Dare to stand out

blogIMG_6254Do you ever find yourself joining with the crowd just because?

You know – because you don’t want to call attention to yourself.

Because you don’t want to stand out. Or stand up. Even when you don’t agree, even when you think those around you may have it all wrong, you just follow along with everyone else.

Because it’s so much easier to be one of the crowd.  It’s easier to just keep quiet. Not give your opinion when it’s different from those around you. 

It’s easier to blend in. It’s easier to not risk confrontation. It’s easier to just be like everyone else.

Those thoughts occurred to me the other day when Papa and I were outside raking the crispy brown leaves that have fallen from the few trees in our yard. As we raked, our Little One (first-born grandchild) was having the time of her life jumping in the pile of leaves and throwing them into the air to watch the gusty breeze carry them across our front yard.

She was having a delightful time. And her doting grandparents were enjoying watching her and making her happy. One of those sweet moments for which to be thankful.

“Each day, each season, each cycle offers something of beauty. Let us notice and give thanks.” – Diane Mariechild

We raked. She jumped. We gathered. She scattered.

Upon tiring herself out, she was ready to go indoors and have a little quiet time, so Papa led her inside. I stayed out because the sun was shining and it was a warmer day than we’ve had for some time.

But soon the wind picked up even more and those leaves began a journey floating and flitting across the expanse of our two acres on the wings of a chilly breeze.

As the pile of leaves diminished with each gust of wind, I noticed something. Something captured my full attention. Something really stood out. Something was different from the rest of its surroundings.  

There among the sameness of the dried fall leaves was a bright spot of color. One lemon yellow leaf stood out from the monotony of brown surrounding it.  It was as if that little leaf dared to be different from all the rest.

That leaf caused me to pause in thankfulness because on this 19th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I remember that it’s good to stand out, to not always blend in.

It’s good to be different than the concurring crowd especially when the crowd is heading in the wrong direction. It’s good to go against the multitude to stand up for your own beliefs instead of just accepting what everyone else blindly acquiesces to.

It’s good to follow your heart when your heart is led by the one true God, to adhere to your beliefs, to stand out and stand up if you must, ignoring the rhetoric of the multitude even when it may cause adversity to come your way.

And it’s good be grateful for the opportunity to do so instead of griping because of the way things are.

“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” – Kak Sri

©2018 mamasempynest.wordpress.com

 

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Harvest of plenty

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We grew pumpkins for the first time this year.  Granddaughter enjoyed going into the garden with Papa to watch their progress as they grew and slowly changed from green to that familiar orange we associate with harvest time. 

She especially was tickled to see her name emerge on one of the chosen pumpkins. Years ago when our own three were children, dear friends of ours always had a back yard garden. The year they planted pumpkins, they invited us over to their home to show us a “magical” trick.

They helped each one of our children choose their own not nearly ripe pumpkin. Then our friends instructed our kiddos to scratch their names into the green pumpkins with a nail. 

When it came time for harvest, we sifted through the pumpkin vines finding those bright orange orbs ready to be turned into jack-o-lanterns. But the magic had happened! What a surprise!

It was easy for our children to find their own pumpkins again because each one of them found their name very visible and noticeable right on the pumpkin where the previous scratching had formed brown scars.

We showed this “magic” trick to our granddaughter this year. How delighted she was to find her pumpkin with her name boldly engraved on it.

Sometimes the harvest is plentiful in other ways than just physically.  During my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m remembering that and pausing to give thanks.

“A basic law: the more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have to be thankful for.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Heated thankfulness

snow covered red sedan

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There was a time in my life when my body temperature ran way too hot. Without being too specific to scare away any males reading this post, I bet you can imagine the times I’m referring to. Even in the dead of winter with temperatures hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit or below, I would be in the throes of a hot flash.

I vividly remember stepping out onto the front porch several winter nights dressed in a lightweight summer nightgown after awakening with the feeling that I was going to spontaneously combust. Snow covered the ground yet you could find me standing on the porch just trying to chill out.

Back then, having heated seats in an automobile sounded like torture. Why on earth would I ever need such a thing? When Papa and I considered purchasing a new vehicle, I remember telling him that heated seats were an extra component we could do without. I surely didn’t need heat in my seat because I could provide my own heat and I would be the primary driver of that new vehicle.

Flash forward a few years. Happily for me and all those around me, my hot flashes were relegated to the past. Again, it was time to shop for a new car and the particular one we liked the most came with heated seats.

