My Favorite Things

I responded to a friend’s internet challenge, to post a list 3 positive things a day. When another friend started as a result of my challenge, I committed to an additional seven.

Here’s the first batch of positive things, and I hope they brighten your day.

josh waiting 1

Day 1:

  1. I’m grateful to my son who mowed the yard even feeling crappy and in intense humidity — it was a pleasure to drive down the street to home.
  2. I’m happy that I knit. I could give all 21 slots with a knitting related post.layout2_r1_c2
  3. I’m with Kim that cats make me smile. The world is better place because of our feline companions.

Day 2: 

  1. My garden has given us fresh tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini, as well as lots of Tomatoesonvine2basil.
  2. I am lucky enough to have a granddaughter.
  3. Evenings are getting cooler in Asheville–so much less need for AC, and more chance for open windows, bird song, and breeze.

Day 3:

  1. machine-bestI appreciate breathing…all through the night. I got a loaner C-PAP machine and sleeping is true rest again. What a joy!
  2. I woke early this morning, and one of the first thoughts was “what am I grateful for?” — I attribute that lovely waking to this challenge, which has re-focused my mind on the positive in life.
  3. I’m grateful for metaphoric and literal “off buttons.” There’s a time to walk away from drama and ugliness (as well as a time to act) and knowing when that it lifts a weight and frees the mind and heart. That’s a miraculous thing.
  4. –Oh, and a bonus 4) — I’m grateful it’s Friday after a good week at work.

Day 4:

  1. beautiful bird croppedBirds — when I step out my back door each time I leave the house, there are always birds there — in the trees and scrub, on the feeder, winging by. Bird song and that exquisite flash of upward wing never fail to make my own spirit soar. What a gift that is, through good and bad times, just a bird can make me smile.
  2. Jon Stewart is always guaranteed to make me laugh. He reminds me (in a good way) of my late husband, Dennis, who also could always make me laugh.
  3. barilla3Good Gluten-Free Pasta is no longer a contradiction in terms. There are several mainstream brands making gluten-free versions and this puts some old favorite dishes back on the menu.

Day 5:

  1. zen051Celebration (1)Friends! I could leave it at that, but especially the unexpected close friendships of adulthood. Good friends laugh and grieve with you, make meals, trade favors, secret jokes, and masses of understanding and acceptance. God Bless Good Friends.
  2. With said friends, we drank a bottle of cheap (3.99) red wine that was good!
  3. There’s a new produce stand in my neighborhood. An enterprising older man from the Islands, or even perhaps Africa (lovely lilting accent, gracious and warm manners) has taken a vacant building and desolate lot over — he’s put up a large roofed area and has tables and tables of beautiful fresh produce. I stopped for the first time yesterday and bought 4 tomatoes for $2! We talked about things for a bit and then he gifted me with a giant organic tomato and wished be a great evening.

Day 6:

  1. I love the way Facebook helps reveal social connections and make them visible in ways I never paid attention to before social media. The spread of this lovely challenge and the interesting variations it has taken fascinate me. Like an old-fashioned game of telephone, spreading the message changes the message and the messenger.telephone game (237x136)
  2. When I stop and think of it, I realized I have been much loved in my life — many of those have left the planet now, but the love doesn’t go away. It lives in me and my memories and I can continue it on by loving others. What beautiful magic that is!
  3. It’s Monday morning and I feel no dread or sorrow or anger at the prospect of going to work this morning and the rest of the week. That’s a blessing — if you’ve ever experienced those feelings in response to work week, you know. It’s also a privilege to have meaningful work in a pleasant setting with good co-workers. It’s one I pray every worker can have. When I center myself around the thought of how blessed I am to have that, I feel the glow of gratitude and joy seep through me and a smile spread across my face.

Day 7:

  1. Gorgeous George

    Gorgeous George

    Pretty much the whole internet agrees with me that kittens and cats are an endless source of fascination: more personality and energy packed in those springy bodies than can be contained, so it leaks out in extreme cuteness and apparent wisdom. When I need to laugh, a silly kitten attacking something harmless with such zeal can always do the trick. And isn’t it great that there’s no prescription cost, or anything….

