Saying Goodbye to 2018

Having lived inside the year 2018, it’s interesting to look back on it all. What changes were there? Who came into our lives, and who left our lives? Did we actually keep our New Year’s resolutions last January 1st? Did we make any changes to our lives, and did we reach out to others? Did we polish up our talents, or let them lie fallow?

And as for New Year’s resolutions, if the resolutions from 2017 didn’t work out, it doesn’t make us failures. It could just be that we chose the wrong resolutions. Perhaps we expect too much of ourselves when we are not ready to make changes. It could be that we thought we should be like someone else, and, since we were not like that person, we saw it as failure.

Each year can simply be a milestone. We really do not need to struggle to make ourselves into being something we are not. Just because we are not perfect does not mean that we are failures; it just means that we need to appreciate ourselves for who and what we are right now.

My own New Year’s resolutions have been pared down to a mere three:

  1. Be aware and present each day.
  2. I’m better this year than last, so celebrate the better and let go of the last.
  3. Forgive myself and others and remember that the past is past, and let it go.

When you think about it, each and every day is the start of a new year; the past is past and the present is before us each day. Learn from the past and let it go. Look to each day as a new chance.

Most of all, be yourself. There is no one else like you, and you are here for a reason and a purpose. It may take a lifetime to figure out what that reason and purpose is, so give it some thought each day. Whatever you choose for resolutions for 2019, make them your own, but don’t be shackled to them.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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Look at the Day

I get up each morning at daylight to feed our ourdoor cats and other critters. This means that I have the pleasure of meeting the new day just as the moon slips away and the sun comes over the horizon. Each day brings its own gifts; pink clouds shot with gold as the sun rises, or soft gray clouds scudding away, leaving blue streaks of sky, birds singing their morning songs and so on.

I read somewhere that every sunrise and sunset is drawn by artists who have passed on and are now in Heaven. It sounds right to me; why should such talent stop with death? Imagine the pleasure of being given the chance to splash their glorious talents across the morning and evening skies! And we on Earth get to enjoy those beautiful vistas each morning and evening.

Often when we are caught up in our lives and the lives of our loved ones, we do not take time to look at the day. We take care of our priorities the best we can, and often we forget to give ourselves a few minutes in which to take in the beginning or end of the new day.

There is so much beauty all around us, and we tend to take it for granted. We get caught up in the things we need to do; that’s just how life is. But if we can take a few minutes each day to look around us, that alone can bring us joy.

It’s a little thing; looking at each new day. But there is often something wonderful in each day that we didn’t plan on. Those few sweet moments of the new day are unique if we take the time to look. And there we are, drinking in a glorious morning sky, a gift we get every day. We can also catch the moon rise in the early evening, hear the birds’ chatter growing faint as they settle in for the night; all this is free for our eyes and ears.

It’s just a little thing; looking at the day, but how it can impact our lives!

Chicken Soup

I’m one of those people who just can’t throw a chicken carcass away; I am compelled to make soup with it. Growing up as I did it was sort of a crime not to. I just plop the carcass into my largest pot along with a few quartered limp onions, some saggy celery, some hairy old carrots, a few garlic cloves, 3-4 bay leaves and some peppercorns.

I add enough water to just barely cover the chicken carcass, then heat it up. I let it cook down to where the upper half of the chicken is visible, then I lower the heat and give it a few minutes. By this time, the kitchen smells wonderful.

I strain everything out into a large bowl, and then toss the carcass and its vegetable companions out. Then comes the fun part; I pour the liquid from the bowl into a pot and add chopped onions, celery, carrots and a can of corn niblets. If there was any chicken left over from the carcass, I chop that up and add it in as well. I shake in salt and pepper to taste and heat it up until the vegetables are soft.

Once the soup has cooled, I put it in the refrigerator to let all the ingredients get comfortable with each other. By the next morning, the soup will have about an inch of rich gelled topping. That’s the proof that the soup will be rich and delicious.

I like serving it with wheat crackers and cheese or a salad. As we’ve gotten older, the Crankee Yankee and I generally eat our “big” meal around noon time. At dinner time, a good bowl of chicken soup makes a good meal and doesn’t haunt our systems late at night.

Besides, chicken soup being the most delicious medicine, we always say, “it couldn’t hurt.”

Now That 2019 is Right Around the Corner…

I originally posted this in 2013 when I began this blog. It was true then, and is still true now.

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Now that 2019 is mere days away and we all may be thinking of (and dreading) New Year’s resolutions, I strongly believe that there are some things we really need to do just for ourselves. This isn’t being selfish, this is being good to ourselves. We give to others and see to their welfare, and it’s perfectly ok to give to ourselves now and then.

Some examples of being kind to yourself:

Take that last piece of pizza.

Watch the TV show YOU want to watch.

Turn your nose up at that burned slice of toast; throw it to the birds and make yourself a fresh one. Why should you eat burned toast?

Go get yourself a manicure/pedicure/massage/bubble bath/whatever tickles your fancy.

Have an adventure.

Go see a movie you really want to see; don’t wait for someone else to agree to go with you–-just GO.

Got a great idea for a project for your home but are putting it off? Dive into it and DO IT!

Treat yourself to one of those fancy-schmancy lattes.

Go hide somewhere with a favorite book, and don’t come out until you want to.

Remember that funky ring you saw for $30? Go buy it, wear it, love it and enjoy it.

