I’ve been getting the Word of the Day for quite a while now. I’ve learned the simple life is best and being grateful for every day
Art has always been there for me. In a family of scientists and blue collar workers, my family still had an appreciation of the arts, most prominently music, writing and books, and visual arts.
One of my clearest memories of the visual arts came from my dad’s mother, who lived upstairs from us until her death at 94 in 1965. She had traveled widely, well educated, and just plain amazing. I remember (and still have) her oil paintings of a couple of her many plants that filled one room and lines the walls of her kitchen.
She also had three huge framed photos in her living room. The one against the kitchen/LR wall was Venus De Milo, the armless sculpture. The first one to the right of the bathroom door was the Roman Coliseum in all its ruined glory. The one next to it was a photo of Charles Darwin, as an older man, seated regally on what I can remember as a throne, but that was probably just me.
The music room downstairs, that had once been our bedroom, held the phonograph and radio cabinet, as long as our old pump reed organ and the piano. The records were eclectic, classic, opera, operettas, soundtracks, big band, and popular (for then) like Perry Como, whose songs echoed the joy in his heart.
My mother played piano. Dad played the organ until my brother, Bill, could take over. I couldn’t play very well, but I still loved music. Mom, Bill, and Dad, on his accordion, would have wonderful evenings playing.
And then there was Disney’s Fantasia. Classic music with animation. My forever favorite movie and soundtrack.
We had books in every room of the house. Yes, even the bathroom and in the basement (in Dad’s homemade darkroom). Mark Twain, the Koran, the Bible, Carl Sandberg’s Lincoln, encyclopedias, Life, Saturday Evening Post, National Geographic, Winnie the Pooh (and the Latin translation), books of poems, a Phonics book, chemistry, nature, electronics. You get the idea. Plus the three books Dad’s mother wrote.
Dad generally wrote technical reports. I remember when he would let Mother read his reports to make certain the language was clear.
I’ve been writing ‘art therapy’ since my teen years, several million words by my very rough estimation. It must have worked. I’m less ‘crazy’ than I used to be. At least that is what my psychiatrist alter says.
Once Mom’s parent’s passed away, we made room for their china cabinet. Grandfather had made it for his bride just as Grandmother made the crazy quilt wedding quilt.
There were pieces of rose malling one of my distant cousins did, the little do-dads Bill and I and the two grandchildren gave our parents plus the one piece of a dinner set that came from England when my mother’s ancestors came over in the early 1700’s or something like that.
Then there was the souvenir from Dad’s business trip to Washington D.C. He took Mom. This was probably in the late 50’s when the world was good and hopeful. They saw the sights and came back with the complete set of prints from the paintings at the National Museum of Art. Dad would change the prints periodically. I learned to recognize the styles of many of the great artists. But I still feel a bit cheated. Mom spoke of the awe of standing in front of Lincoln’s statue and the experience of walking past one of Van Gogh’s wheat field paintings and watching the wheat seemingly wave in the wind.
I have a large record and CD collection of my own, reggae through Gregorian Chants. My art is a bit limited.
I have a picture from my Weather Calendar that shows the path of the first EF5 tornado that hit Murray, OK, the current Weather Guide Calendar, the Spirit of Horses calendar, a picture by Alex Ross of Captain America (my hero), and shelves of books and horse figurines (several hundred out and more yet to find room for).
Yes, art is important, vital to me.
Any well written book makes me grateful to have read it but several books have helped me on my life journey. Perhaps it was “The Black Stallion” that really got me going as a horse lover which eventually led to 26 yrs of horse ownership and all the glories and pain that comes with that.
“Pathfinders” by Gail Sheeney, author of ‘Passages’ all but jumped into my hand one day. I’d had it for several years but never seemed to want to read it. I had been recovering from a horrifying disappointment in my life’s journey. It is never easy realizing a dream cannot come true. But the book emphasized that ‘failure’ isn’t that at all. I did know more about myself than I had. I had gotten knowledge that has served me well in the years since. I have forever friends. And I was stronger for surviving the experience.
Then came the ‘Conversations with God’ series. There was at least one “WHOA!” moment in each book I read. I was brought up and confirmed Presbyterian but also had considerable understanding of the Unitarian kinds of belief. Still, these books shook me up. Then came “New Revelations” and “Home With God”.
EVERYONE goes home to God after death. His/her/its compassion, love, and forgiveness is limitless.
