What are your favorite memories near the sea?
This week’s photo challenge is about capturing a fleeting moment. I had the perfect photo in mind.
I took this photo on a walk with a friend recently just as a group of dense, rain-filled clouds was quickly rolling in and seemed to almost circle our spot in the path and the pond before us. As if nature had been painting a picture for us and waiting for us to get there to see it.
If I hadn’t stopped right at that very second to capture this fleeting moment as these full and heavy clouds were preparing to open for us and as the simply awesome smell of the coming rain was saturating the air … the moment would have been gone.
The photo challenge prompt mentioned an article, Photography 101: Introduction & Philosophy which kicks off a blogging photography series and interviews Danielle Hark who founded a collaborative photography site called the Broken Light Collective. She talks about how photography helps her stay in the present and is her own form of meditation.
This spoke to me, since photography is one of the best ways to make myself slow down enough to be present in the moment. And most likely the closest I get to meditating as well.
Does photography help you stay in the moment? What visual comes to mind when you think of the word Fleeting? Such a simple word that floods my mind with so many visuals. This was just one.
Word of the Day for Tuesday, November 6, 2012 (from dictionary.com)
franchise \FRAN-chahyz\, noun:
1. The right to vote.
2. A privilege of a public nature conferred on an individual,group, or company by a government.
Examples of use:
One factor in the early mobilization of feminism was the 1832 Reform Act, through which women’s exclusion from the franchise was formalized.
— Angélique Richardson, Chris Willis, The new woman in fiction and in fact: fin-de-siècle feminisms
The national referendum of 1963 reflected general support for the six-point reform program, which included land reform and the franchise for women.
— Robin Morgan, Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology –
Franchise derives from the Old French word for “freedom,” which shares a root with the English frank.
I’m grateful that I have learned this meaning of the word franchise. Also to even have the right to vote.
For those of you in the U.S., please vote today if you haven’t already. (I apologize to those of you elsewhere for making this post America -focused. Oh my gosh, did I just ‘apologize’ to ‘foreigners’? Sorry, couldn’t resist, U.S. joke.)
Thanks for reading!
For some reason my post yesterday didn’t actually get published until just now. And I just realized – thanks to Ambling & Rambling, that the countdown widget I added to my site told me I had 19 days left, when it was really 26. Duh. Yes, I am sometimes severely WordPress-challenged. Still need ideas for my next challenge, but I have a little more time than I thought. So keep them coming!
Now, for today’s actual post…
I am grateful that today I got to see my sons hang out and laugh together like old times.
They are growing up far too quickly. And becoming a little too cool for our regular family goofiness. And as teenagers, they get on each other’s nerves a lot these days.
So when I see them laugh and hang out together like old times, it warms my heart. Today was one of those days and hearing their laughter made me smile. For this I am thankful.
PS: If you haven’t seen the movie The Brothers Bloom, rent it. One of my favorites.
Today I received one of those unexpected clues that all is right in the universe and that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
Every have one of those? They are great moments. And the more aware you become of them, the more you notice these clues.
Backstory: I’m jealous of other people’s friendly mailmen. Or maybe they are just always friendly in the movies. But I know my parents have a super friendly mailman who they have had for years and they actually know all about him and his family.
My regular mailman, on the other hand, is not so much friendly. He is not a ‘waver’, he doesn’t’ really ever say hello and he doesn’t smile. I can’t figure out if he’s sad or just shy.
Or maybe it’s just me. He does seem somewhat petrified of me for some reason. Perhaps it’s because he’s terrified by my two maniac dogs who go crazy when the doorbell rings. Or he just really doesn’t like people anywhere near his personal space bubble.
For example, when he comes to the door with a package and has to ring the bell (I picture him wincing as he reaches for my bell), I usually open the door and come out (so I can close the door behind me and leave the crazy dogs inside). This is when his eyes open wide and he takes several big steps back very quickly, like I am going to attack him or kiss him or something. It is the oddest thing and he does it every time. I swear I am not abnormally large, fast or loud, or even that scary looking, and I don’t go to the door if I am, in fact, scary looking. I just can’t figure it out.
So it’s always a treat when we have our substitute mailman who covers our route when our guy is not working. Substitute mailman is very friendly and actually speaks and smiles. And he doesn’t seem afraid of me, which is a plus, and much better for my ego. But I don’t get to see him that often.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking… Geez, this chick really doesn’t get out enough — the mailman seems to be the highlight of her day. Explanation: I work out of my house and mainly talk to my clients through email. So, on many days, the mail delivery really is the highlight and the main opportunity for me to see daylight, hoping that I don’t melt like a vampire. Anyway, bear with me.
Today, substitute mailman rings the doorbell. I answer and as soon as I realize that it is friendly substitute mailman, he says “Hi, how is your Mom doing?” I paused for a moment trying to figure out how he would even know that I have a Mom, much less that she is someone who people routinely ask me about.
I looked at him quizzically and said “fine … why do you ask?” He explained to me that he read my letter to the editor about Alzheimer’s that was published in the newspaper over a month ago. He recognized my name in the paper and that I was on his route that he covered for on some days. He explained how he remembered which house I was in and about my Mom, because his dad has Alzheimer’s too. (Note: I do NOT live in a small town. This is not a regular occurrence)
We had a very nice conversation about Alzheimer’s and our parents. As I watched him walk away, I thought about how I’ve never said more than hello to him before, but he was sweet enough to a) notice the letter in the paper and actually read it, b) recognize my name, c) remember which house I was in and d)make an effort to come to the door and hand me my mail so that he could ask me about my Mom. I sort of tear up just writing about it and the thought of it makes my heart swell a bit.
So this is why I am grateful today. I am thankful to have received what I interpret as a sign that all is right in the universe and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, despite how often I sometimes question the universe and my role within it.
And because my substitute mailman made my day.
When was the last time you received a clue from the universe that all is right and exactly as it is meant to be – also known as God’s winks by one book that I’ve seen, and as moments of serendipity?
Today I am thankful for those who still embrace the concept of snail mail once in a while. Though twitter and email and other electronic methods are of course uber-efficient and help us stay more connected than ever before, it’s hard to argue against the power of tangible words on a page. And the occasional letter or card by mail, in my opinion, is the greatest expression of thoughtfulness, creativity and gratitude.
Handwritten letters and thank you notes are something my mother ingrained in me early on. And I recently found boxes in her basement where it would seem that she saved almost every letter I ever wrote her.
I have always been thankful that my mother taught me the value of the written word. My kids probably aren’t so thrilled about it at this point, as my son has a list of thank you notes to complete. But they will be later.
The transfer of hand written documents by an intermediary dates almost as far back as the invention of writing itself. The development of formal postal systems occurred much later, with the first organized service for transferring written documents in Egypt, where Pharaohs used couriers to disperse their decrees in the territory of the State in 2400 BC.
Now as the internet transforms the way people communicate, mail volumes worldwide are on the decline.
Yet even as email is often used for thanking potential employers after job interviews, discussions with top executives have shown that those who use handwritten notes are more noticed by potential employers compared to the hundreds of emails received and quickly read and deleted. And those skills transfer over to success in many careers where the handwritten word has been proven to help executives lead others and form deeper relationships with customers and prospects.
I will be using snail mail as a complementary method for communication for as long as I am lucky enough to have a dependable postal service at my disposal. And I treasure each handwritten note I receive, knowing the thought and effort required by the sender.
Today, though I terribly miss my Mother’s regular letters which I received for the last twenty-five years, I am grateful that she taught me the power of the hand written word. And thankful to receive as much personal snail mail as I do.
Do you remember how excited you were to receive mail as a child? And do you still get a little excited when you receive a package? I’m guessing so, if you’re anything like me. When was the last time you sent or received a handwritten note?
This quote, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, shows up in random places around my house depending on who needs it within their line of sight the most on any given day.
Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who was a leader in the Transcendentalist movement in the mid-19th century. At its core, transcendentalism was about the inherent good in man and in nature.
The key tenets of Transcendentalism are that everything is a reflection of God and that people are basically good. Also that contemplating nature can allow you to transcend the real world and go to a higher, spiritual level. That individualism and self-reliance are better than following others or depending on tradition. And that a person’s true feelings and intuition are more valuable than book knowledge.
Other key figures in the movement were Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau (also said to have possibly written this quote), Margaret Fuller (the first woman to earn a living at full-time journalism) and John Muir (I just learned this about John Muir and it makes perfect sense since Muir Woods is my favorite place in the world.) Oh how I would love to have dinner with this group. Wow.
I am grateful to have had a wonderful discussion with my sons about the Transcendental movement earlier today– and frankly floored by their knowledge of it and beaming with pride because of their depth and compassion as human beings.
Also grateful to have these lovely words to remind me of the importance of perspective in this universe. Thanks for reading.
This week’s photo challenge is Happy.
Below are some things that make me happy: my pups at my feet, the mountains, the beach with a Corona, Muir Woods and chilled martini glasses.
Also my turquoise and gold Ainsley teacup collection, my curios from friends in my little mediation corner and 1984 911 headlights.
Of course family also makes me happy, and my friends, and the smell, sight and feel of anything horse, as well as nostalgia, kitsch, painting and cool mountain air in the fall. So many others but these are some good ones.
