Caring for a parent, family caregiving, mother daughter relationship

Rising to My Greatest Self

As I’ve mentioned it’s been raining for weeks. I’ve been taking my Vitamin D, which my doctor said everyone who lives here should take. I don’t get seriously depressed by the lack of the natural source. I’ve only recently begun to grumble just a little, because it is spring and I’m ready for some progress toward a change of season. I’m ready to be outside. Then in crept yesterday.

It’s a foggy beginning. I love fog. I love the quiet, I love the cocoon of it. I love the anticipation of what comes next, which is nearly always a beautiful morning. It’s like a gift waiting to be unwrapped. Four deer are grazing in the yard out my window, appearing and disappearing in the fog. I drink my coffee and eat my granola in the blanket of silence as I go through my seed packets to find the April planters (March in a warmer year). I check the Farmers Almanac once more to confirm dates. It’s Day 1 of the ideal moon planting week. Perfect.


When the sun begins to glow behind the veil, I dress quickly in the cold house and go outside. I gather my garden tools in the wheelbarrow and head up the driveway. The air is invigorating, but not as uncomfortable as I expected. I round the curve. The sun comes first to the meadow, which I can’t see from the house overlooking the valley. I always forget that. The sky is already brilliant blue, the sun casting shadows. The birds are singing, the doves are mourning to each other. An owl is hooting its way off to sleep. I have to stop. Overcome. Two months too long of rain and gray, and all is forgiven. For these moments, I would live no where else on the planet.


The deer have arrived ahead of me and glance my way, then return to their grazing. The neighbor’s dog, Gracie, joins me too. I expect she is missing her mom person who left us recently. This summer I will fulfill my annual intention to keep treats in my pocket. I’m not a dog person, but this girl is sweet. And she is my neighbor; I would like to be friends. Maybe she would walk in the woods with me when her 90-year-old dad person can’t.


My mother and Sandy, neighbors and friends. They dwell in different universes now, but my mother remembers this joyful day.

I plant lettuce, spinach, chard, beets, carrots, potatoes, peas, and broccoli. I begin phase three of the garden path and clear the meadow of heaping wheelbarrow loads of blown down tree branches, ready for Chris to mow when it’s dry enough again. By the end of the day I’m moving so slow it’s nearly negative progress. Ibuprofen. It’s the breakfast of champions (dinner in this case), my cousin notes on my Facebook post.

I did this twice after realizing it was too close to the open gate. Three walking steps of an estimated 22.

I’m determined to get phase three of my path done before the ground gets hard and dry. Even with moist sod the stripping and hauling it away is back breaking, the bricks are heavy, the bags of sand weigh 50 pounds. Just a few feet at a time, I tell myself.

A few weeks ago in yoga—level 1-2, which also kicks my butt—the teacher pointed out that we all have limitations. “We can bow to them or we can stretch ourselves beyond what we think we can do. It’s our choice.” I remember her words at each weekly practice when I really want to sink into child’s pose instead of continuing whatever daggone challenging thing we are doing at the time; not always because I can’t do it, but just don’t want to.

I remember the words as I work outside. I need to remember them when I spend time with Mama. She was upbeat last week and I enjoyed my time with her. Monday she was in the doldrums and I couldn’t wait to get away. I arrived with energy and left wanting to go to bed and pull the covers over my head. I can’t change her mood, but she sure can change mine like no one else.

She took care of this house and property for two decades after my father died; letting go of what she couldn’t see, or couldn’t deal with. As I get some of those things taken care of now, to keep the house from falling apart and to ready it to share with others (my Airbnb will be online soon, I’ll keep you posted), I am amazed anew by what she had to contend with when my father died. I’m overwhelmed, and I’m a decade and a half younger than she was. (Now that I think about it, that doesn’t seem like very much.)

I spend a lot of time telling myself we are such different people, my mother and I. As I worked yesterday, though, my hands in the dirt, looking up to watch a honking V of geese fly overhead, my heart soaring with them, I felt a stirring. Though I have never felt one with my mother, her love of mountains and trees and flowers and this earth, runs through my veins like life blood.

It’s raining again today, the wind is blowing, and it’s a darn good thing. The ibuprofen did it’s miracle work. I slept well, and my body feels good, but it can use a day of rest. Yoga also says, “Just do what is available to your body today. If side angle gate pose isn’t available (ever), modify it or rest in child’s pose.” Today  I will finish getting the permits I need for the Airbnb, pick up the CO detector they will say I need, and visit Mama. I hope she enjoyed breakfast and is content. If not, I will listen and draw on yesterday’s beauty, the beauty that also gave her a rich and splendid life. I will rise to my greatest self.


Dear Gretchen: Live into your limitations or rise to your greatest self.
It’s your choice.

8 thoughts on “Rising to My Greatest Self”

  1. I appreciate that ‘don’t want to’ part of yoga…it pulls at me now and then too! I also appreciate the house and yard demands which call the body to temper it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Then today was the “can’t.” The entire practice led up to crane. Can’t do crane. I could in junior high! I remember it as one of the few gymnastic type things I could do. That and backward roll in pike position. Haha! That was a few years ago. ❤


  2. A wise woman once told me ” slow is the way things get done “.
    I can’t help but see that message woven throughout this post. The spring, the garden, the path, yoga, Gracie, the Airbnb …
    And then there is your mother ♡
    I love that you see her in yourself. Not every part, but in standing in those familiar places you are beginning to recognize the gifts she has given you.
    How wonderful for you (and for her) that those are the pieces that took hold and grew. So very much planted deep in that garden.
    Thanks for sharing the photos of such a joyful, colorful, rich place. And (as always) thank you for sharing your words.

    Liked by 1 person

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