Tiny Puffs Of Hope


My Mom always had many humorous and unusual expressions. She was brought up by her elderly English grandparents which put her in a generation a bit behind herself and many of her contemporaries. One of my favorites among those expressions was, “You’re just no bigger than a minute.”

She always said that when picking up a small creature; a newborn baby, a puppy, a kitten etc. I’m not certain I know how big a minute is besides being 60 seconds, but I know it isn’t much, but like pennies can add up to a larger sum. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “Take care of your change and the dollars will take care of themselves.”

We live in the age of the jumbo jet, super stores and largess in all things. We often confuse piles of material things for meaningful lives and buying in volume is considered prudent, even if we don’t ever use whatever it is, we bought. Our shoppers’ eyes fall upon piles of goods we buy out of compulsion, hunger, habit or competitiveness.

We must have them. Cardboard boxes fill our basements from ordering online and we belong to shoppers’ clubs that allow us to make money while spending money. It’s crazy out there my friends, plum crazy.The pace of life is fast in order to keep up with society, have what others have and we are forced to earn more money to buy more things we probably don’t need, really don’t want and may not use. Mr. Jefferson also said, “Never buy anything you don’t want just because it is cheap.”

In all of this wild spending, owning and possessing we forget about the tiny things in this life. When many of us are forced to take another look at our lives and reassess our belongings due to accident, loss of jobs, loss of health and a hundred other life altering events, we begin to slow down and count the pennies and the minutes. Instead of trampling on that tiny dandelion flower, so yellow and perky working its way through a small crack in the sidewalk, we step around it and are forced to pause and reflect. What is truly important in this life?

I, like many of you my readers and friends, have had to pause, step back and reflect about many areas of life. It’s as if my former life is all kingsized, jumbotron and high-pitched volume compared to my current life. Gradually, over the years I have been forced by my physical pain and illnesses to stop, pause, slow down and give a great deal of thought to what really matters to me. Reflection is necessary in order to live any kind of a meaningful, clean, orderly life. One cannot drift through life. There is little reward in drifting, accomplishing nothing and never having that feeling of self-worth brought on by achievement, in even the tiny things in life. Drifting ends up in piles of clothes that need to be washed, a home that is a clutter with piles of nonsense, unopened mail but then there is the hunger factor. Eventually we have to eat. I’m not referring to hoarding, although I know that’s a popular subject, thanks to television. I’m simply referring to the normal acts of life like combing one’s hair, washing up, doing laundry and moving life along.

Thomas, and I hope he doesn’t mind me calling him Thomas, also said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Most of us were taught that as children as we picked up our toys and clutter, folded doll clothes, picked up a million tiny Legos or blocks and made our beds each day. As adults we don’t have an allowance therefore the incentive has to lie in the act of doing. Incidentally, my generation didn’t usually get an allowance because it was just part of life, the dreaded chores.

To get through a day I have to start with a list, knowing when I made it out the night before, that I would probably not be able to accomplish everything on it. I tried living this compromised existence without goals, a list or even a clue. I didn’t like it. I have often tried to just be the poor patient as I would lie around, filling my days with self-pity and my nights with a heart searching for some way out considering what my body was doing to my life. Jefferson, one of my favorite foundingfathers also said, “Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.” He knew the secret.

Therein lies the importance of dusting off a shelf, picking up a pot in the kitchen, folding a towel fresh out of the dryer and a hundred other daily acts of survival. We also do ourselves a disservice because it is these small bits of physical activity that add up at the end of the daystrengthening out bodies, muscles and circulation. There is a profundity of hope in any achievement. If you live with pain and illness, you and I need hope, boy do we need hope. It is far too easy to fall into despair and depression without it.

Many of us who live compromised lives, physically, would challenge Thomas but far too often, I rely on my husband or someone to do something for me when I could at least try to do it. Of course, there are times of severe illness or pain and we all know about those crises when we simple have to cry “Uncle,” humble ourselves and seek help. I am often concerned as a friend and as a retired registered nurse, to see many invalids, whether temporarily so or long term, expect the queenietreatment from others. This is especially true among those of us who are elderly and ill. We’re tired and think we’ve earned a spot on the couch. Perhaps we have, but then what?

