James and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on January 2 this year; he gave me a true gift of love on that day. Holidays always seem particularly hard for us since we are many miles from our loved ones; we missed them at Thanksgiving and Christmas and knew it was impossible to get them together for our anniversary. I was particularly missing my daughter Jamie, who I hadn't seen since September 2005 when she left for her first Peace Corps assignment. We knew she was leaving the States in January for a second, year-long assignment in Africa, so to surprise me James arranged to fly her in for a weekend before she left. This was the greatest gift he could have given me, but I realized something even bigger - the gift truly was the thought of trying to make this happen!! Even if Jamie had been unable to come, James had thought of me and tried. Loving another person enough to care what would make them happy is a gift in itself - perhaps the greatest one of all - even if you can't physically give the gift. The thought IS the gift. Thinking in love of another person is how we truly create the season.
I ran into an amazing piece of support from reaching out to a friend the other day. I had been struggling with feelings of isolation and disconnection from people, and Kim sent me a piece entitled " A Note from the Universe"The message hit me right between the eyes!; it's not the struggles you go through that count - it's how you FINISH - in a position of strength. It came at a time when I was considering giving up on human relationships, on trying to find those strong, deep ones that truly create joy, among the hundreds of casual acquaintance relationships we all have in our lives. I was simply tired of trying! But this video reminded me that the number of times you try DOESN'T COUNT, because if you stop trying before the next try, you won't get there. Whatever your goal, you have to continue to try until you get there, no matter how many times that is; then, and only then, do you finish in strength. And equally important, the times you try and only make it part way to the goal, don't consider them failures; the strength of your finish is measured by the number of times you try - and keep trying!
Life has been very busy lately; we moved my father from his independent apartment to assisted living within the La Posada complex ( his bone cancer is progressing unfortunately), and James had the first of his cataract surgeries ( which turned out great!). I've found it ever more important to make time in my life for those moments of joy brought on by creativity; otherwise life can become a continual series of unending chores. James and I have started updating our stamp albums together; it's fun, cheap, and appeals to my organizational sense. We welcome all donations of used stamps from our family and friends. I've also created a 2008 Christmas wall-hanging and am working on a set of 6 Christmas placemats ( we plan to invite friends over) and small Christmas gifts for friends. It amazes me how calming and satisfying creating something with my hands is; it completely removes any existing stress in my day!
What a joyous week James and I had when our "Up with People" cast members wandered in for a stay with us as their "host-family" for their week in Sahuarita. Danielle (23) from Wisconsin and Steph (18) from Vermont brightened our lives with their youth and energy, demanded nothing other than a bed, food and a car ride twice a day, and reminded us how much we missed our grown children. They treated us to an amazing concert on Saturday night, complete with a special guest performance by Herb Allen and the Chandler Brothers ( all seniors we might add!) who wrote the very first music for Up with People in 1965. The concert was done in both English and Spanish and covered a multitude of cultures by young people from 22 countries. We were so privileged to be a small part of this group for even a week; it reminded us that life is for living - and the only way to live is to be INVOLVED as often as you can. Find at least one new thing to explore and share each week is our new motto; it makes life shine! We can still watch TV if we choose, but we are determined NOT to be couch potatoes. We want to be like the 80 year-olds we saw in concert Saturday: they were still kicking right along with the young adults they played for. You can stay young no matter how old you get as long as you involve yourself with life!. Thanks Steph and Danielle for reminding us of this important message.
I find it so easy to create harmony in the looks of my home - add a decoration here, paint a wall to harmonize or soothe, quilt a wall hanging to promote the southwest look; I wish creating harmony in my relationships was as easy. It seems so easy sometimes to get frustrated when a coworker or family member is closed off and hard to reach. I find myself wanting to be kind, but acting defensively instead because I am afraid of being rejected in my efforts to reach out, and sometimes just feeling plain ornery because I want things to be easy and smooth rather than stiff and awkwardly hard. I so admire the people I come in contact with that seem to put everyone around them at ease, make me feel appreciated , and have others wanting to gravitate to them. What is it exactly that they do - or don't do - that everyone just seems to feel happy around them? While on the other hand, there are those who immediately have me feeling uptight, as though I were a nuisance, and make me want to hide myself away in my office or room so I don't have to deal with them. What do they do - or not do? And what part do I play in furthering the happiness or uptightness with my reactions? Could I change the uptightness to happiness with the right reactions, or is this just part of the world as it is. Should I reach out more, or leave the vicinity if I'm feeling uptight? Which will create harmony in my life in the best possible way. Colors are easy - either they work together or they don't; you simply change them if they don't. People are much more complex, and sometimes I feel like a child in my level of understanding them and in helping both myself and them towards harmony.
If I'm going to create, then the first place to start is my blog, right? With a little creative Photoshop help from my mate Frogwarts, Bearfr's Wanderings has a new look. Let me know what you think. Bearfr
Oh what would we do without our good friends to keep us honest about ourselves. My friend Judith reminded me that she hadn't seen anything in my blog about the "ladder" incident - more often called "intimate encounter with a snail" in our house. About a month ago I was busy creating an accent wall in the master bedroom - painting the bay window wall a soft teal blue called Water Dance to match the colors of accents I had used in the room. I was really enamored of the color and how well it matched our ocean bed quilt and three ceramic snails I had recently finished in a fun evening class with friends. Well, in all this musing I missed the last step on my 4-step ladder as I came down from painting for the last time, careened into the hope chest, fell over the planter with the artificial fern, and sat down HARD right on top of Papa snail's eye stalks! How do explain to your coworkers the next day that you are limping because you have a 6" round snail bruise on your behind. God is the best at teaching me to laugh at myself, and not to get too big a head about my creativity! And thanks to Judith for reminding me that we all need at least one good laugh a day - so from my creative self, here's yours for the day.