Me in the Middle of Thinking SPRING!

Spring at MonticelloWatercolor and Ink pen sketch of a view at Monticello ~ Home of Thomas Jefferson

(c)  Mary Lou Q

I have been in the enjoiment of our delicious spring. the soft genial temperature of the season, just above the want of fire, enlivened by the reanimation of birds, flowers, the fields, forests & gardens, has been truly delightful & continues to be so … indeed my experience of the different parts of America convinces me that these mountains are the Eden of the US. for soil, climate, navigation & health.”  (Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Volney)

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Thinking about Spring starts me planning my next visit to Monticello, the Home of Thomas Jefferson.  Everything comes alive on the Mountaintop and seems to say that , just like Spring is a sign of Hope and New Life, so is Monticello a sign of Hope and New Life for our country.  Thomas Jefferson was a complex man and my favorite president.  Everyone seems to claim him for their political agenda yet he doesn’t quite fit the mold of labels.  He thought freely and with vision, and because of him and those who set our country on this great adventure we’ve continued to endure.  Monticello is a reminder of this for me. Continue reading

Me In The Middle of Creating My Life

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 A New Creation

~ A poem about finding expression through art ~

One thing that tough times have taught me is to look to the center of things….. the center of me where I hope to find a way to move forward through whatever is going on in my life. It’s not always easy, especially when there’s a lot going on and things get really overwhelming. What works for others is not always the answer for you.

During one period of my life, it seemed I was searching nonstop for ways to get through the stress, chaos and upheaval that kept coming my way. I walked (a lot!), I exercised (a lot!), I meditated/prayed (a lot…), I wrote and created poems (off and on….) (Sometimes I partied (a lot!), Sometimes I drank (moderately…), Sometimes I totally stressed out! (a lot!) …. And that’s OK too! 🙂

It was during this time when I discovered the power of creating through ART. It’s my go-to escape from life’s tough times and it has never failed me. You don’t have to be perfect …. just express yourself and let go.

So I’m sharing with you a poem I wrote, during that chaotic time, about discovering my life through the joy of creating art.

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 A New Creation

Dormant stirrings of artistic talent
Laying in wait for expression
Smells of turpentine and linseed oil
Stretched into my memory
Carefully laying out the tools
For bringing thoughts to life.

Palette of colors
Arranged in warm and cool sequence
Easel with stretched canvas
Assorted brushes and knives
All symbols of promise
A new creation ~ a new hope.

At last a participant
No longer the spectator
Lost in concentration
Hours pass like minutes
Strong mystical feelings of peace
This was my universe and I felt free!

Maternal love nurtures new life
Returning to touch and nourish
Inner sense of Letting Go
Stepping back to set free
Contemplating the finished product
A genuine part of me.

Mary Lou Q

Sketches © Mary Lou Q

Me in the Middle ~ Grateful for Kindness

-Kindnessis a powerful reminder that behind all the negativity and malice, there lies goodnessthat has the powerto change the world.- (1)

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This quote reminds me that there is always hope.  There’s so much unkindness and hatred in the world ….. and yet I still believe in our innate goodness.  Life is good and I’m grateful for kindness.  We may not always live up to that kindness …. and we keep on trying.  

The poem, “Children Learn What They Live”, always makes a lasting impression on me every time I read it.  Just beginning to change with this one poem would give this old world a jump-start on the road to becoming kinder.  None of us have had a ‘perfect’ childhood, and some have even seen abuse in their lives, yet we can all find threads of kindness along the way that we can be grateful for:

Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

*From Psychology Today*

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83-Yr-Old Was Too “Terrified” To Ride Escalator, Until A Kind Young Man Took His Arm.

“A little redemption for the suffering human soul.

The older man was paused at the top of an escalator and a few people started gathering waiting to get on. It was clear he was feeling unsure and this young man offered the simplest kindness: an outreached arm and a ‘can I help you on, sir?’

He quietly started to explain to the young man that he had gotten stuck on an escalator once and was a little scared. The young man gently offered an assurance, they looked at each other eye to eye for just a moment and the older man accepted his arm. Everyone else remained patient.

So, so sweet to witness!

In about an hour, the evening news will air and we’ll be reminded of division, political mud-slinging, shootings and other heartaches. But today, violence, age, politics and other social lines were blurred and one person simply helped another. I wanted to hug both of them.

Whoever this young man is, YOUR FAMILY RAISED YOU RIGHT! THANK YOU!

So, please look for the silver linings – as I was so fortunate to witness this evening.”

 

Thank You Kindness

* Images by Pixabay

Me in the Middle of Christmas Once More

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” —Dr. Seuss

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Image from Pixabay

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With each passing year I find myself withdrawing from all the ratcheting up to the holiday season.  I think it’s partly due to my surrendering to the December years of my life.  It’s also because I find some of the noise and chatter to be superficial.  The true meaning of Thanksgiving through Christmas seems to settle into my life no matter how many carols I listen to, no matter how many ‘Merry Christmases’ I say and no matter how many parties I attend.  Each year I see more and more people realizing this and choosing not to frantically hustle to get things accomplished within that one month.  So, when I read this wonderful essay on the Becoming Minimalist blog I decided to re-post it here.

This  was My First Reflection on how my views have changed.  I think the politicizing of Christmas intruded into my yearning for what I’ve experienced down through the years.  There is no ‘War on Christmas’.  It happens in our hearts no matter what’s going on in governments.  When we get caught up in the political aspects of the Season we lose sight of the spiritual gifts we all receive no matter how we believe or worship.  The Gifts of Faith, Hope, Love, Peace and Joy are given to each of us no matter where we are in life.  It’s a time of good will toward all men and women.  It’s at times like these that I’ve experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It’s at times like these that I’ve learned that Christmas  can happen every day when we’re open to it.  ~ Me in the Middle of Feeling Christmas Spirit.

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Image from Pixabay

A Lighter, Simpler, More Beautiful Holiday 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Allison Vesterfelt of AllisonVesterfelt.com

simple-holiday

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” —Bob Hope

I believe it is possible to do less, buy less, cook less, work less and even decorate less and still have a full, happy, satisfying, beautiful holiday season. But in order to get there, and stay there, we’re going to have to focus on a few changes of mindset.

Or, at least I am.

The other day my husband and I were driving to an event together and, out of nowhere, he asked, “Hey, do you realize we’ve never bought each other Christmas presents?”

Honestly, when he asked that question, my heart leapt a little. I knew it was true, but it sounded so harsh to say it outright like that. In fact, I found myself feeling a little embarrassed, thinking of a million excuses for why this was the case…

“We’ve only been married for two Christmases…”

“We’ve been trying to get out of debt…”

“The first Christmas we were together, we were busy planning a wedding…”

But just as I started to let my thoughts get away from me, my husband spoke up again. “Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you.”

The truth is it doesn’t really bother me. But I find myself thinking it does. I find myself worrying what people will think, or what they’ll say if they find out. I find myself thinking about what others are doing for the holidays that I’m not doing; and feeling pressure to make my holiday season look and feel a certain way.

But our decision to forgo Christmas presents (which was mostly out of necessity at the time we made it) has actually opened space for us to have a lighter, simpler, more beautiful Christmas. I’m not against celebrating, or against buying presents. In fact, my husband and I may buy each other presents one day.

But I do believe the common maxim “less is more” applies to the holidays more than it does to just about anything else. And I think each of us will discover a more satisfying holiday if we’ll focus on the following changes in mindset.

1. Don’t get too stuck on “the way you’ve done it before.”

If you grew up in a family or neighborhood (like I did) that went all out for Christmas, maybe scaling back for your own holiday celebration makes you feel a little bit like I felt when my husband reminded me we have never bought each other presents—like a failure. Or, like you’re doing it wrong.

I have good news. There is no wrong way to do it!

