It's taken me a lifetime to learn how to do the thing the Beatles sang so eloquently about back in 1970. It was the dawning of a new decade and perhaps they knew something that some, or at least me anyway, didn't know. I, for one, had never heard the phrase until the song came out, and now 46 years later it's as relevant to life as ever. Now, I am not Catholic, so I don't claim to have wisdom which comes from Mother Mary, but I do like to think I can send up a prayer and God hears it. But as I've gotten older and hopefully wiser, I believe it a truth that wisdom comes from God. I'm not saying that great knowledge can't be attained by reading books, attending the best universities and earning an impressive degree (or two), or from other people or even the Beatles, but I do know this: Wisdom is something that is learned and achieved over a lifetime of seeking it out. It is knowing how to USE the knowledge you have earned over the years. And sometimes, it's just plopped into your lap when you're being forced to sit completely still because you're not physically or mentally or emotionally able to go anywhere or do anything. And with that wisdom comes the art of living in the state of letting it be.
I have been house ridden for four days straight. And, believe me, that is not how I intended to spend the last four days. But the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my body decided to shut down in the form of a full-on-blown-out (no pun intended) nasty winter cold. By Sunday evening I was so congested that my nose was completed closed, threatening to throw me into a complete panic attack because I do not do well when I am suffocating. Or stuck in small places which feels like suffocation. My sweet hubby on his white horse trotted down to the local Wal-mart about 10:00 pm and returned with a humidifier which has become my new best friend. Sorry, Jenny...but, hey, you have your heating pad! The humidifier, coupled with a jar of Vicks, lots of fluids, a box of tissues, breathing strips that turn me into pig-nose, some good reading material, and a slew of Hallmark Christmas movies have gotten me through these very non-productive, feeling-like-crap four days stuck inside. Much to my disappointment, I have not been able to work on the jobsite while my sister and brother-in-law have been in town, nor have I been able to do squat for my very-pregnant daughter. I have felt like a huge lump of inadequacy, except to extend to myself the aforementioned comfort measures and wait, in hope, for a better day. One thing I did accomplish, however...I managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done. Thank you, God, for online shopping.
Now, to tie this in with the holidays. I can remember circumstances in my past when I was crushed if things didn't go exactly the way I had envisioned in my unrealistic planning for the holidays. Maybe the family members I had planned the entire holiday around couldn't make it after all. Maybe one of the kids in a moment of isolated ungratefulness said something that destroyed my hopes that they'd had the best Christmas ever. Maybe finances were tight and, instead of having all the gifts wrapped perfectly under a perfectly decorated tree by December 15th, Christmas turned into last minute bargain shopping on Christmas Eve and wrapping gifts at 2:00 am on Christmas morning. But I think I can remember at least one time when sickness called and I was completely shut down and, for me, Christmas was over. It was the year I had just had my third chemo treatment. In spite of my best efforts, Christmas was a poor "get by" that year, and it just about threw me into a deep depression. Christmas was gone for that year, never again to be. I was left with my disappointment, my horribly weary and sick body, and that was the way it was. I had to just LET IT BE. I remember the day after Christmas after I had unintentionally run off the entire family (I was in a bad way), sitting in my chair with my cat. It was bitter cold that day with snow flurries and I was alone both physically and emotionally. I was brought to a state of just being and a tremendous peace came over me that, even though I couldn't do anything, impress anyone, or feel productive or useful, it was totally okay. And it was. Me and Max just sat there in that chair all day, cozy and warm.
As with you I'm sure, December is one of the busiest times of not only my year but of my life. There is not another time of year or season of life where there is more to do, more emotions with which to deal and, sadly it seems, more heartache. Perhaps it feels like there is more heartache because expectations are high but reality is all too -- well, real. Ah, if we could only have one month a year when there were no heartaches, no sickness, no problems, no harsh words, no bitter arguments among family or friends. But this is not a perfect world, we are not perfect human beings, and reality is all too prevalent most of the time. I hope this month you can relax a bit in spite of the busyness, let some things go to bring to the front the things that really matter, and learn to let it be. Remember that there is always hope for a better tomorrow, a healthier day, and a season of prosperity and fewer struggles. And, if Christmas happens to stink this year, keep this in mind...if we're all still here and the creek don't rise, you can make sure a shiny new one will be back around in 12 short months, guaranteed.
