365 photo challenge: dull

while the skies outside are gray and dull…………………i’ve reason to celebrate

 …..my bff is coming for a visit…..during which there’ll be sunlight and moonlight every day…..because of her………………………………..hugmamma.  🙂

william and his kate…my wish for

Royal Wedding Will and Kates Story

Image by Pesky Library via Flickr

We are being inundated with coverage of the upcoming royal wedding between the future king of England and his queen, William and Kate. Ever since they announced their engagement to the world, they seem always to be smiling. They seem to wear their happiness well. Perhaps they have already learned what so many married couples take decades to figure out. If they have, then they may not need the advice of relationship expert, Leo Buscaglia. But it never hurts to heap on the well wishes for longevity in what already appears to be a solid friendship, and a grand love affair. Buscaglia writes in his book, Loving Each Other…

We cannot look for joy as we do a lost article of clothing. We make our own happiness. we define it for ourselves and experience it in our unique way. No one can be happy for us nor tell us what should make us happy, though people will always try. The sad fact is that we fall into Madison Avenue traps which convince us that happiness is the right drink, the flashy automobile, the scented deodorant, bursting-with-health cereal or the special snack food. Even the wisest among us are seduced by the exuberant TV ad or the seductive graphic into believing that we, too, can change our lives if we switch to a new mouthwash. We never stop to think that there is nothing in the world which can be given or denied us that will bring us happiness unless we decide it. In fact, the happiest people in the world would probably still be happy if stripped of everything except life.

Kate and Wills

Image by JeanM1 via Flickr

…Perhaps much happiness is lost in the pursuit of it. Hawthorne in his American Notebooks said that happiness always comes incidentally. “Make it the object of pursuit,” he added, “and it leads us on a wild goose chase and is never attained.” He suggests that we should lose our way and follow something totally unrelated. In that way we often happen on happiness without ever dreaming it would be there.

We are far too rational in our relationships, far too ordered, organized and predictable. We need to find a place, just this side of madness and irrationality, where we can, from time to time, leave the mundane and move into spontaneity and serendipity, a level that includes a greater sense of freedom and risk–an active environment full of surprises, which encourages a sense of wonder. Here, ideas and feelings which would otherwise be difficult to state can be expressed freely. A bond of love is easy to find in an environment of joy. When we laugh together we bypass reason and logic, as the clown does. We speak a universal language. We feel closer to one another.

Royal Wedding Flags Go Up On Regents Street, L...

Image by DG Jones via Flickr

…Joy and happiness are simply states of mind. As such they can help us to find creative solutions. When we feel joyful, euphoric, happy, we are more open to life, more capable of seeing things clearly and handling daily tensions.

…”Joy comes into our lives,” Joseph Addison says, “when we have something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

Live fully and with abandon. Love totally and without fear. Hope splendidly and never relinquish the dream. These will help us but joy will only be ours when we choose it. As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

William and Kate Royal Wedding plates

Image by Ben Sutherland via Flickr

and may I add…

long life and…everlasting happiness…to sylvia’s king and queen…william and…his kate…hugmamma.

god bless the children

god bless the children

for they know not what they do,

bouncing basketballs at 9 on a sunday morning

while i’m trying to sleep in,

bears no weight with them.

god bless the children

for their glorious shouts of joy,

with each “hallellujah”

my brain reaches out anew.

god bless the children

for disturbing the sabbath’s peace,

god created them

so he must’ve had a clue.

god bless the children

they’re just being the little buggers,

god always meant them to be.

god bless the children

now that i’ve dragged myself from bed,

they’ve decided to call it quits.

god bless the children

their antics can make me nuts,

but you know what?

gotta love those kids

…and i do…hugmamma.

magical, and musical!!! but how???

Besides “guardian angels” who hover to assist when necessary, I’ve got “elves” scouring the internet day and night in search of  “magic moments,” be they that, or something humorous, ghastly, eerie, or whatever. Sharing them with you depends upon the impression they make on me. Some may hit the “bull’s-eye,” others may not. Everyone has their own tastes after all, including me. 

I am very grateful that my “elves” filter through tons of possibilities, and forward on only those they think might captivate me. The following is one such. You’ll have to click on the website to enjoy it. I think it’s worth the extra seconds. Make certain your volume’s on, to hear the accompanying music.

What the message wishes for you…I do too, wholeheartedly!!! Oh, and it’s not a virus. Trust me.

http://www.elion.ee/docs/joulukaart/eng/

technological wizardry…at its best…hugmamma. 

lesson learned, valuable

Over dinner last night my daughter and I had a conversation that brought tears to my eyes. Yes, even soulful words can start the waterworks flowing. As a mom, I’ve always been hopeful that my 24-year-old can learn valuable lessons at a young age, without having to go through the process of trial and error as I have. I think that’s something all parents would like for their children. We would all like to spare our offspring the heartache of heartbreak, whatever the issues, be they a first love, a first job, a first boss, a first fight with a best friend. But as much as we might want, we can’t shoulder their burdens for the rest of their lives or ours. Their growth will be “stunted,” not to mention our own. Life is ongoing, never static, change happens whether we like it or not.

