Thursday, December 31, 2020

December 31--Goodbye and Thanks, 2020!

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.  --Marcus Aurelius

    At the end of my 2019 "year in review," I wrote "I can hardly wait for all the good of 2020." Here's the summary of my very interesting year...

WORK
==My 5th season doing tax prep ended early on March 31 due to the initial pandemic shutdown. With the deadline extended to July 15, the tax office "regulars" were able to complete the rest of the returns.
==Another year of MELT and yoga teaching for the Clearwater Wellness Center, online via Zoom from the end of March onward. Online teaching enabled me to reconnect with friends in FL and PA.
==Private and small-class MELT lessons I offered resulted in one of my students taking MELT training to become an instructor.
==Enabled the Kansas Dialysis Association to continue functioning by organizing their meetings on Zoom.
==Another year of spiritual life coaching with clients whom I dearly love and appreciate.
==Started a Power of Eight group which has had great success with our intentions.

FAMILY
==Just "under the wire," I flew to Denver in early March for a weekend visit with my kids in Fort Collins. I saw only a couple masks on those flights. Little did we know...
==Other trips to Fort Collins were scarce--June, November and Christmas. All masked up. 
==We rented VRBO houses to make our November & Christmas visits safer. We had another excellent Christmas holiday together. Son Derek stated, "This is my 34th Christmas, and I consider us really lucky to have spent them all together."
==Dennis and I celebrated our 34th anniversary.
==I organized several Zoom sessions to connect the spread-out Miller family.
==All the kids stayed employed throughout the year.
==Our older son and his partner are having a home built in Wellington, north of Fort Collins. Younger son moved into a solo studio apartment in downtown Fort Collins. 
==Watched an online family wedding from PA in December.
 
TRAVEL
==Trips to Arizona, PA/OH, and Spain/Portugal were all cancelled. 
==No stadiums were added to my MLB stadium quest.
==Being cautiously optimistic, I put a deposit on a group trip to Jamaica for December 2021.

HEALTH
==Reached 65 and Medicare in October.
==Mid-October hip replacement surgery gave me a new joint, corrected body alignment and a new lease on life, an enormous blessing of 2020.
==Swam over 100 miles for the 23nd year in a row, despite the YMCA being closed for 12 weeks and being off five weeks for surgery recovery. Hit the 100,000 lap milestone at the end of December (starting January 1998).
==Invested in the Holosync program and started that in June.
==Most of our family members have stayed Covid-free, but those who were infected recovered without hospitalization. 

DOG
==In early December, we celebrated one year with Barney. I don't know how we would have made it through 2020 without him!

MISCELLANEOUS
==I spent very little money in 2020!
==I did a lot of online learning in the time I would have spent watching basketball and baseball.
==I published a blog post every day since April 1, writing being a part of my spiritual practice.
==Took up the painting hobby of barn quilts.
==Had regular online meetings of my writer group of three.
==Reconnected with my roommate from Elizabethtown College, huge fun and blessing!
==I made my public singing debut and finale doing a Facebook duet with Dennis, John Prine's "In Spite of Ourselves."
==Pandemic boredom led us to declutter and paint the inside of our garage and decorate it with two of my barn quilts.
==Finally had the AC in my car repaired.
==Praise the Universe, we do not have to suffer through another four years of Trump as POTUS.

    Despite the unusual nature of 2020, in hindsight, it was a damn good year! Onward to 2021!
        Leta


Dennis installed my barn quilts on our shed.


There were those days...


My favorite artwork of the year, "11:11."

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

December 30--We Certainly Do!

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. --Confucius

    Confucius lived about 2,500 years ago. If he thought folks complicated life back then, wow, what would he think of today's world?!?!
    Two areas of present-day complication that amuse me are baby things and kitchen gadgets. You surely do need a lot of stuff to have a baby these days. You practically need a mechanical engineering degree to operate a stroller. How did we manage to raise two healthy boys with so little of today's must-have stuff?
    My husband and two sons are all very fine chefs. I think given a good sharp knife, a pan and a heat source that they could make just about anything. My personal requirements would be a good knife, a Kitchen-Aid mixer, a heat source and a means to brew coffee. My older son is adamant about not cluttering their kitchen counter with unnecessary gadgets. Especially at Christmas gift-giving time, it is fun to see all the new kitchen inventions we really don't need. 
    I believe 2020 has taught us a great deal about "simple." We've learned a lot about what is essential, what we want for our future, and what we can let go. That is extremely valuable wisdom, a blessing of a very unusual year. 
    Love is simple--try it,
        Leta

Here's a tip. Best knives on the planet:
Warthercutlery.com

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

December 29--Less Is More

A simple life is its own reward.  --George Santayana

    I have very few complications in my life. I'm organized. I like it that way. 2020 has made clear those things that are the essentials in my life, and also how little I need to thrive--relationships, food, shelter, exercise, creative outlets, and learning. All the other stuff, like golf, travel, and watching sports, is fluff, albeit enjoyable fluff. 
    I admit that I'm in a bit of a funk relative to 2021. Generally I look forward to a new year with great anticipation, but given the way 2020 slapped us around, I'm wary of being too optimistic about the coming year. I plan to do tax work again, so that covers me to mid-April (I think!). Beyond that, do I dare plan trip(s)? I learned in 2020 to count on cancellations. 2021 shows a lot of "maybe," which makes organized-control-freak Leta crazy. 
    The approach which keeps my sanity intact is the simple slogan, "one day at a time." This and gratitude keep me from getting too far ahead of myself into uncertainties. They complicate life. As the Bible suggests: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Matthew 6:34.
    Today is simple, and that's a blessing,
        Leta




Monday, December 28, 2020

December 28--Simply Not Broken

Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple and the simple thing is the right thing.  --Oscar Wilde

    As a spiritual life coach, and noting from my own personal journey, I see that many humans tend to think that there is something wrong with us that needs to be fixed. That's complex. If we have to fix ourselves before life can be good and we can be happy, that's a very long "row to hoe." What if we take the simple approach that we are not flawed, that whatever is going on with us right now is OK, that it is part of our practice of living? Broken things don't work well. It is hard to make useful changes in life from a mentality of brokenness. 
    In an Abraham-Hicks workshop I attended a couple years ago, Abraham taught that we are here for three things: joy, expansion and freedom. That's it. There's nothing to prove. We are free to choose in every moment--free will is the foundation of life on planet Earth. We are expanding from the moment of birth. Expansion is a natural organic process that takes way more effort to squash than to allow, but we can certainly choose to accelerate the expansion. Joy is the natural result of using our freedom to expand. Accepting and being our own unique selves enables these three things to blossom in life. We can adopt today a mentality of joy, expansion and freedom no matter what we have done or how we have seen ourselves in the past. 
     EnJOYing the simple,
        Leta
J πŸ˜ƒ E πŸ˜‡ F 😍

