letting go

That old September feeling… of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air…. Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes and failures had been wiped clean by summer.
Wallace Stegner

There is more to life than increasing its speed.
Mahatma Gandhi

“Detachment, properly understood, means freedom, inner freedom. And, although it is not a word Jesus used, detachment expresses very well an important element in his spirituality: the ability to let go. In the Christian tradition this has been spoken of as “purity of heart” or as the process of becoming “poor in spirit.”
― Albert Nolan

(a persimmon ripens in a September sun / Julie cook / 2015)

Wandering recently on an off beaten path, I was sweetly reminded that my very soul was gently slipping into a quieting and calming pool of serenity.
I basked in the overwhelming stillness.
Lovingly engulfed, I was warmly embraced as I found myself caught up in the slowing down of one season as it began the transitioning and metamorphosing into something new, different and welcoming.
I exhaled.
And happily felt myself letting go. . .

(persimmons ripen in a September sun / Julie cook / 2015)

(persimmons ripen in a September sun / Julie cook / 2015)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9


“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

(image of the Nandina bush in the front yard / Julie Cook/ 2013)

It is most usually a positive state of life… be it the giddy excitement leading up to a vacation or trip of a lifetime, the welcomed relief of a loved one’s long awaited homecoming, the expectant arrival date of the birth of a child, or even the sweet relief to the end of a school term…all are looked upon with a delightful sense of expectancy, joy, and the visualization of something most exciting and / or pleasurable which is about to take place. It’s what gets us over the humps and through the low doldrums of life.

Of course we can counter the positive anticipation by coupling it with a sense of dread, worry or foreboding— as in the stressful prepping before a major test, the nervous waiting for a required surgery, an isolating time of servitude, or the poignant end of something most special.

Either way, the anticipation aspect of any event is 9 times out of 10 the most potent component of any situation— with the actual event taking a bit of a backseat to any sort of “lead up” time.

How many times, as children, were we overtly full of such rapt anticipation, awaiting Christmas and the visit of Santa, that we were beside ourselves with energy, delight, agitation and sensory overload?! It was as if by the time Christmas morning finally rolled around, we felt somewhat let down, disappointed or either our eyes were so glazed over from the anticipatory overload that we found it difficult to maintain the exhilarating high we’d been riding since Thanksgiving.

Our western culture seems to have mastered the art of anticipation—as you are no doubt hearing Carly Simon singing her most notable song in your head as you visualize ketchup slowly making its way from bottle to bun…anticipation sadly or joyously drives our economy.

For my generation it was the arrival of the 4 inch thick Sears catalog. I would spend hours eagerly marking page after page, item after item, for mom and dad, and of course Santa, to fill my hopes and dreams. For today’s kids, it is a true sensory overload as they absorb larger than life, high definition, clear images on their 50 inch plasma interactive televisions of the latest gadgets and gizmos, jewelry and designer this and that which they must receive in order for their lives to, sadly, be complete.

Times Square screams such with it’s constantly moving, undulating, bigger than life, ever-changing advertisements… as the same can be said world wide from Tokyo to Hong Kong, to London to Pairs—bright lights, bright colors, big, large, giant images and pulsating sounds of which are all intended to hypnotize us into a glazed trance of believing that we must have, be a part of, or become these glamours images in order to reach our individual utopias as we are dressed and sporting everything the same as the person next to us…hummmm

I say all of this with a bit of reflection. It was the other Sunday evening when I accompanied my poor husband, who owns a small business in our community and who has spent his entire life in retail, as he went to check his store—just as he does each Sunday evening, the only day the business is thankfully closed.

As we made our way back to his truck, having completed the week’s deposit, in the darkened nearly empty parking lot, we couldn’t help but notice a small bevy of vehicles parked just outside of Bath and Body Works. It was well after store hours as all the other businesses were dark and shuttered for the night. There were a dozen or so employees busily decorating the store for, what else, Christmas. It was November 3rd.

My husband let out a long heavy sigh. “I can never remember a single Christmas or Thanksgiving that I have ever really enjoyed” he sadly lamented. I’ve been married to him now going on 31 years— I know this. He is 64 years old and from the earliest time of memory he has spent the “holidays” wrapped up in his family’s business giving way now to his own business. It is indeed a love / hate relationship which sees owners and employees moving momentum from one holiday to the next, riding the perpetual holiday wave as it were.

