Thanks-missing

That feeling someone is missing. A deep, quiet sense of longing, even in the midst of contentment with current circumstances. The hovering shadow of being some sort of homesick for a more complete life. Do you feel it, too, at this time of year? Even in the middle of fun and good times. I do.

Longing for loved ones who aren’t with us is hard any time of the year, but especially at the holidays. I am eternally thankful for the times together with my loved ones in days gone by. Yet I’ll always miss them when separated, alongside the feelings of the love and hope that accompany this season. I still sense the presence of those I love through great memories, favorite recipes, and shared traditions.

Perhaps living with the uncertainty of the pandemic also triggers our desires to be emotionally safe and secure, amplifying that longing to be with loved ones, those far away.

I had the privilege to walk both parents and our good dog on home to Heaven in the last four years. Many of you have lost loved ones in that time frame, too. Humans and pets. Though the sting diminishes, the missing goes on. Thanksgiving, as families and friends gather, can trigger the pain of missing our loved ones. Some empty chairs remain at the table in our hearts.

Holiday gatherings are complicated. Our Thanksgiving tables may host all kinds of positive and challenging emotions, issues, and reality in the room, in addition to or caused by missing loved ones. Here is a list of possible guests:

  • Fear and uncertainty may attend and bring their friend, anxiety. However, they did not RSVP.
  • Sadness may come alone, as might lament. They will want to sit together.
  • Grief might come late, uninvited, but always expected.
  • Hardship may be part of the festivities this year. We will all help carry it.
  • Disagreement promises to be on its best behavior, and help us hunt for common ground.
  • Pride and entitlement might stop by. We can simply let them know they have the wrong address. Move along.
  • Joy will squeeze in the back door with a giggle, and bring a jiggly jello salad to share. Never the loudest in the group, but always the most surprising pleasant presence.
  • Trust will join in confidently, and immediately suggest that control issues, unmet expectations, and frustrations be quickly bagged up and carried out to the trash cans in back.
  • Peace will show up for dessert. Always a welcome guest. Rarely the first to arrive. Ready to highlight the blessings in spite of the pain.
  • Everyone will help clean up. Some more than others.

Thanksmissing. A reality when we experience a variety of emotions often connected to separation from loved ones through distance for many reasons: military deployment, death, changes in location, work schedules, a split in the family, differing views and opinions, other commitments, and perhaps even boundaries in relationships, or a lost dream.

It is never easy to endure separation when it causes missing, but practicing gratitude and embracing the privileges we’ve had along the way may get us through. The holidays can be bittersweet for many, especially as we age. Sensitivity and kindness in the midst of those moments go a long way. Love will prevail. New traditions, recipes, and memories will be made.

In November, I place some rosemary in a vase. Rosemary symbolizes eternal love and remembrance. The fragrance and the beauty help me hold my parents and their love close during the holidays.

I wish you each a happy Thanksgiving! And if you are missing someone this year, I hope you hold them close through great memories, video calls, plans for future get-togethers, improved health, and healing hearts. I wish you peace. Many of us understand. There will be more blessings to come, so please pass the pie and that bowl of fluffy, sweet, billowy whip cream to top it off.

The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can’t supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.

C.S. Lewis

Stay grateful, my friends.

For those of you who also follow God, here is an encouraging verse:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Tears and Apologies

I’ve said it. I’ve heard it said in various settings. When someone cries in front of others, there is a tendency to apologize. “I’m sorry for crying.”

Can we stop apologizing? Tears are treasure. They are beautiful symbols that something important is going on inside. Why do we sometimes feel the need to apologize? I know it is uncomfortable, but I want to listen to what’s happening as signaled by tears. Mine or yours.

Perhaps, as women, we apologize because we don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. We were often raised to make people happy. Or we don’t want to bring down the mood.

Perhaps we feel embarrassed because we want to appear to be in control of our emotions.

Perhaps, especially for my generation, we got the clear (gender biased) message that women are too emotional, and we won’t get ahead in our male-dominated careers.

Tears come when they want to, don’t they? For joy or in sadness. For a variety of reasons, related or maybe unrelated to the topic of conversation at just that moment. I like to say, “Cry when you need to cry. It is important. When your heart breaks, love leaks out in tears.” If it is tears of joy from a full heart, love leaks out.

When your heart is full of joy, it may also overflow in tears.

May we be safe people for those who need to cry to feel comfortable doing so.

May we be brave enough to let our own tears fall when they come, without embarrassment or apology, embracing our tender heart as we would a friend’s. Let tears bring release in the stress of a season. Let tears share the loss of a loved one or acknowledge a big disappointment. Whatever the reason, tears bring us closer to our authentic selves and one another.

May we all have people we feel safe enough to cry with. And when we cry in an uncomfortable moment, may we go with the flow. Pun intended. Let’s grant others and ourselves that kindness.

Crying deserves a shame free zone.

If someone is uncomfortable when you cry, that is not your responsibility. It could be because they care about you and don’t want you in any pain. It might be because it triggers something in them that brings up their own pain, which will be theirs to work through. It might be because they are insensitive, and again, that is for them to work out.

If someone starts to cry in conversation, be a safe space. None of us has to be cheery all the time. No one took that vow. Be real in what you feel. In this season of great disappointment and loss in a pandemic, we have even more times of tears. Grant grace.

Stay tender, my friends.

Welcome Back, Friends!