When do we separate our importance and value from another’s life and value? That attitude, when taken to the extreme can hatch a whole pile of trouble not only for the patient but for friends and most of all a loving spouse. Marriage is supposed to be a 50-50 arrangement but anyone who is or has been married knows that not true. It’s always a bit off balance as we care for each other in this life. I like to think of it as leaning on each other and must not push that balance too far or we both tumble down. It’s like being on a see-saw when balance and trust areeverything.

I have discovered when your life is halted like mine has been these last many years, I have to keep my head wrapped around not just survival but survival with respect for my family, self-love and dignity for all. I often remind myself, using the tiny puffs of hope that I am not “The sickest one of all.” There is always someone more ill, more pooremotionally. When we are always in pain, are constantly ill and face a necessary slower pace of living, we have time to see the dandelions and generally enjoy the tiny puffs of hope life always has for us. When we are zooming from place to place, we do not have time to not just smell the flowers but we don’t even look at them. If there is no one there to appreciate the intricate pattern of design and color in a flower does it still bloom? Yes, it does but how much glory is lost in its very short-lived existence when we could have shared a tiny puff of hope in the form of beauty.

These tiny puffs of hope can be found watching your dog wag his tail due to some simple pleasure, or look into a cat’s eyes at all the tones of color to be found in that minute space. We just need to open our own eyes and behold the little things in life which denote something else is alive, thriving and savoring all they live within. I find it fascinating this spring season when I take a tiny, somewhat wilted plant in its tiny black plastic container from the nursery, place it into a hole in a pot or the ground and see all the roots wrapped around the contents. Those roots are tiny puffs of hope. They are actually a promise waiting to be fulfilled.

We have explored the importance of those pennies and minutes as they add up to a greater sum but there are other tiny pieces of life that lead to something much larger than themselves. One of these is the profound nature of our bodies particularly muscles that never just vegetate. If we aren’t using our muscles, even the simplest among them, they are dying. Muscles are made to stretch, carry blood, attach to our joints and also keep our heart, the greatest muscle of all, strong and doing its job. Of course, I have days like many of you do when I can’t lift that tiny weight due to a problem of some sort but I have learned the minute act of scrubbing my arms or another part of my body many times builds strength. Try scrubbing your arms twenty times instead of just the quick soap and rinse in the shower. Scrub your scalp an extra minute and you’ll feel strength from other arm muscles, waiting to be used. We have hundreds of muscles and use so few, you know, kind of like brain cells. It would be a pity to waste them, don’t you think?

I urge you my friends to open your eyes, open your hearts as well and look for the tiny things in life whether it is for their beauty, their odor, the sheer magnificence of their existence because everything in life offers us hope. Of course, when we are not well, we are low on energy, hope and faith but when we meet life half way and get off that couch, sit up in bed or move from the bed to the front porch, clean up, read something inspiring, call a friend who needs encouragement or just change something in your life, it helps.

If we can concentrate on the tiny things, tiny acts, tiny objects, the bigger challenges in life will fall into place much more easily. We often look down that long road ahead as if we can change what will be but can we really? That’s when we have to have faith; faith in ourselves, in the future or faith in a higher being of your own hearts choosing. Tiny puffs of hope are everywhere but only if you take the time, energy and interest to see them. Enrich your lives my dears, enrich your lives one moment at a time.