  2. It’s the last few days of August and I’m not dreading September. Between world events and personal losses, the 9th month had assumed a pretty bad rep in my mind. This year, it’s pretty much just another month — I’m excited to see fall arriving while I mourn the loss of fresh tomatoes and basil. I see the sky lightening in the morning a few minutes later each day. But I don’t want to take to my bed with the covers over me! There’s a song “Wake Me When September Ends” that used to match my feeling, but now it’s just a song again. Since I loved September and its promise of autumn and new starts, I’m grateful to have it back.
  3. Sisters. I have only one official sister, who I love and adore and hope to continue laughing, playing, cooking, knitting, arguing and hugging for decades yet to come. I also have several sisters of the heart that joined my inner family over the years, and they too are a whole bouquet of graces.


With special thanks to Kim for starting me on this, I say with joy, And So It Is.

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Revisiting an Old Favorite

Sometimes the important things you read as a teenager or young adult make you wince when you come across them again years later.

I was (big surprise) browsing in an antique store this past weekend and came across an old favorite that didn’t disappoint me forty-five years after I first read it. In fact, I bought the inexpensive framed poster and just need to figure where to hang it. Anyway, I thought I’d share this and see how it strikes others, whether it’s an old friend or a new:

Desideratagreen road

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
woman singingBe yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

brigitTherefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

As always,

Blessings to All

Stealth Healing

dennis flowersSometimes we know we’ve healed by what hasn’t happened.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my husband’s death. And I didn’t grieve.

I still think about him often, still cry occasionally, miss him frequently, and love him always. But I didn’t grieve his loss yesterday. Instead, I bought flowers.

Healing is as natural as blooming and dying, and just as intense or gentle depending on the moment. Sometimes it slips upon us unawares.

Thanks Dennis, for the good and the less-good, for the happy and sad, and for the intention to love always and to strive for the best in us all.

Enjoy your flowers.

Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789

I have always loved this proclamation. It is uplifting, apolitical, deeply spiritual and patriotic in the best sense. This seems to be my time for posting my favorite historical documents about our first centuries. This is surely one we should know and cherish, yet it barely remember. I only remember it so clearly because of a near-tussle at church during the Reagan years.  I was supposed to read the president’s proclamation as part of our Thanksgiving service and balked at reading what I perceived to be a pretty hollow and hypocritical piece of smarminess. I believe I actually said something to that effect…. I don’t remember who saved the day by pointing out that it was also traditional to pick the first thanksgiving proclamation instead and I wouldn’t be the first Reader to so choose, thus my fondness for George Washington. So…

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. 

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
GO. WASHINGTON.

May all the myriad blessings of the day lay lightly upon us all…. that we may share with loved ones, succor needy ones, befriend lonely ones, and be compassionate ones. And So It Is.

Things Big and Little

Holidays often provoke a thoughtful and slightly sad reaction in me. So many milestones passed, for good or ill. So much done already in life, and still daunting mountains to climb.

I look around at friends’ lives, and I see that we’re all facing challenges — things big and little. An old friend facing a cancer diagnosis; one whose marriage may be stressed beyond redemption; another facing persistent financial lack; overwhelm at work; insecurities about work; boredom, sorrow, fear and loneliness.

Through all these saddening lenses, I also see glimmers of hope: things big and little that give grace and laughter. A bird’s song outside my window; a friend’s supportive and loving wife; petting my cat’s silky fur; listening to music while I knit; a leave fluttering down in the soft summer twilight; my pink petunias waiting to be transplanted; a leader’s decision to speak out and bring hope to thousands; a child waiting impatiently for Mr. Softee (yes, he still exists!).

Things big and little make up our lives. We pray for big joys and small sorrows, but often encounter the reverse. But joy and sorrow need not have binding qualifications. Joy can know no bounds, whether from a bird’s song or a newborn’s wail. Sorrow can be lessened through joy, no matter their relatives sizes.

This Memorial Day, I thank my son and your sons and daughters for their service. I pause, grateful and moved, at the sacrifices of so many. I remember my husband, my parents, and too many friends who have already left us, leaving holes big and small in our lives.

