A year and a half ago when I started this new blog, I thought for many showers (where I do my best thinking) about a name for it that would capture my essential life philosophy.

Initially I wanted “Bird In My Hand”; alas, it was taken. “Bird in Your Hand” felt a bit too prescriptive at first, but it was close and it stuck with me. If I considered myself an metacognitive observer of myself (a perspective I often try to inhabit to look at my motivations and desires objectively), then the prescription was also to myself: Look at the birds in your hand, Sarah, and treat them with honor, worth, and gratitude.

I wrote this, also, as part of the introduction to the blog:

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” so goes the adage that has been instructive to me since childhood. If we are to create our own joy and our own lives with our own hands, then it has done me well to remember to be grateful for what I already have. A bird in the hand represents, to me, the idea of appreciating what we’ve got. Of looking around and finding contentment in the people, ideas, and moments we hold dear without trying to apprehend more than our share or risking the beauty we already have for selfish or needless pursuit.
It is the lesson Dorothy learned in The Wizard of Oz. To gather our joy, we need to begin in the home, inside of us, in that place deep within where the authentic self dwells. We recognize the birdsong—the freely winging sounds of joy—that are part of all of us if only we take the time to listen to ourselves.
The image of a “bird in your hand” conjures for me, also, an ancient writing tool: the quill. I imagine taking a bird feather, dipping it into ink, dripping that ink a bit onto my writer’s bump, and writing my own story—usually in the thick cover of night, a silent time, a time to hear one’s inner singing voice.

I believe just as passionately in this philosophy today as I did one and a half years ago, if not more so. The people and simple moments we have right in front of us can be everything. What we have is, often, so much. There is no purpose in comparing or contrasting our lives with that of anyone else.

I was not surprised to learn recently on our trip, then, that the Amish in Lancaster County, PA have a small village called Bird-in-Hand. Long identifying with my Amish ancestry in many ways, this is an astounding coincidence. When I think about the Amish work ethic, the value they place on family, their overall quest for a gentle and humble nature, I think about the idea of being grateful for the people and things we have—as well as the gift of health which allows us to work hard and productively.

On my mind tonight, and all during our two week trip, are the people for which I am grateful. My family members are the birds in my hand. All of them… yet especially as this point in our lives, my Nana.

My three main priorities after returning from our trip: 1) Go see my new cousin Chelsea; 2) Visit Nana; 3) See my Benefield cousins, who were abroad in Thailand for five months

(I also need to get a move on planning how to celebrate Eric’s 2nd birthday, as well as several other things, but these were the top three).

Thankfully, I was able to meet Chelsea yesterday (see post below). I also decided to drive my mom on her weekly trip to see Nana. My mom and Aunt Debbie usually visit on Saturdays now, since my mom has the house remodeling project happening during the week. Since the Benefields also planned to visit Nana, this was perfect!

We met at the house for a bit, visited, ate our packed lunches, and then went to visit Nana’s brother Uncle Ross at his retirement home. Aunt Debbie made cupcakes for Oliver and Eric’s upcoming birthdays, and we thought to share them outside with Uncle Ross under the gazebo; unfortunately, Uncle Ross was feeling more poorly today.

I cherish these visits with my Nana and her brother. I think it is important for the kiddos, too, to see the cycle of life and to see what family loyalty and duty and sibling responsibility look like.

My hope is to visit Nana at least once a week. We have been initiating visits to see her once every two-three weeks, skipping mainly because there are weeks when my mom and Aunt Debbie keep her company on errands. Yet the kiddos and I are willing to help with errands, too. It would be an honor to go with Nana to the supermarket, or do whatever needs to be done. We are all aware that time goes too fast, so let us savor the sweetness of the bird in our hand before it flies away.

 

Cousins playing the piano…many, many family memories around that piano. Always makes me think of my Uncle Eric.

 

Eric helps Nana out of the car… When we caravanned over to the retirement home where Uncle Ross lives, Eric kept saying how he wanted to see Nana.

 

 

Jed and his kiddos

 

 

Impromptu picnic at the retirement home! We wished Uncle Ross would have felt well enough to come outside today, but he was sleepy. Maybe another time. The kiddos are always a bit hesitant when we enter Uncle Ross’ room because of all the medical equipment, but I tell them that part of being a family is thinking about everything we can do to make our other family members feel loved and happy. They know their visits bring cheer to Uncle Ross, and that is truly all that matters: giving without an expectation of receiving. I hope they learn this from a young age.

 

Yummy cupcakes made by Aunt Debbie!

When we got home, we played in the backyard, picked fresh basil from our garden for dinner, and checked on Katie’s pumpkin:

 

 

 

She planted this and is growing it herself. I do help in keeping it watered, and so did Boppa while we were gone. Very awesome and appropriate for my little October baby!

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