Dear Granddaughter…..

In September, we celebrated Peanut’s 9th birthday. NINE! It’s hard to comprehend it was nine years ago I was promoted to being a Nana. A lot has been packed into those nine years…sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago she was placed in my arms, but at other times, nine years seems to have flown by at warp speed.

I put together Peanut’s school photos from Pre-K to her current 3rd grade shot. While they are not drastically different, the person behind the face has transformed in hundreds of ways in just nine short years.

Since time is a fleeting illusion, I want to take a few moments and pass on some Nana wisdom to my first grandbabykin.

Dear Peanut,

You have always been and always will be loved. I loved you before you were even put in my arms as a swaddled baby burrito. That is not to say you don’t do unloveable things….and I may not like you at times….but I always love you and will always be here for you. You can bet on that and be sure to win every time.

To steal a line from the 2016 Cinderella remake, Be kind and have courage. Both are difficult to do. Kindness may be becoming a lost art in our “me first” culture. It takes a lot of work to be kind to people, especially when you don’t like them, are mad at them, or see them as different from you. Extending kindness to family members is sometimes especially hard because there are times we make more of an effort to be nice to people outside our family and save the worst for those closest to us…who love us always!

Have courage. It’s scary to try new things. It’s scary to step out of our comfort zones in the way we think and act. I know this from experience. it was scary moving to a new house and school when I was in 3rd grade. It was scary to move to a new town after Papa and I got married….a town where I didn’t know anyone. It was scary when Papa and I moved to Columbia…a town where I didn’t know anyone either. It was really scary when Papa was told he had cancer. It’s also scary to do the right thing when you think others will look at you differently or not like you anymore. This is especially hard when your friends are doing things you know aren’t right, but you want them to like you so you’re tempted to do those things anyway. Don’t. Have the courage to stand up for what’s right.

Keep your faith strong. So many people walk away from their beliefs when they get older, thinking faith is something only for children. Our culture doesn’t encourage strong faith in God. It does encourage strong faith in doing whatever we think will make us happy…or is convenient…or easy. Being an authentic Christian is hard work. It requires we believe and do the right things even when we don’t understand or see the reason. Many times you will be tempted to not make your faith a priority in your life. But, dearest Peanut, your faith will sustain you in those scary moments when the storms of life roll in and tear your life to pieces.

Trust. Trust those of us who love you that the things we do are to help grow you into someone others will respect; someone YOU can respect. Growing up is hard, and there are many times when you’ll think you know what’s best….but you won’t. I ask you trust even when you don’t agree; even when you don’t understand. It’s related to believing and trusting God has a plan for your life….a good plan….even though many times you’ll feel like you don’t agree or don’t understand why things are happening the way they are.

Love yourself. Not in a narcissistic way, but love yourself as a person of worth. It’s easy to feel like we can never measure up to our culture’s ideas and expectations. I want you to always love who you are, flaws and all. That is NOT to say you shouldn’t try to change areas of your life that need improvement. And, this is not reason to excuse bad attitudes or behavior. You are a child of the King….who loves you unconditionally. If you can love your imperfect self, you can love others despite their imperfections too.

Peanut, you are strong-willed and incredibly talented in many areas. I encourage you to use that strong will and those talents in positive, constructive ways…and never be ashamed of the things you have accomplished and will accomplish in the future.

In the years to come, you will face many challenges and ride the roller coaster of emotions. I hope by keeping these things in mind, life will be a bit smoother….for everyone involved!

Love always,
Nana

 

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September Photo Challenge: Selfie

Oh my. PJ really pushed me completely outside my comfort zone for September’s photo challenge with to prompt of Selfie!

Love them or hate them, the selfie is here to stay. Interesting how people respond to selfies. Some believe it’s an outcome of our increasingly narcissistic society. Others believe it’s simply an offshoot of the self portrait. Is there a difference? Some say yes, as you will read HERE. Selfies are easy to take, so why was this challenge so difficult for me?

First of all, I don’t think I’m very photogenic. Call it self consciousness or whatever, I don’t really like having my photo taken. Like looking in a mirror, I see every flaw and imperfection magnified 100 times. I suppose I’ve succumb to our culture’s ideals. Sad, I know.

Because of my head trash, I tried to approach this month’s challenge a little unconventionally. The first two shots are the only really, true “selfies” I took this month. The first one is unretouched, SOOC. The second is the result of playing with PhotoShop filters. The rest….well, you can decide.

This next one is technically a selfie, but I tried to make it represent an aspect of my personality. Some might call it an un-selfie. It does include my face, so I’m thinking it falls within the parameters. it was a lot harder to achieve this idea than I thought.

Technically, in our culture, a “Selfie” is a photo taken of yourself with some type of digital camera and shared on social media. Since you must know the rules in order to properly break them, I think we should expand the definition and have a Selfie represent an aspect of our individual Self. Some people think of this as an alternative self portrait….without the portrait part. So, these next two shots represent part of my-SELF… without my face! Perfect.

This “Selfie” represents the aspect of my Self that loves to read. My interests cross all genre of the written word. As you can see here, my collection includes high fantasy, apologetics, science/theology and, represented by the open John Grisham book, novels that range from legal thrillers to historical fiction. I own just about every John Grisham book ever written. If there’s not a book or magazine at arm’s reach, I’ve been known to read a cereal box. 🙂 And curling up with a good book is only made better by accompanying it with a beverage.

And speaking of beverages, this photo of my-SELF represents my love of the fruit of the vine. Like books, my tastes span from budget-friendly to stupid-expensive selections. But, mainly they’re always red. Did you know W.I.N.O.S actually means Women In Need Of Sanity? Yep, for sure.

So there’s my five September Selfies. The bonus one below really is not a Selfie, but I was on a roll and had some fun with PhotoShop to share a bit more about my Self. It hope you can get a better sense of what I’m all about with this alternative un-Selfie portrait.

Please take a few minutes and check out the Selfies over at PJ’s. I’m sure most everyone else played by the rules!

 

 

A Dragonfly Life

Magic is seeing wonder in nature’s every little thing. Seeing how wonderful the fireflies are, and how magical are the dragonflies.
~ Ama H. Vanniarachchy

Always been fascinated by dragonflies. While I love to see butterflies and hummers, my whole attitude shifts at the site of one dragonfly. So, you can imagine the thrill when I happened upon this little darling the other day.

I do love to watch my hummers, but quickly discovered they are mean little @#$%s, and extremely territorial. That said, I still love having them around and one can learn a lot by looking at their life. And a butterfly’s ability to ride the breeze always offer a sense of calm with their slow-motion flights.

But dragonflies……they are the true ballet dancers of the insect realm. Graceful and poised, the dragonfly seems to glide…but with purpose. It personifies the theory of working smarter instead of harder as it moves at about 20-30mph, flies in every direction and can hover with the best hummer….all while only flapping those iridescent wings at about 30 times per minute.

The dragonfly is born in the water and lives up to four years there as a nymph, where its sole purpose in life is to eat. When it emerges from the water, sheds its skin for the last time, it transforms into an adult…but only for a fraction of time…not living more than a few months. During that time, its focus is unwavering. A voracious predator, the dragonfly should be welcome in any garden as a deterrent for mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. And, it accomplishes its objectives with the utmost simplicity and efficiency.

But here’s the real reason I love dragonflies.

With their very short adult life spans, they exemplify the art of living life to the fullest. By living in the moment we become aware of what is important and what is not. The adult dragonfly is acutely aware of its purpose and makes the most of every second of life. Something we humans have lost sight of over the centuries. How often do the unimportant things of life crowed out our sense of purpose? How often are we derailed by events and activities that only serve to distract us from what we were really created to accomplish in life?

The way a dragonfly travels through life is an inspiration. Every aspect of this tiny insect portrays the ability to move and change at a moment’s notice….in whatever direction is needed. A dragonfly rotates its four wings independently to adapt quickly to needed changes in direction. Changes in perspectives and how we respond to life is just one of the lessons that can be learned from a dragonfly. When life throws those curve balls and plot twists, do we roll with it and adapt, or are we resistant to the point of destroying our emotional and spiritual well being?

Finally, a dragonfly’s eyes are designed to view life with nearly 360 degree vision, using about 80% of its brain to process all that it sees. A dragonfly can multi-task and calculate three things when it’s on the offensive: the distance of its prey, the direction it’s moving, and the speed it’s flying. In the blink of an eye (maybe faster), the dragonfly calculates exactly where it needs to be in order to intercept its meal in mid-air.  Did you get that? It doesn’t pursue…it intercepts. And, it has a 95% success rate. I’m not sure how we can intercept the aspirations we have in life, but intercepting those dreams sounds a lot better than merely chasing them.

A dragonfly can see a wider spectrum of colors than our human eye. Not only can it see the normal color spectrum, a dragonfly can also see UV light and has the ability to see the same way we see sun and water glare with polarized sunglasses. How cool would that be to have the ability to see virtually everything that’s coming from almost any direction and any situation, AND process it almost instantaneously.  That would definitely be a super power that would really come in handy.

The dragonfly is mainly viewed in different cultures as a symbol of change and self realization. The dragonfly elegantly controls its movements and choreographs those movements whether over water, on land or in the air, depending on its situation and environment. We should all be so flexible and intuitive in how we navigate through life…being able to change life direction in an instant. As a species that has been on the earth about 300 million years, this prehistoric-looking insect’s testament to being able to adapt and survive is unparalleled, despite the fact that many dragonflies are intercepted by predators such as bird, frogs, toads etc.

Depending on the culture, dragonfly symbolism include: power, agility, happiness, speed, and purity. A recurring theme is the dragonfly encourages us to gracefully dance in the light on iridescent wings, and embrace the on-going transformation and renewal of life.

It’s no wonder they are beloved in almost every culture.

Hello Autumnal Equinox

Today, or thereabouts, marks the moment when the sun crosses the equator, heading south to warmer climates. The Autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere is when we dig out those sweaters and boots, fill our cups with cider and say a hello to cooler days. The sun rises a bit later and dusk comes a bit sooner.

Today we have approximately the same amount of daylight as moonlight…12 hours. Butterflies, hummers and some songbirds are trekking southward to escape winter’s wrath. Everything around us is ending its growth cycle, preparing for that long winter’s rest.

We use today’s equinox to celebrate the arrival of Autumn, but it’s really just a moment in time. Pagen cultures have their rituals while most of us simply use the equinox as an excuse to put pumpkin spice on everything.

Today ushers in the season of melancholy….a time for reflection. The weather is changing, and today is a respite for what we know is coming. As we turn inward to hearth and home, we may feel change in our personal lives as well. What is it about Autumn that stirs our souls to reflect on life and purpose? Maybe it’s that we’re so excited to see spring after a long winter, and summer is a time to revel in the glory of green. Winter is a time to hunker down, outwit and outlast Jack Frost. So, I suppose autumn is the only time we have to focus inward on ourselves.

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

August Photo Challenge: Summer Fun

I think PJ threw us all a bone this month with his prompt of Summer Fun. The only problem I had this month was whittling down the photos to only five! So what did I do? Well, some would call it cheating. I call it being resourceful.

With Peanut and Twix back from Alabama, we worked on packing in as much summer fun as possible before school began mid-month. I’m always astounded when school begins mid-August. Just doesn’t seem right.

But, anyway, here are the five I chose to share with you for August’s Summer Fun.

Summer Fun #1

Twix turned into a water bug this summer…and is working on her tree-climbing skills. What? Doesn’t every girl climb trees in a skirt?

