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Thanks, Kelly, for your poignant reflections. For me, these days, I'm more 'Everyone, Everywhere, All at Once'. Lots of paradoxical emotions co-exist in a flow. I think because we were mired in the details of caregiving for so long, I like to take the meta-view of upstream and downstream and step back from right now, to appreciate the journey.

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"Appreciate the journey." To do so is a special gift, though as you say, maybe one that can only be received with lots of "paradoxical emotions." I'm glad you have found the space and spaciousness to receive the gift!

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May 8Liked by Kelly Flanagan

❤️

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May 8Liked by Kelly Flanagan

My daughter graduates high school in a couple weeks and I so resonate with what you wrote. When she graduated 8th grade, it was during Covid, an abrupt end one day in March to what was friendships and a school she thrived in and graduation was a drive by car parade by her teachers. I don’t think I ever really paused to bookend those years so reading this passage brought me tears. Is it sad to say I appreciated those days at home because I got to spend more of it with my kids? When they started high school time just sped up. Going into her high school graduation in a couple weeks can bring me silent tears on normal school mornings realizing these days are quickly ending simply because of time. Slow down time. “Time is wonder that hurts”. Time makes me grateful, appreciating each moment. Time makes us savor each moment.

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A thousand percent agree. COVID somehow slowed time, and high school/drivers licenses always speed it up. Your beautiful share here made me think of a song by Jason Isbell called "If We Were Vampires." Here are some of the lyrics.

If we were vampires and death was a joke

We'd go out on the sidewalk and smoke

And laugh at all the lovers and their plans

I wouldn't feel the need to hold your hand

Maybe time running out is a gift

I'll work hard 'til the end of my shift

And give you every second I can find

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May 8Liked by Kelly Flanagan

Thanks Kelly I started thinking about my childhood and my later years. How my son read where the red fern grows and I can’t bring myself to read it. My son said it is a good book but then he said it is a sad book. I ran into an old neighbor whose parents had 11 children. They lived behind us and up a hill. There was a beautiful woods also and we always were in those woods climbing trees. We even did a carnival yearly in those woods. The Hill at his house was used for sledding in the winter and we all had a blast! Forward 40 yrs nothing stays the same😢The woods are gone🥲the hill is flat. The house looks smaller. The laughter is gone. So sad but so glad I had this opportunity to enjoy at least a bit of my childhood. So my old friend and I chatted and shared stories standing and watching our Flying Pig Race here in Cincinnati with 5000 runners.

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Rae, thank you for this share. What a beautiful glimpse into your childhood. One of the unique pains of being human is our ability to remember good things that have passed. Maybe we honor their goodness by choosing to feel the pain of their absence.

Side note: My wife once ran in the Flying Pig. Skyline Chili!

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May 9Liked by Kelly Flanagan

Cool what year? I volunteered for a long time

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2002, right before our first was born!

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May 9Liked by Kelly Flanagan

Yes I did volunteer that year with the police department. Did you like Skyline?

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Yes! We enjoyed the whole city!

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May 8·edited May 8Liked by Kelly Flanagan

The image of the rusty old axe blade helps me tap into - and understand a little better - the wonder and hurt I'm feeling about my mother's recent passing. As I reflect on the experiences of her life, and by extension the experiences of mine, time does fold back on itself in a weird way. Thank you for the words and imagery to express what it's like to look back.

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I love that you are honoring her by choosing the pain that comes with remembering her. I'm glad this post could affirm the goodness of it all, Brenda.

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May 8Liked by Kelly Flanagan

Yeah, this isn't me. I'm not a sloppy cryer. I get watery eyes sometimes and my most grieved moments have been petitioning God to forgive my weaknesses, but usually my tears are short lived. It's not a stoic nature or coarse demeanor, I'm just not good at holding emotions at length. I leak but I don't flow. I wonder if it's just busted mental pipes sometimes.

My wife is watch "Fraizer" on Netfix lately. I passively observe scenes at times, but it annoys me to watch sitcomm characters torturously fail at every endeavor. It also annoys me that I'm older than Farzier was in the show...by 6 years.