Sunday, December 27, 2020

December 27--Take It Easy

Smile, breathe and go slowly.  --Thich Nhat Hanh

    We just returned home last evening from our Christmas holiday with our kids. It is a VERY long drive home after all that fun hanging with those we love most on planet Earth. To sum it up, re-entry sucks. Back to "regular" life and winter, tax season work is coming, the pandemic continues, and I have nothing special, like spring/summer traveling adventures, to anticipate. Clearly an attitude adjustment is in order for me, so I shall make myself "smile, breathe and go slowly." I'm headed for a good swim to start the process.  
    Note the photo of my sons and me below. My shirt says, "Breathe. The Universe is taking care of everything else." Words to live by.
    Big sigh,
        Leta

The sunrise in Fort Collins, Dec. 26

Christmas 2020 with my sons


Saturday, December 26, 2020

December 26--Overflowing Abundance

Not what we have but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance. --Epicurus

    I thoroughly enjoyed my family's Christmas holiday together. 2020's weirdness created some new conditions. We, the parents, rented a VRBO place large enough for us to all hang out and eat together. Our Christmas tree ended up being a fake palm to which I added a string of lights. Everyone wore masks all the time. Gift-opening was goofy, joyful, and fun, as we all know each other so well. My husband cooked us great meals. We enjoyed seeing our older son's new home under construction and our younger son's new apartment. The weather was spectacular, and we enjoyed much outdoor time walking the dogs. Our older son said, "This is my 34th Christmas, and I consider us really lucky to have spent them all together."
    It doesn't get much more enjoyable and abundant than that!
        Leta

Friday, December 25, 2020

December 25--Merry Merry Merry

Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.  --John Adams

    These are the words of Rev. Dr. Edward Viljoen, applicable whether or not one claims to be "Christian":
I celebrate the Christian message because I am grateful for what I have learned from Jesus: to be courageous and dare to question the established ways of thinking; to speak up about unjust laws; to be fearlessly compassionate; to reach out to those who are sick and suffering; to attend to my shortcomings before judging others for theirs; to be empathetic and reach across tribal boundaries to embrace people of all kinds, even those who are traditionally thought of as enemies; to have personal dignity under stress and not buckle under the weight of popular opinion; to be true to myself when the masses disapprove; to be charitable and stand for forgiveness and help those who are disproportionately disadvantaged; to be down to Earth about my spirituality and to practice it; and above all, to have a direct and personal relationship with the Divine, ... loving one another as we are loved by creation.
    John Adams simply said this in fewer words πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰
    Have a glorious day celebrating life!
        Leta

Botanica Illuminations
Peace and love to you and yours!









Thursday, December 24, 2020

December 24--Moving Energy

I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens--but just those that bring simple little pleasures.  --L. M. Montgomery

    I am in Colorado to spend Christmas with my kids. I have anxiously awaited this time, well, since last Christmas. This December seems to have dragged on, as I have prepared gifts and packed for our trip. Now we are here, and have reunited all the family. It is heaven. We have all been together every Christmas since the sons were born. I know we are extraordinarily lucky in that respect. 
    Still... what I wanted so desperately is now here, and I realize it will all be over in the blink of an eye. This makes for my annual "pre-Christmas cry." The profound love in my heart gives way temporarily to fear and worry. How can I possibly appreciate enough this precious time together? Will this be our last Christmas all together, for any number of reasons? Would I want to know if that happens to be the case? NO! Christmas as I knew and loved it as a child ended when my mom died when I was 23. I still feel much sadness relative to that. I'm crying now to release this uncomfortable energy, so that it won't spoil this 2020 holiday. 
    Today (Christmas Eve) and tomorrow are going to be the "nicest and sweetest days" because we are together. The gift-opening and food will be fun, but the simple pleasure of being together is what makes it so sweet. 
    Let's lighten the mood. There's a Saturday Night Live skit from just a couple weeks ago wherein three daughters break it to their moms that they are not coming home for Christmas. It's hysterical. Click here to view it. 
    Thanks for listening to me vent. I feel much lighter and ready to celebrate the awesome family I helped to create!
    Joyful Christmas Eve!
        Leta

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

December 23--Makes Me Smile

There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want.  --Bill Watterson

    So true, so true! There's always stuff that needs to be done, and that so easily supersedes doing nothing. Doing all the nothing you want tends to get mixed into the realm of laziness, and that's so unfortunate. I love going on retreats, where doing nothing is the sanctioned mission. 
    Nothing time is time to think, to drink in ideas, to be creative, to pay attention. If we don't make time to do nothing, we become just another rat in the race. We miss life. We miss the blessings in which we operate continually. We lose sense of who we are and what is important to us. 
    Time is a human invention, and we can create as much of it as we want. (See "Einstein time" in The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.) We can, with intention, make at least some time to do nothing. It's a choice and a practice, like all of life. 
    I'll close with another favorite from The Big Leap: There's never enough time to do all the things you don't want to do, and there's never enough money to buy all the things you don't need. 
        Leta


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

December 22--Clean It Up

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.  --Steve Jobs

    Let's play with oneness here. It is simple--everything is created of one universal energy. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. You, me, my house, the moon, my dog, ants, tarantulas, the folks I love and those I don't. But rarely do I get my thinking clean enough to grasp that concept fully. 
    My life has been fully transformed over the past three decades by a 12-Step program. It is a simple program, but certainly not easy. The 12 Steps are the means to getting one's thinking clean enough to handle life as life moves through us. 
    "We've always done it that way." Whether or not that sentiment is stated aloud, it is a glaring example of stale, crusty thinking. It can be quite hard to get folks to think cleanly about other options that would prove simpler. 
    Enjoy this Dilbert strip...