The hours, the time, the energy, the demands, year after year, have grown exponentially. Way back when, back in a vastly different time in this country, businesses closed at noon on both Wednesdays and Saturdays with all businesses being closed on Sunday. Slowly that has all changed. Businesses, if they expect to stay competitive or just viable are open 7 days a week at least 12 hours a day. Add to those hours during the Holidays.

Black Friday does not signal Christmas, a time of our Holy anticipation, that of the Advent leading to the birth of a Savior, but rather it is the marking of a feeding frenzy. A need to feed an unquenchable thirst and hunger of and for consumerism which gives way to our obsession with materialism. It has nothing to do with what Christmas, or even Hanukkah, is actually all about but rather it has everything to do with our economy and the need to feed it.

My daughter-n-law “to be” lamented this morning that her cherished pumpkin lattes from Dunkin Doughnuts are on the last call list as they are making way for the Christmas flavors. It is November 5th. I thought Pumpkins and Spice were the sights and scents of November… as in Thanksgiving, as in the end of the month, not the beginning of the month. Weren’t we just trick or treating last week?

A dear friend of mine in Florence, Italy, whose family has had a business in that most magical and historical city for almost 150 years, was recently lamenting that the Ministry of Commerce and the governing officials there in the city of Florence are pressuring all businesses to stay open 7 days a week, 365 days a year and to forego the siesta hours of closing for lunch. An entrenched way of life and of a culture being told to change to meet the growing and insatiable appetites of a hungry consumer driven populace.

I just wish things were different. I wish we could all just slow down, savoring the time and seasons of our lives..relishing life rather than the empty things that we hope to gobble up in order to fill it all full…

Just like Pooh in today’s quote–the eating of honey is really wonderful but it’s the time, the magical time, leading up to the actual eating that seems even more sweet… Here is to the sweet anticipation to all of those magical moments in your life. . .make time to enjoy every moment.


Learning on a broken ankle

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
―Abigail Adams

(photo: Julie’s desk)

Well it’s now been just slightly over a week since the ill fated meeting between my leg and the drainage ditch. Each day has brought new insight–both good and bad…but that just may be in all how one choses to look at things….and I am finding I certainly need adjusting in my perspective as well as attitude….

First of all, a trip to the ER is very expensive as the first bill has arrived—but we won’t worry about that yet shall we….

Secondly— I have been touched and almost surprised by the kindness offered to me from various sales folks and individuals as they quickly notice my reason for wobbling. The checkout girl at Target (in the urban dictionary Tar-jay) immediately asked if she could help me to my car. Then the Publix checkout girl asked if she could help me to my car. Then the lady who runs the little feed and seed store where I was buying my heirloom tomato plants asked if she could help me by holding the plants as I picked them out and then offered helping me out to my car. Then there was the younger lady in a restaurant’s waiting area who got up and offered me her seat.
My defiant independence balks at such offerings– I always politely decline. However, I am touched none the less— but I’m finding I suddenly feel “old” …and maybe this is all about learning how to let folks help me.

Thirdly–my patience with myself is very limited. I grow very frustrated very quickly as I find I have taken so much “freedom” of mobility for granted. I am now, simply put, a weeble wobble–who possibly could fall down…again at any moment—living with a bit of fear…hummmm

Fourthly–it is amazing how quickly I moved about pre-cast and how laboriously slow I must now do simple things such as getting dressed. I ascend and descend stairs like a 5 year old little girl, taking one stair at a time. What took moments to scoot up and down, doubling stairs at a whim, is now anything but smooth. I’ve had to catch myself a couple of times from almost tripping as well as for gathering too much momentum going down—mustn’t tumble head over heels back down only to break something else….slow and steady goes the race… I was the rabbit, I am now the turtle.

fifthly (is that a word?)—things hurt as badly, if not worse, today on day 8 as they did on day 1. Plus the swelling remains….even after the suggestions of epsom salt and witch hazel. But I think this is in part due to the fact that I’ve not slowed down my daily pace as I probably should. I’m not sitting with the leg up as I suppose one should opting rather to stand and iron, or clean, or do what it is I do. Maybe what I think I do, which seems so important, simply is not….