My children are old enough to have nostalgia over geographic spots that have changed due to construction in the last 7 years. I have seen whole towns, even foreign cities alter over time in my history. It's mind blowing for sure. Still, I don't hold the past like some people do. I am more concerned about the future usually. I appreciate the details you hold dear and share because I don't hold them very well myself.

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One of the things I love about you, JC, is that our differences don't repel you from me. It feels good to be appreciated like that. Thank you for that gift, my friend!

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May 9·edited May 9

Yeah, we have so much in common in so many ways but our differences feel a little like complimentary notes rather than major edits to the lives we seem to live in tandem.

I have a friend who just announced he's cancer free after battling a very serious run in with it. He's gained a lot of strength and humility from his endeavor and shared his journey with myself and others. It's very inspiring.

I'm looking at things in my own life and even though I feel a twinge of chagrin for not handling the burdens I face with more bravery and determination like so many others I have as examples in front of me, I understand that my life is my own. My challenges are my own. I must take courage on my own to make things right and to hold onto what is most precious and dear to me. I also need to rely more on those who are there to be reliable as well. Not to do stuff for me so much as to use the support I have to it's fullest measure. As my friend who has recently beaten cancer found out, he needed to be strong for others and use their support to actually bolster them more so than himself. His battle was to be there for those who needed him and not fretting so much over what was a burden for him. Essentially learning to not be selfish in the midst of his trials. Accepting love and kindness and generosity from others was part of it.

This is why I seek to continue our relationship and be part of this community. Its okay to take love and acceptance from all of you and to put in my own form of love and acceptance.

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Definitely feel the ache. Some days, like today, it is the sadness that descends on and all around me. The ache of things lost, memories found, choices coiled tight never to unwind, a soon to be 13 year old grandson... it is strange how some things can, in one singular moment, bring so much joy and heartache. Like the exquisite sunset that accompanies the dying day and all that is taken in that death. Thanks for some good thought to chew on this morning. I can't to see you sloppy cry when you have grand kids!

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Thank you for sharing your heart, Carlos. It made me think of a passage about grandchildren from Buechner. Wild to think the cycle of crying starts all over with grandkids! Here's the URL. https://www.frederickbuechner.com/quote-of-the-day/2016/9/8/grandchildren

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May 8Liked by Kelly Flanagan

The Awe of Time...The Ache of Time...The Wonder of Time....

Different meaning of Time, depending on what phase I am in or seeking to be able to go back and touch for a brief moment. Rarely would most of us want to take the Whole of it All...I mean i have never spoken to a parent that wants to go back to middle school or teen years and do it ALL again. I sure dont. Neither do the kids. But the awe of the moments, the perspectives. the wisdom now gained and the magic in the moments....that is something I would love to recapture. I am in the stage where my sons are full fledged adults, meeting up with their childhood traumas and having to face how they affected them. They are all showing up for their whole selves in different ways, but the magic or awe in the moments I am observing is....well....defined very differently than when I would catch a glimpse of them growing up. It is less awe and more pain. It is more anxiety about the uncertainly of how their choices will affect their lives now and later on. I needed this reminder that there IS an awe in seeing them face their pain.

Milestones are the times we usually get more reflective. My baby (26) finally moved out last week and there was no awe, as I had to set a boundary to have him move out, but there was sadness in the full realization that there is an ending to the living together. Time has flowed...and I miss the magic of simple moments, moments that occur naturally when you are under one roof, but am reminded to look for the awe and not just the default ache it is much easier to find an expression for.

It's really All a graduation isn't it?

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"It's really all a Graduation, isn't it." You did it again. Yes! That's it. I loved reading this whole reflection though, watching you dance with the awe and the ache. I originally titled this "To Stand in Awe of Time" but realized that if we push away the ache, we inevitably push away the awe too. Glad you could hold both with your youngest!

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May 8Liked by Kelly Flanagan

I feel the ache.

My sloppy cry moment was when I watched my youngest get on the school bus for the first day of 1st grade. The passage of time. What a beautiful, thought evoking essay.

