A giant reset button

Jeff enjoys two giant reset buttons at one time, Dam Neck, Virginia, June 2014

Jeff enjoys two giant reset buttons at one time.  Dam Neck, Virginia, June 2014

“I couldn’t imagine living in a state that didn’t reach the ocean. It was a giant reset button. You could go to the edge of the land and see infinity and feel renewed.”
Avery Sawyer

One year ago today I was sitting in a hospital waiting for Grady to be born.  He didn’t arrive until late that night, and while I was waiting, I wrote the post that would appear the next day.  The post discussed the lovely thought that when babies are born, new parents are born too.

It’s a renewal that doesn’t end with the parents or the day of birth.  As with so many aspects of nature, from oceans to animals, children carry with them immense powers to renew the worn-out hearts of their elders.  When we look at a baby we see infinite possibilities, a big question mark with an underlying premise of optimism.  This was true for me even when Matt was born with a worrisome heart condition and other problems.  Babies are never defined by the immediate, although they inhabit it more decisively than we do.

If you are feeling in a rut, or at a dead end, find your own reset button.  They are everywhere.  It doesn’t have to be an ocean or a baby, although I highly recommend the effectiveness of both as a remedy for the doldrums.  I think it can be any aspect of nature that hints of infinity, or any pastime that brings beauty, joy and wonder into your life.

Looking at the photo above, I realize the promise of renewal that arrived one year ago today is still with us, “new every morning,” and I give thanks with a grateful heart.

One year ago tomorrow:

Something absolutely new



  1. Good morning, Julia. That photo captures your sentiment quite well. I’ve been to the ocean a couple of times this summer, but I have to say that there is a big difference between your photo and the busy Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. On top of paying $20 to park, the beach is so busy and distracting that I think I forgot to take a moment to “reset.”
    A good reset button for me is an old forest. Ancient towering trees remind me of the contrast between what lasts, and the small temporal problems over which we sometimes get so worked up.
    I liked your comment on an earlier post about how it won’t matter if your house is dusty. Good perspective!
    Blessings on your day!

    • Susan, one reason we go to Dam Neck instead of Virginia Beach is so that we can avoid the crowds and distractions you mention. From Dam Neck it’s easy enough to drive a few minutes north and stroll along the boardwalk whenever we want. When you mentioned the forest as a reset button, I could not help but think of the beautiful Franconia Notch State Park that Jeff and I loved so during our brief stay in New Hampshire. We need to go back! My house is worse than dusty right now (I’ve had one of those days where I didn’t seem to be able to get ANYTHING done due to minor glitches, almost all technology-based) but hey, I am going to remind myself it really doesn’t matter. Thanks for being here!

  2. Oh yes, every new morning comes new possibilities! ♥ Happy one year of Grady in your lives! How magical! xo

    • Thank you Misifusa! I am so glad you are here to share our happiness! Shine on!

  3. Glad to read this today. In the evening we are going to the beach (Red Sea). It may sound incredible – it is once-a-year activity for us. During the rest of the year the visits are limited to the malls that too at night.
    Kids are super excited. But here the beaches lack the beauty of those in our place back in India. Imagine sitting near a large dirty pond. 🙂 Still it is out there in the open air – that’s all what we are looking for.

    • Bindu, having seen photos of the seaside in Kerala, I can see why you miss it! But as you say, there is something refreshing about just being out in the open. I didn’t realize you are living near the Red Sea – are you in Saudi Arabia right now? Will you be able to return to India eventually? I have a neighbor whose husband is in Dubai for his job, and she goes to see him in the winter, but spends the summers here. I hope you and the family will have a wonderful time at the beach tonight. Good timing for today’s post!

      • Yes, Saudi Arabia. We will have to return some day. But all our youth will be spent here. Sometimes my heart breaks when thinking of what we, esp the kids, miss. They have never celebrated Christmas in the traditional Kerala way, and a lot more. But that is (our) life.