    Leta

Monday, December 21, 2020

December 21--Making Ice

It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple. 
--Rabindranath Tagore

    Happiness is simple. Good health and relationships, a vibrant spiritual life, sustenance and shelter, feeling useful--those pretty much cover it for me. Simple thankfulness generates much happiness.
    It is very difficult to be simple. Especially living in a materialistic society such as ours, we are conditioned that more is better. More stuff complicates life. It's more to take care of, more to break, more to fix, more annoyance, more to eventually discard. "Keeping up with the Joneses," whether it is home size, possessions, kids' activities and performance levels, and/or climbing the corporate ladder, all these make life a complicated effort which does not contribute to happiness. That comes from being grateful for what we have, not the endless quest for more.
    Another killer of simplicity is perfectionism. Doing one's best is simple. Having to be perfect in any circumstance adds great complexity. "Perfect" is a constantly moving target, so it is an endless effort to hit the mark. The likelihood of failure is enormous, and the emotional fallout of failure can be very complicated, indeed. Perfectionism and happiness rarely get along.
    The go-to example of simplicity in our house is the fact that we don't have an ice maker in our freezer. We make ice the "old-fashioned way," filling ice cube trays with water. We don't have an ice maker to break, leak, and wreck the oak floor beneath the refrigerator. We have plenty of ice and no worries. 
    Note: in looking for the image below, I discovered that there is now a nearly infinite variety of ice cube trays available. Those aren't even simple any more!
    Simply happy,
        Leta


Sunday, December 20, 2020

December 20--Greatness

Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great. 
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "Greatness" is a quite nebulous term, in my opinion. For instance, some think that our current President and Congressional leadership are great, and others think the exact opposite. 
    I have to confess that I'm baffled by this quote. I'm "simply" going to leave it to you, great readers, to ponder for yourselves. 
    Leta
 


Saturday, December 19, 2020

December 19--"Not Sorry"

Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry.  --Jack Kerouac

    Maybe this quote is the inspiration for the Reese's peanut butter cup commercials that end in "NOT SORRY." I love those commercials, putting chocolate and peanut butter right in our faces without apology, knowing that probably 99% of the people either secretly or overtly love them. 
    Here is an excerpt from my book, WHOA! Slow Down and Ponder a Life of Wholeness, Health, Openness and Action:

Stop Apologizing for Your Existence

    The first time I say this phrase to anyone, I can guarantee a nearly blank look in return. I did the same thing when I first heard this in yoga teacher training with Ana Forrest. The blank looks result from the fact that this behavior is so ingrained, it's completely unconscious.  We don't even know we are doing it. 
    One example of this behavior is saying "sorry" frequently, for instance, "I'm sorry, but would you help me with this?" This says right up front that you think you're a bother to someone. It fairly screams lack of confidence. Use of "sorry" like this devalues the use of "I'm sorry" when you truly mean it in apology. 
    Here's another example. One day at the gym, upon returning to my locker after showering, I found another woman using the locker next to mine, getting dressed. Her back was to me. I was in no hurry and waited silently nearby so that she could finish unhurried. After a few minutes, she turned around and saw me waiting. She freaked and said, "Am I in you way?" I replied, "No take your time, I'm in no hurry." She didn't hear me. She started apologizing profusely, collected all her stuff (even though she wasn't completely dressed), and moved everything elsewhere. She apologized profusely for her presence in "my" space, but there was no problem with her being there in the first place. 
    Because this behavior is so unconscious, it's a bit of a challenge to even notice you're engaging in it. Pay attention to your use of "sorry," "excuse me," "I hate to bother you but," and so on. You are here on Playground Earth for a reason, so stop apologizing for yourself. 

And a favorite quote, source unknown: "I'm sorry if I behaved in a way that makes you think I should apologize but I won't because I know I didn't do anything wrong." 

πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰

    Live, travel, adventure and bless on this magnificent day!
        Leta




Friday, December 18, 2020

December 18--A Fine Cure

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine. 
--St. Thomas Aquinas

    I can't think of much that couldn't be improved by the aforementioned three items. 
    In today's meditation, Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation describes a pervasive sorrow that I see currently in so many in our society:
We’re in Hell now by wrapping ourselves around our hurts, by over-identifying with and attaching ourselves to our fears, so much so that they become our very identity. Any chosen state of victimhood is an utter dead end. Once you make that your narrative, it never stops gathering evidence about how you have been wronged by life, by others, and even by God.
    I would offer that another remedy for sorrow is forgiveness. It may not be as fun as sleeping, bathing and drinking wine, but it is much more effective in the long run. 
        Leta



Thursday, December 17, 2020

December 17--πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸͺπŸͺ

Simple is good.  --Jim Henson

    Anything I would add to that would be complicated... Be like Cookie Monster and stay focused on the simple things of life. "COOKIEπŸͺπŸͺ!!!!!"
        Leta


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

December 16--It Really Doesn't Take Much

With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy? 
--Oscar Wilde

    This quote makes me happy. I fully agree that freedom is number one on the list. Free will is the very foundation of life on this planet. Nothing would be the same without it. We take for granted that we always have a choice, but that fact ought surely be the source of greatest gratitude within us.
    Books, reading and writing them, what joy! A long lifetime isn't even close to the time it would take to read all the books that have been created. Books mean adventure, without even having to leave your chair. Writers sharing their own unique voices are such a gift to our world. Writing is a mighty and energizing spiritual practice for me personally. 
    Flowers--I grow and love them. I've created the Christmas-time tradition of arranging a bouquet of lilies for our mantle. Lilies are my favorite flower. (Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:28-29)
    I can't quite figure how anyone could have angst looking at the moon, particularly with it "hanging" among an infinity of galaxies and stars to ponder. I figure if the Universe can handle all that, I can relax, know I'm in good "hands," and be happy. 
    Merry, merry,
        Leta
2020's arrangement

 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

December 15--Baggage

Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough. 
--Charles Warner

    Now here's a topic I can really relate to--baggage!!! 
    Let's take actual baggage first. I travel a lot. Airline baggage fees make me crazy. As the airlines demand smaller and smaller baggage, I have purchased smaller wheelie bags and become ever-more efficient at packing. I have no problem doing some hand-laundry along the way of a trip in order to beat the airline baggage fees. The whole deal has become a fun challenge for me, and packing gets simpler each time. 
    Next there is clutter, which to me is physical and mental baggage. I can stand clutter only so long, and then it has to go. While some might consider my woman cave cluttered, it has gone through several simplification passes and currently meets with my approval. Disorganization is baggage I'd rather not drag around. 
    Finally there's the backpack, suitcase, or steamer trunk of the past that humans drag along with them. I had a steamer trunk load for a long time--dysfunctional family of addicts, verbal abuse by my older brother Ken, responsible for keeping my mom alive and happy (impossible, by the way), responsible for my mom's death because I left home, my own addiction. It took a LOT of inner work to offload this baggage. I am eternally grateful to the 12-Step program for giving me the means to move from a steamer trunk to a backpack. As long as we are alive and have memories, we'll have some baggage. Living well, living simply, we can keep the load very light. And the backpack can have a water bottle, a good book, and joy--I like that baggage!
    Traveling lightly,
        Leta