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First day of first grade for youngest is a big one. A much quieter home nine months a year for many years. In the quiet, there is ache, and somewhere in the ache there is awe.

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May 8Liked by Kelly Flanagan

I love this post--it's pulling on my sleeves to use your quotes and ideas to help me create my next talk at Unity. I love the idea of time folding in on itself. As a young mom I came across a poem about motherhood being like those Russian nesting dolls, Matrushkas. All the younger versions of our children are contained inside the current version as we behold them. Probably the seeds of the future ones too. It makes loving so much bigger. You're not there yet, but wait till you have grandkids and you see your children in their children. Talk about a wrinkle in time!

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Jane, please feel free to cite whatever you would like. I'd be honored. I love the Russian dolls analogy. I get asked a lot about the most important thing in parenting. I say, remember their earliest nesting dolls for them, until they can one day remember for themselves.

Here's a passage about grandkids I pasted above that it sounds like you would enjoy!

https://www.frederickbuechner.com/quote-of-the-day/2016/9/8/grandchildren

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Thanks for sharing that quote. I love it.

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Beautifully written, Kelly. Time has been on my mind a lot over the past year: the fact that you cannot stop it nor can you repeat it. Thank you for the reminder to appreciate things which occur as time passes.

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I used to hate that I could not stop time. Now I'm trying to think of it as my teacher, showing me what it's like to not be in control of the most important things. It's helping. A little. 😊

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"Time is always flowing past us, but also collecting around us."

This line in particular resonated with me. As someone with likely less years ahead of me than behind me, I am very aware of time. My pool of memories paired with my present awareness is in a constant rotation of heavy nostalgia and light anticipation/hope. I've always been aware of time and how I've clutched onto life. Maybe awareness to a fault, but I'm glad for me, and for you Kelly, that you realize how precious this time of your life with your kids is. It's a gift, honestly.

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You've got some gorgeous prose in this piece, Kelly. Like this one, "The burnt rays come to rest upon an abandoned barn, its faded red glory barely a rumor on its disintegrating timbers."

I felt so warmed reading this. And that Swatch watch reference ; ) I'd like to throw in a pair of Vans with that nostalgia!

For me, the awe and ache are so close to each other as if they can no longer be separated. Yet I experience time like a spiral, circling over and over with each "oh, there's that sun today" or "there's that archetype showing up in my life" or "there's that edge I'm up against again."

But rather than feeling like Groundhog Day, it's not a mental prison. There's a noticing of difference each time. "I" am different each time as the moments/recognitions come back like waves.

Like the way the Earth spirals the sun, while the sun simultaneously travels through space. So Earth isn't just spiraling on a flat plane—we're spiraling while moving forward at the same time.

This too occurs to me when I read your words. An idea from Matt Kahn I will paraphrase as this: "What if instead of a moment happening and we then have our feelings, what if all our feelings are pre-determined and the moments come to meet us there?"

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May 17Liked by Kelly Flanagan

“I’m the rusting ax blade.” At almost 60 it is feeling very real, this “rust”

These days I spend some of my quiet time allowing myself to glimpse the “rust” as it settles in. Acceptance of my rusty parts comes as I sit in gratitude for a life well lived. (Not perfect, just lived!) The other night as I was falling asleep, in that sweet space of “neither here, nor there” I actually felt my children, one by one place their hand on my old and wrinkled cheek and speak blessings over me. It was otherworldly, is the only way to describe it. It was such a sense of peace that accompanied the vision. Just another piece falling into place preparing my heart for all of the rusting to come. ❤️

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This brings great tears of joy to my eyes. What a beautiful description of a soul appreciating its own body and the life they have lived together.

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May 30Liked by Kelly Flanagan

This hits home so beautifully, Dr. Flanagan! Our 8th grader graduates this spring too, but she's our oldest, the first to hit all these milestones...I'm tearing up just reading "we’re meant to feel not just the awe of it, nor just the ache of it, but the all of it." - Perfect, as usual.

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Anna, I'm glad this arrived at the right time to help unlock all those feelings in you. Blessings upon this milestone and all the others ahead. It's all life and life is good, may you experience it fully!

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