Rosh Hoshannah is here! The new year brings with it a time of reflection and commitment to improving our lives, improving our character, improving the world around us. It is a season of asking forgiveness for the times in the past year when we have failed in our efforts to be better people or failures to increase the health of the world around us. This is a time of celebrating possibilities that lie ahead of us and of embracing that which is holy and life enhancing. Today I bake the bread that we will enjoy with the apples and honey, symbolic of our hopes for a happy, sweet, healthy, and prosperous new year. Rosh Hoshannah reminds me that as long as I have breath in me, I have opportunity to renew my spirit, rejuvenate my energy, improve my character, and contribute to the mending of what is broken in this world (tikkun olam). So, on this, the eve of Rosh Hoshannah, I am grateful for endless opportunity to renew and improve in every way imaginable! L’Shana Tovah!
It’s late at night (oops…early morning) and there are few words left for me to say on this day other than I love to watch birds. I love to photograph birds. This is a mindful, restful hobby and I urge you to give it a try. I am grateful for the hobby of birding, or birdwatching as many say.
Good night and sweet dreams.
The weather outside is frightful . . . and has been so for quite a while now. Waking up to sub-zero (fahrenheit) temperatures is getting old. But today is the first of March and spring will arrive soon. And when that happens memories of cold winter mornings will quickly fade. For now however, I slip into my faux-fur lined leather slippers, prop my warm feet up, sip my coffee, and meditate on the winter scene outside my window. Yes, I am truly grateful for warm, comfy slippers on a cold winter morning!
The ubiquitous lightbulb is taken for granted by most of us. Our homes are lit at night by bulbs of many varieties and sometimes varying colors. We flip a switch and light illuminates our surroundings. When one bulb burns out we simply make a run to the nearest store or market and purchase another. Simple. Unless of course the electricity is out. Some of my clients are without electricity at the moment for reasons I’ll save for another post, and other than lack of heat in frigid weather, the loss of light is their biggest complaint. Something as simple a the light bulb has truly changed the world as it was known at the time of its invention. Light bulbs are everywhere: street lights, head lights, flashing emergency lights, lit signs, traffic lights, fluorescent lights, ceiling lights, lamps, etc. All lights I can think of use light bulbs. I am indeed grateful for lightbulbs and how they illuminate our world.
Fresh fruit at one’s fingertips year-round is a luxury I too often take for granted. Tonight however, as I was “fiddling” around with the camera and playing with shooting still lifes, it occurred to me how blessed I am to have fruit in my diet every day. Makes for healthy living. I am grateful for fresh fruit year-round.
Many of my photographs are taken at the North Chagrin Reservation in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. I have expressed gratitude for birds, trees, ponds, frogs, you name it, and most of my photos that illustrate gratitude are taken at this special place! Tonight I am grateful for the reservation itself. It is a place where one can go to stroll along paths through woods and fields. There I hear the cacophany of numerous bird species, each bird vying for attention or jockeying for position in the “pecking order.” I walk, listen, watch, touch and inhale the forest. It has become a sacred place for me to run to when I need a respite from the work that I do. Whether spring, summer, fall, or winter, the reservation compels me to be more mindful, to observe more closely, to listen more intently, and to watch more alertly. I am indeed grateful for the North Chagrin Reservation.
Winter is a harsh time of year for me. Since childhood i perceived winter to be a “dead” season. Everything went into hibernation: plants, animals, color, warmth, all of life! I viewed the landscape as barren, transformed into a dull monochromatic palette. Grays and whites depressed me. And I dreaded snow once it came because I knew that I would not see the ground again until spring thaw. But as I’ve aged my perception has definitely shifted. The shift may be due to the fact that I have become more mindful as i’ve mellowed with the years. Now I walk the wooded paths, listen to the crunch of my boots on snow and ice, and watch for the flutter of wings as winter birds take up residence. This past week as I wandered my favorite trails, I noticed that the leafless forrest branches were alive with birds of varied species: titmice, nuthatches, sparrows, dark eyed juncos (see above photo), cardinals, finches, various types of woodpeckers, starlings, and even a hawk. As I stood still and listened, watched, and breathed deeply, I felt an enormous sense of gratitude to have come to this stage and age in life when even in winter I am aware of the vibrancy of life. The birds help. I am grateful for birds in winter.
Mary, our youngest daughter, sent a self-care package to me on my birthday. Included was a box of Tulsi organic Sweet Rose tea, a tea that has quickly become my favorite. There is nothing more nurturing, comforting, or relaxing than sipping a cup of that Sweet Rose tea and reading poetry before retiring to bed at night. Ahhh. Sweet dreams. Sound sleep. I am grateful for Tulsi Sweet Rose tea and poetry just before bedtime.
When we bought this house about two and a half years ago, we knew that improvements would have to be made along the way. For instance, the furnace was 32 years old at the time of purchase and, we discovered, quite cantankerous. We made it hobble through two winters however, and always counted our blessings that we never had to go more than two days without heat. Although living in Cleveland, OH on the shores of a really big lake (!), two days of no heat can be quite “icy”. Repairs were frequent. In fact we called in the professionals three times thus far this season alone to keep the old furnace working. And we are just now moving into the harsh winter weather common to this part of the world. By all appearances, that old furnace was nigh-on next to dead!
Without too much discussion (actually, we have discussed the old furnace and its impending demise since we purchased the house) we finally “bit the bullet” and bought a new one. Sal’s Heating and Cooling installed the new furnace yesterday! So on this first day of the year 2015, we now have a reliable, efficient furnace to keep our home warm as the temps plunge into the teens and below (fahrenheit for all my friends living outside the USA). It appears we purchased the furnace in the nick of time! I am grateful for our new furnace and the warmth it provides.
Pets have been a part of my life most of my life. Whether cat or dog or hamster or lizard, each has a personality that becomes part of the family dynamics. Each animal we adopted exhibited traits we found to be annoying, adorable, aloof, contented, playful, grumpy, mischievous, and the list goes on. But as with any family member, we loved them and they were simply family.
Seven or s0 years ago I lost my beloved “Possum,” an 18-year-old Russian Blue. About four years later, Pele, a Norwegian Forrest mix, also left this world. For a while it seemed too difficult to welcome another pet into our home. I could not bear the thought of experiencing yet again the grief that the loss of a pet brings. But we were lonesome. One day my daughter who was trying to help a friend find a home for the pet she had to give up, posted a picture of this cat–the spitting image of our Possum. I commented that if we lived closer (we are in Cleveland, daughter and cat in Chicago), I would love to take the cat. It was just a passing comment on a Facebook photograph. That is all. Nothing more.
Soon afterwards, however, I received private messages from both my daughters in Chicago. They took me seriously and were hell-bent on getting the cat to Cleveland. And sure enough, a week or two later, my youngest daughter and her family show up at our door with cat in tow! Since then Willy has brought us nothing but joy. His name started out as Willard but was soon shortened to Willy and then quickly morphed into Willy-Nilly-Wonka. He has stolen our hearts. I did not think I could own another cat after losing Possum and Pele. But after two and a half years, we were ready to expand our family and welcome a cat once again into our lives. I am grateful for the love and joy that pets bring to our lives and especially grateful for our Willy-Nilly-Wonka!