Silver Bells

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style!  In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”

I have always loved this Christmas carol.  I first remember singing it when I was in elementary school. The sound of it resonating off the walls of our school gym, while my 3rd grade class sang with gusto to the rest of the school during our Christmas assembly.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone, yes in the 80’s we were allowed to say Christmas at public school.

Life seemed so much simpler then. One reason was the simple fact I was a kid. It really was so much more than that.  Families had dinner together, kids were safe to play outside all day with friends, without a cell phone, respect flowed from everyone. At least as a kid that’s how I remember it.

As I prepare for another Christmas with friends and family, a wistfulness comes over me for those seemingly simpler times. My hope for you this time of year is to have a simpler Christmas! wpid-PaperArtist_2013-12-21_08-52-23.jpeg

Productivity….Derailed

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I had an idea forming at the back of my mind last night.  It was my plan for today.  It included the fiercest schedule of productive work you could imagine.  There were lists (my favorite), goals, research, achievements, and of course this blog to tie it all together, like a perfectly wrapped Christmas present-which was also on my list- “#4 wrap Christmas presents”.  I went to sleep early so I would be rested for my marathon of productivity.

I awoke to find gently falling snow.  Perfect little snowflakes swirling on the wind.  Settling down to dust the outdoors, with same expertise a baker would give her chocolate cheesecake, topped with a fine powdery dusting of sugar. The snow was such a wonderful surprise for me.  The weather man had talked about freezing drizzle, which for any commuter would mean a slippery adventure to work.

So I did what any snow lover would do.  I made myself a cup of tea, turned on every Christmas light inside and outside of the house, drew the curtains back, settled in to my comfy chair in front of the fire and set my book on top of my “to do” list.  🙂  I will be productive a little later.

Warmth

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December 18, 2013

It is unseasonably warm today.  My phone says it is 51° F.  It was forecasted to be in the 50’s.  In Nebraska we joke about the weather, my favorite is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 24 hours.”  Our high temp for Friday is only supposed to get to 23° F.  So on these rare winter days, (well very late fall, but whose counting? :-)) the whole community is out basking in the sunshine!

For curiosity sake I planned to take two walks today, just to see what effect the balmy temps would have on the leftover snow.  No cliff hanger here, the snow is melting.  Places of no snow are more abundant than snow-covered.  Like the delicate flakes are clinging to one another trying to ward off the inevitable.

The path I strode is on the edge of a very small rural town.  I am staying with a friend for a few days and am enjoying the non-existent noise of the city.  This morning I heard a squirrel on the roof, a cow lowing in a nearby pasture, and the fans of the grain drying system at the grain elevator.  No screeching tires, no sirens, no noticeable sound evidence from our neighbors.  I relish taking a break from the noise of the city.

I made a fun discovery on my country walks, the first walk at 11 am, and the second walk was at 2 pm.  I discovered the multitude of tracks on the path becoming more distinct as the melting crystals became liquid.  No longer were they an indistinct chaos of disturbed snow but individual prints.  Rabbit, deer, turkey, dog, human, squirrels (lots of those) and even a horse or two.

Sometimes in our lives it takes more than one look at an event, a person, or a situation to distinctly see what we are observing.  It takes time and change to reveal all the layers of our lives.  Our perspective changes and so does the subject of our attention.  Let us not forget to take the time in our daily lives to appreciate the changes that encompass our days.        

Wednesday Words – An Acrostic Poem

I love vocab words!

Adventures in Writing

I thought this would be a fun way to work in some vocab words. 🙂

Quiet is calming, quiet is good.

Ubiquitous – the quiet stretches

Impermanent – it dissipates.

Ephemeral – quiet swells then fades

Transcendent – quiet teaches us to see the world.

Take care, fellow travelers

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Welcome

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Welcome to my home!  Welcome to my life!  Welcome to the place I feel safe!  When anyone enters my home, I want them to feel a deep sense of welcome.  I love walking into a home of a friend, a relative, a new acquaintance, and feeling that warmth that I am welcome.

