Moments and Memories

This message in our neighbor’s yard that greets me every time I drive down our driveway is more important now than ever before.

We are knee deep in summer in the South. Whereas lazy days, sun and water activities, and times together with family and friends normally fill our days, many of us are still staying in place, hoping to avoid COVID-19. Still, we can be engaged in moments that create memories. An advertisement recommends, “Spend More Moments in the Moment.” What a wonderful message. Too often we are so busy going, doing, and acquiring that we fail to be present in the moment. This has not been as true since early March, due to the Coronavirus. Many of us are now used to a slower pace. Although this is an unusual time, summer provides us moments that create memories. But all moments are not the same, even when they create memories. 

It is not uncommon to see families and friends together, all on their devices, totally unconnected with those present. When seeing this, I am often curious about how could whatever is on the device be more important than those with whom one is present? This is not spending the right kind of moments in the moment; quite the opposite.  It is time to put technology in its place. Technology should be used for work and occasional relaxation, not to entertain us when we should be present with others. While we wouldn’t think to carry a board game into a restaurant to entertain us, our devices are small enough to accompany us almost everywhere we go. This is creating the wrong kind of moments in the moment. These are not the memories that we should savor. With most of summer still ahead of us, let’s make memories from the right kind of moments.

Making memories at The Salty Dog in Hilton Head, social distancing included!

Most of us have boxes and bins of photos clogging our spaces and our devices. Many of those photos are of events and people that are so far removed from our present lives that we do not need to keep the photos. They were our past and can be discarded. Before doing so, however, we need to commit some time to this. For there are surely some photos in with those others that we do want to keep, perhaps some photos of our distant relatives. We can create memorable moments with our children by involving them in this process, introducing them to those relatives. We can tell them stories of those relatives, bringing them to life for a short while. For the physical photos, we should assure that the photos are labeled with all pertinent information, especially names, relationship, and dates. We can discard all negatives, for it is unlikely that those would ever be converted to photos. We can discard duplicates, unless we plan to give those to different family members. This includes the duplicates of our children’s school photos. If our children do not want those school photos, do we really want to hold on to them?  Another option is to create a memory book with our children and grandchildren of their parents, themselves, and even some distant relatives.

There is nothing more special than our daughter and granddaughter.

A few other points about photos. Yes, those can be scanned and maintained digitally, and they will require less space. Before spending the time and money to do so, however, consider whether the digital form will ever be viewed again, or just sit on a shelf. A while back I found some printed pages of our daughter’s blog that she wrote years ago, which included photos of her two oldest children. I took those pages with me when I visited the grandchildren, and we relived memories and created new ones going through those together. I don’t think the experience would have been as memorable in digital form. 

Some of my favorite memories are cooking with our grandchildren in our kitchen.

Another idea is to create rituals with our family that are memorable moments that become traditions. One ritual some families enjoy is a regular weekly night of pizza and movie watching. In some families these traditions are so sacred that they supersede any other activity. The summer is a good time to begin such a tradition. Also, if your family has such a tradition, do not allow the different schedule of the summer to change it, unless doing so is a conscious decision.  Traditions can change, but if they just get set aside or lost in the shuffle of the different season, it does not take long before a tradition loses its meaning.

An unfortunate event on our vacation; our van invaded with a fire extinguisher and valuable items stolen. The lesson learned; leave nothing in your vehicle.

Summer is a wonderful time to play, but it should not be all about play. Many people have more available time in the summer than in the regular school year with all of its activities. We can create memorable moments by choosing to spend some time with our children volunteering to help those in need. If we have a regular time for this, and elect the same volunteer effort, it will become not just memorable moments but a meaningful tradition. If the volunteer effort has a special meaning for us, it will become even more memorable. This is different than the volunteering many people do as a part of their professional work; that, while worthy, has a different purpose. The purpose of volunteering with our children is two-fold; creating memorable moments while helping those in need. 

There are many ways to create moments and memories. The exact activity is less important than the commitment to be present with others, consciously and consistently turning moments into memories.       

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Seek First to Understand

These are challenging times. We have been quarantined away from our loved ones for two or more months, have had nowhere to go but perhaps the grocery stores, and many are suffering severe economic hardship. While some people have shown the best of themselves, others have lost whatever patience they had. One only has to visit briefly on social media to see and feel the depths of anger some are carrying. There has never been a time that we have been more in need of grace and understanding.

