22 November 2016

Celebrations Of The Little Things…

I've been blogging on and off since about 2006 and I always seem to come back to it as I find writing meditative therapy most of the time. I've also always come back to this post when I need to count my blessings. Our family has changed, been added to, grown up and most of the chicks have left the nest but some things never change. I hope this might help others keep things in perspective. There are many things in the world that seem divided right now. I don't particularly care what your race, creed, religion, political views, citizenship or sexual orientation is. The following is about what we need to think about in our own lives. Anger and frustration that rules one's day, helps no one and steals something precious from everyone. So take a deep breath, open your mind, step into the present and truly look around you...

and celebrate the little things in life

Every once in a while, I think we are all given little 'Wake Up' calls. Either something happens to someone we know or someone says something to you that really resonates with something inside of you (if you have a heart) and the little voice that resides in everyone (who has a conscience) prods us to remember to celebrate the little things. It’s easy to celebrate holidays and some of us can remember birthdays and anniversaries (if we have a memory).
I think that I didn’t learn this lesson early enough in my life. I’m left with a lot of shoulda, coulda, woulda moments of regret that need to be replaced with the celebration of life, in the moment. 

Did you notice how fast your parents and siblings were growing when you, yourself are a child? Did you think about or even realize that there would soon come to a time when because of school, work, military service, marriage, and all the other myriad of detritus that life hands you, that you would no longer live with them?  In many cases you would physically live far away from them?  I don’t ever remember stopping long enough to take an actual or mental picture of those days in my mind to keep in my memories.

The years flew by, I don’t know where they have all gone but I have very few actual pictures of my childhood, school, military service, my husband and I when we were first married. There are lots of pictures of Nicole when she was a baby. The pictures, however, become scarce as the rest of the children came along. It is not because we were any less proud of them or happy that they came along. I think that the worries of everyday life become exponential with each child. Worries that eat at our ability to enjoy life in the moment. We are even less likely to stop and celebrate the little things in life.

September 11th gave many people I know the wake up call I speak of, but like human nature often is, the lesson, no matter how horrific in it’s execution, softens with time. We don't forget, but it becomes blurred with age.  I don’t know when this realization happened for me. It was before September 11th. I think it started just after my husband and I got married. I started asking questions of relatives about their lives. I started writing down their stories. I started keeping track of my immediate genealogy, although at the time, I didn’t realize what I was doing. It eventually evolved into tracing both my parents genealogy back to the time their ancestors immigrated to North America. It wasn't far to find the 1st generation American’s. All four of my grandparents came to the United States from Canada and were the first ones to stay. I count myself lucky to know their life story.

Our own children are growing so fast. Nicole and Danielle’s childhood moments are overshadowed by the struggle of survival, because both my husband and I separated from active duty within 6 months of each other during the last national economic downfall. We were then blessed with Rachel but like so many other people, we struggled with everyday worries. We both worked 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet until I became pregnant with Erin, our youngest.

After that, a disability I had received in the military finally left me unable to take care of not only myself but our children. I feel like I have lost about 7 years of my life. It has been a very long road back. During this time, our families and our truly closest friends and family, John and Kelly were what kept us going. 

I have learned to try not to miss the little milestones that come to us every day. They come whether you stop long enough to appreciate them or not. So many times they can pass you by and you mourn their loss when you finally realize they are gone. I forgot where I read that life does not have any ‘do-overs’ but occasionally you will be blessed with a ‘do-again’.

Despite not having most of my family and friends around lately, I have lately found pleasure in the moments with Erin. At 8 years old she is still my baby. She is growing and her personality is becoming more pronounced. She tackles life so differently than the other three. I have blown off most of the housework this week. It will keep. I’m going on treasure hunts and exploring the world through the eyes of Erin. I am collecting these moments of time in my memories to be taken out at some future date to be relived and enjoyed again. I am not going to try not having to re-live another moment of regret for this time that I was given with her.

If you want to know how this lesson solidified in my mind…the moment that I truly learned this lesson… it was the first time my husband was in the mid-east. He would send the kids and I pictures of grass. Yes, you read that right. There was this one spot where everyone threw out their wash water and eventually a straggly excuse for grass started growing. My husband had a picture of himself taken sitting in this 3 ft by 3ft patch of grass. He was cross legged and his eyes were closed. His hands were in the position of someone meditating and saying 'ooooohhhhmmm, ooooohhhhmmmm.' (Man that man cracks me up!)

