Posted in Holidays

Don’t Get Your Tinsel In A Tangle

We have once again reached the Christmas season, supposedly a time set aside for love, sharing, kindness, relaxation and all the other positive synonyms you can think of to describe what we SAY this season symbolizes.  But, often, we don’t see a whole lot of the spirit of the season in ACTION.

People have come up with all kinds of creative and athletic moves to cut you off in checkout lines and parking lots and to just about steal the last “must have” gift of the season right out of your hands.  Sitting in a blockaded traffic jam can, within a matter of seconds, wipe out any resolution to practice patience.  Stress and exhaustion overtake overschedulers who conjure up a filled calendar that even a superhero couldn’t survive.  All of this generally results in emotional outbursts that are anything but the positive ones we are striving to meet.  It sometimes seems as if the whole world has gotten their tinsel in a tangle, as the old saying goes.

However, I have been pleasantly surprised so far this year!  Venturing out into the holiday shopping jungle, I tried to prepare myself for the warfare ahead.  BUT, it has been a most pleasant experience with … people smiling … holding doors …chatting in a friendly manner with total strangers while waiting in line as every one of the checkout center’s four registers crashed … letting people out ahead of them in parking lots and intersections with fast-changing traffic signals … helping to locate a gift item for a fellow shopper (usually a total stranger) … taking the time to wish everyone around them a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

While I have been basking in this unexpected joy of the season, I seemed to detect an increased level of stress and a little less kindness in the air today.  Let’s not give in … we’re almost there … let’s keep the spirit of the season going … take a deep breath, relax, listen to some Christmas music and don’t get your tinsel in a tangle… let’s not spoil it now …

MERRY CHRISTMAS and goodwill to men and women everywhere!

Peace,
Kathy Marie

Advertisements
Posted in Inspirational

A Breath of Fresh Air

It started out as an average Sunday morning does … breakfast, quick email check, off to mass.  Mass went well … nice to see and chat with the regulars … enjoyed the music.  After mass, people were smiling, shaking hands and wishing each other a good week.  The sun was shining brightly.  All in all, a positive start to the day.

We decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Longhorn’s, obviously a favorite place since it was our third visit in the last week and a half.  The atmosphere was most pleasant as we were warmly greeted by smiling, friendly and courteous people.  Our waitress, Jaimie, turned out to be an absolute delight — the most warmest smile and enthusiastic, helpful attitude that was obviously so refreshingly genuinely natural, and not the far too common robotic repetition of the mandated corporate script common in so many places these days.   She was attentive, but not overbearing.  You felt as if you were home in your own kitchen with family.  She looked like a high school student, but we discovered in conversation that she is almost 28 and is a second language instructor at a local university.  By the time we said our goodbyes, we felt as if we had known her for much longer than an hour.

We exited to the parking lot behind a lovely elderly couple, obviously much slower and not so steady in movement as in younger years, but obviously devoted to one another as each tried to help the other along the way.  They were decked out in their Sunday finest.  She, in lovely summer pink and cream colored print dress with a beautiful delicate pink jacket, topped off with a white summer hat complete with flower, was the perfect picture of how we used to dress up to go to church on Sundays in years past — long before we became far too comfortable with “casual” seven days a week, just about everywhere we go.  Her husband had a dapper light grey suit on with a soft pink shirt and pink and grey print tie.  They were so striking together that I just had to comment and compliment.  They each smiled, and in soft voice, they said thanks and he proudly proclaimed that “she dresses me.”  They then proceeded to tell us they are married for 68 years!  It was obvious they were still in love and darn proud of their accomplishment!  They, like the waitress, were absolutely delightful and made our day!

I had such a warm and uplifting feeling from the collective encounters with such special people that I found myself letting people out at stop signs or motioning for them to make turns before the line of traffic behind me would cut them off.  I tend to be fairly courteous on the road for the most part, but I found myself making an extra effort on the way home — kind of like paying forward the kindnesses and the positivity people had shared with me today.

What a contrast the day had been to the overwhelmingly negative state of society today … shootings, stabbings, bullying, politicians who unleash vicious verbal attacks on anyone and everyone …

Yep, today was definitely a breath of fresh air!

Peace
Kathy Marie

 

 

 

Posted in Holidays, Inspirational, Memories

Mother’s Day Has Changed

In my sixth decade of life, reflecting on Mother’s Day today, my first thought is that it has really changed.  But, on second thought, change just might not be the best word … perhaps “evolved” is a better choice.  Yes, that’s much better — just like life — it doesn’t really change — it evolves.  Just like life, one pattern goes through a metamorphosis of sorts, adapting to new opportunities, often a result of an addition to a lifestyle pattern,  or the need to adjust to life without a previous presence.

