“The ability to have a choice in what you do is a privilege.”
― Anton Yelchin
This week the Lens-Artists photo challenge theme is “You Choose”. What a marvelous thing, to be able to make choices, little choices and big choices. Around this season, I am mindful of the choices I have: not just “paper or plastic?” when I choose to shop, but also how and what I choose to celebrate. Expanding that mindfulness, I am grateful that my family and I have been able to exercise our choices in who to love, whether to marry and whether to stay married.
“We are our choices.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre
I am also grateful that I’ve had a choice in where to live and where to raise my children. My husband and I made a choice to leave Southern California and raise our four kids in the Midwest.
And then I was able to make the choice to leave the Midwest and follow my grown-up children to Oregon…in my chosen hybrid vehicle.
Choices always have consequences, so they can be very difficult to make. They can often be very tricky to undo. Do you really want that tattoo? (My daughters definitely did want matching SisterCats tattoos.)
Sometimes being able to make a choice to do something can feel very empowering, especially when it feels like your cause is hopeless. Choosing to fund research on a currently incurable disease or plant a tree, for example, is a step in a good direction.
Choosing to help others, or to help animals, live happy, healthy lives is a choice that can bring joy and spread love.
I have much to be grateful for in the freedom to make my own choices. I am grateful that my children have been able to make their own, different choices as well. That is certainly something to celebrate!
Thanks to Tina, our challenge host this week. Visit her blog to see her photo choices and learn how to participate with the Lens-Artists.
“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful
land of life.” – Albert Einstein
My favorite way to celebrate life is to party with my family. I am an introvert; I don’t like big crowds of strangers. I relax and enjoy myself the most when I’m with people who make me feel safe and happy. I love family celebrations: birthdays, weddings, dinner parties, and holidays at home. My mother’s birthday was New Year’s Eve. We always had a sumptuous and elegant dinner at home, plenty of music and bubbly, and fireworks and crowds only on the TV (which was usually locked in a closet). When I got old enough to have my own home, I enjoyed preparing for a family party: shopping for food, cooking, setting a pretty table, and anticipating that wonderful moment when my favorite people would walk in the door. An added benefit to family parties is that fewer people have to drive home afterwards! I really love living in a state that makes outdoor partying possible for much of the year, especially during this pandemic. Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite family celebrations:
“What can you do to promote world peace?
Go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa
As we enter a season of celebration, I wish you all the joy of family love, through blood or affiliation, and the time and place to be with each other safely and happily. Thanks to Amy for hosting our challenge this week and posting an international selection of celebrations. Click HERE to see her fun post and instructions for participation.
Inspiration…that moment when you draw in breath, a gasp, an awe-filled audible inhalation, the desire to take in the spirit of something beautiful, breath-taking.
I moved to Oregon exactly one year and one week ago. I have been inspired by something about it every single day I’ve been here, I think. The natural communities are incredibly diverse and resilient and interesting and beautiful. Today, for example, I joined a work party collecting camas seeds. These little seeds are nestled in the dried flower petals like beans in maracas. They shake and rattle as you walk through the meadow grass. Indigenous people roasted the bulbs of these plants as a food staple, high in natural sugars, similar to sweet potato. When I returned from this adventure, I walked down my driveway and began collecting blackberries from the invasive Himalayan canes that grow as a huge, prickly nuisance to most landowners, a deliciously irritating problem. They are everywhere. Free food!
This has not been an easy year for me by any means. It hasn’t been an easy year for most people. On top of the universal griefs and fears, I am new in town, isolated, unemployed, and missing my mother who died in October. There are always mornings when I find it hard to get up and get on with my life. But when I look out my window at OREGON, I find motivation to join the young hawks and the gentle deer, step outside and breathe in the rich scent of Douglas fir.
In such a setting, I feel like I belong to the Earth, like a tree taking root and creating a tall, strong life. I’m grateful to have this new inspiration in my life. If you’re curious about previous explanations of my blogging inspiration, visit THIS POST. Thanks to Patti for creating this challenge and sharing her beautiful photos.
