Family Fridays…Life Transitions or “Moving Our World”

Wednesday was move-in day at the local university, as well as the first day of class for the public schools.

Moving InWatching parents of college freshman sit in long lines of traffic to reach the dorms and overhearing parents of young children discuss taking their children to their first day of school were reminders of some of the transitions that families face during their lifecourse.

I often ponder the idea of transitions, or changes, required in our own individual, as well as our family’s, lifetime. Sometimes this involves an actual move from one location to another, though at other times it is a life change that moves our worlds–or life as we have known it. For example, going to college, getting married, starting a career, having a baby, children growing up and leaving home, or aging parents becoming ill. While some people change and adjust more easily, many seem to resist and have difficulty making the changes smoothly without first thinking, questioning, and finally resolving the challenges that are inherent even with changes we actually want!

According to Froma Walsh, flexibility and the ability to adapt are key factors in individual and family resilience. Resilience is the ability to meet challenges and stress in ways that not only allow us to cope but even gain something positive from the experience. Not that we tend to seek out these experiences but life just seems to naturally contain them!

So why the resistance? I believe it depends, at least in part, on the timing of the transitions. When we are rested, healthy, and ready to take on the world, it seems easier to be flexible and adapt. When we are in need of rest, recuperation, and renewal, the extra challenges require of us strengths we may feel we do not have at the moment.

Moving

While helping a friend move from their apartment, I was reminded of all of the times I have moved and how much energy it required to sort, pack, and change the organization of my daily life. Things I normally had in a specific place and knew automatically where they were was disrupted and everything took more time to accomplish. Things like, Where is the soap?, …the stamps to mail a letter?–or even, Where is the post office itself?!  Of course, with time we learn these things, reorganize our living spaces, and return to some sense of normalcy…                                                                                                                                                        but good or bad, some things remain different and a transition has been made…                                                                                                                   our worlds have been moved.

*What have you found is helpful in making transitions?

Family Fridays–“Challenges…Creative Solutions”

Families are being challenged these days in many ways. On virtually every level, we are being affected in ways that require creative solutions. For example, I think of buying groceries sometimes as a treasure hunt or an investment…some of the once inexpensive staples, such as shortening or powdered milk, have become expensive.

Foods via Wikipedia

Returning home to NC in the summer thrills me, in part, because I can find fresh vegetables and fruits earlier than where we live…and at good prices! Near my mother’s home is a garden/pick-your-own strawberries business. It was great getting to pick beautiful fruit to freeze now and eat in the cold of December! We also pick blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries at a farm near our home here in Virginia. Finding ways to gather and put up food for later in the year, reminds me of how people used to prepare for winter by harvesting, preserving, and storing foods. This website talks about How to get the most bang for your buck at a pick-your-own farm.

Picking Blueberries
Picking Blueberries

Many of us live where large home gardens and growing our own food is no longer possible. Finding local sources is not always easy or affordable but good quality food is important to the health of our families. Shopping the weekly specials and comparing prices at several stores helps me lower the overall cost of food. Weekly farmer’s markets are available in many towns and cities. Many local communities also share resources with people through programs such as community gardens, food banks, and churches. An example of this type of program can be seen at http://feedingamerica.org/.

On-line recipes and information about food, nutrition, and health inspire me. At no time before have we had such instant access to information, including educational material on nutritious foods to help guide our food choices. For example, the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for health and nutrition can be found at  http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/news/News/new-dietary-guidelinesfocus-on-balance-better-food-choices. The Mayo Clinic posts these guidelines to consider for healthy eating at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dietary-guidelines/MY01594.

Finding different ways of gathering and preparing food requires extra time that may create an additional challenge to an already hectic family schedule. But, I believe using creative solutions to obtain food for myself and my family to eat well is worth the investment of my time and one way to meet life’s challenges…

*Do you have any favorite creative solutions for families to share?!?*  [I’d love for you to leave a comment!]

Image Credit: Foods via Wikipedia, Public Domain, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.]  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vegetarian_diet.jpg

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Trees, Symbols for Life

Over the years, I have planted many trees…each time we have moved it seems there is always some tree or plant needed in the new yard! Of course this includes fruit trees…

Fruit Tree
Fruit Tree

a red maple…

Red Maple
Red Maple

a new cherry tree…

…all are necessary.

In hot, sunny, arid West Texas where we once lived, trees are highly valued for their shade and beauty. Many times homeowners even have them insured.  When we eventually moved back to the East I vowed I would never again complain about raking leaves…and I haven’t.

For most people trees improve our lives and are symbolic in some way. While they provide shade, oxygen, color and beauty, a home for birds and other animals, hold our memories, they also signify meanings of permanence. For example, their roots and branches are metaphors about family ties—their stability and the prior generations. Perhaps this symbolism is one reason that after a storm it is a disturbing sight to see huge trees have been destroyed with even large root systems pulled out of the earth and blown over…

In the town of Blacksburg, there was an old, historical tree on the lawn in the center of town. The tree had overseen the town activities on the lawn for 100+ yrs.  When it had ended its life cycle and the tree was too weak to leave on the hill overhanging a busy street, VT professors took 100s of cuttings from it and cloned 2 trees from the old one before it was cut down… Read about this story at: http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/trejbal/wb/284350. See story at:    http://www2.wsls.com/news/2010/jul/27/blacksburg_virginia_tech_history_  comes_down-ar-359635/ .

Not long ago, there was a story on television about a Survivor Tree planted at Ground Zero in New York City. An eight foot sapling was found amid the rubble of the World Trade Centerand was taken to the Park Departments nursery. They revived and nurtured it until it was replanted in the memorial garden as a sign of life and hope for the future after an unthinkable tragedy on, what is now known as, 9/11. Today this tree has grown to be 35 feet tall and stands as a reminder of resilience to all the people who visit this landmark.  This story can be seen at:  http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story? section=news/local/new_york&id=7857410

Throughout time artist have also sketched,  painted, and even used trees as design inspiration for pottery.

"Branche d'amandier en fleur" by Vincent van Gogh By vG Public domain via Wikipedia

More currently, textile artist Barbara Walter uses tree images in wall hangings. See at http://www.saqa.com/about.php?ID=1842…Also, Micheal Mahan uses tree motifs on his pottery at his studio,  From the Ground Up.

So I guess I will continue to plant trees and rake leaves…perhaps that shows I still have a sense of hope and optimism about life!

*I’d love to hear your “tree” stories! * Feel free to leave a comment…

Image Credit: “Branche d’amandier en fleur” by Vincent van Gogh By vG [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons