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Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

Paying It Forward

This post is about gratitude. Deep gratitude. In the weeks since my last post, my gratitude list has increased exponentially. The kindness, support and ideas I have received from the blogging community has been almost overwhelming. It’s given me the strength and courage to press on, persevere and work on some of their ideas for helping others.

One of many roses that have bloomed to cheer me.

I ventured into our employment service here and registered as well as speaking with a Work Source assistant. She looked at everything I had filled out and realizing I had not held a job since the mid 90’s, with a spotty history of employment, (I  was the full-time caregiver for several family members after that time) she suggested that I check out nursing homes for possible volunteering, potentially checking out my next residence at the same time.  In not so many words it was gently implied that I am not particularly employable. I had an inkling of that fact already. I’m still not ruling it out. So on to option B. Whatever that may be.

We clocked the distance with the car. 1.5 miles straight up.

I take my walks now saying my gratitude’s out loud (softly, so the neighbors don’t think I’ve slipped a cog). I start with the list of what I CAN do. It’s quite lengthy. I CAN still walk.

I was able to help my 78 year old friend lift this into the cart. I CAN.

In all of this, I can still give. My friend, Emily gave me a couple of charity quilt tops she no longer wanted to finish. The pieces were all cut, all I had to do was sew them together following the pattern she gave me. I have one done. Finished this month’s quilt squares for the group charity quilt. I’m also still able to pick up a friend who is no longer able to drive and deliver her home.

Blogging friends have given me so many ideas that I have taken to heart. One has also suggested that in light of my understanding about how even the best of our plans can go sideways, sometimes we need a bit of a lift through a rough patch. I’m lucky that I have family and friends. Many are not so lucky. So we need to find a way to network and help each other.

I network here with local friends. We exchange plants so each of us can have something from the others. I’ve shared many pieces of my ever expanding ground cover, succulents, and exchanged several cordial glasses for a bottle of homemade Limoncello and a garden umbrella with stand to have on top of the terrace. Nice trade, right? I’m going to try making that friend a new swing cover. I’m looking at what I have here to work with to make, share or sell to help others as well as myself.

We are having a neighborhood yard sale this weekend. Hopefully some of my extra stuff can find new homes. Tech Support is here for the week and I’m hoping we can set up a website for networking while he is here. No outside projects this time. Instead of last year’s 100 degree temps, we have RAIN and 60 degrees!

The Rhodi’s where huge this year. Just needed a little love.

How do you find ways to pay it forward?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.~ Edward Everett Hale

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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In Search of Thanksgiving

This is my only post this month. I’ve been needing down time. Thanksgiving is upon us here in the U.S. and for many, it’s just another day off. For me it’s extra special in many ways. First, it’s my son’s birthday week. His birthday always falls somewhere around Thanksgiving and sometimes on it.

There are a few more candles now and he doesn't need the chair

There are a few more candles now and he doesn’t need the chair

Second is Thanksgiving itself. I have a hard day on this holiday keeping tears in check. My gratitude overflows. Last year was spent at my son’s home that was all in boxes so there was no cooking and just the two of us. He had several invitations but chose to accept the one so he could be with his three God-children and their parents. It was an odd day for me to be a guest, not the host.

These will be added to a charity quilt for a little boy. Don't look too closely, You'll see my mistake.

These will be added to a charity quilt for a little boy. Don’t look too closely, You’ll see my mistake.

This year I thought it would be just myself and my adult children. I decided to invite my niece and her family that live and hour plus away. They graciously accepted and asked if their newly married daughter and son-in-law could be included. Of course. It turned out they had plans. Those plans fell through this week and with a few texts, they are coming after all.

My sister was going to the home of her daughter and her daughter’s other parent. Then I got an e-mail that her daughter wants to be with family. So three more will be at our multiple tables and odd assortment of chairs. I decided the sofa could be turned to face the dining room so sofa sitters could face the rest of the group. There is always a way to make things work.
This is my kind of Thanksgiving. The most I’ve ever had for a holiday dinner was 17. I always cook BIG so it’s easy for me. I’m sure there will be plenty of help.

A crowd for Thanksgiving is for what I am most grateful. Family, friends that are family and lots of happy chatter, playfulness, thoughtfulness, with lots of warm memories being made.

