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Neil Gaiman’s New Year Benediction December 31, 2011

Posted by phoenixhopes in Holidays, Neil Gaiman, New Years, Uncategorized.
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May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously.I hope you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now – I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself

And his New Year wish for 2011

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
I like that and plan to make plenty of new mistakes in 2012

Poem In Your Pocket Day April 29, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in Friends, Holidays, Poetry.
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Today is Poem In Your Pocket day and I almost missed it! Unfortunately it’s an easy holiday to miss — no one gets the day off from work to celebrate (although, ironically, if I didn’t have today off I wouldn’t have taken the time to read the posting on another blog that mentioned it and would have missed it entirely again this year), there isn’t any special Poem-related holiday food, no decorations sold in stores. In all honesty I think I’m a bit too introverted/shy to actually pull a poem from my pocket and read it to someone. That just feels too awkward and geeky. Instead, I’ll share it with you!

I can’t remember where I first read this poem but lines have been stuck in my head for years and years. For a long time I thought it was in the Golden Book of Poems I got when I was in Fifth Grade.

Edited by Louis Untermeyer and illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund, I LOVE this book. It’s one of the few books on my shelf from my childhood and I pick it up much like eating comfort food. The pictures are sweet (how could Joan Walsh Anglund be anything but sweet?) and the poems are memorable. Someday I’ll share more of my favorites but the poem that stuck in my mind isn’t found there.

Over the years I searched the internet. I had no idea who the author was or even the title of the poem, but the first four lines stuck in my memory. Recently I googled the first line again and finally I found it!

Young Love


The world is cold and gray and wet,

And I am heavy-hearted, yet

When I am home and look to see

The place my letters wait for me,

If I should find one letter there,

I think I should not greatly care

If it were rainy or were fair,

For all the world would suddenly

Seem like a festival to me.

Sara Teasdale

These lines run through my mind regularly when I’m headed home at the end of a long day. I may have been among people all day on the bus and train, in the office and cafeteria, but they aren’t my heart-friends. I’m sociable but there are no real connections. The real me is hidden behind the office persona. But when I get off the train, tired and dragging from the day, and start the 7 minute drive home, I think about what is waiting and the day gets immediately brighter.

First are my real, physical connections — are any of my children home? Has the cat missed me? Who might I see tonight at music practice or in the store? And then I think about my friends inside “the place my letters wait for me”, my computer. Did anyone send me a personal e-mail or post to my Facebook page? What updates will I find on my favorite blogs? Did someone who knows me, the real me not just the office persona that most of the world sees, send me something personal today?

Today my friends, I share my poem with you. My world is brighter because you are part of it.

Christmas in April April 22, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in Christmas, Holidays, Kids, marriage, Procrastination, thoughts.
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Why is it so freaking difficult for me to box up and put away the Christmas stuff? Here it is the end of April and the stockings are still hung on the bookcase with care, the few ornaments I used last year and other items are still piled on the coffee table and all the boxes of decorations are sitting in plain view to the right of the TV where I put them weeks ago when I was filled with good intentions.

I know at least part of the answer is that I’m a procrastinator and a clutter-bug with selective vision. I simply don’t quite see what I don’t want to see. It’s rather easy for me to think and say I’ll get to that next weekend. And yet, how many weekends since New Years Day? I don’t think I’ll count them.

Bottom line, I just don’t want to address the memories. I’ve had quite a bit of success cleaning my life of the junk from my marriage. I have new furniture (especially a new bed and everything that comes with it), new location, new music, new friends, etc. I’ve gotten rid of or avoid the things that hold bad memories. If it makes me uncomfortable, I’ve moved on. But the Christmas stuff involves more than just me. These boxes also hold my kids’ memories and so I can’t sweep them into the trash.

