Transcripts of Gratitude

I kept a Gratitude Jar last year.

gratitude-jar

Whenever I thought of something I was grateful for I wrote it on a slip of paper and dropped it in the jar. About midway through the year, I stopped. I don’t know why. I was still grateful for many things during the second half of the year; they just didn’t make it into my jar in written form.

But here are the ones that accumulated over the first six months of 2016.

I was grateful for the small (and not so small) delights and luxuries of life: good coffee in the morning; regular bathroom visits; tasty dark chocolate; professional massages that helped my body feel better; fresh, organic produce and eggs; safe travel to places where I felt restored and re-energized.

golden-sunset-on-beach

I felt grateful for the exercise, beauty, and harvest my garden gave me and the help I received from a few young people with the more physically taxing tasks. I gave thanks for the warmth of sunshine on a wintry day; and finally being able to open the windows and doors again as spring blessed us; delighted to watch a bald eagle glide down the river valley; intensely purple hyacinths.

virgin bower seedheads

Beyond grateful, I was “deliriously happy” that my twin grand babies were born healthy and that my daughter recovered well from a challenging pregnancy.

miltassia orchids

I was grateful for being able to choose what I wanted to do on any given day – a rare kind of freedom after decades of study and hard work.

mockingbird

I was thankful for what money CANNOT buy: love, kindness, friendships that survived the decades, deep satisfaction, beauty, and connectedness to nature.

blue-shell

I was grateful for what money CAN buy: comfort, good food, services, attention, good will, a sense of security, a sense of freedom.

red-flag-on-sand

Out of all the paper slips, this one is my favorite: “Grateful for my loving and understanding husband.”

grateful

I love that frog sitting among the yellow daffodils – it reminds me of how he tries to make me look at the sunny side of life, especially when I am indulging in negative emotions that I wear sometimes like well-worn clothes. This slip of paper inspired an end-of-year letter to my husband in which I expressed my gratitude for who and what he is in my life.

I suppose it’s time to place that same jar where it calls out to me everyday to transcribe my flashes of gratitude on paper. This really makes me more mindful of the daily goodness I experience and helps me see my glass as half full or, maybe, even totally full by the end of the year?

The Daily Post’s Discover Challenge this week: Transcript.

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A Resilient and Creative New Year!

I found my theme for the New Year:   Resilience and Creativity.

Hurricane Matthew, on its path up the Atlantic coast back in October, must have swept this large tree branch onto this South Carolina beach.  The hurricane caused quite a bit of destruction and flooding, as these powerful storms tend to do.

tree-on-grey-morning

On a grey and dreary morning, this oversized driftwood looks broken and out of place…

…Like too many events in our human lives and within the political, economic, and environmental arenas.

What to do with the brokenness? with loss? displacement? with those inevitable setbacks and misfortunes that just cannot be undone?

When I returned to this tree later, just as the setting sun draped it in warm, golden colors, I noticed that a transformation had happened.

warm-sunset-colors-on-tree-branch

Look at what people did to this lost tree!

graceful-shell-arrangement-150

Someone had lovingly decorated this lonely, broken tree with treasures they found along the beach – shells, corals, sand dollars. They collected grasses to tie the ornaments to the tree, accessorizing and beautifying it with the gifts from the sea.

“Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or highly adverse conditions….Resilience is one’s ability to bounce back from a negative experience with “competent functioning”. Resilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average individual and it can be learned and developed by virtually anyone.” Wikipedia

“Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress and hardship. It is the mental reservoir of strength that people are able to call on in times of need to carry them through without falling apart.
(Kendra Cherry)

From the moment I saw it, this displaced tree symbolized resilience and overcoming adversity. Beyond resilience, it captures the spirit of creativity – objects that we do not normally associate as belonging together found a symbiotic union thereby transforming and evolving into a work of art.

The DP Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient.

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What Was It All About – 2016 Review

Michelle W. from the Daily Post challenges us to do a creative review of our best posts for 2016: “Can you pull all the strands of your 2016 together before diving into the new year?”
My Beauty Along the Road review blends phrases from my most popular 2016 posts with others that hold special meaning for me to create a (sort of) poem. You can click on the blue text in parenthesis to read the original post.

