Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

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

In Search of My Oars

I have been absent for a while. I kind of fell out of the boat and was looking for the way to get grounded. My oars seemed to be missing so the paddling was a bit difficult. I think it started at Halloween and then the time change tossed my rhythm totally off kilter. So I decided to just wait it out and see where I landed…or not.

I’m visiting my grown son this weekend for his 46th birthday. I was obviously a child when he was born. There are so many wonderful memories of him as a child and more as an adult. I’ve been blessed to be his mother. (insert crooked smile here).

I just finished reading Texana’s Kitchen post on “How to be thankful for boys.” Her tales about her boys required a tissue or two for the memories it brought up. This woman can write, so please take a few moments for some belly laughs and a tear drop or two. She reminded me of the escapades our children venture on.

Age 2 at friends home in Taiwan

Age 2 at friends home in Taiwan

The day my son passed drivers education in high school, he forgot how to ride a bike. Ambling in the door with a very bad case of road rash and a swollen mouth, he held his closed hand out until I put mine out to receive what was in it. He handed me his front teeth. I looked at him and quietly asked if he needed to see the dentist or the doctor first. I needed to know if his mouth took the brunt or if there could be a head injury involved. We opted for the dentist. Raising a boy for me was easier than a girl in spite of the boy type activities that brought the usual injuries. My daughter was the one that created situations that made my heart stop beating for a moment or two but that’s another story. The fact that he almost didn’t survive his birth made me appreciate every day I’ve had and will have with him.

His first 10 days. Then they let me hold him.

His first 10 days. Then they let me hold him.

I was taught gratitude very early in the game of parenthood. Letting go of control was also a big lesson. We are NEVER really in control. I knew he was kissed by Angels on his birthday as kindness and caring ooze from every fiber of his being. We won’t be spending Thanksgiving together but I am so grateful for each of his birthdays that I was privileged to spend with him. Now that I’ve had my son fix, I feel like I’ve found my oars again and can aim for the land of creativity once again. This will hold me till he comes to spend Christmas with his sister and I.

Have you ever lost your oars and how did you find them? Did you find girls or boys to be more fun or challenging to raise? I know I wouldn’t part with either.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Horse and Buggy

There are days we long for simpler times, if indeed they were simpler. The last few months have been nothing but one car repair after another for my daughter. It’s hard to explain to someone with a budget so tight it squeals, that if you don’t fix it now, it’s going to cost you twice later. Where does that leave you?

It started with lower ball joints and all that affected. $900. Had to be done or the car would fall apart on the interstate and tie up the morning or afternoon commute. It was in dire condition. Mom (me) fronted the cost so she could keep working. Because daughter had waited so long to get a necessary alignment done, the calipers, brakes and rotors were totally gone. That wasn’t cheap either. Another $1000 down the drain just as she was gleefully starting to pay me back for the last repairs. She pulled out of the bay at Sears automotive and got to the signal to turn onto a major road when the car died, twice, then wouldn’t start again.

It's still pretty for a 1997 Olds Bravada.

It’s still pretty for a 1997 Olds Bravada.

Sears tried to help but couldn’t figure it out. Tow truck time. I had just signed us up for AAA the month before. Took 2 tow trucks because they couldn’t get the car out of gear and it’s all-wheel drive. So across the street to the next shop. It was the ignition and wiring. That was another $657. She had to whip out her credit card.

Then came tires and finally an alignment. All in less than six months. Last Thursday, as she was filling her tank and taking the car through the car wash, the driver’s side electric mirror fell off. They had to back her out of the wash. She called and cried. Does this sound like anything you’ve experienced? So she borrowed my car to get to work while trying to figure out the next step. Guess what happened next? Daughter ran over a nail somewhere and had to get my tire patched. Four days later, I ran over a screw and had to get another tire patched.

The offending mirror all new and shiny.

The offending mirror all new and shiny.

Thinking about the good old days of horses and buggy’s was sounding pretty good. Till you start adding up feed costs, vet bills, blacksmith for shoes and wood wheels in need repair or replacement. Then there is the dust you had to eat not even mentioning the heat or cold. My daughter’s car no longer has working AC. That would be another $600. It’s not so easy for some to just go and buy a newer car or to replace the cost of a horse and buggy.