24 thoughts on “Tiny Puffs Of Hope

  1. Sue
    Such a wonderful blog ! Made me smile cause I have been thinking of so many of these thoughts the past few weeks. (My Granny Rose said “no bigger than a minute “).
    I am very blessed to live in such beautiful open country. These mountains come alive this time of year. When. I stumble out to feed the chickens, still in my pj’s. I look all around at the creatures who have come to depend on me doing that one thing, Not only the chickens, but birds of all kinds and sizes eat at that table. Huge crows come and eat what I dropped outside the pen, little birds eat with the chickens. Wrens, sparrows, doves, cardinals, blue jays, there is even a woodpecker. Then at night when I shut their door for protection, I smell the honeysuckle, hear the nightbirds, see the “lightening bugs” coming up out of the fields like little fairies. It is calming.
    And I need all the calm I can get.
    Went to the optometrist last Wednesday. I am back in contacts again. Some sign of cataracts, extremely dry eyes. All that I expected. What I didn’t expect was that macular degeneration has taken a big hold in my left eye. But I have faith in those puffs of hope, knowing He is in control of it all.
    I always have a list of what I would like to get done in a day. And I pray each morning that He will give me the strength to do it. I hate housework, but I LOVE working outside. As long as I can, I will. Not because I “feel like it”, but because I want to. And as I move, I feel better. Since everything’s uphill here, I have to literally move my butt ! Thank you for this wonderful grouping of words you are so talented with. Love you, and Happy Father’s Day to Jim.

    • Tonie, I am surprised the optometrist put you back in contacts with dry eyes unless, of course, they help keep your eyes moist. The first thing I did, once I got settled in the student nurses residence, was to find an optometrist and get fitted for contact lens with money left over from my summer job. I wore hard contacts until 2001. At that time my eyes were too dry and inflamed to continue wearing them. But, after my cataract surgery a year later, I only required glasses for reading! Cataract surgery is amazing! I went to the hospital in a grey world and drove back home enjoying fields of green grass and a beautiful blue sky … almost like a miracle!
      Tonie …I thought Teddi was with me after surgery! Maybe only I who could feel his spirit, but he always stayed close beside me following surgery until Love… Brenda

      • Brenda
        I may not be able to wear them for long, we will see. I ordered me glasses last night, so we will see how they are, and then. Will order another pair of sunglasses. I wore those hard lenses as well.
        I understand your seeing Teddy. I still hear Brutie sometimes, and see his happy face. I believe we will see them again one day. People say no, but I know there are animals in heaven, why wouldn’t these precious little things be there as well.
        Take care

    • Tonie dear, I must agree with Pommum about the contacts. Perhaps it depends on how dry your eyes are and if you’ve ever been diagnosed with dry eye. Otherwise it can be dangerous but if you talk to your doc and don’t have trouble, sounds fine. Try not to worry about the mac degen until you know the degree. I know it’s a worry but just wait and pray. Cataracts are so common for those of us who have been on prednisone off and on, or on for years. Pom mum is right, the surgery is purported to be great. Hang on sweet friend, you are stronger than you think.
      What a wonderful description of your farm and mountain top home. I know you appreciate it as much as it often comes to your rescue to rejuvenate you. Such a beautiful source of strength and inspiration for you and for others. After living out here in our little town on the river, I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in the city; well, actually, I can imagine when I go into Portland and could never do it…traffic, noise and so little contact with the basic beauty of life and nature.
      I also like this pic and thank you for it even though I didn’t get to see it first which is our usual habit however I know you knew I was feeling poorly as were you. It is perfect for my thoughts. You so often are in touch with me in spirit and can see what I am trying to express and put across.
      Jim is over aat our DD’s house for a steak with SIL and the kids but I am still having so much nausea. I was off my methotrexate for a week due to a virus and took it late Friday and now, flu is back. I thought I had waited long enough but here it is…I hate nausea. I can and have often handled all kinds of pain but feeling the need to puke…hate it so much. Meds aren’t touching it.
      Love and prayers for B to be able to come home soon…Sue

      • Sue
        She showed me the extent of it in my left eye. It has significant changes. My right eye not very much. Judy has done wonderful with her cataract surgery. Her eyes look so clear. I don’t mind that, it can be fixed.
        I thought the picture was right as soon as I saw it. I knew you would agree so ran with it.
        Prayers for your swift recovery.

