Friday, April 29, 2022

Five on Friday: A Lesson in Resilience



" You can (snow on) all the flowers but you
cannot keep the Spring from coming. "
PABLO NERUDA


We're traveling to attend and celebrate my niece's university graduation today. So this post is short and sweet—you'll hardly have time to drink your tea or coffee, it'll be that quick.

In spite of the snow, in spite of the (welcome) rain that fell, both on the same day this week, our spring bulbs continue to open and spread joyful colour in our still mostly brown garden. I meant to take photos the previous night but when it got too dark I decided to go out first thing in the morning. Alas, they were covered in snow. But no worries, for here they are, none the worse for their experience.

Spring bulbs inspire me, they really do. Against all odds, their delicate blossoms disguise how hardy they really are in the face of winter's bullying tactics. I love their resilience. And their resolve. At the first hints of warming air and soil, they push tiny shoots towards the sun—determined to fulfill their destiny—vibrating hope and cheer to a winter tired world. Surely they offer a lesson for us; however, there's no time to pursue now. And no time today to uncover the names of these little treasures for you.

On that note, I give you Five on Friday with a few photos of our spring bulbs that, despite all weather conditions, continue to proclaim, "Spring is here! Spring is here!" In northerly Alberta, we are ever grateful for that cheerful reminder.



ONE
" The hardy bulb
never doubts spring will come. "
BL



TWO
" Despite the forecast,
live like it's Spring. "
LILLY PULITZER



THREE
" Never yet was a springtime,
when the buds forgot to bloom. "
MARGARET ELIZABETH SANGSTER



FOUR
" It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is.
And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite
know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes
your heart ache, you want it so!
MARK TWAIN
 


FIVE
" I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am
going to look around at all the flowers, and look up
at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.
    ANNE LAMOTT



BONUS
" Spring grew on (...) and a greenness grew over those brown beds,
which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed
them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps. "
CHARLOTTE BRONT√č, Jane Eyre




Wishing you a beautiful weekend.
Be like the spring bulb and keep the faith.

Brenda

Photos are mine







Saturday, April 23, 2022

Cup Our Hands, Open Our Hands, Scatter Love


" Lord, we cup our hands to gather the
pieces of heaven you shower upon us. Help
us to open our hands with generous
spirits and scatter your divine love
in the darkest places. Amen. "
from COMMON PRAYER, p 243


It's a bit of stream of consciousness writing today. You might need a large mug of your favourite beverage to sustain.

A couple of days ago, I woke up in the night and felt out of sorts in my soul. I wasn't having any awful dreams, but sometimes for no apparent reason the night has an unfriendly feel to it. That night it felt bleakish. I have basically learned to ignore that feeling. No, that's not quite true, I don't ignore it but I have learned to accept that's how it feels sometimes. It will pass. It's not just me, I know, for many of us the sad of the world seems ever present, even when we're not consciously thinking about what's going on, even when our own lives are perfectly pleasant for the most part.

The soft light from my lamp soothes me.

You may recall I have been slow reading for a couple of months now a book by British author, Matt Haig. It's titled Notes on a Nervous Planet. We see a world falling apart. Matt reminds us that parts of the world have always been falling apart. It's just that now with social media we have access to all the corners where ructions are going on. The book is one I recommend—it's filled with tiny essays about the author reminding himself and his readers to accept the sadness around us, to accept that it affects us. And then he shares how to recalibrate our thoughts so we remember 'the big importance of small lives', jogging our memory that a 'million unsung acts of kindness' happen every day. A million acts of love. Quiet human goodness living on'. I imagine being one of the million in such a count. To be intentional about kindness and love every single day I live on this earth. It's life as it ought to be.

The bleakness lessens.



" The last part of a man's life is his little, nameless,
unremembered acts of kindness and love. "
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH


I open my journal and flip through the pages—I look for a poignant quote, a soothing thought, a consoling text of Scripture. Something I wrote down earlier that might help me move past this bleakness filling the air. I even visit my social media; yes, even in this hour, for folks in different time zones have already begun their day, and many fill their feeds with good thoughts and positive intentions. For example, Bertie Lakeland, a very dapper British Lakeland Terrier, along with his human dad, has his own Twitter page. On it, Bertie spreads joy as he lives his happy doggie life and shares it with his followers. Bertie posted these words the other day, "If you root yourself in love and kindness, your heart will always bloom." What a smart fellow.

Then I catch sight of the tweet pinned at the top of my own Twitter page, a line I once read on author Shawna Lemay's blog Transactions with Beauty that I never want to forget: "You've got to live this life with joy, I've learned. You've got to transform the ugly stuff into love." Yes, that's what life is about, learning to transform the ugly stuff into love. It's a full time job. In the middle of the night, this inspires me; it's work I can do in my corner of the world.

Back to Matt Haig's book. He talks about not letting the fear and the ugly be in charge. Oh yes. I am immediately reminded of much loved verses in the Bible: "Be anxious for nothing. . . Cast all your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you. . . Fear not, for I AM with you always."

