Starting Again by John E. Stack

At the end of April, my wife and I placed, Bill, our foster son of almost three years, into his new forever home. It was tough, it was painful, and a big chunk of our hearts went with him. It is tough not to fall in love with someone that has been a big part of  your life for such a long time.
We decided that we needed a short break from being foster parents. The wound was too raw. Everything in our house reminded us of him. We realized that we were going through the grieving process as if he had died. We knew that he was okay, it was just trying to convince our hearts of it.
By the end of September, we decided that we would, again, open our home to babies. We informed our agency that we were ready, and we waited. A month or so went by and we were offered children two separate times, but decided that they would not be a good fit. The care that we would need to provide went beyond our training and abilities. Don’t get me wrong, both babies had medical problems severe enough where they would be unable to leave the house or ever be able to lead a normal life. Chances that either one would ever be adopted was slim, therefore taking either child would obligate us for a much longer time that we wanted.
So we abided our time and waited. We were starting to come to the conclusion that our time of being foster parents was coming to an end.  Neither of us are that young any more, so we started planning for the holidays. We opened our home for a big family gathering. Thanksgiving was going to be crowded. We had thirty-two people on the list that were planning to be there for lunch. (I don’t know which is harder, newborns or thirty-some people for a holiday meal!)
On Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, we received a call from our agency, and they wanted to know if we were open to take a newly born little girl. She had been born the day before. Of course, we agreed. On Wednesday, we received a call that they were leaving the hospital and on the way to our house.
Allie, our eight-year-old, was so excited that she couldn’t sit still.  She was desperately ready to be a big sister again.  She traveled to and from the front door about every five minutes. After each trip, she would ask how much longer until they got here.
Finally, the social worker arrived. Allie was jumping up and down. We finally got to meet our new little girl, and her name was Callie (not her real name). She was two-days-old and weighed a little over six and a half pounds. What a way to restart our fostering adventure.
Callie loved to snuggle and only cried when she was hungry. She was the only baby we have ever had that did not spit-up or have reflux. Normally, if you removed the bottle before she had emptied it, she might lose a drop, but that was it. She had a very gentle personality and it was a real pleasure to have her here.  We fell head-over-hills in love the moment our eyes met hers.
Callie was placed in her new forever home after almost three weeks. Her new parents were so excited to meet their new daughter. My wife said that all they could do was cry.
If we had given up on foster parenting, we would have never had to the pleasure of taking care of this tiny treasure. I can’t imagine not having her in my life.
Maybe God’s plan for us to foster is not over quiet yet. God is good.

 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.

Hey, by the way, if you enjoy reading my thoughts, like and share with friends.  They might like this also. Every author is always looking for greater exposure.  Also, new foster parents are always needed and our love for these special children may influence someone else to take that step out of the their comfortable world and become foster or adoptive parents.

5 Comments

Filed under John Stack, life, writing

I resolve, by Sheila Deeth

Last year–last December–my mum, aged nearly 90, crossed the Atlantic to spend her winter with us. One plane was cancelled; the rescheduled one was late; she missed her connection; she changed planes in half an hour; she struggled with middle seats because of her new schedule and finally played the “nearly 90” card to beg for an aisle seat; and she arrived 12 hours late! As we drove home in the car, my husband played a CD of Christmas carols and Mum, aged nearly 90, surely worn out from the longest day ever of hassles, sang Oh Come All You Faithful. It was nearly midnight–a midnight to remember!

20171212_162629

So now it’s 2018. Mum will stay with us until February, and we’re delighted to have her. I shall take her to see cats at a local cat cafe. We’ll visit the sea again with a friend. We’ll shop like mother and daughter–a treat since we’re so rarely together. We’ll enjoy discovering that Alexa is as obedient to Mum as she is to me. And we’ll laugh together when Mum says “You can’t print my story out; it’s only on my tablet.” “Mum, we have a printer downstairs.” Oh yes, and we’ll go to our local writers’ group–TOGETHER!