Can you see the residue from the duct tape that held the broken one on?

Can you see the residue from the duct tape that held the broken one on?

She would love to do something where she didn’t need to commute, but right now the ideas aren’t jumping out at any of us. She talks wistfully of the day she can utilize the proper application of high explosives on her nemesis. (i.e. the car)
We all want to drive less and not be involved in a commute. Many of us are looking for the simple life and hers really can’t get much simpler. She doesn’t have TV and she’s living in 400 sq. ft. How do we get back to the horse and buggy days? Do we even want to?

I saw an ad for the new electric car. Sounds wonderful but it’s going to run a minimum of $70,000. How many do you want? I’ll take three.

Our vote is for gratitude for the old clunker for now. Lets hope next week is kinder on the budget. Is there an easy fix for this kind of problem?

Drive-in banks were established so most of the cars today could see their real owners. ~ E. Joseph Cossman

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Happiness Factor

I read Author McCloskey’s blog recently that brought up a subject that I feel so strongly about, I had to expound. What it is that makes one person live longer than the next? She pointed out that the happier man lived longer and enjoy his life more. That is often very true.

Many of us work hard to take care of ourselves with exercise and good diet. Some of us are lucky enough to have good genetics. Neither of these factors appears to be a guarantee. Add a positive, happy attitude to the mix, and you amp up the odds.

I have been a student of human nature for most of my life, trying to understand what make us do things in a certain way. Happiness is not a subject I have a lot of familiarity with as I tend to be stoic and practical. Life handed me lots of lemons so I’ve become practiced in all manner of lemon recipes. Lavender lemonade is my favorite. That’s the nicest way I can say I was broken many times in my life. When you are in survival mode, happiness isn’t something you think about. You just want to stop the pain.

So what is happiness? There has been a great deal of research about it lately giving me the opportunity to do some of my own. How do you know when you are happy? It seems to be such a fleeting feeling that comes and goes with circumstances. Buddhists believe you can be happy all the time, in spite of circumstances in your life. I’m looking into it in a very serious way. My first glimpse at happiness started after reading Byron Katie’s book, “Loving What Is”. I hated that book but it changed my life. It’s one you throw across the room because aren’t done being pissed. I bought Marci Shimoff’s book, “Happy for no Reason”. I didn’t read it right away either. My misery was quite comfortable where it was, thank you very much. I wanted a reason to be happy. (I know better now).

You have to be ready for change with this book.

You have to be ready for change with this book.

I still don’t understand completely what happiness looks like. Now that I am living alone, with very limited income and none of the things that “make people happy”, I’m often asked if I’m happy. My answer is that I’m content and working my way to understanding if that is happiness. What is the criteria for happy? I know it’s not based on stuff. Of course, books are the exception. With an attitude of gratitude, happiness soon moves in.

She did a lot of the same research I did. But she wrote the book.

She did a lot of the same research I did. But she wrote the book.

I’ve experienced great joys in life with my children. Even traveling with my mother to her homeland where we laughed out loud and giggled like school girls still brings a smile to my face. Watching puppies also gives me that warm, happy feeling. Doing a kindness in any capacity always leaves me happier. It’s the moments in between that I think we have to look at. You don’t have to be happy about your circumstances; just knowing you can get through them can raise the happiness quotient. I have long believed the happiness factor leads to increased longevity. I’m banking on it.

Puppies are always good for the warm fuzzies.

Puppies are always good for the warm fuzzies.

In the quiet moments of your day, are you happy? How do you define happiness?

Happy in writing class. Half shut eye is parayzed side but I'm really smiling here.

Happy in writing class. Half shut eye is parayzed side but I’m really smiling here.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”Mahatma Gandhi

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of What to Read

I’ve tried all week but there seems to be no end to my cave dwelling. Trying to understand why I couldn’t get anything accomplished brought me to the realization that I’ve been a human doing, not a human being for so long that I need time to refuel. The last four months have been quite taxing. Oh, gosh, that’s coming up too. So, giving myself permission to stop, rest and continue to heal all those damaged nerves in my face and head, takes a great deal discipline.

I’m also coming off sugar and refined carbs. When the munchies encroach on my space too close to the kitchen, I retreat to the cave for protection. Once there, I have no desire to go foraging. It’s a warm and cozy drawing me in some evenings as early as 7:00 p.m. I will read till at least 10, hoping to find peaceful sleep at the end. It works unless a neighbor decides to slam a door or take a shower at 11 p.m. These old buildings are not well insulated.

So, now you will discover my odd reading habits. On rare occasion do I read start to finish. That’s part of why I don’t borrow from the library. Some stories want to be savored for as long as possible. Other books, mostly my non-fiction, require a bit of digestion after each chapter. Can’t rush learning. I also keep several notebooks handy. One is my gratitude journal that I write in immediately after crawling into the cave, the other is my writing and thoughts notebook. Some nights I wake up with something that just has to be written now or lost. I rarely buy magazines anymore but this week I found a couple that wouldn’t stay on the shelf. They just followed me home.

magazines

Here is what is sleeping in my bed this week. I read a chapter of each until I get to the mystery. The one here is an excellent second to the first of the series. I read three chapters last night but still trying to make it last. I’ll end my day with something inspirational to stay in my mind as I sleep.

books in bed

I took this old canvas bag apart to experiment on it after having my sewing machine serviced. I take it with me to try to start conversations whenever possible. Not that many people read anymore and I’m looking for slightly different reading material than many I come across. I have more room for books in my bed since my little dog is no longer taking that space.

book bag

Do you have books in your bed too? Or is it a furry friend? Maybe you just have people partners and your books must reside elsewhere. What are you reading these days?

My furry friend Schatzie sorely missed.

My furry friend Schatzie sorely missed.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”Marcus Tullius Cicero

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Next Step

In this season of gratitude and giving, there seems no end to my list of things for which to be grateful.

On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, I stopped at the mailbox on my way to run errands. It was the first dry day in a week and since I don’t drive at all when it rains, there was much to be accomplished. Windshield wipers add to the dizziness.

I was not expecting any mail but i nside my tiny box was a thick packet in one of those yellow-brown envelopes. It was from a title company in the town where my house was for sale.

The first page read: Congratulations on the sale of your home. Here are 50 pages of documents to read, sign and have notarized. Well, that added to my to-do list. I would need to find a notary close to home so I searched the internet and made some calls, all from the convenience of my front seat with my smart phone. How did we ever live without them?

Arriving at the notary, I can’t tell you how relieved I was to be greeted by a mature woman who knew what she was doing. I certainly didn’t.I handed her the documents. The process took us the better part of an hour and with each page I signed, a feeling I could not immediately identify, crept over me. Before the last pages were signed, I was blotting quiet tears. What the heck was this all about? I had asked St. Joseph to find someone to care for the home and he had complied, within days of my prayer. So why the tears? Melancholy set in and stayed for the next day as well. I would miss that home for all hopes and dreams it represented.

It was a wonderful home

It was a wonderful home

I’ve been afraid to say a word about selling my home because it’s not done till it’s done. Homes have fallen out of escrow at the very last-minute and I didn’t want to jinx it. Yes, I’m slightly superstitious. How silly is that? Waiting until the closing completed, was a must. On December 18 at 1:18 pm I was notified that escrow had officially been closed.

This will be the last thing that ties me to the ex-husband and we can be done. We can both move forward in different ways. In deepest gratitude, I am a free woman in every sense of the word.

oh so grand but not for me.

oh so grand but not for me.

This Christmas season has brought many gifts. The best part is I have both my adult children and my sister with me for the holiday. What comes under the tree is just icing on a very tasty cake. I am filled to the brim with joy and I hope some of it spills over onto you.

The process of selling this home has taken a lot of energy during this holiday season so very little of my usual routine has been done but I am oh, so grateful it has found new caregivers. bringing a fresh breath to the New Year. Here’s a toast to mixed emotions. I am soaking up this moment, then I have to wonder, what’s next? What would you do as a next step?

Sometimes moving on with the rest of your life starts with goodbye. ~ author unknown

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself