SNOW DAY

I have a fireplace in the great room of my home (a southern term for family room in Cali). It is the center of activity when winter arrives, and before that, anytime the temperature drops below 50 degrees. I’ve even be know to open the back door so I could turn it on. This morning  I got out of bed and robotically  performed my usual routine; robe and slippers on, let dogs out, coffee on, feed dogs, drink coffee. One thing was different – I  immediately turned the fireplace on. Last night we had 6 inches of snow.

As I mentioned in a previous blog my fireplace is, by some standards, not real – no wood, no crackle, not much heat and no ashes. For me those are the criteria that make it the perfect fireplace.  It serves as a focal point all year as I decorate and redecorate for each season, special event and new picturse.  It is my staging area.

My fireplace provides the ambience of warmth, calm, glowing, cozy, come sit-a-spell hearth and home.  The pleasure of a fire never diminishes for me whether it’s inside or at a campfire.  It is like sunsets, babbling brooks, fall colors, forests, gardens, puppies and babies.   Today I will stay inside and relax in front of the fire.  In a few weeks (hopefully) I will get excited about sunshine and rising temperatures, budding trees and blooming flowers, going outside in flip-flops and short sleeves.  But TODAY I will live in this moment

LITTLE BOY BRAVE

Today a good story. Last fall I went to Disneyworld with my daughter, her husband, daughter and son. It was the first time for all of us. For months we had talked, planned and been on http://www.disney.com. My grandchildren made lists of all the rides they were going on-together. Oh, the adventures they would have. Side-by-side they would try it all.

My granddaughter is twelve and born to take risks and try new things. My grandson, eight, is cautious, thoughtful and often fearful. Our first night was in the Magic Kingdom and the test was Splash Mountain. I, of course, no longer go on rides that are any fun, so I waited while they braved the line for their first adventure. All the way through the line there was excitement that had been building for six months, waiting for this night to arrive. There were also recorded messages and talk from other people about the step drops, drastic curves, darkness and other sundry scary moments on the ride. At the ride entrance my grandson decided he wouldn’t go on and he and his mom waited with me.

The next day another test-Tower of Terror. This time he didn’t even get in line but waited with me. For forty-five minutes he and I waited in somber silence for Mom, Dad and Sissy to return. When he saw them coming he ran to them, grabbed Mom’s hand and proclaimed his decision to go on the Tower Of Terror ride, NOW!

According to my grandson it was “awesome”. He was grinning with dimples I had never seen. According to Mom he shook and stared and wrung his hands through the entire ordeal. As the ride ended he said to everyone in the car, “Did anyone else think that was an awesome ride?”, as he threw up his hands in victory.

GOOD JOB my BRAVE BOY!

WAITING for SNOW

The weather app has predicted snow for two days. The time it is due to arrive changes every several hours and I am impatient. I wait, recheck the weather, watch the sky and hope. It’s certainly cold enough – been freezing for four days. Excited! Snow!

I’m sure this eager anticipation of snow, ice, driving conditions, school closures, shoveling and slush sounds bizarre to those of you who live in, or moved from, places where it really snows all winter. But, I lived in California until I moved to North Carolina six years ago. No snow there unless you drove to the mountains which I never did because I don’t drive in snow, don’t ski or snowboard, nor do I like the cold.

Here it is different. Like events and people, who arrive infrequently and do not stay too long, snow here is welcome to me. I stock up on food, turn on the fireplace (gas not real), get a couple books and wait. That is what I am doing now. Once the snow begins to fall, I take snow days until the ice is off the roads. I take pictures, gaze at the beauty, eat comfort food, coax my dogs to go outside and thoroughly enjoy every amazing and beautiful minute.

Snow days come only once or twice a year and they really matter to me.

MINUTES MATTER

In our culture there seems to be a belief that more is better: money, possessions, activities, friends. Quantity and size seem to trump quality and peace. One thing we cannot get more of is time. What we have is what we have.

What we lose when we adopt a lifestyle of striving for more is the enjoyment of what we have in front of us. We pay attention to the big picture and minimize the value of the details. Focused on getting everything done we miss the small fleeting moments that provide the joy and satisfaction of each day.

It takes less than a minute to take six slow, deep breaths which slow everything down and calm mind and body. I love starting my day with my coffee and dogs outside on the patio. Even when it’s chilly I bundle up because being outside calms and prepares me for a day when I might not sit down for awhile.  It takes less than a minute to take six slow, deep breaths which refocus mind, body and spirit. Petting or cuddling my dogs only takes a moment and the physical contact is healthy -like hugs. Looking carefully at a rose, smelling jasmine, sitting under a shade tree. warm sun on your face, watching the flames in the fireplace or children at the playground are all free, quick joy fixes.

