Living in the Present, Gratitude, and Contentment


A few weeks ago, I was thrown for a loop when my son told me he’s applied to graduate a semester early, next January instead of a year from June.

That should be great news, right? But then after a couple days it hit me: I’m living alone now, but then I will be truly alone. My older son hasn’t even visited since he graduated from college.

Since then, it’s occurred to me that it could be worse: He could move back in with me. But my main thinking was that with all due respect, married people who complain about Empty Nest Syndrome don’t have a clue what a *truly* empty nest is like.

So I was having trouble thinking that way, and I’ve written about that already. But I thought it was funny what finally snapped me out of it and had me happy and content and joyful: I cleaned my bathroom!

It was the day before Easter. It was my day off, and I was having a super-productive day. As I cleaned my bathroom, I couldn’t help but notice how *much much much* more pleasant this task was than it used to be when I was married.

There’s a verse in Proverbs about how when the ox is gone, the stable is clean, but from the strength of the ox comes an abundant harvest. Married people reading this, the ox is well worth it! I don’t argue with that for a second.

However, as a single person, with no ox in the stable? Well, why not rejoice in the clean stable?!!

A wise teacher, Christel Nani, has pointed out that a good way to live in the present is to practice gratitude. When you’re thankful for the present, you’re not filled with regret or nostalgia about the past, and you’re not worrying or wishing for the future.

I think besides being grateful, we can actively enjoy things that we won’t be able to do so easily if our circumstances change — like clean the bathroom!

Later that same evening, I played Brahm’s Requiem — about Resurrection — and sang along to the alto part. I could sing as loudly as I wished, and it didn’t bother a soul. I could pour out my heart in praise to God, and not worry about bothering anyone.

Today’s my day off, and I decided to enjoy my wonderful lake. I walked around it and took some pictures of the beginning blossoms. I love my condo-by-the-lake. The truth is, if I ever marry again, I will probably want to live somewhere larger. It’s perfect for a single person, and fits my son well when he’s in town — but if my family were bigger, I’d probably want a bigger place.

So I am thankful that *today* I can enjoy the benefits of this wonderful home by taking a walk and enjoying the blossoms.

Tonight, I’m going to go to a gaming group and play some Eurogames. I love doing it, but it does take several hours on a Friday night. I love hanging around super smart people and exercising our brains and having a great time. Tonight I’m looking forward to listening to an audiobook during the long drive there and back, as well.

And the truth is, if I were in a relationship, I might not want to give so much time to this activity I enjoy so much. While I’m single, though? No problem!

A couple of years after my husband left me, someone made the mistake of complaining to me that her husband didn’t give her sex often enough. Oh my, I was angry with her! Please don’t remind me what I’m missing! By the same token, though, married people, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that your spouse won’t necessarily always be around. There are some wonderful things about having that person in your life today, even if they aren’t perfect. And who is?

So that’s my reminder to myself for today. To help with contentment — rather than thinking about what you don’t have and wish for, especially look for things you are privileged to enjoy *now* that you won’t necessarily be able to enjoy if your life changes.

Flood of Memories

This year, when I found out my brother was getting married the day before Labor Day, I planned my vacation for the last week of the summer, in Oregon. Yesterday my youngest son and I got here, and today we’re really here. I’m still not up to full speed after my stroke last month, so that’s my excuse for being lazy and “resting” this morning, finishing the book I started on the airplane.

But my goodness, the nostalgia from being here!

I was born in Washington, DC, but my parents only lived there briefly. The first place I remember living was Kent, Washington, near Seattle. We moved away, to Los Angeles, when I was almost 6 years old, and I didn’t want to move at all, and Seattle was always my ideal of a beautiful place to live. Part of what I loved about Germany was the weather reminded me of Seattle — nice cool summers, and beautiful GREEN.

So, when we lived in Seattle, we visited Grandma & Grandpa in Salem often — it was only a couple hours away. Then when we moved to Los Angeles, we’d go most summers. Until about the 9th child was born in 1977. By then, I think there were too many of us to take the trip very easily. So we didn’t go so much.

After I grew up and got married, I went to Oregon only twice (until now). Once was with my own family when my now-23-year-old son was a year old, and once again when my Grandma died (but that was by myself). So you see, most of the time I spent at Grandma’s house was when I was a foot or two shorter than I am now. So it all seems much smaller!

On top of that, of course, the neighborhood is much, much more built up. My Grandpa had five acres. He built the house himself and this is where my Mom grew up. It seems very strange to me that now when you look out windows you can see other houses. There was lots of land around it all and lots and lots of trees. So the yard actually is much smaller — it’s not only that I’m bigger.

