Thankful – April

I’ve recently been inspired by a friend on Facebook, who posts something to be thankful for nearly every day.  I’ve read articles as well that tout the benefits of having an “attitude of gratitude.”  I’ve come to realize that this is an area where I can definitely use some work, so I have decided to compile a “thankful list” each month, with one item per day, and post it here at the end of the month.  So, here we go!

Today I am thankful for:

  1. Naps.  Even short ones.
  2. Jeans and Sneakers.  Yay for being comfortable at work (and going for a 1 mile walk for National Walking day)!
  3. iTunes and excellent storytelling in the form of the CW’s Arrow.  Wow.
  4. Fridays, and the start of the weekend.
  5. Music teachers: my own of years past, and friends & family who are currently music teachers.  I wish I could list you all, but there are so many.  All teachers are amazing, but music teachers have a special place in my heart!
  6. A long walk on the nature trails, mud included!
  7. The 20th post on this blog, and my 20th follower!
  8. A chance at work to actually catch up and have a moment to breathe for the first time in months.  Even if it only lasted 30 minutes.
  9. A new shirt that made people at work smile because it is the exact color of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and Shamrock Shakes.
  10. Scheduling a visit from a friend I haven’t seen in too long!
  11. A quiet evening at home and going to bed early.
  12. Spending time with my sister at an amazing nearby county park.
  13. Enjoying open windows for the first time in way too long.
  14. A beautiful golden retriever who encouraged my people-shy Strider to (reluctantly) make a new human-friend.
  15. Doritos Locos tacos from Taco Bell.
    ****A little mid-month note here.  This is harder than I anticipated it would be, and that’s even knowing it wasn’t going to be easy.  There are days when I forget to check in on my draft of this post.  Then it slips into 2 days, or 3, and then I have to try to think back, remember my days, and try to find something in them worth being thankful for.  However, it is well worth the effort.  On the other hand, I already know what I’m going to be thankful for 10 days from now!*****
  16. Packages that deliver earlier than anticipated! I’m especially thankful for this because it also means that a little surprise I have for my brother can hitch a ride with my sister who will see him this weekend, and he’ll get it much sooner than my procrastinating self would have gotten it mailed to him.
  17. The magical power of a laser-pointer in getting a stubborn kitty out from under the bed.
  18. The fact that my sister’s escape-artist dog always stays relatively nearby and always comes home.
  19. 3 watchful doggies.
  20. An empty tomb.
  21. Warmth, wind, and rain.
  22. The first tiny bit of feedback from my NaNo novel first readers.  She was mad.  This is a good sign.
  23. Home.  That unique place where I can be fully myself.  Bonus: Being able to watch Arrow on its actual air date instead of 1 day later!
  24. My nephew, Colin. Happy 3rd birthday, little guy!
  25. A hard-earned day-off, mostly spent catching up on sleep!
  26. Celebrating with family – Colin’s birthday party!
  27. Sitting down at Panera with the first first-reader to finish reading my NaNo novel!  My faith in my little tale is being built up.
  28. A job that keeps a roof over my head, my car payment made, and food on the table/in the pet bowls, even though I have to continually remind myself to be thankful for this one.
  29. Spring showers and verdant grass.  Also, thunderstorms.
  30. An apartment complex that gives back – I won a $25 rent credit in a drawing for paying my rent early!  Bonus: finishing this post, since I’m overdue on posting anything here!

This has been an adventure.  Some days it is harder than others to come up with something to be thankful for.  As with most things, it also started out fairly easy and then got more difficult as time went on.  It has been a good excercise, though, and I intend to continue in the coming months.

What are you thankful for today?

Advertisements

Thoughts on “Entering”

On Thursday night I was feeling a bit poetical.  It is spring, after all, and my guess is almost everyone has dabbled in poetry in the Spring: we just can’t help ourselves.  That I actually felt like writing a poem, however, was significant.  It has been a long time since I’ve really felt “the muse.”  What little I have written in the past couple of years (I could probably count the number of poems on one hand) has been far from encouraging or uplifting.  On the contrary, the scattered handful of poems of the past few years have been the result of my own need to open the floodgates of my anger, hurt, and sadness and let all the junk come rushing out.  Chances are good I won’t be sharing any of those raw and deeply personal words.

While I love winter, cold and snow included, the length and extremes of this winter took their toll on me, as I am sure they did on many others.  Even I was praying for spring to come, for a chance to get outside again and breathe deep.  I felt as if my soul had filled up with gunk that needed to be washed away. There have been days in the past few weeks when I felt so discouraged, as if my hope had been stripped away.  In truth, it wasn’t all the weather, and I am working on the aspects of that gunk that I can’t blame on lack of fresh air and sunlight.  I’ve been struggling for a long time, but I am trying to reset my thoughts towards better, more positive mindsets.  It is very hard work.  It is ever-so-slowly starting to get a little easier, but it will continue to be hard work for some time.

