Being Happy With What You Have

Do you ever wonder what you would do if you suddenly came into an insane amount of money? If so, do you ever dream of what you would do with it all? During many of our porch-sitting sessions, the Crankee Yankee and I have talked over our drinks about this very subject. We always seem to go first to family, friends and neighbors; what we could do to help them with whatever it is they might need. Then we talk about anonymous endowments and gifts we would love to set up and how much fun that would be. No one would ever know, and we would be cackling about it forever.

If you are around my age (or ‘vintage’ as I like to call it), you will remember a show called “The Millionaire.” The premise of the series was that a millionaire anonymously and randomly would gift total strangers with a million dollar check. It starred Marvin Miller, who played the handsome stranger, Michael Anthony, who showed up at the door and handed the person their check. The show ran from 1955 to 1960, and the running joke at that time was ‘so, has Michael Anthony knocked on your door yet?’

No doubt, having an unexpected windfall could be a lot of fun. However, focusing on what we don’t have can make people pretty sour, too. You can get into a state of mind where you focus on the ‘don’t have’ instead of appreciating the ‘do have.’

Think about this: being happy with what you have means freedom and happiness. I read somewhere that common worries can be turned around with the right thinking, such as:

  • “Oh no! There are crumbs on the floor!” you were able to eat that day.
  • “The roof is leaking again!” you have a roof over your head.
  • “My shoes are wearing out!” you have shoes on your feet.
  • “The bed has been unmade all day!” you have a bed to sleep in.
  • “The water pressure in the shower is horrible!” you have means to keep clean.
  • “The car is filthy!” you have transportation.
  • “My job doesn’t pay enough.” but you have a job.

…and so on. Remember that lovely old song by Irving Berlin, “Count Your Blessings?” The lyrics go like this:

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessing instead of sheep
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings

When my bankroll is gettin’ small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings

I think about a nursery
And I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them
As they slumber in their beds

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.

So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

That’s what I think of each day. I have had wonderful people in my life who have passed on their wisdom and knowledge to me. I currently have wonderful people in my life who bring me joy and happiness. I am married to the love of my life. I have dear, good friends who bring so much into my life. I have four cats to love and care for. Both the Crankee Yankee and I have been gifted with two wonderful vehicles (how’s that for unexpected wealth?) for which we are very grateful, we have a good house to live in, a thriving garden (anyone need lettuce, spinach or kale? We have TONS of it!), food to eat, clothes to wear, some bucks in our pockets and no credit card debt. Our health is relatively good, and we have a sense of humor about many things.

That said, I feel rich each day. With all that going for me, I don’t need to think about what I might not have. The Penn Dutch have a great saying that just says it all to me: “we grow too soon old, and too late smart.” I try to keep that in mind when little things bother me.

It’s taken me years, but I finally get it—I am happy for what I have.

 

 

The Strawberry Moon

Did anyone see the strawberry moon the night of June 20? It was pretty amazing.

Quoting from CNBC: “For one night, it was the Summer of Love all over again. Astronomically speaking. For the first time since June 1967, two astronomical phenomena occurred at the same time. Monday evening, a full “strawberry” moon shone in the night sky during the summer solstice — the longest day of the year.

EarthSky.org said a full moon on a summer solstice is a rare event, and another one is not likely to come around until June 21, 2062.

Why is it called a strawberry moon? The Old Farmer’s Almanac says the Algonquin tribe of indigenous Americans called the June full moon by that name because it occurred around the time the strawberries were being picked.

The moon reached its fullness Monday morning, and the actual evening solstice took place at 6:34 p.m. Eastern time.”

This is the second strawberry moon I have witnessed; I was there for the 1967 one, and for this latest one. When you stand on our back porch and look up, you can see the moon shining through the trees. While it didn’t exactly turn strawberry-pink, it became sort of an amber color, and was a beautiful sight.

There are a lot of myths about the moon and its effect on us; people do crazy things or they are unusually aggravated, and the list goes on and on. Well, think of this: if the moon affects the great waters of the world and we ourselves are what—50 – 75% water; then it stands to reason that we could be affected by the pull of the moon in some way.

Whatever pull the full moon may have, I find that it always makes me happy. There’s something about that big, beautiful golden coin rising majestically up in the heavens that is spell-binding. As a child, I used to wish on the full moon. On hot summer nights when I stayed overnight at my grandparents’ house, which faced Mirror Lake, I liked to watch the moon “walk” on the water. I would drift off to sleep with the sound of the frogs’ choir; ‘chug-a-RUM, chug-a-RUM,” and the tiny slap of waves on the sandy beach.

I would make up poems about it, too, loving that “oon” sound:

“Moon, June,

Big baboon!

Loon, tune,

Honeymoon!

Goon, spoon,

Big typhoon!

Boon, swoon,

Mad raccoon!

Dune, soon,

Dogs at noon!”

It was a wonderful way to fall asleep, with a poem in my head, the moon shining down, and dreams full of moons and tunes and frogs in June.

To all of you who may live long enough to see the next strawberry moon, due in June 2062, make a wish on it for me. I’ll be watching and smiling.

 

 

 

 

My Own Pensieve

Any Harry Potter nerd worth his or her wand will know exactly what a pensieve is and what it does. For those who have not read the books or seen the movies, here’s the explanation by none other than Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witches and Wizardry:

It is called a Pensieve. I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.

The pensieve is literally a stone bowl whose contents look like swirling misty waters. Dumbledore often pulled memories out of his head with his wand to temporarily store them in the pensieve to revisit at another time.

It’s a great idea. Often there  are so many things going on in my life that it’s hard to keep track of them all. I believe that writing helps me to compartmentalize thoughts and ideas, which is initially why I started this blog.

