Sunday, March 31, 2024

March 31--Only 400 More Miles!

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself. 
--Michel de Montaigne

    If enjoying time to oneself is an indicator of this, I think I have this one nailed. I don't think I could stand all the solo driving I do if I didn't feel like I belonged to myself!
    I did 585 miles yesterday. The morning started with a spectacular sunrise, so awesome that I called my niece and told her to get outside and see it. I went through some nasty rain in Ohio, but the rest was sunny, dry and smooth. I had a nice visit with my in-laws, got to bed early, watched some baseball, and now I'm on the last "leg" home. My husband will be happy to see me, but our dog Barney will go nuts. I can hardly wait!
Looking forward to a KANSAS sunset!

Saturday, March 30, 2024

March 30--Headed Home

Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.  --Rumi

    I'm asking myself for a safe, easy 600-mile drive back to my in-laws' home today. My last day of Ohio fun included a pedicure and lovely Ukrainian dinner with my niece and friends. I had a good closing visit with my brother. I am sad to leave, but ready to be home. Would someone please get to work on "Beam me up, Scotty"?? 
    My niece and I have had discussions about what to pray for relative to my brother/her dad. His quality of life continues to deteriorate and his pain continues to intensify. He is not getting any sharper mentally. He has said that he is wishing for "the big one." That's a stroke that ends him--he is convinced that is what is going to take him "home to be with Sue." It is so painful to watch him suffer. It feels OK to pray that his wish to be with Sue be fulfilled. 
    And of course, like every day I've been here, we finished it off with a few rounds of Rummikub. I am so grateful for the time here!!!
    On the road again,
My niece's newly alphabetized spice rack 😉😉

Friday, March 29, 2024

March 29--A JOYOUS Reunion ❤❤❤

Accept who you are; and revel in it.  --Mitch Albom

    I'm not sure if I'm at the point of reveling in it yet; some days maybe, like when I get Wordle in only two or three tries. 😉😉
    I had the most outstanding opportunity yesterday to revel in my life. I visited a cousin whom I had not seen since I was 2-3 years old. In 1958, she left home in central PA to go off and marry an African American man. This was simply NOT done in my family, she was disowned at the time, and my parents forbid me to even mention her name. It was an "atomic bomb" dropped on the family. Fast forward to 2024. Her extended family of 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grands are all successful, productive citizens. She worked as a nurse most of her life. I gave her the synopsis of my life, filling me with gratitude for how far we have both come from the boondocks of PA. She gave me some photos, too, which you'll see on the blog at some point. The best thing--I asked her when her mom (my aunt Virginia) died, and she pulled out her Bible with a wealth of family info (see my photo below). 
    Alas, try as I might, my brother was not able to make the trip. His hearing aids were not charged once again, and he argued with me, then fell asleep. He's had a rough week since his fall last Saturday. 
    Time to swim!
Priceless family info!

A selfie of me and Marlene

Thursday, March 28, 2024

March 28--PLAY BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.  --Barbara Kingsolver

    While this quote is designed to be encouraging, there is for me an element of sadness. My giant hope of being an involved grandmother has been so dashed that there seems to be no chance of living inside it. I'm just now crawling out of the pit of depression that realization threw me into. Now my hope is a productive, fun life with other priorities, so I've been getting myself involved in pickleball, simulated patient work, and more travels. I've had to figure out new hopes to live in. 
    Yesterday's plan to take my brother to an AA meeting did not happen. When I arrived to pick him up, his hearing aids were "out of juice" and in his pants pocket, so there was no point in going to a meeting where he couldn't hear anything. I left him to nap. I went back later, took him down to the fireside with coffees, and we had a delightful visit talking about our assorted athletic adventures. He was quite the athlete in his younger years. 
    I'm heading back home in a couple of days. I can feel some sadness "working its way to the surface." However, today is OPENING DAY of baseball season, my favorite day of the year. My Cubs shirt is ready to go!
I've been to every ballpark!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

March 27--Love Chooses Its Own Route

Love cannot be forced, love cannot be coaxed or teased. It comes out of heaven, unasked and unsought.  --Pearl S. Buck

