Ordinarily Extraordinary » Faith, Art, Photography.....Life

My sweet nieces are growing so fast. Last week we went to the gardens to take their yearly photos. It was so fun taking their photos and especially the oldest who is finally at the age where she thinks it’s fun to take photos with Aunt Mimi.

R is the oldest. I blinked and she went from baby to toddler to preschooler. She looks more like a little girl now; losing all the baby features she still had at 3. Goodness gracious I love the photos when she isn’t smiling. She’s the live wire, funny one. Incredibly smart. Talkative if she knows you and almost constantly moving. I don’t know that her brain ever stops. She loves helping her sister most of the time. She’s a little mother.

W is my sweetheart. She’s such a loving baby. She favors my baby pictures more and I’m still holding out hope her hair doesn’t turn as light as sister’s which was pretty much blond by this age. I need one of these babies to have brown hair & blue eyes. She loves her big sister. Always laughing at her crazy shenanigans. We call her grin-ee bug because she grins and smiles a lot. She’s the quieter one, so far at least. I think she is going to be more like me in that she’s always thinking but just quieter. She gets really serious sometimes and I know her little mind is contemplating.

Well hello blog. It’s been a minute I guess. But what better way to get back to it than linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for What’s Saving My Life Right Now. It’s a great reminder to stop and be grateful for the things that are bringing you life during these winter days. (Although here in Alabama it doesn’t know if it’s winter or late spring. One day the high is in the 50s and the next it’s 76 degrees.)
1. My Vitamix & fruit smoothies.
Seriously. I never knew how amazing fruit smoothies could be. Possibly because the first time I tried one it had banana in it & so I swore them off. Turns out I am loving them without bananas. I like bananas, banana bread & banana pudding. In smoothies? Not so much. And I find myself getting more servings of fruit than I usually do. As much as I do not enjoy cooking there is something so calming and therapeutic about slicing up the fruit or peeling it in the mornings that does my mind good as I begin my day. And the Vitamix? Best present ever.
2. Historical Fiction books. 
I’ve always loved to read, but I hadn’t read much fiction aside from Billy Coffey over the past few years. (He has a new book coming out next month.) Early last year I started listening to the What Should I Read Next podcast and it sparked my love of reading again. Especially historical fiction. Thank you, Anne.
3. Online libraries. 
Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy a good trip to the library filled with books that are printed on paper, but when you are in a busy season of life being able to borrow a Kindle book right from your iPad mini is wonderful.
4. Goodreads app.
I’m terrible about keeping a list of the books I’ve read & then a couple of years later not remembering what I’ve read or what it was about. If I write the title & a bit about it down though I’m good. But other things take priority over stopping to write it down. So Goodreads is great for people like me who don’t make writing down a list of the books I’ve read a priority.
5. My Erin Condren Planner.
I still use a calendar app on my phone for appointments & meetings so it will ding with a reminder but I started using an Erin Condren Planner last year and love being able to see my to-do list for the day on real paper.
I think I’ve mentioned this in a previous post of things I’m loving right now, but it’s still a little thing that makes life a bit easier. I can order my bagel when I leave my house on my way into the office & it’s ready and waiting. All I have to do is walk in, pick it up off the shelf, and I’m on my way.
7. These Lucky boots.
I wear them almost every day. After a week of breaking them in they became my favorite winter shoes. Not surprising considering my favorite shoes for spring, summer & fall are my Lucky brand flats.
So what is bringing you life half way through these winter days?

Grief: deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.

Mourning: the expression of deep sorrow for someone who has died, typically involving following certain conventions such as wearing black clothes. 

It’s a dance. Finding joy in the grief. One moment you’re grieving a loss only to find joy in the next moment. There is no balance to be found.

“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,” Ecclesiastes 3:4  

I don’t think there is a timeline to grief. Psychology tells us there are stages of grief. But what they don’t tell us is how long each stage may last or how it will affect you. Even how it will affect you physically.

At some point, though, the mourning shifts to acceptance and eventually the grief and joy blend together. You think you are past the grief when suddenly you feel the weight of loss yet it quickly mingles with a memory that makes you smile and maybe even laugh.

In my mind it’s like an impressionist painting. Edges of one area so soft they blur into the next.

I was driving home from work thinking about something my sister-in-law said about our mother-in-law a couple of days before. My mother-in-law loved the sun. It made me think of that characteristic of my mother-in-law I see in my sister-in-law who also loves the sun. And when I started thinking about it more I could see characteristics of my mother-in-law in each of us who married her three sons. I see her in each of her three sons and her six grandchildren.

Grief and joy blending together. Grace.

No, grief isn’t linear. No date on the calendar will mark each stage or tell you when you can move on to the next stage in the grieving process. You may even find yourself falling back to a previous stage. And that’s okay. I think the grief will always be there whether fifteen months or twenty-five years after you lose someone.

Eventually though the mourning melds into melancholy and if we allow it, grace brings those moments where grief blends with joy. Moments where you see traces of your loved one. And you can smile and laugh through the tears. A time where weeping, laughing, mourning and dancing appear all at once.

Grief. Joy. Grace.