An NPR article this morning with 3 questions; What are your fears? How will you overcome your fears? What will “the unique you” bring to…[family, circle of friends, Peace2classroom, work, world] ? Last night I was thinking about one of my 5 children and that person’s traits; strengths and difficulties, depth of compassion and caring, family ties. I believe this child has fears, has overcome some that I know about, and brings “depth of compassion and caring” to relationships with others. It is this that I most appreciate. Perhaps this grown child and I can talk in the near future and I can express this and listen to the responses.

No political talk here, I’m more interested in what, why, and when people do what they do. The woman who took or was illegally given a baby she’d not birthed, then proceeded to raise for 20 years has now been sentenced to prison for 10 yGiftBookBeLoved2ears. The babe, now grown, expressed strong desire to stay with this “foster” mother. How does love speak? Do we let it speak? Do we value love above all? Sad to say the answers to these questions are as difficult as those in the 1st paragraph, I believe.

“Someday this moment is going to count as the good old days.” This quote by William Irvine from an Atlantic article May 2015; What good is thinking about death? So the question is; “What harm is it, just when you are kissing your little child, to say: Tomorrow you will die?” This takes us back to the question; What do you fear? For me the next question is; Why do people do what they do? This is also in the article. To be aware of the finite quality of all life can lead one to treat all life as precious. I’ve used the quote below which is funny, but resonates for many;

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.    -Erma Bombeck

When I’d been diagnosed with cancer and spoke with a friend who had also had a cancer diagnosis I asked her; How do we maintain the attitude we have now because our Dog Lake Montana 2010lives have been threatened? The desire to live each day as a gift, a blessing, an awareness of the possibility for everything to abruptly end when we’re not ready for it to be over? My very wise friend said we must force ourselves to remember the question: What is most important to us this very moment of our lives? That will help to bring us back to the fear of death and the need to live as vibrantly and with as much awareness as possible.

There are days when you don’t have
a song in your heart. Sing anyway.
-Emory Austin

*Middle picture of original Esther’s Girls: Handmade Journals and Cards artwork. Do not copy. Bottom photo; Dog Lake, Flathead Indian Reservation, Western Montana

 

How do you like the title? Do you agree or disagree? I was going to call this blog post; You are who You Choose to Be. In my opinion both titles start at the same place, with YOU.

It’s the last night of Chanukah. The candles have already burned down and out. Quite soon the days will begin to get longer– though here in the Western mountains of the U.S. we are guaranteed very cold weather, snow, some ice… and some beautiful views of the mountains, trees, night scenes, children sledding… on and on.   I Believe

Personally I’m not too thrilled with cold winters. Perhaps all those years in North Carolina spoiled me. Fairly quickly I remembered how to dress in layers, though my feet get very cold just as I get into bed at night and one day soon I WILL replace the last hot water bottle. What I love are seasonal changes in the environment around me. I’m inspired by nature. This winter I’m going to focus on NOT building up my store of fat, like a hibernating bear,  to stay warm.

I’m wondering if you see a common theme; between the titles and my attitude about the cold season now upon us in North America? I have the ability to think myself out of dislike, out of sleeplessness, out of nasty thinking that will depress me. So for the sleeplessness I turn over in bed, lay my head on the fluffy pillow my grandchild uses when visiting, and tell myself; “go to sleep.” My wonderful grandmother would say; “gey shluffin.” That was one of her Yiddish phrases, she didn’t have many. Same meaning as my English command. And it works for me.

Similarly, I tell myself to stop when I’m letting my mind operate the record player that clicks on and whines with every complaint on a subject that is years old and notGrandM and me-Med worth listening to any more. I really, really believe we can control our thoughts, and by extension our feelings.

And now back to; You are Who you Choose to Be. I loved being a mother with a large brood of children. I still love my kids, but they are all grown up, some having their own kids,  out in the world. I’m actively working on making my life meaningful. It’s a work in progress. As is all of living. Pretty cool, that. We can make it up as we go along. I’ve recently chosen to change friends and change activities. There wasn’t enough compassion in the folks or the circumstances that brought us together.

And so I changed what I was doing; because it’s more important to me than most any other aspect, that the people I spend time with have and show compassion, empathy, caring, and love. Perhaps not directed at me, as long as it is there.  I also believe in peace, and the only road leading to peace, I believe, is carved of compassion, empathy, caring and love. And that’s what I’m choosing to do– to be– to want in the people I spend time with– and in the people I love.

Pick your emotions carefully. Be who you choose to be.