    I grew up in the boondocks of Pennsylvania, and my husband grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis. A miraculous, multi-year series of events brought us together. Who knew, at the time, where each of those decisions (such as jobs and locations) would lead?!?! I would also throw in here that my extreme love of baseball played a huge role in our romance. 😉😉
    I enjoyed breakfast yesterday morning with my brother in the main dining room. He is a West Point graduate, served in the Army for many years (including two separate years in Vietnam as an Army Ranger), so he is into all things military. I asked him about two of our uncles who served in WW2. Uncle Ed, a total character, was in Italy and used the time to drink as much wine as possible. My brother said he never ranked above private. Our other uncle, however, Uncle Peck, was wounded in the battle/landing at Anzio and was awarded a Silver Star, the third highest combat decoration in the Armed Forces. Who knew?!?! Even though my brother can't remember what he did earlier in the day, he has a wealth of knowledge about times long past and family history. He is a great story-teller.
    Loving the time with my brother,
Getting the 5-minute buzz cut

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

March 26--Survived It!

Insist on yourself.  --Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Part of me says that they didn't know about narcissism when Emerson penned that one! 
    OK, this is getting depressing. For the second time during this Ohio visit, someone who knows my brother asked me if I am younger or older than him. I told my niece that I am going to smack the next person who asks that. Geez. 
    Yesterday my brother and I accomplished the big task of any visit here--I took him to Walmart. Note that I despise Walmart, and I only go there with him because I love him so much, and he loves Walmart so much. We used his wheelchair instead of the walker, so the visit was quicker and more comfortable for both of us. He picked out his favorite snacks. The nasty deed is done for this trip.
    We had a lovely sunny day yesterday, and I was able to walk in the afternoon wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Today it is chilly with pouring rain. Sigh.

Monday, March 25, 2024

March 25--Insincerity Is Tiring

The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. 
--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

    This makes me think of the often-abused phrase "I'm fine!" To me, "fine" stands for Fu&(*ed up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. I've used "I'm fine" many times with this meaning, and it was taken to be that I really am OK-fine, and I let it go at that--insincerity at its finest. 😉😉 I totally agree with Ms. Lindbergh's sentiment. 
    My niece and I took lunch to my brother yesterday. It was one of life's finest culinary treats--homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, topped off with ice cream. He loved it. We taught him how to play Rummikub. He was a good sport through one round, but he said it took too long, and he didn't like it. The colors frustrated him. But considering he is living in a memory care unit, he did great. We parted for naptime, and my niece and I finished off the day with a few hours of Rummikub. Yes, we are addicted 😄
    You can know that I REALLY love my brother, because today I'm taking him to Walmart. 

In the "Sports Bar" 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

March 24--Our Minds Are Free, Let's Work Toward OPEN

I know but one freedom, and that is the freedom of the mind. 
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

    "Freedom of the mind" reminds me that we ALWAYS have a choice. If we are facing a required task, we at least have the choice of doing it with a good attitude or a bad one. This freedom also promises responsibility--WE choose our thoughts, no one else does. Every thing comes first from a thought. Because thoughts become things, it is up to us to choose the thoughts that create our desired outcome. 
    Yesterday's time with my brother did not happen. As his daughter and I were about to go visit, she received a call that he had fallen and was being taken by ambulance to the emergency room. They patched up his wounds with lots of skin glue (no stitches) and returned him to his care home. He was aware through it all, but by the time I got over to see him after supper, he was sound asleep and snoring. 
    One day at a time,
Along the bike-hike trail yesterday

Saturday, March 23, 2024

March 23--Words = Actions

Let us say what we feel, and feel what we say; let speech harmonize with life. 

    I would also offer it this way: Let our words and our actions match. I see that the dysfunction in which I was raised exposed me to multiple instances in which the words and actions were completely incongruous. I am even experiencing this situation with some close family members now. It feels yucky, confusing, and frustrating. It makes one question one's sanity. 
    Yesterday I had another lovely swim at the Akron YMCA. Then I loaded up my brother and we went to another AA meeting. This time, due to the distance to the meeting room in a very large building, he agreed to use the wheelchair. I was a bit klutzy pushing him at first, but I learned. It worked out very well, saving his very sore feet from a lot of unnecessary walking. And it was a great meeting. 
    In the evening, we had a 4-girlfriend chat with Mexican food and drink, a lovely way to celebrate Friday. 
    I got to sleep in this morning!
I'm longing for Florida weather!

