On a recent visit, my three-year-old nephew Henry asked, “What’s there on your face?”
It took me a minute, but I realized he was asking about the worry-lines between my eyebrows (wrinkles). I smiled and said, “Those are just my wrinkles. Look I have more when I smile” and pointed at the crow’s feet formed on the side of my eyes.
The next day Henry asked why I had those spots on my face and arms. I told him they were my freckles… spots where the sun kissed my skin. He looked innocently at his arms and said, “My freckles are still sleeping.”
While his noticing my wrinkles made me a little sad, his discovery of my freckles and statement about his sleeping spots was super sweet and made me think about the freckles, wrinkles, and other characteristics that appear with time.
I know we can all relate to our adolescent desires to be taller, fuller, thinner, or whatever-er, but once we are doing the adulthood thing, how often do we give ourselves credit for the features that are no longer “sleeping”? Or how do we celebrate the differences between people? Do we point out the idiosyncrasies of other’s appearance in positive or appreciative ways?
As I made my way around the corner, light from our basement stairwell startled me. My children are notorious for leaving on the lights throughout the house, but this time I was the only one awake and certain that I had turned off all lights before going to bed the night before. The glare from the stairs was unexpected and demanded investigation.
I made my way down the steps, and as I reached the bottom landing, I had to smile. The radiant light was shining through the artwork completed a year ago on our basement windows. The sun had not shone in a few days and its rays were something I really needed and appreciated in that quiet moment.
The windows found in my home and those around the globe, may not have held a candle to the ones found in our parish churches, but they allowed a creative light to shine in our hearts and homes last spring. In the throws of pandemic quarantine, I sought ways to bring joy and creativity to my children’s activities. As Easter approached and the weather kept us indoors, I joined thousands of other parents giving kids permission to paint their windows. Using tempera paint we created “stained glass” windows.
At the time, this was a fun and uplifting experience. Now, the fear and anxiety that came with the haunting pandemic are lessened and the pressures of what to do with ourselves in those uncertain times have diminished, but the artwork on our windows is still there brightening our days.
I could wash the windows and take down the reminder of what COVID 19 did to our lives last spring, but keeping the color on those panes has also been a positive prompt encouraging us to keep faith in spite of fear and that things will improve if we find ways to stay optimistic. It is in the light of last year that we can feel pride in our resourcefulness and gratitude for what we have accomplished and the continued blessings of our lives. So if you are feeling down or there is a darkness hanging over you, please know that there is light at the end of every tunnel and even the most stained of windows have the ability to let brightness shine in you.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Washing windows is a sad subject because washing windows makes me sad. Please don’t ask me to was these windows. 🙂
I’m no Robert Frost, but I am an admirer of hearing “the only sound’s the sweep, of easy wind and downy flake.” I’m not an enthusiast of freezing precipitation and the havoc it wreaks on roadways, but I am a fan of the peaceful nature of falling snow and an even bigger admirer of Fridays. Fridays are the highlight of the week, but a Friday in a world that looks like a snow globe is a special treat.
The peaceful nature of today’s snowfall felt like a call to drop all the worries and stressors that have been weighing me down. The dance of flakes in a symphony of spiraling, soft landings seemed to lower my stress level and reminded me to just let go of the silly stuff that I can’t control. (Hopefully I don’t sound too much like the Frozen soundtrack.)
If you are not in a place where you can see or hear the snow, I hope you will enjoy this clip from my front porch.
The sights and sounds as the snow began to fall harder this morning
The Intentergy message for today is to let the falling snow be your call to peace. Even if for only a minute or two, taking in the frosty scene can help you forget what’s wrong with the world and the blanket of white can be a clean slate allowing you to find calm.
See the world for the beautiful and chaotic snow globe that it is.
Let the simple pleasure of flakes falling be the counterweight to your worries and find some balance between stress and serenity. While we are like Robert Frost in that there are probably miles and miles to go before we sleep, we can be grateful for the opportunity to watch these woods fill up with snow and empty our emotional overloads as we enjoy the sights and sounds of this wintery season.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. If there’s enough snow, you can throw some snowballs to get frustrations out as well. A very peaceful practice!
P.P.S. My allusions to Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” do not have to stop here. I am so glad we are past “The darkest evening of the year,” and the day light is blissfully growing longer.