Papa and I agreed to purchase that specific car, but in the back of my mind, I couldn’t imagine ever using that feature because cold temperatures really didn’t bother me. Plus we park our vehicles in our attached garage, so they aren’t often sitting outside in the cold, wintry weather we get in our neck of the woods.

But one blustery winter day, our car had been parked outside for several hours. It was freezing and the wind chill blew right through me as if it would cause my blood to thicken and my bones to rattle when I walked to the car. It was that kind of a day when the wintry air has a real bite to it.

I climbed in the car, shivering even in my heavy winter coat and gloves. In a hurry, I flicked on the switch to the heated seats and within seconds, warmth radiated through the car seat and settled into my back.

Ah, that warmth was such a relief. I never dreamed I’d be grateful for heated seats but they are such a blessing on a blustery day. On my 12th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m so grateful for something that seems so trivial, yet it’s worth a mention of thanks.

“I find that the more willing I am to be grateful for the small things in life, the bigger stuff just seems to show up from unexpected sources, and I am constantly looking forward to each day with all the surprises that keep coming my way!” ~ Louise L. Hay

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Slumbering thoughts

girl sleeping with her brown plush toy

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I held something incredibly precious in my arms today.

A sleeping child. But not just any child, my first-born grandchild who is three and a half and seldom naps any more.

Her Mommy left for her early morning hospital shift, so Papa and Nana were on child care duty for the day. A busy day mapped out ahead of us. 

After breakfast, Little One got her face and hands washed, teeth brushed, dressed in her outfit for the day, put on her backpack that seems almost as big as her, and we headed out the door for preschool.

After her morning there, we picked Little One up at preschool and whisked her off to a lunch out where she got an extra treat – a special cookie. Then we stopped at one of her favorite places – a nearby town’s library where there is an amazing and huge children’s section room complete with two play areas in addition to books galore.  There she not only played and chose some books to check out, but she got to touch newly-hatched chicks as well.

After another couple of stops for errands, it was time to travel back home. Little One was so tuckered out by this time she fell asleep in the car. Still in slumber-land when we arrived home, Papa gently dislodged her from her car seat, carried her inside, and laid her on the family room couch.  Mama sat down on the love seat with a new library book to keep watch.

About 20 minutes later, Little One opened her eyes, gave a little moan, and looked at me. I attended to her by walking over to the couch, holding out my arms, and she willingly let me pick her up, nuzzling against me as I did so.

I carried her, her limp little legs dangling in front of me, to the love seat, sat down, and she was already back to sleep.

As that dear little sleeping one nestled against my chest, her silky tendrils of hair curled around my fingers. With her little arms wrapped around my neck and her downy head so close to mine, I could smell her sweet breath (still as sweet as when she was a baby) each time she inhaled in and out in peaceful slumber.  

When I tipped my head to gently kiss her forehead, my love for this child swelled and filled my heart until I thought it might burst.  I could feel her little heart beat soundly against mine and I wondered if our hearts will always be connected, no matter what.

While I watched her sleep so serenely, it occurred to me that she must feel safe and secure in Nana’s arms. What a good feeling that must be. Not too long ago it seems, I cradled her as a tiny baby, totally dependent on her mommy, her Papa, and me, her Nana.

Now she is so big and seemed even more so as she slept in my arms. So tall, so bright and articulate, so eager to learn new things, so happy to run into Nana’s arms again after she’s been away from me.

And before I know it, she will be bigger yet. Older. More independent. Off to school all day instead of just a couple of hours a couple of days a week.

As I held my dearest grandchild, I thought of my other grandbaby, who is also not a baby any more as she will turn two all too soon. Before I know it, she too will be almost too big to sleep in Nana’s arms.

The thought of it made me melancholy. Surprising tears brimmed over in my eyes when I imagined my sweet grandbabies all grown up as adults and living lives after Nana and Papa are long gone.  

I thought of my own grandmothers, the ones who never had the opportunity to see me grow up.  One I never knew since she died when I was a baby and the other taken away from me too soon when she passed in my ninth year of life. My memories of her are special but few.

Will my grandchildren remember me with as much love in their hearts that it almost hurts? The kind of love I possess for them? Will I have enough time left in my life to spend precious moments with them, watch them grow up, make memories that they hopefully will remember for the rest of their own lives?

There is no way of knowing for certain as the answer to that lies in God’s hands.

So I treasure the moments I have to spend with these adorable grandchildren of mine. Moments to make memories hopefully to last a lifetime. Moments for this Nana to remember the sweetness of these little ones before they grow up.

