“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” – Joan Didion
Even after decades of clinical experience I am still struck by the sometimes random and sometimes cruel nature of the occurrence of genetic and congenital conditions. You meet a family with 3 successive children with a profoundly serious recessive condition and the next carrier couple that you see have 6 unaffected children. A grandmother watches her husband, son, and grandchildren die from Li-Fraumeni cancers, and then you encounter a TP53 mutation in a young woman with breast cancer and a family history devoid of other cancers. A gene panel reveals that a woman has dodged a BRCA1 mutation in a pedigree overflowing with breast cancer – but she has a pathogenic APC mutation and not a single relative with colon cancer or polyposis. An adopted woman learns she is pregnant the same day she is contacted for the first time by her biological family and told that her biological father…
My most favorite Christmas tradition is the Christmas Tree. This year we put up our 27th Christmas Tree of our own (meaning not including our separate childhood trees). We make an afternoon out of going out and walking through the tree farm and finding the perfect tree, cutting it down, lugging it to the truck and bringing it home. This could be our last Christmas with both of our children (although one is 24!) here at home for this tradition. When we put the ornaments on the tree – with each ornament we are taking a walk down memory lane through our lives. We tell the stories that they bring to mind, we laugh and we cry. There are ornaments on this tree from each of our vacations, each of the places we’ve lived, our firsts (Christmas together, babies), ornaments that were gifts from family or friends, ornaments that I made when we hardly had any, ornaments that others made for us, ornaments with photos on them, of pets we’ve lost….literally the Christmas tree is holds the ornament journal of our life together. That is why the Christmas tree is my favorite Christmas tradition – once a year we all talk about the story of our life, think about those people who have come and gone in our lives, tell stories in itty bitty detail, pass those stories on and solidify them in our hearts.
I love color. I would say that my favorite color is yellow and I think it’s because it’s bright and cheerful. A sunflower field makes me think of a bunch of smiling faces looking at me. Today I stopped by the field a few times as the sun changed its angle so I could take photographs in different lighting. On my first stop, the farmer, who planted the field, and his wife were there cutting sunflowers to sell. I thanked him for planting the gorgeous field. I thanked him the last time he planted it too. I think he thinks I’m funny – to him it’s a means to make a living – to the rest of us it’s a field of sunshine. Each time I stopped by today I met someone new. Most people can’t drive by the field without stopping to soak up the beauty, take some photos and/or to buy some sunflowers. I met a sweet couple photographing the field, taking a leisurely walk and searching for the perfect sunflower to take home. Later, I met a family with two little girls, one of whom had me convinced that the field smelled like honey. It was fun watching them in awe of the gorgeous field at sunset. I think the world needs more sunflower fields. I will do my part by sharing the photos and I will keep stopping by until the last sunflower blooms.
Every year I plant my own little patch of sunflowers – many different varieties. Sometimes the chipmunks eat my seeds before they sprout and sometimes the weather isn’t conducive to growing huge sunflowers- sometimes I’m lucky and sometimes I’m not. I always hope that the farmer down the road plants fields of sunflowers and every few years he does. Boo! for crop rotation and boring feed corn! Yay! For sunflower fields that go on forever! This year I got lucky!
When I was in graduate school I was lucky enough (though I don’t think I thought so at the time) to live with my grandparents for a year or so. Although there was a perfectly functioning washer and dryer in the basement, my grandmother used a wringer washer. If you don’t know what that is – google it! Then she would hang her clothes out to dry. If I were home, of course I would help her. At the time I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t just make her life easier by throwing the clothes in the washer and dryer. I would have to say that laundry is one of my LEAST favorite household chores, EXCEPT in the summer when I can hang the clothes out to dry. I do have a perfectly functioning dryer as did she, but…..when I take the time to hang the clothes out on the line, it becomes a meditation of sorts; almost like the relaxation that gardening brings when I pull weeds and daydream. When I hang the clothes out to dry, the sun warms me. When the clothes are dried by the sun and the breeze they smell and feel so wonderful. When I climb into bed on crisp sheets that have been hung out to dry and the summer breeze is blowing in the window, I don’t think there is another feeling quite like it. When I hang the clothes out to dry, laundry becomes less of a chore and more of an act of love that I am doing for my family and myself. When I hang the clothes out to dry, my grandmother is with me each time, even though she has been gone for over 20 years. She was doing laundry the “green” way before that idea was ever even discussed! Thank you Grandma, for teaching me the art of loving through chores and taking me back to a simpler time.
I’ve always wanted to explore, or at least see Alaska. I did go to college for Wildlife Biology and although that is not the degree that I graduated with, it was not a lack of interest nor passion that made me switch majors. What I really wanted to be was a National Geographic Photographer, but exactly how was I to do that and have a family and be a wife/mom? So, especially because I was going to marry a pilot who would also be gone because of his career, I had to make a choice between struggling to do that and having and raising a family. I chose the latter and a career that would navigate me through the fjords of human emotion. Last week I was blessed to be able to take a cruise on a ship that navigated me through a fjord in Alaska and was blessed again with being able to experience the beauty that made me want to be a wildlife biologist. I saw whales and sea lions and seals and eagles, all in their natural habitat. I saw glaciers that came right down to the ocean or river and I saw a glacier calve in the silence of a fjord in the wee hours of the morning. Seals/sea lions were floating on little icebergs that broke off of the glacier. I saw unspoiled gorgeous landscape that can only be accessed by boat and/or plane. Some of this I captured in photos and some is only imprinted on my memory. I only saw a smidgen of Alaska and some of Seattle and Victoria, BC. I met some wonderful people and had the best time with the best traveling buddy ever. I learned about bible journaling and diving into the word of God with paint in hand. God painted this gorgeous world and it’s OK to paint gorgeous pages onto the Word of God! As a matter of fact, I’m sure that it makes him happy. So, here are a few photos that cannot begin to do the lovely works of God justice, but I continue to try! I look forward to keeping in touch with the wonderful people that I met on the cruise and delve more into the word of God in my journaling bible!
I’m blessed to have been able to go here twice this year. I absolutely love Alsace.
I love the ancient walled cities, the gorgeous vineyards, the colors, the way everything is decorated with beautiful flower boxes, the culture, the old churches, the statues of Jesus everywhere and of course the food and wine. I love everything about this charming part of the world.