Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Between Raindrops

Hampstead Heath
Hello, sweet friends.

I hope the end of 
November has been
treating you well.

In my last post I
wrote about the black
cloud that's been with
me this autumn, and
many of you very
generously shared
coping strategies for
blowing that cloud
away.

Thank you.


Hampstead Cemetery
I was so touched,
particularly by one
of the anonymous
comments, to which I
had no way of giving
a direct response.

Thank you.

The day after I released
those thoughts into the
blogosphere, my family
boarded an airplane to
visit some dear relatives
for the week of our 
Thanksgiving holiday.


Big Ben

Though our destination
is actually known for
its black clouds, my own 
made few appearances.

And while the clouds
I've penned are simply
emotional ones, I noticed
something about the real
clouds while visiting that 
made my heart sing.

And me, think.


The White Tower

In London, when the
sun breaks through the
clouds, people don't 
just take note ~

Oh look, there's the sun.

Oh, no.

They revel.


Hampstead Heath

Hats and scarves come
off, the parks fill with
parents and children,
dogs and scooters,
elderly folks taking a
stroll and business 
people on their lunch 
breaks.

They do not take it
for granted.


Parliament

By the same token, 
they don't let the rain
clouds stop them from
getting on with it,
either.

Whether it is walking
to the store, walking the
dog, running for the 
bus or just running for
sport.


Knightsbridge

Why do both of these
scenarios resonate 
with me?

Because in life, like a
holiday in London, there
will be rain clouds
and there will be
sunshine.


Hampstead High Street

The key is to revel in those
moments of sunshine-y
joy, rather than fret about
the inevitable clouds.

And when those clouds
appear?

We have to get on with it.

{Keep calm and 
carry on, 
remember?}





Life doesn't halt for
sadness or black clouds.

And we shouldn't, either.

Humanity will not be
cast down.  We are going on
swinging bravely forward along
the grand high road and already
behind the distant mountains
is the promise of the sun.

~ Winston Churchill


xo
Suzanne

PS:  I'll share more of my
holiday pics in my next few
posts.  Until then, I'm in
catch up mode :)

PPS:  The winner of the 
sweet oil painting giveaway
from Hello Lovely is #12,
Elizabeth, who writes
as Busy Biz.  Congrats!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Carry On and A Give Away

Keep your face always
toward the sunshine ~
and shadows will
fall
behind
you.

~ Walt Whitman



Ever had a season in
life where things like
sadness, challenges
or defeat seemed to
hover like a dark cloud
just above you?

Distracted by the noise
of everyday life, you
forget about the cloud,
until, in a quiet moment,
you look up.....


Yep, there it is.

I've had an autumn
like that.

It's taken conscious
effort to turn my face
to the sunshine with 
that black cloud in
the way.


Last week, when
I felt particularly
disheartened, I had a
little talk with myself.

Self,

I admonished,

this dreary cloud
is going to be here
for a while.  You
can't change that.

What you can change
is how you are going
to deal with it.




I thought about this
advice I'd given myself.

And I thought some more.

Then it came to me:

I need a motto.

A mantra.

A pin prick of sunshine
to focus on through
the dark cloud.




It was election day and
I had pinned on a cute
red and white button on
my jacket collar, along
with a tiny U.S. flag.

Keep Calm and Carry On.

Perfect.



Now, when I feel the
cool shadow of that
cloud passing overhead,
I think of my motto.

I also like to close my
eyes for a second or two
and say a small prayer.



Or, like I do in 
Savasana, at the end of 
yoga class, I picture a
favorite, peaceful place,
and a sense of serenity
embraces me like a
soft blanket.

The ocean appears
frequently in these
reflections.



Which is why I recently
acquired the most
tranquil little oil painting
from my talented friend 
Michele, whose inspiration
and verve can be found on
her blog, Hello, Lovely.

Looking at this tiny slice of
heaven reminds me to
keep my face towards the
sunshine.....

and carry on.



Michele sent me a second
painting to give away to one
of you.  To enter the giveaway,
simply follow her blog, then
leave me a comment letting 
me know that you did.  I will 
draw the lucky winner's 
name after Thanksgiving.

How do you cope, when
the clouds roll in?

I'd love to know.


xo
Suzanne





Thursday, November 8, 2012

Life.....Lived.

