Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

day 25 of a month of Thanksgiving: cousins, aunts, & uncles ~

More years after the taking of this picture  than I’d like to admit, my aunt Carol is still teaching me things. As is her husband — my uncle Jim — and their three daughters. Today, for instance? They reminded me how lucky I am to have such a great extended family.

Even though I grew up as a third culture kid — first an Army brat, then an expat brat, then an expat adult — I’ve always been close to my extended family. Perhaps because my mother & I spent my first year-plus living w/ my grandmother and my youngest aunt — Carol of the picture — and perhaps because I stayed with aunts & uncles throughout my childhood, they’re each  very dear to me.

So today, celebrating a BIG birthday for my uncle Jim, it was hard not to find myself remembering this picture of Carol with me as an infant, and many others, some existing only in memory: Carol & Jim taking me for a long weekend to their home outside of Tulsa; Carol, Mother, & me going Christmas shopping; my aunt Joyce making my 6-year-old birthday cake; my aunt Lettie hosting family Christmas at her elegant home.

Today I’m thankful for the many memories I have of my cousins, my aunts, my uncles. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had today — far too rare! — to hug one of my aunts, and to have, just for a moment,  a vivid window into my own childhood. And to be given, too, a look at the young children of my three cousins.  How very short the years have been… hours instead of months.

It’s a good month for family. And to give thanks we have them ~

 

 

 

day 24 of Thanksgiving month: seatbelts and nieces ~

My youngest niece (I have a bouquet of wonderful nieces :)) walked away this morning from her mother’s totalled Honda. Anne was wearing her seatbelt. So this my BIG thank-you today: Anne and her seatbelt.

Buddhism, as the Buddhist writer & thinker Stephen Batchelor notes,teaches that life is impermanent. And it doesn’t necessarily include an afterlife. Many secular Buddhists believe that one trip is all we get, while religious Buddhists talk about an almost Hindu concept of Nirvana, and reincarnation. The Buddha pretty much dismisses the question, noting that this life is hard enough. Shouldn’t we pay more attention to the suffering here & now?

My day would have been very different today had Anne not been wearing her seatbelt. Full of suffering, and w/out the consolation many Christians have of afterlife. I have no clue what comes next — if something created everything, my feeble human life is probably not capable of understanding it… As it is? Anne has a mild concussion and no car. A very small exchange for her life.

Let’s each try to remember that every day is a gift. Every breath full of life, every moment possibly beautiful. Sitting at my nara wood desk, typing on a keyboard at a flat screen monitor unimaginable only one son’s lifetime ago, I am so very thankful for this day. And the fact that Anne is still in it…

day 23 of a month of Thanksgiving: just quiet, lazy peace ~

I did right at zilch today. I didn’t cook, or get ready, or clean, or entertain. I didn’t vacuum or change the sheets or do holiday cards. There were leftovers (cold pie for breakfast! whoohoo!), and all they required was making cappuccino in the a.m. and iced tea in the afternoon.

And the day was perfect.

There is grace in just being still. Sitting in a chair and listening to dogs snore softly. Sitting at a table overlooking autumn leaves, while birds flutter against the sky. Sifting through those leaves for scarlet Japanese maple leaves, just to hold them to the light and watch them catch fire.

These are the treasures of gentle days. Autumn seems the time of year when they’re most likely to turn up: unexpected but always welcome. Despite having accomplished nothing, I feel as if something important has transpired. As if I’ve ‘done’ something of significance. When it’s just been a quiet, peaceful day of brisk weather and warm sunlight.

I’d wish for more of the same but I know that’s attachment… :) So instead I’ll be grateful for my single perfect day ~

 

day 21 of the month of Thanksgiving (a man who buys you diamonds for no reason…) ~

When I married my husband, we had zilch money. We got married quickly, so that I could go to Algeria with him, where his company had transferred him. Actually, we thought we were going to Morocco. A story for another time. :)

We had a dear friend, an artisan jeweler, make our wedding rings. Bernie did them for materials; it was his wedding gift to us. They were lovely, but don’t fit us (in any way!) these days. And there was no diamond; we couldn’t afford one.

So after we’d been married for a long time, and had two sons, my wonderful husband showed up around my birthday (but not on my birthday, as he was quick to point out) with a lovely emerald-cut diamond solitaire. Suffice to say it’s fashionably large, although I have it set deeply so it won’t catch on things. (Have I mentioned I really don’t like fussy junk?)

He said he’d always wanted to buy me a diamond. It’s my birth stone, and I LIKE diamonds. I know they’re not fashionable now: there are good reasons to boycott deBeers. But times (& we) were more innocent then. He stopped in Amsterdam on the way back to where I was in the US, finishing school. He went to the diamond cutter’s and picked out my stone, then had it set. Very simple. No fuss. For my birthday, he sent roses. The diamond, he said, was just because. Mostly bcause he could afford the one he wanted to get me, now.

You can’t argue w/ a man like that. Why would you try? So today — as I do every day — I give thanks for my husband. Who is not only a buyer of diamonds, but brilliant, witty, kind, generous, and still verrrry cute. Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to put it out there. :)

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