Picture of card with saying: “I believe we are always attracted to what we need most, an instinct leading us toward the persons who are open to new vistas in our lives and fill them with new knowledge.” -Helene Iswolsky. Second is photo of my grandmother and me, Atlantic City Boardwalk, eons ago.

Note; I had planned a follow up to the last post, and even had it half-written, but changed my mind. So instead here’s what I’m thinking about now.

From painter Chuck Close on creativity, on the blog BrainPickings.org. (What a great name!)  KnitTangle10-2011

“See, I think our whole society is much too problem-solving oriented. It is far more interesting to [participate in] ‘problem creation’ … You know, ask yourself an interesting enough question and your attempt to find a tailor-made solution to that question will push you to a place where, pretty soon, you’ll find yourself all by your lonesome — which I think is a more interesting place to be.”

I’m not going to write about creativity, but about asking yourself questions and trying to figure it all out. Figure what out? Your feelings. From the same site mentioned above, a post about a book titled; Lost Cats: An Illustrated Meditation on Love, Loss and What it means to be Human. In the last chapter the author writes; “Every quest is a journey, every journey a story. Every story, in turn, has a moral.” She believes you can’t ever really know anyone, but no matter, because; “love is better.”

In the days I think of as “hectic parenting,” a year after my marriage imploded, when  I worked on Extra Chrom-Nate 2013finishing the job of raising my children alone, I went on a journey of delving in to understand myself. One of the hardest tasks in my new life; having no partner to tell the stories to at night, or to share reminisces, or to hold and be held- to be loved [and of course love right back]. The moral of my story then was; she managed, she found within herself a strength to find alternate answers, to accept her children’s love, her friends’ love, to explore with her writing and to run and swim and find nourishment in those exercises for both body and heart and mind.

It’s now many years later. My role of full-time parent has diminished as the artist/writer has bled through and now takes up more space, more energy. Yet always the task of understanding myself persists, perhaps because nothing stands still, all things change. I don’t sit back to watch the change, I immerse myself in attempting to understand. I’ve been writing stories for my children, so that they can discover who I’ve been, am and what I’ve done. Because they’ve only known me as the person who taught them things, or cooked their meals. I want them to know me as I’ve come to know me; a person both limited and limitless, full of love and flawed.

"Centered" a work by Nate and his mom.

“Centered” a work by Nate and his mom.

Last week my youngest son, who spent the longest time with me, except for his disabled brother who is 31 and still with me (as a roomie now) gave me a gift. My children gift me mostly with words, which is pretty wonderful, but I have to say this gift; words plus a tangible thing I’ve always wanted, was a sort of proof that I am appreciated for what I’ve given all these years. And that I’m loved. But already I knew that last bit because he and I have been expressing it to each other forever.

Words are important, more than gifts. Gifts break, die, get lost or returned, but words echo. I am now a confirmed bachelor- or the female equivalent, whatever the terminology. I would accept as much love as I’m given and return it happily, but do not trust myself to make a good choice. Rejection several times, by several people closest to me has left me with a desire to no longer be hurt by someone who says they love me or used to love me.

Today he and I talked by phone to catch up. We talked about meditation. For me knitting and swimming feel natural as a meditation practice, PieceBlk&Wht and sometimes when I create a collage too. I spend a lot of time in my head, I guess because I spend a lot of time alone. Good thing I like me. (Can you see my grin?) Lately a lot of garbage runs through my brain; such as why doesn’t X love you, why are you unworthy, why haven’t you accomplished more in your life, etc, etc.  I’ve been combating the negativity by employing my homegrown, “just say no” philosophy. When I catch myself caught in a relentless bad-thought loop, I tell myself to stop. Admonish myself. That’s the “just say no” part. I don’t allow myself to continue. I’m not very good at sitting cross-legged on the floor staring into the abyss of nothingness, but I find quiet in my own way. Along with the quiet I try to find love and compassion for myself. It’s the only way I can live.

Lastly, a great article on TreeHugger.com about knitting as therapy felt like confirmation, so I’ve added some pictures of pieces of my knitting- top and bottom. The middle pictures; one of middle son and one of his stitchery with my “framing” and added bits and bobs.

Thanks for visiting.

The Christmas music in the background where I work drives me nuts. I try to ignore it, but I just don’t like it, especially when it reverberates in my head. How many times can you hear these songs without wishing, hoping, wanting to hear instead a beautiful Beethoven piano concerto? I’d even take John Lennon singing Imagine for the millionth time. 00f/43/arve/g2496/058

The shopping frenzy both annoys and amazes me. Where DO folks find the money to keep buying, and why do they keep buying? Has any scientist studied large groups of people and what percentage of the people in the large group believes buying lots of presents brings the giver or receiver happiness?