Early Saturday morning
as my husband and I
headed to spin class,
we stepped into the
garage and were greeted
by the chilly dawn air.

Wow, it's really cold,

he said.



Piling into our SUV,
he fired her up and
the radio came to life,
40's music drifting
cheerily around us.

{Our daughter's choice
of stations when she drives, 
to keep her calm and
centered.}

It was the WWII classic,
It's Been A Long, Long Time.




Imagine our GI's,
freezing in a fox hole
in Europe, listening
to this, 

my hubby
mused.

Imagine how grateful
they were for.....

everything,

when they got back
home, 

I added.

The greatest generation,

we both agreed.



Hot cups of coffee,
hot showers,
home-cooked meals,
hugging your loved ones;
all the things that we
take for granted, that
they never, ever 
would again.

When they returned, this
humble generation, many
never speaking about their
experiences over there,
proceeded to go to college
in numbers not seen before.
They raised families, started
businesses, and continued
to serve our nation in many
ways, for the rest of their lives.

Uncle Bill and Gigi, about 1921
My Great-Uncle Bill,
{my Gigi's brother}
was one of them.

After serving, Uncle Bill went to 
school on the GI bill and then 
on to law school, eventually
opening a small practice
of his own.

Uncle Bill in Europe

He and my Aunt Helen
lived a quiet life in a
 modest Cape Cod house
in Cleveland, Ohio.


As a youth, I'm told, he
was restless and yearned
for a bigger, fancier life than
what he had as the son of
a railroad man in Cleveland.

Uncle Bill as a boy.
But after The War, he saw
everything differently.
  
He was grateful.  
He was content.



Uncle Bill only lived to be 62.
 But I like to think, after his 
experiences in WWII,
 that he really, really

lived

those years.

Shouldn't we all?

xo
Suzanne

PS:  So grateful to
those who served,
and to those who
continue to serve,
this Veteran's Day.


All images from Gigi's
family album or my own.








Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Shift

A week or so ago I
wrote about the concept
of sabi ~ the simple
beauty found in the 
worn and imperfect.


But long before we
are sabi women or men,
we are fresh-faced 
girls and boys.

We run barefoot.
We sing loudly.
We laugh and cry without
worrying what others think.

We wear what makes
us happy!



If moms and dads don't
comb our hair or remind
us to brush our teeth, we
run wild and don't give
it another thought.

Until one day.

Something shifts.
Something changes.



Like Adam and Eve
in the Garden of Eden,
we are suddenly aware
of our bodies, and that
first innocence ~ that
not worrying what others
think of our appearance
or how loud or silly or
sad we might appear ~
goes away.



For some, it's when
school starts and other
children tease.

For some, it happens
as a tween or teen, when
puberty first enters 
the scene.



I thought about this
as I collected towels
for the wash from my kids'
bathroom yesterday.  I had to
navigate around a lot
of things whose presence
announced loud and
clear,

I care about how
I look.



The tweezers.
The hair smoothing serum.
The cologne.
The mineral powder.

I smiled.



It doesn't seem that long
ago that I kept a chart
to encourage their hygiene
habits with gold stars, or
I had to cajole my son
to take a shower.

Not any more.



There are days when I can
tell that one of them is
feeling self-conscious
about their hair or their
skin or the way a piece
of clothing fits and I wish
fervently that they were
still okay running around
in mismatched socks, or
letting go with their funny
laughter, or creeping into
my lap when they felt
insecure.



But as all of us have
done, they've crossed that
invisible bridge that
leads from freedom from
caring to.....awareness.

They've made the shift.

Imagine what the world
would be like if we were
able to stay in that first,
carefree state, forever?



Someday they'll re-live
those unaware, free days
when they have children
of their own.  I like to
imagine my son braiding
his daughter's wet hair
as she fidgets, or my daughter 
trying to get her son to floss : )
But most of all, I like to think of 
them enjoying all the belly 
laughs, the tiny bare feet, 
the cuddles and the consoling.

I sure have.

Happy November,
dear friends!

xo
Suzanne

PS:  Thanks to my
sister-in-law for sharing
these Instagram pics of my
nieces and nephew.  Lucky
for her, the shift is still far
out on the horizon : )