I noticed, while reading a friends blog, that she participates and has participated in a thing called reverb. As a blogger I’ve heard of this before, but never really investigated. So this year, after seeing that she was participating in reverb again this year I headed over to the site, Project Reverb, she linked to in her post. I looked it over and have decided I might give it a try. Not sure if I’ll be diligent enough to get it done every day, but I’ll give it a go and see what happens. Since it’s already the 6th of the month I thought I’d post the answers to the first six prompts here. I’ll try to keep it concise and not wax on too much. This should be an interesting exercise in reflection and projection, which is what it’s all about.
1. How did 2013 start? Sadly it started with a phone call from my Mom letting us know her husband had passed away. I spent that day trying to get my travel plans worked out and flew to Oregon the next day. I spent 19 days with Mom in January, watching her grace shine as her heart was breaking. When I came back home I wrote this post about her. I just re-read it and want to post part of it here… I am so proud, every day, to be her daughter. So proud.
Somehow, through tears and sadness and heartbreak, she manages to keep that wonderful smile. She manages to see that there is still beauty and love and hope and reason in the world. This doesn’t mean she hasn’t been hurt and sad and angry in the last three weeks, or at other time in her life, it just means she knows how to feel that and still see the love around her. She looks at the world with the best eyes… eyes of hope and love and possibility. She doesn’t let circumstance weigh her down, change her outlook, make her cynical and hard. She never plays the victim and has never been one. It’s spectacular, really spectacular.
Mom has had her share of sadness and loss. My heart aches for her now, as it has in the past, as she deals with this heartbreak. But I know something, something she knows too, something she said to me herself, I know she will be OK. And she will. Knowing that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking of her many many times a day and trying to will my love to her over the miles between us, I am and I do. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hug her and tell her over and over that I love her and that even though I am miles away I’m holding her. I think she knows this. I hope she feels it. But knowing it helps me, and her too I think. As she gets through the hours, and days, and the next few months, she will keep her life moving forward. She will love and be loved, she will have happiness and joy, she will laugh and have peace again. She will be OK because she is grace under pressure. She will be OK because she knows there’s more good than bad in the world, and that light always shines it’s way into dark spaces. She will be OK because Mom is strong beyond measure. She’s stronger than even she is aware of I think. She will be OK because it’s who she is.
Reading that again makes me cry. So much of who I am comes from my Mom. This year started with sadness and difficulty for her, but who she is, and how she handled that, yet again, make me so proud to be her daughter. It seems I’m continually amazed, still, after all these years, by the incredible woman she is.
2. What was the best moment of 2013? Do I have to pick only one? There were actually two pretty spectacular moments. One in April, the 9th to be exact, when my honey and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. I’m grateful for her every day, blessed to have found her, luckier still that she somehow finds it in her to love me back. It’s a miracle, she is a miracle. My miracle anyway. And 10 years together is an amazing thing. We did a road trip to Portland, Maine. We thought it fitting since we met in Portland, Oregon. 10 days for our 10 years together. It was amazing. As she is amazing. The second best moment was the birth, in May, of our second grandchild, Dominic. He is pure joy. Always smiling, always happy, dimples for days. I love him.
3. What was the bravest thing I did in 2013? Really? I don’t feel super brave. I didn’t conquer any big fears or climb any big mountains. I didn’t stand on a super tall building and look over the side. I didn’t save anyone from drowning or pull anyone out of a burning building. I did get back in the pool again. Started swimming again. First time in years. Not really brave, but kinda cool. Maybe I’ll think of something, but right now, I got nothin else.
4. 20/20: Hindsight is the one thing we never benefit from in the present. Is there one moment you wish you could do over? Hmmm… I’m not a regrets person. I do what I do, things happen the way they do, and that’s it. I move forward. Not to say I think I always do the right thing or say the right things, etc. I definitely have my flaws. It’s just that when I make a mistake or do something I realize later I should have or would have done differently, I have to look at it and say… well, that’s what I did. That’s how I handled that situation and next time I will try to be the better me. This always relates to interactions with people I love most. Times when I get testy or snippy or angry. I am who I am, and I’m always trying to do better, be better, improve. Thinking about something I could do over just makes me think of a hundred little times I could have worded something differently or used a different tone. It makes me think I should try to be cognizant of these things and present in the moment enough to be really aware of who I am being right then. It’s a journey… I’m on it.
