A Season of Beauty, Growth and Meaning

Simple things delight. An example would be drinking a steaming cup of coffee mixed with just the right amount of half-and-half and sugar. When combined with some quiet minutes to write a blog post or journal entry that simple joy is made even grander. Add the bonus of watching the brilliant sun dazzle against a clear, blue morning sky; and grander morphs into a forward-thinking mindset about what the rest of the day will bring. Possibilities are infinite; nothing is untouchable.

One week ago, I struggled to overcome my first sinus infection. Today, I am nearly recovered and am able to keep pace with my spirited family, which includes my daughter, Issa (9) and my son, Riff (5). Until this illness, I was able to perform daily tasks independently — without outside aid. The sinus infection taught me it’s okay to ask for — or even demand — help when it’s physically impossible. My body was telling me what it needed to function at its best. I listened. The result: acknowledgement that help is available. One just needs to ask for it; and one needs to be clear about what is needed.

Spring arrived early near the “D”. My daffodils bloomed nearly one month ago and treated me to a brilliant display of cheery yellow until last week. Along with the arrival of so many natural wonders this season, my daughter, Issa, is making her First Communion in three weeks. Since January, we have been studying and preparing for this significant milestone. This opportunity to watch and guide Issa in her spiritual development was a journey rich with reflection, self-exploration and discovery. I am proud of her willingness to learn more about God, Jesus and living as a disciple.

On Thursday I will have my blogroll updated to give you easier access to all the wonderful writers and thinkers I have the pleasure of reading. Their wisdom and willingness to share their perspective with myself and others is a true gift.

Have a great Tuesday wherever you are.

Being Irish and the First Day of Spring

When Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring. In the lilt of Irish laughter You can hear the angels sing. When Irish hearts are happy, All the world seems bright and gay. And when Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, they steal your heart away.

— Irish Song Lyrics and Music Midi
Brought to you by The Information about Ireland Site

Happy first day of spring. My daffodils have all opened for a spectacular display of color at my front entry. It is rare for my early spring flowers to open in March. But, Southeastern Michigan has been kissed with several consecutive days of blue skies, sunshine and summer-like temps.

My Grandma with Issa in 2003
My late grandma with Issa in 2003

This weekend my family and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. My husband doesn’t really get into all of the hoopla. But, my children and I do. My late grandparents on my mom’s side are both Irish. In fact, Issa and I just studied my grandma’s ancestry for a presentation she gave at school, today. We learned my grandma’s great grandparents migrated to the United States and to Oceola Township, Mich., in 1849. This time period would have been toward the end of the Great Potato famine. While we are confident my Grandpa’s Irish heritage, his ancestry is a little more complicated to trace.

My mom, legion of aunts, and late grandparents

My mom and legion of aunts/uncles never miss celebrating Ireland’s national holiday on March 17. Each March they all migrate to Melbourne, FL where my Aunt Gerry and Uncle Jim treat everyone to a spectacular corned beef meal, spirits, March Madnesson every TV and sing-along sessions. Due to scheduling conflicts I have not attended since 2004 when Issa was just a year-old.

My sister, me, and Issa (one year) on March 17, 2004.

While the spectacular blue skies and summer-like temps in Michigan had my crew hankering for grilled steaks, I treated them to a corned beef feast, which included my infamous Nutella cookies with green M&Ms. I didn’t hear any complaints. But, I did drink a couple Smithwicks while the corned beef roasted.

Related previous post …

Nine Irish Kids and the Power Codes (kateschannel.wordpress.com)

 

The Original Saturday Real-Life Escape

It began Saturday morning. I started the engine, set my music to the Black-Eyed Peas, and sped out of the driveway. Squealing my tires, I left my husband, children and dog for my sister and Hob Nob Pinot Noir. I escaped to the land of The Original Cottage Inn, Stucchi’s, the University of Michigan and flirty boutiques.

At The Original, my sister and I savored a child-free meal and traded strategies on how to avert meltdowns. Somehow food and drink tastes so much better without food strikes, projectile air launches, or requests for drink refills. Plus, nothing beats The Original. Just think about it. Does Ataris’ cover of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer measure up? Say what you want. It just doesn’t do it for me. The same goes for food. Mastery of artful, tasteful duplication is tough and not without peril.

Our escape route also included a trek through the campus at U-M, hunting for stylish spring accessories, and indulging at Stucchi’s. That scoop of cinnamon crumb cake was absolutely delicious; and worth every calorie and fat gram.

The original Saturday real-life escape was extra special with a visit to my sister’s home. There, I cuddled my nephew who is a bundle of six-month cuteness and discussed how challenging it was to catch leprechauns with my niece, Annalise. She even showed me the box she made for trapping them. Life is beautiful.

Seven, Silent Monsters

I have seven, silent, but ever-present monsters prowling around in my head. Winter blahs, cabin fever, parental stresses, unrealistic expectations, inner negative talk, ever-growing to-do list, and time thief, are “The Seven”. For a lack of a better term for these negatives, I call them monsters. They remain silent because until now, I have not given any outward indication to their existence.

“The Seven”, however, have drawn swords, and are challenging me to a fierce battle this winter. I am motivated to fight and banish these silent monsters. Ignoring them is not my style. Giving into their negative energy is not an option. I refuse to encourage them toward a more public presence.

By nature, I am an optimistic, extrovert, who enjoys social occasions and people. It is foreign to identify a struggle with “The Seven.” Acknowledgement — I believe — is the first step to winning these solitary, inter-connected wars. Next, is to fight.

Upper cut to the winter blahs. No more thumbing a nose at snow, arctic cold, and limited daylight. I will take Zumba classes, ice skate, and run indoors until frogs croak Spring’s arrival.

Box it out to cool cabin fever. Stirring a little crazy is just what I need to break out for good times with family and friends. Ann Arbor is on my list for the next two weekends.

Front kick parental stresses. My faith prevails. I am ready for whatever is on deck. My ability to love, nurture, teach, inspire, learn and discipline strengthens every day.

Knock out unrealistic expectations. Spotless and always-organized are not realistic daily goals for my house, which is home to four active people and a lovable, playful dog. There will be days — in the near and distant future — when performance please me, but not you. So be it.

Round kick inner negative talk. Body types, genetics and past experiences brought on by school mishaps, social challenges and stupid choices cannot be undone. I learn valuable lessons from living life and from others. I will cheer loudly for positive thoughts.

This fight is nearly won. I am sweating. Are you? I saved the most notorious confrontations for last. One is with ever-growing to-do list and the last is with time thief.

Swipe a blade to that ever-growing to-do list. My concentration is on action items already occupying PDA space. Child care, academic success, professional development, volunteerism, household chores, pet care, family relations, friendship development, social calendar, marital bliss and new acquaintances are just a cliff-note version of what my responsibilities include. When does it stop? Does it ever?

Fast feet catch time thief. Set the clock for me. I am taking time to read books, spend time with family and friends, volunteer, strengthen spirituality, pursue hobbies, develop professional ambitions, pamper my body, watch quality entertainment, and listen to good music.

What a match-up. The adrenaline is pumping through my veins. I feel better already. Do you see any monsters? I don’t right now. But, seeing some green along with a dose of Spring-like temps wouldn’t hurt, either.