The Year of “Hands-On” Living

Confession time—I am a “Hands-On” Nana. I am not a grandmother that sits by the pool with her drink in her hand wearing a big hat and waving (ta da) at her grandchildren. Instead, I am in the pool with them and they are swimming under my legs or they are splashing me with pool noodles.

I was blessed to have two “Hands-On” Nana Days last week. They included breakfast at Krispy Kreme where we wore Krispy Kreme hats; we made two batches of “snow”–one using baking soda and hand lotion and the other using cornstarch and shaving cream; we performed science experiments; played card games—they were truly “Hands-On” Nana Days.

And this year—I want to be a “Hands-On” Janet.

“Hands-On”. What does that mean? I am not sure exactly…..but I think it means being truly involved with life… not just sitting back and watching …..being willing to take chances and make a few messes….. and maybe, in the process, being willing to share my heart with those around me.

As readers know, last month I had hip replacement surgery. In 2017, due to chronic pain and difficulties walking, I put my life on hold. I would think “once I get through my hip surgery, I will be able to ________”.

But I have discovered something….. if you live your life on hold it becomes a habit…. You become less willing to take risks and more willing to settle for the status quo and let life slip by.

I don’t want life to merely slip by—I want to have a life where I am active and trying new things…. I want to be able to amaze myself from time to time—to do something outside my comfort zone so I can say “wow, I did that!”

But I also think “Hands On” means learning how to value the ordinary moments in your life ….. because when you cherish the boring ordinary moments of day to day life you elevate them…. the making of dinner…. bedtime routines with children….. walking from the parking deck to your office…..When you learn to savor these small moments you will see them in a different light ….. and you will feel more alive.

Let me assure you—cornstarch and shaving cream are very ordinary items. Yet, the “Hands On” mindset encouraged me to see these items with my heart, not my mind, and therefore, I found joy as my grandchildren made their “snow” sculptures.

The truth is we have only today—and it is up to us to make it as “Hands On” as possible—to be engaged—and to open our eyes and our hearts to what is around us.

So—my personal challenge for 2018 is….. to try new things….. to open my heart and take some chances….. to be willing to make a few mistakes or messes….. and last but not least….. to treasure the precious ordinary moments in my life.

“Hands-On” Living—I am finally ready for it.

Are You?


“Hands-On” Nana

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Reflections on a Duct Taped Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

The annual tradition of finding my perfect Charlie Brown (CB) Christmas tree began in 2011 when my granddaughter joined me on this quest.  I had moved into a condo after my divorce and had given away my large tree, so I decided to get a small (aka Charlie Brown) tree. She helped me choose the perfect table top tree.

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Being Thankful for Endings that Turn into Beginnings

On Sunday, November 19th, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my son and his family by hosting a Thanksgiving brunch at my home. To add to the joy, my grandchildren (ages 8 and 5) spent the night with me which included S’mores, hot chocolate, and stories before bedtime. It was an evening filled with love and laughter.

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The Challenge of Stillness

My priest, Kenneth Swanson at St. David’s Episcopal Church, offers a course called “Spiritual Direction” in which one learns the purpose of prayer and how to pray. The course is not for the faint of heart. Participants meet twice a month for two hours from September to May. There is one hour of small group conversation followed by a one-hour lecture by Ken.

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Killing the Cockroach of Fear

Now that my grandson has begun kindergarten, Nana-Days have changed to Nana-Afternoons. I pick him up at his bus-stop at 2:40 PM—we scurry to my house—play, read, have dinner—then I zip him home by 7 PM for his family time. It is a bit hectic but it is still treasured time.

Recently I picked him up for our Nana-Afternoon and when he got off the bus, the conversation went like this: (GS = Grandson; N = Nana).

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A Glimpse into a Week of Chaos—and Laughter

Many months ago, my son and his wife were making plans for a wonderful trip of a lifetime to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary. This has been a part of their life-plan since they married and they have saved their dimes, quarters, and 10 dollar bills so they could take a 13-day Mediterranean trip on a Viking Ocean Cruise ship.

There was just one small hitch—they needed someone to keep their children.

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Creating Love….. No Machines Needed….. Just Fleeting Moments of Time

How do you convey to someone you love them… in such a manner that this knowledge is lodged firmly in their hearts?

I am convinced such love does not stem from big dramatic flowery moments. Love is built during day-to-day ordinary and boring moments—snippets of time when we interact with each other. Like the slow drip of water on a stone, changes are made on the inside and the outside. But it takes personal interaction—blue eyes looking into blue eyes—or brown eyes—where we are willing to give one-on-one attention to that person.

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