5. Did you take on a new challenge? What was it? Is there are challenge you deliberately avoided? What do you want to do to challenge yourself in 2014? I’d say one challenge I took up was getting back in the pool. Another, and more recent challenge, which will then be something I’m striving to do more of in 2014, is to write. I have this blog and I’ve been fairly sporadic about writing here. Lately I’ve tried to be more consistent, get in the habit of writing something every day. Even if it’s something small. Another challenge, I guess, goes along with number four, above. Strive to be in the moment, not worrying, not planning, not even reflecting, but just where I am and absorbing what’s going on right then. Be in the now, as they say.
6. How did you celebrate the passage of another year? Did it turn out the way you had hoped? I, along with my honey and my Mom, who was visiting, went to a nearby town and did some bike riding along the river there. We got some good coffee beforehand and some good lunch afterward. It was a nice day. Relaxing. Exactly what I wanted to be doing and who I wanted to be doing it with.
And that, to date anyway, is a wrap. I’m caught up now. Let’s see if I can keep it going.
I’ve written and ranted over and over on this blog about being kinder to each other, about trying to be more compassionate, about listening instead of finger pointing, about being open instead of so closed we stop speaking the same language, about love and understanding.
Today I came across this bit from Ted Talks (which I love by the way) and Sally Kohn, who I’d honestly never heard of before today. She happens to be gay and liberal, but sexual orientation and politics don’t really factor into her message here. In this talk she speaks about emotional correctness and how having a little compassion and understanding and openness can change the way we talk to each other. It can change the conversation. I might lead to change. I couldn’t agree more.
Note: There is a brief bit of language in here, if something like that might offend you. It’s really in context and she’s quoting someone, but I didn’t want to shock anyone who might be put off by that. And even if a bit of language is something that could put you off, you should look past it and listen, the message is worth it. We could all use a bit more emotional correctness in our lives and in the world at large.
Yes, grand gestures are awesome, but it’s the small things we do every day that really make a difference.
Parts of this video include footage from the Liberty Mutual campaign called the responsibility project. It’s by far my favorite ad campaign. All about doing small things to help our fellow beings, human and animal alike. Good deeds, just like bad deeds, create a wave. As the wave moves it picks up and grows. Lets use our power for good people. We have a choice. Choose love and help and kindness over fear and animosity and cruelty. If you give a little love, you can get a little love of your own. Positive energy instead of negative energy. It’s a choice we make hundreds of times a day in small ways and big. Think, and be better. I’m trying.
Here we are, the final day of thanks for the month of November. I think every day, in my normal life, I say a mental and emotional thank you for something… the way my honey laughs, the excited way the pups greet me every time I walk in a room, the smiles of my grandsons, the beauty of the sky or the day or the soul of a friend. I appreciate things. Even so, this has been a lovely exercise in purposed thankfulness. Being cognizant of what I have in my life. I have a lot.
30. I am thankful for love. Love of all kinds. Love from friends, family, my pups, the grandsons, the kids, my Mom, my siblings, and most of all my honey. I am blessed to have so much love in my life. More love and more joy from that love than I could ever dream possible. I feel it like a wave sometimes, immense and overwhelming in a totally good way, and other times it’s presence is like a vast and endless calm sea supporting the weight of this tiny ship. Most importantly, I feel it. Always. I’m lucky, fortunate, grateful, thankful, honored, blessed, graced, and humbled by the magnitude of it. I am loved, and I love. It’s beautiful.
28. I’m thankful for film. I love going to the theater, buying the tickets, finding seats, lights go down, previews play, some guy sitting somewhere coughs, the sounds of people munching popcorn, music comes up, and then… action. Movies open us to worlds we don’t know, lives we haven’t lived, places we’ve never been, feelings we’re to afraid to speak out loud, and beauty inside and out. They are magical and heart-wrenching and filled with wonder. They are scary and frustrating and amazing. They are our stories, and where some of our best story-telling happens. I’ve spent a lot of time in theaters and pressing play on the Blu-Ray player. I find movies wonderful and am so thankful for the joy they’ve brought to my life.
27. I’m thankful for sunsets. I was just working on my photos over at Flickr and came across several lovely sunset photos. Nothing creates a sense of awe and peace and wonder quite like a good sunset. Nature made, they are wonderful things to behold.
26. I am thankful for beautiful architecture. I’m fascinated by building. Not the building I have done, which is none, or might do, which is also probably none, but by the amazing structures all around me. Capturing form, light, and harnessing the marriage between use and beauty, I am constantly in awe of form, everywhere. From amazing mid-century modern homes to the Natural History Museum in London, Tower Bridge to La Sagrada Familia in Spain, I’ve been lucky to see some wonderfully gorgeous buildings and structures. The minds of humans are fantastic and astounding.
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body… ~Walt Whitman
25. I am thankful for poetry. e.e. cummings, pablo neruda, w.h. auden, william carlos williams, sylvia plath, h.d., charles bukowski, poe, whitman, longfellow, yeats, thoreau, tennyson, shakespeare, frost, dickinson and on and on. I’ve spent hours enjoying beautiful words written by amazing minds and hours trying to write my own words. These words have enriched my life, helped me to better make sense of my world, and given me deeper understanding of life as I know it.
24. I am thankful for lined jeans. It’s cold cold cold outside. Temps well below freezing and wind chill bringing it even further down. Lined jeans, down coats, and warm hats make all the difference. I was walking the dogs tonight in the cold and the wind was blowing hard. It was cold out and I was toasty warm. Thanks to lined jeans.
23. I’m thankful for my grandparents. Bill and Martha were the best. They gave us all, and there are a lot of us, such a great sense of family and fun and strength and curiosity and acceptance and love. I’ve written about them here and here and here and so many other times on this blog before, but I can’t say enough about how thankful I am to have come from, and been able to spend time with, such amazing people. I see them everyday in my Mom, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, and myself. We are their legacy, and if you ask me, they did good. I feel them every day and I’m so thankful for that.
The photo below is courtesy of my uncle, Tom.
22. I’m thankful for YouTube. I’m not someone who watches loads of silly videos and in fact I haven’t done that hardly at all. Mostly I watch, and listen to, music videos, live performances, and such. Once in a while I use it for movie clips or trailers as well, but mostly it’s all about the music for me. And what a wonderful thing it is to be able to sit with headphones on and listen to recordings of live performances. I’m a tad obsessed with music, as I said in an earlier 30 days post, and YouTube is just another avenue for music listening. I adore it.
Today I listened to this…
21. I am thankful for the birds in our backyard. I’ve never really been a bird person. I like looking at them, am amazed by them, but haven’t ever really been into them. Until now. My honey loves birds. She loves animals of all kinds actually, but she really digs on the birds in our backyard. So much so we’ve got this whole feeding system going on back there that’s pretty spectacular. It actually involved putting in posts (with cement to anchor), stove pipe (to stop the squirrels from climbing), and then hooks on top for the feeders. We stained them and put copper post tops on. They look pretty fantastic. We have two of these posts now which means there are eight feeders. This doesn’t count the outside clothes dryer pole that used to be a drying apparatus and was cut off to now be a post with a tray feeder on top (we didn’t need to dry clothes outside anyway… we have a stand alone rack for that if we want one) or the other colored rod iron poles we have around the yard or the two bird baths. Yes, we are a veritable bird sanctuary. All because my honey loves birds. We have bird books now and binoculars for looking out to see them up close. It’s sort of awesome. I was never into them before, but now… I just went and filled up a pitcher with hot water to take out and pour over the bird bath water (which this time of year pretty much freezes every night) so they have some water to drink. I’m in it. And I’m thankful for that.