Each morning as I check turkeys, I am amazed at how much they have grown and how their looks change from one day to the next. The funny thing about turkeys is the older they get the prouder they are of their looks. As their plush, yellow fluff is replaced with fine, white feathers, the birds make it their business to hold their heads higher when they pass by. When their fully white plumage is in place, turkeys seem to spend all their time admiring and admonishing their tails and wings, and flaring their feathers as they strut around. Pride in their maturity seems to be the opposite of what we humans do. We lose confidence in our appearance as we age. This loss of self-esteem is tough emotionally and isn’t very attractive. So while turkeys are definitely not the most beautiful of creatures, I think we need to be more like them.
As we begin this new 365-day trip around the sun, many of us are focusing attention on our appearance. The most common New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight or exercise more. So while, many of us are counting our calories and watching our weight, I want to encourage you to fluff your good stuff. Don’t let love handles or belly rolls be what you purposefully draw attention to. Single out your best qualities and draw attention to what makes you feel good about yourself.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of a personal quality or physical trait. There is tremendous benefit to knowing what you are good at or what makes you beautiful and unique. So, if you’ve got it, fluff it!
When Atticus came to us in July he was a light rusty color, but as winter approaches, he has become a horse of a different color. Not only has his winter coat added a deeper hue, but his mane has really grown out from its previous roaching, and Atticus looks like an equine rock star with his mohawk mane.
It seems the darker shade of his hair has also brought out a slightly more somber attitude in my sweet boy. After accompanying Hubby on a hunting trip in Colorado, Atticus came back without the willingness to ride. Of course, I was greatly concerned. Hubby told me that twice Atticus stopped when they were riding up the mountain and simply would not go. Hubby had to get off and lead him. (This defeated the purpose of taking a horse to the mountains and did not bode will with the hunting party.) When I attempted to ride him on the farm, Atticus calmly allowed me to groom and saddle him but would NOT budge once I was in the saddle.
No amount of kissing, clicking, or kicking could get him to go. We even tried baiting him by separating him from his girlfriend Winn-Dixie. Atticus couldn’t have cared less that my daughter rode Winn-Dixie out of the corral and out of sight. I hopped off, did some ground work with him, jumped back on, and still no steps would he take. I led him to the top of the pasture meeting up with my patiently waiting daughter and Winn-Dixie. Back in the saddle I went, but nowhere was Atticus willing to walk. Eventually, we ponied him back to the corral with Winn-Dixie.
We are all familiar with the “If you can’t say something nice…” adage, but how often to we put effort into leaving our lousy thoughts out of what we say?
Last week I was angry. Angry at someone I care a great deal about. Angry at the choices they had been making. Those choices felt unfairly selfish to me. When I voiced my anger to my friend Emily, she helped put things into perspective. Emily reminded me that the person I was mad at wasn’t necessarily being selfish; they were being human. Each decision they made was done so because they thought it was the appropriate choice for them.
Of course, Emily was right and I needed to quit being so judgmental.
This week, as I was taking a drive with my friend Chelsea, she was lamenting the overly critical nature of one of her family members. The nature of their hypercritical haptics was exhausting her. We came up with the brilliant idea that people should quarantine their fault finding fascination. The quarantine of unfair judgment and social criticism would be a great way to cure the world with kindness and understanding.
After two months of staying home, the kids and I snuck away to my aunt and uncle‘s lake house. We had two days to take in some fresh scenery and do a whole lot of fishing. Between casting lines, reading books, baking cookies, and watching the boats on the lake, I made sure to take a few hikes and nature breaks.
I’m always amazed at how the simplest elements make themselves powerfully noticeable when I allow myself to be still. I believe my favorite instances of appreciation occur when I discover wild flowers.
The moments of beauty created as wild flowers reveal themselves to us are truly miracles because they occur so surprisingly and often in very brief windows of time. One day there will be a hillside of blooms, and the next no blossoms can be seen.
Today I encourage you to seek out some wild flower moments.
