Thankful Thursday | Rituals

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Getting out of bed in the morning sure has changed.

For one thing, it takes a lot longer. There’s a series of stretches that must be done before I actually get up, as my back and legs are a “tad” stiff.

But, that’s after removing the night splint I use to ease the plantar fasciitis in my right foot.

Of course, I have to first take off the cotton gloves that cover the Bag Balm, slathered on my hands the night before to treat the dry skin of psoriasis. Otherwise, the gloves get stuck on the velcro straps of the night split.

Gone are the days when I hit the ground running. Running to get the kids off to school and myself to work. Thankfully, I didn’t require stretching or anything else, because there simply wasn’t time.

When I think back to those days it amazes me what I accomplished inside of twenty-four hours. These days I have to pace myself or risk pulling a muscle. ūüėČ


One thing I’m truly grateful for this week (and everyday) is my morning coffee. And, more importantly, the time I have to enjoy it.

Knowing the Keurig awaits is all the incentive I need to get out of bed despite the annoying delays.

What is it about a simple cup of Joe that gets coffee lovers moving in the morning? One estimate says 64% of Americans drink coffee everyday. Is it the bold taste of the beans or the caffeine rush? Is it the heady aroma that tantalizes our olfactory nerves?

I believe it’s a combination of all those things, as well as the ritual itself. Humans are known to be creatures of habit. Our habits or rituals give us a sense of security and provide structure to our schedules and meaning to our everyday lives.¬†

man wearing black crew neck shirt and black jeans

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

But, when we’re younger we often don’t have the opportunity to truly enjoy them. Careers and family responsibilities take up a great amount of our time and energy. That cup of coffee is usually gulped down from a travel cup as we make a hurried commute to our next destination.

For example, the young man in the photo above is putting on his shoes as his coffee sits cooling in the background. The building across the street signals that he lives in the city and there’s probably a steady stream of interesting people on the sidewalk below. If it were me, I’d be drawn to the window, to relax, sip the java, and people-watch. But, he probably has to get to work, school, the gym, or someplace else. He probably won’t have time for another 30 years, or so.

These days I have the luxury of less work and more time. The kids are grown and flown. My job is part-time with long weekends and the summers off. The housework doesn’t require the same level of attention as before. Everything is easier, albeit somewhat emptier, at times. However, my hobbies and ongoing projects fill up any voids that come along.¬†

The morning routine is to enjoy my cup of Joe at a leisurely pace, planning the day’s chores and activities according to my schedule. While this schedule demands some age-related conditions like morning stretches, it also allows a little dreaming over a second and, sometimes, a third cup of coffee.

And that’s a ritual I can really get behind!


 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Think About the Legacy You Leave Behind

A road through the forestWho would’ve thought that a mundane spreadsheet I’m creating for my mom would get me thinking about life, death, and what remains when we’re gone?

Certainly not me; however, that’s exactly what happened.

But, first I have to go back to 1983. After a brief, but excruciating battle with lung cancer, my father-in-law passed away at the age of 48.

I was only 22 at the time and didn’t have much experience with death. We had just returned from the hospital grief-stricken that a strapping, six-foot-five-inch man, who “hadn’t been sick a day in his life” was gone.

I remember my mother-in-law asking me to get a sweater from her bedroom. When I stepped through the doorway something caught my eye. It was his work boots. They sat next to the bedside table quietly insignificant other than their dark color, which contrasted against the blue pastels of the room.

Then the realization struck me; these boots stood for all that was left of the man we knew and loved. They represented his legacy and the core of who he was. These well-worn, beaten Wolverines spoke to all that he accomplished over the years, including a successful construction company. 

Sure, there were lots of other possessions: clothing, toiletries, sporting goods, tools, books, paperwork, memorabilia, and so much more. Years later we were still finding his belongings, tucked away in boxes and drawers.


It was then I understood how death is a great equalizer. It shows no bias or favoritism. Death doesn’t care who you are or what you’ve acquired in life. It takes our most valuable possession and leaves the rest behind.¬†

As a young adult, I’d always felt that¬†death was too far away to worry about. However, that jarring¬†discovery enlightened me. With the passing decades, I’ve watched the¬†gap between my youth and old age slowly shrink and I’m aware of it now more than ever.


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My mom has a list of phone numbers written on a lined sheet of white tablet paper. The front is covered and it continues onto the backside.

There are notations in the margins, old numbers crossed out, new ones written in, some unidentifiable smudges, and a faint coffee ring near the bottom. 

It consists of family, friends, neighbors, favorite restaurants, doctors, and the skilled nursing facility that became my dad’s last home. I’m not sure how long she’s had it, but it has definitely seen better days.

I decided to type it all into a spreadsheet, sort it alphabetically, and make it easier for her to read with a larger font. As I entered each name and number I crossed it off on the paper. 

Glancing down the list I noticed how her handwriting changed as it grew longer. The script slowly became shaky over time and reminded me of the notes my grandma used to write. 

Suddenly, that tattered paper took on new significance. I stopped crossing out the names so I could salvage something that was uniquely hers. Instead, I started putting a check mark next to them. 

The entries themselves told a warm and familiar story: Patty’s Clippers & Cuts, Dr. Jill, Plaza Pizza, D’Onofrio’s grocery delivery (Tues. & Thurs.) and Vets Fish Fry, among others. Each name and number signified a small slice from the lives of both my parents.¬†

Then there are the intangibles; those things that can only be felt. The love, kindness, and life lessons given from the heart. The funny nicknames and the faint sound of laughter if we close our eyes and concentrate. A special song or dish at Thanksgiving; the fragrance of a certain cologne.


It’s funny what we leave behind. There’s a wealth of physical items that are easily identifiable and some that baffle the survivors.

We don’t recognize as we accumulate our stuff that it tells a small part of a larger story. These are things that are packed up for charity, passed along as mementos, or kept for the connection they provide to our loved one.

Unsuspecting things, like a handwritten list that can never be duplicated or a voicemail that relives the past, if only for a few moments.

We leave much more behind than what’s stored in the basement or in our bank accounts. We leave memories of who we are and how we lived.

What kind of memories will you leave?


 

 

 

Reblog: The Faces of Alzheimer’s Disease

A touching collection of portraits of Alzheimer’s patients.

Photographer Alex ten Napel is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this portrait photography. These images are from his project ‚ÄėPortrait ‚Äď Alzheimer‚Äė. To see Alex‚Äôs portraits click on any image. See also: Young Diplomats By Alex ten Napel Back to HOME¬†PAGE

via The Faces Of Alzheimer‚Äôs Disease ‚ÄĒ Edge of Humanity Magazine


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