Life Lessons From Children

The older I get, the more I realize that children have some of the best answers to the basic questions of life.  They seem to instinctively know how to manage the twists and turns of everyday living.

With all my education, experience and wisdom, I have learned to look to a five-year-old for some of the wisest lessons in getting through life.

Here are my top ten favorites:

Play is the best medicine.  Children have the ability to play with anything, anytime.  It’s how they release their emotions and feelings.  It’s also how they heal themselves.

Take a nap when you’re tired.  Children can sleep anywhere, when they need to.  What a great gift is that!

Always greet your elders with a hug and a kiss.  This is good advice your whole life – no matter how old you are.  Grannies always love to be greeted this way.

Every day is a fresh start.  No matter what happens today, no matter how bad it is or who hurts them, tomorrow is always a new day to a child.  All is forgotten and everything is possible again.  Each morning is a clean slate.

Be courageous.  Sing out loud.  Dance to the music.  Children are not confined by fear of failure or shame.  They embrace life.

Laugh every day.  Children see silliness everywhere.  Look for the humor in your everyday life.

Be active.  Get up and move.   Go outside. Find something to do.  Contact a friend. Children rarely sit in a rocking chair staring into space, thinking about the past.

Scars are badges of honor.  Scars are sources of pride to children, not signs of weakness.  Be proud of your scars.  Tell the story.   Make yourself the hero.  Pass on the wisdom.

Try new things.   Children do not fear the unknown.  They will try a new game, dive into a pool or jump on a trampoline.  Be adventurous.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Step into the unknown.

Notice the little things.  Children can be fascinated by the smallest of things – ants crossing a sidewalk, the tiny feet of birds, the wings of a bumblebee.  The things we take for granted bring them great joy.  Take notice of all the small miracles around you, and see how much more beautiful your life will be.

Becoming more childlike is one of the wisest things we can do as we age.

What’s Right About Being Wrong

I am wrong, often.  And when I am, I feel terrible about it.  But what if something good could come from my errors?  What if the world could become a better place?  What if I could become a much better person?

When I make a mistake, my first instinct is to feel shame and I want to hide myself.  But maybe it’s an opportunity to feel humility and begin to forgive myself.  I’m not alone in my wrongful ways.  I could forgive someone else.  Why not me?

Apologies are next forthcoming.  I apologize – usually many times.  This is a good lesson in acceptance of our own behavior.  We have to be able to put into words what we have done wrong and how we have harmed another person.

Then the next thing I feel is the need to be forgiven by the other person.  To ask for and accept forgiveness is a true blessing.  It may not be easy but it is certainly necessary.

Making amends is the part that is most often forgotten.  Making things right again is hard. It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes thought.  We think we’re done when we have been forgiven, but we’re not.  We need to make restitution.  That makes us stronger and more mindful of other people.

Then there is the final lesson to be learned from the entire event.  What is the positive thing you learned from your mistake?  Don’t let all the time and effort be a waste.  Make your life and yourself better for it.  Gain something from the experience.

That way you are less likely to allow the same error to occur.  You will improve and definitely become wiser.

I’m thinking that with all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I should be perfect by now! Seriously!

But truthfully, mistakes are going to happen.  Make them growth opportunities.  Lean into them.  Admit to them.  Solve them.  Be better for them.  Learn the lesson.

Lunch In The Car

With the current situation in play and all the cancellations of activities, I have come to realize how often I went out to lunch.  Quilters, I now know, are a noshing group.

Every meeting I went to was followed by lunch.  Every sewing group involved a meal or some snacks.  Every gathering of our Bee included breakfast AND lunch.

And then there was the occasional social event which was always centered around food. Eating was a big part of all my activities.  How did I not know this before?

I guess I knew it but just took it for granted.  It was always there, available, easy, reliable, comforting.  Adding a bit of spice and good taste to every occasion.  Giving every event a time for us to bond and be relaxed.

But two weeks ago everything changed.  Eating establishments began to close or sort of close.  Gathering places weren’t available.

Then my friend Lynn called.  She already had cabin fever and wanted out of the house. “Let’s go to lunch!” I suggested.  She was excited to go.

We met at a Mexican food place.  As soon as we entered, it was obvious no one was eating inside.  We could do take out.  But go where?

“Let’s eat in my car,” Lynn said.  So we did.  We sat in the front seat of her car eating tacos and quesadillas.  We talked.   We laughed.  We cried. (Lynn had lost a relative recently).  We made plans.  We shared sewing projects.  We spilled salsa on ourselves.

All the things we would normally have done at any lunch, we did in the front seat of her car.  It was wonderful.  Magical even.