A confluence of things brought my daughter to the realization that she should “live life large in the moment,” my mantra. Taking a cue from last Sunday’s homily wherein the message was that as disciples we should “hate” all others and commit to God, she realized that her relationship with Him was more important than any other, even ours. I agreed. God has given her life, and gifts with which to do her best each day,  including compassion towards herself and others, and hope, always hope.  He makes no demands, except that she make use of her gifts as best she can. Succumbing to the demands of others, placing them above God’s and her own, can lead to confusion and repression. I know, for I have been guilty of playing the victim to others bullying. Once I regained control of my own life taking stock of my “gifts,” I moved forward, contented with who I am and the contributions I could make to others. Of course the struggle never ends, for there’s a fine balance in knowing when to keep to my own counsel and when to seek wisdom from others. But I now know to only look to those who love me and genuinely care for my well-being, not those who want to live my life for me because they deem to know what’s best. So I give my daughter credit for arriving at this knowledge early on, with her life still unfolding before her.

Two books, both made into movies, also influenced my daughter’s youthful wisdom, “A Walk to Remember” by Nicholas Sparks, and “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Each in its own way left an impression that one can consciously choose to live one’s life with hope, joy and fulfillment. Sparks’ novel is of a man who has become a better person because of his teenage love, a girl dying of cancer who until her death, unselfishly helps others in need. Gilbert’s is a personal journey of self-realization and resultant happiness with who she is without the artificial trappings of her former life.

My daughter and I find ourselves on the “same page” in life, she at 24, me at 61, loving ourselves for who we are and grateful for the gifts given us by God, humbled to be  sharing them with others.

each one is special, in His eyes…hugmamma.

“freddie the leaf, the fall of”

The only author I can wholeheartedly call my favorite is Leo Buscaglia. Otherwise, I select books according to their subject matter. But I’ve enjoyed reading every one of  Buscaglia’s books. A postscript to one of my favorites, reads:

“Leo Buscaglia approached life with joy and enthusiasm. He pursued a path of perpetual learning that took him to places of wonder, excitement, and enlightenment. His sense of urgency to live life now and explore all that is possible was contagious to all who knew him. His life was dedicated to the single concept of ‘Love’ and all the beautiful and positive elements that it encompasses. …He died of heart failure on June 29th, 1998, at his home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada at the age of 74. A note was found on his typewriter the next day. It read, ‘Every moment spent in unhappiness is a moment of happiness lost.’

In 2004 I was in Chautauqua, New York, visiting my daughter while she danced in a summer program. Browsing through the bookstore housed in a charming building, I happened upon “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” by Leo Buscaglia. Tucking myself away in a corner, I read it. A lump formed in my throat for the story was written to assuage a child’s loss of someone special, to death. The book, in its 20th edition, is a “beloved classic that has helped thousands of people come to grips with life and death.” I’d like to share it with you now, in the hopes that it might someday do the same for you.

Spring had passed. So had summer. Freddie, the leaf, had grown large. His mid-section was wide and strong, and his five extensions were firm and pointed. He had first appeared in Spring as a small sprout on a rather large branch near the top of a tall tree.

Freddie was surrounded by hundreds of other leaves just like himself, or so it seemed. Soon he discovered that no two leaves were alike, even though they were on the same tree. Alfred was the leaf next to him. Ben was the leaf on his right side, and Clare was the lovely leaf overhead. They had all grown up together. They had learned to dance in the Spring breezes, bask lazily in the Summer sun and wash off in the cooling rains.

But it was Daniel who was Freddie’s best friend. He was the largest leaf on the limb and seemed to have been there before anyone else. It appeared to Freddie that Daniel was also the wisest among them. It was Daniel who told them that they were part of a tree. It was Daniel who explained that they were growing in a public park. It was Daniel who told them that the tree had strong roots which were hidden in the ground below. He explained about the birds who came to sit on their branch and sing morning songs. He explained about the sun, the moon, the stars and the seasons.

Freddie loved being a leaf. He loved his branch, his light leafy friends, his place high in the sky, the wind that jostled him about, the sun rays that warmed him, the moon that covered him with soft, white shadows.

Summer had been especially nice. The long hot days felt good and the warm nights were peaceful and dreamy. There were many people in the park that Summer. They often came and sat under Freddie’s tree. Daniel told him that giving shade was part of his purpose.

“What’s a purpose?” Freddie had asked. “A reason for being,” Daniel had answered. “To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being. To make shade for old people who come to escape the heat of their homes is a reason for being. To provide a cool place for children to come and play. To fan with our leaves the picnickers who come to eat on checkered tablecloths. These are all reasons for being.”