Summer Fun #2

August began Cabo’s Walk/Heel 101 classes. I’m happy to say at 5 months old he can walk two miles before he is totally distracted. Heeling is more of a challenge, but he’s starting to get it. It’s going to be nice to have a walking buddy again.

Summer Fun #3
You would think after those two-mile walks, Cabo would be exhausted but Noooooooo. He can come home and play like he’s slept all day. Fetching the ball is a favorite any time of day. And, his Golden Retriever roots show every time water is present. Yes, that is HIS baby pool. 🙂

Summer Fun #4

Peanut is a vociferous reader and summer vacation is no exception. She does take a few breaks, but her love of books is only rivaled by her Nana.

Summer Fun #5

If you were in the path of totality, all eyes were on the heavens August 21st for the eclipse. Peanut watched it at school, but Twix, Entrepreneur and I hung out in the backyard to experience the event. I’m not sure how much Twix will remember, but she thought her eclipse mask made from a paper plate with a pair of eclipse glasses taped to it was pretty cool.

August is now ending and pumpkin spice everything is just around the corner. Our weather feels more like late September than late August with cool nights and below-normal temps during the days. Please stop by PJ’s place to enjoy some more summer fun before it’s all gone.

 

Summer’s end and August musings

Summer is all but over unless there’s an “Indian Summer” hiding in September. And what a summer it’s been.

Entrepreneur is adjusting to his *new normal* with the chemo pills he takes every day. The Bell’s Palsy is getting better…slowly. We added a fur baby to our family in May….Cabo the Goldendoodle, who is 5 months old this month. The grandbabykins are back from seeing their dad in Alabama and school started a couple of weeks ago. We’re still taking care of Twix during the days, while attempting to do something that resembles work in our home office.

But all that pales when looking at what’s going on in our country. Today’s musings will be accompanied by a few uplifting captures from my summer garden and seasonal quotes I like. Hopefully, they will bring a smile to your face…in the face of all the ugliness of the news.

Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, TX last weekend and the devastation continues with water rescues and destruction of property. I was really hoping there wouldn’t be any looting, but the depths in which some people will descend never really surprises me anymore. In spite of those that steal and loot, there have been hundreds of stories about everyday heroes who are rescuing people with their own boats and taking them to safety. Humanitarians are trying to find and take care of abandoned pets. Below is a video of a line of cars towing boats en route to Houston to offer their help. This. Is. Awesome. These are the stories that renew my faith in humankind.

Which leads me to the Florida professor who tweeted Harvey was karma for the predominantly Republican  people in Texas. Really?! With that type of mentality, I suppose one could make a case that people living in the predominantly Democrat states in the Northeast deserved to be hit by Superstorm Sandy. Ludicrous. I was happy to read this professor was relieved of his position. Yes, he does have the right to voice his opinion (see the first amendment), but it should not shield him from the consequences of this really stupid remark.

I also believe those people who comment about presidential assassinations should be held accountable as well. Missouri congresswoman Chappelle-Nadal, who advocated President Trump’s assassination, should be relieved of her responsibilities as someone who was elected to uphold the laws of our country…which do not include assassinations. Last I read, the Lieutenant Governor has called for a special session of the Senate to expel her from the legislature.

This lace cap hydrangea grows every summer in the garden. It was blooming when we planted it years ago, but never bloomed again…until this summer. If anyone has a clue as to why, I’d love to know. I think this quote personifies the human will to survive in the face of natural disasters and other life challenges. We never know what we’re capable of until our faith, tenacity and resolve are put to the test.

Next on my @#$% list is ANTIFA. This group needs to be categorized as terrorists, plain and simple.