As a child those many decades ago, when extended families lived in the same neighborhood, or, at most, the bordering small town, all major family and holiday events centered around grandma’s house.  Many of us had two grandmothers, so we benefitted from the love of two families and double helpings of homemade ethnic food like kielbasa and nut bread and noodle soup, chicken and potatoes cooked in a generous dose of pure butter — meals that surely would be classified as a killer in these days of health consciousness.  It was absolutely delicious and I’m still living into my sixth decade.

This was the routine for Sundays and holy holidays — morning mass followed by the first meal at one grandmother’s house,  followed by playing ball or games in the backyard or with the kids “down the street.”  By late afternoon, you walked back home, up the hill to your own house.  Then, the evening was spent at the other grandma’s house with a second meal and merriment on a porch that seemed to hold an endless amount of people and a swing that gave the kids thrills and the adults chills as we tried to swing high enough to go over the banister.  The same scene was repeated on just about every other porch in the neighborhood and sometime after dark, everyone went home, sleeping well after a pleasantly exhausting day of play.  

Mother’s Day was one of those special holidays.  But, the huge extended family gatherings are basically a thing of the past.  We no longer live across the street or across town.  While some live close, most are scattered around the metropolitan area as well as across the country.  The grandmothers are long gone as are many of the parents, aunts, uncles and older cousins of childhood days.  Families are on alternating schedules for dividing holidays among in-laws, often in different locations, not covered easily in a day.  

So, new Mother’s Day celebrations have emerged with smaller groups starting their own new traditions.  Some participate in the Race for the Cure in memory of moms who lost their courageous fight with cancer years ago.  Some of us combine with friends and a few relatives, gathering for food, fun and companionship.  Some spend a weekend getaway with just mom, dad and kids — a nice little escape from the normal hectic rat race of life.  

Some have adopted aunts as second moms once their own went to Heaven.  They might not live handy, but they send greetings and love via cards, phone calls, emails and texts.  And, sometimes, you are down to just two — to share mother/daughter love and friendship.

Mother’s Day might not look like it did “way back then.”  But, the most important elements of those days remain a part of the day — LOVE and respect and gratitude for the special people in our lives who gave birth to us, adopted us, raised us, stepped in as second moms when needed, all the while loving us unconditionally.

Mother’s Day has not changed — it has evolved — and, it is just fine!

Peace,
Kathy Marie

 

 

 

Posted in Humor

I Used To Like Receiving Mail

Some people tell me I don’t look my age, but I’m sure my mailman knows.  Not too many years ago — seems like just yesterday — I LOVED receiving mail.  It was the highlight of my day.  That was then — before the US Postal Service and the online world sabotaged my intent to age with grace and not give a hoot about the NUMBER of years I have walked this earth — sabotaged my firm belief that a young attitude keeps one so.

Somehow, the whole world knew I was turning 65 last year.  I must have missed the universal memo or email that was sent out because I was blindsided by the barrage of junk mail repetitively warning me of all the new things I would be dealing with as an “aging” person.  It began a full year in advance of the momentous occasion with an inundation of solicitations, warnings and “free” offers for publications advising me of the best Medicare plan to choose or the best kept secrets to keep me from cheating myself out of all the social security I can get.  My favorites are the anonymous companies who don’t think enough of their operation to even tell me who they are … Post Office Box ________ in Washington, DC will be happy to send me free information with “no obligation.”

A year later, I continue to be amused at the much-too-large number of companies who are so concerned about me, especially when I haven’t responded to any of their 3 previous mailings I received that week.  They are so very concerned because I am apparently not tending to my hearing, mobility, insurance, retirement savings and retirement living issues. 

But, just when these companies have almost convinced me my life is over and I need to take up permanent residence in a rocking chair — my email inbox saves me!  Online dating and matchmaking services want to assure me I am still vibrant enough to enjoy my remaining years with the perfect mate that only they can find for me!  Happiness awaits me as soon as I turn over the search process to matchmakers who specialize in “mature person” dating. Hope abounds!

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some mailings to put through the shredder before I resume enjoying life!

Peace,
Kathy Marie

 

Posted in Holidays, Spiritual

Finding Peace In The Chaos Of Opposites

It’s Christmas — the season of opposites — a time when one faces a whole range of emotions and experiences, from one end of the spectrum to the other, often simultaneously.  Joy to see family and friends, but sadness thinking of those unable to be there.  Anticipation of events, but anxiety over a long to-do list.  Love of Christmas music, but anger at hearing it begin in October.  Looking forward to shopping at the mall and meeting dear friends for lunch, but discovering patience is definitely not a virtue when stuck in a holiday traffic jam or tossed around in a holiday bargain hunting crowd. 

