Saturday, December 28, 2013

December the 29th

Again, the Wheel of the Year has turned. Today is a special day, though. Yes, Yule was last week, and yes, New Year's Eve is coming soon, but today is someone's birthday.

You know, it wasn't all that long ago that I started doing this little annual celebration, and I hope I've not embarrassed her, nor made her feel the fool in any of my blathering rambles. I love her.

Here, let me say that again:

I love you Jennifer.

You are so beautiful, so brave, so wonderfully YOU. I see mother and daughter, teacher and student, humble and proud. I love to hold you close and listen to your breathing, and I love that you are complex and intricate. I love the way you love me, and I hope to have many more birthdays in your eyes. In those gorgeous eyes. <3

Happy Birthday, my Jenny.

“May your sky always be clear, may your dear smile always be bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart. Isn't such a moment sufficient for the whole of one's life?”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, White Nights

My heart will be forever grateful for your smile.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Christmas Post

This is the post where I usually go on and on about how loved I feel, how happy I am, and how much I appreciate my life. This year, I think I'll point in a different direction.

My friends, If you have never learned the lesson taught in A Christmas Carol, please go watch, read, or listen to it. Kindness and compassion are free, and something that the world could do well to have more of.  Being selfless and offering to be there to lend a hand to those in need is a gift not only to those you help, but to yourself as well. The 'Christmas spirit' is often lacking on our lives, and even if it only appears once a damned year, it is worth experiencing. I love putting dollars into the red buckets, giving to the kids out canning, and offering a little something to a local charity. Throughout the year, I try to keep it alive, though. I usually pay for the person behind me at the toll booth. It's a small gesture, but I love to watch the person pay anyway. If I could, I would buy the world a Coke, so to speak.

I understand that I am privileged and truly don't understand need, but I see life differently than most people I know. I can appreciate hardship, and hard times - I've been there. I haven't forgotten what it is like to eat macaroni and cheese or ramen noodles, but I guess what I'm getting at is that I HAD food. I might not have liked it much, but I HAD it.  As I get older, I realize just how many people DON'T have anything to eat at all, or a roof over their head, or a safe place to even sit. Yes, I am privileged. I hope that we, as a society, begin to remember the cast-off members of this tribe of mankind. I wish with all my heart that no person would be hungry or forgotten in a society as supposedly advanced as ours claims to be. But every time I hear a young person angry for not getting the latest iPhone or gaming console, I die a little inside. Life is more than the latest gadget. It is far more than the newest 'thing'. Life is about humanity. I think they might have stopped teaching that.

I hope that we remember this someday.

For you all, I wish the merriest of Christmases. I had a wonderful celebration with an abundance of food, gifts, and family. I hope that the next year finds me giving more to those who truly need it, and sharing that joy with my family and loved ones.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Less With More?

Another Holiday season is barreling down upon us.
As it does, I find myself taking pause, looking around, and wondering about our rabid consumption of goods and services. I'm older and wiser this year, and I've been thinking long and hard about how to do more things I value in my life without having to serve the man.

Can I do more with less?

How much of my life is simply excess? How much do I enjoy that others might consider unattainable? I have a place to live (and sometimes I wonder if it's just too large), I have food to eat (I find myself spending too large a portion of each paycheck on dining out), and I have gas for my car (oh, that... yeah), I don't travel as much as I'd like, and I don't have a luxury car (or a luxury anything, for that matter!). So what is it that keeps me in the grind every day? I don't feel particularly rewarded at the end of my work day, I don't feel like I've made all that big a difference, and I usually feel too spent to do much of anything creative when I get home. I long to create, to make, to paint, to sing, to play... I ache for the Muse to grab my hand and show me what I have to give to the world.

So, back to the question: Can I do more with less?
I think it might boil down to me taking a hard look at what is important to me at this place in my life. Do I need to buy so many meals out? Do I need to keep wandering the aisles looking for the next best anything? Do I really need another something-or-other?  The answer is no. I can see places I could save money and still be happy. But I worry that living frugally will be more difficult than I expect.

I consider myself pretty cheap most of the time. Here as with the rest of my life, however, I am split. I appreciate good quality products, yet try to find bargains. I know the difference between good and cheap cookware, bottom-end and better knives, and better fabrics. I like to eat a really good steak, or slab of fish. I think my tastes lean towards the better quality foods in general. But I accept that I can't always buy the better item. I rejoice when I find a Henckels knife at the local Savers, or a stainless Calphalon pan needing a cleaning. I know what 21-oz wool feels like versus a wool blend. I think I've got pretty good taste in drapery and shoes as well. But could I do more with less? In many ways, I already do.

I guess I can. Maybe it's time to make an effort to reign in my spending to a point where I can begin to really see a difference. Pack more lunches and watch those little spending binges. Maybe I am ready to sell off my extra items and begin to free myself from all the things I claim no attachment to. I think so.

I want to. And with that, I set the wheels in motion.