November – Gratitude – Photo/Art

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Traveling to Vermont for Thanksgiving with family. (c)2018

Fireplace on a cold Thanksgiving night. (c)2018


Thanksgiving Dinner. (c)2018

November – Gratitude

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November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints and finishes with the beginning of the liturgical year and Advent. In the middle are parent-teacher conferences, Veteran’s Day, Morning of Service volunteering, church breakfasts, health insurance open enrollment, medical procedures, a court appearance for a traffic ticket, the premiere of Fantastic Beasts, and  Thanksgiving.

I’m sure I’ve left things out, and I can hear all of you readers going over your lists in your heads and groaning. I know, I know. I’m sorry I brought it up.

First and foremost, November is about colors. We’ve been very slow at leaves changing colors. They seem lazy and slow to change, and they seem muted with the grey, cloudy, dreary-ish days that have started today, but they’re still beautiful, and mesmerizing as well as introspective.

Second for November, is gratitude. We need to slow down, and remember how lucky we are, and in reality, while things aren’t perfect for anyone, we are still very lucky in so many ways. Now is a good time to think on our blessings and remind ourselves of what we have and simply be grateful.

Third, November is National Novel Writing Month. I have signed on to participate again, and I’m hoping to settle into a rhythm of both updating this website and writing for Nanowrimo, and other writings and creative plans. Look for my daily, 30 Days of Nano column, offering suggestions and tips for a successful writing experience for Nanowrimo or your own writing endeavors.

Be (in) the Present

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I’ve had so much trouble writing this. I must have started it three or four times. Whenever November rolls around, there are more than enough graphics, journaling prompts, and memes asking us what we’re grateful and thankful for. I won’t suggest that we should be thinking about gratitude all year long, but… 

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. For many of us, this is a time to gather with family, some of whom we don’t see all the time, put away our “issues”, gather the cousins, set up the kiddie table, and eat good food.

This last Thanksgiving and this upcoming one have probably been a little bit harder for some, after the election and all the baggage that came with it. Whatever side you are on, one thing that has proven itself is that we feel strongly about our thoughts and beliefs. 

For some of us, losing loved ones makes this holiday all the more harder. We lost my mother-in-law last summer. Last Thanksgiving was not easy. This one won’t be either.

I was just gathering some thoughts and went to Facebook for a breather from the keyboard. Trust me, this is (somewhat) relevant.

David Cassidy died yesterday. He was a favorite of mine and despite knowing that his death would happen this week, it doesn’t make it any easier. His daughter, Katie was on one of my favorite shows, Supernatural, and is currently on Arrow, both on The CW. Jim Beaver, another actor from Supernatural, posted a condolence to her, and that’s where the internet showed off its empathy. But not really. What about his son? No condolences for him? He and Katie didn’t even have a relationship? Why does she need condolences?

Wow.

It’s like we can’t turn off the self-righteous manufactured anger anymore.

I can say with certainty that Jim didn’t suggest no condolences for the rest of the family; he was simply talking to and about his dear friend, Katie.

Sometimes, we need to simply slow down, think before we speak (or send), give the benefit of the doubt, leave cynicism at the door, and have a little faith.

On Tuesday, my friend celebrated her mother’s life. She died from cancer at age 58. I didn’t know her mom, but I knew my friend, and I know how close the two of them were. I can see her mother in her, through her actions, in the way she treated people, with kindness and love, with empathy and positivity. They both had a strong faith, and believed in their salvation through Jesus. She’s sad that her mother’s not a phone call or a short drive away, but she knows where she is, and for the rest of us, who didn’t know her mother, we will continue to know her mother through her.

On Tuesday, at around the same time, I was attending the funeral of a friend from my church, who also died from cancer. She also had a strong faith. The last time I saw her was her fiftieth wedding anniversary. She was in a wheelchair, but she was happy and positive, looking forward to her evening with her entire family, to recovering. When I went to wish her a happy anniversary, I reached my hand out ot hold hers, and she wouldn’t have it – it was time for a hug. She pulled me in, and it was lovely. She was lovely, very simply just a wonderful woman. She always had a kind word for me. She asked about my family and our holiday plans or about the kids’ schools. She welcomed me without hesitation into the church family, and was always available if I needed anything. We participated in some of the same ministries, and from her, I saw how to act in committees that I was unfamiliar with. She was a role model and a mentor.

These two women, separated by different cancers and fourteen years, five kids between them, one in New York and one in Arkansas, and both pillars of their families, the rocks that hold their people in tandem, that teach the faith, the “rules” of life, and they bring people into their orbit and make them better for it.

I’m thankful that I was able to know and to continue to know people who make a difference, not just in my life, but in others, to be an example of who I can be, who push me with their spirit and their being.