And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow
Let it be
I'm not letting you get away without a couple of pics from the jobsite...right now, the place is a wreck. There are cabinets sitting on the floor, appliances still in their boxes, enough wood trim to built a stick fort, and paint buckets galore! But the paint is beautiful and fresh and clean and soon...very soon...I see Sleeping Beauty awake and dressed for the ball!
I am convinced that the majority of today's youth don't truly know what it means to be thankful. And by youth I mean the smallest child who grabs what they are given and runs off without a thank-you to the college students who have been rioting recently in light of the controversy surrounding the election. If those same college students had been taught less by permissive parents and teachers to rebel when they don't get their way and taught more to be thankful for a country where democracy rules and is the final say in what the majority wants, our society would be better in so many ways. For the tiny tots who take all the world has to give them and have never been taught to say thank you, I say: Shame on you, parents! But at the same time that I heap shame upon your heads, I also say there is still time to change and teach your child the way of thankfulness.
In light of the "giving" season coming upon us faster than a New York minute, may I make a suggestion? Use this holiday season to teach your children and grandchildren what it means to be sincerely thankful. If you've noticed them being even the slightest bit ungrateful lately when someone extends to them a kind gesture or gives them a present, or you've noticed them expressing the attitude that they are "owed," let me encourage you. If your children are still young, there is still time to mold them into a creature where gratefulness is a habit...and one that will rule in their lives and become a gift that no one -- NO ONE -- can ever take from them. Gratefulness is a gift that keeps on giving, that sets a precedent for their future and will serve them well, even as they face their final days way down the road of life.
If you struggle with knowing exactly how to teach your young ones to live life with a grateful heart, here are a few suggestions:
1. Never allow them to receive anything without saying a heartfelt thank-you where they pause, look the gifter in the face and say thank-you with meaning. This will make it more real in their hearts.
2. Remind them that, even though they are loved and cherished, they are not promised -- or owed -- anything in this life, and the only true way to receive is to work hard, and to be thankful for hard work. Remind them that working hard will build character and make them worthy of reward.
3. Teach them that gifts are given because of the goodness of people and those people are owed respect for their acts of love and kindness.
4. Teach them to be givers instead of takers, and practice this in daily living.
5. Plan a holiday action, as in giving to the needy, buying presents or food for those less fortunate, and then continue it through the year, not just at the holidays.
Step No. 6: Repeat
Step No. 7: Repeat
Step. No. 8: Repeat...
...keep repeating and keep teaching, and see the benefit of what they learn about being thankful. It’s not easy and sometimes you feel like a broken record, but nothing will make you more proud when you see that they know what it means to be truly grateful.
One thing that seems to be prevalent in our society today is the absence of thankfulness for this great nation in which we live. Ask my daughter Hollie about how it feels to live in a developing country for six years and what she thinks about this country. I'm pretty sure she would give you a monologue about the ungratefulness she sees running rampant here. This country is not perfect but, as I've said before, it's the best of the best. I thank God every day that I had the privilege to be born into a nation that practices democracy, and where freedom truly rings. This is at the top of my "Thanksgiving List," after God, family, and friends.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, lots of good food and fellowship but, above all, the attitude of a grateful heart.
"Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home."
"For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
over and around us lies. Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise."
The past couple of nights I've gone to bed with a container of Keebler Pecan Sandies, and I've awakened in the morning with the renovation on my mind. What needs to get done today? How can I move this project a little further along today? What do I need to shop for, have delivered, and what possible fires need to be put out? Are we making our goals? Are we staying on budget? This, my friend, is why I've been going to bed with my cookies. But at least I haven't eaten the whole container at once (not yet). Other thought-provoking activities in the news and the regular family issues that pop up each day have all combined in my head to mix up a fairly funky cocktail of anxieties. But my faith is keeping me balanced (well, except for the cookies).
