Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

early summer landscape

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holiday feelings

It’s the season of plenty again, in the stores and along the shopping aisles. Colorful merchandise and wrappings beckon, creatively assembled gift packs tempt, even as gifts to oneself.

But amidst the bustle, the vicissitudes of daily life continue.

Tv ads touting easy loans blare louder. Calling out to those whose salary and money cannot stretch any further, but who do not want to be left out of the merriment.

Overheard at the cashier counter at Walmart. A pregnant woman tells her little son holding a packet of cookies. “We can’t have that. I don’t have enough money.”

Overheard at the next aisle in Target. A woman talking on her cell phone. “Dad, I’ve taken out a restraining order against him.”

And there are those who dream of an invitation to someone’s home, but know they will eat the holiday meal alone.

At this time of the year, as the cold winds blow stronger, swirling around the night shoppers, there is a corresponding intensity of the expectations and limitations of one’s life.

Thus, at this time of year, there is a greater need for the two qualities that have buttressed people through all the seasons. Kindness, to others and especially to oneself, and resilience to weather the twists and turns of life.


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bedroom window

A small room can come with a big bonus.

That thought came to my mind as I was thinking about my recent switch of bedrooms.

When the master bedroom was undergoing some repairs, I moved to the guest room, primarily as a temporary place to get a good night’s sleep.

I don’t often use the guest room myself. It’s considerably smaller than the master, but as I soon found out, it has a big advantage.

The master bedroom faces the wall separating my house from my neighbor’s.

The guest room looks out into the backyard and the morning sun. When I look out of the window in the morning, I see the flowering tree that I have nurtured, and beyond that, a row of tall fir tress in the surrounding neighborhood comes into view.

Just outside the window, there is a good-sized hibiscus shrub. The smaller birds like to flit among the branches.

I think someone in the neighborhood leaves pieces of bread in their yard. Birds carry these morsels of found food to the hibiscus bush to hide them or to enjoy them in solitude. Sometimes, the bread picker is followed and trailed by other birds, swooping into the bush, quarreling and chirping madly over the bread – mimicking the behavior of humans.

In the afternoon, a series of movements entertains. As the weather warms up, I’ve hung a set of lighter, floral curtains. These flutter with the breeze, while on the other side of the window pane, the hibiscus leaves gently shake.

I supposed I’m permanently ensconced in this room, even though the master bedroom has been fully repaired. I have made my new bedroom as comfortable as I can. But perhaps I should be careful not to amplify these efforts much further, just in case I’ll be tempted to find excuses to linger in the room. And neglect the chores and business that need to be done.

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sharifah quietude

Time to think,
A special spot.

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life's journeyThere was a time in my life when I was going through a transitional and painful period.

I could not have made it without the support of family and friends. But at the same time, I had to do the work to heal myself and move on with my life. In the process, I realized that I had to learn to be my own best friend. I had to be my own advocate.

At times, when my internal dialogue veered towards being hard on myself or to be despondent, I asked myself this question: “What if your best friend had come to you, and said that she had that same internal dialogue about herself? What would you say to her?”

When I thought about it, I knew that my response would be to sooth her, tell her not to be too hard on herself, and offer encouragement or a solution. So I started responding to myself in this manner, and I found that this strategy that I had read about, helped a great deal.

My healing, as most are, was spotty, but slowly I felt somewhat stronger.  At the end of the year, when the shops were aglow and bustling with gifts and life, when everybody seemed to be happy, I decided that I would like to gift myself, for making it this far.

I wouldn’t buy anything that I need, just whatever that would catch my eye and evoke some excitement. One day, I walked into a Japanese department store, and I saw those small, beautiful blue plates with delicate white flowers. I knew that was my gift.

When I got home, and took out the plates from the package, there was a certain emotion, perhaps of calmness, associated with that act.

After that year I didn’t really keep the gifting as a consistent tradition. Some years I would buy myself a gift at the end of the year, some years I didn’t.

Today, my mind wandered to that tradition. But I think this year I have no need of gifting myself.

That’s because this year I have had the opportunity to spend much more time with family and friends, sharing history and strengthening bonds. I also made several new friends, enjoying the ease with which we could talk for hours, and offering each other support in our endeavors and in our understanding of the world.

That is my gift that has been handed to me this year. Intangible, but probably one of the best.

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power of flowers

The freesias uncovered a childhood memory.

The first year the freesias bloomed from the bulbs that I planted deep in the ground, I was really happy to see them gracing my garden.

The years pass; every spring the flowers bring beauty and its light, delicate scent, almost like baby powder.

Then one day when I looked at the freesias, a memory from long ago came to my mind.

I remember when I was a very young girl, a page of a nursery rhyme book made a big impact on me.

It was a picture of Little Miss Muffet. She was in her garden, and the detail in the illustration that really captured me was the colorful flowers drawn with little feminine faces.

The freesias took me on that long journey back, to that piece of art that had so captivated me. I saw that little flower faces again, with their big, twinkling eyes and petals for hats.

Maybe, the freesias reminded me of the shape of the flowers; or maybe it is one of the mysterious ways that the mind recollects.

And it made me think: in a wooden house in the tropics, a little girl sees a picture of English flowers. But in the imagination of a child, unsullied by limitations, her mind is free to travel wherever it wants to go.

And that power of the imagination, ideally, should never go away.


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