He also would pick these small flowers that he would find among the rocks. Proof that life will survive in the most unlikeliest and most inhospitable places on earth. They do not stop growing because of the war being waged. Their ability to exist with such beauty is a testament to life. My husband used paper, plastic wrap and cardboard from his care packages to press these flowers. He brought them home to us and when he returns to the mid-east our daughters and I will be using his away time mounting and framing them for our rooms.

I usually write my quote of the day as a way to wrap up a point to my posts. Today I will only impart my own humble message. “It is not always possible to live in the moment, but when the opportunity does present itself….do not waste it for it is precious and may not come again.”

15 November 2016

Emergency Stress Relief Hotline

     I don't think I know very many people who have not considered the last few weeks as a Mount Everest of stress. I think I can safely say I am not alone in feeling like I'm in a small leaky boat with 6 others and one lone teaspoon among us for bailing water.  So I'm updating this post. Something that, in the past, was born out of the brain of someone who had reached the point of losing her sense of humor, her patience, and most of all, her mind. It is my intent to help take a deep breath and not forget there is a balm in humor.  I hope it'll help you as much reading it as it did for me when I wrote it (and when I need to reread it to ground myself)~ Lemon Stand

It has been so stressful around here that I actually dreamed I was calling someone and instead got something like the following message.  I think my subconscious mind has been hanging out too long with my husband because this truly sounds like something he would put on our answering machine!
You have reached the Emergency Stress Relief Hotline, if the cause of your distress is due to a person other than yourself, please press 1 and you will be connected with persons who have similar concerns about this individual.  They will then assist you in making plans on where to hide the body.
If the cause of your distress is due to your own behavior, please press 2 and you will be connected with a large burly male with a size 18 shoe named Sue who will be delighted to arrange for your emergency attitude adjustment appointment. 

If the cause of your distress is due to an incident beyond your control, please press 3 and you will be connected to your mother, sibling, spouse or best friend for either a sympathetic ear and hug or an appointment at the nearest pub for a few rounds.  Please be advised that your mother would prefer the former, rather than the latter. 

If the cause of your distress is due to an incident you are responsible for, please press 5 and you will be re-enrolled in a Kindergarten class of your choice.  This opportunity is being offered to you since it has been scientifically proven that anything you needed to learn about life, responsibility and getting along with others was learned there and it's obvious that you may need a refresher course.

If the cause of your distress is due to a condition you have no control over, please press 6 and you will be connected with your therapist who will once again go over the concept of acceptance of what you can not change.  You will then be enrolled in a therapeutic art class where you may release your emotions onto canvas and then become an overnight sensation of the art world where people will pay thousands for your 'angsty' accomplishments.

If the cause of your distress is due to a condition you do have control over, please press 7 and you will be connected with your Father so you may receive the benefit of his wisdom.  He will then ask you to explain why you are allowing yourself to feel distress over something you have control over, what are your plans to not only survive the adversity but to thrive on the opportunity, because really, that's what fathers are for.

If the cause of your distress is due to the universe in general and bad karma in particular, please press 8 and you will be connected to an astrologist who will read the heavens and tell you exactly what is distressing you and why.  After obtaining this information, please again call the Emergency Stress Relief Hotline phone number and press the appropriate number for assistance.

If you truly do not know the cause of your distress, please press 9 and you will be connected with a travel agent who will book you a stay on a desert isle for as long as needed in which to contemplate your situation.  Please be advised that the accommodations are single occupancy only for the greatest amount of quiet time in which to ponder your life.  Further, be also advised there is no electricity and therefore any electronic devices are discouraged.  When you have returned to civilization, please again call the Emergency Stress Relief Hotline phone number and press the appropriate number for assistance.

For all other questions please press 0 and a customer service expert in India will be with you shortly.  If possible, please have a translator available for a translation of instructions, otherwise our customer service experts will be more than happy to stay on the line and attempt to communicate with you until you understand or have given up in frustration.

Thank you and have a nice day.

The Turkey... A Remembrance - News Update

Not for Thanksgiving

   I couldn't resist updating this post with the wild turkeys in our front yard (and a different font. Thank you for the education dear daughter. Hope Art School includes other stuff) and so close to Thanksgiving. Alas they are not for eating. (It'd be like inviting our neighbors over and when they arrive, announce they are the guests of honor. Even if I could catch one, which I can't as they are very fast and wild turkeys CAN fly if necessary. They just don't seem to like to. Too much like exercise I guess.)

