Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sundown

Thus ends 2017. It has been an arduous year.

I have hope that next year will be better, even though there are a great many exceptionally busy tasks ahead which will require rather intense concentration to get through. Time will pass, though, and eventually, we will arrive where we need to be.

We can do it. One day at a time. And together.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Night Creature

Offspring the Third requested a camera for Christmas. He is quite happy with it, and took a long evening walk yesterday to see what he could photograph. During this season in the desert, there is not much animal activity -- yet he did manage to find some interesting insects.

Well done, Offspring the Third.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Winter

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

- Kahlil Gibran, On Pain, from The Prophet

New England Tree, from February 2017.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Spare

Sometimes I think,
I need a spare heart to feel
all the things I feel.

― Sanober Khan, A Thousand Flamingos

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry

Herself speaks.

Tiny Dog and I wish you a season of peace, comfort, and snackies. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Stable

Herself speaks.

I don't always answer the phone if I do not recognize the caller ID number, but did today, because I was expecting to hear from the doctor about the results of the repeat mammogram and ultrasound performed on Monday. It was indeed the doctor's office. All appears stable. The tests will need to be repeated in another six months, but for now, all is considered to be fine.

Hallelujah.

I hung up the phone, and contemplated the call just briefly. There was, momentarily, a catch in the back of my throat; I hadn't realized how worried I had been about the results. Perhaps it was the long wait in the mammogram room -- "I'm going to just check with the radiologist and see whether we need any more films" -- or perhaps it was the time-consuming and distinctly uncomfortable ultrasound -- "I'm going to have to dig in here to make sure there's nothing unusual" -- that fed into my quickly-suppressed concerns. Or perhaps it was just a visceral fear.

At any rate: safe, for now.

I hope the next six-month marker is equally uneventful.

Please. 


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Home

You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.
― Miriam Adeney

Monday, December 18, 2017

Divergent Needs

Herself speaks.

I have said oftentimes that the holidays are not about the self, but about others -- we do the things that we feel obligated to do, not because we necessarily enjoy them, but because they are important to other people. For example, we go to a particular gathering, not because we like to make small talk with a dozen different people, but because the host/hostess will be glad to see us, or because other attendees will be relieved to see our familiar face there. 

It becomes trickier when we think about what other people do. Whose shoes do we put ourselves in -- those of the hostess, who will derive pleasure from seeing a guest, or those of the individual who longs for nothing more than a social-obligation-free evening, even if it means declining to attend an event? And are our feelings about the best course of action tempered by projection of our own feelings? (We must admit, yes.)

Perhaps, despite our most well-intentioned efforts, we are in fact selfish. We select presents not only to please the recipient, but also to warm our own hearts through the pleasure of gift-giving. We want others to join us not just to share the events of the holidays, but also because it brings us joy to have them with us.

It is hard -- nay, impossible -- to make everyone happy over the holidays. Furthermore, taking care of oneself in this time of external demands is important. Is it selfish to choose to do what we feel will be best for us, even if it differs from societal expectation? Or is it, rather, an important act of self-preservation? There are times when we are exhausted from doing what we think is best for Others, rather than Ourselves. How do we find a compromise that will protect Ourselves, and yet still take Others into Consideration?

The answers vary, from person to person, from day to day. We shall see how everything unfolds.

However you spend your holiday time, my intrepid readers, know that I wish for you peace and joy, and the comfort of company when you need it, as well as solitude when you crave it most.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown found here:
https://www.hollandreno.org/event/the-peanuts-gang-a-charlie-brown-christmas/

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Escape

As fatigue from the omnipresent obligations of the holiday season sets in, we imagine the occasional escape from It All. And thus, tonight's earworm: Night Train (Jason Aldean)

We hope you enjoy. 



Saturday, December 16, 2017

Festive

Perhaps I should have mopped the floor, for it is rather dirty. Instead, though, I did half a dozen loads of laundry, and got out the wrapping paper. 'Tis the season. 