Sixth–I am not a good patient for myself. I get very frustrated with myself. I’ve been in the depths of a yucky funk –ebbing and flowing out of a toxic mood. I know it’s due in part to not sleeping well, hurting, and my disdain for being still. I just can’t, in good conscience, allow myself time to just sit and do nothing–not unless I’m sitting on a beach somewhere in a chair under an umbrella–as long as the sun is shinning, there is just something that I must be doing. Being idol has never come easy to me. But I knew all of this would be an issue. “Be still and know that I am God…” maybe He’s trying to tell me something…..

Seventh–it’s only been 8 days —AGGGHHHHH!!!!!!! The aircast is like a 10 pound weight on one side of my body and one would think that after a while, the crutches would not be so difficult. And thank the Lord for my husband’s 20 year old four wheeler—my means of transportation in the yard and going to the mailbox—4 good wheels are now better than one good leg.

Eighthly-(bet you didn’t know that was a word)– as I have had my emotional ups and downs–spending much of Saturday in frustrated tears, I know there is so much I need to be grateful for. Oh how we take so much that we have for granted. I hope to be more keenly aware of others and their troubles. Everyone has troubles you know, it’s just that some people hide them better than others or mask them under all sorts of bravado.

Ninth—to learn patience. You know what they say about that…never pray for patience as God simply gives you more circumstance that requires such—oh my plate is full there, thank you very much, but I do want to have more patience for and with others…I want to be more kind. As I see different folks, say, at the grocery store—be kinder Julie, smile and speak, even if they are looking down… and don’t get so upset if they just leave their shopping cart in the parking lot rather than pushing it back where it belongs—just let them go and push it back for them…..who knows what’s on their minds…..

Tenth (ly) –To learn what really is important and what really matters…that is key. And to know that we all have to get up each new day and go about life–because none of us knows what the new day will hold……thank you for your patience with me 🙂

This boot was made for walking….

…and that’s just what I’ll do….

This is more or less a part 2 to the post
Pinestraw, the drainage hole, the ER and the broken Cookie


For anyone who has ever been stopped in his or her tracks due to injury or illness, there will no doubt be some sort of understanding to my words regarding my own “time on the sidelines.” Anytime something traumatic happens to us and our routine is suddenly disrupted, or our life is suddenly turned upside down, it can be a time of great frustration and angst. We tend to take our daily routine for granted. We often complain that our “day to day” life is boring, just ho hum. It’s all just a matter of fact. We don’t realize how much that ho hum day-to-day sort of life means to us until it’s altered.

You’ve heard/ read me say it before; I am a huge creature of habit. Being such seems almost necessary for me to simply make it through each day of my life. I don’t know why that is. It, too, must go back to the adoption, as everything goes back to the adoption! When all answers fail—it’s the adoption! Works for me. But routine and habit have always been the order of the day. Order and routine, always, all comforting.

So Tuesday when I stepped into the drainage hole, that order, that routine, that habit of life, suddenly fractured along with the ankle. A lateral malleolus fracture—at the bottom of the fibula. You know the fib and the tib?– that’s how I memorized them for anatomy class, those two bones that make up the lower leg below the knee—that’s the area of contention today. The ankle violently flipped outward as the bottom of the foot flipped inward, a loud audible POP, down I fall… next the pain.

I got up hoping it would “go away”, tying to do what I was intent on doing before I fell, as if that would make it all normal again…. there goes that necessary routine mode. When I realized it wasn’t going away and I was still really hurting I went about being as normal as I could by taking a shower, cleaning up, as I knew in the back of my mind a trip to the ER was inevitable. I kept fighting back the tears. “Don’t give in, keep doing things as normal as possible,” I kept telling myself. And as I often do in these painful moments, be it a physical or emotional pain—-I just wanted my mom. It doesn’t help she’s been gone now for 27 years. Why is it, in such times, no matter how old we become, we just always want our mom?

So I suppose the idea of routine may be a survival skill for me. As long as I can go about with some sort of normal flow of pace and routine, bad things won’t be as bad. If I can maintain my control of the situation, I can make it through anything. Oh dear, does that now mean I have control issues as well?! I fear my son and my students may say a big fat YES to that, but I dirgress. Good Lord.

This is a busy time of year around the house. Living on 5 acres, there is a lot of work to be done in the yard. The garden has just been plowed; it’s now time to plant. There is pressure-washing for parts of the house, the porch, the walkway, due in part to all the massive pollen, washing out the garage, washing the windows, pruning of the trees, cleaning those blasted gutters, washing down the deck, repainting outdoor furniture, and simply getting outside as the weather warms. That’s life at home in early Spring. This being the first Spring since retiring, I’ve really been looking forward to devoting my time outside for a change!