I wipe away a tear that blinds me with refracted sunlight, hear a bird singing in the yard, and listen for the wisdom, big and little, that relaxes my tightness, deepens my breath, and finally transmutes the fears, the sorrows, the pains into peace.

And so it is.

School Days, School Daze.

This week school starts, like it does each late summer, across this vast country and many others: in spite of unrest in parts of Europe, Africa, the MidEast, South East Asia, and Mexico — to mention a few hot-spots. While Nero fiddled and Rome burned, I bet there were kids sharpening their pencils right ’til the last moment.

Office supplies line the shelves of Walmart, Dollar Stores, and office supply warehouses, a bit like the specialized gear to handout to our troops. The trappings for the mission must be just right; the pencil-case Ms. B requires; the 3-ring graph paper Mr. X insists upon. Oh the glories of new school supplies!

I’m buying my books tomorrow.  I have a list and comfy shoes to brave the line. I also have a voucher, which is part that intimidates me a little.  Will it work? or will I be embarrassed, having to scramble around, getting in touch with Job Link, trying to stay cooled out. At least I’ll have some leeway before my first class on Wednesday.

Can you tell I’m excited? I keep hearing the bit from You’ve Got Mail, When Tom Hanks writes to Meg Ryan that he’d like to “buy her a bouquet of sharpened pencils.” Sigh.

A new school year: still full of promise and butterflies in the stomach; the sense of purpose and the dread of boredom or bewilderment. A truly human experience. I can’t wait.

Meeting a Commitment

Nearly six months ago I made a commitment to myself and my coach to walk with her to the riverside at our final coaching retreat. This past week I met that commitment. By many standards it wasn’t a long or difficult walk, but for me — at this time in my life — it was substantial. So, on a hot early summer morning, my coach and I, hand in hand, heading down the path to the river. 

Not all experiences that have the potential to be landmark ones live up to their hype. This one did. In quiet beauty the woods and fields welcomed us as we walked. We stopped for a vivid, iridescent blue dragonfly. We gazed at an old barn through a field punctuated by two small trees dense with deep claret leaves. We listened to the hiss and burble of a creek tumbling down the same hill just out of our sight. We shared the space with shaded ferns, tiny mushrooms, wild jasmine and blue and yellow butterflies.

It was hot, I dripped sweat, body parts alternately ached and throbbed. I felt safe and beloved with my coach. The river beckoned and delivered on its promise of cool shade and clear, mountain water dancing over  rocks and through patches of sunshine. An old wooden bench gave me welcomed rest and time to savor the accomplishment.

We practiced a tai chi exercise called the four flowers — and I learned the first pattern which was chrysanthemum.  We felt the breeze, heard the far off deep rumble of a tractor and the high floating song of a bird.  We returned up the steep and rocky path to the lodge. I felt satisfied, and both exalted and exhausted — a heady combination.

Thank you Wendy, for being a skilled, compassionate coach, and a loving friend.

 
Take Me to The River
 
Take me to the river.
Take me by the hand and lead me from under
the comfortable arbor of my fears.
 
Take me to the river.
Walk with me, stumbling, on a new path,
still fettered by the stony present.
 
Take me to the river.
Talk with me about the shape and texture of the future,
blooming, blooming,
like a chrysanthemum in the sun.
 

Joining the Modern World

At least, I think I am. Maybe I’m just joining the current mass hysteria. Either way, I’ve joined twitter. I’m on Facebook. I blog. I got my very own cellphone. What am I missing?

I feel both all grown up and out there on a limb…but I’m joining in. I need to further my presence in the world, and these were quick and relatively painless ways to do so.

I almost titled this one “Isn’t It Ironic,” after the song by Alanis Morrisette. Right after posting about the tarot card on clinging to the past, I joined the massive pool of the laid-off. Yup, I lost my job of 14 years.

Like anyone in this space, I feel a million different feelings, and have a ga-zillion different fears and hopes. I expect I’ll be blogging about some of them during the coming months. In the meantime, I’m going outside now, to water my garden.

Peace.