Friday, April 18, 2014

Reasons to rejoice

A therapeutic bridge (Photo by Walter Skupien)

Ten of today’s blessings (Thursday, 4/10/2014):

- Sunshine;

- Catching up with walking buddy Ann;

- Making it to 0.7-mile marker on the Biloxi Bay Bridge pedestrian path;

- After-walk coffee, tea, conversation and laughter at Coffee Fusion with Ann and my husband Walter;

Bradley (Photo by Walter Skupien)

- Bradley, our excellent roofer and a fledgling author, stopping by to visit us at Coffee Fusion when he didn’t find us at home;

- Our big ole burgundy high-rise van that alerts Bradley (and other friends) of our whereabouts when they are inclined to make an impromptu visit;

- News that Bradley is pursuing his writing while continuing to do well with his carpentry and construction business;

- Re-admission to occupational neuro rehab therapy for another seven or eight sessions;

- Tales, laughter and tasty calories for dinner at McElroy’s Seafood Restaurant with Hubby’s siblings and their spouses; and

- The energy to enjoy the day’s events from good morning to good night! 

Reasons to rejoice always surround me, but I don’t always acknowledge them. When in such an unreceptive condition, it takes a conscious choice to invest effort in recognizing and articulating blessings.

It never fails, though, that once I start the listing exercise, I become aware of more and more things to be happy about and thankful for.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 ESV

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stroke recovery: Bridge joys

Sun fun

The past week’s sunny days have created opportunities for “bridge therapy.” Husband Walter and I arrived at the base of the Biloxi Bay Bridge's pedestrian lane about 10 minutes before sunset.

That meant we had 10 minutes to make it the four- or five-tenths of a mile to the structure’s highest point and best vantage point for a sunset. Our town’s side of the bridge has the shortest—and steepest incline to the top.

Hubby was reluctant to leave me alone walking at my slower pace while sharing the concrete surface with runners, cyclists, and parents pushing baby strollers up and down the steep manmade hill.

During my final months of physical therapy, the therapist had evaluated progress in terms of my increased walking speed.

That thought was good motivation to keep me pushing and puffing up the hill to an internal refrain of “I think I can. I think I can.” A timely and relevant literary allusion also has the power to inspire me.

I made it to the bench that shares the 0.3-mile marker before the sun dipped into the bay. I took a seat on the bench and released Hubby from caregiver mode to continue on to the top without me. 

Catching my breath, I pulled out my little Canon to capture my own version of the sun’s fading rays in the photo above.

Climbing the bridge ladder

The next day walking buddy Ann and I were on the bridge, climbing this ladder to the top. In addition to the release of endorphins that our bridge walking generates, there is always something visual to enjoy on the bridge, whether sun and shadow, birds, frisky marine life, or opportunities for people watching.

The wider view of shadow ladder

May joys small and great fill your week.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A princess tea party

Our son Walt with his two princesses Charlie, left, and Stella

Alert! Granny blog post ahead. 

A February visit to our Georgia tribe included an activity I had never experienced while parenting our boys.

I had the privilege of accompanying our oldest son as he delivered his daughters Charlie, 8, and Stella, 5, to a princess tea. The girly event was a fundraiser organized by Atlanta Ballet Company where the girls take ballet.

Before we departed, the girls modeled their princess attire: Stella in an all-white “snow princess” outfit, evidence of her enthusiasm for the Disney movie “Frozen,” and Charlie in an outfit appropriate for her announced status as a “college princess.”

She had raided her closet to pull together her college princess ensemble. She wore a black knit skirt, knee length in front, longer in back; a white tee topped by a short black sweater that she and our nieces refer to as a “shruggie”; strappy white sandals; and a plaid purse borrowed from her little sister.

Once we assured her that she looked every inch the college princess, she scampered to the kitchen, snatched a piece of notebook paper, and started working furiously with an orange marker to create an item to accessorize her outfit. As we traveled to the tea location, she confided that she had made herself a "college princess" degree.

By the time we had arrived, our college princess’ ebullience had deteriorated into quiet nervousness. She evidently had become aware that the other princesses were probably all going to be of the ready-made Disney variety.

Just outside the entry, one of the older teen ballerinas stood in her ballet finery, greeting arrivals. She and the other students in her group would perform later, but their enthusiasm and skills at welcoming the girls, escorting them and making them feel like real princesses were priceless.

The beautiful ballerina’s effusive chatter and compliments for the snow princess and college princesses' attire soon had both our girls beaming. Charlie regained her sparkle and confided that she had her degree in her purse.

“Do you want to see it?” she offered. A “yes” had Charlie pulling out her notebook paper diploma and handing it over. At the older ballerina’s enthusiastic reaction, Charlie floated through the check-in process. She and Stella, escorted by another ballerina, disappeared through the ballroom doors.

 A doorkeeper ballerina chats with Stella, Charlie and other princesses-in-waiting.

After dinner that night, the four kids were excused to go play, and their mom filled us in on details of the event from an adult volunteer’s perspective. She noted that Charlie was the only princess she had seen without the usual royal jewelry.

But I am certain Charlie was also the only princess to arrive with appropriate credentials--her "college princess" diploma.

It was not the traditional fairy tale, but a memorable happy ending for this grandmother nevertheless.