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.
The previous day’s heavy snowfall had left a large accumulation on our second story deck. We discussed the best way to remove it. If we tossed it by shovelfuls over the deck it would be blown onto the patio of our downstairs neighbour. Definitely not the best idea.
The only option for disposal seemed to be in our bathtub. My husband scooped up a bin full of snow and I carried it inside and dumped it in the tub before returning the bin to him.
We were surprised how many trips this took and how quickly the bathtub was filled. I took a couple of pictures and sent them to family. The caption said, “This is how I have to build a snowman when we don’t have a yard!”
The more I thought about, the better this idea sounded. I told my husband what I was thinking and he encouraged me to do it.
A large chunk of snow at one end of the tub would be perfect for the head. There wasn’t room to roll the snow into balls so I’d have to sculpt it. Maybe I could build it reclining. An idea for this project was forming in my mind. After much thought, I went to the fridge to choose the perfect carrot for Frosty’s nose.
When I returned to the bathroom, I could see that my project was not going to happen. The snow had melted into one solid mass and was no longer moldable. By morning, all that remained were a few leaves and some dirt to remind me what could have been.
I had the opportunity to do something unique and instead of going for it, thought about it until my window of opportunity passed. All my plans and good intentions mean nothing if I don’t act on them.
All is not lost, though. When I have the opportunity to take a chance and do something different, I will think bathtub full of snow and not waste the opportunity.
First, I took all of the pieces out of the box and turned them right side up so I could see what I was working with. Then I separated the edge pieces and built the border or the framework to define the perimeter of the picture.
This was when my analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to life began. I need to examine what I’m working with and know what my boundaries are.
Within this framework are multiple pieces. Some come together quickly. Others require much trial and error before they find their own place. It is quite common to be working on several different areas before discovering how one or two pieces are able to join them together.
I attempt to put similar colours and patterns together. The dark or shadowy ones aren’t as appealing but serve to make the brighter ones even more vibrant. The picture is starting to take shape.
I hold a piece in my hand and think I know where it belongs. It isn’t quite right but I attempt to make it fit. This is where I want it to go, why isn’t it working? If I force it, the space will not be held for the piece meant to go there and the picture will not live up to the potential shown on the box. This is more difficult that I imagined and I wonder if the puzzle is ever going to come together.
I move to a different position to view my work in progress. Another perspective helps me figure out where some of the extra pieces fit. I stand back to take an overall view and am happy with the progress made so far.
My life, like the jigsaw puzzle, still has some pieces to be put into place. The time and effort I put into it now will one day result in a beautiful picture of who I was and how I lived my life.
Partway through an online painting tutorial we were told the next step was to draw a path that later would be surrounded by trees. The instructor demonstrated how to sketch this. Then she said, “Don’t be concerned with your path looking exactly the same as mine. Everyone’s path will be different.”
I paused the lesson in order to catch up on my painting. Her words, however, remained with me.
My path is my own and will not look the same as anyone else’s. How many times have I been concerned about the differences rather than appreciating the unique path I travel? Just because my journey isn’t the same as yours doesn’t make either one of us wrong.
I have experienced frustration and disappointment when I’ve attempted to follow in the exact footsteps of someone I admired and not achieved the same results.
My faulty reasoning said if you were successful, then my success will follow when I duplicate your steps. I failed to take into consideration that I am not you. My skillset and life experience vary from yours. Our definitions of success may also differ. We can learn from each other and adapt these lessons to create our own unique path.
Sometimes I’m a slow learner. It took me a long time to figure out what was most important to me. Only then could I create a life of abundance and enjoy the diversions rather than striving to reach what I thought my goal should be.
Now I’m creating my path as I travel and it’s taking me to some amazing places. The picture of my life has less stress and is far more colour as it evolves into the work of art it was meant to be.
Climatic conditions needed to be perfect produce the spectacular view I was looking at. Tree branches coated with hoarfrost are a sight that thrills me.
The majority of my life was lived on Canada’s west coast and I’d never experienced this particular beauty until we moved to Alberta fifteen years ago.
I’d seen my share of frost, but nothing as photogenic as the feathery type that forms on blades of grass, tree branches and leaves. Hoarfrost is so much more than a simple coating of ice crystals.
Several times during the day, I sat and gazed at the beauty. Instead of venturing into the frigid air for a closer look, I enjoyed the view from my warm living room. By mid-afternoon the temperature hadn’t risen but a wind had come up, loosening the frost. Bit by bit, the ice and its weight was removed and blown away.
This scene reminded me of problems and cares in life. Like many others, I put on a brave face and tell you everything is fine. Even if I don’t feel that way, it’s important to ensure everything looks good on the surface. I sometimes forget that ice, no matter how pretty, still feels cold.
When I acknowledge my need to be authentic and relational the frosty mask starts to fall away. By sharing my concerns with others, I am able to surrender the many items I have no control over. The icy bits that were weiging me down get blown away by the warm breeze of companionship. Together we find peace.