What makes you happy?
The theme of last week’s WordPress weekly photo challenge was Mine — where you post a picture of something that is uniquely yours.
I’m a day late, but I selected this old GE photo cube that I got from my grandmother’s house after she passed away. When I was little I was fascinated by this cube that she always had out. It has photos on each side and a speaker on the top, with an AM/FM radio that doesn’t work anymore. I thought the radio part was so very cool and I loved to play with it (hmmm…possibly why it doesn’t work anymore). This was back in the days before Shutterfly and all of the sites that let you make photo gifts. It was far ahead of its time.
The cube has a picture of a house I lived in during my early years one side, a photo of my grandmother, her sister and two of her friends on another side, a photo of me when I was probably four years old with my cat Rascal on one side, and my favorite side has a photo of my Dad carving a pumpkin with my sister and I.
This photo cube reminds me of my grandmother in all of her leopard print and gold lamay glory. She made flashy work like no one else could ever pull off because she had a larger-than-life attitude that influenced her every moment. She could play the piano more beautifully than I’ve ever heard anyone play. And she had a whistle that was so magnificent and strong I can hear it now. My dad got her whistle and I love to hear it. She was also a complete bridge-playing bad-ass and could remember numbers like nobody’s business. I wish I had asked her to teach me bridge.
She also had a beautiful voice unlike any other. I loved the way she said my name and the way she talked. She called my Gypsy during the summers of my college years when I changed residences often. She loved it when her Gypsy would pull up in her driveway to say hello. She’d always offer me “Cokie Cola” and cookies and we would sit at her ice cream table and visit while the koo koo clock on her kitchen wall tick-tocked loudly behind us. Then at certain intervals her antique clocks in the living room would chime in a series, making their own little familiar symphony. I can hear those chimes and smell her house now. The aroma of little scented soaps filled the house because it seemed like she had them everywhere in sweet little china dishes.
The picture of my dad and sister and I all together is my favorite side of the cube because it has us all together in it, which I love the thought of. Also because I love carving pumpkins and Halloween is my favorite holiday. And as you know, I have a special relationship with pumpkins as mentioned in a previous post (https://lifeonwry.com/2012/10/04/watch-out-for-flying-pumpkins-gratitude-experiment-day-50/). And the yellow appliances, our outfits, our haircuts and the looks on all of our faces remind me of the innocence of my youth.
This photo cube is uniquely mine and I cherish it. It sits not far from my computer where I write this blog each day, on a shelf with other things uniquely mine and sentimental. For all this, I am grateful. Thanks for reading!
Even though it goes against the grain of my 100-day Gratitude Experiment, I feel the need today to write about why my Mom having Alzheimer’s is a drag.
I’m convinced that some gratitude will come to me by the time I finish writing this. And I’m hoping these thoughts will help my readers cherish every moment they have with their loved ones. And take nothing for granted.
My Mom having Alzheimer’s is a big fat drag because:
1. I wish I would have spent more quality time with her before she got sick.
2. I wish I had asked her if her favorite color was still yellow when she could still tell me.
3. I wish I would have paid better attention to the signs in the beginning.
4. I desperately wish for rare moments of clarity to happen when I am near.
5. I worry about her dignity.
6. Most healthcare workers have no clue how to treat a person with Alzheimer’s. And it makes me want to help change happen.
7. She is afraid to take a bath.
8. I wish I could remember the name of that flowery lotion my grandmother used to give her every Christmas. And I wish I had someone to ask that would know.
9. I worry about my Stepdad being sad and tired.
10. I worry about my Stepdad getting hurt and me not knowing.
11. I wonder how much of what I say she understands.
12. I wonder if I offend her by babying her.
13. I wish I had taken better notes about my family history.
14. I wish I really knew when all this started – so hard to tell.
15. I worry about when the next shoe is going to drop.
16. I think about how she would not want to be this way.
17. I worry that she is frightened and she can’t express it.
18. I’m scared to death it’s going to happen to me.
On the other hand, I am still able to be grateful because: (whew, glad some gratitude came through)
1. I love it when I have what seems like a tiny a breakthrough with her.
2. I am happy when she smiles her old smile.
3.I love to be silly and make her laugh (when I use Three Stooges type humor it cracks her up).
4. I can tell she enjoys changing the bed sheets with me. Especially if I’m silly while we’re doing it.
5. She’s still my Mom in there.
6. I love that she said really sweet things to me that day a year ago when I did her hair for her, when she was better able to comprehend and talk.
7. My stepdad is solid as a rock, and I love him for it.
8. I’m lucky that she lives close now so I don’t worry even more.
9. I can have these tiny moments of joy with her to always remember.
Thanks for reading.