Driving home yesterday after a trip to JoAnn Crafts as I neared home, I glanced down at the clock in my car. It read 11:11am. I see that particular set of numbers quite often.
Just as the thought crossed my mind that there must be an angel with me, the song “Away in a Manger” came on the radio. And yes, I was listening to Christmas music already. 🙂 I really had no intentions to listen so soon, but we had our first light snow yesterday, and well, I guess it kind of put me in the mood.
But I digress. As soon as I heard this song I knew who my angel was! It was my grandma Pipping coming for a visit. It was as if she was right there in the passenger seat next to me. When I was a little girl, I loved when she would sing “Away in a Manger” to my sister and I. In that moment, I was there again, in her house listening to her sweet voice singing.
I do believe that our loved ones who have crossed over find ways to make contact with us. And it is usually when we least expect it. For me, it’s a feeling of deep knowing that comes over me that confirms for me that indeed, my Grandma was right there with me in that moment. I just couldn’t see her. But I felt her presence very strongly.
It almost feels like a whoosh and gush of warmth filled with pure love that moves rapidly from the top of my head down to the tip of my toes. I couldn’t help but smile and feel so loved and comforted in that moment.
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There was a time in my life that taking the shortest, fastest route was how I traveled anywhere I went. Just thinking about that now makes me want to jump out of my skin.
These days I look for the most scenic route to take. This often means taking the back roads. The roads less traveled these days it seems. I try to avoid the long stretch of speed and concrete on the super highways if possible.
I actually feel different and better when I do.
This morning I didn’t plan accordingly with my time when I set out to go to the dentist. As I was driving 70 miles an hour down the highway I felt my soul shrink into a safe place, not wanting to keep pace with the cars rushing by me.
I knew after my dental cleaning was done that to entice my soul back out of its cocoon that a picturesque ride back home would be in the cards.
The dentist office I go to is about a half hour from my home. It is also close to the neighborhood I grew up as a little girl. I didn’t have anywhere to be after my appointment so I rambled home the long and slow way.
What a treat! I love driving down Geele Avenue to 10th street where I walked those sidewalks many a times when I went to Washington Elementary School. I don’t have vivid memories of being a young girl, but I do remember bits and parts. Like trick or treating at night, which I loved and wish they still did today. I also remember playing “Barbie dolls” with my friend Liz on the different corners of our block.
When I travel this way, back to the “old” neighborhood I think about all the good memories of my childhood. Past my house on 10th street I went. Such a long time ago. Another life and many chapters ago. Going past the house I lived in until in the seventh grade, I often think of my childhood friend, Kelly. I fondly called her Kewee and she called me Bwarpie. She lived a few short blocks away and between the two of us we had a pretty big stuffed animal collection.
I took the country roads home, listening to the Doris Day station on Pandora, which I’m addicted to lately. Past farms, barns, cows, sheep, horses, and blossoming trees as my soul slowly peeked back out again. I swear I heard it sigh in relief.
And past part of the Sheboygan River I went. Not a car in site, so I got out and took the photo above. I could hear the water rushing under the bridge and it made my heart feel home. There is just something about nature that makes me feel at peace.
As I got back in the car I silently gave thanks for this time I had to take the long way home. The road less traveled never seems to feed my soul in such a beautiful way.
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Sitting on the stool in my teachers art studio, the blank canvas on the easel loomed large in front of me.
Could I really paint something that would actually look like something when I was done? I wondered.
I was out of my element, but wanted to give it a try. The last time, the art lesson had been in a different location and instead with oils. I never did finish the painting and don’t much like working with oils. But this time I was trying acrylics.
And the teacher, someone who I’ve always admired for her myriad of creative talents, was eager to share her love of painting with me.
But first I was drawn to the photos that were carefully pinned on the bulletin board on the wall in front of me. I couldn’t pull myself away from getting lost in them.
Many of the photos of her late husband. He died at the age of 82 in November 2014, at a cabin up north that he loved.
His wife, my teacher, now moving into her second year of learning to live in a new way with good, and not so good days.
It was her second marriage and she was just easing into her fifth decade when she married him.
I stared at the photos of her with him. A chapter I couldn’t really recall being that I was so busy in my own life, married by then for almost ten years.
But now the pictures came to life in a way I’d never noticed before. Photos of my teacher at that time, around the same age as I am now.
What was her life like in her 50s? I wondered. I thought about my own life now, trying to relate to how she may have felt and thought at that time, wondering how it is to what she now feels and thinks about in her early 70s.
I saw myself in her. In more ways than one. I saw it more now than ever before. This decade I’m in, she once was.
I too, will someday hopefully, be in the decade that she is now. But then where will she be? I wondered.
And my heart begged my mind to stop thinking ahead, urging it to instead linger as long as I could in these moments.
Live in the precious memory that is in the making right now, I heard a voice inside me say.
Drink it deeply into your heart, holding on as tightly as you can. It will be the memory you will need, along with all the others, when the teacher who has taught and gently guided you your entire life, will have moved to the other side of the veil.
You will need it then, to call upon, to be the comfort of an embrace of those loving arms that wrapped around you countless times over the years, providing a love like no other.
And as she began to squeeze the splashes of many different paint colors onto the glass palette, excitedly chattering away about making the blank canvas my own personal piece of art, my heart overflowed with love and joy.
My teacher…My friend…My mom…
and the work of art that now hangs on my wall and captures a day filled with sweet moments of laughter and love–and what I will no doubt turn to that inevitable someday as a gift that will flood my heart with this precious moment in time.