For most of my life, my Holiday Season was centered around traditions that originated in the Anglican community. We celebrated Advent, then Christmas, and finally Epiphany. For forty years, beginning when I was 7 years old, I sang in an Episcopal Church choir and spent a good portion of my Christmas break in rehearsal and in church. The birth of Jesus was the reason for the season, and I never told my children there was a Santa Claus. The first gift they unwrapped was always the wooden Christ figure for the creche, in a golden box marked “Unto Us”. These traditions were rich, comforting, and firm. I think they provided many benefits to my four young children. As the children grew, our family made Christmas about broader values. We supported needy families, donated to organizations that contributed to world causes, and gave gifts that were homemade or from sustainable sources. As my children became young adults, we approached our holiday traditions with hard questions about life and meaning and community. What is truly holy and valuable to us? How do we celebrate the divine spark in all of life? Perhaps the most poignant question became “What is our family now that Dad has died?” Transitions are the hallmark of growth. Things that are growing change; living things evolve. There are Universal transitions that are holy. December 21 is the Winter Solstice, when the Earth is furthest from the Sun and daylight is at its ebb. This year, Saturn and Jupiter will align on that day. And three of my children will be living in Oregon with me. The list of transitions our family has braved over the last year is weighty. It includes several moves, relationship changes, and my mother’s death. In the midst of all these changes, we remember and celebrate the thing that makes a Holy Season: the invitation to Love and the recognition of divine presence in every living thing.
I’m sure that for many people around the world, this will be a Holiday Season that seems very unusual, perhaps quite unsettling. I wish us all the Peace of knowing that transition and change is intrinsic to Life. May we reach out in holy Love and celebrate the divine presence in all living things, expressing our gratitude and committing to doing good.
Thank you, Ann-Christine, for hosting this week’s challenge.
“The secret of life
Is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it,
There ain’t nothing to it.
Nobody knows how we got
To the top of the hill.
But since we’re on our way down,
We might as well enjoy the ride…
The secret of love
Is in opening up your heart.
It’s okay to feel afraid,
But don’t let that stand in your way.
‘Cause anyone knows
That love is the only road.
And since we’re only here for a while,
Might as well show some style.
Give us a smile...
Isn’t it a lovely ride?
Sliding down, gliding down,
Try not to try too hard,
It’s just a lovely ride…
Now the thing about time
Is that time isn’t really real.
It’s just your point of view,
How does it feel for you?
Einstein said he
Could never understand it all.
Planets spinning through space,
The smile upon your face,
Welcome to the human race.
Some kind of lovely ride.” ― James Taylor
Amy, the Lens-Artists host this week, invites us to “share some of the precious moments we have had, before or during the pandemic”. These images are favorites of mine, as is the James Taylor song. In my days alone of late, I have often returned to the pictures and music etched in my mind. I am grateful to have a rich array and a powerful memory.
Trick or Treat? It’s all in the attitude. An attitude of gratitude can turn your perception around completely.
“When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.” — Tecumseh
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” — Voltaire
Today, I am most appreciative of being able to spend the last two months caring for my mother in hospice. She died on Thursday evening, quickly, peacefully, willingly and with the promise to “haunt us”, a comment she delivered in the last week with a twinkle in her eye. What a treat to have been able to move cross-country in pandemic conditions and to find myself unemployed and free to be at her side when her illness became apparent. Those circumstances might seem upsettingly tricky, but truly, I wouldn’t have missed these last weeks by her side for anything on earth. My mother was a widely acknowledged treasure!
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Learning how to work with your thoughts and receive the pleasures that are all around us is a great trick, one that contributes to wisdom and health.
“Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.” — Unknown
May all your sorrows become sweetness in the joy of being!
Thanks to Tina for hosting this challenge and sharing her amazing wild animal photos! I am so grateful that there are still some wild places left on the planet, and so concerned about their destruction. I recommend the documentary David Attenborough: A Life on This Planet (Netflix) as an excellent narrative on this issue, with hopeful solutions.