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A Letter to My Granddaughter: For Elizabeth

5/3/2011 8:55:12 AM

Tags: living in the moment, Mountain Woman

A Red Pine Mountain LogoWe're in a lull at the moment on Red Pine Mountain Farm.  Caught somewhere between winter and spring, rain falls daily.  Once again, I have to be patient for I long to be outside feeling the warmth of long absent sunshine.  And while I think about how difficult it is to be patient at times, I decided to share this piece I wrote last fall for my first grandchild. 

For Elizabeth 

“Slow down” my body tells me every day in many different ways. Aches I never had before make me take just a little longer to get up as I head to the far side of my fifties. But there is no need for my body to teach me this lesson. I’ve learned to slow down, to savor the moment and cling to the joy of the everyday.

Not always. I was impatient. As a child, a teenager, a young adult, I’d listen to my Mother and Grandmother tell me, “Slow down, don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. These are the best years of your life.” I’d look at them with the disdain of all knowing youth, oh so certain of myself. What did they know, those older women? I was in a hurry to mark those firsts; first day of school, driver’s license, graduation, college and beyond. All of those firsts were notches in my belt barely noticed as I kept striving for new milestones.

As a young bride, I wanted children and when my son was born, I eagerly anticipated his “firsts” and with every one, I looked to the next one. And as it was with my son so it was with my marriage, looking ahead to a future eagerly anticipated. Retirement was looming and we were planning where to go, what to do with this next chapter of our lives. Our dreams of the future ended when my husband was struck and killed on an icy road.

I learned that day to slow down, that there may never be another day and all I have is this moment in time. I started noticing the smallest of details; the way the mist coats the grass on humid summer mornings, the windows alight at sunrise, the fading light in the fall. There was a richness and texture to life I had never before noticed.

Eharmony led me to Mountain Man and our beautiful mountaintop farm and once again I started looking ahead, planning our future together. Oh, there were so many things I wanted and didn’t yet have; horses, barns, animals. The list grew each day. 

Until a serious infection left me without the use of my leg. Doctors said I would have to adjust to a new way of life, sedentary and filled with pain. Days loomed long on the couch and hours were spent reflecting on my life past. What had I missed by always looking ahead to a future that might never be? 

I rebelled against my illness and day after day, I dragged myself around the farm with the aid of my German shepherd dog, Logan. I was thankful for each moment, each step I took. It was enough I was on my feet again and alive.

There is wisdom to be found in a life rich with experience. I’ve learned to be firmly anchored in the present, immersed in the beauty of each day savoring my life. I teach horses games like kiss. I work in the garden. I admire baby birds in the nest. Each day, every minute is quantified by joy for I do not know what is in the next moment.

I received news the other day I will be a grandmother this winter; another first in my life. And I know already I will tell this much beloved baby to slow down, enjoy each moment, not rush to the future and she will look at me with the assurance of all knowing youth and the cycle of life and the wisdom that comes with aging will start again.


Mountain Man and Mountain Woman can always be found at 


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Mountain Woman
5/16/2011 5:46:23 AM
Shannon, what a beautiful comment you shared. If you can learn at your age to slow down and savor each moment, you will truly find the secret to happiness. You are indeed fortunate to have your children at home. Such a precious time of life that goes oh, so quickly. Happiness to me is finding joy every day and the contentment that infuses you when you do. Blessings to you and yours.

S.M.R. Saia
5/13/2011 2:10:28 PM
This brought tears to my eyes. Wow. Funny, I was just reflecting yesterday that I feel uncommonly well and happy the past few days and that I was now able to reflect on some unhappy experiences over the past few year that have now lost thier sting and which I can now see as being part of what makes me feel happy and confident today....of course other sadnesses, embarassments and feelings of helplessness will come....but for the first time to be able to glimpse that kind of synthesis in my life was kind of eye-opening...what does that have to do with your letter? I think that I have spent my whole life in the same urgent, point-to-point rush that you describe, and am only recently beginning to reflect on the pace of life and to accept it - not in resignation but with contentment. I love your blog and your posts. Your writing so often speaks to me in so many ways of things which are so important. Thanks so much.

Mountain Woman
5/6/2011 2:14:22 PM
Thank you Cindy! Enjoy your Mother's Day.

Cindy Murphy
5/6/2011 7:18:09 AM
This is beautiful on so many levels, Mountain Woman. It's a shame, but it seems to take most of us a good long while to learn to slow down, live in the present, and enjoy the moment; some never learn at all. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your day, and savor the little things it contains.

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