Taking Time Out

After the Rain, December 1, 2016

After the Rain, December 1, 2016

This is what I wrote in my Newsletter on December 1st. I’m passing it on to you, my blog readers, so that you’ll know that I won’t be posting for the rest of this month.

Oh my gosh, it’s December 1st, and with Thanksgiving and all the holiday preparations, I haven’t written anything ahead of time for this newsletter as I usually do.

I do have news, though. And that is that I’ve decided to take the month of December off from the internet. I will not post any blog posts until January. I’ve gotten overwhelmed and lost in the drama and emotional results of the election. I need time to find myself again and reconnect with my muse and spirit. I want to concentrate on positive things and prepare myself should political holy hell break loose after the inauguration.

I will be checking my emails and reading blog posts, and if something of interest shows up, especially on writing and books, I’ll post it on my author page on Facebook and on Twitter. I will send my next newsletter of January 1st, and my first blog post of 2017 on January 3rd.

I send you warm wishes for a peaceful and happy holiday season, and may the New Year bring us all together so that our world will be a gentle place where we can all live in love, safety and peace.

“We’re always in some kind of mood. It might be sadness, it might be anger, it might be not much of anything, just a kind of blur. It might be humor or contentment. In any case, whatever it is, that’s the path.

When something hurts in life, we don’t usually think of it as our path or as the source of wisdom. In fact, we think that the reason we’re on the path is to get rid of this painful feeling. In this way, we naively cultivate a subtle aggression against ourselves. However, the fact is that anyone who has used the moments, days, and years of his or her life to become wiser, kinder, and more at home in the world has learned from what’s happening right now. We can aspire to be kind right in the moment, to relax and open our heart and mind to what is in front of us right in the moment. Now is the time. If there’s any possibility for enlightenment, it’s right now, not at some future time.” -Pema Chodron

We writers count of reviews of our books as a way spread the word and get our thoughts and feelings out into the world. If you have read or are about to read my book, SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, please leave an honest review of it on Amazon. It’s very easy to do, and can be just a few words. I’d really appreciate it.

Unscrooging Myself!

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Winter is here and light from the sun will be begin to increase every day now until June 21st, when the days will start to grow shorter once again. But you’d never know it from the temperatures we’ve been experiencing.  A week or so ago we broke records here in Virginia with temperatures in the mid 70s.  It will happen again on Christmas Eve when it’s supposed to rain and temperatures will be unseasonably warm. In between, the record highs we have had fairly warm days with only a few in the lower 40s with even colder frosty nights.

DSC00575.JPGWhile in other portions of our country people are experiencing intense rain, early snowfalls and freezing temperatures, everyone I meet here in Central Virginia, is talking about this “Crazy Weather.”  A few weeks ago most comments were, “I love it. I’ll take all I can get.”  This week with Christmas upon us, people are beginning to complain.  “It’s not Christmas if it isn’t cold.”  Or, ” I’d love a little snow for the holidays. Is that asking too much?”

If that’s not enough there’s the way the world is looking right now. Politics in this country stink, while wars, mass shootings, and terrorism are claiming lives. The darkness seems tenfold more than it usually does.

The Knock-Out Roses in my garden were continuing to bloom until just a few nights ago when temperatures dropped into the 20s.  Last week on one of my walks I noticed forsythia blooming.  In Washington, DC, just a few hours north of us, the cherry blossoms have been blooming. Usually our lawn gets a year end mowing in early to mid-November, but last week the gang was back giving our very green grass another trim.

I’m just as confused as the trees and plants. In the fall I always welcome the beginning of the dark months. For me theyDSC00497.JPG represent a time of slowing down. I go to bed earlier and rise with the sun, as it peeks out over the horizon. And while I’ve been noticing all kinds of weeds growing in my garden during the last week or so and have wanted to go out and pull them, my body is fighting for what it wants more of … REST. My desire for naps has increased as it usually does at this time of year, along with a lapse in energy. While part of me wants to go out and clean up the garden, or walk without having to wear a heavy coat, my body is resisting.

This could all have something to do with aging, I suppose. But I have a feeling that most of what is bothering me is due to human nature and my not being happy with what is. I complain if it’s too cold, too hot, too dry, too wet, or whatever else I’m not happy with. And knowing I’ll never be able to control things like the weather, I’m working on just giving in and letting it all be. There isn’t much I can control, but perhaps I can try to change the way I react to the way things are. So I’m going back to an old prayer I often use when I find my world lacking in what I want or expect:

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

May the spirit of Christmas shine upon you and yours.
And may all of your wishes come true.
Just remember
if things don’t work out as you want them to,
there are flowers blooming and butterflies flitting about somewhere
on this beautiful blue planet of ours, and the weather is perfect!