Many years ago I was given a small, inexpensive plastic pineapple Christmas ornament.  It was cut beautifully.  It shines, like it might be crystal.  The leaves at the top are a shimmering gold metal.  If you don’t take the time to look close or the lighting in the room is dim, you could mistake it for a gleaming work of art, but I know better.

I was told the symbol of the pineapple is the sign of welcome and hospitality. So me being, me, I researched.  I read articles, I talked to people, I web surfed.  To no avail.  All I have read has indicated mixed responses.  Most like the idea that a pineapple is a representation of welcome.  It was reported that sailors used pineapples, staked in front of their homes, to indicate they were home and wanting to invite guests to stop by for a visit.  It is also reported that the carvings on bedposts are not, in fact, welcoming pineapples but pinecones of no significance. 

Two facts did stand out to me.  The first being Christopher Columbus did discover pineapples on his voyage to Guadeloupe and brought back the fruit to Europe in 1493.  The other fact I found interesting is that it took two centuries for royalty in England to figure out how to successfully grow the exotic fruit.

I am a fanciful thinker.  I like to believe that a seemingly everyday fruit is the symbol of welcome.  Saying to visitors to relax, enjoy, and feel welcome in my home.  But I also know that it is so much more than displaying a plastic fruit that makes a friend feel welcome in my home.  I will continue to display my plastic pineapple on my front door because I like to think that way back when, it meant welcome to a passerby.

Welcome!

Christmas Music

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It was a sea of red and gold with silver and black mixed in.  The musicians filed in hap hazardly, finding their seats, adjusting stands, greeting one another.  Brass glinted in the lights from above.  The band was a bustle of movement.  The lights were strung across the edge of the stage.  There were the traditional Christmas flowers, the poinsettia, set strategically around the stage to enhance the audiences experience.  The concert hall was bursting with people.

If they sold tickets it would be a sell out performance.  They don’t sell tickets to this or any of the concerts this band performs.  They are all volunteers.  Playing simply because they love to play.  The band is fully funded by donations and the musicians dedicate their Monday nights every week to rehearse together.  The conductor seems to love instructing this group of individuals from all walks of life.  They are students, retirees, doctors, teachers, moms, lawyers, the list goes on and on.

They may come from all over the community with various lifestyles but the music they produce speaks of unity in the love of playing their instrument.  I have attended these concerts for years.  Sometimes with my children, sometimes with friends, sometimes with loved ones who no longer walk with us on this earth.  It is always enjoyable.  The conductor plays to his audience and the response from the band during the applause is worth a million dollar ticket to see them play.

The Christmas concert is, of course, a favorite simply for the familiar songs that speak of this beautiful time of year.  I love to immerse myself in the sounds, let them flow over me and seep into my soul.  My hope for everyone is they find that “something” at this festive time of the year that uplifts their spirit, that helps you feel whole. 

Surround Yourself

Happiest day of my life, 12-14-1999! I will surround myself with my family and remember they are what complete me.

Soul Experiences

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Whatever it is that makes you whole, surround yourself.  Whatever it is that lifts you up, surround yourself.  Whatever it is that drives you to be better, surround yourself.

For it is not in the world that defines us. It is inside us that defines who we are and what we become.  We are challenged to be more than what we were yesterday.  We are inspired to be more than what we were.  We are created to be us, the very best us we can be.  Do not dwell on the negative, the hurt or the fear in your life.  Brush those things aside and be…more!

Surround yourself with love and love will surround you all of your days.

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Dreams

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

My dreams are not grandiose.  My dreams are not steeped in my past.  My dreams however are my driving force. 

I’m not talking about the tricks and games your mind plays on you while we sleep.  I am talking about those little day dreams over your office desk at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the fantasies you have when you purchase a lottery ticket or what you knowingly plan for during your quest to pay bills every month. 

I was recently asked what I believe success looks like, for me personally.  I was stumped for a minute on how to answer that question.  Is that the dreams side of success or the realistic side of success, what I can reasonably achieve in my lifetime.  For if you ask me to answer with rose-colored glasses on, I would shoot for the moon.  Yachts, castles, endless supply of disposable funds, world peace, trips to the moon, I am shooting for.  