This week is crucial at the job site. While my brother is finishing up with some new/old/added plumbing and electrical, we expect to contract a painter and (finally) the pretties will begin being added, one by one. Once painting is finished (not sure how long that will take), the floors will go in. I've chosen a soft gray for the walls, brushed nickel for all hardware and fixtures, and solid oak floors. Once the floors are in, the kitchen cabinets, which have been sitting in their boxes in the middle of the house, will be installed. I am in the process of transforming a piece that will serve as a kitchen island. There are bathroom vanities standing in line to receive their positions, and a beautiful soaking tub on its way! Exciting things, indeed! Once all these things are done (not much haha), we will finally make it to my favorite part...cleaning every nook and cranny till it shines...making sure every last detail has been completed...and, at last, illuminating the space with all the beautiful lighting that has been waiting to reveal its unprecedented glory! We have a projected finish date of January 1st, 2017...EEEEEEK!
As the work continues and the daily duties of renovating a house drum on, a lot is happening in the country. I have abstained, and still abstain, from talking politics on social media. This one subject has caused divides among friends and family and driven foes even further distances apart. Some believe that if they don't agree with a person politically that they can no longer be associated with that person. I see that as utter rubbish! Our differences may be cause for contemplation and irritation, and be the subject of heated debate at times, but we should never -- EVER -- let our differences tear us apart. It is in finding common ground that friendships and alliances are formed, and I believe it the duty of man to seek out those commonalities and, in that, we can find some level of peace and acceptance of others. Every person is the keeper of their own soul and should owe no one else anything but love. I think where we get into trouble is when we have the mentality of my way or the highway! In recent days I have seen some things in our country that I have not seen in my 60+ years. I know there have always been struggles, even atrocities in this world, but as you get older and begin to ponder the importance of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, some things fade slowly into the background as the issues that really matter come solidly to the front. For me, that is faith, family, friends, and the preservation of it all. Nothing else really matters. But as I've had to learn the hard way, sometimes the only pathway to achieving this lofty goal is to SHUT YOUR MOUTH! Take it from me, I have most definitely learned this lesson the hard way.
In the midst of all of this, the holidays are upon us! What? I am sure it was just last month that I was astounded "Holidays 2015" were upon us! But these days are flying by and here we are again counting the days. I personally have always loved Thanksgiving because there is little that goes along with this wonderful holiday except to count your blessings, be with family and friends, and eat good food -- what could be better than that?! Christmas on the other hand, even though it too should be about thankfulness, togetherness, and hope, we find ourselves fretting about what activities to cram into our already hectic schedules, which toys to buy the children who already have too many toys, and what gifts to give the adults that will have meaning or true usefulness. I am already thinking about how to make this Christmas season more relaxed and more about just hanging out with family. First of all, instead of erecting my 9-foot tree and squeezing it into a small corner of my apartment living room, I have found a tiny Charlie Brown sort of tree that will "stand in" this year. Plus, I simply cannot bear to haul 12 containers of Christmas decor up two flights of steps. My youngest daughter will probably have a hissy-fit about this, but I will calmly tell her to go to her sister's if she wants a big tree and, since her sister is living in the states right now and is planning to purchase a fresh evergreen, she can do that very thing. See? There is an answer to holiday chaos if we but only think it through!
May your days be full of peace, your holiday planning be full of joy, and your daily to-do list grow shorter by the minute. It's very possible that we will NOT make our January 1st deadline due to the looming holidays and that's okay, because holiday togetherness rules.
And with that said, I think I might have another cookie. Thank you very much.
No construction pics today unless you like toilet holes and electrical wiring...nothing much has changed picture-wise but you simply cannot put a price on the importance of the guts of the house!