Many of the activities that could bring joy to our spirit are ordinary parts of everyday that we have come to take for granted. Someone in your life has a killer smile you don’t see; a laugh you don’t hear; a touch you don’t feel; a kiss you don’t taste; clean hair you don’t smell; nearness you’ve lost appreciation for.

BUT, it takes a deliberate decision, and intentional action to see joy. It is not hiding from us – it is just waiting for us to look. Go find joy today. It takes only a minute and a little goes a long way.

BRAVE PEOPLE

The reason for this post is so I can take credit for making a technological break-through. In my first post I said I had actually avoided blogging for about three years because of fear of the computer. I conquered the fear just enough to set up and publish a plain content page. That really made me happy, but not satisfied.

Well, did you notice that today the header to my page has a picture on it? Friday, with the help of my sister, I found and installed the picture. Another hurdle I have jumped over. There are more to come as I challenge myself to learn a craft totally outside my knowledge base and comfort level. Every time I try and succeed I increase my confidence and willingness to try again.

I mention this because I believe we should celebrate and share our victories and defeats because others are trying new things too. When we share we get support and support others. Overcoming fear, pushing past limitations, learning new skills are courageous feats. Anytime we try something new we are being brave. Brave people are heroes. I want to be a hero – to risk, to grow, to keep life interesting. How are you being brave?

BLESSING and RESPONSIBILITY

For the past five days I have been focused on the care, feeding and healing of my granddaughter.  She and her younger brother were scheduled to stay with me for two days they had off school while my daughter worked.  They arrived Sunday after dinner and we all looked forward to two days of fun and food.  Didn’t happen.  An hour after they arrived my granddaughter complained of a sore throat.  An hour later she mentioned an earache and felt very hot.  At 4:00am she and I were still awake.  Luckily my grandson slept like a log.

Monday morning, as she was finally resting, I joined the rest of the parents whose children had gotten ill over the weekend;  waiting to get through to the doctor and get an appointment;  then waiting for the doctor; then waiting for the prescription at the pharmacy;  then waiting for her to get some relief.  Meanwhile my grandson was being very good playing on his tablet and eating whatever he wanted.  I had to choose my battles and his diet was not as critical as her fever.

Tuesday was easier;  keep her on medications, lots of liquid and rest.  He and I got some time to play and he went home that night.  Wednesday she stayed with me until Mom got off  work then went home.  Thursday she went back to school.  Mid-day I had to pick her up and return to the doctor and add medication. She went home again last night and I am assuming that she’s back in school today since no emergency text has arrived.

Today I am tired.  It has been years since I’ve taken care of a sick child.  I will rest, clean the kitchen, do some laundry and whatever else (if anything ) I have energy for.  Today I will also bask in the blessing of these children to enjoy when they are well and care for when they are not.  Today I am grateful I can help my daughter as my mother helped me when my girls were small.  Today the warmth of the blessings and the weight of the responsibilities are very obvious to me.  I am the steward of all I have and my family is the most important of them all.

To whom much is given, much will be required.  And that is how it should be.

CHANGE and CHOICE

Do you ever want to change something about yourself?  Your hair, your laugh, have more self-discipline, read less,  fell more confident, parent more wisely?  I can honestly say that if there were an easy way I would change a lot about myself—probably everything about me would get a little tweak.  The catch?  There is no easy way!

To initiate change requires making choices– choices that are different than the ones I have been making.  Establishing a new habit or behavior pattern, requires consistent perseverance.  To maintain and sustain changed behavior I must be aware of and deliberate in every decision I make.  No more robotically going to the cupboard grabbing a snack; forget mindlessly driving through any place for dinner;  shopping therapy is out.

What is on the list of changes you want to make in your life?  What do you do out of habit that could be sabotaging your progress?

This year I am focusing on being more responsible in  my nutrition, finances and time management.   Whatever progress I manage will positively impact other areas of my life

Last year I maintained a healthy eating plan for eight months.  I had increased energy and interest, slept well, reduced pain, and oh yes, lost weight.  Was it easy?  Heck no!  Can I do it ?  Absolutely !  Increasing awareness of the choices I make  about  what, where and how I spend my money will put me in control and eliminate the wonder “about where did it all go?”.

Being accountable for how I use my time means I am responsible for each day I have been given to enjoy.  What I choose to do with my twenty-four hours is totally my call.  Unlike with food and money, I have no control over how many hours are in a day nor how many days in my lifetime.  Using my minutes, hours and days wisely requires deliberate choices that balance self/others, work/play, relaxation/stress, mind/body/spirit  and the many other competing priorities in our society.

Since this day matters,  I want to make it matter in the most efficient and enjoyable way I can.  Wish me luck.