I was originally prepared for eight so I made that many placemats, trying to be festive. Who knew I’d need 13. I also made myself the first ever autumn apron deciding to not only line the pre-printed panel, but make it reversible with pockets on both sides. I’m grateful that I can sew. I am grateful for my home that has the room for so many in it. This will be my first Thanksgiving in this house. I am thankful every moment of every day but this one day is collect those around you to celebrate those moments. To top it off, I am deeply grateful for all of you who stop by to visit and share your hearts with me. It makes every day Thanksgiving.

How are you spending your Thanksgiving and for what are you most grateful?

Happy Thanksgiving
From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Texture

When you were growing up did your parents ever tell you as you walked through a store or someones home to keep your hands to yourself and don’t touch?

Mine were very strict about that and we never challenged them. I was somewhat like that with my children. It was the phrase, “it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” I was a bit more flexible than my parents and my daughter challenged me more.
Children learn from touching. I am still a very tactile person. Oddly, if I wander through a book or fabric store, I touch each piece I’m interested in to get the “feel” of it. I do it carefully and with clean hands but I love (almost need) to touch EVERYTHING!

Puyallup WA quilt show. How can you resist touching.

Puyallup WA quilt show. How can you resist touching.

We touch pictures, frames, trees and flowers. Everything in life has texture. Life itself has texture. I think the more texture it has, the more interesting it is. I wrote a comment on a blog one day not too long ago that I start and end my day with gratitude. The rest in the middle is texture.

another job finished. 2 green squares to add  to more for charity quilt. Pattern in fabric adds texture

another job finished. 2 green squares to add to more for charity quilt. Pattern in fabric adds texture

I think that’s why I like to work with my hands. Embroidery, by machine or by hand, quilting, sewing, crafting, especially nature crafts, even gardening are all tactile and full of texture. I can sometimes be heard moaning over a quilt square where the points don’t meet exactly and ask why can’t things just go smoothly? I learn more from the lack of smooth.

Reaching for more books

Reaching for more books

My son put up the last 2 shelves that had taken up residence on my living room floor. (I painted them there so they could dry quicker.) Things didn’t go as smoothly with that either so there are a couple extra holes in my wall. A little putty and paint will fix that but I would rather have the holes than the shelves still on the floor. It’s a quick easy fix. Each day we get a little further along on our respective projects. Each project adds a little texture. Sometimes even to our vocabulary.

Tech Support. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Tech Support. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

Last weekend we made a trip to Portland’s Rose Test Garden to meet with my last husband’s granddaughter and her 2 and 5 year old sons. She only brought the 2 year old this time. I brought books. I always bring books. These books had texture and I’m so glad I picked them. This little guy took after mom’s side of the family. His glasses had been chewed by the dog and he was without them. There were no roses yet in bloom but the Camellia’s were. After he was finished touching the books and hearing some of the stories, I pulled a Camellia bloom off the bush and put it on his tray. Mom was a bit stunned but I wanted him to enjoy the bloom too. He enjoyed the texture of the flower until we left. When you don’t see well, touch is even more important.

He can't see the books well but he loves them. Great grandson

He can’t see the books well but he loves them. Great grandson

Time has flown by again this month. That’s what happens when the days are full. My son has been photographing the beauty of our neighborhood and I have been busy finishing projects. My two squares are done a month early, the charity quilt top I was given to sandwich, quilt and bind is finally done and the binding is almost complete on my teacup quilt.

I didn't piece the top, just but the layers together and quilted.

I didn’t piece the top, just but the layers together and quilted.


Back of quilt pieced from scraps.

Back of quilt pieced from scraps.


Part of the binding will be tonight's handwork project.

Part of the binding will be tonight’s handwork project.

That’s the final and most enjoyable part for me. Busy hands while I watch TV. Weeds have been pulled and more stuff sorted and organized. I have a lot of old magazines with craft ideas in them I wanted to save. Tearing out the pages that would get lost and separated didn’t seem like a great option, so I decided to photograph the picture and directions, putting them into a computer file. Sure takes up less room and the box of magazines and books can now be passed on.

More craft books to get moved on intact.

More craft books to get moved on intact.

It was a stunning view for a good week down to Sleepy Hollow.

It was a stunning view for a good week down to Sleepy Hollow.

There is still going to be a lot more texture and gratitude in my life.
How about you? Are you a tactile person who likes a lot of texture?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of What I’ve Gained

Last week I lost my mind and discovered it had slipped away due to a short-term fever of unknown origin, caused by a vague and undetermined malady. After finally having the energy to get to the doctor, I gained his approval of my course of treatment. Liquids, rest and a sip of brandy every so often. Only a sip now, mind you.