At some point, all the joyful anticipation turns into the season’s best imitation of Mr/Ms Grinch.  Burl Ives and Brenda Lee might have been favorites years ago as they rocked around the tree with their idea of a holly jolly Christmas, but, after hearing them nonstop for two months, somebody is just gonna scream!  Same goes for seeing the Chia Pet commercial for the gazillionth time or the incessant ads for sales that are the same everyday, but only change the name.  You soon wise up to the fact this really is NOT “your last chance” to get a Chia Pet at this low, low price.  And, why do Christmas decorations HAVE to be up before Thanksgiving?  Jesus wasn’t born till Christmas Eve.  As much as one vows to practice kindness, patience, thanks and generosity in the spirit of the season, it all gets sucked up in the tornadic winds of holiday chaos swirling out of control all around us.

So, how does one find peace in the chaos?  Maybe it comes in the smile of a stranger, the unexpected visit from a friend, the reunion with family, the singing of children, the message of faith.  All of a sudden, one is happily singing Christmas carols as a tree is decorated … or watching a sappy Hallmark Channel Christmas movie … or joyfully wishing everyone a merry Christmas while plodding your way through a Christmas Eve crowd at the local grocery store … praying/meditating/refocusing in the brief space of quiet time carved out for yourself.  I find my holiday peace in friends, family, faith and music.

How do you find yours?

May you be blessed with peace this Christmas and throughout the coming year!

Peace,
Kathy Marie

Posted in Writing

The Write Time

In my many attempts over the years of establishing a regular writing routine, I participated in an online 30-day challenge called “Small Stones.”  The idea is to force yourself to take note of little things in life and write one small snippet to summarize the scene, emotion, setting, event, whatever.  If done properly, the author eventually establishes a daily writing routine and practices tightening one’s writing — producing a concise, richly-descriptive sentence or two exemplifying the age-old adage for writers — “SHOW me … don’t TELL me!”  The author also gifts oneself with a collection of 30 writing prompts for future reference, for those frequent days when the creative word well runs dry.

Perhaps most importantly, the author realizes the writing journey is a slower process than originally perceived.  One usually steadily starts out with small creations and not the blockbuster novel that catapults him/her to instant fame and fortune.

I successfully accomplished the program’s goals for 30 days and then promptly fell off the wagon on day #31.  Sound familiar?  In recent attempts to get back on the wagon, I reread my small stones, surprised at how good they were … how easily they had come to me back then … and wondering what caused the well to run dry for so long a period of time since.  Maybe it’s because the mind is cluttered and thoughts and words are lost in its deepest shadows.  Maybe it’s the illusion that there isn’t sufficient time to retrieve it all and plant it on paper.  Maybe it’s the fear that one can’t keep up the pace or level of excellence forever.

Maybe it just has not been the “right” time…

Is there EVER a “right” time?

The moment it dawns on a potential author that waiting for the right time is a waste of precious time … THAT moment IS the “WRITE” time!

 
Peace,
Kathy Marie
(previously published in one of my discontinued writing blogs)
Posted in Memories, Writing

What Are The Chapters Of Your Life?

I consider myself an aspiring writer and, as such, I tend to collect, maybe OVER collect, writing prompts — the majority of which I do absolutely nothing about.  For those unfamiliar, writing prompts are clever little words, phrases and sentences that are meant to magically trigger one’s creative juices and miraculously assist in getting ideas from mind to pen to paper.  They are supposed to open a flood gate, enabling the writer to overcome writer’s block and produce an award-winning piece of written creativity.  Sometimes, that happens….most of the time, it’s just another writing exercise. 

Many writing prompts are general and in a collection as large as mine, one tends to find repetition of theme and lack of originality.  They become old hat and no longer provide the creative spark to production.  However, once in a while, I discover one that truly intrigues and challenges me.  Recently, I found one that I had put aside over a year ago.  I find it even more interesting and challenging now, so maybe, just maybe, I’ll be inspired to do something with it.

It’s a neat exercise not only for writers, but for people in general who want to reflect on where life has taken them thus far.  As a woman in her sixth decade of life on this planet, I’m all into reflecting!  The prompt challenges you to list the chapters of your life; choose one; write five “possible” opening and 5 “possible” closing sentences for the chosen chapter.  The possibilities are endless for this exercise, with a variety of approaches from viewing one’s life chronologically or by family segment or by areas of interest or any other unique approach YOU choose. 

When completed, if a writer, it could be the beginning of a novel, autobiography or the launch of a series of articles.  If not a writer, it will give you a summary of your life to this point. Reflection, looking back, is good!  However, reflection is NOT just about looking back and living in the past.  Rather, it’s a foundation from which to launch the future.

So, what are the chapters of your life?

Peace,
Kathy Marie

(previously published on one of my discontinued writing blogs)