Friday, March 22, 2024

March 22--Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh

The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection. 
--George Orwell

    Having been raised by the poster child for perfectionism, I know it well. As my life has progressed, and especially with the help of the 12-Steps, I continue to learn how insidious perfectionism is, and how damaging. Letting it go (yes, a practice!) has been a huge relief. 
    I know that many folks, including me, look at our phones to see what day it is. We can count on the phone to have that item nailed for us. Alas, my brother does not agree. Yesterday he said, "All day yesterday my phone said it was Thursday; then all day today my phone said it is Thursday!" I couldn't help it, I busted up laughing. 
    If there is pickleball (PB) to be played in this area (Akron/Stow/Hudson/Cuyahoga Falls), I can't find it. Yesterday I went to the Falls YMCA for the listed PB time and I was the only person there. I practiced my serve and dinked against the wall for a half-hour. I couldn't find anything but a private listing on Playtime Scheduler. I thought the entire country was nuts about PB, but apparently it hasn't hit here yet. This makes me appreciate the abundant play opportunities I have in the Wichita area. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

March 21--WHAT?!?!?!

In trying to please all, he had pleased none.  --Aesop

    AAAARRRRGGGG! People-pleasing! Codependent behavior. Common characteristic of addicts. I know it well. Not only does it really please no one, it makes the people-pleaser frustrated at himself or herself. People-pleasing is a symptom of wanting to control others and situations, and also an intense desire to be liked. 
    I had two delightful hour-long Q&A sessions by the fireside with my brother yesterday. I had a great lap swim to start the day, and my niece and I finished off the evening with more Rummikub. The low point of the day was when the care-home hair stylist came by to chat with my brother. I made a comment about being "the bossy sister," and she said, "Are you younger or older than him?" WHAT?!?!?! He's 16 years older than me, has to use a walker, can barely lift himself out of a chair. Do I look that awful!?!?!?! Geez. It was one of those set-you-back-a-few-paces moments. Oh, well, I'll recover.
    Hopefully today I will be able to get into a pickleball game or two. 

I'm missing my sweet Barney...

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

March 20--The Tiny Flowers Are Just As Beautiful

If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness. 
--St. Therese de Lisieux

    This makes me think of the lowly, annoying dandelions that I am regularly plucking out of our yard and garden. I also think of the dandelion bouquets my sons brought me, and the joy of a child blowing away a puff of dandelion seeds. I am certain dandelions are a valuable part of the ecosystem whether or not we like them. 
    I spent an hour yesterday sitting with my brother at fireside while he talked about his several best friends from West Point. He had his days of being a "rose," as he was an Army Ranger and achieved the rank of Colonel. Miraculously, he survived two separate years in the Viet Nam war. He supported a family of five with a stock-broker career after the Army. He mentioned yesterday about how he had a big life, but most folks around him now (in the care home) will never know. Humans come and go, as do tiny flowers, and they are only known by the people they have touched in their ever-so-brief lifetimes. Some "roses" make the history books, but the vast majority of us do not. 
    Let us be generous with love and appreciation for the folks in our lives, be they roses or tiny flowers. 
As in life, there are many more
tiny flowers than roses.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

March 19--The Free Soul?

The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it--basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.  --Charles Bukowski

    I am blessed to have a lot of folks with whom I feel very good. I'm not sure they are "free souls" though. I think all humans have their own brand of neuroses--that's what makes us unique and lovable. When I think of free souls, I think of Jesus, Buddha, St. Francis and the like. And yes, I believe I would feel very good hanging with any of those folks. 
    "When life hands you lemons..." Yesterday morning I got up early, got myself together (so I thought), and drove the 12 miles to the Y to swim laps. Long story short, I forgot my swimsuit. Major dolt move. So I returned "home," and chopped veggies for soup instead. My nephew and I then roused my brother and took him to an AA meeting, where several of my brother's long-time buds were delighted to see him. Afterwards we made a stop at Handel's for ice cream, a tradition that must be upheld at least once in every visit I make to Ohio. We dropped off my brother so that everyone could settle into naptime. I made lentil soup for supper, and the evening was complete with many rounds of Rummikub with my niece and nephew--siblings used to a life of picking on each other 😉😉
    Today is the equinox, the first day of spring, and there is about three inches of snow on the ground here in Stow. I'm still cranky. 
Sure, it's pretty, but...