I saw my mind peeking round corners blowing raspberries at me, taunting “catch me if you can.” I had to sneak up on it and it looks like I have a slightly better grip on it as of yesterday.

As I look back on the year behind, I count my blessings with deep gratitude. I gained the first home of my own. Nothing fancy, yet quite adequate in that it allows me to have space to share with those in transition. I’ve also gained the opportunity to look at my life differently.

An ornament from my ex-DIL. Still a sweety. Hers is the round one.

An ornament from my ex-DIL. Still a sweety. Hers is the round one.

The world that I thought was shrinking, became so large that even I’m astounded. So is my mail carrier, Mo. Thanks to Jackie at To Breathe is to Write and Pauline at The Contented Crafter, I’ve received cards, letters, and even gifts from all over the world. In my little area of Sleepy Hollow, Mo rarely sees these postmarks on cards and packages. We are both having fun. Thank you both, Pauline and Jackie for initiating such fun.

Yes, I live in Sleepy Hollow. Scary, isn't it?

Yes, I live in Sleepy Hollow. Scary, isn’t it?

These are the results. First, from the lovely Pauline’s own art studio several much coveted postcards and note cards that will be shared with good friends. I’m still going to get one of her original works of art for my wall soon.

Even a tiny Angel for the collector in me. The bookmark will be much used as I read several books at once

Even a tiny Angel for the collector in me. The bookmark will be much used as I read several books at once

There is a beautifully stitched bag from mommermom that had my daughter and I peering at every angle of this piece. I have never made anything as well stitched as this. I would love to take some lessons from her.

It's like a surprise package just waiting to be opened

It’s like a surprise package just waiting to be opened

The outside is like an envelope

The outside is like an envelope

A handmade card to go with the beautiful drawstring bag

A handmade card to go with the beautiful drawstring bag

A new friend I’m getting acquainted with courtesy of Pauline is Jem Arrowsmith who sent this lovely book and knit shawl. She wasn’t sure if I’d like the color. As you can see from the quilt I made behind it, it’s a color I would choose anytime and see everyday. The book was about her town. What a fascinating way to get to know someone! I looked around. There are no books on my little town but plenty on Portland. I’m finding other bloggers from this area as well.

I don't knit but wish I could when I see work like this. Stunning and lacy.

I don’t knit but wish I could when I see work like this. Stunning and lacy.

Gardening Nirvana has a new word this year. Connections. I had to point out that by first following her blog, then following her followers, I’ve made most of those connections. She has inadvertently been connecting people all along. Her talents are eclectic and here is just one small sample of it. I wish she lived closer as she is an organizer extraordinaire and that is my word for the year. Organize. It will be an ongoing project this year.

I couldn't decide what was the best part

I couldn’t decide what was the best part

hand made cards inside the card box

hand made cards inside the card box

She made this one herself as well to send the rest. A quilted card.

She made this one herself as well to send the rest. A quilted card.

The Eco-Grandma has moved this year as well. She’s been a little harder for me to follow as her moves included her blog as well as her home. I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like but hopefully with a little time, I’ll get more of her earth-wise advice. Another blogger with a huge heart who knows how to make a big statement with a little bit of thread.

The card held the perfect surprise. She couldn't have said it better.

The card held the perfect surprise. She couldn’t have said it better.

Just like most everyone this year, it’s been lose some and gain some. Pounds that is. The perpetual cycle. I’ve finally gained the understanding that I cannot diet. The deprivation sets me up for failure. So I’m trying a different tactic and I’ll let you know how it goes.

This year I’ve gained insights, books, information, and wonderful new friendships. The cards alone made my day. I’m an old school letter writer. With all the gifts and the vast amount of kindness I see in my world, there is no other choice but to pass it forward. I will share all the wonderful cards I’ve received with others and start making a few of my own creations to pass on as well.

Snail mail in addition to virtual is a great balance of old and new. These gifts though, were the kind that touched my heart. Thoughtfulness, kindness, and reasons to keep marching on. When you reach out, there is no limit to how your actions can affect others.

What have you gained that you’d like most to share?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Mixed Bag

I’ve had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Mine started on Sunday and went through Tuesday. My daughter made reservations for two nights at the beach in Newport, Oregon to celebrate my birthday. I love it there and was looking forward to the cool. It thrilled her to be able to pay for our room and buy our meals for the three days we were there or on the road. The drive takes a whole three hours and we took the scenic route.

