Grocery Shopping

When Friends Take You Grocery Shopping

Life has brought me into a new season. A five letter word. A season of grief.

Previously, I have experienced loss in several capacities. I’ve said good-bye to my grandfather, and watched my childhood friend say good-bye to her father when he lost his five year battle with cancer three years ago.

Never have I experienced, however, the crippling shock that results from loss on a deeply personal level. When I received the call that my dad had passed unexpectedly, the first thing that came into my mind was the song lyric from Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen.” Well, maybe not the first thing. But these words were certainly rolling around in the mess of thoughts and emotions that flooded my brain.

Luhrmann says, “Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. On some idle Tuesday.”

For me, it wasn’t a Tuesday. It was a Friday, and it was 3 pm.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few weeks, talking about death, loss, and grief can make people feel pretty uncertain. I know this is about them, and not about me. However, it doesn’t feel great to watch how your own pain makes others twinge in discomfort, or inspire fear in how they, too, could experience such an event. Grandparents, those we expect to lose. Not your dad, at the age of 58, when he was seemingly healthy the night before.

As the weeks and months move forward without my dad, and I continue to process this change in my life, it is not my intention to make others uncomfortable or to be seeking sympathy.

Rather, I choose to dwell on the fact that stories of shared experience bring me comfort. Over the past few weeks I have had several people share with me that they, too, have lost their parents unexpectedly. Co-workers and high school classmates have shared their hearts and insights as to how they have moved forward to survive without their loved ones. And so I am choosing to share tid-bits of my experience here. Maybe my experience can bring you some comfort or something to relate to in your own journey. I now know that even in the midst of terrible loss, there is beauty to be found.

 

Rewind to two weeks ago. Thursday night. I had planned my meals for the week ahead as my mom and dad sat on my couch. We shared glasses of red wine and caught up on the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Jotting down what I needed to get at the grocery store on Saturday brought comfort and a small sense of accomplishment in getting ahead on regular tasks.

IMG_3667This damn grocery list has sat on my kitchen table for the last two weeks because with a flood of funeral obligations, family time, and throat-aching sobs, I did not find the time to make it to the store.

Plus, the outpouring of support from our family and friends allowed our freezers to be full of casserole, lasagna, and breakfast burritos. Chores as mundane as grocery shopping quickly fell to the back burner.

However, as we marked the two week anniversary, it became pretty apparent that grocery shopping was necessary. Yet, the list continued to sit on the table. It can be challenging to return to routine after such a shock. At times, the thought of every day life just feels like too much.

On Friday evening, I had the blessing of two girlfriends coming down to join me for a meal out. After eating and drinking and discussing our lives, we decided to skip on dessert and make brownies at home. We had to stop at the store to get a boxed batch of promised, gooey, deliciousness.

Both of my friends insisted on returning to my house to get my list – the neglected reminder of my last night with my dad. I hesitated and said I could manage by myself, later in the weekend, but they insisted. Pissed, I grabbed my grocery bags and got back in the car, quietly feeling scared of undergoing such a task. My dear, gentle friends followed me around the brightly-lit aisles, put items in my cart, and helped me complete one of my first attempts at returning to normalcy.

Because that’s the thing when you lose a loved one – life continues, trash needs to be taken out, and you return to work, but picking out peanut butter can be a gut wrenching experience. The presence of these two women in a King Soopers on a Friday night was the most beautiful example of ‘showing up’ and letting me be me I have witnessed in my experience with grief.

Thank you to my dear, beautiful friends who have shown up in so many ways over the past few weeks. Thank you for wiping my tears, reminding me of love through candles and journals and phone calls with sobs, for bringing us Easter hams, and sending chocolates from across the world. For the cards, the flowers, the sentiments, and the continued communication of love and support as we move forward. Friends are the most beautiful things.

What are your experiences with grief? How have you moved forward? Do you find sharing your stories is comforting, scary, or even allowed?

 

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Resist the Urge to Fast Forward

“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.” – Frank Clark

Raise your hand if you’ve been known to want to jump ahead? Can you identify with the main character in that movie “Click” with Adam Sandler where he fast forwards away his life to the next big promotion, to the moments in which he “has made it” and ends up missing out on countless good moments that life brought his way. I catch myself, recently, wanting to see exactly what big thing I’m going to accomplish in this life. I beat myself up, analyzing to a point of anxiety the ways in which I can put myself on the path to accomplishment of big, big things. Then I stop and take a grounding, yoga breath, and ask the question, “what the heck can I control today?” What can I control in these moment by moment choices when today is all that matters. It can be challenging to trust that the trajectory of this life will give me some great things I can accomplish, especially in this culture that demands us to compare our own success to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends on a daily basis. Performance goals, accountability, quotas, new years resolutions – the ways in which we measure up make me feel a little bit overwhelmed.  What ways are you challenging yourself to measure up? And what exactly, sets those standards?  Oh? You don’t do that? I certainly do.

I’m seeking solace in that my original definition for BIG ACCOMPLISHMENTS can turn out to look entirely different than I first intended. I imagine my definition will continue to change as I get older. That stagnant definitions of accomplishment are what kill me. That’s why I like this quote above. It may be cliché to say that life is about the little things, but I return to this truth on a regular basis. It helps me to erase the notion that you have to arrive at life, because once I’ve accomplished something how quick I am to ask myself, “already then, what’s next?” Fast forward, Fast Forward, Fast Forward. Days go slowly, perhaps, but the weeks fly off of the calendar.

