Category Archives: Parenting

A respite for the eyes and soul.

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When my eyes are weary and my soul feels heavy, I love to escape to the mountains. My favorite place is anywhere I can find streaming water such as a creek or river. My senses come alive but are simultaneously soothed as fill my lungs with the crisp air and allow my eyes to rest on the moving canvas created by the water. Though the water moves, it is often hypnotic with its constant rhythm of motion, providing the perfect respite. Sadly, escaping to the mountains is not always an option.

Sometime back, a dear friend of mine gave me one of the best decorating tips I have ever received. “Always leave blank space for your eyes to rest in a room,” she advised. In other words, as your eyes move around the room, leave a wall or a table surface empty so your eyes can take a respite from their work. Now, I am one who doesn’t necessarily like clutter, but I do have a home that is well lived in and I like seeing things that bring me joy and tell the story of our family.  In my living room hangs: a painting gifted to my father by a patient who didn’t have the funds to pay, a beautiful garden painted and given to me by one of my closest friends before she passed away, a coastal watercolor that belonged to my father-in-law, and few other things that have greater personal significance than monetary value.  Each brings my heart joy, but each also calls on my eyes to work in some way when I’m in that room. Therefore, there are some areas left intentionally blank.

At the end of a long day (or anytime the TV seems too loud for both my eyes and my ears), I shift my focus to the blank wall space to the right of the TV. The muted, neutral wall welcomes my gaze and, while I stare at the nothingness, I concentrate on my breathing, Sometimes, I see nothing but the blank wall and, sometimes, I use the blank canvas to picture a flowing stream in my mind. As my eyes enjoy the respite, so does my soul.

Tonight, as I drove home from my long Friday, I felt the heaviness of day hang on my shoulders. “Rest your eyes,” I heard a little voice deep within coax, “Rest your eyes; rest your soul.”  And rest them, I did, on the photo at the top of this post.

Where do you like to rest your eyes?

 

Simple, humble gratitude.

IMG_3439A couple of years back,  I wrote about my father.  He was an amazing man who made amazing sacrifices for his family and his country.  Each year, on Veteran’s Day, I called him specifically to thank him for his service and the sacrifices he made during WWII.  Though he was a humble man and talked little of his service, I wanted him to know his service and sacrifices mattered.

His service did matter. And, though he is gone, his service still matters, as does the service of every man and woman that has answered the call to protect my freedom. I may not agree with every action taken by our military, but I will always stand in support of the men and women that wear a uniform in protection of my rights.

As a practice, I thank every man and woman I see in uniform, regardless of the date, but today, as a nation, we say our public and collective thanks. With our eyes set on the fact that each man and woman in uniform was a boy or a girl once and that each has a family that also makes sacrifices so their son, daughter, husband, father, wife, and/or mother may serve,  my family and I once again offer our simple, humble, and deeply heartfelt gratitude for all the veterans that serve and have served.

And, in remembrance of my father, I again share the tribute I wrote in 2013:

My father.
My father.

A Veteran’s Legacy

He was a boy once, taught to ride ponies by his mama.
He had only one sister, no brothers, and a father who wasn’t present.
He was a boy who couldn’t breathe, lungs constricted by asthma.
He worked odd jobs to help support the family.
He was a boy who played saxophone and clarinet well.
He struggled in classes and was told he wasn’t bright.
He was a boy when he left school, not yet graduated, not yet 18.

He left school on the promise of a high school diploma.
He was too young to sign the papers.
He asked his mother for consent; she conceded, her only son would serve.
He was skinny, runt-like, at only 109 pounds, but they would take him.
He would play in the band and be trained as a medic.
He would serve in the name of his family, his friends, his country.
He served in the Navy, on the USS Yorktown, in the Pacific during WWII.

He played his saxophone and wheezed at night.
He saw action.
He saw death and pain and horror no boy of 16 or 17 should see.
He bonded with his shipmates, and they with him.
He mourned the loss of his best friend.
He swallowed his fear.
He rescued men when the ship was hit.
He was injured.
He earned medals.
He entered as a boy; he left as a man.
He said he simply did what he had to do, that they all did.

He lived in Paris after the war.
He played jazz and conversed with Jean-Paul Sartre.
He returned home to begin anew.
He went back to school on the GI bill.
He became a lawyer.
He met a woman and proposed 6 weeks later.
He married her in less than a year.
He started a family and he returned to school.
He became a psychologist.
He built a marriage, a family, and a private practice.
He became a writer.
He lectured.
He inspired.

He regularly challenged his mind; education mattered to the boy who left high school.
He teased with a dry sense of humor.
He encouraged and guided his children in their education and in life.
He traveled the world and inspired his children to do the same.
He woke with sick children, mourned the loss of a child, and assembled toys late on Christmas Eve.
He openly missed them when the last had left the nest.
He loved his children well.

He was a romantic.
He would buy her violets, the flowers she carried on their wedding day.
He called her “Doll”, and his eyes still sparkled each time he looked at her.
He would ask her, “Did I make you feel loved today?” at the end of the day.
He held her hand when they walked.
He celebrated their love.
He would share almost 50 years with her.
He loved her well.

He rarely spoke of the pain he had seen in the war or in life.
He served his country, his community, and his family.
He left a legacy of discipline, of humility, but most of all, of love.
He was a veteran, and I’m proud to say he was my father.
And, he is missed.

To all the men and women who serve and have served our country, my family and I thank you.