So those are my January resolutions. I know I’ll keep them. But as to February, that’s a whole month away, and the rest of the year even further. I’d resolve to catch up on book reviews, but I’m always getting further behind as I find new books I’m offered and “can’t wait” to read. I’d resolve to finish my next novel, Imaginary Numbers, but I’ll need my writers’ group friends to keep me on track. I’ll go to Mum’s 90th birthday party, come hell or high water, no matter how many planes get cancelled or delayed. And I’ll grow a year older–now that’s the sort of resolution I really should keep.

But maybe I should resolve to complain less, sing more in the back of the car, and enjoy the moment, like Mum! Maybe I should learn from her. And maybe we should all do something like that.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, and Subtraction, all published by Indigo Sea. Her next novel, Imaginary Numbers should be written and released this year. And watch this space for Speculatively Yours, a collection of spiritual speculative novellas, coming soon.

2 Comments

Filed under writing

Belly Dancer to Writer

People have asked me how I transitioned from having a twenty-plus-year career as a belly dancer to my present career as a writer. The two seemed so unrelated. I have to admit I had a head start because I spent over fifty years searching for my family after being orphaned as a small child and when I finally found a family member, I wanted to write about it. But in further pondering the transition question, I surprisingly found similarities between the two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main hat I wore during my dancing years was as a Belly Grammer. I was hired to surprise someone for their birthday, anniversary, farewell, get well, reunion or event, with a ten minute dance routine consisting of three parts. The first part was lively Arabic music, accompanied by the rhythm of my brass finger cymbals. Then it slowed down for some pretty, mesmerizing veil work and the last part or finale was lively again, punctuated by the clinking sound of my tambourine. My guest of honor was seated in a chair by himself with people in a circle around him with room for me to dance in the middle. During the routine I presented him with a red banner with a gold glitter message of the occasion and included his name and a red rose. I also crowned him with my veil and tambourine during the number. It was good clean fun and became a very popular way for people to honor coworkers, bosses, family members and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During this time, I attended seminars all over the U.S. and became a professional performer in shows that concluded those lessons. I met other dancers who became friends and I traveled out of the country as well. This opened up trade show jobs and Greek Night events, wedding receptions, gigs in New York and New Jersey in night clubs, fundraising for the Leukemia Society, and as a staff writer for an international dance magazine. I danced for actor Cliff Robertson at a Scottish Céilidh and for Whoopi Goldberg on a movie set and Mr. Winton Blunt, former U.S. Postmaster General asked me to dance in his home for Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki Bin Nassar. Two military bases in Montgomery, AL, near my home, had numerous events for which I was asked to help them celebrate. I started taking students in my home studio and was asked to teach at Auburn University and later to choreograph a production number for the theatre at Auburn U. I even did a tailgate party in the parking lot at Auburn University before a championship football game. I remember being absolutely amazed I was actually able to find my tailgate hosts without any trouble at the super crowded stadium that day!

Medieval Fantasy Dance

 

 

 

You’re probably getting the idea by now, dear reader, that one thing led to another in my dance career, and you’d be absolutely right. The scope for providing opportunities for dance was constantly changing and growing. In developing a routine for my belly grams I was telling a story through my movements and in some of the other shows, I was following a theme and creating a narrative through the dance itself. The magazine staff writer job and having to come up with written lesson plans for my college teaching stints were most helpful in my development with writing, but finding my sister was the clincher and I started writing a mystery novel involving my search for her. Years later, when my agent found my publisher and my book came out; it was time I retired from dance and start my new career. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have been blessed with two careers I loved so much! What about you? Have you had more than one career that you’ve loved?

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

14 Comments

Filed under Art, musings, writing

To Resolve or Not to Resolve by LV Gaudet

kristopher-roller-188180

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Here we are, on the cusp of a new year again.  The time of year where people turn to making their selves promises to better their selves out of guilt over the gluttony of Christmas, because it is their custom to make resolutions for the new year, or simply for a lark.