Try not to get too stuck on the way you’ve always done it before. Instead, focus on the values you want to cultivate in your family or community or home this year, and experiment with creative ways to promote those values. Also, if you’re entering a new season of life (newly independent, newly married, have young children, or have a newly empty nest), what better time to start fresh with a brand new “way?”

If you’ve always been extravagant in the past, you don’t have to “live up” to that version of yourself, or to anyone else. Take a deep breath. You’re not a failure.

2. Focus on experiences over possessions.

One of the reasons my husband and I have never bought Christmas presents for each other is that we are always traveling for the holidays. We live far from all of our extended family, and in order to spend time with family (without breaking the bank) we have had to choose between plane tickets and Christmas presents.

We’ve agreed together that, when it comes buying habits, we will always (not just at Christmas) value experiences over possessions. Possessions are nice, but they rust, rot, get stolen and burn in fires. Experiences can’t be taken from us. They have eternal value.

Consider how you cultivate experiences this year, rather than just buying gifts which will likely end up in the Goodwill pile in a few months or years.

3. Do the best you can with what you have.

This is advice a mentor of mine once gave me about a totally different subject, but I think it applies here, as well. When I was getting ready to go on a date, she would advise me not to go buy brand new clothes, or to feel like I needed to lose 10 pounds before the date, but simply to, “Do the best you can with what you have.”

In other words: be the best version of yourself.

I would give really similar advice when it comes to Christmas. Do the best you can with what you have. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy presents, or that having a Christmas tree is a waste. It simply means don’t go into debt over presents or trees. It means decide what you’re going to spend on Christmas—and it doesn’t have to be extravagant—and then do the best you can with what you have.

4. Turn off the TV (or find other ways to avoid being swayed by advertisements).

You’d be surprised how influenced you are by advertisements. Suddenly you begin thinking that everyone has a better Christmas planned than you do. Everyone’s Christmas tree belongs in a department store, and everyone’s husband is buying them diamond earrings, and everyone else is buying their kids new computers.

That’s simply not true, no matter how convincing the ads make it look.

The other thing that’s not true is that families who have these things are automatically happier (like they are in the commercials) than your family, or other families who go without. Presents are nice. But they can’t make you happy.

If you want a truly happy holiday season, you’ll have to find ways to cultivate happiness from the inside.

What tips do you have for creating a lighter, more beautiful life?

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Allison Vesterfelt blogs at AllisonVesterfelt.com where she inspires and encourages others to live with less. Her book, Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage is helpful and compelling. I highly recommend it to you. She is also worth following on Twitterbecoming minimalist@gmail.com

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My Grown-Up Christmas List

 

Me in the Middle of Lessons Learned ~ Letter F

My Life Is My Masterpiece ~ Lessons Learned

My theme ~ Lessons Learned.  I’ll be posting a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet that fits my theme.   This blog/website has become one way to share about myself to my children, my grandchildren and my extended family who are scattered all over the country and the world.  Hopefully, anyone who reads this will be in some way blessed by my throwing my words out onto the World Wide Web and into the Universe.  

 My About Page gives me the focus so that, as I age, I don’t forget what I worked so hard to learn.  It’s going to be fun and challenging!   I hope you’ll stick with me as I strive to meet my goal!!

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~ This Too Shall Pass ~

When things are bad, remember:
It won’t always be this way.
Take One Day at a Time.

When things are good, remember:
It won’t always be this way.
Enjoy every great moment.

© thehiyL.com

When I speak of Faith in this post, I’m thinking more of a that inner conviction that life is good and, no matter what we face, we’ve got what it takes to make it through.  Each person’s individual belief in how to come to this inner conviction is unique to them.  I respect whatever religion or way of life that helps a person move along their path to  find this place of Faith, Hope and Love.  We’re all so much alike when it comes to these strivings.

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It Starts With A Dream

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Good Times and Bad Times

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“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
St. Francis of Assisi

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Kindness #9

(c) mlq

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* Note:  My letter sketches were made from ideas I found on Google Images. *

***  This Alphabet Series is a recycle of the posts I created while participating in the A to Z Challenge in 2016 ***