Turquoise, red, purple and green tooled leather clogs? If you love them (more importantly, if your FEET love them), buy them before someone else does. Trust me, they’ll go with everything.

…and go and do all those things you want to do, but have been delaying in order to put someone else first.

(And please note that I am NOT going to qualify all the above with some politically-correct statement about being responsible, blah, blah, blah–-you know what I’m talking about. I know you’re not going to steal food from your children, spend the car payment money on a new pair of leather boots, etc. This is just a reminder that it is perfectly fine for you to make yourself Number One for a change.)

Above all else, look forward to this new year; it just may surprise you!

The Jail of Guilt

I don’t know about you, but when something in my life goes sideways, I always blame myself. Despite all the metaphysical training I’ve had, despite my Reiki master diploma, despite what I know deep in my heart to be true—I automatically blame myself.

Just the other day I must have slept badly; I woke up with what felt like a pinched nerve in my lower back. Mind you, I have back issues as I sleep on my stomach; the absolute worst position for my back. It’s the only way I can sleep, and inevitably I can’t get out of bed until I’ve done my back exercises.

I spent the day like a crippled crab. It hurt to walk, it hurt to sit, it hurt to lie down. Because I have occasional Afib, the drug I take for it doesn’t work well with Nsaids. The one pain killer I can take is Tylenol, which does little for the pain. So I used a hot pack off and on during the day. The Crankee Yankee repeatedly tried to help me, but, martyr that I am, I refused all help—and felt worse.

Fortunately, one of my dearest friends called me last night. She is so loving and kind, and it was easy to tell her my troubles. She asked, “did you try an ice pack?” Duh—-I didn’t. So I alternated hot and cold for a few hours and got some relief.

Now, isn’t it just ridiculous that you can kindly and comfortingly help a friend in pain, but you can’t (or in my case, won’t) do it for yourself? How dumb is that? For me, I get stupidly stubborn and just soldier on in pain. I refuse all help and suffer—again, just stupid pride.

So if anyone reading this is as stubborn as I am and lets unwanted (and unnecessary) guilt into their heads, let’s decide to break out of that jail of guilt together. Why stay there? Does it make us feel any better? Of course not; it makes everything worse.

That wonderful phone call from my friend was a balm and a blessing. In her kind and sincere way, she suggested that I not guilt myself into thinking that everything that happens is my fault. I wouldn’t treat a friend of mine who was in pain the harsh and stubborn way I treat myself.

I am grateful to have heard what I needed to hear; it greatly helped me to just get over myself and my pride. Honestly, if that is the jail we put on ourselves, then we have the power to unlock the door and walk away.

 

The Day After Christmas

Note: I wrote this a few years back, but it still stands true.

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Well, Christmas Day has come and gone

And brought us all that we were hoping on—

Whether with family, friends or on our own,

The Christmas spirit burns bright in hearts and home.

The love we feel for family and friends

Is a love that lingers, lasts and never ends—

It brings us back to Christmases past

The fond memories and joys that last and last,

The real gifts are those we love and who love us back—

(Plus the usual cache of otherwise forbidden holiday snacks!)

The whirlwind day goes by in countless memories and love—

With those still here and those above

The season of love, it never ends—

With all my heart I wish you well, dear friends!

 

Merry Christmas and Forgiveness

Merry Christmas! Just imagine people all over the world who celebrate Christmas, and we are part of it! It is wonderful to know that on this day we can relax into the arms of the holiday and all it means.

I realize that this is not always possible, but it’s a goal to go for. This is a day to let go of all pain, bad experiences, and hurtful things.

I recently had the priviledge of eating a huge slice of humble pie. Long story short, I had worked with a woman during years ago in Texas. She was my boss, and I often wrote for her online store. She was intelligent, funny, generous and kind. She treated all those who worked for her well, including me.

Because of a relatively small misunderstanding between us, we grew apart. I moved from Texas to New Hampshire, where the Crankee Yankee and I got married. Now and then I would get an email from her, and each time I did, I felt resentment for what I felt was unfinished business between us.

I had let that resentment simmer and smoulder for years. Whenever I would hear from her, I would write back the most minimal response I could. The last time she emailed me, I wrote back saying that I would prefer that she never contact me again. I received a message back, and in her words I could feel her anger but mostly her hurt. I realized that I had let the past consume me, and in doing so, I hurt her feelings.

A long time passed. Then just this week I received a handwritten letter from her along with a check. She had just found out about my mother’s death and wrote me a heartfelt letter. In it she described how much it had meant to her that I had written a sympathy letter when her husband died suddenly, years ago. She had been touched by it, and when she heard about my mother, she wrote me a five page letter about grief, loss and mothers. The check was for donating to any cause my mother supported (it will go to one of the animal shelters Mom cared about).

The letter was touching and sincere. There was no mention of my dismissive email to her; just a kind and considerate letter honoring my mother. After I stopped crying, I wrote a letter to her. I apologized for my abrupt email to her, and told her about my dad’s passing and much more. In the letter I told her that I would welcome her emails anytime, and I thanked her for her kindness and the check.

I hope that she can forgive me; I am working on forgiving myself. During this day of love, kindness, joy and hope, may we all overlook the things that don’t matter and embrace the things that do matter. Let us let go of old hurts and resentments. We may never know how the other person feels, but we can certainly reach out a hand of welcome, forgiveness and love.

Merry Christmas.