They count down to midnight, holding glasses to the sky and looking around for someone to play the age old cat and mouse game of “who do I want to lock lips with and who do I desperately want to avoid at the stroke of midnight, and oh no, is that person giving me a hungry I want to devour you look; eww, yuk, don’t touch me.”  Fortunately, those firmly entrenched in romantic-type relationships have a certain sense of immunity.

The new year is often thought as chance at a new start.  Out with the old and in with the new year.  And for some, their yearly resolution is to adamantly proclaim to not have any new year resolutions.

For a month after New Years’, places offering life affirming, soul searching, and body improvements are to be avoided at all costs lest you lose your sanity trying to negotiate the parking lot in endless circles in hopes a spot will open.

By the end of February, many resolutions are forgotten like that dirty underwear discarded and fallen behind the laundry hamper, nagging at the back of the minds of those who remember they landed there but don’t want to dig them out.  you can once again approach the gym without the expectation of spending half an hour or more circling in search of the nefariously impossible to find parking.

 

I am not much of a resolution maker.  I never have been.  I have never really seen the point myself.

Rather than making myself a yearly promise to better myself, telling everyone that I must dedicate myself to something I am loathe to do or give up, I opt for more of a daily simplicity.

It is easier to embrace healthy choices when you don’t make it a chore.  Vegetables are not the enemy, boring food is.  Exercise is an exploration.  Don’t think about how you have to plan it, how much work it will be, just make it simple.  Simple choices.  Chose the positives, not the negatives.

I try to make that a simple part of everyday life.  I enjoy food.  I embrace it.  A good meal does not have to be hard.  Simplify.  Healthy and delicious, rather than lazily bland and over fat inducing.  I enjoy feeling good, not sluggish.  Living, moving, not laying about while time ticks by without me.

 

If I am making any kind of resolution this year, I made it in November, during NaNoWriMo.  It is not a pledge to better myself.

My promise was more of a what do I want to accomplish over the next year.  Over the next years.  Nothing worthwhile comes without some form of compromise.  Nothing in life is ever that simple.

I made a choice to focus my effort on finishing works in progress.  Choosing a story at whatever state of progress it is in, from the first drafts sitting idle to the partially done.  It means sacrificing the nonstop ideas that come up, urgently wanting to be written.  I have too many unfinished stories, put aside when the next story begs to be written.

And, let’s face it, writing is much more fun than editing.  Creating something new, the story flowing through you with no idea where it will take you; vs. re-reading the same story a hundred times over while you work to develop it into the best thing you can make it be.

So, while the new stories clamber to be written, I will try to focus instead on the new discoveries waiting to happen with old friends as I re-explore the stories to be edited, revised, torn asunder and reconstructed, and to be finished.

 

And, just for fun, for the New Year’s Eve glorified resolutions and customs fanatics, for your enjoyment …

 

From smashing your dirty dishes on your neighbor’s door to burning effigies, to fist fights, to who steps first over a threshold, here is a list of 25 strange new year’s customs.  As with anything internet based, take it for what it is, unverified and maybe true maybe not.

 

https://list25.com/25-strangest-new-years-traditions-from-around-the-world/

1 Comment

Filed under L.V. Gaudet, writing

New Beginnings and Happy Endings by Sherrie Hansen

The old joke goes that someone asked Mrs. Lincoln, “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?” The twentieth century version would be, “Aside from that, Mrs. Kennedy, how did you enjoy your trip to Dallas?”

Today is the 360th day of the year. There are five days left in 2017. For me, much of the year passed in a fog because in 2017 my father was diagnosed with leukemia and eventually died. When something that life changing happens, everything else is inconsequential. But the year did have some bright points, and I’d like to think on a few of those things as well as what I am looking forward to in 2018.

az-purples

In January, Mark and I went to Arizona for a Spiritual Life Retreat. It was a good way to start out the year and helped ground me for what was to come. Seeing the beautiful red rocks and hiking in the desert was an eye-opening  experience for me. Having grown up amid Minnesota Northwood trees, lakes and streams, I’d rarely appreciated the beauty of the desert – until we discovered Sonoran Botanical Gardens. We even saw a rainbow. A promise was a good thing, because even then, we knew something was wrong with Dad.