Freddie especially liked the old people. They sat so quietly on the cool grass and hardly ever moved. They talked in whispers of times past. The children were fun, too, even though they sometimes tore holes in the bark of the tree or carved their names into it. Still, it was fun to watch them move so fast and to laugh so much.

But Freddie’s Summer soon passed. It vanished on an October night. He had never felt it so cold. All the leaves shivered with the cold. They were coated with a thin layer of white which quickly melted and left them dew drenched and sparkling in the morning sun. Again, it was Daniel who explained that they had experienced their first frost, the sign that it was Fall and that Winter would come soon.

Almost at once, the whole tree, in fact, the whole park was transformed into a blaze of color. There was hardly a green leaf left. Alfred had turned a deep yellow. Ben had become a blazing red, Daniel a deep purple and Freddie was red and gold and blue. How beautiful they all looked. Freddie and his friends had made their tree a rainbow.

“Why did we turn different colors,” Freddie asked, “when we are on the same tree?” “Each of us is different. We have had different experiences. We have faced the sun differently. We have cast shade differently. Why should we not have different colors?” Daniel said matter-of-factly. Daniel told Freddie that this wonderful season was called Fall.

One day a very strange thing happened. The same breezes that, in the past, had made them dance began to push and pull at their stems, almost as if they were angry. This caused some of the leaves to be torn from their branches and swept up in the wind, tossed about and dropped softly to the ground. All the leaves became frightened. “What’s happening?” they asked each other in whispers. “It’s what happens in Fall,” Daniel told them. “It’s the time for leaves to change their home. Some people call it to die.” 

“Will we all die?” Freddie asked. “Yes,” Daniel answered. “Everything dies. No matter how big or small, how weak or strong. We first do our job. We experience the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. We learn to dance and to laugh. Then we die.” “I won’t die!” said Freddie with determination. “Will you, Daniel?” “Yes,” answered Daniel, “when it’s my time.” “When is that?” asked Freddie. “No one knows for sure,” Daniel responded.

Freddie noticed that the other leaves continued to fall. He thought, “It must be their time.” He saw that some of the leaves lashed back at the wind before they fell, others simply let go and dropped quietly. Soon the tree was almost bare. “I’m afraid to die,” Freddie told Daniel. “I don’t know what’s down there.” “We all fear what we don’t know, Freddie. It’s natural,” Daniel reassured him. “Yet, you were not afraid when Spring became Summer. You were not afraid when Summer became Fall. They were natural changes. Why should you be afraid of the season of death?”

“Does the tree die, too?” Freddie asked. “Someday. But there is something stronger than the tree. It is Life. That lasts forever and we are all a part of Life.” “Where will we go when we die?” “No one knows for sure. That’s the great mystery!” “Will we return in the Spring?” “We may not, but Life will.” “Then what has been the reason for all of this?” Freddie continued to question. “Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?”

Daniel answered in his matter-of-fact way, “It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in Fall. It’s been about seasons. Isn’t that enough?” That afternoon, in the golden light of dusk, Daniel let go. He fell effortlessly. He seemed to smile peacefully as he fell. “Goodbye for now, Freddie,” he said. Then, Freddie was alone, the only leaf left on his branch.

The first snow fell the following morning. It was soft, white, and gentle; but it was bitter cold. There was hardly any sun that day, and the day was very short. Freddie found himself losing his color, becoming brittle. It was constantly cold and the snow weighed heavily upon him. At dawn the wind came that took Freddie from his branch. It didn’t hurt at all. He felt himself float quietly, gently and softly downward. As he fell, he saw the whole tree for the first time. How strong and firm it was! He was sure that it would live for a long time and he knew that he had been a part of its life and it made him proud.

Freddie landed on a clump of snow. It somehow felt soft and even warm. In this new position he was more comfortable than he had ever been. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He did not know that Spring would follow Winter and that the snow would melt into water. He did not know that what appeared to be his useless dried self would join with the water and serve to make the tree stronger. Most of all, he did not know that there, asleep in the tree and the ground, were already plans for new leaves in the Spring.

The Beginning.

Having purchased the book as a keepsake for my daughter, I turned to the first blank page and penned the following inscription.

Summer 2004

Dearest daughter,

I discovered Leo Buscaglia in Chautauqua this summer. Reading his  words was like looking at my soul through a mirror. He wrote, and lectured about, and lived a life of love, always having a positive attitude. “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf ” continues Buscaglia’s outlook thru to the final stage in life. 

 Live each day to the fullest, love hugely and passionately, strive always to have a positive attitude toward yourself, others and life. These are what I leave to you, when I fall from the “Tree of Life.” And I know you will do the same for your children, when your turn comes.

I will always be with you in spirit until we are together again, where all leaves spend eternal springtime together. Think of me as your “Daniel.”

All my love, forever…Mom

my sentiments for you, as well…hugmamma.