Monday, March 18, 2024

March 18--Snow and Comfort

This above all: to thine own self be true.  --William Shakespeare

    I wondered when this one would show up. It's the ultimate "authenticity" quote. 
    Yesterday included grocery shopping, a 2-mile walk, the arrival from Michigan of my nephew, and a St. Pat's dinner with niece, nephew, brother, and two great-nephews. Alas, the day also included several snow showers. It's almost "officially" spring (and it has been in my mind for many days now), so snow makes me cranky. More of this is predicted for the week. Oh, well.
    "To thine own self be true." When I leave home for an extended driving trip like this one, I bring along my blankie and Ted Bear. They are both with me on the bed as I'm writing this. Ted Bear is my copilot. He's been with me for about 55 years. Yep, that's right--68 years old with a blankie and bear. Both give me comfort and a sense of peace, each holding lots of love. Who doesn't need a bit more comfort, peace and love these days!?!?!
    Time to head to the YMCA for a swim!
The one and only, Ted Bear

Sunday, March 17, 2024

March 17--Not Lost

If you don't know what you love, you are lost.  --Haruki Murakami

    I did not get lost, and I made it to Stow in the late afternoon yesterday. I immediately had fun with those I love--my niece drove us to meet friends at a brewery where we had beers and yummy food and played a few rounds of Rummikub. After driving 1000 miles in two days, I slept like the dead. 
    I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I love. Family and friends sort of go without saying, though I just said that. 😉😉 The thing that I love that bubbles up first for me is creativity. I've gone through a multitude of creative hobbies and projects in my life. Recent things are crocheting, gardening, and painting. Second is movement. I've been a lap swimmer and golfer for decades, adding in yoga and Melt teaching, and most recently, getting hooked on pickleball. Third is traveling. You say "trip," I say "let's go!!!" 
    Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I love numbers and palindromes!

Saturday, March 16, 2024

March 16--Nearly Half-Way There

Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. 
--Howard Thurman

    Traveling makes me come alive, and I am 40% of the way to my destination in Ohio. I had a lovely visit with my in-laws last evening, and now I am heading out very early to make Stow by supper time. I have audio books and a Cubs pre-season game for my listening pleasure. 
    More tomorrow,

Friday, March 15, 2024

March 15--Artist?

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.  --George Eliot

    I grew up with the idea that art was the "Mona Lisa," the stuff in museums, and ordinary folks like me had no hope of such extravagant talent. My high school art teachers made it clear that I should not plan to make a living from my artwork. My dad flatly stated, "There is no musical talent in the Miller family." I proved this for myself by failing the chorus audition, and ultimately failing at piano lessons in my late twenties. 
    Fast-forward to around seven years ago when I attended a drink-wine-and-learn-to-paint event with friends. Holy cow. Van Gogh I am not, but you could tell what I painted was flowers. I can paint! That inspired me to take several art classes at Wichita City Arts with varying degrees of success. The important part was that it got me thinking about what I could paint. 
    This had me considering that I am an artist. I have evolved as a painter, recognizing that I love straight lines. I have written and published two books. I have written the blog daily for years. I create beauty in my garden and flower pots. I have stained-glass stepping stones in my garden that I made years ago. I have turned many a skein of yarn into useful and beautiful blankets, scarves, etc. 
    So yes, you can call me an artist.

The painting that started it all...

Thursday, March 14, 2024

March 14--"Love" Out Loud

Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word "love" to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.  --Cheryl Strayed

    I don't have a problem with saying "I love you" to folks. I even say it regularly to my distant grandson and the new grandbaby growing in his/her mom's belly, because I believe their spirits know it somehow. It's impossible to spread around too much love!
    Love is the #1 motivation tomorrow as I begin the 2-day, 1000-mile trip to Ohio to visit my brother and niece for a couple of weeks. The drive is totally worth it. I'll have my Spaceship (RAV4) to haul my brother to appointments and 12-Step meetings (bonus for me!), giving my niece a break. She and I will have great fun together, most notably through intense Rummikub games. I am also likely to see a cousin whom I have not seen in decades. Friends tell me I am brave making such trips several times a year. I see it simply as the price I pay to have precious time with my brother and his family. 
    My dear readers, I love you!

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

March 13--Natural?