Have you ever thought about how many things in life are completely necessary but are also hated with a passion? I'll suggest a few that come to mind. How about shots and surgeries and some medications? Then there are mammograms, colonoscopies, strenuous exercise, interviews, unavoidable confrontations...maybe even your in-laws (hope not, and does NOT apply to me!).
I'll take this picture one step further and say that, even though they're truly and completely necessary, I do indeed absolutely hate them...and I would be talking about budgets! Yep, I said it, I HATE to be on a budget. In a perfect world, there would always be plenty of money for everything our hearts would desire, but we all know that scenario would get us in a heap of trouble because it's in our human nature to desire things that we don't really need or that we know wouldn't be good for us. Such is life.
It seems as though my entire existence I've been on a budget. John Romain purses were all the rage when I was in high school, but my folks couldn't afford the real-deal at Christmas so I got a knock-off! Made me a better person because of it. Today's children think they're entitled, and you know what? They're not! (And whose fault do you think that is?) As a young mom, I lamented the fact that I had X number of dollars to spend when I went to the grocery store. But I knew deep down it was good for me; otherwise, I would've left the grocery store with a cart full of -- well, nothing that really mattered in the scheme of getting a decent meal on the table every night for my family. I did manage most times to squeeze in a large bundle of fresh flowers for my table which I considered completely necessary for my sense of wellbeing. But it was a good lesson for me even though I didn't know it then. Because I've found that today when I go grocery shopping I come home with groceries, not a lot of fluff -- just meats, veggies, fruit...only items that fall squarely into the "healthy meals" column. Unlike my hubby who, when he goes to the grocery store, returns with about the same five or ten objects every time in the form of bread, bananas, peanut butter, coffee, milk, half & half (if I'm out), ingredients for spaghetti (he LOVES spaghetti), and almost every single time -- cookies & cream ice cream! But I've learned over the years that budgets are a necessary evil for most any and every project or operation in life. Without a strict budget sometimes, businesses would fail, families would go without at the end of the month, and my checkbook would show a zero balance more times that I want to admit.
As our project has picked up speed lately, we've had a few changes in the structure of things and I find myself being the main one in charge of the construction budget. From pretty much day one I've been in charge of keeping up with all the expenditures (hence, the notebook), but recently the actual process of keeping the project ON budget has been handed to me as well. What, are they crazy -- me, with the hatred in my heart of budgets?! If it were up to me, I'd spend lavishly and decorate this house with all the things my little heart desires but for which I would never, ever get my money back. Since most of our "big ticket" items have been accomplished (roofing, insulation, new drywall, flooring etc.), I am left with a somewhat limited budget for what I call the finishing touches that will take this project from plain-Jane to fabulous! The finishing touches include the right shades of paint, the right lighting, hardware for cabinets, bathroom vanities, and all those little things that make the house sparkle. I think of these things as selecting beautiful jewelry to finish off the outfit! It's the same concept!
But, alas, the dirty "B" word keeps cropping up. Is what I see for this project just my wild fantasy or would a more sensible choice shine just as well and keep us on budget? It's a question I've found myself asking almost daily as I search for those things that will take this project into the final stages and a daily wrestling match ensues as I ponder to buy or not to buy. The last week or so has seen major accomplishment as we are finishing up with structural changes (as in moving a couple of walls), a LOT of new drywall, and all final demolition required to move in replacement cabinets and vanities and such. And I am starting to get excited! We are not at the end of the project, but I can totally see it from here! But I know better than to get too excited because, as I've said before, the devil is in the details. While it might take an entire two weeks to complete a huge drywall undertaking, it might take an entire month or more to cover this little gem in paint, flooring, and sparkly jewelry. And we do wanna get it just right.
And then...there's that dang budget who is my enemy but also my closest friend right now.
It is totally keeping me out of trouble...and that's a hard thing to do.
Work hard...play harder! Couldn't agree more!
Posted by CC
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