I think when this virus quarantine is all over, Lynn and I will go out to lunch again.  And we’ll eat in the car, for old time’s sake.

How The Barter System Works In Coronavirus Land

Gramps and I did not do any stock-up shopping at the beginning of the virus outbreak.  We had what we needed at the time and the thought of the world running out of toilet paper never occurred to us.

So last week we were running low on paper products, including tp.  But by that time the stores were completely empty of anything paper.  Even Amazon was sold out.

As it happened, I made chocolate chip cookies one day and thought I should share them with our daughter and grandson Mac.  Mac says I make the “best” chocolate chip cookies ever.  Music to my heart!

They assured us they would love some cookies.  So over to their house we went with cookies in hand.

We had a lovely visit.  We talked and shared and laughed.  Until the subject of toilet paper came up.  How many stores did you go to?  How many rolls did the store have?  How many rolls do you have?

Finally we confessed we were down to three rolls.  (Can you believe this is what we’re talking about?!).  Our daughter offered to give us some from her supply, as she had just found a large package the day before.

We were saved!  Chocolate chip coolies for tp.  The going rate appears to be one dozen cookies for four rolls of toilet paper.  Not bad really.  They stay fed and we stay dry.

My Favorite Possessions

I think about the things I would try to save if there were a fire in my house.  Those objects that are precious, have memories attached to them and can’t be replaced.   Those possessions that can give you a hug and a good feeling just by being there, being seen and being touched.

I have several of these irreplaceable items Some are out to be seen.  Some are safely tucked away.  And some are used daily.

My quilts are very important to me, but one is especially precious.  It’s hanging on the wall in our guest bedroom.  It’s so valuable to me because it is made from linens stitched by my grandmother and mother.  There are tablecloths, towels, napkins, dresser scarves and doilies in the quilt.  Then it is bordered in colorful handkerchiefs.

I can just feel those women around me when I am in the presence of that quilt.  It’s like a great big hug.  It speaks to me through its stitches and linens.  I would definitely grab it first, if there was a fire or a flood.

My great-grandmother’s bedroom set is in our bedroom.  Gramps and I have used it since we were married.   My grandmother was born in that bed.  It is made of cherry wood and is very ornate – very Victorian.  It has a tall headboard and footboard.

I can’t even tell you how cuddled and comforted I feel in Gram’s big bed.  I can just imagine the generations of women dusting those wooden boards and changing the linens and fluffing the pillows.  It’s an honor to keep up the tradition of loving my bed.  My dilemma?  I’m not sure I could carry it out in a disaster.

Now my mother’s silver tea set is very portable in case of a calamity.  It’s tucked away in a cupboard because we never use it anymore.  That’s not to say I don’t get it out and pet it periodically.  My mother had it sitting on the buffet, always polished and always shiny.  It reminds me of her in many ways.  She too was always polished and shiny.

I have some of my Daddy’s tools, which also are not very useful but are a treasure to me. He was a carpenter in the CB’s during WW II and was a general all-around fix-it kind of guy.  To have those tools that were used and touched by him so many times is a gift for me.  When I see them, I can almost hear him working and banging away on some project. Thinking of it now almost brings tears to my eyes.

Then there’s the diamond ring that Gramps gave me many years ago as a birthday present.  I wear it all the time.  It’s a daily reminder of his love and devotion to me. Coincidentally, the large diamond in the center is surrounded by six smaller diamonds, exactly the number of grandchildren we have.

The whole ring is a little remembrance of my entire family – all three generations.  I don’t go anywhere without it.

So obviously, all these possessions could not be gotten out of the house very rapidly.  But they could in a slow evacuation.  And you know what?  It doesn’t matter if I have any of these items really.

Because I carry all the people and memories in my heart, where they are safe from every disaster and can never be lost.

Childhood Christmases

When I was a child, Christmases were a lot less commercialized and a lot more innocent. Gifts were often homemade and so were ornaments and decorations. More children believed in Santa Claus and wrote letters to him.

It was just a more innocent time. There was no TV or very little TV for most of my childhood. So we weren’t overloaded with all the Christmas stories and animated movies that we have now. We had to make our own entertainment.

The season started in about September when Mother began baking cookies and breads and making candy. She gave some to everybody she knew in little Christmas tins she collected all year. Everybody looked forward to their little tin of goodies every year. Some people returned the tins to get them refilled the next year.

Then the decorating started. Every room had its own theme. It took days to get the whole house done, but did it look spectacular. My Mother had some decorating favorites in those days. Lots of candles and lots of angel hair.

