This photo was taken (not by me) in the Rocky Mountains in 2019. It never fails to delight me when I see these happy faces, and it looks like I may see many of them once again this Oct 2024 in Japan. Fingers crossed.
It is wonderful how delight arrives in unexpected ways and places. Take today – I answered a comment on my blog and innocently responded to the comment as though it was someone else. My lovely reader got in touch and although this kind of mistake can be embarrassing, in this case, it was delightful. I became better acquainted with an amazing reader and as there was a bit of synchronicity involved it brought a smile to my heart. I am smiling now, thinking about it.
And then, there was New Year’s Eve
I had the good fortune to spend the entire evening with my 13-year-old grandson Rowan. We had a plan for the night that began with a Japanese meal at 5:30 and concluded with lemon crepes at midnight made by Rowan. In between, we created a wonderful program for ourselves, but the highlight was a simplified and adapted Japanese Tea Ceremony curated by Rowan. I will leave it at this: it was the most significant and meaningful experience of any New Year that I could ever have imagined. Pure joy, and I will treasure that evening forever.
No Resolutions –
Other than my letter writing, which I started last week. How is it going, you ask? It was better than expected and not as good as it could be. I am delighted that I got ten beautiful cards written, addressed, stamped and mailed. I did not get to write cards every day. And I have learned from experience that if I try to catch up, I will probably give up.
Instead, I simply start again, where I left off and will stop matching my cards with the numeric value of the 12 days of Christmas. I discovered that I could write three or four good letters/cards in one hour, which is manageable. Who knows, I may re-cultivate letter-writing and since I have a lot of people in my life to thank and acknowledge, I want to do it while I can. It is one of the things that matters.
A Note About Resolutions
Have you noticed the number of articles and tips this week on resolutions? I am always attracted, in spite of myself, to see what the next great tip is. Still, there is nothing wrong with resolutions – I have been doing them since childhood. I recall my sister and I sitting down on January 1st with paper and pencil, making lists of how to improve. I’m not against self-improvement, but now I know for myself they mostly don’t work. However, the ads and articles with the “best notebook, new pen or app” suggest I might be successful. And I am ever so glad that I don’t swallow the hook. I will stick with one thing at a time and dailyish as my “friend” Oliver Burkeman states.
So I take this week to organize, rest, dream, do a little planning, call distant friends and relatives, be Rowan’s study buddy and get a one-hour walk in every day. That appears to be enough.
I looked back at past old posts I wrote in January, and even five years ago, seems like yesterday. I pulled out a few excerpts I would like to add here.
Creating Joyful Moments in the Midst of Suffering
I think alot about creating joyful moments in the midst of suffering. I suspect it stems from having grown up with my particular clan in the Maritimes, where we learned to accompany each other through the tears. It wasn’t about denial of difficulties nor forcing a false front, rather it was about broadening the view to see what else was true. There was an understanding that things would change; feelings would fade; no one escapes sorrow and that somehow things would get better around the corner. Love and laughter helped.
What I have found is that things change on a dime. During times of illness and difficulty we are hopeful one minute, despairing the next and hopeful again. This cycle repeats itself and it is natural, considering the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in.
And yet…there is always more, when we have our circle of friends and family. I recall a few years ago when a small group of friends came together, for two nights. More than one was grieving loss, so both the tears and the laughter spilled over through the music, poetry, games, spa and heart wrenching discussions. And still, everyone left feeling more alive, loved and grateful.
The Japanese have the word “moai”- a concept attributed to the greatest longevity in the world, particularly for women. Maoi is essentially a lifelong social network of friends who support you into old age. Although we don’t have a “word” like that, we all experience the essential nature of our important friendships.
Our Western research is unequivocal regarding the improved health metrics of those with a close and committed group of friends they can rely on. And although ideally, we would all live in the same area, that is not the case in North America. We are often widely separated from our old friends and family.
And still, we can help and count on those friends from afar. Not in the way we could if we lived down the street, but this is where technology really helps. For all of our complaints and fears about devices, we have never had it so easy to stay in touch with loved ones.
My cousin reads books to her granddaughter several evenings a week. We had a 100th Birthday dinner with my Mom using our iPads when the 4500 KM distance between us during COVID-19 could not be breached. It wasn’t better than being there, but it was certainly the best alternative.
The Land of the Immortals
We are all getting older, and I consider it a privilege, so I want to live my older age as long as possible. I found this video, which was part of a larger piece, and I was touched, inspired, and delighted by this six-minute segment. I knew about this group of women but didn’t know this aspect of their story.
Their effort and their joy make it worth sharing, not just because they are all in their 80s and 90s, but as a reminder to all of us to reach out and find the spark and the love that makes life worth living. A reason to get up in the morning. (sub-titles)
“Joy creates a spaciousness in the mind that allows us to hold the suffering we experience inside us and around us without becoming overwhelmed, without collapsing into helplessness or despair. It brings inspiration and vitality, dispelling confusion and fear while connecting us with life. Profound understanding of suffering does not preclude awakening to joy. Indeed, it can inspire us all the more to celebrate joyfully the goodness in life. The Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu are good examples of people who have seen tremendous suffering and are still able to inspire others with an infectious joy.” ~ James Baraz Tricycle’s Daily Dharma
1:) The beautiful bald eagles were photographed on Gabriola Island, thanks to Gottfried, and the vibrant wood duck resides in Vancouver, courtesy of Rob.
2:) “It’s easier to optimize a modest start than to begin with a perfect start. Starting is the hard part, so start small and get in the mix. You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll realize you don’t need to have it all figured out to begin.” James Clear
3:) “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” Author and poet Maya Angelou
4:) Thank you so very much for reading this blog. I consider it a great honour, and I deeply appreciate you all, dear readers. May 2024 be filled with moments of wonder, love, good enough health, strength and heart. Warm regards, Trudy
PS A special shoutout to my dear Japanese friends, who just went through a horrific earthquake. May you all be and stay safe.