A nice spot for reflection and grounding.

A nice spot for reflection and grounding.

For her it was the first time she has been employed well enough to have extra money for such a luxurious gift. Her gifts are always thoughtful, just usually required some thrift. I never minded, always just happy enough to hear from her or spend some time together now that we live close.

Doing some grounding of her own with gratitude.

Doing some grounding of her own with gratitude.

 

While she is settled in wonderful employment, my son has been laid off from a high paying, highly skilled job. He has always been able to quickly find new work. This time, the work has been outsourced. There are many like him, highly trained and skilled and willing to work long tedious hours that can find nothing left here that can use any of their skills. It’s happened to many industries so he’s in good company. There is a lot of swift activity going on to get his house sold as well as a relatively newer car before the hand of doom sweeps in. Realtors have been by in droves and we are hoping for the best. Keeping a good attitude has been the most helpful tool.

 

There are 100 steps. We did them up and down...twice. Life is like that. The good stuff is always at the other end.

There are 100 steps. We did them up and down…twice. Life is like that. The good stuff is always at the other end.

My younger sister is also looking for a fresh start with my new home as her base camp. She is hunting for short-term work at an age she would normally be thinking about permanent retirement. It could be easier if computers were her friend but that’s not the case. She will then try to find a place of her own that is affordable and not so far from where all her activities are.

 These are scenes that have played out over and over throughout history. When it’s happening to you, it seems like the sand on the beach was just washed out from under your feet.

 

Beach was littered with jelly fish that just couldn't get back to where they needed.

Beach was littered with jelly fish that just couldn’t get back to where they needed.

While my daughter and I played tourist, others around us and the world are losing their footing. My son is seeing it as an opportunity for a major life shift. This could well be his base camp in the near future. We’d be delighted to have him closer. Hopefully he can find a way to carve out a new career for himself here. Only time will tell.

 

Heavy machinery required to rescue a capsized boat. Sometimes we have to be the heavy equipment for each other.

Heavy machinery required to rescue a capsized boat. Sometimes we have to be the heavy equipment for each other.

Life is always a mixed bag. I’m a pragmatic Virgo. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other till you step on solid ground again. The climb may be steep but with tenacity, relentlessness, fortitude, or whatever driving force moves you in that forward direction, you persevere. I can bet 90 percent of you have gone through something like this at one time or another and come out the other side thinking that it turned out to be a gift in disguise. We are counting on it again. That was my birthday wish this year. All who are struggling with major change, let your light shine at the other end of that tunnel.

 

There is always a sweet ending.

There is always a sweet ending.

 

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

In Search of an Expression of Gratitude

I’ve been blogging for over two years now with a post only once a week at the most. Every once in a while, I think I’ve run out of things to write about. Then something special pops up. I’m an older woman, with limited ability to drive making my world smaller and smaller. That happens a lot to older people. So here is where my world becomes LARGE!

A sweet handmade card from Gardening Nirvana. Reminds me of butterfly wings.

A sweet handmade card from Gardening Nirvana. Reminds me of butterfly wings.

The blogging community has enlarged it in a way that I cannot even begin to express. How does one say thank you for the kindness and caring of those never physically met? Are there words LARGE enough to encompass a heart so full of gratitude?

Over the course of many months I have received many cards via snail mail from Alys at Gardening Nirvana that were so beautiful and hand crafted that they can’t be put out of sight. They remind me daily that I am not alone. Her work is detailed and thoughtful. She is always there with encouraging words and ideas. There are others who cheer me on while they continue with their own personal struggles.

There is so much heart in this card it's impossible to imagine.

There is so much heart in this card it’s impossible to imagine.

Handmade heart came in handmade envelope. I'm in love with the paper.

Handmade heart came in handmade envelope. I’m in love with the paper.

Little hearts punched out of matching paper sprinkled inside. I'm such a lucky girl.

Little hearts punched out of matching paper sprinkled inside. I’m such a lucky girl.

Today, I walked to the grocery for a few things for my quiet dinner. I stopped at my mailbox as I passed by with my groceries. Inside was that sweet slip of paper that said “you have a package.” Hmmm, I hadn’t ordered anything. Fortunately the complex office was still open so I could retrieve it. I don’t remember the stairs I walked up to my apartment as I carried that wonderful box.

I'm sure the mailman had a delightful day delivering this. Covered the addresses.

I’m sure the mailman had a delightful day delivering this. Covered the addresses.