I remember the year the angel hair on the dining room buffet caught fire. My Mother was always in charge of noticing problems and sending out the alarm. My Dad was in charge of fixing said problems. And so it was with the fire. Mother saw the fire on the buffet and began screaming. Daddy, knowing his job, immediately jumped up and threw his drink on the fire. It worked and the fire was instantly out. To which my Mother responded, “Well, that’s going to leave a stain!”. Ah yes. That was a good year.

But most years were not so “firy”. Usually we just decorated and put up our tree like normal folk. Well, maybe not so normal. We never had a green Christmas tree my whole life. In those days, tinsel trees were very popular, so that’s what we had. A tall sparkly heartwarming silver Christmas tree. Every year. My entire childhood.

Oh it looked great when it was decorated. It really did! And we all decorated it – the whole family. Then we had our Christmas tree picnic.

We would turn all the lights off except the tree lights. Put a picnic blanket down by the tree, where we would all sit. Then we would eat cookies, drink cocoa, talk and sing Christmas carols. It was wonderful fun and sometimes would last for hours. It’s a tradition I carried on with my family too.

No one ever peeked at their presents before hand in our family. I’m not sure why. I guess it would have spoiled the fun of Christmas morning.

Mother would carefully wrap each present. She was gifted at that. She could tie beautiful bows and the tape didn’t even show. Her presents were works of art. I hated to unwrap mine because they were so beautiful.

We opened gifts on Christmas morning – at o’dark thirty actually, when my brother woke up. He was a real early bird.

Mother had coffee and OJ ready for us. We usually all got new pajamas to wear for the pictures. First the stockings were emptied. There was always candy and an orange in the toe.

I never understood the orange, until I was an adult. My parents lived through the Depression when fresh fruit was so hard to come by. To have an orange all to yourself then was a real treat and my Mother was just passing that on to us.

Then we got to open gifts one at a time, so everyone could enjoy each one. Sometimes one child was designated as “Santa Claus” and would hand out each present from under the tree

Most years we had more than we knew what to do with but I remember one year when I was pretty young. Christmas was little sparse. But a week later my parents told us that Santa Claus had brought some gifts that he had “forgotten” the previous week. We were beside ourselves with excitement. And were we ever popular in school that year. Santa Claus had come to our house TWICE!

I was grown before I figured out that my parents had to wait for the after Christmas sales to get us Christmas gifts. How hard that must have been. But they made it so wonderful for us.

My parents always did that. They made every holiday special. They ept a positive attitude when it wasn’t easy to do and protected the children from adult concerns. Even though they must have had many Christmases when they were uncertain how they would manage, I never felt fear or worry.

My childhood Christmas memories are filled with fun, laughter, good food, family, bright colors, a silver tree, and an occasional fire (but no one was hurt!). I hope my children can say the same.

For The Love Of Selvedges

So what the heck is a selvedge anyway?  Well, for those who really don’t know, it’s the edge of either side of a woven fabric, so finished as to prevent raveling.  That’s according to Merriam-Webster, that is.

To me, it’s the fun narrow border of a fabric that usually has written words and color dots, and more recently, colorful designs.  Selvedges have become so charming, I am absolutely enamored with them.

Sometimes selvedges will have more than just the name of the company and/or the name of the fabric.  Nowadays they will have words of wisdom, like these.

How can you go wrong, when your fabric tells you how the world should be!

And the selvedges with those cute characters!  I mean, who doesn’t love colorful, charming, little animals or objects just marching across the edge?  Usually the objects pertain to the pattern of the fabric and sometimes . . . who knows where the idea came from?

But I save all selvedges – the smooth edged and the ruffly edged.  I cut the selvedge plus at least one inch of fabric.  That way, when I overlap the selvedges to make fabric, I will get some of the color.

Which is why I save the selvedges – to make more fabric out of the strips.  Sounds insane, I know, but it is so great-looking.  I have covered my sewing room chair with that fabric. Here’s a photo:

Also made a tote.

Basically, once you make a piece of fabric from the strips, you can do anything with that fabric.  Use it like any other fabric and sew into any shape you want.  The possibilities are endless.

I’m not sure why selvedges speak to me the way they do but I sure am hooked.  I confess that once I bought some fabric only because the selvedge was so outstanding.  My love of selvedges is so well known, that many people now save them for me.

It’s kind of like being a drug addict and having dealers who give me the drug for free.  I mean, really?  I once even talked a lady at my Quilt Guild Meeting, who had won a bag of selvedges as a door prize, into giving me the whole bag.  I think I need an intervention.

So next time you see a piece of fabric, look at the selvedges.  Careful!  You might become addicted, just like me!

Oh, I see some now!  Gotta go!