Allow yourself some quiet time to stumble across surprise lillies; stare into the eyes of black-eyed susans; delight in the darting centers of cone flowers; and collect the wealth of the golden rod’s glow. If wild flowers are not your thing, search for the simple pleasures that do peak your interest. Put energy into appreciating tiny treasures or magic made my Mother Nature in other ways. If your intents are positive and full of gratitude, you will reap the rewards of experiencing moments just as bright and much less brief than those found in wild flower moments.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Picking wildflowers is legal in Missouri, so long as you do not pick them with the intent to sell. Be sure to check with your state laws before plucking those pretty posies from roadsides and state parks. Enjoy!
I started writing this post prior to the COVID 19 crisis, but thought now was as good a time as any to share some ideas for self-care. I am probably not the poster child for making time for myself a priority, but it is something I am determined to move up on my list. A lot of us believe self-care consists only of bubble baths and keeping our water bottles with us at all times. These do help, but any doctor can tell you the 6 best prescriptions for procuring a positive outlook and sustained self-care are sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise, and diet.
Brighten Your Day!
If you can find just a few minutes of outdoor exposure, even on the cloudiest of days, you will still benefit from vitamin D. Sitting by the office window, isn’t the same, as most modern glass is designed to block UV rays. As we approach May, hopefully there will be brighter skies and ample opportunity to get outdoors. Allowing some solar powered stress relief will also motive your mojo to getting moving and amp up your ability to wind down at bedtime. (Don’t forget the sunscreen though. Sun burns definitely don’t decrease stress levels.)
Ah, rest, the most elusive of healers. Getting good zzzz’s is tough because our brains are over-stimulated from work, worry, and too much time staring at electronic devices. Setting a schedule is one of the best ways to ensure that sleep is secured. Even thought our schedules are out of their normal whack, it’s still a good idea to stick to your regular bed time. Regulating a routine for bed time is also great for getting your brain to shift to a lower gear. Taking time to get sun and exercise each day will also motivate your mind to mellow out and cutting off the caffeine before evening is always a calming choice.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Air is one option that actually isn’t too tough to take advantage of. A few focused breaths of breathing in the calm and letting out the crazy forces you to fixate on what you can and need to do and send the other stuff sailing with your exhalations. Daily meditation or mindfulness practices are super stress reducers. Simply setting your feet flat on the ground, placing your palms on your lap, closing your eyes, and slowly breathing in and out reduces your heart rate and allows your mind to mollify.
Today I served as lector for the Palm Sunday mass at our church. This wasn’t unusual, as I have been the lector for this particular mass many times in the past. The unusual part came as I was reading to an almost completely empty church. (Only Father T., another lector, and four members in the choir loft were there with me.)
While this was unusual as masses go, it is the new “normal” for those seeking to take part in celebrations of faith as we seek to stay afloat in the Coronavirus pandemic.
The news of our church broadcasting via Facebook Live may not be headline news, but I believe the impacts of social media-shared services across the globe provides a groundbreaking new definition for “Where 2 or 3 are gathered…”
Matthew 18:20New International Version (NIV)
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
I know there have been times when church attendance was low and often there are only a handful of parishioners at any one service. The unique element of the social media-shared services is that the two or three in church are joined in spirit and faith by hundreds, maybe thousands, in their homes. The words, actions, prayers, and petitions are all being shared simultaneously via the world wide web. Continue reading “Where 2 or 3 are Gathered … The New Meaning”→
All too often we describe the tough times in life as the dark times.
The Dark Ages is a term assigned to the days after the fall of the Roman Empire and the years of struggle within the church for guidance and acceptance because of the uncertainty and haphazard rule of warring leaders. People felt lost, scared, and hopeless.
Even Star Wars warned us to not got to the “dark side.”
If it weren’t for the dark, the stars would not shine.
If you are going through some dark times, it’s okay to recognize the darkness. It’s okay to say, “This stinks.” It’s really okay to feel sad or mad or frustrated. Once you’ve acknowledged the darkness, you can find the bright spots.
My kiddos entering the tunnel to create their constellations.
Our local library offered a constellation creation station this summer. Kids were invited to sketch a dotted outline of any constellation they could imagine. My daughter designed a horse constellation and my son created at robot. As they poked their holes in the “sky” with thumb tacks, the flashlight beam prevented them from seeing the darkness and appreciating the brightness of their work.
Once the holes were punched and the flashlights extinguished, the darkness was welcomed.