Soft light as if from my lamp now seeps into my thoughts. Did I mention the bleakness has moved on? 

" Even in the darkness, we will trust :
that our lives are still in your hands. "
from COMMON PRAYER, p 243




As if you don't have enough, here are a few more lines I found in my journal that night. I loved being reminded of these good words:

" Hello World...
Hello; sun in my face,
Hello you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields . . .
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness. "
MARY OLIVER


" Keep faith with your awakened heart . . .
sit in silence each day and reground yourself in
that which is so fleetingly glimpsed, which is
God loving you through and through and through . . .
just as you are . . . always . . .unexplainably . . . "
BODMIN HERMIT, on Twitter


"Lord, we cup our hands to gather the
pieces of heaven you shower upon us. Help
us to open our hands with generous spirits and
scatter your divine love in the darkest places. Amen.
from COMMON PRAYER, p 243


I close this post with the same quote I opened it. I've cupped my hands to gather the pieces of heaven I found in these wee hours. I open my hands to scatter them, like bits of joy, hoping something in these few lines will send any sad shadows fleeing. And that light will fill your thoughts today, just as it did for me the other night.


Look after each other.


Sending heart hugs,

Brenda

Top Image by mysticsartdesignfrom Pixabay
(2) Image by Farbsynthese from Pixabay
(3) Image by Alicja from Pixabay


 



Friday, April 15, 2022

A Good Friday


" Always believe something
wonderful is about to happen. "
—as noted on a birthday card


It's Easter weekend, and my family is coming tomorrow to celebrate Easter and my 65th birthday. The house is nearly ready. I love setting a table for company—I've got big bundles of pink and white tulips for centerpieces. This is the first time we're not cooking our holiday meal but having it catered and brought in. Italian. It's not the usual Easter repast, but then it's all sort of new again having people come as guests to our house. Even though folks haven't seen anything in my wardrobe for many months, I splurged on a new outfit for tomorrow. Even a new lipstick, which I basically gave up wearing during mask season. After all, it's a party and it's going be a beautiful day.

Thinking about the past week, here is what's giving me d-e-l-i-g-h-t  for Five on Friday:

1. I saw green grass! On a south facing hillside today in my turn about town doing a couple of errands—this is in spite of the week's cold weather and snowfall last night. 

2. I spotted two robins on our mountain ash tree earlier in the week. I was so pleased to see they had arrived but I felt sorry—they came just as the temperatures plummeted for several days.

3. Birthday cards have been arriving in the mailbox.

4. Birthday cake awaits in the refrigerator for tomorrow's festivities. It's called a Duchess Cake. The bakery describes it this way: "...it's our take on a traditional Swedish Princesst√•rta, made with chiffon cake, homemade raspberry jam, pastry cream, whipped cream and topped with marzipan. It's not too heavy and makes a lovely summer cake." For a peek at what it looks like, click HERE.

5. What a delight to find these words from my blogging friend, Debbie, in the comment box the other day: "Seize each day and soak up whatever joy there is to find." Oh yes, I'm all for soaking up the joy.

To those who celebrate Easter, I wish you peace and joy this weekend as we remember the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Love one another. Pray for each other. Celebrate life together.

On that note, I'm wishing you all a beautiful weekend.


Heart hugs,

Brenda

Top Image by Buntysmum from Pixabay
Floral graphic by Owantana from Pixabay





 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Guest Blogging Elsewhere: A Little Pencil



" I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God
who is sending a love letter to the world. "
ATTRIBUTED TO MOTHER TERESA

 

Today I am delighted to be a Guest Blogger on InScribe, where I share about writing letters as a ministry to touch people's lives. You'll find my post A Little Pencil HERE. I'd love to have you stop by and say hello.

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Brenda





Saturday, April 09, 2022

Tiny Scraps of Colour



" A single crocus blossom ought to be enough
to convince our heart that springtime, no matter
how predictable, is somehow a gift,
gratuitous, gratis, a grace.
DAVID STEINDL-RAST


This is probably my shortest post on record. I don't have much of a post ready this week, it's been busy. But I had to pop in to say hello and to show you the crazy gorgeousness happening in my still mostly brown and winter-worn garden.

These tiny scraps of colour are enough to make me sing . . . like the birds who are warbling for all their worth these days. And my heart skips like a child playing hop-scotch at the sheer delight in these purple wonders on this wildly cool and windy Saturday.








" Where flowers bloom,
so does hope. "
LADY BIRD JOHNSON


* * *


On that note, I'm wishing you a wonder-full day.


Heart hugs,

Brenda

Sunday, April 03, 2022

A Few Words that Shaped My Life



" In life you need many more things besides talent.
Things like good advice and common sense. "
HACK WILSON, American baseball player


Earlier in the week, a long forgotten draft drifted to the top of the pile and beckoned to me: 'You should finish this'. It was a tiny list where I had jotted down some lines of advice I have taken to heart over the years. Simple thoughts mostly, some with startling insight and others that crept in so quietly, it wasn't until much later that I saw how they'd coloured and shaped my life.