Elemental forces…transform the geography of place…and the geography of soul. (Transmogrification – Iceland)

An immense banner of yellow draped across the green grassland (Gentle Curves)

The land remains sodden, sighing heavily. (A Cloudy State of Mind)

Phew! It got to live… (Spare Me…)

In the next moment, he was gone (Hummer Rescue)

It took a while for my brain to wrestle with this puzzling image (A Rare Find)

Tiny smiles, frowns, sighs, and little shrieks all tell about an untold inner dream life. (Little Ones Bring the Greatest Pleasures)

For a few moments, calm returns. But everyone knows, it’s only the quiet before the next storm. (Iceland Magic: Geysers)

We can still sway and bend with the wind…the inner strength to brace the force of the windstorms life sends our way. (Tree Magic (2): Ivan Was Here)

Yes, stepping into the light of our creative fire makes us vulnerable. Showing our true colors can be scary and exhilarating all at once. The alternative is hiding in the safety of the night’s shadows. (Moths, Big Magic, and Our True Colors)

Can we embrace the new shapes and directions of our life? What beauty, contentment, wisdom, and harmony lies here, now? (Harmonious Aging)

The deep underground work must happen in the dark. (This Time of Year)

As always, Nature provided intriguing sights and meaningful metaphors. I was inspired by artistic creations (including the birth of my twin grandchildren), mesmerizing landscapes near and far, rare discoveries, tracking emotions so many of us experienced this year together, and finding the inner and outer resources to make it through. May we find the strength, equanimity, and the support of like-minded others to unleash our fierce creative spirit into the new year.

women-on-bikes-by-the-ocean

Will you let me know what your favorite Beauty Along the Road post was – and why?

Happy New Year.

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This Time of Year

This time of year, late fall transitioning into early winter, is my least favorite time of year.

Trees have shed their leaves and draw inward with just their skeleton trunk and branches remaining. I miss the leaves and their whispers and rustlings. More than just missing, I actually mourn.

mostly-barren
I felt a strong urge to clean my house this autumn, a deep and thorough cleaning that required a ladder to get to the cobwebs dangling across the high ceiling beams, and to the dust that had settled on top of the cabinets, closets, and ceiling fans. I took everything out of the kitchen cabinets, every single thing, and cleaned inside the cabinets as well. I only put back what we really use; the rest is waiting for a trip to the thrift store.
I removed everything from the pantry and threw out many of my old herbs and spices (the compost received them with equanimity). I reorganized my dry goods jars, lentils, beans, grains. It looks more spacious in there now and I can find everything I need.

tree-branch-and-sun-spot

The leaves kept falling and I kept cleaning and decluttering.

I miss the leaves but I do like the spaciousness they left behind – spotting houses through the trees that I had not seen before, appreciating the unique shapes of bare tree branches, noticing a woodpecker more quickly without the cover of leaves.

Then there was this last tree that clung to its leaves much longer than its neighbors.  It glowed golden orange in the setting sun, the last holdout of the glorious autumn season.  It, too, eventually dropped its leaves and surrendered to the stern commands of Nature’s law of continual change.

flaming-orange

Despite the depressing November elections here in the US, things are getting clearer in my mind, and more organized. As the outer cleaning happened, the inner sorting and clearing occurred as well. I know my priorities, I have a plan for moving forward. Winter will provide a chance to draw inward, sink roots even more deeply into the ground, gather momentum, nourish new alliances.

We can spruce up winter with sparkling lights, fragrant evergreens, and other delightful decorations to lift our light-deprived spirit; however, the deep underground work must happen in the dark.

And so it will.

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not this Time of Year Without…

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Iceland Magic: Geysers

In the land of cold and ice, water vapors betray its hidden seething innards

land-of-water-vapors

Hot water bubbles to the surface, ready to fill a tea pot

litli-geysir

But here, a much fiercer force is preparing to emerge. His name is Strokkur.

waiting-for-strokkur-to-erupt

Excitement builds

the-bubble

And then he blows

eruption-1

Hurling himself towards the sky

eruption-2

A force that cannot be contained – exuberant, reckless, wild

sheer-force

Spent, he curls back inside the stony caverns

after-the-eruption

For a few moments, calm returns. But everyone knows, it’s only the quiet before the next storm.

the-quiet-before-the-storm-150

Here are Litli Geysir and Strokkur caught on video:

The DP Weekly Photo Challenge: Magic.

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