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My step-mother was a bra-burner and a banana bread maker. For years I wanted her to choose. Now I’m eternally grateful that she did not. If I take a lasagna to a sick friend or a new mother it is because my step-mother taught me to do so. But she never let artful domesticity keep her from painting.

She has hung her work in an art show every single year. And this year she was featured in a Colorado retrospective. She didn’t do it all. Sometimes we kids were left to run around, which is great. She nourished us in her kitchen and with her happiness that involved having layers of paint under her fingernails.

nana yellow platterMy mother-in-law lived on a farm caring for 6 children, chickens, goats and the accompanying garden that would keep everyone fed. She made everything from scratch, including the clothes her children wore. Because her kids long to repay this gift, they have numerous and complicated plans for her retirement at their homes. But she is fiercely independent. The woman who took care of everyone else wants no part of being taken care of.

She lives alone and has a long term care policy that insures she will burden no one. When each of us said we’d be happy to have her in our care her response was, “But that wouldn’t make me happy.” Then she proceeded to explain that this way allowed her to keep her independence, the thing that mattered most to her.

And then there is my biological mother who taught me that being cared for could be a lovely thing as well. She married a man with a heart condition and then worried about giving her heart to him when he might have a cardiac arrest at any moment.

Then she proceeded to die in his arms.

oma's butterfly quiltShe surrendered to his care little by little. First, when he retired, she gave up cooking the meals as he took that job over. Then she began to have mini-strokes. Because those chipped away at her ability to react quickly and move her fingers nimbly, her husband drove her where she needed to be and helped to do the more complex piecing on the quilts that she loved to make. Finally he fed her and bathed in her final months. Watching my mother receive the care she thought she would give was a lesson for me that love is often most vulnerable when it is accepted.

I am so lucky to have such strong women show me so many ways to love.

sally bathroom collageA bra-burner, an independent spirit, and a dying woman taught me about love and I’m honoring them on this Mother’s Day. Love wears many faces: love gives, love stands boldly in her own shoes, and love lets another all the way in.

Here’s a wonderful article from Elizabeth Gilbert about the Crone’s in her life and why she celebrates them.

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don’t call me stupid

April 30, 2014
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I’m slow. I’m a slow reader. I process things slowly. I take a long time making decisions. Sometimes this makes me feel stupid. But I have been telling myself for a long time that slow is many things that look like dumb. Slow is deliberate. Slow is intentional. Slow is methodical. Slow is enjoying the […]

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how dying eggs is a story about grace

April 20, 2014
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My friend puts her lips to the egg –an intimate gesture – and I can tell by the way her feet get wobbly underneath her that her head is about to explode. Perhaps ¼ teaspoon of egg white has appeared at the bottom of her egg and we both burst out laughing. “You’ve got to […]

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how I walked my way right past 1 million

April 3, 2014
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I’ve been taking nearly 10,000 steps a day for 30 years. At age 18 I began taking a walk every day. It was for my mental health. I preferred the outdoors to a lifetime dose of anti-depressant. Occasionally I miss a day. But my average is better than 6/7 days, probably more like 13/14. In […]

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are you afraid of being buried alive while you get a gallon of milk?

March 20, 2014
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Are you terrified of rocks falling on top of you and burying you alive? Not a very realistic fear unless you drive a canyon full of rocks each time you need a gallon of milk. Recently two of my friends arrived at this rockslide just as the dust was settling. It not only made the […]

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my family is where I belong

March 4, 2014
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I found where I belong by simply writing about my family for the past 4 weeks. This is a small miracle to me. Such an easy cure, such an elusive problem. Several decades ago I went to hear Tony Robbins speak and he described 4 categories of people. I don’t remember the names of the […]

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how to love more and love better: lessons from my dog

February 25, 2014
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My dog, Ode Yedder, is sitting beside me, where I frequently can find her. She follows me down the hallway when I’m going to fetch the laundry to take it to the other side of the house. Is it because she wonders if I’m getting ready for a walk? Or does she simply long for […]

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this day I daily wed

February 18, 2014
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I took off my wedding ring this week. I put it in the precious box my daughter made for me. Then I began to listen carefully for the voice of my own longing. I realized I was missing that voice when I felt envious of my best friend’s tires. We went to Steamboat together and, […]

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8 hours of pause to parent for 8 seconds? worth it.

February 11, 2014
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Because my son plays high school basketball, I’ve gotten to see a good portion of Western Colorado. I spend my weekends traveling around the state to watch his games. I sometimes drive 2 or 3 hours each direction to sit for 1 or 2 hours and cheer. This is parenting. Lots of traveling to capture […]

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what church and show tunes show me about my daughter

February 5, 2014
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I’m listening to a mix CD my daughter made me as I drive through snowy mountains. The occasional barn makes its appearance, but mostly it is vast open space. White, rolling silence. I live in the Rockies and stones make themselves known underneath all the white. They peek out their faces to smile at the […]

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why should you wear forbidden clothes?

October 28, 2013
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Do you have something forbidden that you wear on secret evenings? Me too. I crawl inside the same softness of a bunny’s ear and when that fabric touches my naked body I feel completely understood. I keep my mother’s zip up blanket sack in the hidden corner of my closet and love penetrates me deep […]

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