And last point today; please stop wishing me a Merry Christmas. I don’t celebrate the holiday. I’m not Christian. I enjoy my Jewish background, Jewish holidays and rituals, the Jewish Sabbath each week, and Jewish philosophy and morals. My holiday doesn’t put me in a frenzy of gift buying because I am like a squirrel; I find gifts and put them away through the year, for birthdays and for our winter holiday of Chanukah. I also give to charities, especially to Down syndrome research.

GiftBookBeLoved2 I try every day to enjoy being alive. I try every day to be grateful for the many blessings in my life. And most of all I try every day to give love and kindness. And at least at work, in December, I smile at customers and not let my annoyance at the tedious repetition of Christmas songs turn my mood sour.

I’ve included pictures; The top picture is actually from a commercial greeting card and I can’t remember the maker, sorry. I just love the image. The 2nd picture is a page in a gift book. I painted the paper with water colors and then illustrated with doodles and part of a quote.
Loss2009

And last, for my friends Margaret Anne and her children, in honor of her brother and their uncle Frank who recently died. This is my favorite quote and though I’ve already sent a handmade card with this quote on it, I often make cards for bereavement which say; “Death is nothing else but going home to God; the bond of love will be unbroken for eternity.” Quote by Mother Teresa.

A beautiful story today; about family, love, a teacher who imparts science with fun and imagination, and leads his students to the question, why? “There is something a lot greater than energy. There’s something a lot greater than entropy. What’s the greatest thing? Love, his students whisper. “That’s what makes the why of what we exist,” Mr. Wright tells the spellbound students.

This is simplistic, yes, an easy answer, yes, but a profound one when you factor in what he tells his students once a year. About his son born with profound disabilities, but his beloved son nonetheless. And you see for me, it’s easy to understand all this, mother to a son with disabilities too.

Second on my list would be patience-understanding-empathy-caring. Okay so that is 4 qualities tied together, but where would any of us be Circles if we couldn’t find acceptance within our circle; of family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances? Here’s a little exercise to do, food for thought:

Take a blank piece of paper and draw 3 or 4 circles like a target. One large circle, then a smaller circle within it, then again but with a smaller circle, until you get to the smallest circle in the center. Now in the center circle write the names of your parents, children, siblings. Inside the next bigger circle the next level of people closest to you in your life. The third circle [if you choose to add this one] is for neighbors, folks you’re not quite as close to, and the outer circle is for people we pay to be in our lives; the dentist, our accountant, the person who works on our car, etc.

*Circles from High Definition Wallpaper.com Great colors, huh?
Read the article.

The heat has been oppressive here in Midwest. We don’t have central a/c and have been sweltering in the house. Finally, son and I carried units from storage; closet and basement-ugh, and installed them 3 days ago. Everyone has “tsouris” to deal with at any given time. Ours [read on] has reached monumental proportions.
This week I am working toward deadline for Maker Faire Detroit which is end of next week. The heat has set me back. And this week son’s lead care-giver gave 11 days notice that while she’ll work limited hours next month it’s then goodbye forever. Son, just had 29th birthday, and will have left; two 21 year old caregivers. Ain’t that some situation? Now I’ll have a job trying to find replacement.
Next, let me tell you about the special order, that fell flat. A person called our home phone. She had met me at a show in April. Lost my card, couldn’t remember business name. I should have stepped back in wonderment; how did she get my home number? She asked for a special order for her sister recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Well, this is a big deal personally, so I went out of my way to create 2 cards. Sent pictures of them to her e-mail. Then she replied with her choice, but wanted a discount. Now my cards are keepers. Many have framed them. They are a very small canvas with a beautiful result. And she argued about $5.75. Plus .50 shipping. When I told story to my cousin she asked: can she print out copies of your cards? If so she has no reason to purchase them.
My world is sometimes cynical, but always full of hope. Hope that people will act humanely, with compassion, trust and where appropriate; with love. So I’ve included a picture of something new I recently made, and someday soon, computer son will apply a watermark to dissuade those who are dishonest and would deny me $5.75 for a card I create with much thought and care, and love. So remember, pictured here or elsewhere, my products are copyright protected. DO NOT PRINT-COPY-PIRATE. I’m sad to have to add this here.