Look around at the family this weekend, tell them how their lives impact yours in the good ways, ignore the politics for a couple of days, and be there, be present, and give and share the love.

47/52 – Yvette Nicole Brown

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Picture used from Yvette Nicole Brown’s website. Picture Credit: Tina B. Henderson (c)2017


The first time I saw Yvette Nicole Brown was on AMC’s Talking Dead. She was a guest, invited on to talk about AMC’s hit TV show, The Walking Dead. When she pulled out her Walking Dead notebook that she kept notes in, I grinned. I also had a Walking Dead notebook. After I agreed with her show theories about three times, she became a favorite of mine. I looked forward to her appearances on the show.
During one episode about Fear the Walking Dead, she referred to her Instagram, and I followed. I had only intended to follow for a few weeks. I mean I didn’t watch any of her shows despite liking her as a person on the talk show.

At some point during those few weeks, I got to see her as a person. She posted honestly, about everything. She posted links to organizations that do good. She posted graphics with encouragement. She posted politics.

If I had to pick two words to describe Yvette Nicole Brown, I would choose Honest and Encouraging. And Kind. And lovely. And supportive. Her Instagram was a breath of fresh air, and not only that, it gave me some moments of clarity and showed me how to stop and take a deep breath.

Her website has the title: Actress, Host, Champion of Kindness, and that pretty much sums up this lady born in Cleveland in 1971. She holds a Bachelor’s in Communication, and was cast in her first role from sending a postcard to the casting director. She has done numerous commercials and small roles, moving to series regular on The Odd Couple and most recently co-starring on The Mayor on ABC. She voices Amanda Waller on DC’s Super Hero Girls and Luna on Elena of Avalor. She is currently also the host of Syfy’s Cosplay Melee. Her CV is too long to list here, but visit her website; you won’t regret it.

Yvette Nicole Brown is uplifting and inspirational. She shares her faith readily, and through that helps me explore my own continuing to grow faith, and helps make me a better person. Just simply by her being a better person. She also doesn’t roll over, she doesn’t pull her punches, and she does it all in a way that she doesn’t regret. I really do admire and try ot emulate her. It is a privilege to read her on a daily basis. I thougth it appropriate to showcase her today, on Thanksgiving, when she gives so much to be thankful for, but not only that, reminds me, and her fans, of what’s important and not to forget what we should be thankful for.

Attitude of Gratitude

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We all have our own mental lists to remind us of the wonder of our lives. Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US, and for those of us lucky enough to have our families to celebrate with and enjoy a ridiculously large feast, it is one of those days that we are either awash with feelings or comatose from turkey and napping by mid-afternoon.

So many words to express our thoughts for this holiday season:

Thankful.

Grateful.

Gratitude.

Blessed.

Lucky.

Wonderment.

Humbled.

In less than a week, I turn 49, and then in three hundred sixty-six more days I will be 50. I’m not particularly looking forward to it, although I suppose it’s better than not turning fifty. This might be the impetus to a year long project of not counting down the days, but appreciating the days and the weeks as they pass until that milestone. This might be the baseline to reflect on, but time will tell.

These are the ten things I am most grateful for:

1. Finances – we are still living paycheck to paycheck, as are most middle-class-used-to-be’s, but there might be a light at the end of the tunnel; or at least an even-ing out of our debt.

2. Related to Finances – I’m grateful to our mechanic who let us put our recent car repairs on account so we are able to continue to drive our only car without having the cash on hand.

3. Family – my kids are healthy and doing well in school.

4. I am relatively healthy despite my chronic issues. My knees have even been feeling almost normal most of the time. It’s a welcome change.

5. Writing – I’m managing to write more often and keeping up my  quality, I think anyway. Without my regular writing workshop, which was cancelled, I’ve been lucky to give myself one day a week to work in the library for some of my forgotten projects.

6. I am really enjoying my ongoing re4lationship with Jesus Christ. There was definitely something missing from my life despite my belief in G-d and my spirituality, and I have found it with Christ and in His Church.

7. I have so much gratitude that I live near enough to a shrine and a Dominican retreat center where I can go and meditate and pray. Both places offer different things, but both places are also contemplative and recharge me.

8. Friends – My recent reconnection with some friends through Facebook – one I hadn’t talked to in decades, but thought of often. I also connected with my cousins’ family, both in person and on Facebook.

9. Fandom – another layer of friendship that is unexplainable unless you are in a fandom of your own. Kind, friendly, supportive and constructive – fandom is a beautiful thing, filled with beautiful people.

10. You, dear readers. I hold such gratitude for all of you, all of you who read, comment, like, and visit. Thank you.

I really am so blessed.