You prefer to be natural? Sometimes. But it is such a very difficult pose to keep up.  --Oscar Wilde

    What does "natural" even mean? In my google roaming, I found "natural" described as "simply being true to themselves and not conforming to rigid societal expectations." That doesn't help much. I think "natural," like "beautiful," is a personal concept. I've seen plenty of advertising for gobs of makeup to make one look "natural." Others, like me, feel that no makeup is "natural."
    Crying is a very natural and necessary function of the human body. I refer to crying as soul-rinsing, and yesterday I got extra-natural with a mighty energy-releasing cry. The frustrations built up over a few days simply had to move out, and I feel much better.
    Mr. Wilde is right... with so many expressions of "natural," it is "a very difficult pose to keep up." 
    "Natural" to me includes comfy clothes, wind-blown hair, clean skin, a smile, and a grateful heart. Yes, it's a practice!

Natural beauty from the sea

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

March 12--Good vs. Authentic

Don't worry about being good... Aspire to be authentic.  --Yann Martel

    I think my upbringing inspired more "being good" than being authentic. It was made quite clear that if I got into trouble at school or wherever, I would be in WAY more trouble at home. There were also several "elephants" in the room that were ignored--no authenticity there! I remember my Catholic sister-in-law being forced by my mother to give up her religion in order to marry my (non-practicing) Lutheran brother. Thankfully my S-I-L returned to her Catholic roots after my mother passed. 
    I had a "day from hell" yesterday. By the time I returned home around 2:00 pm, the day was pretty much wrecked, and I hid in the woman cave for a few hours in the hopes that nothing else would go wrong. The "snowball" of anger and frustration just kept getting bigger. 
    Thinking positively for a better day today,
Bobble stitch,
the new crochet pattern I've learned...
creativity is a must for my sanity!

Monday, March 11, 2024

March 11--Cooperation Would Be Better

What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it. 
--C. S. Lewis

    I think of the discussions of us four girlfriends on my recent Florida vacation. We could have solved all the world's problems if everyone would just listen to us and do what we say 😉😉
    But seriously... I saw an editorial cartoon the other day titled something like "the other serious border issue." It showed the Senate with a wall and razor wire between the Republicans and Democrats. This is the sad but true state of our nation. The problem here is that those sharing the same truth believe that those sharing a different truth are bad and wrong. Also, there are plenty of attempts to force their truth on others who are not buying it. Obviously, this does not lead to a good civilization. 
    How about we all be just a bit more open-minded?

A mural in Bricktown, OKC

Sunday, March 10, 2024

March 10--The Assortment of Bodies

The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is. 
--Desiderius Erasmus

    This quote has me thinking about my physical body and those I see others using. I'm pretty OK with myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually, but my physical body has been an issue all my life. From the time I went to first grade, I have been labelled "fat." My mom did nearly everything she could to encourage weight loss, while setting unlimited amounts of excellent food in front of me to eat. She was not overweight--I realized many years later that she was a practicing bulimic. The long term effects of that eventually led to her death at 61. I am so grateful she did not offer me that deadly practice. 
    My current challenge relative to being OK in my body is wearing a sleeveless top. Let's just say I have more body than I care for on the lower side of my upper arms. At my age, it's fairly wrinkly. OK, I'll stop. I promise to wear the top when it gets to 90 degrees on the golf course. 
    I've been to Jamaica several times. At the beach, you see all sizes and shapes of bodies with assorted coverings. These trips have inspired two sayings from me. 1. If a man looks down and he can't see his Speedo, he should not be wearing one!! 2. Where on the planet can you buy a bikini that large?!?!? Other folks' willingness to "let it all hang out," so to speak, makes me think a lot about body image. I swim a lot at the local YMCA, and my branch has mostly older folks who wear modest swimwear. Imagine my surprise a couple days ago when a very large woman (maybe twice my size) walked out to the pool in a bikini. And her attitude was "why wouldn't I wear a bikini??!!?" When I see someone being so bold, it inspires me. 
    I did go topless in the pool on my recent girlfriend trip to Florida. I'm working on it--baby steps!!!