Although I am not terribly tech-savvy, I do appreciate some of the offshoots of technology, one of which the “web log,” or “blog” as we have come to know it. In this way, people can connect throughout the world and write about their lives, experiences, ideas, and more. Stories and poetry can be shared that enlighten, encourage discussion, foster understanding, touch others’ hearts—much like the stories once told around campfires centuries ago.

I find that, after writing something I feel has merit (or just something I want to share), it gives me some satisfaction that I have done something worthwhile in the day. I have posted personal experiences, some of my own poetry and stories, recipes, “how to” information, and so on.

I’ve nattered on about family and friends, and written tributes to people I love, to the cats I have loved and do love, to the sight, sounds and smells of the changing seasons, and so on. I have told old and new stories about my family and friends, and in sharing these things have met fellow writers who have enriched my life.

So, I guess in my way I have my own pensieve; my thoughts and ideas all go into my blog. While I don’t need a wand to pull those thoughts and ideas out of my head, I still get that “clearing” sensation in putting words into a post. There is magic in writing; often we can only process our thoughts and visions by writing them out. While my emotions may clog my voice, my writing speaks for me. If I can’t say it, I can write it.

Welcome to my pensieve; there is plenty of room in here for all things and everyone.

 

Fathers

On this Fathers’ Day, I am aware of all the things that fathers are: nurturer, leader, ally, guardian, advisor, teacher, as well as a safety net and someone you can trust and love with all your heart.

A father is not just a good man, but a good example. A father’s lessons of life stay with you always. Even a child understands that a father not only keeps you safe, but is someone in whose footsteps you can follow with confidence.

When he and my mother were dating, I sort of fell in love with him right along with Mom. I can even remember some of our outings together; always picnics or walks. I remember picking buttercups with him, which have become “our” flower over the years.

I also remember the acts of kindness; Mom was newly divorced and on her own, and money must have been terribly tight. Dad showed up one day with a couple of big bags of groceries he bought for us. Even at age of four I knew that I could trust him, rely on him, and I knew that he would love and care for us both forever.

I stood with him and my mother when they were married in 1955 in my dad’s parents’ front parlor. Right afterwards, Dad adopted me, gave me his name and my grandparents.

When we became a family, there was a beautiful completeness to it—it all felt right. It was as if we were all part of a wonderful machine whose cogs had all slipped into the right positions to work perfectly.

My dad was and is a wonderful father to me. We have been through everything together, including my mom’s death last December. They had been married for 60 years. Together we remember her, talk about her, miss her, and share years and years of wonderful memories.

I am lucky to have my dad, who, at age 91 is healthy, vital, engaged in the world, is open to new ideas, and furthers his knowledge each day.

I am also lucky to be married to good man (the Crankee Yankee), who is also a good father to my amazing step-daughter and a wonderful grandfather to our two beautiful and wonderful granddaughters.

Good fathers are gifts not only to we who have them, but to the world as well. Their example, help and wisdom buoys us up as we grow up, and stays with us as we grow older. We are better people thanks to our dads.

To all the wonderful fathers, past and present, in the world, especially my dad—happy Fathers’ Day. May you also know how loved and appreciated you are.

 

Why So Grumpy?

“Grumpy” is a state of mind, just like happiness or contentment or joy. It’s a choice to be grumpy, or not to be grumpy. That said, I see an awful lot of people driving or walking or biking or sitting around with a look on their face that would sour milk. I don’t know about you, but when I am grumpy, I feel it on all levels—my face, my brain, my heart, my very soul. It feels awful.

So, how to change out of Grumpy Mode? Depending on your state of mind, this can be easy or hard. Speaking only for myself, there are days when I feel grumpy inside and out. It’s a lot like having a constant stomachache that isn’t painful enough to run to the Emergency Room—it’s just a nagging ache that you get used to over time. If you let let grumpiness take over, you will find that you’ll live with much more unhappiness, and very little joy.

Grumpiness is like a pervasive weed; it soon takes over the lawn, the flowers, the trees and sometimes even your house. It’s something you really have to nip in the bud (no pun intended) before it gets out of hand. So how do we do that? Take it from me, a card-carrying member of the Grumpy von Grumpenstein club, it can be done. Here’s how:

  • No matter how you feel, smile. Smiling has a psycho-physical effect; it’s hard to feel bad while smiling. Best of all, it affects other people, too—there is something about seeing a smiling face that makes you want to smile as well.
  • Say to yourself over and over again, “all is well.” Soon it WILL be.
  • Think of three things (or more) that make you happy.
  • Forgive someone, even if it’s only in your mind.
  • Listen or look at something funny. Personally, I recommend LOL Cats online. Cracks me up every time.

As a person who has experienced grumpiness more times than I’d like to admit, being grumpy has a poor payoff. It’s like *eating a whole cake; it’s wonderful at first, but the misery that follows is definitely not worth it.

*Just so you know, I have never in my life eaten a whole cake. I did however eat a gigantic whoopee pie once while visiting my parents one summer. My mother told me I should split it and just eat one half. Did I listen? Nooooooooooooooooooo! I spent the rest of that day moaning in pain and hearing my mother say, ‘I told you so!” Believe me, the later was the worst of it…

 

 

Although….

Although there are times I feel I will drown in my tears,

I still breathe.

Although there are nights I lie awake, missing you,

I still sleep.

Although I feel that part of my heart is gone,

It still beats.

Although there are days when the pain of losing you seems overwhelming,

I know you are near.

Although I am changed forever,

I can still move forward.

Although there is no laughter like yours,

Your voice is still in my ears.

Although I measure my days without you in them,

I had more days with you than without you.

Although I call your name,

I know that somewhere you answer.

Although I know that grief is now my constant companion,

There is still room in my soul for joy and laughter.

Although I am missing all that was you,

I know that we will be together again.