Those We Lost

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I was going to write a post about how much of my childhood I lost this past year. It seemed that every other day a new name was being memorialized on my television, on my Facebook, on my heart.

Our family lost my mother-in-law and a close family friend. My friend lost her father. Another friend lost his grandmother.

We will always continue to find inspiration somewhere, but that doesn’t make any of these losses, family or celebrity, any easier.

Death is a part of life, and with the turning of the calendar page, 2016 passes away, and 2017 is born.

We Lost a lot of Progressive Artists

Generation X Lost too many Touchstones

We Lost Carrie Fisher and so Many OthersRemembering Those We’ve Lost

Timeline of Celebrity Deaths – 2016

Memorial Video

My mother-in-law. (c)2016

Grandma with her grandkids (my kids) after the third one was born. (c)2006-2016

On the 6th Day of Christmas, My True Love gave to Me:

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…more snow, a Walking Dead marathon on AMC, and a New Year to be better in.

Tonight we’ll look back and collect our thoughts, gather our prayers, and look forward. 2017 is less than fourteen hours away, and the work’s not done. 2016 was extraordinarily difficult for several of us, and 2017 won’t miraculously be easier, but it will be, and so we need to be open to it.

Are you open to it?

On the 5th Day of Christmas, My True Love gave to Me:

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​…gumption.

This is disguised as a book rec. Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman. It is funny, historical and biographical, autobiographical, serious and not, and there is quite a bit of language, both of the English and the salty variety.

Comedian and all around great guy, Nick Offerman profiles many gentlemen and gentle-ladies who have that one thing that lets them hit their goals and more importantly to keep getting back up when the lemonade stand knocks them down. Making lemonade is fine, but adding a shot of whiskey is better. I think Mr. Offerman would agree with me.

Oxford Dictionaries defines gumption as:

shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness

A few synonyms are: ingenuity, imagination, acumen, practicality, spirit, pluck, courage, moxie, spunk, and my favorite: wherewithal.

In total, in addition to an epilogue and a bonus chapter, there are twenty-one profiles, some you’d expect: Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Benjamin Franklin as well as founding father, George Washington, and some you might not expect: Conan O’Brien, Carol Burnett, and Willie Nelson.

Those last three speak directly to my prejudices. Despite loving many celebrities, finding inspiration in them, and respecting them, I am still under the impression that they and celebrities of all types are expected to be more because they do more. Or rather, they do more publicly, and often hide their hardships, not always because of shame, but because of being so far ih the past as to not talk about anymore. They appear to just do it, which I suppose defines those with gumption better than the Oxford Dictionary.

Just get it done.

When you’re a kid that phrase usually means clean your room, finish the dishes, put away the groceries, but responsibilities foster more responsibility.

Some shrug off the fall; others cry, but they all get up and make a new plan.

That, my friends, is gumption.

Read the book, learn something new, meet someone new in its pages, and find out where your gumption is and how to find it; to reach it.

Fandom Merchandise and Where to Find It

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​As I look at my Christmas gifts, and my recent birthday gifts before that, I am struck, but not terribly surprised by how much relates to the variety of fandoms and pop culture things I am involved in. Many of these things have stayed with me since my teen years, to the point that I no longer participate, but they still hold an important place in my heart. The one example that comes to mind was my getting a new messenger bag: ThinkGeek’s Bag of Holding. It’s so glorious that I’ll be writing a separate review of it. My son was a little annoyed that I would be getting it – it was a little expensive, but with the thirty percent discount that was offered, it was well worth it. He was still a little annoyed and exclaimed, “You don’t even like Dungeons & Dragons!” I think I may have snorted. I was momentarily speechless.

I don’t like Dungeons & Dragons?! Do you even know me?! I had been playing Dungeons & Dragons since high school. In our school cafeteria, we would use the half-pint milk container as a six-sided die. Every weekend in college, we’d get together in the blue room to play. Dave, our DM (dungeon master) would not let us have any alcohol. We got stupid. We were probably the only group on a Saturday night not drunk. We would play all weekend, talking time only to sleep before the next night’s game.

I met my college roommate in a study hall through a conversation about character sheets.

My oldest son used my original books when he and his friends played Dungeons & Dragons.

Not a fan?! Harumph!

Glancing at The Walking Dead trivia box, the Hufflepuff necklace, the Supernatural zipper bag, the Star Trek 50th anniversary gold ornament with sound, I saw just how many fandom things there are, and I also realized how difficult it was to get some of them.

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On the 3rd Day of Christmas, My True Love gave to Me:

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…hope.

In reading today’s reflection from the Morneau book, I read this statement: Pessimism can sweep through the human heart.

I have not felt that as much as I have in this past year. One thing after another, beginning with David Bowie and Alan Rickman and most recently with George Michael and Carrie Fisher. I can’t list all of the names that have affected me this year, so, so many, none more important and felt than my mother-in-law who passed away suddenly in June. And then there’s the election. This year has been a lot; too much in fact.

In our home, everything is clouded with the loss of my children’s last grandparent, the only one my youngest two knew.

It’s been a hard balance to maintain, keeping things hopeful for my kids while continuing to honor the memory of their grandmother. I could talk for hours about her, and in the next few months I will talk some more.

This is our first Christmas.

One of the things that was difficult for me was Christmas shopping. I’d see something and think that it was perfect for her, and then I’d remember and walk on by. It was too much.

Then I embraced it.

She loved cardinals. We always gave her a cardinal ornament for Christmas and often also for her birthday in January, so instead of walking past the cardinals, I bought two for our tree. I thought it would upset my husband, but he said we should hang them near the top.

I also went to our local Irish import shop for a Celtic necklace for my close friend, and while I was there, I noticed the candy set out for Christmas. I decided to buy a selection to give to the kids in honor of their grandmother and her homeland, and the accent they knew so well and loved.

It is only recently that I understand that word, bittersweet – the simultaneous joy and sad; the pessimism with the path to hope that we only need to find, to shine a light on the dark.

Meditation: Does too much reading of history or current events threaten your hope? What are some ways of sustaining hope in a world wrestling with so much darkness?

From Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2016-17 by Bishop Robert F. Morneau

The current events of these last few months have been straining. Is there too much reading of history or current events? I don’t know. History lets us see how far we’ve come, and gives us the knowledge that we will overcome all of this, including our new president, which is the most worrisome thing I’ve had to face in these last couple of months, but I’ve seen the hope in the pages of my friends, in Robert Reich and Ezra Klein, in Connie Schultz, and in the recent remembrances and quotations of Carrie Fisher, a strong woman who took her faults and failings and showed us how to live with them and become better despite or even because of them.
We are wrestling with darkness, but whether we light a candle as we curse the darkness, we are still assured that the sun will rise in the morning, and that is our cue to rise as well; to rise up. Hope springs eternal because hope is eternal.