  2. Good pic at top Tonie very apt..always used to make a wish with them,
    I too write what has to be done the next day and feel great when I tick it off done..sense of achievement
    To be able to notice what you might otherwise miss is a great gift ..when I go around the garden I notice see and hear more so.and at night time when it’s just fading light it’s more apparent somehow
    I do hope now they have found this macular degeneration they can halt it Tonie

    • Chris, I agree about the twilight, changing of the shift for nature. Flowers change as do the insects and birds. Yesterday morning at 4 AM our birds were chirping so loudly before daylight, I had to chuckle at their anxiousness to start the day. I love a list and make them for J when he shops and he still gets what he wants. I think men resent being told anything. Sorry DH’s ear infection is being so stubborn…give him my regards and concerns. Love you gal, Sue

  3. Sue, a great blog and thanks for the encouragement!
    It has been a very busy week. My FIL, who is very thin and frail, is on a thickened fluid diet to prevent choking. DH and I have been going to the hospital every morning to encourage him to eat his breakfast! He is moving to the same seniors home as his wife on Tuesday, just down the hall from her. They both have single rooms which are large enough for two chairs and the bed and a private bathroom. They will eat their meals together in the dining room on their floor. There will be many activities that they can become involved in. My MIL already has her own TV so I’m not sure if FIL will want one in his room too. He is confused at times and for some reason believes he is moving to a new apartment, so I hope he isn’t too upset on Tuesday. It will be a relief to know they are together, safe, and receiving good care. They will be married 74 years in September!
    This week we washed all the sheets and blankets that were home from the cottage, so they are freshened up and ready to go back this weekend. Once that DH’s parents are settled, I look forward to staying at the lake for longer periods and resting. I still have pain down my arms from my neck if I use my arms too much, but that should slowly get better. I know that my nose is not completely healed inside where they removed the damaged bone from my spine, but it too is improving. Silly little Abby, our Pom, checks out my nose every morning … they are so smart! I guess she will tell me when it is healed! Love and Hugs … Pommum Brenda

    • Brenda/Pommum, I know you and your DH are feeling a sense of relief to have his parents solving some of your concerns for them. Imagine, such a lifetime together. How wonderful for them to be near each other and hopefully get good care. I’m sure they will grieve for their old life as all of do with each new phase; some so painful. Just a note of caution; pop in on that place, or have your DH do it unannounced just to keep them honest. One has to be cautious depending on the home’s reputation. I wish them both the best for their latter years and am so pleased to see you will be returning to your lakeside haven very soon.
      I didn’t realize the approach the surgeon took to rebuild your cervical spine was through the nose. How amazing these procedures have become. My sister who had it done many years ago at Stanford Univ. had it done through the neck from the front. Do curb your enthusiasm and let your body heal after going through so much. The lake atmosphere is just the medicine you dear sweet friend. You can be the supervisor…right? Much love, Sue

      • Sue, the damaged bone was removed through my nose, and then the bone that was removed was used in the fusion at C1, which was done from behind my head…they gave me a lovely hair cut, very stylish The only reduction in the movement of my head is backward; movement to the right and to the left remains the same. I am having a difficult time not wanting to weed my gardens at the cottage, but I must wait for help and sometimes that is difficult!!! My first rheumy told me about twenty years ago that I must learn to delegate and also learn to accept that others might do things differently than me … I’m still working on that one after twenty years, but it is hard as I’m sure you all know! I have a girlfriend who gladly let her teenage daughters and their boyfriends trim their tree, only to redecorate it when they all had left. I try very hard not to be like that, and it is finally getting easier to let go, maybe because I realize I can’t do many things I could do before, or if I do manage, I will cause pain!
        Take Care … PM Brenda

  4. A VERY Happy Birthday to Janet. God bless you this day and everyday. May He bless you with many more healthy birthdays to come
    Love ya

  5. Dear Sue, great blog. I too have had some kind of virus for the last couple of weeks. Acts like intestinal flu, pretty miserable, but on the way to getting better. Seeing my family is helping. Hope you will be better soon. Love, Janet

    • Janet, glad you’re better. SOunds like the same virus alright. Pleased you enjoyed the blog. Sometimes these darn viruses just keeps coming back so let us both hang in and feel better. Love, Sue

  6. Tonie, cataract surgery is amazing Did she say you were near the need as yet? The pic was perfect, I was just surprised because we usually make that decision together but it was excellent. Love, Sue

    • No, she said no worries over that right now. I got my contacts straightened out. What was neglected to tell me was, my left eye is for near and my right for far. but it was in need of RX change, so I have a new one coming.