Today, I delight in completing that old draft... and in sharing with you these few words that have become special to me.



" Never worry about numbers.
Help one person at a time and always
start with the person nearest you. "
MOTHER TERESA

When I looked around, the needs of the world overwhelmed me. I longed to help—I've always wanted to help, but I'm just a little person in a great big world. Then one day, years ago now, I read this quote attributed to Mother Teresa, and I was encouraged no end. I used to imagine how overwhelmed she must have felt some days, facing the heartbreaking poverty of millions in Calcutta where she had worked. In that light, her sage advice was all the more meaningful. To this day, when I feel the burden of so many needs and not knowing where to begin or who to help, I come back to her words: one person at a time, the one nearest me.



"...with vitality and good humour. "

My sister once told me that she'd read an interesting comment Julia Child made about her mother. How she saw her as a positive person and ran her household with vitality and good humour. I loved that...and especially noted the good humour part. A much better choice than going about the place grumping and fretting about things.
 
One day I took that phrase and turned it into an intention. Not being a morning person in my younger days (I was a night owl), it always took a while to feel ready to accept the new day. I really had to work at not being grumpy first thing. So I began telling myself every evening that I would wake with vitality and good humour. And when I woke, there would be those words hovering in the air, as it were, reminding me to skip over the 'ugg' part and smile at the new day. It made such a difference to my life. Eventually I didn't need the daily reminder. It was all thanks to Julia Child and her dear mom. A lesson learned and it wasn't even about cooking.
 


" Scatter joy "

I have no recollection of when this bright phrase crossed my path, but I do remember writing it out in calligraphy on a card and setting it on my desk at work. From the first moment I loved that expression. It evoked the picture of spent rose petals softly falling on a summer morning, or leaves scattering on the wind in the autumn. I could imagine how people's gentle words and generous gestures could scatter on the breezes in the same way. It would make the world a softer place. Make people happier.

The phrase comes to us courtesy of Ralph Waldo Emerson, that great American poet. According to wisdominwood.com, the concept of 'scattering joy' was noted in his essay The Conduct of Life (1860) where this line of text was found: " There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us... ". 

Given the great need for joy in our world, I delight to do my small part in scattering joy about the place.



" You will never change your life
until you change something you do daily. "
JOHN C. MAXWELL

The above line was pinned to my bulletin board for years. The rest of the quote goes: 'The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.' Trying to develop good habits in my youth took quite the effort, like trying to get up on time in the mornings, always rushing to get somewhere and still ending up being late, doing the dishes after supper and not stacking them for days. Not to mention the struggle to say no to the doughnuts brought into the office for coffee breaks, and... well, you get the idea.

I began to look more closely at my daily habits, those areas that created friction and poked like thorns for myself and others, to see what I could adjust. It's been a lifelong process. And struggle. I did finally learn how to plan my days better and not always be late (there's a story about that in my archives -- found it HERE), and eventually I came to the place where doughnuts were no longer in charge of my appetite. Huge victory there!



There was another life that I might
have had, but I am having this one.
KAZUO ISHIGURO, British Author

This line has been an encouragement for me. Now the author may have other thoughts about why he said it, but for me it's a kind of reminder that, yes, I have a good life even if it is a path different than the one I had once imagined. Over the years, I have wondered, what if I had gone to university and studied to become a teacher. It was never on my radar back then, but from my many encounters with children, I would have been a good teacher, I would have loved those kids to pieces. Or, what if I had known that I would be a writer later in life. What if I had taken courses and studied the art of writing sooner, would I be an author with my name on various front covers? Would it be a better life? 

Many of the dreams I had when I was twenty didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped—e.g., I didn't meet my husband until I was 40, and I don't have children, which I longed to have, or grandchildren, which were hazy half thoughts of how life should evolve. At the same time, there have been so many little secret heart wishes and hopes that did come to pass, how can I not be grateful for all these good gifts. 

So, as Kazuo Ishiguro astutely points out, yes, there was another life I could have had, but this is the one that I'm having. The phrase helps me to let go of possible regrets or sighs. It is what it is. With that, I let go and carry on. This is good, too.

* * *

I owe so much to these sayings and the people who once said them. I am forever grateful for the myriad of wise words, passed down through the ages, that have landed on my lap, usually in a book. I'm a happier, kinder person because of them.

Have my words triggered some of your own life giving words that shaped you over your lifetime, even tipped your life into a different path? I'd love to hear, if you care to share in the comments below.


On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful day.


Warm hugs,

Brenda

Top Photo by Anna Nekrashevich from Pexels
(Huggers) Photo by Klimkin from Pixabay
(Stretching) Photo by Yan-Krukov from Pexels
(Petals) Photo by James Peng from Pixabay
(Basil) Photo by Monicore from Pixabay
 (Grape Hyacinth) Photo by Mareefe from Pixabay