To realistically answer “What does success look like?” is an entirely different answer.  I think my success revolves around sharing this wide world with my sons.  Going places that I didn’t discover until adulthood.  Seeing how others live outside of our community.  Both are driven by my dreams.  So why is one “realistic” and one is “unachievable” to me?  I think the answer rests upon the values I hold dear to me.  All those little things I believe and hold true to everyday.  I’m not saying someone with high values cannot achieve an endless supply of disposable funds. I am saying the combination of my values and my unachievable dreams do not seem to match up.  I cannot envision my life with “moon landing” success. Those dreams are a little silly to say the least.  I mean, who really needs more than one castle?  🙂

Muddled Memories

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My oldest son and I had a conversation recently about his first ski trip.  We were driving in the car talking and listening to music.  We approached the subject of our ski trips in our musings.

 Let me preempt this story with, I love the winter.  About the only thing about winter I do not like is the fact that when it ends it means summer is not far behind.

 So when my young family was given an opportunity to adventure out to the small mountains and ski slopes of Wyoming for our first skiing attempt, I was ecstatic.  We drove, with our church group, to our snowy destination.  I had never skied before but I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.  The decision was made that my twin boys, at the age of 3, were too young to ski with their inexperienced parents and they would stay with their grandparents for the day.  So off to the slopes we went.  My oldest son, age 5, had never skied or even seen the towering monolith mountains.  He seemed reluctant on the 9 hour drive to the mountains that there would even be any snow to ski in, since there wasn’t even a trace of snow in sight on the endless car ride.  As we approached the ski lodge the snow was piled taller than the lodge itself.  He was awestruck.  We moved like cattle through the waiting masses of people all trying to get to the mountain.  Everyone wanting to ride up and fly down as quickly as possible over and over again.  I enrolled, my then little boy, in ski school.  His parents, being of the mindset we would be self taught ski enthusiasts, headed to the “bunny slopes” to try out our new shoes.  If anyone has ever tried to learn, as a twenty something adult, how to ski you will know it is not as easy as all those black slope riders make it look.  I was pleasantly surprised that I, at the top of the carpet ride and crest of the slope could see ski school.  My little boy standing clad in all the winter gear this protective mother could wrap him in, feet firmly affixed to his long thin skis, poles in his little fists.  Then it happened, every fiber of my being contracted in fear and shame, my son picked up one foot and then the other, turning his whole body and his back on the instructor.  He slowly let gravity slide him down a little snow pile, away from the class.  His head was down, I could tell from his posture he was done.  Whatever had happened in the ten minutes it took for me to ride a ski carpet to the top of a tiny hill, he had checked out of learning from any outside person.  I skied/flew/tumbled to him quick as my untaught legs would take me.  I remember asking him what was wrong, why he had left class.  I remember admonishing for leaving the group we had instructed him to stay with, reminding him how dangerous it was for him to do that.  His defiant, tearful eyes told me he was still my stubborn five year old.  “I don’t want to go to ski school!”  was the only explanation we got from him, or at least that was all I remembered.

We skied the day as a threesome.  I was learning by falling.  My son was content to let his father hold him in front of him.  Between his long skis were another small set of skis.  We spent the rest of the day trying not to plow into anyone else on the mountainside.  It was all I imagined it would be.  I loved every twist and turn.  I loved the cold of the snow when I fell, repeatedly.  We left the slopes late in the afternoon feeling worn out and tired.  My exuberant little boy still full of energy after a snowy day of being carried.

On this the road trip, with my now 15 year old, we started to reminisce of our skiing experiences.  I asked him what happened with the ski school way back when, in Wyoming.  I was hoping he would open up to me now, as an almost adult, about why he reacted the way he did.  With all the bravado of a teenage boy he simply said, “I thought you were leaving me.”  My heart stopped.  If only he knew then, what I know he knows now….I will never leave you my son.