Gratitude

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At last night’s Helping One Woman dinner I was pleased to win a lovely Gratitude Journal in one of the opportunity drawings.  It was a particularly relevant gift for me, because the HOW dinners themselves are such a lesson in gratitude each month.  As I have written before, the honoree at each HOW dinner is a woman who has suffered an irreparable loss in the previous 12 months.  And over and over, these amazing women demonstrate courage, faith, and even joy in the midst of overwhelming challenges and sorrows.  And over and over, they remind me of both how incredibly fortunate I am, and how quickly our lives can change.

I look forward to keeping track of the wondrous gifts I am given by life in my new journal, and perhaps sharing some of them here.

gratitude

My lovely new “Grace of Gratitude” Journal by Deborah Perdue

thankful

The left-hand page is for journaling, and the right either holds a prompt such as this or an illustration.

Love, limits, and protectiveness

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Tonight my oldest granddaughter had her first real foray out into the world without us, as special friends from church invited her to a performance of “Forever Tango” at the Fox Theater, featuring Anna Trebunskaya from “Dancing with the Stars”.  This was her first adventure that didn’t involve other childhood friends and their family members, and it was grand!  It is lovely knowing that adult friends appreciate our young ones and choose to enjoy their company.

Of course, there were conversations ahead of time about how to act and what to do.  Being only nine, she needed to be reminded to stay with our friends at all times, to pay attention to her surroundings, not to go off to the ladies’ room by herself.  And her mother reminded her, as she does every time she goes anywhere with friends, that if for any reason things got weird and she was uncomfortable with the situation, to turn to the nearest adult she trusted and ask to call home or 911.

“You always tell me that,” she said to her mother.  Of course we do.  We want it to become second nature, not only now, but when she is a teenager and runs up against peer pressure that goes against her better judgement.  We can’t always control the world, but we can prepare her to meet its challenges.  When I brought it up again at the last minute in the car, she said, “You sound just like Mom.  And the adults we can all trust here are Terry and Sandy.”  And, of course, she was right.  But what she didn’t realize was that we were trusting Terry and Sandy with her, one of our greatest treasures.

I can hardly wait to hear every detail tomorrow on the way to school.

 

My “One Little Word” for 2016

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Following the tradition I set for myself last year (doing something once with intention can become a tradition, right?), I have again chosen “one little word” to guide my actions throughout 2016.

After considerable thought and soul-searching, my 2016 word will be “clarify”.  Clarify has two lovely definitions that should suit me just  fine for this year of change:

  1.  Make (a situation) less confused and more clearly comprehensible
  2. Melt (butter) in order to separate out the impurities.

Synonyms include “purify” and “refine”, both wonderful things to do with my life this year.

What will your “one little word” be?

Goodbye 2015

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I have slipped away from the annual “watching all the music and noise before the ball drops” with my granddaughters to say a quick “Goodbye” to 2015 via Trigger’s Horse.  As with most years, 2015 has had wonderful moments along with the not-so-great, with the wonderful moments leading the way.  I’m a year older, twice-divorced, 30 pounds lighter, and decidedly more fit.

My Olive Garden coworkers have become a wonderful extended family and I truly love going to work each shift.  My St. Paul’s Episcopal Church family have become even more dear.  My for-real blood family has grown by several adorable new cousins that I can hardly wait to get my hands on, and Lily and Olivia are more wonderful each day.

Each and every one of my friends blesses me through their friendship; they know how important they are and how grateful I am.

I pray that 2016 will be uplifting and exciting for us all, with enough moments of calm so that we may truly appreciate the excitement.  Goodbye, 2015.  I need to go watch the ball drop with Lily and Olivia.

 

I’m still here

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I was gratified today by a notification that a new reader had discovered Trigger’s Horse and commented on two of my postings, even though it has been over two weeks since my last column.

What I have discovered during the month of December is that I truly am a creature of habit.  As long as I was religiously blogging nearly every day, Trigger’s Horse thrived.  Once I broke my daily habit to take part in National Novel Writing Month (in November), it became easier and easier to NOT sit down and write in the evening.  And no, I didn’t write the Great American Novel in November.  I did, however, get started, and managed to write rough drafts of some difficult-to-tell stories.

And now that I have started, I will go back and edit, re-write, and continue writing until the whole story is told.  So NaNoWriMo 2015 was not wasted.  I will try again next year.

And meanwhile, I’ll be back to continue with my random musings tomorrow.  Thank you for visiting, and please come back again.

 

God Lamp

anntogether

We are vessels
that’s what I remember
plaid hemline
across my rounded kneecaps
Vessels
like Aladdin’s lamp
I rub my hands together
hoping my genie
manifests through my fingertips
A spirit so powerful
she can reach up to God
and whisper in the Almighty ear
we need help down here
My wish
My prayer
God reveal yourself
in any form you fancy
for all the world to witness
Beneath whatever language
or symbols
or beliefs
we’ve scrawled
upon your entrance
You are
despite appearances
beneath the hype
one mutual voice
with a few simple requests
of mankind–
Kindness
Love
and
Peace on Earth

Rudolph Hug Rudolph Hug

 

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Changes

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I have been uncharacteristically quiet this week.  Nothing bad has happened; I have just been settling into my new life as a single (twice divorced) person.  After being separated from my (now ex-) husband-who-lives-across-town for over 5 years, I thought I would hardly notice the difference.  But every time I write “Fawn Pender” on something, I am reminded that I made the right decision.

