realized it, I emerged at the side of a busy street. The diversion I normally took to my quiet route home had been passed by unawares.
Lately, these winter walks have shown me not only to watch my step but also to look up and appreciate what’s around me so I don’t miss something important.