On Thursday I finally felt hope again that we were truly entering a new season.  Spring was finally here.  I took Strider for a short walk, as the forecast was for rain at any minute.  I wore my spring jacket, just in case the rain started, but I really didn’t need it.  The wind against my face as we walked out was strong and warm.  I felt the cobwebs inside me stirring, but reluctant to give up their hold.  Coming back, the wind was at our backs, and strong enough to blow my hair into dancing tendrils reaching beyond my face.  There was just enough sunlight seeping through the clouds to bring out the color of my misbehaving locks.  And I laughed at the thought.

I came back inside and felt life stirring within once again.  I felt like writing, either starting a new story or preparing notes for one, but needed to tidy up my writing-space first.  Tidying-up turned into full-fledged cleaning, and 2.5 hours later, it was almost bedtime and I didn’t have enough time to really work on anything.  So, I decided to try a few verses.  I had to think about it.  A phrase had popped into my head earlier, and I knocked it around in there for a several minutes before it started to germinate.  After that it didn’t take long for it to become “Entering.”

As poems go, perhaps there isn’t much to it.  It is short and unpolished.  I published it here with only two minor tweaks from the original draft.  But, it is a first glimmer of a hope that I intend to grasp and nourish if I can.  It is the hope that I am not just passing from nature’s winter to spring, but that I am personally leaving behind one season and entering another.

Entering

 

Entering  a new season
Of longer days
Shorter nights
Of spirit-lifting sunshine
And nourishing rain

Entering a new season
Of waking trees
Growing buds
Of nest-building wildlife
And new-breathing youth

Entering a new season
Of restored hope
Kindled faith
Of present-minded focus
And tomorrow dreams

 

One Tulip

 

© Rebecca Van Bruggen and Bound to Wonder, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rebecca Van Bruggen and Bound to Wonder with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Magic of the Moment

As something of a storyteller, I love to throw myself into anything that has an interesting tale to it: a good book or series of books, TV series, movie or series of movies, even music or an anecdote told around the lunch table. Offer me a good story and I am there, sometimes with an overzealous interest or somewhat intimidating (I’m told), quietly intense focus. From there, as mentioned in a previous post, I usually want to know everything.

Interestingly enough, though, it is often a single moment that stays with me. It might be an emotional moment, or something quirky or powerful that caught my attention. Often, it is that “ah-ha” moment when something suddenly makes perfect sense, or a new fact is revealed that makes so many other hints and pieces fall into place.

Here are a few examples of recent favorite moments:

  1. The CWs Arrow. Arrow is one of my big “loves” right now, so I could probably come up with at least a dozen favorite moments, but there is one that almost always comes first to mind. In the episode “Crucible” (Season 2 Episode 4) Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle are in the Arrow Cave, and Oliver is being a little bit taken to task for keeping yet another secret. His constant control breaks for a moment, and all the pain and struggle he feels rise to the surface for a brief, glorious moment of humanity as he exclaims “These were five years…five years… where nothing good happened!” I’ve watched this episode at least 4 times, and that moment still gets me.   Felicity’s little “Do you have any happy stories?” in that scene is also a perfect moment.
  2. No list of mine could possibly be complete without at least one Lord of the Rings or Hobbit reference. For the purposes of these moments, the one that comes readily to mind takes place after Gandalf falls to the Balrog in the deep of Moria. While staying in Lothlorien, the fellowship hears the elves singing laments for Gandalf. “But if Legolas was with the Company, he would not interpret the songs for them, saying that he had not the skill, and that for him the grief was still too near, a matter for tears and not yet for song.” (JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring). This is one of my favorite moments of the books, and I love the interpretation it was given in the movie.
  3. On a recent drive to visit family, I was listening to John William’s music from the Star Wars movies (episodes IV-VI). It had been a long time since I’d just listened to the music, and I’d almost forgotten just how amazing that soundtrack is. At various times I found myself laughing from the pure joy the music gave or having to shake off a bout of the chills at a particularly moving theme.

As I’ve been pondering my love of moments recently, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t just movie/music/novel moments that move me. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. Our lives are made up of an endless succession of moments. And I’m coming to realize that it is the little moments that are most important. We can plan a long vacation, or an extra special outing and these events will always be important to us. But details will fade over time, until what remains are the memories of moments, rather than the whole event.

The family vacations of my childhood have blurred together until what I remember is just bits and pieces. The bunk beds of our camper. Playing board games as a family. Dad’s perfect marsh-mellow toasting technique (which my brother has inherited, thank goodness!).

Countless long drives, which boil down to three things: 1) falling asleep on the back bench seat of the van that folded down into a bed and getting gum stuck in my hair. 2) having my own little bag of things to do on the drive, none of which included batteries or the need for a charger. 3) pretending the van was the space shuttle, and my brother and I were the astronauts flying off on some grand adventure.

