Wednesday, December 21, 2016

4 Things I've Learned from 2016 (and from a lifetime of experiences)

Looking back over my life, my good and bad choices, good and bad outcomes, adventures and mis-adventures, I came up with these ideas during this past week. I haven't mastered all of these concepts yet, as those who know me best could tell you. 

I hesitated about sharing this, because it's not meant as a guidebook for everyone. I am simply sharing. Maybe someone with a different personality might be learning very different things in their life. 

Also, sometimes I might seem to be saying one thing and then seem to be saying something different. You see, I believe in nuance and balance. 

And, finally, I'm not sharing to tell anyone else how to live their life. I'm sharing that maybe someone might relate with one little thing or another. "Aha, I feel that way too," and "No, I don't agree with that," but, "Yes, I get that." You know. Just enjoy. 

"I don't have to run away nor do I have to run things"

I don't have to run away from the unpleasant or imperfect, except when there is a compelling reason. Sometimes a change is absolutely necessary or strongly advisable, but certainly not always.

Also, it isn't necessary, or even possible, to "fix" everything, whether for myself, my loved ones, or others. There will always be problems. There will always be pain. I can be compassionate and empathetic, and contribute my heart and my ears, and sometimes my voice, and sometimes my hands, but without expecting a perfect world.

I can try to make things run well in my own affairs, but I need to accept less than perfection, even in my own life. And beyond that, the concept of "you can do great things" (encouraged so much in the twentieth century) may have been overrated. Mother Teresa said to do little things with great love, and St. Therese said something similar. Most people who have done great things in the eyes of the world or of the Church often just did - day after day - what to them were small things.

"I don't have to chase adventure and excitement"

Simple everyday things can bring their own joys, a person smiling, clouds, writing, or reading a book.

Experiences don't have to be new and different in order to be fun or interesting. Routines and repeat experiences can be warm and comforting in their very familiarity; and little things can be interesting, a new library book, a new acquaintance, perhaps a new song, or someone I haven't heard singing an old song.

"I don't always have to overcome obstacles and fears."

If it's not in my gift zone, or it feels dangerous, or it seems like 'too much', I can say no to an idea.

There's a difference between stepping out of my comfort zone to do something that is new or difficult for me and stepping out of my gift zone to do something I don't have the skill or aptitude to do reasonably well.

I can sometimes make a choice that is less stressful than another choice. If someone asks me to do something that "feels wrong" for me, I have the right to say no without them understanding why. 

I am entitled to put my needs ahead of someone else's desires or even their perceived needs if they are not my responsibility. But, I want to find more ways to help at least some of those who have a genuine need, ways that fit with both my ability to help or encourage them, as well as what they feel is best for themselves.


I can keep or acquire more of what I use more often or love, and keep less of what I am less interested in.

What do we need for the activities we love? For me, the activities I am most interested in at this time in my life are travel (local, as well as the occasional long distance trip to see family and close friends); reading and writing; recycle sewing; and I hope to learn embroidery. I also like doing simple but wholesome cooking; and I hope to learn container gardening. 

I really enjoy observing nature, and I have found that I can do that nearly anywhere that I can be outdoors or at a window, even just by looking at the ever-changing sky. 

What do you like best? What have you learned in your life? 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Grace by Natashia Deón - A Book Review

I will never be the same. That's what popped into my head when I finished reading this award-winning, best-selling book.

It's genius. To me, it ranks with the writings of Dickens and Rowling for characterizations and surprises, and for following the lives of multiple people.

The book, Grace, is set before, during, and after the Civil War, not on battlefields but in the lives of the people, primarily a slave girl and her family, and those who come into their lives. The characters are complex, nuanced individuals.  

For those considering what ages might be appropriate for reading the book, just know that there are mature topics throughout, such as prostitution and gambling, murder and rape.

For me, the themes of character growth, love, and heroism counterbalanced the look into the dark side of humanity, and left me feeling satisfied as I finished the story. 

Grace by Natashia Deon