I like to wrap presents: it is an opportunity to reflect on the presents' receivers -- what they are like, what might be meaningful to them, whether they will be pleased with the offerings. It brings me hope and joy.

This is my favorite part of the holidays: giving gifts. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Introvert Hangover

Herself speaks.

As we go into the third day in a row that I have attended scheduled social gatherings, I find myself longing to just stay home and mop my kitchen floor.

The people involved all are quite pleasant; and there has been enjoyable conversation and plenty of good humor. Nevertheless, I am tired. I can only use the "small talk and careful attention to unfamiliar people and conversations" portions of my brain for so long, before they become fatigued. It has been described as Introvert Hangover, and I want nothing more than some Alone Time in familiar surroundings. 

Alas. 'Tis the season.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sights That Warm The Heart

Offspring the Third's truck in the driveway. Welcome home for winter break!

Image may contain: night and car

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Helpers

The small dogs helped me put fresh sheets onto Offspring the Third's bed. He should arrive at home for winter break tomorrow. Huzzah!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Winter Country

Herself speaks.

This December, the country music station has been more appealing than the Christmas music station. While normally I enjoy holiday songs, I am not quite in the mood right now.

Perhaps it is because the nest is so very empty. Offspring the First spontaneously ventured forth and obtained her own apartment recently; and Offspring the Second and Offspring the Third are still away at school. And when Beloved Husband works late, as he frequently does (we admire his dedication and perseverance), it is just me, the chihuahuas, the elderly hamster, and the voice of Jim Dale narrating the Harry Potter audiobooks, as we dine alone in the kitchen. I do like to imagine what the Great Hall of Hogwarts would look like with its twelve Christmas trees, magically adorned.

In these times, we tune in to country music. (It is, I realize, much like disco for heartache.)  I prefer the sentimental songs and the sad songs, right now. There might be a touch of winter melancholy creeping within the silence of the house.

Tonight's earworm: a quiet song from Miranda Lambert: Over You. 


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Nineteen

Herself speaks.

Today marks the beginning of the final year of there being a teenager in the nuclear family, as Offspring the Third turns 19. Kind of heart and generous of spirit, he brightens the world around him, every day. Happy birthday, Offspring the Third. I love you.

Once, on a family trip, a bird sat atop Offspring the Third's hat. 
He was quite pleased. 
The picture tugs at my heart, now that he is all grown up. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What Is That Noise?

Apparently, it is fireworks. Why? I do not know.

The small dogs object to the noise.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Brrr

Suddenly: winter! 


Monday, December 4, 2017

One Step Forward

Herself speaks.

I have received results from the first step of the Task. I am relieved to report that it went better than I expected. Relief.

I think back to the moment a month ago when I finished the first step. I sat in my car, thoroughly dismayed. As I contemplated breaking my general self-imposed taboo against making phone calls -- so much was I in need of a reassuring voice -- I cast my mind forward to the larger steps of the Task, and was overwhelmed by the difficulty of it all. Could I even express my doubts and fears without my voice breaking? So uncertain, the future. So tired, my mind.

I allowed myself a half day of sorrow and dismay; a further day of non-thought; and then it was time to move forward. So much to do.
-----

Today:the results came in. On a strangely calculated scale scored between 50 and 150, I needed a minimum of 85 to move forward.

I received 127.

Hallelujah.

I will not rest on this success; there is much work yet to be done. For a shining moment today, though, the future of the Task seemed to speak of possibilities, rather than of impossibilities.

We shall see how it goes.

 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Shelter

It has been a long time since I have picked up John O'Donohue's writings. I think it is time to visit them again. They contain a serenity and a depth that is welcome in these ever-changing days.

Where you are understood, you are at home. Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person's soul. 
― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Life's Heart

A fragment from On Love, by Kahlil Gibran (from The Prophet)

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.