Another magnificent Kansas sunset

Saturday, March 9, 2024

March 9--On the Road Again

Don't become something just because someone else wants you to, or because it's easy; you won't be happy. You have to do what you really, really, really, really want to do, even if it scares the shit out of you.  --Kristen Wiig

    My "let's go!" friend Lanie and I drove to Oklahoma City yesterday and went to see the Thunder NBA game against the Miami Heat. The stereotype is that it's the man of a couple who spends so much time on sports, but in my house, it's me, the female. Oklahoma City makes this adventure so simple. There is a hotel right next to Paycom Arena, and it is all within an easy walk to the Bricktown area which has a bunch of restaurants. So even though it is easy, this is something we really, really, really wanted to do. 
    I've done things that have "scared the shit" out of me--skydiving, yoga teacher training, mission trip to Africa, taking art classes, operating a power saw. Note that one person's terror can be another's "no big deal." We each have our own personal comfort zone, and it sure can be fun to stretch it!
    By the way, the Thunder came from behind and won 107-100, a great game!

Friday, March 8, 2024

March 8--What Do You Pretend To Be?

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.  --Kurt Vonnegut

    I try to avoid pretending that I am a senior citizen, though I do like the occasional discount! I don't feel like my chronological age, and for that I am grateful. One must keep moving!
    Let's consider "pretend" in the light of "act as if." This is a well-known 12-Step concept, such as "act as if" you can recover from addiction whether or not you actually believe it in the moment. Or "act as if" a Higher Power is caring for you, even if you think such a thing is nonsense. 
    I must say that most of my girlfriends are glamorous. They fuss a lot with makeup and hair and dress "in fashion." I don't pretend to have a clue about fashion, I wear minimal makeup and it takes me about one minute to "style" my hair. It would be a huge stretch for me to pretend to be glamorous! 
    I do, however, like pretending to be an artist, a world traveler and an OK pickleball player!

Thursday, March 7, 2024

March 7--Make Every Day Earth Day

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  --Marianne Williamson

Today I offer some wisdom relative to our care for our precious Mother Earth.

We cannot save ourselves without saving the world in which we live.… We will live or die as this world lives or dies. We can say this both physically and spiritually. We will be spiritually nourished by this world or we will be starved for spiritual nourishment. No other revelatory experience can do for the human what the experience of the natural world does.  --Thomas Berry

In the indigenous view, humans are viewed as somewhat lesser beings in the democracy of species. We are referred to as the younger brothers of Creation, so like younger brothers we must learn from our elders. Plants were here first and have had a long time to figure things out. They live both above and below ground and hold the earth in place. Plants know how to make food from light and water. Not only do they feed themselves, but they make enough to sustain the lives of all the rest of us. Plants are providers for the rest of the community and exemplify the virtue of generosity, always offering food….
Many indigenous peoples share the understanding that we are each endowed with a particular gift, a unique ability…. It is understood that these gifts have a dual nature, though: a gift is also a responsibility. If the bird’s gift is song, then it has a responsibility to greet the day with music. It is the duty of birds to sing and the rest of us receive the song as a gift.
Asking what is our responsibility is perhaps also to ask, What is our gift? And how shall we use it?
--Robin Wall Kimmerer

It is thundering outside at the moment. We are being given the gift of life-sustaining rain. I cannot make that happen. Can you? Let us have more respect and appreciation for nature that sustains us!

One of our Mother's finer gifts!

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

March 6--Might As Well Enjoy Yourself

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.  --Joseph Campbell

    The thing that annoys me most about myself is my extreme tendency to scary and/or negative thinking. I believe this is rooted in two decades of my early life when I was terrified that anything would happen to my mom. My mom eventually passed when I was 23, through no fault of my own, but try to tell that to my wounded psyche. Much therapy finally relieved me of that burden, though the scary thoughts remain. 
    I'm a recovering addict, and I'm good with that. The effort required to recover has given me a wonderful life that I couldn't have imagined in the midst of using. It has enabled me to embrace the privilege of being who I am. 
    An advantage of aging for me has been the lack of concern about what other people think about me. I have my faults and I have my talents. I'm a nerd and proud of it. I am nuts about baseball (Opening Day is March 28!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). I yell at other drivers. I'm probably a bit lazy (napping is my #1 hobby). Creative projects are essential to my sanity. I am reliable, and for me, that is the ultimate quality of a human being. 
    You are an excellent human, too! Let us not take ourselves so seriously!

