Sunday, December 30, 2007

Alphabet Soup - Letter "Q"

QUILTS to keep me warm on cold winter nights

QUART jars filled with my yummy home canned peaches

QUILL pens that signed the Declaration of Independence, helping to establish my freedom

QUESTIONS that keep me searching, thinking big thoughts and pondering deep

QUIET times to calm my chaos in this crazy old world

Alphabet Soup - Letter "P"

Prunes * Pomegranates * Playdough * Pirate Movies * Prayer * Pies in the face * Playmates * Pajamas * Pansies * Peonies * Parakeets * Parties * Passport * Penicillin * Pets * Pickles....and then there's more: Photographs * Physicans * Phone * Pinecones * Pick-up Trucks * Pineapple * Piranha Fish! Most of all PEACE, which I seek with all my heart.

Alphabet Soup - In Search of the big O

A series of things have piled up in the Piranha household over the last week or so which left me feeling more than a little glum. If ever there was a time when I needed to Count My Blessings, it would be now. I have SO MUCH abundance in so many areas of my, spirit, family, friends. But alas, over the last few days all I could see was the bad news. Three different doses of disappointment came one on top of the other - first I learned I didn't make the cut for the job back in Michigan that had seemed so perfect for me. (Rotten timing to get my "no thank you" letter on Christmas Eve.) Then came two more rather big reverses right on top of that which caught me completely off guard. One has to do with a close family member and the other a financial situation we got stuck with unfairly. Adversity with a capital A seemed ready to camp out for a good long spell just to see how I would react.

I've had my Eeyore moments, moping about with a pessimistic face. But I KNOW that in the big picture of life there is still plenty to be grateful for no matter what challenges may come.

So onward and upward to list the O blessings that enrich my life!

I'll start off with OYSTERS - to remind me that how we respond to the things that irritate or trouble us can make all the difference. The creation of pearls teach me that painful experiences can lead to beauty over time. So rather than moan or whine or wail about the injustice of life's disappointments I can truly ask myself "where is the blessing in this?" If I look hard enough, I WILL Find it.

OXYGEN - so easy to take for granted. But spend a day in the company of a person with serious breathing difficulty and you will be reminded how precious it is simply to take in a lung full of easy air. I am also reminded of the time I spent in Cairo, Egypt where the air pollution is truly atrocious. I'm so grateful to live in a place where I see blue skies instead of brown haze. I am thankful indeed for good air to breath and good lungs to suck it all up with.

OHIO - is a place that will always be dear to me. My beloved and I moved to the Buckeye State just three months after we married and lived there from 1982-1986. Some of my dearest friends to this day are those I met back then. Some are still there, some have moved away like me. But I still count them all as my Ohio buddies and they add sweet richness to my life.

OREGON - is where I have called home for the past six years. I don't know that we will stay a whole lot longer. I'm actively looking for a job now and most of my applications have been in other states. But I've had many wonderful adventures here and found some good friends during our time here. I'll always remember this place fondly. And who knows? We could end up staying ...just depends what cards we get dealt. I'm coming to understand and accept that the universe has plans and I'm just along for the ride!

OATMEAL - true comfort food for me. Besides being yummy its good for you.

OCEANS - It took me a long time to overcome my mistrust of the sea and general fear of water after a near drowning in Florida many years ago. But finally I've come to view the ocean as my ally once more. Being married to a serious scuba diver has taken me to several gorgeous beaches over the years - most recently at Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The Ocean there was so beautiful & soothing. Had a great time!

ORIGAMI - just plain old pieces of paper folded in elaborate patterns to make things of beauty. I have some Origami butterflies on my refrigerator door. Good reminders that out of small and simple things can come treasures!

And there are other things to be all the other letters of the alphabet, the Letter O brings me plenty to smile about, even when the world brings an OUCH!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Alphabet Soup - Letter "N"

Rather than write a little bit about a whole list of words for this letter, I want to focus on just one:

- One of my goals recently has been to learn to live more consistently in the present moment. It's so easy to obsess over the past, replaying things that are done and gone, continually second guessing myself. If only I had... If only I had not... Regrets for what has come before have their purpose if taken in small doses. They can instruct by showing us how to take a different path next time. But getting stuck in continual replays of old business is counterproductive.

The other trap is to get stuck longing for what is yet to come forfeiting the present by constantly putting off today's chance for happiness with "...when I get done with this project" or "when the kids are older" or "after I graduate" or "when I have time" as if somewhere in the future there would be some sort of magical different reality. OR the flip side is worrying about the future, all the what ifs that MIGHT happen, that COULD happen...most of which never will, yet I have put myself through all the angst worrying about it as if it already had.

Whether it is being overly focused on the past, or tangled up in the future, I want that pattern of time warp focus to end. I want to live in the present moment. I want to live in the NOW.