My Aunt Susie lives alone in the house now, and I’ve been delighted with the welcome she gave my son and me. I’m still recovering, so slept late and read this morning. Then we went for a drive to see beautiful Oregon scenery and I fell in love with Oregon again.

In the past year, three of my brothers and sisters and my oldest son have all moved to Oregon. Mind you, all of these particular brothers and sisters are at least sixteen years younger than me. But I’m afraid I’m a lot more excited about seeing family when they are in Oregon than when they are in Los Angeles! And today being in Grandma’s House has produced such a flood of memories from when I was so much younger.

Longwood Gardens

Okay, I’m slowly telling the story of my Summer Vacation.  The day after my birthday and graduation, I had breakfast with my classmates and fellow graduates, and then drove back to Virginia.  Along the way, I stopped at Longwood Gardens and spent a few hours there.

Years before, when Josh was a toddler, we visited Longwood Gardens with my parents-in-law and met some family friends who lived in Pennsylvania.  (We lived in New Jersey at the time.)  I believe that was when I met Lorinda, who often leaves comments on this blog.

It was funny, because I barely remembered that trip — until I went inside the large greenhouse and peeked at the Children’s Garden.  Then I remembered that on that long-ago visit, it rained, so we spent most of our time inside the greenhouse.  I also got a weird sense of deja vu when I watched the small dancing fountains going to a recording of Stars & Stripes Forever, because my father-in-law had videotaped the entire performance, and it was identical, after all those years!

Anyway, my trip this June was a totally different experience.  That trip was a large gathering, planned by my mother-in-law, and with a toddler in tow.  This trip was a solitary ramble in a beautiful place on a gorgeous day.  I was thinking about graduation and new beginnings and all the hope my future holds.  I did a lot of praying and thinking about the future, and a lot of simply enjoying the beauty.

The water gardens were beautiful to listen to as well as to see.  There was a bit of forest I was able to hike through.  I sat on a bench and simply enjoyed the woods.  It was very nice to have nobody tired of me taking pictures or bored with simply looking.

It was funny — the day was Father’s Day, and there simply weren’t too many families that celebrated Father’s Day by going to gardens!  Those that were there were on a very different, child-centered agenda, from what I was doing.  It felt wonderful to ramble through a safe, slightly wild, gorgeous place and reflect on how blessed I am.

I’ll post the full album on Facebook, but include some of the best pictures here:





























Bluebells and Home

When my son got accepted to Thomas Jefferson High School, a shift happened in my mind.

Before this, I was still hoping for reconciliation with my husband and assumed that would mean I would move to live with him.  As I followed him for all of our married lives.  That’s what wives do, right?

I’m still hoping for reconciliation.  But now, whether or not that happens, I am making a Home here.  My son gets to go to the BEST high school in the nation!  As long as I live in Fairfax County.  We went to the Freshman Preview Night and were so impressed.  There is simply no way I’d have the heart to give him a taste of that wonderful school and then pull him out and make him go to an ordinary school.

So — at least for the next four years, I fully intend to live in Fairfax County.

And you know what?  I like that idea!  I can make a home here.

I have wonderful friends here — new friends as well as friends I’ve known almost my entire life.  I have a fabulous, loving and welcoming church where people worship God and talk about God and God guides and directs.  Tim was already going to an excellent school, and in high school he’s going to go to an even better one.  And I got a wonderful job working as a Children’s Librarian, working with more fabulous people.

Truly God is richly blessing me, right here and right now.

I had a Friday off, with Tim in school.  I work for Fairfax County, and a daily news update mentioned that it was now Bluebell Season at Bull Run Regional Park.  Shortly after cherry blossom season, the bluebells burst into bloom by the riverside.  The trees still don’t have enough foliage to block the sunlight, and the flowers turn into a sea of blue.

Well, Bull Run Regional Park isn’t far at all from my home.  (And I’d heard of Bull Run since I was a little girl — when my brother did a panorama of the Civil War battle.  Pretty cool to actually see it!)  The day was glorious.  The sun was shining and breezes were blowing.  An utterly wonderful day for a walk. 

The trail ended up being a nice loop along Cub Run and Bull Run, about a 45-minute walk with stops for pictures, and totally flat.  It was a magnificent way to spend some time, and I felt I was truly appreciating my new, beautiful home!


I’ll post a link to my facebook album of pictures as soon as I get them edited.