A trip to Kentucky/Tennessee became the reluctant admission that Opryland was not as boring as we thought it would be when Mom and Dad said we were going there. Experiencing The Stephen Foster Story musical at an outdoor theater was, at the time, hands down the most wonderful, amazing thing I’d ever seen. I can still remember, albeit somewhat distantly, the awe and wonder I felt at the end of that show.

My sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner (I was 11) was the Pastor’s warning about the heat and what to do if anyone felt faint. On her wedding day, all of us girls sitting on the floor of the dressing room in the dresses my mom made for us, with the skirts flounced around us so that we all looked like flowers and sweating so much throughout the day that the navy blue of our dresses bled through onto our rented petticoats.

More recently, there are moments such as watching a movie with my five-year-old niece. She snuggled up against my arm, with one hand resting on the fur of the world’s softest kitty (my little Luna) who snuggled up on me too. The excitement of my little nephew when he sees me coming, and the sweetness of a little boy voice praying before breakfast or saying “Aunt Becca.” Going on a brisk not-quite-spring walk with my sister and getting my feet completely muddy and drenched despite valiant efforts to avoid ridiculously deep puddles.  Sitting quietly in a room with 3 others, all of us reading separately but sharing a wonderful, peaceful moment. Running around mid-party because I put the treasure hunt clues in the wrong places.

I’m starting to realize that it is all these little moments, woven together as the threads of a tapestry, that make a life.   I am also learning that the moments can happen anywhere and under any circumstances. It doesn’t take an elaborate plan or extraordinary event to build a moment worth treasuring. All it takes is a conscious effort to be present and aware. Not all of the moments will be happy or wonderful, but I can make an effort to retain the positive and good moments and let the others slip away.

My Least Favorite Day of the Year

April 1. AKA: April Fool’s Day. For almost as long as I can remember, I have hated April Fool’s Day. Well, perhaps “hate” is too strong a word. But I really very strongly dislike April Fool’s Day. I just find the idea of a day set aside specifically to play tricks on people distasteful.

This is simply an extension of my dislike of pranks, jokes, and teasing in general. Sure, some say “it’s all in good fun.” I’ve even been asked to tease someone more because in their mind it is a way of showing affection. I disagree. I don’t find it funny or affectionate to call people names, poke them about their age, or put them in a position to be embarrassed or laughed at. I find it hurtful and mean. Call me too sensitive if you like; it wouldn’t be the first time.

Growing up, I was often the “victim” of April Fool’s jokes and pranks. None of them were permanently scarring. In fact I don’t really remember any particular example. While I’m sure I did (and do) tend a touch towards naïve, I didn’t “fall for it” because I didn’t understand or because I was too gullible, it was because I was too trusting. I trusted the people around me not to try to deceive or make fun of me. I’ve mostly learned to shrug it off, now that I’m older. I’m sure there are people close to me who would be surprised to know that I do not now and never will like to be teased and laughed at.

The internet has added a new twist to the whole April Fool’s Day dynamic. Some of it is funny – and I really don’t mind if it is obvious that it couldn’t be true. But I find it maddening when reputable websites put out fully written articles that turn out to be April Fool’s hoaxes.  There were quite a few of them today, most of which I spotted pretty quickly. But it also caused me to disbelieve everything that was posted today. There are a couple of items I saw in my feed that I hope are true, but because they appeared today I doubt them.

All of the above is just compounded by an event that I wish could be unique to me and my family, but I am sure others have experienced. In 1991, on the first day of Spring break, my dad passed away. It happened to be April 1. All by itself, this would not make me dislike the date in particular (I have no hard feelings towards the date my mom passed away). But in the course of calling friends and family to let them know our sad news that day, some of them actually believed we were playing an April Fool’s prank. Struggling with our own shock and grief, we had to get them to stop laughing and convince them it was true.

Now, I’m not saying here that we should go on some “Down with April Fool’s Day” or “No More Friendly Teasing or Joking” crusade. I’m just saying I’m not crazy about it, and I’ve seen more than a few people today who agree with me. I think in general we should try to be aware that not everyone has the same sense of humor. If someone isn’t laughing at your April Fool’s joke, there may be a reason why.

When this morning’s April Fool’s pranks started accosting me before I even got out of bed (a certain Tolkien fan-site posted at least 2 April Foolish articles before 5:30 am), I considered revenge against all those who have tricked or fooled me in the past. I even came up with a list of possibilities:

  1. I’m engaged!
  2. My book is going to be published!
  3. I’m moving back home to W. Michigan!
  4. I cut my hair!
  5. I signed up for a 5K!
  6. I quit my job!

After these few, things started to go down a slightly darker path, so I stopped trying to come up with more. In the end, I decided against vengeance and chose to try to ignore it all, and not fall for any of it. I am glad to report that the day is almost over and so far I have been successful.

PS – One item on the list above is true. Maybe. Or maybe not.