“No one can possess an afternoon of rain beating against the window, or the serenity of a sleeping child, or the magical moment when the waves break on the rocks. No one can possess the beautiful things of this Earth, but we can know them and love them. It is through such moments that God reveals himself to mankind.” ~ Paulo Coelho

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Dream On

blogIMG_4420.jpgDo you ever awaken in the morning after a good night’s sleep and wonder where your head has been?

Often I think mine’s been camping out in Strangeland.  I’m judging that by the dreams I have.

I’m one of those people who almost always remembers the dreams my subconscious journeys to. And dreams can be such weird occurrences.

They can be nonsensical. They can be downright scary. And they can be so vivid that you are startled out of sleep and think what happened in your dream actually occurred in reality.

Sometimes I can figure out those nightly journeys.  Although they seem odd and don’t make sense in real life, I often can piece together why certain aspects appeared in the dream. Like the time I dreamed about two dogs growling and snarling at one another and launching into a bona fide vicious dog fight.

Why did my brain take me there? Because right before I climbed into my bed, my husband had been watching a history documentary on TV about World War 1 and the introduction of aerial combat. When fighting was conducted in the air via machine gunners in airplanes it was called dog fighting.

Even though I really wasn’t watching the documentary, the images and narration somehow got imbedded in my mind. And when I nodded off to dreamland, my brain called up the images and words but scrambled it into a literal picture of two dogs fighting. A dog fight.

When I recall dreams I’ve experienced, I usually can pin point why seemingly unrelated events or items show up in my nightly adventures. They’re somehow related to something I’ve read, seen, or talked about.

Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch once wrote, “All men whilst they are awake are in one common world: but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own.”

You can say that again! My own world while asleep can be downright crazy.

The dreams that truly cause me to shake my head in perplexity are visions that assemble together so many random things, you just can’t figure out where or from what they came.

I had one of those scratch-your-head-and-wonder-what-in-the-world dreams the other night. Or I should say the other morning as I dreamed this wild and wacky vision right before I awakened for the day.

Here’s my recall consisting of strange and random images.

First I was watching the beginning of a fox hunt complete with bugle call…in the sand.  People on horses took off galloping in white sand and then a motorcycle joined them zooming off in sandy terrain nowhere near a beach. 

They all rode off towards the horizon which in actuality was a huge stage curtain and they rode through it. As I watched it all I was thinking I should get a picture of this!

Then I realized I stood in the balcony of a gigantic church building watching the fox hunt unfold but it was a stage production with all of the ‘hunters,’ even the motorcycle rider, attired in biblical robes and headgear. I then purchased a large paperback book that told the story being portrayed in the production and also decided to buy one for my oldest sister.

Wandering around this cavernous building searching for a restroom, I saw a childhood friend who was also looking for the same thing. What we found was something I won’t describe here and we decided to forgo using it. (Wise choice!)

Suddenly, an old man approached us and said he was a security guard. My friend began talking to him about music (she is not now or has ever been a musician). She pulled out a ‘guitar’ made from a deer’s head  and antlers (I’m not making this up!!) and started strumming it. The old man joined in with some kind of guitar himself.

We continued wandering and came across crafts for sale. They were unlike anything I had ever seen. My friend tried on a handmade dress which I told her looked horrible and she shouldn’t buy it.  (Apparently, I’m brutally honest in my dreams!)

Next we examined extremely gaudy necklaces and a lady tried to convince me to purchase one. I declined, so she handed me a truly dreadful-looking and poorly-made stuffed pink bear and told me to buy it.

“No thank you,” I said, “my granddaughter has too many stuffed animals as it is” and I was thinking to myself, “Besides that is hideous.”

From there, my friend and I were walking through a field to leave the place when we were accused of stealing some of the crafts. We had to step into a small outbuilding where we showed them we didn’t have the goods.

While trying to convince them we weren’t thieves, a lady who I recognized came in and proceeded to choose an incredibly ugly ring and pay $100 for it. But when she searched her wallet for the money, she had none.

So instead she signed a piece of paper with what she bought and her name and left a dubious ‘medication’ (it had something to do with infertility and this lady is WAY beyond needing such a thing) in a portion cup there in lieu of cash.

Did you get the drift of this crazy dream? Neither did I. Coming up to full consciousness, I opened my eyes and my first thought was “Wow, that is the wackiest dream I think I’ve ever had!”

Because it was. Wacky. Weird. Wild. A wayward whopper of a tale. My brain must have been working over-time to produce that one.

It’s going to take me awhile to figure this dream out. In the meantime, I’ll just dream on. Apparently, it keeps my daytime hours sane. Ar least I hope so.

“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.” ~William Dement

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com