It makes sense to pay attention to, remember, and learn from the past. But I need to acknowledge it is past. It makes sense to think about and plan for the future. But ultimately, the future is unknown. I can only truly experience THIS moment.

One of my favorite reminders of this important lesson is the story The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson.

I choose to be awake and present NOW.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Alphabet Soup - Letter "M"

MARRIAGE - this is the bedrock of the peace and happiness I have in my life. My husband is truly my best pal, a man I adore and trust with all my heart. My life has been deeply blessed in this marriage! We've been united for 26 yrs and yet he still makes me feel 16 with a silly crush when he looks at me and smiles.

MUSIC - whether it is Christmas songs that waft through my home this time of year, the pulsing back-beat rhythms of reggae that I swing to while doing my housework, praise & worship songs that lift my spirit or the old cowboy ballads like "El Paso" that my husband likes to is a tremendous blessing in my life!

MARIGOLDS - I love flowers of just about every kind. Marigolds are easy to grow and have the side benefit of warding off bugs. Just thinking of their cheerful faces brightens my spirit on this cold winter evening.

MONEY - We are not rich in dollars and cents. But we have sufficient for our needs and then some to spare. We are rich in so many other ways, but I am very mindful that we DO have more money that at least half the population of this planet and I am deeply grateful that we don't have to fret about how we are going to get through each month.

MATH - Who would have thought I would ever say that was a blessing?? There was a time when I HATED mathematics. I would get a cold shiver down my spine at the very mention of polynomials or quadratic equations! I was one of those stereotypical females that believed I just could not learn to manipulate numbers no matter how hard I tried. But due to the patience of a great Algebra teacher many years ago I learned to overcome my aversion for mathematics. Fred Toxopaus, where ever you are, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for teaching me that I could master algebra and maybe even learn to like it. I was not an easy pupil, but you hung in there with me until I got it right. The skills you helped me establish have served me well over the years AND have given me courage to tackle other challenging things that at first seemed insurmountable. I'll never forget you!

Alphabet Soup - Letter "L"

Continuing on with my list of blessings from A to Z I come to the letter L...

LAUGHTER - to giggle in bursts of silly amusement, to full out belly laugh, to laugh through tears - recognizing the joy that sometimes comes all tangled up with difficulty, to laugh with wild abandon in moments of all its many forms I love a good laugh. Beyond that, I love the sound of laughter from those I care about. I have a priceless memory of my youngest grandchild laughing with gusto as we played peek-a-boo about this time last year...he lives clear across the country now, but that memory still burns bright. I remember driving across Blewett pass with my beloved on the way home from a trip to Sequim. We were listening to a book on tape that had a hilariously funny passage. My love and I got laughing so hard we almost veered off the road! I remember sharing a laugh with one of my best friends, a woman from my church, as we talked about the antics of our respective families. I love laughter! It is healing magic indeed.

LENT - My own religion does not practice Lent or have any traditions associated with it. However, through my association with some pals of the Eastern Orthodox faith I have been introduced to the concept of Lent. They fast for 40 days (eating minimal food and totally avoiding all meat, dairy and a few other thing) and observe various prayers and rituals that carry them through a spiritual journey. I have learned to have a deep respect for this and have practiced a modified version of it for myself that have challenged and enriched my own spiritual understanding.

LOVE is the power pack of my life. It's what gives me the juice to face each new day. It is what brings me hope and courage. Love rocks! I am blessed to be in a marriage where I feel deeply loved every single day. I also have a handful of dear friends who I know without question love me very much. Beyond how good it feels to know I am loved, my life is made richer because of how it feels for me to love them - my family, my pals, and to have a general love of life.

There's plenty of others I could mention - lentils and lima beans, liver & onions and life jackets, larynx that lets me talk, loofah that scrubs me clean. The whole point of doing this blessing list is to push myself beyond the obvious and help me acknowledge my gratitude for lots of things in my life I generally overlook.

I can sum it all up with LIFE...I appreciate the quote by Agatha Christie who said: “I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Alphabet Soup - Letter "K"

KITES - I love kites. I have at least a dozen different ones. I almost always take one with me when I travel (Usually my parasail because it packs easy and has no breakable sticks.) Blustery spring days are just perfect for kite flying.

KALEIDOSCOPES - I have a collection of toys that I keep on or near my desk - some are wind up things that do silly things, and there are jacks, my juggle balls and a few other odd things I've collected over the years. Among these is my Kaleidoscope, just something fun to look in now and then to see pretty patterns. I spend a lot of time staring at the computer screen because of the nature of my work. Sometimes it is nice to give myself a few minutes of diversion.

KOOL AID - I almost never drink the stuff anymore, but I am a sucker for buying a cup from the local kids when they put out a kool aid stand in summer. It just seems like the neighborly thing to do.

KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE - I've long loved the epic tales of Sir Lancelot and Guinevere, King Aurthur and his court.

And last but not least by any means KAYLIE - my 13 yr old grand daughter who I adore. She is the light of my heart. Love you Kayliebug!

Alphabet Soup - Letter "J"

Continuing on with the challenge to list blessings that I appreciate for every letter of the alphabet I will name these:

JUGGLING - this is something I am determined to learn. I have been practicing a off and on but still am not very good at it yet. No matter - I'll keep trying until I master the art. It just seems like it would be a fun way to add a little levity to life!

JET PLANES - I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to see various parts of the world: Egypt, Costa Rica, Fiji, Mexico to name just a few. I am ever so grateful for the ability to travel far and wide made possible by modern transportation.

JOINT CHECKING & SAVINGS - Every couple must find their own balance for how they will handle their finances. I know a few families in which husbands and wives clearly delineate "HIS" money from "HER" money. While I respect that may work for some, I am so thankful that in my marriage we have a different way. We throw all our resources into one pot and mutually share whatever bounty may come. Early on my husband was the only one working for a wage outside the home. Then little by little I started to contribute as I worked my way up the career ladder. These days I make a bit more than him. But it doesn't really matter. It's all OURS and we manage it together with no greediness or secrets. I like that.

JOB - I like my work. The past couple days have been horrendous as my boss and I have teamed together to compile a big, complicated end-of-year report. The reporting required for federal grants is truly excruciating. But even with tedious tasks like that in the mix, over all I am very pleased to be working where I do, and mindful that having a good job of any kind is something not to take for granted.

JELLO - Just because there's ALWAYS room for Jello! I especially like Jello brand instant tapioca pudding. YUM YUM!

JESUS CHRIST - and of course no "J" list would be complete without including the Savior. It is through the atonement of Jesus Christ that I can be forgiven of my sins to return one day to live in the presence of the Father. That is something for which I will always be especially grateful.

Alphabet Soup - Letter "I"

INTIMACY is a special blessing - one I am ever so grateful for. This word means different things to different people. To me, it is the ability to connect with trusted others on a deep and authentic level that warms my soul.

- My husband is a scuba diver so we have gone to several tropical places on vacations that have taught me to appreciate island life. Whether it be Hawaii, Fiji or the Bahamas, there's nothing quite like squishing my toes in the sand as I walk on the beach with sun kissing my skin. I don't think I'd care to live long term on a small piece of land surrounded by the sea, but for a get away week I'll take islands any day!

= I'm Possible - Back in Aug 2001 I participated in the Avon 3 day walk for Breast Cancer. Over a period of 3 days I walked approximately 60 miles, from Enumclaw, WA to Seattle. It was a gruelling journey of body and spirit and taught me many important things. One of the lessons that has remained with me since that event is the message that Pallota Teamworks kept reaffirming - that with just a little re-defining the impossible could be shifted to the belief that I'm Possible.
I learned that it was indeed very possible for me to do some big and important things. The whole thing was a very powerful experience I hope I never forget.

INDIAN SUMMER - these are those lovely warm days after the chill of fall has come. They offer a last hurrah of playing outdoors before the bleak cold of winter begins. Often coming in late October, I love going for walks to see the trees decked out in autumn colors on a mild Indian Summer Afternoon.

Alphabet Soup - Letter "H"

I am going to cheat on this one and simply link to the things that Morning Glory said on her post about H because I so agree with ALL of her words!!!!

Alphabet Soup - Letter "G"

Number one on this list is easy - GRANDKIDS I have four grandchildren who are my blood relations and and four more inherited through my son's marriage. Each and every one of them is special to me.

is a big part of my life. At various points I've had different beliefs about who or what God really is or what my relationship to Him could be. Over the years my spiritual understanding has evolved considerably. There is much I still don't understand. But I believe that God is very real and is mindful of my life.

GARDEN - I'm not a great gardener, but I do enjoy getting out to dig in the dirt and watch things grow. I usually am very ambitious about it in the spring but by late July or early August when it is getting hot I've lost the heart for weeding. Still, I manage to raise some lovely blooms and a respectable pile of veggies each year.

GUESTS - I enjoy having people over for dinner or to stay at our house for a long weekend. I'm not a fancy entertainer, but having chances to connect with family or friends in my home is something I really like.

GUITAR - I don't play at all, actually haven't got a musical bone in my body. But my husband strums and sings quite often and I've always been so grateful he has music in his life. It has blessed our home. Also, my older brother is a serious player. I love listening to either of them pick out a song.

GOULASH - is a spicy dish, originally from Hungary, usually made of beef, onions, red peppers, and paprika powder. HMMM I'm getting hungry...think I will GO now!