But for reasons, always unbeknownst to me, there has been a change in plans. I could go on and on about the whys of why this happened when it did…why didn’t I stop my work earlier, why didn’t I pay better attention when heading down the bank…but isn’t that how it always is? If I hadn’t been on that road, that day, I wouldn’t have been hit by the truck…if I hadn’t been engaged in such deep conversation at the restaurant, I wouldn’t have forgotten the I Pad…the list goes on and on….we all ask those why questions whenever things go wrong.

Simply put, I cracked my ankle and that’s that. Time to get over it and go on. Unfortunately the getting over it and going on is not always as easy as it may all sound. It’s a matter of having to learn how to use the crutches without causing more damage (they look easy but trust me, the turning radius is not that great). It’s a matter of learning how to walk with a Frankenstein foot—did you know you can’t really squat down very well, say, to pick up a dropped piece of paper as the air boot wants to flip you backwards-you’d think the first time I would have learned, but no, I had to do that twice to figure out it was not going to work. Then there is the matter of trying to sleep without twisting or turning the wrong way in the bed, because, believe me; everyone in the house will know when that happens. There is frustration for the simple routines that are now altered but I think the biggest thing for me, that is most frustrating, is the whole slowing down issue.

I’ve never been slow. Anyone who has ever walked anywhere with me will tell you, it’s not always fun trying to keep up. I don’t intentionally wish to race here and there as if my life depended on it; I just seem to have come by this speed walking thing naturally (the adoption, let’s not forget the adoption). I do try making a concerted effort at slowing down when traveling and walking with friends, but it always sneaks up on me—the pace ever quickening. Maybe I’m afraid I’ll miss something…I’m not running from something necessarily but maybe it’s more a matter of running to something…who knows?!

So now, working at slowing down is becoming imperative. I got the boot and figured I’d just go on, almost as normally as possible, boot in tow—low and slow. The problem is that the swelling seems worse. Hmmm? Maybe I need to take some time to just sit, propping up my leg. What a novel concept. Yesterday, the first full day with the boot, I headed out to run errands. I think I stayed on my foot all day until after supper. It doesn’t hurt so much in the boot; once I’m up and about, but getting up is another story…these slow older bones…. The boot is heavy, walking is tiring and laborious…and did I mention, slow.


At 53, I do have a bit of what the doctor calls osteopina (a kind of pre-osteoporosis) and some osteoarthritis—and may I just say that the opposite hip is now getting tired of doing a lot of the work. “But Julie,” you say, “you seem so active, so healthy..” yes, well remember the adoption?…. The boot makes me almost 2 inches higher on one side—talk about lopsided walking! Maybe that’s the point—–walking, and mere movement, becomes such a chore that it forces you to want to just sit and say to hell with it all. Unfortunately I kind of ignore that. Ugghhh.

I must say that I am a little concerned that my toes look like 5 little blue sausages and that there is no a visible anklebone in sight. It’s been 3 days—they say the 3rd day is always the worst—maybe my toes will be more normal and things like anklebones more visible tomorrow…and by the way who is “they”—these experts? 3 days with either a cast or boot—and they’re telling me 6 weeks. Oh good Lord!!

gross is that a foot or something out of Alien?!


During these next several weeks I am certain there will be ups and the downs. There will be the “new” normals, which will mean that once I can free myself of the boot, I will have to learn how to walk without thinking one half of my body is 2 inches taller than the other half. One leg may be a little more firm, the other leg, not so much. One leg may be a little darker, the other leg, not so much. I may just have to relearn how to be quick on my feet all over again. But hopefully I can learn how to slow down a bit because that seems to be a reoccurring issue with me—one I just keep refusing to heed.

It will be interesting no doubt, one I’m certain you’ll be hearing about. Just let me be your test dummy. Learn from my mistakes, as I’m here to make it easier for you. It’s the least I could do, so you’re welcome ☺
And by the way, it just dawned on me…back in February, when I first started this blog I did so under the umbrella of transition, as that was where I was finding myself—seems this transition business just keeps morphing into more and more change….did I ever tell you how I don’t like change? We’ll save that for another day Scarlet 🙂