Just prior to Christmas I shared about how I was struggling. I was feeling a little depressed – not really scary bad, just a bit down: weepy, fragile, vulnerable. We went to visit my husband’s family for several days and just before, and since, I’ve been working on a collage. It’s not exactly what I’m after, and the photo doesn’t represent it well, but this is what I’ve been working on.
I love the theme of gratitude and always being grateful, and I also like that I got to experiment with some techniques I haven’t used before (-attempting to make what is new look old and faded, and trying to make the paint look ‘distressed’)
My thought for today is a hope, a desire and an aim: to be always grateful.
When I returned to the valley – my private gateway to another world
Sudden bombarding of the senses:
Heat and humidity press against the skin with palpable force
Cicadas form a wall of sound: an assault on the ears
The scent of jasmine and honeysuckle, of forest and dogs and bar-b-ques
Sometimes the distant scent of rain is carried on the breeze – smell connects with the touch of the wind, and a change in the barometer spells the knowledge, the taste of showers to come
Sometimes the welcome relief of a quiet shaded forest, cool and calm this hidden treasure
A sea of divergent greens, lush tree-lined valley walls: radiance of colour, the work a combination of nature and man
Ceiling of the deepest blues: a spectrum of azure, cerulean and cyan mixed with hues of ultramarine and thalo form a vivid mural, a thousand shades of blue line this pristine expanse of untroubled sky
Sights and sounds, the feel and smells at times combine to overwhelm the senses
Other times: the quiet beauty, the stillness, the calm, refreshing my soul
These hills, these trees, this sky, this valley and river- my pocket of the world
My quiet haven, my secret enclave, my sanctuary 5014.
The following are some of my favourite photos, all of which I’ve taken in the past 3 months. I love vibrant colours but I also love soft tones. Five of the six photos were taken either in my garden or in the reserve behind our house. All photos were taken in Wellington, New Zealand and all taken on my iPhone 4S. These are a few of my current favourite things:
I took this photo this afternoon while standing in a friend’s garden. He wasn’t at home at the time! Not sure what his neighbours might have thought had they seen me. Several days ago he and I were chatting and discussing our gardens and he was telling me about how lovely and vibrant his blue hydrangeas were. I asked if I could pop down one day to photograph them and he said “of course, come over any time”- so I did. And he was right, they were really lovely and so vibrant! I often play with colour (along with clarity, light, tone, etc) when I’m looking at my photos but in this case I haven’t altered the colour of the flowers at all. So in a way, this is a photo of my friend’s hydrangeas being authentically themselves – this is simply how they were. And I guess that’s the point of this saying – about being yourself over and above, and before anything else.
And my steps may be slow but I think I’m getting the hang of this ‘being yourself’ business. And this is today’s reminder to myself.
You are extraordinarily unique!
You are special. We all have different gifts and talents, abilities, preferences, traits and so much more. We are all unique in our own wonderfully individual ways.
The thing I find somewhat sobering in the above saying, is that I wonder how often, as civilisation has developed, how many people have lived their lives feeling stupid, wrong, naughty, ignorant, rude, evil, immoral, wicked, depraved… and similar negative feelings when they were actually just fish who couldn’t climb trees? I wonder how often civilisation has negatively judged and labelled people and then treated them accordingly as outcasts or idiots, when actually they were just different and wouldn’t fit the current mold of that time or place?
Look at some of the world’s greatest artists and musicians, philosophers, poets, writers, scientists, athletes, politicians and sportspeople. Few are exceptional in more than one or two fields. No-one excels at everything! For some it can take a lifetime to find their calling or to uncover their passion(s).
I wonder how often in my past I have thought myself foolish for not being able to do what I thought I ought to be doing – when actually I was a goldfish who was pretty good at being a goldfish but lousy at climbing trees, or throwing balls or playing chess.
I believe that I am unique, and that I’m where I am supposed to be. If I’m a goldfish, I want to embrace my ‘goldfishness’ and to be the best goldfish that I can be.
Or as Abraham Lincoln said “Whatever you are, be a good one.”
For the past week, in my spare time I have been stripping wallpaper off the walls of a spare room which I normally use for painting, sewing and creative activities. It is at the back of the house and gets great afternoon sun. With the wallpaper stripped, I moved on to washing the ceiling, and then sanding the scotia (cornice) around the ceiling. I have washed the window ledges and window frames, and only just started sanding them.
My plan is to repaint the ceiling, scotia and skirting, window frames and ledges, and to wallpaper the walls. While I feel like I’ve made a good start, each time I go into that room I can see that I have a long way to go.
So far, I have been blessed with a constant companion – thus the photo above. That’s her resting on one of the old curtains I’m using as a drop sheet. Whenever I have work to do – she’s there, ready and waiting to give me company and to oversee my progress. I believe the part of the process she enjoys the most are the times when I stop and rest in a big easy chair and she’ll come over and jump up into my lap and lie down, even if I only sit there for a few minutes.
She has certainly been, thus far, my precious companion, and a constant friend. For these things I am grateful!
I appreciate the uniqueness of seashells. I enjoy their variety: their different colours, shapes, sizes, patterns, diversity. And like us, they each have their own story to tell. And while we could guess at a seashell’s story – they will all be different in small, particular ways that we probably know little about. This is a good reminder – not just that we as people are all different, but that our stories, our histories, our life experiences all differ too – so it’s fair to expect that someone else (who is not me) may see life in an entirely different way to how I do.
I spent a number of months living in Uganda on several occasions. I had expected that the people I interacted with in rural Uganda would be different to me, their experiences and expectations etc, but what I wasn’t prepared for (the first time at least) was that it appeared that their thought processes were also totally different to mine. Looking back I’m not sure why I found this so surprising – but I did. What seemed logical and rational to me was often not to a rural Ugandan.
Similarly when I met my husband, after many years of living alone, I was surprised to find that this man that I shared so much in common with and whom I adored, and who seemed to adore me, had thought processes so foreign to mine in many ways. In hindsight I figure that’s men and women for you – Venus and Mars, from two different worlds and with different perspectives. What surprised me (again) was that I expected our thought processes to be similar when it became apparent that they weren’t. So here we are five years on and we are still learning about each other, still learning what works and doesn’t work for the other – still learning about our similarities and our differences. And that’s ok. I know him better, but I’m still learning. And I still adore him!
The reminder here is that while I expect others to have a different experience, knowledge and perspective from myself – I might also choose to limit my expectations about others – so that I can relax and enjoy their companionship and their diversity, our similarities and our differences, and they can enjoy the freedom to be fully themselves without having to explain, rationalize, or justify their perspective or behaviours.
Do I provide others with an environment where they feel free to totally be their own remarkable, distinct and unique selves?
In keeping with my current theme of self love and self care, I love the way this quote gives me permission to see myself as a masterpiece (or possibly A Masterpiece) – a wonderfully unique, brilliant, astonishing, breath-takingly beautiful ME… and at the same time be free to take chances, make mistakes, choose an alternative colour or tone or attitude or feeling…
In the past few days I have been wearing some of my husband’s Hawaiian/Polynesian shirts. They are a number of sizes too big but I love the patterns and colours so I’ve been wearing them… proudly! It’s about letting me be me… And if no-one else understands, then it really is me being me – and I’m good with that! So far, so good. We are coming up to a new year – always an introspective time for me. I try to think through what I’ve achieved (rather than failed at), and what I’d like to achieve in the new year…. maybe… Let’s see where this goes…