Here are some beautiful little things for the week. Not profound, not immensely significant on the road to accomplishment, but very helpful in recognizing successes that come in all shapes, sizes, and feel good notions.

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April 14, 2015 – Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s – holla! I got to take a break from work and go to get a free ice cream cone. Simple delights. The benefits of being within walking distance to an ice cream shop. A chance to soak up some Vitamin D. Sorry, by the time this gets posted, it will be over. I hope you made it to your regional ice cream shop.

I made a grocery list – I did not, however, make it to the grocery store. Making a list is an accomplishment in and of itself. I have the resources and skills to buy healthy food. My family taught me how to prepare it. I have the privilege of sitting down with my husband to eat. Not everyone has these skills or the ability to make grocery shopping a reality. I have a plan made for next week, so I can check that item off my to-do list while scrounging in the cupboards to pull a dinner together. What is that app that tells you what to cook based on the ingredients in your cupboard? I need that. List done. Simple, but an accomplishment none the less.

Free time to explore a museum. We had the great opportunity for a museum date day. We learned new things in a cultural institution that delights the senses and explains the world we live in. How we, as humans, for centuries have tried to make sense of the world we are living in. Maybe, perhaps, inquiry is at the heart of humanity. I love exploring museums, and poking around in different areas that entice me to think about my own place in this huge arena of worldly experiences.

Spring. The screen door has been opened and a breeze rustles into our kitchen. At night the light extends past 8:00 pm inviting hope and enjoyment into the evening hours after work. Flowers are blooming and grass is getting trimmed, and my face is towards the sun. I enjoyed three hours in the park with dear friends on Sunday afternoon and got a huge popsicle from the ice cream truck. Not earth shattering accomplishment, but rather soul soothing experiences that refill a soulful cup that needs replenishing. That, too, is a choice. Are we seeking light? Are we seeking friendship? Are we seeking space to be, rather than to accomplish. I’d rather be, than be a something, any day. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Essie: Bump Up the Pumps – repeat

Biscotti – None

So Here is a Question…

So here is a question. Are you a Trader Joe’s person? You will know, right away, if your answer is yes or if your answer is no. These Trader Joe’s people – they know what I mean.

I, for the longest time, was not a Trader Joe’s person. Until recently, this phrase referred to a phenomenon that was foreign to Colorado residents. We did not have the amazing snacks, the two-buck Chuck, the affordable produce. On trips growing up when we went to Chicago, or Portland, or Seattle my mom would drag me to the store to get her favorites and I would think, “oh, for heaven’s sake, this is JUST a grocery store.”

I carried this opinion with me until this week when I went shopping for my little book swap party. My town did not even have a Trader Joe’s until about a month ago. Sure I could drive an hour south, or an hour west, but that wasn’t going to happen just for some snacks. When our local store opened, I mocked the visitors who stood outside for hours waiting to get in.

However, if you are considering snacks for dinner (one of my personal favorites) I am now going to endorse Trader Joe’s as the place to go. I think I spent $40 and got snacks for ten women, a ton of chocolate, and my Easter lilies. I’ve been converted. There is beauty in snacks – can I get an AMEN? There is beauty in the simplicity of a “neighborhood grocery store.” Although, I won’t dwell on the fact that this store is certainly not in my neighborhood. Instead I drove twenty minutes to the store from work and then to my house. I guess the small grocer feel is growing on me. As much as a small grocer feel can exist given the nature of a franchise, national distribution, and competition, if you can call 7-11 a corner grocery store. Give things a second or third look – it can change your opinion if you look past your own snoodiness (ok, ok, my own snoodiness. And yes, snoodiness is a word. Just for tonight.) My flowers still smell enchanting.

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I feel like this past week flew by in a blur. We had three family celebrations, each with their own beautiful quirks of family interaction and dynamics. I participated in an egg hunt and opened not one, but two Easter baskets. I am swimming in chocolate eggs. Come hang out with me and I will share. You can pick from Cadbury Mini Eggs to Almond M&Ms. I am thrilled that my families still partake in traditions that delight and spoil me. Confession: I did not go to church this year. I actually missed it. There is beauty in tradition, and spiritual practice, and ritual that for me, ties and connects me to a higher power. I still texted my mom, “HE IS RISEN” and was glad she texted back, “HE IS RISEN INDEED”. It’s odd not saying that in a formal church setting, but I’m learning to carry components of religion and tradition in my own heart and answer those questions in each different stage of life.

I delight in celebrations and the beauty of warm days. Of winter turning into spring. Of promise in looking at things in a different way. Of sunburns and lemon bars and ham with cheesy potatoes.

So, really, are you a Trader Joe’s person or what?

Essie: No polish this week

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Biscotti: I bought some at Trader Joe’s. Chocolate hazelnut. It’s delicious. OH! and I got a cookbook with only biscotti recipes in my Easter basket. Bring on the baking inspiration! Do you think I can get almond paste at Trader Joe’s?

So here is another question. Does Trader Joe’s really not have a Twitter account?