I often find scraps of paper I've used to write down snippets of conversation I want to blog about. This is one example from Thanksgiving. (If you want something in a timely manner around here, I'm afraid you'll have to get yourself a timex) :p


   Husband: "Do we want a fresh turkey from Deimond Farm or from the grocery store?"

   Me: "I'd prefer the fresh turkey if we can afford it. Free range, grain fed turkeys are expensive, but worth it." 

   Husband: "Fed a macrobiotic diet, massaged daily by geishas and taken thru an in-depth grief councelling process before being gently snuffed as the moon rises and the fog sets in. And there are usually crickets chirping in the barnyard."

   Me: **silence**

   Husband: "I shouldn't mention that the turkeys are so calm that they spend the night on the block?"

   Me: "Only you could come up with PR like that!"

   Husband: "Fresh turkey it is then."

QOTD: "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." ~ George S. Patton

03 November 2016

If Books Were Made Of Chocolate... Reconsidered

      Since I happened to be thinking about chocolate and books this morning as has often happened over the years and because since restarting my blog has been such a joy to me, I wanted to celebrate even though most of my readers have long moved on, which is as it should be, and most of the ones I used to read have stopped writing which saddens me. Blogs were meant to be enjoyed and inspiring and occasionally make you really think. (At least the blogs I read and the ones I write hopefully are) Having surgeries does have it's bright side in that I could read a lot or at least listen to audio books. Anyway, my husband has finally returned from a deployment and for some reason we have all been craving (a lot of) chocolate and books (five daughters, one man, time off? Nuff said), which might seem odd to those who don't know that since we can't get cable TV where we live, we have 29 bookcases. (yes, I counted) Our daughters are all older now but most are still in college and just getting started in life and so most of the books remain for the moment.

     Well, in one of life's many great glass half full moments I went looking for a chocolate book on Google thinking it would bring up chocolate cookbooks for a picture to spruce up this old post and polish it off as it were, and it did... but it also brought up a blog I have no idea how I could have missed all these years! (in a glass half empty moment, I don't have time to go back and read through posts, but I will) Two of my favorite topics. What's not to love? (As for the picture? It's a real cookbook with 50 easy chocolate recipes and since I've realized I do not have a chocolate cookbook in our home, we are lacking and must order for the holidays)

So DO go and visit Karen's Books and Chocolate Blog. I plan to.  (and to my sister in law Karen who is a bibliophile and chocolate lover, are you sure this isn't your blog and you've been holding out on me?)

     Oh how I wish I could remember who I had this conversation with, so I could attribute it.  I also wish I could tell you that I was the author of this delightful mental picture, but I must be honest... I remember having this conversation with someone else and had doodled down the notes, as I often do with most things, but failed to write a date or name (I really need to get better about this).  I'm not even sure I'm getting it all right, because it was a long time ago and the scrap of paper I had written it down upon, I had used as a book mark, so it's not very big.  Since I dreamed of it last night... I figure it must be a sign!  So here it is and if someone should recognize it, please do speak up.  It is not only a fabulous idea, but the wording is so vivid, it really should be claimed! 
Chocolate you could read would be practically perfect. As long as it was good chocolate, but poor writing. If you got a good book worthy of saving, you could never eat it - nor could you reread it on sunny days. Also, I'd have to get divorced, because I've never been able to convince my husband that a person's chocolate is sacred. It's deeply annoying when he scarfs an entire box of my Godivas, but if he started eating my books... I'd have to have him put down. (Be great if you could do that - take the husband to the vet, stroke his nose kindly, and tell all your friends that he'd got a bit old and flatulent, so you'd had him put to sleep. Obviously, being a feeling woman, I'd tell the children he'd gone to live with a nice family in the country.)
 Where was I?  Yes, product development. It's a good idea, but I think there's work to be done. You could write on the things that you always have, but never actually eat - like porridge oats, or French mustard - but - then again - I can only imagine worthy literature on oats. Things you feel you ought to have read, but don't want to. Paradise Lost. It would have to be a book more like chocolate digestives - perfect with a cup of coffee, and you find you've eaten the whole packet without meaning to. 
QOTD: "There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line." ~ by Oscar Levant (1906-1972) American Actor, Pianist and Composer.

Originally published Nov 2011 and I never did remember who I had been talking to, but such a lovely thought deserves another go around.