Food - melting moments

The first week of February, I celebrated 25 years of being open for business at the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House, and my 60th birthday. We served Tomato Basil, Fresh Broccoli, Wonderful Wild Rice, and Potato Ham soups, egg salad and Monte Cristo sandwiches, Copenhagen Cream with Raspberries and my fancy homemade cookies. I hired a DJ and made up an eclectic set-list of favorite songs from 1957 on. It was a wonderful night and would be my Dad’s last time to come to an event at the Blue Belle.

baldners-dad

March brought a flurry of bad diagnosis and a roller coaster ride of hope and frustrations and searches for answers.

Zion - Sunset 2015 2

In April, Dad took his last “big trip” when he came down to Mark’s church in Hudson to listen to the M&MS and Zion’s worship team sing Life is Like a Mountain Railway, his favorite song. We practiced it several times for him because it made him so happy.

Ireland - flowers

In late May, Mark and I said goodbye to Dad at the ICU at Mayo. Dad had pneumonia. I hated leaving him, but we had tickets to Wales, Ireland and England. We compensated for our absence by calling him every night from whatever country we were in. We stayed at B & B’s, enjoyed taking photos of amazing castles, gardens, and beaches, as well as sampling delicious pub grub, smoked haddock, millionaire bars (caramel shortbread), meat pies, Battenberg cakes, and Irish stew. Our adventures on the Wild Atlantic Way along the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland inspired a new book, Seaside Daisy.

Ireland - daisy sea

Dad rallied and was still alive when we came home in mid-June. It seems like the whole summer went by in a blur. Dad had chemo and almost 70 blood transfusions. We almost lost him twice, once when he went into anaphylaxis shock and once when his platelets dropped to 1.7. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren came from all over the country to hug and cheer him on. Through it all, he kept his sense of humor and faith.

Dad - harvest

In the midst of the busyness, my new  release, Golden Rod, came out. I tried to remote it but my mind was on bigger things. In August it became apparent that more chemo was not an option. The process of acceptance that we were going to lose him began. Dad said it was sure too bad he had to miss his funeral because he knew the music would be great (lively bluegrass) and he’d get to see everyone he knew. When he first mentioned having a funeral rehearsal, we thought he was kidding.

Dad - pick-up

Sept 7, we kids hosted Everett Hansen Day at the Farm. Nearly 250 friends and family came for a potluck, greeted by a joyous, smiling Dad. During the next two months Dad was able to stay at home, and as was his goal, watch the harvest come in. My brothers and sister and I took turns spending the night in the double recliner next to him and enjoying many late night conversations.

Dad - creek

October was spent doubling back to the Blue Belle to serve over a hundred Seasoned Pork and Parmesan Stuffed Pumpkins to lunch guests by day, planning and writing murder mysteries by night, spending Wed, Thurs and Fri evenings with Dad, and worrying about him the rest of the week when we were down in Hudson.

Dad - casket

Dad died on November 7th. The actual funeral was everything Dad envisioned, with great bluegrass music. I started writing again on the 22nd, but switched to working on Daybreak in Denmark, a sequel to my first book, Night and Day, because the father character reminded me of Dad.

BBInn - heavy snow smaller

Gray December has been spent catching up on everything that didn’t get done this summer, trying to break out of the fog, and getting used to the “new normal” of not daily talking to Dad about what is going on in my life and hearing his jokes and advice. I’ve spent a lot of time crying. Comfort foods help for awhile and then make me feel worse. I am so thankful that I was able to spend so much time with Dad before he died, but the closeness has made it harder to adjust to him being gone.

bbinn-winter-2016

I think 2018 will bring more big changes in my life. I’m not sure what that means, but I sense it very strongly. I wonder where to go from here. Nothing is as much fun as it used to be, because I can’t tell Dad about it and hear his laughter or comments. Sometimes, I think I could just as well die too, but I have to finish Daybreak in Denmark first – as long as I’m half done already. We Hansens like to finish what we start, and like Dad, I find it very satisfying to watch the harvest come in.

