learning generosity

Wikipedia defines generosity as:

“…the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait.”

Coming into Alan’s family many years ago taught me what family is: people to help you along when you need them, and people that you help along when they need you.  Family is a network of strength and love and it means that you are never alone.  Alan’s family, at the drop of a hat, give whatever they can to help each other.  Their generosity doesn’t stop at family; it spreads far beyond bloodlines.  Alan has embodied his family’s generosity and been a devoted and giving husband who almost never complains or tires, even on the most exhausting days.  He has been my rock and his family has been my lifeline.

In the last few years I have learned much about generosity from my friend Alisha, who is one of the most generous people I have ever known.  Her generosity is combined with grace and social competence; she knows when to offer help and when to give it without asking.  After Anna’s birth, Alisha gave me the most profound gift of generosity I have ever received.  She came to my house every day for two weeks to tidy up, make food, and pamper me with wonderful gifts such foot rubs or drawing a bath and taking care of my new baby in the meantime.  After that she continued to come every couple of days over a long period of time. She encouraged me to rest and to ask for help. She cleaned my dust bunnies and kept up the laundry and even put hotel corners on the toilet paper roll in the bathroom. She made me feel special and loved at a most vulnerable time in my life. Alisha’s generosity has had a constant presence throughout our friendship, both in times of need and in times of abundance.  Alisha is always aware of what I need, listens to me, and gives me honest advice when I am ready to receive it.  Sometimes I think she knows me better than I know myself.

My ankle still needs much rest and recovery, and I have two children and a household to care for and a job to go to this weekend.  Alan has a busy work life and graduate school to attend, but regardless, he is doing laundry and making container gardens (my project that was halted when I injured myself) in the little time that he is home.  Alisha is needing help, too; she is recovering from abdominal surgery and taking care of a child and a home while her husband works out of state.  I wish I could give her more right now than a listening ear.  Soon, perhaps.

My mother-in-law, also one of the most generous people I have ever known, has given me much help, love and caring over the last few days.  And I have not even had to ask for it.  She has brought dinners, cleaned my kitchen, swept my floors, picked up my walking cast from the medical store and delivered it to me, and taken my children to the toy store to pick out something new and fun to play with while Mommy is laid up.  And I am sure this will not be the last of it. She has a heart that gives endlessly.

Being loved and cared for is a wondrous thing.

Image

my littlest girl

She is a beauty, full of life and zest.

On most days, I am too busy.   I bustle around doing my grownup things and I rarely stop to connect with her.  And then she and her sister compete for my attention, and well, you get the picture.  I don’t get her to myself often enough.

The last two days of resting on the couch, I have seen more of Anna.  She has been my nurse, bringing me real and pretend medicines, ice packs, and glasses of water.  She has snuggled with me and told me imaginary stories.  And my favorite: this afternoon she put on a choir concert for me, complete with choir shoes and a “stage.”

I learned that my Anna has learned how to sing.  And sing quite well for a 3-year-old, in fact.  She can snap, too.  She knows a long list of songs by heart, and can sing them with vigor and enthusiasm.

To think that I didn’t know.

This is one of the gifts that my sprained ankle has delivered thus far: time and space to connect with my littlest girl.

It is absolutely lovely.

watching the clouds roll by

I am on my second day of bed rest.  I sprained my ankle after taking a fall the other day, also spilling a fresh pan of rhubarb crisp and breaking Alisha’s nice ceramic pan all over her driveway.  Learning that my ankle was not broken was one of the happier moments of my life; I am grateful that it will be able to heal on its own and doesn’t require surgery or a cast.  I was also happy that I had fast and courteous service at Brookdale Urgent Care.  Isn’t it great when things go smoothly, even when they are unplanned?

Nontheless, I need rest and a little TLC.  I have been taking Arnica, proteolytic enzymes, epsom salt baths, and a little ibuprofen here and there.  My foot has been elevated and iced most of the time, except for when I hop around on one leg or on crutches.  The swelling and bruising is already improved and I am hopeful I will be able to walk in a few more days and start my rehab exercises.

This is the second time in six years that I have sprained this ankle.  The first time was far less severe and I was able to walk right away, though not without pain.  After learning about the laws of attraction and reading Louise Hay to my heart’s content, I believe my repeated sprains are telling me something, whether I want to hear about it or not. I created the pattern that invited this accident into my life, and I now release the pattern.

I will post my sprained ankle affirmations in my bathroom and practice them every day, and be willing and open to change.  In the meantime, I will give myself lots of TLC and enjoy some much-needed downtime.  Maybe I will watch a movie or read something for pleasure.  Lord knows I don’t take enough time for that in my regular life.

Breastfeeding is normal, so go educate yourself.

I was exposed today to the May cover on Time magazine, which is posted and being discussed all over the internet.

My initial reaction to the photo was “Oh! He nurses just like my Anna does!”  Then I thought of how beautiful and elegant she looked, and how funny and familiar the situation was to me.

Then I read the comments.

Sigh.

I don’t like to dwell on negativity, but sometimes it is hard not to.  There are so many uneducated, biased, squeaky wheels on the internet and so many people eager to dirty the air.

Breastfeeding is normal and natural and incredibly healthy.  Negative views on breastfeeding are based on cultural biases and emotional dysfunction.

I would like to tell all the people who are disgusted by the idea of extended breastfeeding:

Relax!

Then read this and educate yourself.