There is no ONE way, only one of many ways.
I give my help to whoever needs it. If it hadn’t been for the expenses of the real world, most of the jobs I did could have been without pay. It does help on the bad days, months, and years though.
My premier volunteer job, medical transcription for a free clinic, has been mine for over 14 years. There are two clinics a week for 4 hours each. There are many providers now so It is hard work, making certain things are clear and correct, often taking longer to do than the clinics themselves. (I’m slow) and unending. Though we all have hopes.
I always figured that a good job, one I was proud of was good enough, but for many years, the founding doctor always thanked me for my work. Then for many years I didn’t get that. But I kept doing it and will keep doing that. The occasional gift card or free lunch or thank you from one of the doctors are only perks, not pay. None of us can get any. But knowing that these people, with no insurance, are getting excellent help is payment enough.
I’ve been blessed with giving away things with no return three times in my life.
All were connected to my love of horses. I’ve been collecting horse figurines since I was 7, over 50 years. I had gotten a few porcelain ones that were very, very good, and expensive, in the $150-$200 range. I’d gotten the Breyer brand Barb, a horse similar to the wonderful Arabian. I had my friend over to see it. She is VERY critical, something I can get tired of, but she has been a good friend and someone I can count on, even with her fundamentalist religious beliefs. But she found no fault with that mare. So one day, I boxed it up and took it to her place and gave it to her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has forgotten where it came from.
The second and third times were more anonymous and useful. There are several places in this state that do therapeutic horseback riding. The one I knew longest was primarily for physically handicapped. I no longer had horses. My two had died 8 years apart, some years before. So I called them up and made my offer. We found an agreeable meeting place and I gave her my German made Stuebben English all-purpose saddle. It was expensive and beautiful when I bought it and it would last nearly forever. They accepted it with pleasure.
The other place, up in the pine woods of the old glacial lake bed, believes in the saying: “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man (sic)”. The founder is a huge advocate for mental health issues – okay, fancy for mentally ill people. My horses had done so much for me, I understood the good of the place at once. So I went up to see the place and to bring up some unneeded horse equipment. The main piece was my Tex Tan, Hereford brand, Monte Foreman, balanced ride, roping saddle. 35 pounds of great craftsmanship. That too was expensive back when I got it in the late 70’s. I paid about $500 for it but regular price was over $700. Last I looked, something somewhat similar was list price at $1500. The English saddle was about the same..
I never got to see the place where my English style saddle went and though I see Joann once in a rare while, I haven’t been back to see her place. But I know every time either saddle is used, they are appreciated and they will be cared for.
That isn’t the only legacy my two horses left behind but they are important ones.
The right kind of help? Someone up there, as they say, likes me. Not that God is ‘up there’. That spirit is everywhere. Take a good look.
I have had a lot of great coincidences in my life and they have been gratefully accepted because there are no coincidences, only the Spirit moving in my world.
I’ve had hard times, but I have been blessed and I have no major regrets about my life’s path.
I’m not good at poetry. I’ve done some but nothing as complex as a traditional ode.
But if I could, it would be to the color BLACK. So misunderstood, but so essential. The black of night, hiding the shy animals and some predators. Letting the glory of the stars and moon and planets shine.
Even the black of a bad storm, and I’ve seen some, one at O’Hare airport, is a warning.
And where would the other colors be without black? No shading, no depth. In light, all colors together make white. In other mediums, all colors together make black. All colors are necessary.
Skin color. Of course that has to be addressed. There are good and bad in any ‘race’ or ethnic group, but we all come from a tiny population of people from the Near East or Southern Europe.
Spock’s IDIC “infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” A great description of everything in the universe. After all, everything is made of star stuff.
Excellent question. Perhaps equality is most important. Animal Farm states that “All [creatures] are created equal. Some are more equal than others.” I’m hearing a lot of complaints about that right now. I was determined to be disabled (other abled) in 2002. Now I am ‘retired’. I started working as a paraprofessional and went up from there. It’s been down from there since. Not that I would change anything.
I moved here in 2008, in a subsidized apartment complex. We were an odd bunch but you don’t end up in places like that for being average. I’m pretty sure it was there that I realized that there was no way out for us. No way to get a good job. (Too much time out of the real work force. Volunteering isn’t considered ‘work’) Income increases are tied to an unrealistic measure – no medical costs are included. And of course, the people in ‘charge’ are so entranced with their perks and splendor, they have no idea how we live. I’d trade for two months. I don’t think I’d like their job but I doubt if they would like mine or living on under $1500 a month.