Sunset 2014 Corn

I wish all of you happy endings in 2018. To those of you who have suffered losses in 2017, I pray you will find peace and joy in the New Year. Because it’s not the end, but a new beginning.

Daybreak in Denmark

4 Comments

Filed under Sherrie Hansen, writing

Blessings by John E. Stack

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)

As much as we want Christmas to be a happy, joyous time, often it is not. Life is tough and no matter how hard we try, sometimes grief and pain over-shadow that happiness. People experience tremendous loss, whether in a loved one or in their livelihood.

Even in my own life, loss is prominent around Christmas. Many years ago, my dad passed away a week or so before Christmas. A few years later, my wife’s brother was found dead a couple of days before Christmas and a couple of years later her mom passed on Christmas eve. I even applied for a job with NASA, but even though I had a good shot and was fully qualified, I didn’t get the job. I was extremely disappointed. Yeah, the events of life can certainly dampen the spirit of Christmas.

It is so easy to focus on all the bad going on or how cruel employers can be when they let employees go just days before Christmas or burying a loved one on the day after Christmas. It is easy to lose sight of the great blessings that we receive.

I’ve come to realize that no matter how devastating something may be to us, it did not take God by surprise. During these times he wants us to refocus on Him. When we do that, we can begin to see all the blessings that He has provided.

In the death of a loved one, new bonds are formed between all of those connected to that person. Comfort can be found in those bonds and grief shared is not quite so devastating. The job loss gives one the opportunities to refocus their priorities and to concentrate on the blessings God will provide.

The passage from Luke shows the great gift that God gave us because of his love for us. A Savior. His own son. Could he foresee the death of His Son? Again, these things don’t take God by surprise. He had/has a plan. He already loves you. His gift proves it.

I pray that during this season that you look for the blessings. They are there, you just need to look. Maybe the blessing you seek will be that baby in a manger. Be a blessing to someone, look for ways to help those less fortunate, and yes, there are those less fortunate.

By the way, not getting the job at NASA resulted in great blessings. We didn’t realize that God had his hand in that decision. That job would have required us to move to Houston. If we would have moved to Houston, we would not have become foster parents. We would have missed out on taking care of twenty-one babies, including one wonderful now eight-year-old little girl that is my daughter and a special nine-year-old young man that is my grandson. What blessings.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

3 Comments

Filed under John Stack, life, writing

How was your 2017? by Sheila Deeth

20151206_170537It’s December. Happy Christmas!

I should be writing one of those Christmas letters – you know; the ones where I list my children’s accomplishments, our wonderful travel experiences, the glorious decorating job we did on the house, great tasks undertaken with marvelous success … etc. etc. It’s just this year’s been, well, one of those years. And I thought 2016 was bad…

20170118_121746 (2)Children’s accomplishments include their truly adult, generous and amazing help when our home flooded in January. They sliced and diced soggy carpet (plus, sometimes, hands and knees) to get it out the door. They carried tons of heavy furniture upstairs to the garage to dry out. And they assured me young muscles really aren’t that much better than older ones. Either that or our sons are rapidly ceasing to be young–not a thought I want to pursue.

20160806_173543 (2)2017’s travel experiences were very enjoyable. We had a great trip to England. Spent lots of time with family and friends, and visited Bath, Beachy Head, Bletchley Park, Cambridge, Chatham Dockyards (where Call the Midwife is filmed), Cleveleys (just me visiting Mum), the Devil’s Punchbowl (and the former A3), the Harry Potter studios, Manchester (just me, Mum and my brother), Rochester and Windsor. Took lots of photos… Later we had a week in DC visiting the nation’s capital with our oldest son. But then my mum began her annual trip here from England – that’s a travel experience and a half… flight cancelled due to snow, flight rebooked, new flight delayed and connection missed, new flight rebooked, new connections, more connections, more time and more delay… She should arrive by midnight, maybe, we hope. And travel finds itself added to the list of this year’s disasters.