My smallest wheelie to-date


Monday, December 14, 2020

December 14--Understanding

It's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.  --Paulo Coelho

    Hmmmm.... First of all, I'm going to give "wise women" a chance here, too. It does take wisdom to appreciate the simple, yet extraordinary, things in life. An excellent example of this is care for our planet. It is extraordinary in its richness, diversity and ability to support its inhabitants. The indigenous people of the Earth have for centuries known and lived the wisdom of caring for our mother. "Modern" society has exploited the resources and abused the planet out of greed and ignorance. There's no wisdom there, and certainly no understanding of the extraordinary home our planet is. 
    Let's consider oneness. Everything is interconnected. Everything is created out of the same divine energy. It is one simple thing that makes up the entire manifest Universe. You, me, everyone, interconnected, ultimately dependent on each other for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even though I feel like I have a tiny bit of wisdom, oneness is a big one for me to understand. Wise ones like Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, Rumi, the saints--they got it. I'm still learning. 
    Appreciating simplicity,
        Leta



Sunday, December 13, 2020

December 13--No Place Like Home

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.  --Jane Austen

    Whoa, can we note some ginormous irony here?!??! In hindsight, I wish I had had this quote tattooed somewhere on my body last March. 
    Well, I agree with Austen, and I don't. When my parents' relationship continued to deteriorate during my teenage years, there wasn't much comfort in staying at home. There was either silent viciousness or nasty loud outbursts of fighting. My dad even built an "office" in one of our garage stalls where he could go to get out of the house. I could hardly wait for college to get away. 
    I've traveled extensively over my adult lifetime, and while I love seeing the world, I have always enjoyed returning to my home of 35 years in Wichita. I love my home, and it is a place of real comfort. I appreciate all of the life that has happened here. 
    Fast forward to 2020, when health and government officials ordered us to stay at home. Fairly quickly, "real comfort" got mixed up with feeling "trapped." I can stay home and feel mostly safe from the pandemic, but there may be some loony stir-craziness involved. Days run together, and the sameness becomes more annoying than comforting. That's when I have to get outside, get away, even briefly, in order to make staying at home comfortable again. This year has also offered us plenty of time for completing projects that have made our home a more enjoyable place to stay. 
    Home is as comforting as I choose it to be.
        Leta

Decked out for Christmas



Saturday, December 12, 2020

December 12--Not Things

The best things in life aren't things.  --Art Buchwald

    Amen and amen! I don't feel the need to debate or embellish this one. So here is a poem that a dear friend sent me, author unknown...

  T'was a month before Christmas,
  And all through the town,
  People wore masks,
  That covered their frown.

  The frown had begun
  Way back in the Spring,
  When a global pandemic
  Changed everything.

  They called it corona,
  But unlike the beer,
  It didn’t bring good times,
  It didn’t bring cheer.

  Contagious and deadly,
  This virus spread fast,
  Like a wildfire that starts
  When fueled by gas.

  Airplanes were grounded,
  Travel was banned.
  Borders were closed
  Across air, sea and land.

  As the world entered lockdown
  To flatten the curve,
  The economy halted,
  And folks lost their verve.

  From March to July
  We rode the first wave,
  People stayed home,
  They tried to behave.

  When summer emerged
  The lockdown was lifted.
  But away from caution,
  Many folks drifted.

  Now it’s November
  And cases are spiking,
  Wave two has arrived,
  Much to our disliking.

  Frontline workers,
  Doctors and nurses,
  Try to save people,
  From riding in hearses.

  It’s true that this year
  Has had sadness a plenty,
  We’ll never forget
  The year 2020.

  And just ‘round the corner -
  The holiday season,
  But why be merry?
  Is there even one reason?

  To decorate the house
  And put up the tree,
  When no one will see it,
  No one but me.

  But outside my window
  The snow gently falls,
  And I think to myself,
  Let’s deck the halls!

  So, I gather the ribbon,
  The garland and bows,
  As I play those old carols,
  My happiness grows.

  Christmas is not cancelled
  And neither is hope.
  If we lean on each other,
  I know we can cope ♥️
πŸ’š

Let's be of good cheer,
        Leta

Friday, December 11, 2020

December 11--Drink It In

Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.  --Edith Wharton

    In a period of stay-at-home boredom, my husband and I tackled the job of spiffing up our garage. It was a fun project of painting, discarding and organizing. Now enjoying our efforts with a beer before supper, we get to sit with the door open to the west and drink in our magnificent Kansas sunsets. It is our time to talk, enjoy each other's company, and reflect on the day. It is a simple pleasure we both look forward to. 
    As I open the "window" of my new day, I see a swim, a massage, good meals, wrapping gifts, a walk with Barney, and the aforementioned afternoon garage hanging. I "drink the day" with joy and gratitude. 
    May your day be a tasty drink,
        Leta


Thursday, December 10, 2020

December 10--Already

We already have everything we need.  --Pema Chodron

    Can you say "yes" to today's quote? In general, we are already abundantly blessed, but it's human nature to desire to do, be and have more. I don't think that is a bad thing--we come here to expand in every way. 
    This quote brings up the focus issue. If we stay zoned in on always having what we need, we will continue to have everything we need. If we focus on what we don't have, we'll continue to notice lack all around us. 
    Gratitude is a key to staying focused on being fully supplied in every way. A friend this past week hooked me up with an article by Diana Butler Bass wherein she looks at the following Bible verse:
In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
    This begins with a very big little word: "In." This means in all circumstances, at all times, give thanks. It does not say "For everything..." We often, at least mentally, misquote it this way, telling ourselves we should be grateful FOR everything. Well, that's bullshit. I'm not grateful for Covid, or having all trips cancelled this past year, or for losing loved ones, or political corruption, or racism, or any other crap that 2020 has piled on us. I have, however, throughout the year been grateful to be alive in all these circumstances, to witness the chaos that I believe is birthing a new way of being. 
    Let's not burden ourselves with the additional stress of trying to force ourselves to be grateful FOR everything. What a relief!
        Leta

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

December 9--Over My Head

Everything must be made a simple as possible. But not simpler.  --Albert Einstein

    Huh? I'm not even going to pretend that I can figure out what brilliant scientist Einstein meant by that one!
    Have a simply beautiful day!
        Leta



Tuesday, December 8, 2020

December 8--There ARE Other Options

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.  --Henry David Thoreau

    I could replace the word "detail" with "have to's" or "drama." 
    We have to do it, and we have to do it this way. We tend to get into a rut of doing the same things in the same way, without even considering that there may be a simpler way of accomplishing. Operating in people-pleasing mode, we have to keep the details going in order to keep everyone happy. I know this behavior well from working in a church office for six years. I've worked with people whose motto was "Why simplify when we can over-complicate this?" 
    Life can easily be frittered away by drama, too. It is not simple for the body, mind or emotions to be continually charged up by drama. A lot of the drama is about circumstances over which we have no control. It simplifies life considerably when we learn to leave those circumstances alone. There is also the very easy trap of getting sucked into other folks' drama, where we truly have no business. Simplify, simplify.
    One of my greatest simplification victories came many years ago relative to Christmas gifts for my many great-nieces and great-nephews. December meant contacting their parents, begging for ideas, buying the gifts, and wrapping and mailing them across country. It frittered away my December with details that became less and less enjoyable, especially as the children grew older. So I stopped it all and started an investment fund to which I contributed a small amount regularly for years. Now, when the young person graduates from high school, they receive a letter from me telling them about their share in the fund and their options for taking it. This has simplified my life tremendously, and the kids are loving it. It's way better than all the yearly gifts that are long forgotten. 
    Since we always have a choice, maybe there is a simpler way... just sayin'.
        Leta


Monday, December 7, 2020

December 7--More to Life

There must be more to life than having everything! --Maurice Sendak

    One of my great-nieces was married this past Saturday. What was planned over a year ago--big family wedding with reception--didn't happen, of course, due to the pandemic. Plans were revised, and the couple decided to stick with their original date. Her parents cleared their home's large finished basement and made a "chapel" out of it. It was decorated with small trees with white lights and white poinsettias. It was a lovely setting. They live-streamed it, so that the many loved ones who would have normally been there could watch. Even the minister was virtual! The bride's younger brother and sister were the only attendants. 
    True to form, when the bride's dad (my nephew) walked his daughter forward and handed her over to the groom, I lost it. I cried through the whole thing. "It's what I do." The father of the bride was born when I was nine years old, and he was the first baby I was blessed to help care for and watch grow up. What heart-expanding joy to see this huge milestone in their lives!
    All the "not normal" stuff aside, the bride and groom were radiant. Their vows and the words of love that they shared with each other were both comical and profound. You know it's true love when you give up an easy last name of Miller for Knabenshue! There is more to life than having everything, and that is love.
    With a heart full of joy,
            Leta



Sunday, December 6, 2020

December 6--Ideal Life

Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. 
--Mark Twain

    Yep, that pretty much covers it. "Good friends" means successful relationships with both friends and family. "Good books" means always having something that expands the mind. "A sleepy conscience" is one that is free of worry, guilt, distress, anything that would require amends. I feel like I've had great success with friends and books, but the sleepy conscience is an ongoing practice. I don't know that very many of us come out of our upbringing with a sleepy conscience. It took a 12-Step program to teach me that such a thing is even possible, and how to go about achieving it in a balanced life. The voice in my head that says "You should do more" is not compatible with a sleepy conscience. I'm learning what is mine to bring into my conscience and what is not mine to deal with, and that brings "sleepy" much more often within reach. I've also learned that gut feeling that lets me know I need to make amends--my conscience is wide awake and fussing. Quickly admitting my mistakes allows my conscience to become sleepy again. The inner peace of a sleepy conscience does make for the ideal life. 
    Is it nap time yet? 
        Leta

Barney, perfect example of a sleepy conscience πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰


Saturday, December 5, 2020

December 5--All We Need

All we have is all we need. All we need is the awareness of how blessed we really are.  --Sarah Ban Breathnach

    I remind my Melt and yoga students often to breathe, and to appreciate the ability to breathe on their own power. We can breathe and think, and therefore create. What more is needed?
    My husband and I discuss at least daily how blessed we are. Number one is we are healthy. We have all we need. We have each other, and even after 34 years of marriage, we still like and love each other. We have our sweet and entertaining dog, Barney. Our sons are living independently and supporting themselves. We have great friends and extended family. We are financially stable. My husband is a great cook, and spoils us twice a day with high-quality, healthy meals. We have been able to keep ourselves relatively sane during the pandemic with assorted projects and have accomplished major clearing and decluttering. I have a new hip joint and a renewed love of walking. I thank the Creative Forces of the Universe every day for Zoom!
    Focusing on what we don't have brings more lack. Focusing on blessings brings more blessings. It really is as simple as that. Oh, and by the way, we choose our focus with each thought. That's where our true power lies. 
    Grateful,
        Leta


Friday, December 4, 2020

December 4--Hallelujah!

Not everything needs to be fixed.  --Randy Pausch

    Sometimes I simply need or want to cry. I refer to it as soul-rinsing. Often times when I am crying, those nearest to me want to fix me so that I'll stop crying. This attempt at fixing makes me crazy. I am actually doing the fixing by crying--moving energy through my body that needs to move on.  
    Our natural inclination when we see a problem is to want to help, to offer solutions, i.e., advice. Maybe by now you've learned that this is not usually a successful venture. People take care of their issues, or not, in their own way, and it's not our job to fix them, no matter how qualified we may think we are to do so. One of the best things I continue to learn is to stay out of other folks' business. There is infinite relief in knowing that I don't need to fix others. 
    Here are some worthwhile questions:
        Is something broken here? Can I fix it? Should I attempt to fix it? 
    Let's keep today's quote close to our hearts. 
        Leta


Thursday, December 3, 2020

December 3--Words of Change

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. 
--Virginia Woolf

    I read this awesome prayer this morning, and want to share it with you:

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people’s plight.

Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.

Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.

Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.

Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.

Amen.