Long Time No See

I apologize for my absence. My last post is dated Tuesday, January 1, 2019, over one year ago. I disappeared to tend to other family matters. To my returning readers, thank you for your patience! To my new readers, welcome to Wild Chin Hair, where we are looking for growth in unexpected places.

Family Matters

My mom celebrated her ninety-fifth birthday in January 2019. Around that time, I became my sweet mom’s personal assistant, taking on her email, mail, and finances, including gathering papers for tax prep. As expected, that placed a demand on my time, plans, and adjusted priorities. It was a loving way to serve her as the business side of everyday life became complicated for her.

This new role also drained my creative energy, since it was stressful and felt like a part time job. Many of you know what I mean, since you’ve been through this or are in similar seasons right now. I needed to press pause on my weekly post. Now I’m back!

Good Grief

My mom was a great mom and caring friend to many, including me. She graciously left this world in the end of May 2019. Although a bittersweet good-bye and not unexpected, I could now trust her to Heaven and wholeness.

Our big yellow lab, Samson #2, also passed in the spring of 2019 on his fifteenth birthday. That was a tremendous loss. We’d shared a great life with him since he was six weeks old. So, again as many of you can relate to, grief moved in when others moved on.

Grief changes us. I suspect forever. For me, grief is an uninvited friend that both stays too long and brought the gifts of intimate lessons, resetting priorities, and a renewed sense of gratitude, depending on the day. A side effect not listed on the warning label is also the energy drain that impacted the creative part of my mind and heart.

Taking Care of Business

On the business end of loss, settling the will, updating information, contacting businesses she dealt with, and reaching out to her dear friends continued through summer and fall. It is almost all quiet now. I am grateful both to have served her in this way, and to see the paperwork drawing to a close.

Also, I forged through the time and energy demands, physical and emotional, to clean out her apartment. On the up side, that motivates me to clean out my own possessions. There is no time when that will be easier than now.

Back to the Blog

So I took the time I needed to finish tasks, feel the emotions, and process this season of life. I stepped away from my blog. Now I’m happy to be back with lots to share. I hope you find helpful, hopeful, and at times humorous posts along the way, and come back often. It is good to be together again.

Stay charming, my friends!

Stay Charming – A Tribute

Once I arrived in a certain stage of life, I became more aware of good-byes, loss, and endings.

Friends and family.

Favorite TV shows and pets.

Expectations and jobs.

Seasons and health.

Friendships and empty nesting.

Circumstances and dreams.

Is there such a thing? Maybe.

Although most of us don’t like change, it keeps coming our way, and intentionally doing change well is important. Loss is one of the most disruptive changes we experience and has its own set of rules. This will be a topic that we will return to again in the future. We can create space to continue to process loss and grow through it, when possible.

These seasons and events need different things at different times, including respect, honor, letting go, grief, forgiveness, and loving well, all continuous opportunities for growth in hard times. I will write about other situations, the challenges, and responses. We will connect over shared experiences. We will find hope and encouragement along the way, for this is a real dynamic of growing older. It gets complicated to move through the pain and get centered once again.

When I was in high school, I met Susan. We attended the same high school in a town of about seven high schools. I was a year older. She was a kindred spirit in faith and fun. We studied the Bible together with a handful of other young women, a meaningful time of connection and encouragement.

After we both graduated and I moved out-of-town, we drifted apart, but communicated now and then through notes, visits, calls, and then Facebook in more recent years. Did I mention she was an avid Cleveland Indians baseball fan?

Beloved, beautiful Susan

In 2015, she passed away. She headed to Heaven after a second bout with cancer. Her smile, wit, and intelligent caring conversation style stay with me. During her last days here and shortly afterwards, I experienced feeling that I wish I could have done more, along with sadness and grief. Yet I continue to be profoundly grateful for our friendship.

I read that she’d always sign cards and notes to her nieces and nephews with the phrase, “Your charming Aunt Susan.” In honor of our dear friendship, I close most blog posts with a nod to her, signing out with “stay charming, my friends.” That always makes me smile as I carry her loving friendship in my heart.

You have also probably lost dear friends or family too soon through disease, tragic accident, or perhaps a severe disagreement or need for emotional and/or physical safety. Those are dark times riddled with so many thoughts and emotions. With the missing, comes the remembering of good in our lives gifted to us in time spent with them or hope for what might have been. If you’d like to share something you do to cherish the relationship in your own way, please do so in the comments.

"Life is made up of meetings and partings; that is the way of it. I am sure we shall never forget Tiny Tim, or this first parting that there was among us." – Bob Crachit, The Muppets' Christmas Carol

Stay charming, my friends! Just like Aunt Susan.

Pause to Lament – Charlottesville Violence

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My heart was saddened by the complicated events in Charlottesville, Virginia that took place on Saturday, August 12, 2017. My thoughts and prayers are with the residents, governing officials, law enforcement, and all the families affected. I pray for the families of the three who perished, as well as the many injured. I also must pray for the family of the young man who used his car as a weapon. I pray for the participants on both sides of the event, though that is packed with challenges. I am reminded in the biblical text I read to guide my life that I am to pray for enemies. Never easy.

This is a tragic reminder of an evil reality rooted deep in some of the broken, systemic problems of our dear nation. Hate is a poison that kills good, justice, and peace. It cannot be tolerated. I lament and ask God for wisdom, mercy, and guidance, both for recovery, restoration and reconciliation. And I ask myself how can I be part of the solution?

Lament: To mourn.