I have taken photos of my gift from every angle. How does one say “Thank You” to someone for such exorbitant generosity? Especially someone you met through a Blog. I have always been a woman who loved words, but right now I’m without sufficient words to express my gratitude for a gift that is generous beyond measure. If you could package and sell this variety of human kindness and generosity, the world would be a much richer place.

This is just the lid!! It's so intricate. and full of detail.

This is just the lid!! It’s so intricate. and full of detail.

I have received Boomdeeadda in a can. It made me smile all the way through. I am now so inspired to start my paper crafting again that it’s hard to not pull it all out and begin. Alas, it must wait a few more weeks as I repackage it carefully for a three-mile move to my final home. Let’s hope address number 35 is the last one and that it actually comes to pass. I’m looking at this bucket with longing. My fingers are itching and my heart is full. I am ever so grateful for her thoughtfulness and for the entire blogging community that has made these difficult years incredibly manageable.

I thought I was going to have a party when I first removed the paper

I thought I was going to have a party when I first removed the paper

Fun in a bucket. Too much to describe!

Fun in a bucket. Too much to describe!

Snail mail still has great appeal

Snail mail still has great appeal

The aqua tissue seems hand decorated as well

The aqua tissue seems hand decorated as well

Have you found unique ways to express your gratitude? Are words enough?

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
~Albert Schweitzer

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Thanksgiving Gratitude

It always seems like the holiday is a long way off, then all of a sudden, there it is. Making decisions whether or not to cook or let someone else do the cooking can be tricky. Some years ago, I would cook Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for between 17 to 20 people and enjoyed every minute of it. That’s how I showed them my love. As children grew and had their own families, I learned to make adjustments in my meals. Frozen lasagna, cooked and set out with vegetable, cracker & cheese trays along with plenty of cookies became the new norm and easier on me. It went from everyone sitting down at the extra-long table to setting up a buffet in the kitchen for a grab a bite, visit, and then go on to the next family. I could share them with others.

Bubbles is staying at my son's house for a while. How can it be Thanksgiving and not be grateful for all good dogs.

Bubbles is staying at my son’s house for awhile. How can it be Thanksgiving and not be grateful for all good dogs.

When we moved away, we made more changes to how we did holidays. Now that I live alone and my circle of family and friends has become even smaller, I’ve adapted once again. This year my daughter will drive us to her cousin’s very small house so we can share Thanksgiving with her four daughters, her mother and her significant other’s family. The place will be busting at the seams but the gathering of people who love each other outweighs any discomfort. For me, the hardest part is coming home in the dark. I have to keep my eyes closed as the lights and movement can make me quite nauseous. I’ve decided to take some wine to see if that helps keep my eyes closed. I’m an awful passenger seat driver in the daylight.

Thanksgiving is a special day to remember things you are grateful for. How many of you are grateful for the fact that you have such abundance that dieting is often a necessary part of your life. A lot of the world is looking for food, I have more than enough and choose to eat sparingly most of the time anyway. Yes, we donate to the less fortunate and I’m grateful I can do that as well.

For me, this holiday is about seeing people we don’t always have close by. My sister-in-law (sister-at-heart) has flown in from Missouri to spend both holidays with her daughter and granddaughters. Even after her brother and I divorced, we were still sisters. I’m grateful for a family that loves me even when they could choose to not.

Teaching my daughter to use the machine. Gifts are being made.

Teaching my daughter to use the machine. Gifts are being made.

There is no shortage of gratitude in my daily life. I write them in the morning and again at night. Instead of looking at all the things that present a challenge to me, (fixed income, health challenges, way too much solitude) I have so much more for which to be grateful.

On Monday, I had to change planes in San Jose, CA with a bit of time between flights. Wandering around for some exercise, I went back to the same gate I got off the plane at. It was time for my flight to leave and I didn’t understand why they weren’t calling for boarding. At the very last-minute, I heard a whisper in my head to check my boarding pass. I was at the wrong gate. A quick jog allowed me to be the very last passenger on my flight, but I didn’t miss it. I was oh so grateful.

I'm grateful my niece can make me look human again.

I’m grateful my niece can make me look human again.

Tomorrow I will be grateful for a noisy crowded house with plenty to eat and a daughter that is willing to get me back and forth. Each year the celebrations are different from the last. I’m grateful for adaptability. Thanksgiving comes every day that I allow it. How are you showing your gratitude for what is on this day of remembrance?

Happy, happy Thanksgiving everyone.
From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself