take my hand

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.” ~Alan Bennett

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wintry wednesday

Went to an ice carving show in town recently with my husband to take a few pics and get out of the house. It was cold cold cold, but the bright sunshine and blue sky made up for the chilly air. Thankfully, they aren’t holding the competition this week, it was 53 and sunny yesterday! We Instagrammed a few iPhone photos from the ice show and I took my Canon along too, this was my favorite capture from the Mark II.

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play time

I had a lovely visit with a friend and her granddaughter recently and I couldn’t help but bring my camera along when I met baby Claire so I could chase her around and take a few pics. She’s a cutie and it didn’t take her long to simply ignore the strange lady with the big black camera lens stuck to her face and go about her baby busyness. I’ve noticed on Twitter and various blogs recently that some people are choosing a single word as their New Year’s resolution. I like that idea, coming up with a one word theme that we want to honor, or infuse into our lives as we begin another year. Watching Claire explore her grandma’s house that afternoon was very relaxing and even mood boosting and it reminded me how as grown-ups we often forget the importance of play. Of doing something “just because”, with no agenda, no expectation of what we will get out of an activity, what we will accomplish.

My daughter got a small white kitten before she moved out a few years ago. I was going through some difficult things at the time but “Mr. Boo” didn’t know, or care about my troubles, he just wanted me to drag a piece of string across the floor so he could chase it. As it turns out, the hours I spent sitting on the floor playing with him was good medicine because play is the opposite of depression. Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneering researcher in the field of play, said in a TED video, “Nothing lights up the brain like play. Three-dimensional play fires up the cerebellum, puts a lot of impulses into the frontal lobe–the executive portion–and helps contextual memory to be developed.” When I start singing the blues in 2012, I’m going to remind myself of my word, “play”, and then I’ll whisper my thanks to a six month old baby girl and a little white kitten for reminding me how it’s done!

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt

instafun

Lucky me and Mr. bookbabie got iPhones just before the holidays, kind of a pre-Christmas gift to ourselves. We’ve been enjoying the ease of texting with them and all the apps, I actually rarely use mine for phone calls! I recently joined Instagram, a free photo sharing application that is basically Twitter for pictures. I’m having a lot of fun with it, taking iPhone photos, editing them with various apps, and then sharing them on the public feed. It gives you something to do with your cell phone photos, aside from forcing your friends to look at them of course, and it’s kind of like making miniature art (or so I tell myself to rationalize the time I spend playing with it!). Hope you all survived the hubbub of the holidays, we still have a naked tree in our family room, otherwise I’ve got most of Christmas put away and when I’m not on Instagram I’m on the computer looking for someplace warm and sunny to escape to:)

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.  ~Henry David Thoreau

christmas wonder

Those are my husband’s slippered feet, relaxing as he sits back and admires the Christmas tree. We put it up last weekend. Mrs. Scrooge (that would be moi) questioned whether we should bother, we usually have it up at the beginning of December so we can enjoy it all month long. But sick mom’s, bad backs, and other stresses slowed down the holiday fa la la-ing around here, and while I was ready to make do with the fireplace and mantle adornments alone, Doug wanted (actually seemed to need) the tree up. So up it went. While the movie, “Elf”, played in the background, we hung the ornaments one by one, remembering the significance of each as we filled the empty branches of the tree with keepsakes of our 32 years together.

There was our son’s “Baby’s 1st Christmas” satin ball, the tiny red sleigh our daughter made in 2nd grade with her school photo glued in the center, the dancing Kokopelli from a family trip to Sedona, the yellow cab from our New York City adventure, the hand crocheted bird’s nest Doug’s grandmother made us, the little wooden nutcrackers we bought when we were first married and couldn’t afford the beautiful Christopher Radco glass ornaments we have since collected. I must admit, I’m glad we put the tree up. There’s something very relaxing about the evenings now, sitting in the family room with Doug, wrapped in the sparkling glow of the Christmas tree lights.

At the end of my book, one of the characters is reflecting on his life, on the fear and the grief that has literally driven him deep into the woods. He comes to the realization that what he’s feeling is okay, that he hasn’t been indelibly damaged by loss, that “the monster he had been running from wasn’t really a monster after all. It was simply that place in the heart that holds the measure of your history, the joy and the grief, the laughter and the tears, the magic and the wonder; all the ingredients that add up to the story of a life well lived.” The holidays can be difficult. Too much running, too much spending, too much forced holiday cheer when really all we want from Santa sometimes is a little peace and quiet, or better yet, a little peace of mind. To me, a Christmas tree is kind of like that place in the heart, the ornaments we choose and those given to us are delicate echoes of the joys and the losses that make up our stories. So yes, it was worth the trouble, putting up the tree and filling it with our memories. Whether it’s for one week or four weeks or one hundred weeks, taking the time to honor the wonder and magic of Christmas, of our lives, is a worthy and lovely way to spend an afternoon. Merry Christmas Mr. Day, and to all my friends and family near and far whether or not you celebrate Christmas, my wish for you is a happy, healthy, and wonder filled 2012.

grand fun

Watched the grandkids for a few hours last Sunday and had us some much needed soul soothing fun and laughter.

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“To become a grandparent is to enjoy one of the few pleasures in life for which the consequences have already been paid.”  ~Robert Brault

love rules

I usually have two books going at once, one fiction and one non-fiction. Yesterday, I was scanning my bookshelf in the family room looking for something motivational/comforting/self-helpish and I spotted What Happy People Know by Dan Baker, Ph.D. I read it a few years ago, but apparently I’ve forgotten “what happy people know” because I’ve been feeling pretty blue lately. After rereading it I decided to play along with the Teaser Tuesdays Blog meme at MizB’s Should Be Reading blog. I randomly opened the book to page 94 and picked out this quote to share. “From that day on, I realized that there was something happy people know that unhappy people don’t: No matter what happens in life, there’s always something left to love, and the love that remains is always stronger than anything that goes against it.”

I like that, the idea that love rules, that the capacity of our hearts to appreciate and love unconditionally can overcome the craziness in our minds. Craziness that is almost always motivated by fear. Fear that we aren’t good enough, we aren’t loveable, fear of loss, fear that things won’t get better, fear that we are helpless to “fix” the broken pieces of our life. I think we all have to dig deep sometimes to find the courage to quiet that fear-based voice with a conscious prayer that begins and ends in gratefulness and love. My take away after reading Dr. Baker’s book again is simply this: Life is a dance and we all might be a little happier if we remember to lead with love, not fear.