        • Wow, no wonder you are homesick. In college I knew a few people (mostly accountants) who went over to Saudi to work, because the pay was much higher, but I don’t think I could have done it. There was quite a culture shock. I hope you and your family will be able to return to Kerala and then you can introduce the kids to all the magical things they missed. It might even be more special then, since they will be old enough to fully appreciate everything. So many of us end up living lives we might never have imagined, but we still make the best of it. I think people can be amazing that way.

  4. Bobby

    Happy Birthday to Grady’s grandparents. Isn’t being a grandparent amazing? Wishing you joy on this auspicious day.

    • Thank you, Bobby! How are you? Hope you have had a summer full of blessings and blooms. Wish you were here to give me some landscaping advice! We are planning to re-do our front yard sometime soon. Love to you and Randall.

      • Bobby

        I am planting a new flower bed in front of our house. I love starting flower beds but as they get older, weedier, more crowded I get less satisfied. I hope I can keep this one under control. We have had a cool, wet summer. I am loving it. Such a relief after two summers of drought and the bitter winter we had last year. My crepe myrtle froze back to the ground, but it didn’t die. Should be blooming soon. We are staying busy with grandsons and church. We are both well.

        • Bobby, I’m glad to know that even experienced gardeners can let those flower beds get a bit shabby. I start out with good intentions, and then life intervenes (along with the oppressive heat and hungry mosquitoes). We too lost some plants to the bitter winter, including my lovely snapdragon that stayed pretty and never got leggy as the summer progressed the way the petunias do. I’m glad your crepe myrtles survived! They are so gorgeous. Glad you are doing well and staying busy.

  5. beautiful! it’s so great to see grandfather y grandchild on that beautiful beach together…


    • Thank you Z! Hope you are doing well. I have been having internet woes recently (singing the old “slow connection blues”), but I’m sure they are minor compared to the challenges you have. Thanks for being here!

  6. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. I had 7 reset buttons (Ashley, Stephanie, and 5 grandchildren) appeard yesterday to share the day. I definitely have a grateful heart as I think of each of them. 🙂 They gave me a little wooden plaque: “TGIF THIS GRANDMA IS FABULOUS”, so that has me smiling!
    Happy Birthday, Grady! 🙂

    • Sheila, how wonderful to have those seven deluxe reset buttons to go with the one you see out your front windows AND out your back windows! I agree with them about their Grandma being FABULOUS! ❤

  7. Megan

    I don’t think I ever looked at the post from a year ago before! (Understandably — I was a bit distracted!) But it was fun to read today, imagining it being written waiting for Grady to arrive. I love the picture, above, of Grady and Jeff.

    • Megan, I’d say you had your hands full then, literally and figuratively! (Not that they aren’t now, but at least you are not in a hospital.) I have so many wonderful photos from that trip, almost (but not quite) as many as the memories. Thanks so much for sending the videos, it took a bit of the sting out of not being there to see Grady open his gifts. He just gets cuter all the time. I loved it that he spotted the little Ikea bandaid box that Drew didn’t even see.

  8. Carlyle

    Happy BIRTHDAY Grady !!

    • Thank you Daddy! Maybe we can soon have a belated celebration (for both Matt and Grady’s birthdays) all together in Atlanta. Love you.

  9. MaryAnn

    My FAVORITE place in the world! What a great photo: PaPa & grandson enjoying the beach! Happy birthday to Grady!
    Your thoughts on the “reset button” gives me confirmation that the reason I spend so much time w/ young people is the renewal I receive. Thanks, as usual “hitting the nail on the head”.

    • I am sure you are a reset button for them too, as you have been for me so many times. Sooner or later we will make it back to visit NorCal and you and Matt can “push each other’s buttons” in the best sense of the words! ❤

      • MaryAnn

        I was thinking earlier today how wonderful it would be if I were able to “drop in & stay a while” at your home! There would be a great amount of button pushing all the way to love, joy & happiness!

        • Mary Ann, we have plenty of room for you and you are welcome anytime! Keep an eye on the airfares, sometimes they’re not too bad out of SFO or SMF.

  10. Larry

    Happy Birthday Grady! from Great Nannie, Aunt jen and Uncle Larry. The first year has been full of fond memories thru the eye of the camera. Each time we saw you we could see the growth both in your mind and body. Your eyes have sparkled with joy each time we have seen you. We hope this day is a happy one and we pray you are blessed with a full life in the Lord.

    • Thank you, Larry!

  11. Happy birthday wishes to Grady and to all the family! He is, indeed a blessing 🙂

    • Thank you Merry! I’m so happy you have been here to share the joy with us.

  12. Amy

    Beautiful photo. Love Grady’s hat. I have been going to VBS this week and the children are so precious. I love them all. Talk with you soon. Hope all is well. Love, A

    • Amy, that hat reminds me of Dr. Seuss. I have some adorable photos of him wearing it. Some of my favorite memories of childhood (mine and our sons’) have to do with VBS. I’m so happy you have been able to be part of it. I know you miss teaching. Love you!

  13. NOW, I understand why I love looking out at that big blue ocean so, so much. Your words always bring clarity Julia, thank you. As a prairie girl, it’s always a huge treat to be near the ocean or better yet, get my toes wet. I love it in a small simple way that does not involve cruising in a giant floating hotel, although I know some rave about it. I much prefer hearing the wind in the sail of a small vessel and hear the water slap at the bow. We’ve been out whale watching in the smallest boat we could. Luckily for us we saw one swim right under our boat. Honestly, I’m just in gobsmacked that something so giant lives there, HA! I felt like I was 6 years old. “HOLY, that’s BIG!!” I said with a gleeful shreek. Yes, being on the water, near the water, in the water is rejuvenating and as you’ve eloquently wrote, ‘renewing’. BTW, I so love this photo. My thought was, “what a wonderful photo for Grady to have when he’s all grown up”. I don’t have many of me WITH my grandpa, I sure wish I did. xoxo K

    • K, I didn’t realize it until you wrote that, but I don’t know of any photos I have of me with either of my grandfathers when I was a kid — of course, one of them died when I was not yet 3 years old, but the other lived for several years after Jeff and I married. People couldn’t take as many photos in the years before digital.

      WOW, being in a tiny boat with a whale going by would actually scare me to death. I guess I shouldn’t have read Moby Dick. That book will put the fear in you when it comes to being in a little boat near a big whale. Those whales are unbelievably mighty, and could probably even do significant damage to the giant floating hotels that I so love. I used to keep up with the news about Humphrey when we lived on the Central Coast, but I haven’t heard anything about him for years. I wonder if he still comes back to visit the Bay Area without being sighted? Maybe he finally figured out how not to get into a jam by swimming up river. As you know, I can sympathize with any critter that gets lost easily! 😀

      • Oh dear, poor Humphrey. If I was a whale, that’d be me, always swimming in the wrong direction. Amazing that they were able to rescue him twice. I hope he had safe travels after that.
        It’s such a different world for kids now. Everything is so highly documented. Years in the future, they hopefully will still find the digital trail we’re making now. I wonder how long before todays photo’s look vintage? The photo’s from the 60, 70’s and 80’s are looking all vintage to me. No Web APP’s required by us, we were there LOL

        • There’s a lovely picture book about Humphrey that we still have — it was a favorite with our kids. I remember reading once that some scientists thought that Humphrey actually liked people and ended up getting into trouble because he swam too close to where he could see them. Fanciful, perhaps, but I can believe it might be the case. I hope he’s happily peeping at us from a distance now, having learned what imaginary lines NOT to cross!

          Yes, it’s quite an experience to go into an antique shop and lots of stuff I remember from when I was a kid, or even a teenager. Antique shops used to have ancient things in them, now they are more contemporary, hee-hee.

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