Christmas Past

Saks-#2The images in this post were taken at Saks Fifth Avenue, way back in December of 2007, when Bill and I were visiting the city to see some good theatre, movies, and eat mouth-watering food.  These days the city is way too crowded for me to be comfortable at this time of year, so we’re staying here at home reliving trips from the past.  Besides, Bill will be having knee replacement surgery on January 4th.  He’s in a lot of pain, so traveling, especially to the Big Apple is out. I can tell you he’s already salivating over a few shows that will be there in the spring. I have a feeling that once the surgery is over and the pain subsides a bit, he’ll have show tickets ordered and train tickets in hand.

Today I found myself remembering one of my favorite early TV shows that we watched on Sunday nights way, way back in the ’50s, called, I Remember Mama. It was a drama-comedy about an immigrant Norwegian family living in San Francisco during the 1910s. Peggy Wood, played Mama, and Judson Laire, played Papa.  I was smitten with the family and their lives as told through the eyes of their grown daughter. They were the family I longed for; loving, supportive, and extremely kind … unlike my own very dysfunctional family.

The program ran from 1949 to 1954. Since we were the last people on the block to get a TV, I missed many of the early episodes.  But my favorite episode of all time, was the Christmas show, set out in the barn around a manger.  A cow, horse, and sheep tell the story of Christ’s birth from their animal points of view, while the human family listens in on the other side of the door. So sweet. So simple. So life affirming. And for me the perfect Christmas story.

I turned seventy-three last month and find myself enjoying precious moments from the past. I thinkSaks-#4 this remembering is one of the things that makes aging such a special time of life.  As I look back at what once was, I take solace in the way things were and am grateful that I had the opportunity to live a much more simple life when I was a kid.  There were no huge displays of holiday lights, no Black Friday sales. No robots. No cell phones. No standing in line to get a bargain on Thanksgiving night. Gifts were simple and came from the heart.  A handmade doll, a stocking filled with walnuts, oranges, a pair of hand-knit socks or mittens. I went caroling with friends in the our neighborhood.  It is that spirit that I wish to surround myself with during the holidays.

Do you have precious Christmas moments from the past?

 

Life AS A Work Of Art

“…. when I accept the call of creative passion, I am a bold stroke of vermillion, a renegade hyperbole, or the wild fury of jazz violin. The world is a canvas to explore, a blank page to fill, and an arpeggio of waiting experiences. This moving masterpiece called “life” becomes intoxicating when it’s lived as if it were art.”
Jill Badonsky

IMG_0118Outside the rain is steady and cold … It’s the second day of what is predicted to be a three day rain event. Thank goodness I don’t live in the midwest where this storm is producing snow and ice. But still all I want to do is crawl back into bed and sleep the grayness away.

Christmas is upon us. People are rushing about on the streets and nearly causing accidents. My Scroogy self is anxious for it all to be over. Her arrival comes earlier and earlier every year. I swear the city put up their usual snowflake lights on every light pole in town two days after Halloween. Christmas carols were heard playing in several grocery stores before Thanksgiving was done. What the holidays are supposed be about are love, gratefulness, and the birth of one of the world’s greatest teachers. What was once a spiritual celebration now seems to be all about things and money.

But amidst the long list of unread emails is a blog post I read and am always inspired by. Jill Badonsky, isDSC00444 a wonderful artist. She’s also a coach for those looking to live a creative life. I don’t know anything about her coaching style but she wrote the quote above and I’m more than certain that she’d be a fabulous person to hook up with to get unstuck.

Reading that line on her blog got to me immediately. Suddenly there I was remembering that I am an artist and writer myself. I have no business being a badass at this time of year. Life is a work of art and by golly I need to add some color to the dull and lifeless mood I’ve been creating in my head for a few weeks now.

As a starter, I’ll haul out my paints and throw some onto a piece of paper or canvas and see what happens. I’ll stop complaining about the state of the world, and sign up to support another group, who like me wants the violence to stop. I’ll bundle up and go walk in the rain, admire the red leaves still hanging on to the Japanese Maple in my garden, and enjoy the antics of a group of robins splashing about in puddles, grateful for not only a long drink of water, but a bath as well.

Encaustic painting, 6 1/4" x 7 1/2", September, 2012

Encaustic painting, 6 1/4″ x 7 1/2″, September, 2012

I’ve always truly believed that life is a work of art; that you can add a dab a bit of color here or there and come up with something much more balanced than the dark days I’ve been messing with.

If we want to change the course of the world or the way the holidays are, we can set an example and provide laughter and joy to each day instead of more darkness. When we turn on those happy holiday lights we dress our homes in, we bring light to world. It’s the same when we create a magnificent painting or write a beautiful poem.

Do you, like me, believe that life is a work of art?

Read the whole of Jill’s blog post here.

Holiday Blessings

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It
Is
Now
Officially
Winter
In the Norther Hemisphere,
Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Though there may be nasty weather days ahead,
The light has begun its slow return or retreat.
In just nine days, the New Year will be upon us,
And a new cycle of life will have begun.
In the spirit of these holidays we too often forget,
May the coming days be filled with the gifts of
Peace, joy, hope, healing, courage,
And new beginnings
For each and every
One of you.