It’s November, I have Much to be Grateful For!

The First Thanksgiving Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

Image via Wikipedia

 

It might be that because Thanksgiving is celebrated this month, whatever the reason, it’s November and I have much to be grateful for.  And I know it!  Sometimes it seems I’m not as aware of gratitude at other times.  What I believe is something about November brings it all rushing to the front of the line.

Blame it on the weather or the shortening of daylight hours.  Something about it being November causes me to pause and reflect on people, places and things I’m grateful for in more depth than at other times of the year.  Sunshine and warm weather invite activity and other distractions.  November, especially the early part of the month, seems to invite nesting and contemplation of the joys of simple things.  Hearth and home, hot soups and stews, warm drinks with spicy aromas.

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember.  So many good smells coming from the kitchen.  People gathered at tables displaying abundance and variety.  The “good” dishes, flatware and crystal seen in use, not just on display and gathering dust.  More people “dressed up” than usual.    There seems to be an unspoken agreement that this is a time for appreciating life and sharing in the wealth and abundance of it.  It’s a party, just not the same kind of party as Christmas, New Years or a birthday.  It doesn’t seem to have the raucousness those events bring up.  Subdued isn’t the right word.  There’s a quiet peacefulness to it.

Once the holiday rush starts this mellow time comes to an end and doesn’t seem to return for another year.  Yes, there are definitely moments from one November to the next.  We all have to take time out occasionally to reflect and absorb.  Something about November seems to concentrate it all.  October seems to involve finishing things, maybe some preparation for the nesting ahead.  I’m just guessing at things here.  Trying to tell if there really is as much of a pattern to things as I suspect.  I like things to make sense, as much as possible.

This year has been totally jam-packed.  So much has changed since last November.  Some friends have moved away, some new friends have been found.  My attitude and outlook on life has improved dramatically.  I’m not sure I would recognize the person I was last year and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t thinking these kind of thoughts.  Gratitude, quite likely, just, differently.  I don’t know if I can clarify.  Wonder if grateful is different from thankful.  Are the underlying motives different?  You know, like the difference between suggestions and advice…strings attached.

Gratitude is a way of life.  A way of thinking, feeling and acting that recognizes the many graces in each and every day.  Not just acknowledging them, giving them active attention and notice.  Looking for them, cause you know they are there, no matter what is going on.  A smile from a stranger.  A green traffic light where it has “always” been red.  Money in a pocket you had forgotten was there.  The way the sunlight hits a tree or a crystal prism or creates silhouettes in the distance as it sets.  A friend gets good news that lightens his or her spirit or heart.  Choosing exactly the right thing for a meal.  A chance to do something you’ve wanted to for a long time and “everything” falls into place and you do it!  And it’s grand!  SO many daily graces and because we’re not looking for them and at them they just go by, not recognized for what they are.  I kinda think we start out just saying thank you at the odd times we happen to notice.  The more we notice and say thank you, the more we notice.  It seems to be self feeding.  Before we know it, we are living gratitude.

I don’t think it happens  over night.  It starts slowly and gradually and we do have to participate in order for it to begin building on itself.   For as long as we fail to notice the variety of daily occurrences of grace we slow the process.  There are other things going on at the same time and we can get bogged down in the stuff we don’t like to such a degree that we don’t give much, or even any, notice to the stuff we do like.  When we only see grace every other day or week or month or year, life looks hard and tedious and rewarding.  It’s as if gray days are twice as gray and sunny days are dimmer than they could be.

It is altogether too easy to overlook grace unless you actively start paying attention.  We have become so accustomed to being worried and stressed that more than a few of us start thinking not only that’s all there is, we also think, that’s how it’s supposed to be!  We get a lot of encouragement in that direction; however unintended.  Parents, bosses, spouses……the press, books, movies….even some churches.

Noticing daily grace has a kind of Pollyanna flavor to it and may be seen as superficial.  Something.  It’s rarely what you hear people conversing about.  I guess that mostly depends on your usual contacts, more than anything.  Most of my friends, now, don’t just notice daily grace, they talk about it.  Sometimes with a quiet smile, sometimes in total excitement, sometimes with a sense of awe.  Hanging around with these people has definitely rubbed off.  I’m encountering more people in different situations and circumstances who also notice and acknowledge daily graces.  I no longer think it is limited to people who have chosen a particular set of life principles.  It’s like, they are living the principles without having them literally spelled out.  Interesting!

Looking forward to each new day as a surprise and an adventure, the good kind, is still pretty new to me.  If you’ve never lived any other way, none of this will make sense.  If you have lived another way, I hope this makes sense and offers encouragement that different good is possible.

One of the daily graces I have discovered and been paying close attention to is how much joy there is in writing.  Putting thoughts into words and sentences and paragraphs is my idea of a good time!  I do have other ideas of a good time, it’s just that writing is almost always available.  Between starting the blog and NaNoWriMo, I am definitely in seventh heaven!  It’s like a walk through continuous scenic country and I always have just enough light to see obstacles ahead.  Putting things in black and white (unless I’m in a rainbow mood) shows more choices than just thinking and worrying ever do.  Seeing the obstacles means I can avoid them, work around them or work through them.  The biggest difference is actually “publishing” thoughts and musings and opinions and such.  Might be that it forces me to look upside down and inside out; more than one way.  However you choose to express it.