Somehow, I was brought up to see everyone as an equal. My brother is visually handicapped since birth but was mainstreamed back in the early ’50s and has his own business for 49 years. Both my brother and my mother did not go to college. Dad and I both went. But we all did whatever we could and helped others as needed. Each person in the world is both handicapped in some way and each has a talent. We should not be throwing this resource away. Most of the poor in this world are NOT lazy. They just have no chance at one. That wears one down in a hurry.
There is not enough good help to get people back to work once you fall off the edge of respectability (i.e. job and money). If you become unable to put in a full days work at anything, you are, by definition, disabled. But I know of several people that have been denied a number of times because — probably scorn.
Mental illness and obesity are still very discriminated against. Look, there is mental illness and then there is crazy sick. (Need not name names here.) Alcohol and drug addiction is only self-medication for some severe hurt a person cannot handle. Still, often you wouldn’t know someone has a mental health problem if you met them casually. Stress pushed it out, because often stress, when one was young, as well as genetics, have pushed them into some sort of protection mechanism. Maybe we are just too sensitive in a society/world that isn’t. I’d rather be considered mentally ill in that case. We have fallen off a cliff from ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and survived. That takes great strength and don’t forget that. We have had to pare ourselves down to what we really are and redefine ourselves. If it goes well, we learn to live with our illness, which is just as physically based, but in the brain, as diabetes or cancer. And just as deadly, sometimes.
Most of our problems are temporary, but when that problem seems permanent and unbearable with no support or hope, that is when someone suicides.
I didn’t live away from my parents until I went to UW-River Falls, about 3 hrs northwest of home. It took some adjustment and I was able to get home every few weeks or so. I missed my horse so much, I couldn’t even stand myself as a roommate. And I had a private room.
Still, I mostly enjoyed my time there (one cold pail full of water through/threw the window excepted) and it was my first home away from home.
I got hired after college at a big company in Oklahoma. Nice sized city and terrific people and tremendous company. (Yes, they did have them back then.) Hotel to small rented house to another rented house and then the perfect rented house across from where my two horses were. Again satisfied as a ‘home’ except HOME was still in Wisconsin.
I did pet/house sitting back in Wisconsin for a while and I’d be comfortable enough in those places, all friends, during the time I was there. Especially three weeks where my one horse was. (Are you seeing a pattern?)
I had a house of my own for a brief time (11 yrs), a 150 yr old brick house, hand hewn beams and 7’2″ ceilings. I was only a mile away from the family house but separate. Had to literally walk away from it after I lost my job and my mother and I had to choose between house and groceries.
I moved to this village of 1600 in 2008. Three moves from subsidized house to HUD housing to my forever home, all a block or two from one another. This is the home town I didn’t know I had and much like my birth place. I don’t even like going back to my old hometown any more. It is pretty worthless and has delusions of grandeur. Spring Green has its problems but is a lovely, diverse friendly place, 25 miles from anywhere except Plain. I still slip and call the other place ‘home’ but I don’t mean it. I am staying here.
There are a couple ways I want to answer this question.
First comes from an area furniture company several Christmas’ ago.
“If you have a roof over your head, extra food, clothes in your closet, and money in the bank, you are better off than over 75% of the people in our world.”
A poem I found in Ode Magazine from the early 2000’s, ‘just by chance’ has helped me SO much as I learn to do without.
What I do is enough.
What I am is enough.
What I have is enough.
What I have accomplished is enough.
Mental illness and crazy managers combined to knock me out of life. I had to relearn a lot of things. Those four lines helped a lot. Also Gail Sheeny’s Pathfinders came under my hand when I needed to discover that my failure wasn’t one. My choices, I will firmly admit, no matter how they turned out, were good ones.
It is a dark cloud indeed that has no silver lining.
I have indeed been blessed.
Is this your opinion?
Could you expand on your belief?
It’s not a very kind or loving thing to say. – And I’m not judging anything else about you by saying that.
Visit the Practice Space for more opportunities and insights.
Stay connected to the community by adding people to your list.
This site is brought to you by A Network for Grateful Living, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. All donations are fully tax deductible in the U.S.A.
© 2015 Gratefulness.org, A Network for Grateful Living