Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Holiday MindStreaming

I haven't done a mind-streaming post in ages! Let's see what ramblings are flipping thru this brain of mine...

An update on my Christmas Sabbatical.
It was great! I highly recommend you try this at least once. Imagine the biggest holiday of the year being totally relaxing and oh so peaceful. This was the extent of my decorating (picture was taken after I tossed the pine branches).

We have done just I said we would: had a great dinner with days of delicious left-overs; saw "Passengers" (good movie); went out for coffee & book browsing; played dominoes; and actually got caught up with some needed projects around the house - in a nice-paced, pleasant way.

But, my hubby did have one surprise up his sleeve. He can never not do something at Christmas, but this was really special - a helicopter ride to look at the lights! We loved it! Forget the lights - the whole area is lit up at night anyway - it was the ride itself that was a blast. We could've stayed up there for hours.

I did some reading on shooting from a 'copter but when it came to it, I just wanted to absorb the experience. A couple quick shots on auto and that was it.

I could not believe it when I saw this at WalterMart before Christmas Eve! Shame!

That reminds me - I want to smack Oprah every time I see her Weight Watchers commercial. It's just the latest in a long line of her obsessions that she thinks everyone must share. Next year she'll be on some other kick.

One morning I had to be out & about early to shoot some event pictures. I've seen this smoke column before (I'm not sure what it's from) but never had the camera handy. It was one of those happy moments where you can take time to stop and see art in the air. A crisp, clear morning, camera in hand, no responsibilities after the shoot. Ahhhh.

I just noticed this - it looks like a hand making the "ok" sign. And there's a heart between the thumb & forefinger. It's a sign! It's all gonna be just fine.

We have some wonderful guys who help my hubs in the ministry warehouse. They try to be gruff but what I found the other day tells me different.

While browsing the bookstore today, I noticed the 1/2 price calendars. It used to be a big deal to choose one for my old office. And we always got hubby one for his office that featured either Newfoundland dogs or Harley D. motorcycles. Techy everything seems to have dimmed the popularity of the calendar kiosks. One that caught my eye featured hummingbirds and that's actually what started my mind-streaming today. All of sudden I was ticking through the list of simple things I love and could look forward to in the new year.

January: winter evenings, comfort food, fireplace on, evenings spent watching movies, crafting, reading (without feeling guilty that I should be outside!). Maybe a surprise snow day? And sweaters. I love to wear sweaters.

February: when red, pink & white fill the store aisles; Valentines to chase away the gray days. One or two months of those are plenty.

March: OO OO OO!!! Big month - we're going to see our son AND go to the Game of Thrones Experience Concert. Got my tickets!

April: spring starts a-poppin'. Fresh, soft and pretty. Usually accompanied by weather drama of some kind. It's exciting as long as nobody gets hurt.

May: gearing up for summer! And at some point Game of Thrones Season 7 will start - yahooey!

June-July-August: summer in Oklahoma. It's a love-love/hate thing. But it does bring hummingbirds!  Sitting on the deck swing is a favorite pastime - watching the birds, the stars, and my afghan hound romping. It brings convertible rides in the evening; chasing the moonrise or sunset for that elusive, perfect picture; and going out for ice cream.

September: on the other side of triple-digit temps and looking forward to fall. New tv shows or favorite ones starting back up. Kids are back in school & stores are much quieter.

October: oh my favorite month of all. Just the turning of the calendar to October makes me smile. Perfect weather, perfect color, best photography time. We usually take our vacation this month.

November-December: well, here's the rub. We're back to the Holiday Season. But I do love seeing the stores loaded with harvest & holiday foods. It looks so...bountiful! I do like seeing all the decorations. I love the extra days off work! Will I participate in the holiday madness next year? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I know 2016 was really hard on so many people. It was definitely a harsh year on many levels. 2013-15 were our difficult years. For me & my family, a lot of issues & loose ends from previous years were resolved satisfactorily in 2016.

Now it's time to look forward and I find myself looking forward to very simple joys. New books, new creating, time with loved ones. Fun with the Khaleesi. Taking more pictures. Dinner & conversation with friends. I guess I've reached that point in life and I'm thinking it's not a bad place to be.

May 2017 be a blessed year of reconciliation, renewal, replenishment, and restoration of whatever was lost or stolen from us the past few years! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2016


It's the Christmas Season.
In case you haven't noticed.

One thing I've noticed is that owls are a popular decorating item this year.

My sister was ahead of the trend. She gave this snowglobe as a gift last year.

Speaking of last year, I was looking through my Christmas pictures from the last few years. Here's a few I came across.

Last year at this time, I was working for a Presbyterian church. I learned to appreciate traditional prayers and the symbolism of lighting the Advent candles each week.

I bought Advent candles and would bring home a copy of the church bulletin that I had typed. We would light the candles and read the prayers for that week.

Christmas is very much a time for reflecting.  These ornament are vintage but every ornament has a story, doesn't it? I could go through my storage tubs and remember decades of Christmas stories in each ornament.

Not all Christmas memories are happy ones. I bet everyone can remember a year or two when it wasn't quite so merry and didn't shine so bright.

For the last 36 years, our focus has been on "making Christmas" for someone else. Always it was for our own child, our family, each other. But for nearly 25 of those years, it's also been for our church family (huge pageants) and/or others less fortunate (huge outreaches) in our community. While that's a beautiful and wonderful thing, it makes for a really busy, intense month. Many times, by December 24, we've done so much Christmas we just want to get to December 26. For the last 5 years or so, I've fantasized about leaving town, going on a cruise, or hiding in the mountains, til it all goes away.

It can get difficult to keep a focus on why we're doing all this busy work in this one exclusive season. I've even wondered if we are doing people a disservice with these pageants & outreaches. Are we enabling others to get sucked into the vortex of Christmas materialism? Are we guilty of perpetuating the spirit of greed? Are we turning their attention towards Jesus or away from Him?

I think when one reaches a point where one wants to hide out to pretend the holiday doesn't exist, it's time to stop and take a breath.

Since I don't have any little children around to keep up "the magic of Christmas" illusion, I'm taking a risk this year. I can't leave town, but I can control my immediate environment.

I'm not putting up a tree or decorating my house.
Not exchanging gifts. We've had a fun & expensive year already.
Not sending out cards.
But I might do some baking.

What's the risk?
I'm wondering if I'll regret my decision on Christmas Eve!

I'm enjoying the various holiday social gatherings.
I helped with a church event today.
Next weekend is the ministry's outreach. I'll be there and I'll make sure my husband gets plenty of rest and healthy meals this week.

We'll go to Christmas Eve service and have a special, yet simple, dinner Christmas Day.
The week between Christmas & New Year's, both our offices are closed. We're going to take those days and relax. Cook a little; have a special dinner out, see a movie; play dominoes, light the fireplace, take naps, spend time with close friends.

We're going to make time to exhale and breathe in a deep fresh breath, to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas, without the glimmer and glamour, the hustle 'n bustle, and the constant ch-ching of excessive spending.


That's all I want for Christmas 2016.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives. ~John 14:27