Sunflowers

Keep your face to the sun and you cannot see the shadow. That’s what the sunflowers do.

Helen Keller

I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that trumpets life more than the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason for its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.

Helen Mirren

despite knowing
they won’t be here for long
they still choose to live
their brightest lives

-sunflowers

Rupi Kaur

We currently have a big bunch of sunflowers in residence on our coffee table, and they are exquisitely glorious. Like sunshine, poured into a glass vase, smack dab in the middle of our living room. September sunflowers. Really, sometimes all one can do is whisper a quick “thank you” to God.

lb_crystal_sunflowers.macro_old.master

Life is Grace

I am changing my blog’s name to fit the direction I want to take it, and my writing. There will still be plenty of photography, and if anyone should be interested in making a purchase, just click on “Gingerfancy Photography” above the blog header. To read more about why I am changing the name, and how it fits with the past history of the blog, please keep reading. Also refer to the pinned post at the top of the blog, the quote by Frederich Buechner.

Welcome! I’m Barbara and one thing I want to make clear straight away is that I am determined to live a full, generous, and creative life, one filled with love and laughter, despite chronic pain and disability. This is a good time to plug in one of my favorite quotes, by Joseph Campbell:

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Continue reading “Life is Grace”

Wordless Wednesday: Last of the Peonies in February

Continue reading “Wordless Wednesday: Last of the Peonies in February”

Wordless Wednesday: Peonies in February

Continue reading “Wordless Wednesday: Peonies in February”

Winter Wednesday

It’s cold. And changing my antidepressant from Cymbalta (which was helping my fibromyalgia but had quit helping my depression) to Fetzima (vice versa) isn’t helping my grumpy mood any. I have developed strange food cravings (carbs, sugar, and more carbs) and I am frighteningly grateful for cable TV and Law & Order reruns.

Continue reading “Winter Wednesday”

A Hot Chocolate Kind of Day. And the Super Bowl Thing.

A snowy, chilly, February Saturday…I’ve spent the afternoon snuggling with Fiona (our cocker spaniel) on the couch, drinking hot chocolate–with lots of marshmallows, of course–and reading my new book about the Nazi Occupation of Paris, Les Parisiennes: Resistance, Collaboration, and the Women of Paris Under Nazi Occupation, by Anne Sebba. I love it so far, and highly recommend it, Sebba has an engaging narrative style that truly makes her prose come to life.

Continue reading “A Hot Chocolate Kind of Day. And the Super Bowl Thing.”

Be Soft

My parents have been dead a long time. Or not so long. It depends on my mood, how long it seems. My mom died in April 2007, my dad in January 1993. I often wonder what advice they would give me now, about being childless, being disabled and in chronic pain and often frustrated and depressed. Then, by chance, today I came across a quote that spells out what I know in my heart they would both say to me so perfectly, it gave me chills. In fact, I can hear my mom’s voice…

Continue reading “Be Soft”

Stories

Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering. Despite the awesome powers of technology many of us still do not live very well. We may need to listen to each other’s stories again.

–Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal

Most of my childhood and teenage Sundays were spent at my Grandma’s kitchen table. There was always the smell of coffee, and the kitchen was warm and cozy in the winter, the perfect refuge from the freezing Minnesota cold outside. Grandma always had plants in the window, like the African violets I could never make bloom at home, and from her second-story window we could see the nineteenth-century red-brick Grant House Hotel and Restaurant across the street.

Some Sundays, especially when I was little, the kitchen was full of aunts and uncles and rambunctious cousins (I am number 41 of 44), and I would divide my time between hanging out and listening to the adults and playing with my cousins. Other Sundays it would be just mom, dad, and me, all of us gathered around Grandma’s table, talking: me listening, drawing or playing with my dolls, and the grownups telling stories. As I grew older, I was allowed my own cup of coffee, and I interjected a question or two, but mostly I listened, fascinated.

Many of these stories involved memories formed during the bitter years of the Great Depression, when my parents were growing up, and the World War II years, when my dad was fighting Nazi Germany and my older uncles were in the service. But although the tales they told were set during harsh times, they were filled with love and warmth and laughter. I wish every child could have that gift, to grow up as part of a big, loving, crazy,  storytelling family.

The stories I heard during those years formed me into the person I am today. The tales related by my aunts and uncles and grandmother and parents illustrated for me the values that have become their greatest legacy to me. Like the importance of being able to laugh at your problems. Of always being kinder than necessary. Of not judging, because everyone is carrying a burden you might know nothing about. Of making your own decisions, not just following the crowd. Of the importance of forgiveness and not holding grudges. At 49 years of age, I am still plumbing the depths of the stories I heard at my Grandma’s kitchen table.

As Remen notes:

The best stories have many meanings; their meaning changes as our capacity to understand and appreciate meaning grows. Revisiting such stories over the years, one wonders how one could not have seen their present meaning all along, all the time unaware of what meaning a future reading may hold. Like the stories themselves, all these meanings are true.

Knowing your own story requires having a personal response to life, an inner experience of life…Most of us live lives that are far richer and more meaningful than we appreciate.

Perhaps this Thanksgiving we could put down our iPhones for a few hours…and tell stories?

Edit: I accidentally posted and sent out an earlier draft. Here is the corrected version. Thanks for your patience!

Wordless Wednesday: Autumn Stories

Why Does Everything Sound Better in French? 

Even having a migraine, with all of its painful and ugly connotations, sounds romantic in French. According to one of my favorite books, Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language From the South of France, by Kristin Espinasse (an American married to a Frenchman and living in Provence), to have a migraine in French is avoir la tête comme une citrouille. Literally translated into English, this means “to have a pumpkin head,” which is amusingly descriptive of a migraine. If, that is, someone is pounding violently upon the pumpkin that is one’s head.

However, I did discover another tip in the same chapter. The chapter is called is Citrouille and is about Espinasse’s rather hilarious attempt to celebrate Halloween American-style with her bewildered French neighbors. Next time vous avez la tête comme une citrouille, simply scream at your pumpkin head “Allez-vous-en!” (get out of here!) Scream as loud as you can with someone whacking at your pumpkin head with a hammer, anyway.

I apologize for my lousy French grammar, by the way. Should mon la tête comme une citrouille ever va-t-en laisse-moi tranquille (go away and leave me alone), I hope to brush up on my college French.

N.B. As always, I use textures from 2 Lil’Owls on my photos, this one included. I highly recommend their entire line of presets, textures, digital papers, and workshops. If interested in purchasing, my affiliate link is https://2lilowls.com/ref/9

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