sleight of hand . . .

by mulberryshoots

This winter and spring have been filled with recuperation, recovery and other taxes on the mind and spirit here, not only for me but for my husband, G. as well. We’ve done well during some of it and not so well for some of it. But that’s the way it goes. We’re only human and when pain fatigue sets in, you’d like to think of something better to do with your time.

Speaking of that, I’ve reflected on what to do when things appear bleak and there’s nothing obvious to look forward to in the immediate future. For example, when we had our granddaughter, A.’s high school graduation to look forward to a couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of anticipation and preparation that was both exciting and engrossing: finding a place to stay in that seaside town (found a perfect one with minimal stay requirements and soft quiet environs that we plan to go back to often); planning what to wear (experimented thinking about more color and prints but left the tags on and returned most of the items unworn afterwards) but it was fun to “try on” those new looks; planning and giving special gifts to A., buying and preparing special cheeses and charcuterie to contribute to the family gathering spread, and so on and so on. Afterwards, there’s usually a let-down. It took us quite awhile to unpack everything, get help carrying things upstairs and then putting things away, little by little. Then, the let-down hit. So, activity is good.

In the last week, I’ve been feeling like there’s not much to look forward to except straightening out a vexing airline ticket credit that I had leftover from last year and a number of equally vexing car insurance matters to straighten out. Add to that, neither of us is wholly healed as yet, experiencing small ups and a few downs along the way. Thankfully, the weather has been pretty dry and temperate most of the time, showers and enough rain so that the gardens and trees look more lush than ever. The roses are out now and the morning glory seedlings are well on their way to getting started on their climb up the strings so that when they bloom, their blue flowers will be able to sun themselves on the 2nd floor deck.

So here’s the thing: I’ve discovered that the way to have something to really look forward to is (te-dah!) to consciously plan something yourself. I think intervals of every 2-3 months is probably good enough to get through a year. The key to this emotional sleight of hand is to be intentional about it: that is, not just rely on reacting to an invitation or thinking something will come up that may not appear. So, making invitations for a dinner party, or inviting out of town folks to visit, or going somewhere you’ve never been, even if it’s just for a weekend are things that we can make plans to do and it can cost whatever it is we think we can afford. Or not much at all. In fact, I don’t think that I can afford NOT to do it. So here’s my current idea.

It turns out that my daughter M. was able to straighten out my ticket credit by explaining my ankle injury to the travel people so that I can travel domestically rather than internationally and to extend the expiration to September when it’s not so hot everywhere. Given that I HAVE to use the ticket up by that time, we began brainstorming about places to go that we always wanted to visit, even for a brief time. She and the Helpers found a quaint place with an 180 degree view of Puget Sound from the deck of the cottage which sleeps 6, five minutes from the Seattle airport. Even though there are scant windows of time that my daughters can travel, given schooling obligations and teaching school schedules, we’re trying to find a time that they can make it out together along with M.’s partner and her daughter, J.

A few years back, I rented a cottage facing the Atlantic in Rockport for three winters running. By the third year, we were only able to make it up on weekends although we loved it everytime we were up there. For three years, Thanksgivings and Christmases were spent there en famille with everyone bunking down wherever there was room. It was a lot of fun. But it was also costly for the amount of time we were actually able to use it. Now, I’ve rationalized (that’s the only word for it) spending money on trips that will create memories for us which we might not have otherwise. Honestly, why not do that now while we still can? The injuries that we’ve had recently have brought home with a thud that these times won’t last forever.

HOW we think about things, our perspective, determines the attitude we can choose to take about something. Things can shift in an instant. I hope that with a mindset to create wonderful shared experiences for ourselves, every quarter or so, there will be many more family memories than there might be otherwise. After all, you can’t start planning for Christmas in September, can you?

Our granddaughter, J. will be turning four in September, almost the same timeframe as this trip that we are trying to pull together. What a nice way it would be to do new things together: go on a ferry ride, watch the sun set over Puget Sound, eat as much Dungeness crab as you can, go to Pike’s Place for farmers market, seafood, restaurants and people watching. And trying out COFFEE in Seattle. Now, there’s something to look forward to! Can’t wait!

If we don’t look for joy in our lives, who will?