Terrorist
noun
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism.
Everything I’ve seen and read about these people fits the definition of terrorist; especially in light of their assault on the peace rally in Berkley a few days ago. While reasonable people recoil at the messages of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, we need to be equally disgusted with the rhetoric and methods of these masked…..I don’t even know what to call them. While human beings, they react violently without any semblance of humanity towards anyone who disagrees with their views.
The only thing I can say about what’s happening in Charlottesville and other cities who have commemorated soldiers and historical figures who are on the wrong side of culture’s opinions now is that is makes me both sad and angry. I’m sad because I can understand how statues of Confederate and slave-owning historical figures can bring about bad feelings. On the other hand, this is part of our nation’s history. Whatever message is being perverted by the presence of a piece of stone will not be erased with its disappearance. Will we go so far as to rename every street, county, city, currency, school and building named after someone we disagree with in order to erase any and all reminders of our past that some find offensive? My personal opinion is if a statue has the power to destroy your psyche, perhaps you need to spend some time self reflecting on what’s really behind your rage, and how it could be channeled towards something more constructive and educational. On the other hand, if I were a Jew living in Germany, I probably wouldn’t like seeing a statue of Hitler on my way to work. Recently, I ran across an article about a brilliant response by a town in Germany where they pranked a neo-Nazi group who marched in their town every year to commemorate Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess. Brilliant, and a much better response than the assault and destruction methods that seem to be the norm now for anything deemed “offensive.” When you stop and think about it, every ethnic and cultural group has something in which they can take offense. If every one of those offenses was appeased, where would it end? And, who gets to decide which offenses are legitimate and which are not? It’s a Pandora’s Box.

So, those are my musings on this summer day. Agree or disagree, I would hope we would be able to engage in dialogue as intelligent adults and either find common ground, or just agree to disagree.

Linking up with others over at Peabea’s Pictorial Tuesday.…on Wednesday.

Beautiful Coincidence

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above[a] proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1

Eclipse 2017 is on the books. For most of the country, it was a celestial event that won’t soon be forgotten; an event many of us may not ever see again in our lifetime.

So how special was it, really?

Yes, it was an event that doesn’t happen every day, although an eclipse of some sort happens in our world more often than we realize. But every time it happens, people stand in awe. Astronomers and those with more knowledge than I say the moon is traveling away from the earth and in a few million years, earth probably will not even have the type of total solar eclipse we just saw because the moon and sun will not be perfectly aligned in size.

But for now, what are the odds of the moon and sun appearing nearly the same size from earth’s perspective? There are mathematical calculations that have to do with angular size that are far above my pay grade, but they explain the coincidence of how the moon can appear to be the same size when calculating angular size in relation to distance from the sun.

To further make your brain hurt is the statistic that the sun’s diameter is about 400 times larger than that of the moon. Add to that, the sun is about 400 times farther away from the moon. This results in the sun and moon appearing nearly the same size as we stand on earth and view into the heavens; which is why we are privileged to periodically witness a total eclipse of the sun.

The closest comparison of what we experienced yesterday may be duplicated on Saturn with one of its moons, Titan. I’m not sure that counts, as no one can stand on Saturn. Earth is the only known planet where living beings are able to enjoy this type of celestial display.

A beautiful coincidence?

Guess that depends on what worldview a person holds. Personally, I don’t believe in coincidence when viewed as events or discoveries that seemingly happen completely at random. And, I’m not talking about the person sitting beside you who is wearing a hat, or watch or the same kind of shoes. I’m talking about “coincidence” on a much larger scale. There is a magnificent order to things in the universe, our world and within each of our bodies. And, I believe, that is by design.

God is not susceptible to proofs and disproofs. If you believe, the evidence is all around you. If you don’t believe, no evidence can be enough. 
~Andrew Klavan, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ

Yesterday’s event was jaw-dropping awesome. Unless I travel, I will probably not be privy to another one that can be witnessed close to where I live. For me, I’ll be eternally thankful that the God who set these mathematical specifications in place did so on the only planet known to humankind that could actually enjoy it.

Beautiful coincidence.

Playing along with others over at Peabea’s Pictorial Tuesday.