20170810_183141We are definitely enjoying our redecorated basement. It took two thirds of the year to get from bare walls and concrete floor to liveable rooms again. It took more visits from those generous sons to bring the furniture back down from the garage. Our cars finally reclaimed their domain in late October! And I can now sit on a chair at my computer to write blogposts … and Christmas letters?

51ryws67wolTasks undertaken included great joy at being part of the Oregon Historical Society’s  50th Holiday Cheer book-signing. It was a fantastic event, very well organized, well attended, and great fun (especially listening to the Dickens Singers). I felt less happy at selling only one book there, but I sold seven at our local craft bazaar, so I shouldn’t complain… In other achievements, I saw my third novel, Subtraction, come out from Indigo Sea Press. Plus our local writers’ group, the Writers’ Mill, released two new anthologies! That’s surely success, unless you ask about sales.

If I were feeling negative, I guess I’d call 2017 a bad year with some good points. But that’s what I called 2016, so maybe this was my punishment. It’s nearly Christmas. Mum’s here! And that’s got to make it a good year.

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year.

How was your 2017?

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction novels – tales of relationship, forgiveness and hope. Find Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum and Subtraction where good books are sold.

1 Comment

Filed under writing

A Christmas So Special

Yesterday, with carols blaring on my stereo, I finished decorating my house for Christmas. Since I started the day after Thanksgiving, and this is the ninth of December, I either have a big house, or lots and lots of decorations. Actually the latter is the true answer. And I’m a whole-house decorator, really into handmade gifts, flower arrangements, garlands and lights galore. I want my home to feel like It’s having a Hallmark moment.

Dining Room

Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still have stockings and ornaments that I made the first year I was married back in 1962. The jester stocking is my son’s. The medieval hunting boot was my history loving husband’s, and mine is a plush velvet French style shoe, and after my mother passed away, I made a cowboy boot for my dad. We had little money in those days as my husband started out in the USAF, but all our friends were in the same boat, so we never knew the difference.

Stockings and Old Garland

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1965, Vietnam interrupted a year of our lives and while my husband was gone, our son and I managed as best we could. We lived temporarily in St. Louis, MO, and Famous Barr Department Store had a wonderful Christmas area with specialty items not found in other stores. I remember walking around totally transfixed. I decided to splurge $6.95 on a nine-foot garland that had old fashioned lanterns on it. In those days and with my budget, that was a lot of money, but I knew it would look so nice above the stockings I had made years before. Can you believe I have used that garland every year since without replacing even a single bulb? That’s fifty-two years! Fifty-two years of frequent moves to cold and hot, wet and dry climates with the decorations often exposed to those weather conditions. When I put that garland up this year, one bulb didn’t light, but it didn’t matter, it has definitely earned its place in my home forever!

Flower Arrangement

Livingroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas tree is adorned with reminders of places we’ve lived or to which we’ve traveled: Germany, Greece, Hawaii, Bulgaria, Romania, France, Italy, Scotland, Egypt, Poland, Russia, and England, to name a few. There’s also a family area with ornaments with the names of my son, his soon-to-be wife, my grandson, me, my sister, niece, and even for my late kitties, Annie and Pippi. Not to be forgotten are two best-friend ornaments, and some shiny plain ones to add filler, color and brilliance. Most importantly, there’s the Nativity ornament and the tree topping angel to represent the meaning of this blessed holiday.

Angel

P1010900

 

 

 

Christmas, 2017 is one of those extra special Christmases, because in eight days my son, Rob, will marry, Florence, the woman of his dreams and my grandson, Colby, will be his best man. Then we all will celebrate Christmas together, eating and singing carols in front of the fire. Doesn’t that sound to you like A Christmas So Special?