My latest t-shirt purchase 😉😉

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

March 5--Enjoy Some Nature Every Day

The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.  --Ben Okri

    I am so thankful for March and the temps starting to warm up. Weeds are flourishing in the garden and soon I'll be out there after them. While I have cut back on my gardening efforts over the years, it is still an important aspect of my life, because there is something mystical and magical about getting my bare feet on the earth and my hands in the soil, caring for growing things. 

One of the foundational reasons for our sense of isolation and unhappiness is that we have lost our contact with nature. In the natural world, there is no theology to agree or disagree with. We don’t have to identify as Presbyterian or Lutheran, male or female, conservative or progressive. There is nothing to argue about. It is in contact with all the “givens”—that which has been available to every creature God has created since the Big Bang—that something is indeed given. I guess in the spiritual world we would call it grace. Every day, we are given a natural way to reconnect with God and it doesn’t depend upon intelligence, education, or a religion. It depends on really being present and connecting with the soul. --Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, March 4

    Walking our dog Barney gets me out in nature, too. I often use walking time to catch photos for these posts. Taking pictures has made me pay more attention to my surroundings as we walk, and I especially notice textures such as tree bark or sunshine glistening off newly-sprouted tree leaves. 
    Like all of life, being present is a practice.

Alan Seeger Natural Area, central PA,
my favorite spot on Mother Earth

Monday, March 4, 2024

March 4--Just Do It

Do your thing and don't care if they like it.  --Tina Fey

    Do you have the courage and persistence for that? It's a practice, and I have to keep practicing it, because I have too much people-pleasing codependency in me. I have been ramping up two of my "things"--travel and pickleball-playing. These take me away from home a lot. I don't think my spouse much cares for it, but these things are keeping me active and sane. 
    Looking over my life, I see that I've had numerous instances of living Fey's quote. I went to grad school and moved far away from home in my early twenties. Mom did not like that. My (future) husband and I bought a house and lived together before getting married. His parents did not like that. Parenting is a constant practice of doing things the kids don't like, such as enforcing rules. Job changes caused angst here and there, but worked out well for me. I would say that it is impossible to live a good life without doing something that someone doesn't like!
    So just do it!
The shower curtain in a 
hunting "cabin" in FL

Sunday, March 3, 2024

March 3--Be Gentle!

The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.  --Pema Chodron

    I think I should have typed the quote ending this way: "AND GENTLY." I've done a lot of looking at myself honestly, but harsh criticism tends to accompany the gazing. Why can't we be as gentle with ourselves as we are with a newborn baby? 
    "Honestly" tends to smack around "gently" because we have all done things we wish we hadn't, or we didn't do things we wish we had. We have shortcomings of various forms that have harmed relationships. We have wasted precious time. Life didn't turn out the way we expected, and we recognize that it is primarily our own creation. 
    I've spent the past few decades looking at myself, attempting to be honest and gentle. It has been a very interesting and rewarding effort, despite being quite unpleasant at times. I am on a quest to understand why I behave the way I do. There is always more to uncover. 
    Keep looking GENTLY!
Panama City Beach...
I am well-acquainted with 
my love of the beach and water!

Saturday, March 2, 2024

March 2--Freedom to Be

Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.  --Eckhart Tolle

    I had another thought about March's theme of authenticity. Is it authentic to admit that sometimes I lack authenticity?!?!? This is just one example of the circular whirl in my brain. 
    I credit a 12-Step program and an excellent spiritual counselor for helping my life-long journey of opening to the truth of who I am. It has given me the freedom and courage to learn and try new things, some of which have really pulled me outside of my comfort zone. 
    Codependency has been a challenge throughout my life. People-pleasing pulls me in the opposite direction from the truth. I feel like I am in the stage of recognizing my codependent behavior and being frustrated by it, and only just learning how to behave differently. 
    Freedom, too, is a practice. 

Wide-open space in the Florida panhandle

Friday, March 1, 2024

March 1-Authenticity

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.  --Brene Brown

    March's theme is authenticity. As I ponder this topic, I recognize that I am authentic in some relationships and not in others. With friends and some family members, it's no problem. With my closest family members, it seems to me wisest to not rock the boat with my honesty. There are a multitude of reasons for this. So I guess I don't feel very authentic much of the time. 
    Many families elect to not discuss politics or religion at family gatherings. Is that lack of authenticity or simply preserving the peace? 
    Well, I have a month to consider the topic!

An interesting pattern
in the Florida sand