Monday was “change the name” day.  I visited the Social Security Administration Office (waited an hour outside in the cold before they opened), the Department of Motor Vehicles (another hour), and finally my local credit union.  All wanted to see the precious document that stated “restore my former (maiden) name”.  But now that part is done, although there are a myriad of other small places it must also be changed.  Any ideas on how to change a google email address that is my first initial and last name?

People along the way asked, “How long were you married?” and when I say 34 years they don’t know whether to be sad or happy for me.  In truth, the first 10 would probably have been enough; I am just very stubborn and don’t like to give up.  Sadly, my children would concur, and they were a big reason I stayed married all those years.

So today my footsteps are lighter, and I have decidedly less baggage to carry.  Life as a single senior woman is good.

Retired and reading

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The past three days I have gotten out of bed, moved to the couch, and read until the book I had started earlier was finished.  Yesterday’s book was The Christmas Train, by David Baldacci, a sweet little story about a cross-country adventure by train at Christmas.  As such things often happen, this very ordinary train trip ended up being anything but, and the spirit of Christmas prevailed.

Later in the day I started True Blue, also by David Baldacci.  This thriller kept me in suspense right up to the finish, with enough plot twists and turns to make me dizzy.  Whether you admire cops or not, this will keep you engaged.

And somehow I forgot to count the first David Baldacci book I read (several weeks ago), Wish You Well.  David Baldacci is one of my brother-in-law’s favorite authors, and he sent me a box with quite a stack of his novels included.  Wish You Well is the story of two children who go to live with their grandmother in Appalachia, and how they learn to care for each other under overwhelming circumstances.

One more that I read and reviewed, but didn’t count, was Eden’s Outcasts:  The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father, by John Matteson.  I read that during the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge earlier this year, and reviewed it here.

Reading Challenge 2015 book count:  31/50.

Need and generosity

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Last Friday morning several of us from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Visalia visited Pinkham Elementary School, continuing a tradition that began seven years ago when we began partnering with them.  Each Thanksgiving, as well as each Christmas, St. Paul’s provides several student families with not only enough food for a holiday feast, but staples and ingredients for several additional days’ meals.  It is a treat for us to shop intentionally for these families and then to deliver the food to school for them.

The custodian who was helping us unload the groceries was new to us, and unfamiliar with our routine.  As we were making the last trip from our cars to the teachers’ workroom, he made a comment that really made me think.  “It is too bad there aren’t as many generous people as there are poor people,” he said.

I really think there are.  The difficulty lies in pairing up the generous people with those who need help.  When I am downtown and see a homeless person stretched out in Oval Park, using his or her belongings as a pillow, I can safely assume that person needs help.  But driving past Pinkham School, located in a middle class neighborhood and looking quite prosperous, how would I know that there were hungry children trying to learn in those classrooms?  And yet nearly every teacher knows of at least one family that is hanging on by its fingernails, trying to make ends meet.

It is incumbent upon us to search out people who need our help — not just at the holidays, but all year long.  We don’t individually need to re-invent the wheel; there are agencies who can readily identify those in need, and have systems in place to help people without destroying their privacy.  But we, as individuals and congregations, need to do our parts.

Write out a generous check to FoodLink of Tulare County to help feed the hungry.  Better yet, call them and ask how you can volunteer to sort food or fund raise.  Donate food to Visalia Emergency Aid.  Offer to work in their warehouse during distribution times.  Take part in the Crop Walk Against Hunger in the spring, or the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.  Encourage your house of worship to be involved with the poor in our community, not just in overseas missions.

The need is there.  The generous people are there, too.  We simply need to act.

 

Kicking back

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Today I have been a slug.  As usual, I awoke several minutes before my alarm was to go off, but this morning instead of letting it go through several snooze cycles and then waking the girls for church, I simply turned it off and let them sleep.

I started reading Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler a week or so ago, a page or two here and there.  Then last night it grabbed hold of me, and I stayed awake too long reading.  It demanded to be finished today, so I moved from my cozy bed to the living room couch and continued reading.  I was totally captivated by this sweet love story, told in alternate chapters by the five main characters who grew up in a small Wisconsin farming community.

I am always pleasantly surprised when a male author gets properly into the head of his female characters, and Butler did this so very well.  My favorite character shifted as the story progressed, and I’m still not sure which one I ultimately loved the most.  But the key to the tale is how much they loved each other — childhood friends, rivals, lovers, buddies, neighbors.

I highly recommend Shotgun Lovesongs.  Give yourself the gift of time to read it. (By the way, it is now after 1:00 p.m. and my Fitbit reads 207 steps.  Definitely slug status.)

 

Reading progress so far:  27 of 50 towards my 2015 reading challenge.

 

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