By CΓ©sar ChΓ‘vez, “Prayer of the Farm Worker’s Struggle" from the 1960s.
This is quite relevant for today. 
    Leta

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

December 2--In One Sentence

It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong. 
--Laura Ingalls Wilder

    Good heavens! I don't think I could find a better quote than Ms. Wilder's to describe what (I hope) we've learned during this like-no-other year of 2020. It is timeless wisdom describing a very fine way to live. 
    I'm in!
        Leta


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

December 1--New Month, New Theme

Simplicity is a matter of taste.  --Stephen Hawking

    As you may have guessed already, December's theme is simplicity. I think this whole miraculous year of 2020 has been an inspiration in simplicity. Figuring out what we really need, what is really important, how to accomplish what must be done, and learning to let the rest go. 
    Last evening I completed our Christmas decorating for this season. In 2019, overwhelmed, sort of, with a new puppy, we didn't do any Christmas decorating. We've adjusted to Barney, and I felt inspired to decorate this year. I did enough to make inside and outside look festive, but it is definitely simple--a tree, some lights, some hanging things--that's it. But I love all of it, and I love the simplicity. Many years ago I realized that an overabundance of Christmas decorations required the overabundance of putting away after Christmas, so I decided to simplify the "putting away."
    In my working career, I've worked with several folks whose motto was "Why do anything simply if we can over-complicate it?" I am grateful that those folks inadvertently trained me to focus on simple solutions. Simplicity really is a mindset. Just because "we've always done it that way," it doesn't mean that has to continue. My mother often said, "Give a lazy person a hard job and she'll find an easier way to do it." I guess I latched onto "lazy" and have made simplicity one of my missions in life. I'm good with that!
    Joyful December, keeping it simple,
        Leta

A simple snowman, 
painted by yours truly πŸ˜‰


Monday, November 30, 2020

November 30--Good Giving and Receiving Habits

The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.  --Walt Whitman

    We have reached the end of November and its theme of kindness. I am so blessed to have kindness first thing each morning when my husband brings me a cup of steaming fresh coffee and my angel dog Barney to enjoy while I write.
    I listened to a talk yesterday by a minister friend on the topic of giving and receiving. Both are essential, just as the inhale and exhale of breath are. We cannot give if there is no one to receive. As Whitman says, when we make giving a habit, we want to do more of it. It feels good. But the circulation, the complete flow, requires a gracious receiver. 
    I love to give, but I have a couple of pet peeves relative to receivers. One is when I offer a compliment, and the recipient diminishes it rather than simply saying "thank you." For example, "I really like how you've decorated this room," and the reply, "Oh, it's just some stuff I picked up at the thrift store." Another is the "now I'll have to get even" mentality. That's when, given a gift, the recipient mentally notes the need to return an item of similar value, in order to keep the relationship balanced. I can register this in their personal vibes, and it's annoying. It diminishes any gift and the love behind it. 
    Another of my pet peeves is the hostess gift. If I invite you to my home, please don't bring me stuff, no matter how well-intentioned. I don't need more stuff, and those gifts feel as though they are given in obligation, to be a "good guest." If I invite you, I know you will be a good guest. You don't need to give me stuff to prove it. The only exceptions to this are chocolate or Nifty Nut goodies. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰ Just kidding.
    Give thoughtfully, receive graciously.
        Leta





Sunday, November 29, 2020

November 29--Let It Flow

Love yourself and then learn to extend that love to others in every encounter. 
--Oprah Winfrey

    One of the ways to love yourself is to consciously recognize your accomplishments, no matter how small. I've learned to do this relative to cleaning house. I dislike doing it so much that I have to at least give myself a mental pat on the back for anything I do along those lines. So in the spirit of giving myself some recognition, this past Friday I completed 100 miles of lap swimming in 2020, and I have now done that for 23 years in a row. And yes, I'm a numbers nerd, and I keep track of my laps in a spreadsheet. I am grateful for the self-discipline, for my body, and for my family support and encouragement. 
    Loving yourself is not necessarily an easy prospect in a society that seems to always be pointing out what's wrong with us. Being an addict, and seeing how rampant addiction is in our society, I know that non-recovering addicts tend toward self-loathing, so there's not much love to extend to others. It took a 12-Step program and learning a successful way of living for me to begin to develop a sense of appreciation for myself. That was the beginning of being able to extend genuine love to others. 
    I do believe that people are good, and there is plenty of love in our world. Each of us, each day, extending love to someone does make a difference. It's a matter of staying focused on what we want more of, and who doesn't want more love in our world? Love is our very essence, so let it flow, shall we?
        Leta




Saturday, November 28, 2020

November 28--Send 'Em Away Happy

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.  --Mother Teresa

    What a great way to spread kindness... for every single person we encounter, do something that makes them happier. That may simply be a smile and friendly greeting, a hug, or words of appreciation or encouragement. Ask if they could use some help and provide that help. Folks need to be heard, so listening is a very loving skill. Surprise a friend with a gift without an occasion. Acknowledge birthdays. Say "I love you" a lot to those most dear to your heart.
    Having had our dog Barney for almost a year, we have on our many walks come to know other dogs and owners in our neighborhood. There is a comical phenomenon with dog owners--we learn the other dog's name, say "Cooper," and the owner becomes "Cooper's dad." We don't actually learn the owner's name. I'm "Barney's mom." (Dean Koontz, very famous author, describes this phenomenon in his book about his dog, Trixie. I highly recommend the book, "A Big Little Life.") Dog owners share their joy in each of these encounters, the dogs usually sniff each other as dogs do, and everyone moves along happier. 
    We have been blessed in this odd year of 2020 to have the opportunity to recognize and really appreciate the simple pleasures of life. The random encounter with neighbors that we used to take for granted are now a precious chance to greet another human outside the home. Sending hand-written notes has become, for me, more of a treat than an obligation. Receiving them is an even greater treat. I am profoundly grateful for the technology that enables me to connect with so many friends and loved ones online--an excellent way to leave all participants happier. 
    Spreading love leaves both the giver and receiver feeling better. Good stuff!
        Leta


Friday, November 27, 2020

November 27--This is a Biggie

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves--the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.  --Thomas Merton

    It seems that we have so much trouble just being ourselves that of course, it's a challenge to let others be "perfectly themselves." There is always something to improve in us, and we then project that onto others. The concept that I should stay out of other folks' business was not one I was raised with. Having a practicing codependent perfectionist for a mom taught me that if I knew better, I should do better, and you should, too. 
    It was in the 12-Step program in my early 30s that I was introduced to the Serenity Prayer (which I have modified slightly): God grants 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. I learned in program that I am the only one I can change and (drum roll), I don't have to worry about anyone else. Really!?!?! Holy cow, that simplifies life! The relief I felt was staggering, and I still carry that lightness with me today. And yes, it was the "beginning of love" for me. 
    If you have children, then you have been blessed with the opportunity "to let those we love be perfectly themselves." We guide, guard and direct them in the ways of a successful human life, and magically, a unique person develops. After such intense connection in the childhood years, it can be quite a challenge to let go. This I know. As parents and older adults, we've been there, made the mistakes, would love to give advice on how to do, be and have. It truly is love to let them go, support steadfastly, and allow them to figure out for themselves who they are and how they want to be in this world. 
    Less advice makes for better relationships. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰
        Leta 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