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My Twelve Personal Insights from Staying-at-Home

  1. I have too much stuff, much too much stuff, and multiples of much of it. This includes furniture, books, make-up, clothes, kitchen items, etc. While I probably already knew this, staying at home with all of my stuff for weeks reinforced this undeniable fact.

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A wonderful resource.

2.  I use the same stuff, wear the same clothes, etc. regardless of the excess that I have.

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One of the outfits I wear quite often. And no, Mike and I do not usually dress alike!

3.  It is very difficult for me to part with stuff. Too often I just move it around.IMG_7066 (1)

4.  Even with plenty of time, I did not do the things I didn’t want to do, such as cleaning.

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I have wasted money and time.

5.  During these more than two months, Mike and I lived in only a few of the rooms in our home. The rooms we used are the family room, kitchen, master bedroom, bathroom, and laundry/exercise room. The other ten rooms were vacant most of this time.

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During our stay-at-home, many hours were spent in our kitchen.

6.  I do not need foundation, eye make-up, or most of my jewelry. I did not wear eye make-up (other than a brow pencil!) or foundation at all during this time, even when I dressed and went to the grocery store. I wore the same earrings, necklace, and bracelet almost every day.

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It is time for me to read my book again!

7.  Committing to daily exercise is easier than planning to exercise a certain number of days per week. I have walked two miles every day but one (when it rained!) since March 20.

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Social distancing while walking on the beach.

8.  I need time to sit, reflect, and just be. I have enjoyed having time to do so.IMG_1762 (2)

9.  I do best with routine.

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Much of my mornings were routine, sitting in the wing chair by the fireplace with my coffee, watching the Today Show.

10.  I cope best with stress by staying active, so I did not read or write much during this.

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It is time to write the next book about Changing Me From The Inside Out.

11. I love our home in Raleigh. Staying-at-home there made me want more time there.

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Our home in Raleigh at Christmas, which seems like years ago!

12. Time passes so quickly, even when it is standing still.

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Mike and me and our precious grandchildren, before COVID-19.

Now, what will I do with this insight? Will it change my behavior in any meaningful way?

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Take Lots of Photos

IMG_1239 (3)Certainly, take photos of food and flowers. Even if you never do anything with them, unless for some reason you need them. Those are a record of memories of times you have enjoyed. But if you don’t have those photos, you won’t really miss them. Not so about photos of people. If you do not have recent photos of people you love, you may wish that you did. You may miss not having those. Continue reading

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Committed

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In my happy place with my AGA!

The Coronavirus has done what nothing else has been able to do.  It has kept me away from my grandchildren. April 2020 is the first month that I have missed seeing my grandchildren in more than fifteen years. While the reason for this is out of my control, that does not make it any easier. The oldest grandchildren are granddaughters who are fifteen, thirteen, and seven, who lives in Georgia, and they are used to my monthly visits. Our youngest is grandson Drew who lives in Raleigh. Continue reading

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Time Stands Still

Stephen & Brother

Robby (Left) and Stephen (Right)

The Coronavirus and Covid-19 have disrupted our lives immensely for about six weeks. You are most likely tired of talking about it and reading about it. Regardless of when or where it actually started, for most of us, it came out of nowhere. It locked us in our homes, closed many of our businesses, and left many without a paycheck and some getting their food for the first time ever from food banks. We still do not know when to expect the worst of this to end. But we know it will end. Most of us will return to normal, although many are thinking it will be a new normal. But nonetheless, this is not permanent. Unlike death. Continue reading

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Still Staying-in-Place

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There is beauty all around!

It has been more than a month since most of us were ordered to stay-in-place. Almost all states have this order in effect until the end of April, although a few states are beginning to reopen. Even in those states, things will not return to “normal” for who knows how long. Restaurants and bars are the businesses most in danger of staying shuttered-in-place for the foreseeable future.  Some of those will not reopen, unable to withstand the loss of income. Our economy has been damaged beyond our imagination. In all of those businesses are people who are now trying to live on unemployment, or worse. We have become well aware of just how vulnerable we all are. Continue reading

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