So, it’s November and I have much to be grateful for.  How about you?

How old are you….Really

Old Woman Dozing by Nicolaes Maes (1656), Oil ...

Image via Wikipedia

As I recall, people twenty and younger don’t give a whole lot of thought to age.  Unless they are younger than twenty-one.  Once that magical year comes and goes not much thought is given to age again until thirty creeps up.  From thirty onward one often hears and even sometimes say: “you’re only as old as you feel”.    Have you noticed that?

A few years ago I went to lunch with my Dad and an Aunt and Uncle.  I might not even have been fifty at the time.  Whatever, the conversation was about how old people feel, as opposed to how old the calendar says they are.  I think the conversation started when we were handed “senior” menus.  Oddly enough, the menus were actually rather new.  Doesn’t matter.  What I recall all three others saying was that they were often surprised looking in the mirror.  The wrinkles and white hair HAD to be stage make-up cause the person looking at them didn’t feel any older than eighteen!!!!  These folks had raised 17 children between them.  All the children had graduated from high school and there were even a few college graduates in the mix.  Dad was a great-grandfather.  I’ve had a sense of wonder about the aging process ever since.

The most interesting part of it was learning that people in the generation ahead of me had some of the same thoughts I did.  It just didn’t seem possible.  These weren’t just my elders, they were actual, honest to God, walking, talking human beings!  Truth, how often do you see your parents that way?  All you empty nesters out there, how often do you think of your grown progeny as the adults they are?  The mind boggles.  Both of my “babies” are over thirty and it’s amazing to me how often I need to remind myself not to refer to them as if they were still much younger.  They deserve my respect.  I can’t explain the quirk that keeps them so young in my mind.  They truly do have my respect, they make good decisions regularly.   I love the people they have become.

I also, sometimes, wonder who that old lady is…the one looking back at me from the mirror.  It doesn’t help that my hair is prematurely white/gray.  I do love the color, don’t get me wrong.  Lots of people have asked who colors my hair and I usually reply, God, this is the way it grows out of my head.  Haven’t even been remotely tempted to alter it either.  The thing is, people see white hair and think old….yup…me too.  And it’s unsettling on the days my brain says i’m only eighteen.  However, it is right on time on the days I feel one hundred and twenty.  Which usually come from believing my brain and attempting to do things, work or play, like I did when I was eighteen.  And let’s not talk about humidity!

So, what are your thoughts on age?  How old are you…really!?

 

Again,life looks like a blur

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We take photographs for many different reasons.  One of the main reasons is to remember, revisit people and times we enjoyed.  This picture was taken on a soggy Saturday morning and, as I recall, was a fun day any way.  We had a walk in the mist, the streets were almost empty and we were among the first to sit down to breakfast at a restaurant called Ketchup.The atmosphere was energizing (in a low key kind of way), the food was good and conversation flowed freely. 

The picture is nowhere near as clear as I would like it to be.  The camera in my phone is good enough, I guess, just not great.  As the operator of the camera I assume some responsibility for picture quality.  I haven’t quite honed the knack of being still while pressing the little button.  I could also benefit from some practice with the settings.  Never gonna be Ansell Adams, but, it would be nice to have clear, concise images.  Practice, practice, practice.

I So wanted to show a map here and after about an hour of rolling, ever so slowly North, East, South and West, I could NOT pin down the National Harbor Center.  Lots of other landmarks, just, not the one I was looking for. Auto 

 

When I got to thinking about life going by in a blur, it occurred to me that it isn’t always about hurry.  Sometimes it’s about focus and sometimes it’s about being still, or, not.  How I remember the day may not be as fuzzy as the photograph.  Although the thought that it might have really been a Sunday morning has begun to nag at me.  As no crimes were committed by us or around us, that particular detail doesn’t seem significant.  The picture is clear enough to see who was there.  And it’s stored in a form I can look at.  You don’t even want to know how many rolls of film I’ve shot and never had developed!  Talk about life looking like a blur. 

This is evidently a time of change, big change, for a lot of people.  Events seem to be occurring rapidly.  Just barely avoided saying at lightening speed.  Can you believe it’s almost October!?  This is just my way of slowing things down a tad.  What’s yours?

Sometimes Life Looks Like a Blur

 

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When I took this picture, I was standing still.  Scouts honor! 

 

Apologies to the folks in the picture.  I’ve been fiddling around with computer programs and found out I could do this!  They know who they are and all things being equal, will NEVER see this picture or read this blog!

 

I love that I can blog as I did originally, offline and not so many bells and whistles as to get confused about what I’m doing. Don’t generally consider myself ADD, but, look, there’s a lion!

 

Doesn’t look like I can edit from here. hmmm oh, wait a minute, there it is … right there where it says editing!

 

Hurray, the color changed!  This is cool! Now all I need are emoticons.  Just kidding…sort of  Rolling on the floor laughing Not!! I just found them.

Map picture

Look what else!!!  Birds eye view of, guess where?  Oh, this is going to be fun!!!

It’s looking like this whole stream of consciousness thing is getting out of hand.  I mean, really.

Are we back to “normal”?  Okay, just checking. This has been the most fun session for me.  Can’t promise I won’t do it again, but, I’ll give it my best shot.