November 26--Gentle Caring

We find greater lightness and ease in our lives as we increasingly care for ourselves and other beings.  --Sharon Salzberg

    I was presented the idea recently of writing a letter of appreciation to one's body. For someone who has health issues or whose body is not serving him well, this may seem like a completely wacko idea. I've been there. However, if one is alive right now, it's because the body is doing a lot of things right, and that is worthy of great thanksgiving. I've been blessed with years of yoga practice and teaching, wherein the emphasis is always on appreciating what the body can do, not on its limitations. The human body is an infinite mystery--no matter how much science discovers, there is still so much more to learn. A good relationship with one's body does make for lightness and ease in life. 
    Caring for other beings... not only other humans, but animal and plant life, too. It is frightening and disheartening what humans are doing to our beautiful planet. Reversing this damaging path would bring much lightness and ease to our lives and contribute significantly to our health and ultimately, our survival. While it's a huge job for one person to save the planet, it's an easy job to care for a pet. Caring for our dog Barney has definitely brought lightness and ease to our lives, as well as laughter, exercise and learning. The sleepy boy lying peacefully beside me always elicits a smile from me. His enthusiasm for a W-A-L-K never wanes. He simply loves, and it magnifies the love in our house. Pure joy!
    Wishing all a joyful Thanksgiving Day,
        Leta
 

Barney, the wonder dog




Wednesday, November 25, 2020

November 25--Becoming Better

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. 
--Paulo Coelho

    I had a discussion recently regarding this pandemic time and the proper word to describe our living through it. Is the goal "enduring" it or actually "thriving" through it? We can choose either. Enduring feels like a struggle, slogging through, even putting life somewhat "on hold" till some nebulous point in the future. Enduring is hard.
    Thriving, on the other hand, feels good. One key to thriving is to love, as today's quote states. This pandemic time is an excellent one to strive to become better than we have been. Love gives us the impetus to create new ways to be in the world, new ways to connect, to have fun, to enrich the relationships we are blessed to have. Each individual seeking to thrive uplifts us all. 
    Alas, given how much "new and strange" has confronted us this year, life is bound to be some combination of enduring and thriving. Some days, some things, we just have to hunker down and get through. I think it's important to remember that we always have a choice to focus on thriving and loving.
    Leta

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

November 24--Whole Heart

The dedicated life is the life worth living. You must give with your whole heart. 
--Annie Dillard

    I think it would be great if we all paid more attention to what we really want to be doing, and saying a gentle but firm "no" when the request is not something wherein we can engage the whole heart. Spiritual teacher Edwene Gaines wisely stated, "If you are doing something you don't really want to be doing, you are doing someone else's job." Others can easily tell a half-hearted effort because we give off "I don't want to be here doing this" vibes. That situation serves no one, and often leads to resentment. 
    I do a variety of things in my working life, and I love them all. It's easy to give with my whole heart. I've learned through trial and error and many years of living when it's best for me to say "no." Years ago a friend called to ask me to help with Vacation Bible School. She knew me well enough to know my answer, but called anyway. I said, "NO! You know I don't like children!" I'm just not a kid person, and if I had agreed, I'd have been uncomfortable the whole time, which would have been no fun for the kids either. 
    The better we know ourselves, the more able we are to give with whole-heart dedication.
    Practicing life,
        Leta

Monday, November 23, 2020

November 23--Love is the Only Thing

Let us love, since that is all our hearts were made for.  --St. Therese de Lisieux

    There are myriad people and circumstances in the world today that are really challenging both my willingness and my ability to love. I think nasty thoughts, and I don't like them, for they serve no purpose other than to bring me down. The negativity can feel like being stuck in quicksand. 
    So I turn my focus to what I can love. I love my family and friends, my work, and my home. I love to garden, swim, golf, travel, crochet, and nap. Practicing love enables me to expand it, maybe even just a bit toward those I find difficult to love. It makes my heart feel better, doing what it is made for. 
    Leta
  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

November 22--Full-time Kind

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.  --Henry James

    Well said. Much distress in our world could be eliminated if we all agreed to make it our mission to be kind, all the time. 
    Leta


Saturday, November 21, 2020

November 21--Why We Do What We Do

One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.  --Lewis Carroll

    Well, yes and no. It is extraordinarily rewarding to be of service to others. That could be caring for one's family, volunteering, having a career in service work, or practicing intentional acts of kindness. Doing for others without expectation of praise or reward is quite the high standard of worthwhile giving. 
    Speaking from personal experience, doing for others can get way out of hand into the realm of people-pleasing. These actions are not so much motivated by love as by the desire to keep the recipient happy and get him/her to like me. People-pleasing tends to be done from a position of low self-esteem and can lead to resentment. It makes for messy, unbalanced relationships.
    It's worthwhile to look carefully at one's motivation in doing for others. 
        Leta

Friday, November 20, 2020

November 20--Love Eternally Expanding

This is a deep, permanent human condition, this need to be loved and to love. 
--Annie Proulx

    I believe we come from love and ultimately transition back to love. It is the complete and total essence of what we are as spiritual beings. Coming into human form is an opportunity for us to practice love with other humans. With love as our essence, it is only natural that we are driven by it, to give and receive it. While progress may seem painfully slow, I believe the human race is continually moving toward a more loving, caring, compassionate way of being in relationship with each other and our planet home. Truly our survival is at stake. Loving cooperation is a much better alternative than aggression, competition, domination, and violence. 
    I choose love.
        Leta