  7. Sue, somehow I missed that a new blog was out. I think many of us turn toward noticing the little things once we are able to do less. I find myself much more at peace in doing so. I’m not one for wallowing long. I do my time there and try to get it out of my system. I love that phrase “little as a minute”. I am so sorry you are having such an extended time of it. Are you able to take nausea medication? I’m sure DH enjoyed his steak. *inserts smiling emoji* Enjoy the little things.

    Tonie, I am confused a bit also. Were the contacts prescribed because you wanted them? Due to the macular degeneration? Usually, they are discouraged with dry eye unless the eyes will tolerate them in my experience. I started out in hard lenses also and loved them for years. Eventually, when gas permeable lenses were created and recommended over the hard due to ability for the eyes to get oxygen, my eye doc switched me over and I enjoyed gas perms for many more years. I have tried soft lenses twice now, and just can’t wear them. They are uncomfortable and seems to want to float up and stick rather than return to where they should. Once I can no longer wear my gas perms comfortably, I’ll be off them completely. The eye doc I see due to my RA meds has seen tiny cateracts for a few years. He said at the time that they won’t be a problem for another 10 years or so. So far they have not increased in size. I’ve heard many who find they need little or no correction after the surgery. One can hope! You live in a beautiful place to enjoy those little things, as does Sue. Continue to enjoy them daily.

    Happy Belated Birthday, Janet!

    Chris, if I didn’t make lists, I’d forget way too many things! I hope your DH’s ears are much improved by now.

    Pommum, I have no doubt that Teddy was watching over you and that you will indeed be reunited. Take it easy and enjoy your cabin time.

    • Lyn
      SHe asked which I wanted. I choose the contacts. She did tell me it would be up to me if I could wear them due to my dryness. So far, so good. I have a bit of trouble getting them to come out, but itls ok. I wore hard and GP lenses until I got my lasik done. That changed what I can wear, so it is soft or nothing. In dusty and pollen filled areas, it is hard for me to keep the GP in my eyes. The wind is especially bad. With soft, I have no problem. I wore glasses from the time I was 8 years old and was so happy when I could get into contacts, and even happier when I had lasik done. So I will do what I can do for now.
      Hope all is well with your family and yourself

  8. Sue, I just read the last blog post, which apparently I also missed. It is wonderful. Glad I didn’t completely miss it. Hugs.

  9. Hi Lyn good to hear from you I hope you are all well
    Dh,S eye for the moment seems ok ….it doesn’t seem to last I suppose it’s the aid causing the problem
    Happy birthday Janet, sorry it’s late ,but I trust you had a lovely day and you are over that virus
    Brenda the op you had sounds so invasive you must now have a good summer at the cottage

  10. Dear Friends, Sort of been out of commision for the last 2.5 weeks. Wow, what a stomach virus it was. Nausea, etc. gets so tiresome and I had no energy but the worst part was losing weight. I got down into the danger zone for me so have been drinking an ice cream shake every night before bed. I am actually getting tired of sweet food I’ve been eating to put some pounds back on. Yesterday I started to feel normal…at least my normal. The oncologist who worries about my weight told me to keep taking the Compazine until my weight went back up because it’s awfully hard to eat when you’re nauseous. It’s almost time to start working on a new blog for this weekend.

    One thing that is bad with this virus is that it really activated my Relapsing polychondritis because I had to lay off the methotrexate for one week..not recommended with a bug.

    Hope you all are hanging in there and having a nice spring. Love to see the flowers and smell that fresh air with a blue sky spotted with clouds..that’s our normal spring. Love to each of you, Sue

  11. A truly lovely post-Sue, It’s taken me a while to find space to read it but I loved it. Tiny puffs of hope are definitely what keeps us going. I love that quote about being no bigger than a minute but I also like to think that the next minute is all we have to get through and if we can get through that minute then we can get through the one after that. Thinking of you xx

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