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

 

 

16 Comments

Filed under musings

Taking “O” Things With Gratitude by Pat Bertram

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

Just because Thanksgiving is over and November gone, there is no reason to stop being grateful, so I am going to continue with my alphabet of gratitude. Since today is the h day of this surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “O” things.

I am especially grateful for:Oxygen. Unless one’s lungs are compromised or the air is too polluted to breathe, we take oxygen for granted. It is the most common element on earth, making up almost 50% of the earth’s mass, approximately 25% of the air, 90% of water and 65% of the human body. Without oxygen, we simply could not live. We couldn’t breathe, our bodies would desiccate, and the earth itself would be hostile. As I sip my bottle of spring water and breathe deeply of the mostly fresh air, I will give thanks for the simple and common element that makes our lives possible.

Order. For the most part, lives are ordered even though things often feel chaotic. We are involved in a dance of order. The earth is spinning on its axis at about 1000 miles per hour and it is hurtling around the sun at 67,000 mph. The sun is racing around the Milky Way Galaxy at 483,000 mph. And the galaxy is moving at perhaps 2,237,000 mph. The entire universe is also moving and expanding, at untold speeds. The planets revolve around the sun in such an orderly manner that they don’t bump into one another (at least not any more. It is possible that at the birth of our solar system, many bodies orbited the sun, but they crashed into each other, the stronger ones assimilating or annihilating the weaker ones, until we ended up with the order we have today.) The sun rises every morning (or rather we have the illusion of the sun rising because of course, it is not the sun that rises but the earth that turns) while the moon follows it’s own path. On a more personal plane, we easily fall into habits (and what are habits if not the order of our lives). So today, I will take with gratitude the order that underlies the chaos of my life.

Opportunity. So often we feel as if we are tied to the order of our life, that opportunity has passed us by, but opportunities do occasionally visit our lives. To be honest, often those opportunities seem more like problems, but if we look at the big picture, opportunities abound. It might take more courage than we have to make use of those opportunities, or we might have made other choices, but still, we always have opportunities, if only the opportunity to choose or to turn away. I will try to be more cognizant of the opportunities that present themselves, and be grateful for whatever opportunities come my way.

So, what “O” things are you taking for gratitude today?

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

3 Comments

Filed under life, Pat Bertram

Taking “N” Things With Gratitude by Pat Bertram

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

Just because Thanksgiving is over and November gone, there is no reason to stop being grateful, so I am going to continue with my alphabet of gratitude. Since today is the fourteenth post for this surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “N” things.

I am especially grateful for:

Nice. Nice is one of those words that we all use, though we tend to think it’s a bit weak and insipid. I like “nice,” though. I like nice people, nice things, nice days. Things don’t always have to be spectacular, nice is often good enough and comfortable besides. So today I will be grateful for all the nice things in my life.

Night. This is the time of year I used to unhappily call the “creeping darkness,” when the nights get progressively desert sunsetlonger. And yet, without night, we’d be left with unremitting sun, no moon and stars, a life that would be glaringly the same day after day after day. I won’t be taking night for granted tonight but will take it for gratitude.

Nonconformity. We take for granted that we can be who we want without having to conform to strict codes of dress or ways of thinking, yet this was not always so. Today I will take with gratitude the nonconformity, the individualism in my life.

Numbers. We take numbers for granted, but what would we do without them? How would we count or account? We’d live in a world of simplicity, of course, where the only counting would be the number of fingers we could hold up. (Though, of course, we wouldn’t have a name for that number!) So today I will be grateful for numbers.

Nutrition. Even in a culture where so many of our foods are lacking in nutrition (and hence can’t really be called food) there are nutritious foods to eat. We take for granted that our grocery stores will always be stocked with nutritious foods, though there could come a time when all our foods are devoid of nutrition. So, until then, I will be grateful for nutrition.

So, what “N” things are you taking for gratitude today?

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

1 Comment

Filed under life, Pat Bertram