Thursday, November 19, 2020

November 19--All Kinds of Beauty

Beauty is a light in the heart.  --Kahlil Gibran

    We are blessed with all kinds of beauty. I have been fortunate to enjoy many varieties in my 65 years and travels around our magnificent planet. There is great art which we see in museums, my favorite places so far being the Art Institute in Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The most beautiful work of art I have ever seen is the statue of David by Michelangelo in Florence, Italy. It is mesmerizing in its perfection and definitely lights up my heart. 
    The natural beauty of planet Earth is astounding in its variety--the Rocky Mountains, the Flint Hills' rolling prairie, our national parks, Niagara Falls, Tuscany, the fjords of Norway, tropical beaches, my home state of Pennsylvania--infinite possibilities. One could easily spend a lifetime devoted to exploring the beauty of our home sphere. 
    Then there is the beauty within each and every single human being, no matter how an individual may look or behave. Spirit is within each of us, and Spirit is only beauty. Each one of us has that Spirit-given light in the heart. 
    Finally I consider the beauty of daily life--living simply, in integrity, enjoying one's activities and relationships, and caring for oneself and others. My husband and I are currently creating beauty in our garage. Yes, you read that correctly. In the all-events-cancelled 2020, we had finally become so desperate for something to do that we have tackled the garage. We've lived in our house for 35 years, and the garage walls have been unfinished the entire time. My husband proposed the idea of fixing it up to be a semi-outdoor hanging place where we can be "outside" in the wintertime and get some fresh air. The prospect of a much-needed clearing in the garage and shed made me game to tackle the project. A trunk-load of stuff went to the hazardous waste collection site. Lots of trash has been carried off by Ballinger Trash Service. Remaining items have been reorganized into smaller spaces. My husband will soon have a more organized and well-lit work space to do his bicycle maintenance projects. So far, the back wall is painted bright green and the side walls are blue. It is beautiful and the sense of accomplishment does light up our hearts. I'm most excited about the blank wall space we now have where I can hang my barn quilts or other pieces of art. We have comfy chairs to relax in and enjoy our efforts. 
    Beauty truly is everywhere--let us open our eyes and hearts.
        Leta

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

November 18--In Love

What is done in love is done well. --Vincent Van Gogh

    I think of the many things I love to do: swimming, gardening, golfing, traveling, painting, crocheting, learning, coaching, teaching, tax prep (yes!), writing, organizing, and bringing people together. I feel like I do all those well, with one exception: golfing. I love to play, but it's usually not done so well. I regularly say that my enthusiasm makes up for my lack of skill. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰
    I own a lot of "Life is Good" clothing. It's my favorite to wear. On each garment is a small patch that says, "Do what you love. Love what you do." Each of us operating in love is good for all!
        Leta

Life is Good "Family Tree" shirt



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

November 17--A Tribute

A good heart is better than all the heads in the world.  --Edward Bulwer-Lytton

    Today would have been the 79th birthday of my sister-in-law, Mary Ellen Miller. She made her transition in 2015 after living many years with Alzheimer's disease. It was a very sad life ending for a magnificent woman with an incredibly good heart. 
    Mary Ellen came into our family at a young age. She grew up in New York, and came each summer as a young child to live with my aunt and uncle through the Fresh Air program. Via Google, I see that this program, founded in 1877, still operates today. The program slogan is "Because a summer can last a lifetime." That certainly proved true for Mary Ellen. It was through these summertime visits that she met my brother Ken. They married in 1965 when I was nine years old. I was thrilled with my new sister-in-law. The marriage was not smooth and easy, however, as Mary Ellen was Catholic and my family was Lutheran. This was such a "bone of contention" back then that Mary Ellen agreed to become a Lutheran to keep the peace. 
    Soon my nephew Kevin was born, followed by three sisters, Cheryl, Judith and Kelly, over the course of seven years. Their family lived at most 12 miles from us, so I spent a lot of time with them, helping Mary Ellen with the kids, and thus beginning my mothering training. With my own home life deteriorating for myriad reasons, being with Mary Ellen and the children was an enormously welcome respite. I could talk with Mary Ellen about things that I didn't feel I could discuss with my parents. I trusted her. She was a saint in my eyes, especially being able to put up with my nasty, volatile and demanding brother. 
    When the children were quite young, Mary Ellen loaded all four into their VW Beetle and drove from central Pennsylvania to Oklahoma to visit her sister. That they all returned home alive is proof of her sainthood. 
    As a young child, I had a favorite blanket, a pale green, quilted, baby-size, satin thing that I slept with covering my pillow. It grew full of holes with time, but I loved it no less. My mom, frustrated at its ugly condition, threw it away several times, and each time I rescued it from the trash. It was a security blanket that I desperately needed given my deteriorating home life. Determined to get it away from me, my mom finally burned it. Trust me--all hell broke loose. Mary Ellen, good heart that she was, recognized my need for some sort of replacement, and gave me Ted Bear (photo below). He is a stuffed koala bear who has been with me ever since, more than five decades. He's a little worn, but still full of love. Every time I look at him, I think of Mary Ellen. Given that my mother died when I was only 23, Mary Ellen filled the role of mother for me for many years to come. What a saving grace, teacher and friend she was!
    I dearly hope you have someone with such a good heart in your life. Please let them know how much you appreciate him or her!
    Leta

    
Ted Bear


Monday, November 16, 2020

November 16--Just Do It

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. 
--Oscar Wilde 

    I suspect we all think of considerably more acts of kindness than we actually perform. Calling a friend, writing a note, running an errand, delivering flowers--easy acts that get away from us due to time constraints or procrastination. It is helpful to recall how good it felt to actually do an act of kindness, hopefully inspiring us to do more. 
    Let us not neglect acts of kindness toward ourselves. Certainly here we can have grand intentions, but it is so easy to let others' needs come before our own. Kind acts toward ourselves are nourishing, filling our own cup, so to speak. When we are full, kindness overflows. An empty cup has nothing to share. It is a worthy goal to be as kind to ourselves as we are to our best friend. 
    Have an excellent week, dear readers!
        Leta



Sunday, November 15, 2020

November 15--"We Still Love You"

You don't love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults. 
--William Faulkner

    One time when a dear friend was hanging up the phone from a conversation with his elderly parents, his dad finished off with "We still love you." WHAT!?!?!?! It was a little baffling, wondering what the rest of the sentence was... "We still love you even though _____________." I guess this is a somewhat comical example of being loved despite the faults!?!?!?
    When we fall in love, we think the other is the bee's knees. Inevitably, as we get to know him/her more intimately, faults appear. Then comes a decision point whether the virtues outweigh the faults--can we continue to love despite the faults? Often, no matter how great the virtues, the faults become just too much to handle. 
    I'm very grateful to be loved despite my faults. It means I can simply enjoy being me (the virtues) without having to be perfect, i.e. faultless. 
    Have a wonderful "warts and all" day!
        Leta