Christmas is a time set apart from the rest of our life. The memories found there are segregated from the rest of the memories. It should be a magical time and opening the boxes of decorations each year should be a time of anticipation and joy. For me, the past few years opening these boxes has brought so much dread that for three years I avoided it completely and left the boxes buried in the garage. I’m reminded not so much of the bad times but of the bad man. My memories of Christmases Past are intertwined with memories of my ex. It’s like an inoperable tumor — I can’t cut out the bad memories without cutting out the joyful ones.

I may be dealing with selective memory here, but I don’t have many bad memories of Christmas.  Oh sure, there was stress and expectations, trying to do too much, trying to meet everyone’s needs–but I don’t remember many fights or much anger. Too much alcohol and dealing with a drunk guy– that I do remember that but then again, that was all the time, not just Christmas.  There are ornaments that remind me so much of my ex that I want to burn them, but I can’t get rid of them. I wonder what they might mean to my kids, if they have good memories attached that I have no right to erase.

In the eight years since he has been out of our lives I have spent little time facing the memories with my kids. I’ve come to terms with many things on my own and listened to them when they have wanted to talk, but rarely have we discussed it together. I’m still guarded, careful not to influence memories of their father. They know little of the details about what it was like to be married to him. I tell myself it’s not appropriate or important to share the indignities, the awful things he said. They know how he treated me at home and in public but don’t know what went on behind closed doors or how it all affected my core.

Today I am again choosing to delay dealing with the memories  However, I do have a day off work and my other plans fell through so I will finally get those boxes out of my line of sight. No sorting, culling, organizing or embracing the memories, simply box them up and put them in the closet. Maybe it’s denial but I prefer to think of it as healthy postponement. I’m not pretending this part of my life doesn’t need to be examined, I’m just not ready to face it. It is a difficult job to look my past life square in the face and I’m simply not up to it yet again.

My First Thanksgiving November 22, 2009

Posted by phoenixhopes in Holidays, motherhood, thoughts.

Tomorrow, November 23, 2009 is, in some ways, the first day of my life. My mother died when she was 51 years and 8 weeks old and that is precisely my age today. I was 15 when she died and my mother was the center of my world. Her death left a hole in my heart that has never been filled. Since the day she died I have lived in the shadow of that  loss. It has shaped me more than any other event in my life.

For months this has been on my mind and I’ve been mulling over what to write, how to commemorate the day.  From the time I wake up tomorrow I can no longer think “when my mother was this old, her life was like this”.  For the past 36 years, in one way or another, I’ve always compared myself to my mother. Although I always knew it wasn’t founded in truth or logic, I often wondered if I would live longer than she did.

Tomorrow morning I step out from under the shadow and take my first steps as my own person. Later this week I’ll celebrate what could be thought of as my first Thanksgiving. I know it’s symbolic and nothing fundamental will change about who I am, but at the same time, everything has changed and I have much to be thankful for. I’ve survived. I have a future. I have hope.

A Fransciscan Christmas Blessing for Justice and Peace January 2, 2009

Posted by phoenixhopes in Holidays.
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May God bless you with discomfort…
at easy answers, hard hearts,
half-truths ,and superficial relationships.
May God bless you so that you may live
from deep within your heart
where God’s Spirit dwells.
May God bless you with anger…
at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people.
May God bless you so that you may
work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears…
to shed for those who suffer from pain,
rejection, starvation and war.
May God bless you so that you
may reach out your hand
to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with
enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference
in this world, in your neighborhood,
so that you will courageously try
what you don’t think you can do, but,
in Jesus Christ you’ll have all the strength necessary.
May God bless you to fearlessly
speak out about injustice,
unjust laws, corrupt politicians,
unjust and cruel treatment of prisoners,
and senseless wars,
genocides, starvations, and poverty that is so pervasive.
May God bless you that you remember
we are all called
to continue God’s redemptive work
of love and healing
in God’s place, in and through God’s name,
in God’s Spirit, continually creating
and breathing new life and grace
into everything and everyone we touch.
Also approproiate for the new year. Found here

Come Ye Thankful People, Come November 25, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in Holidays, Thankfulness.
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It’s the night before the night before Thanksgiving and I’m cooking and cleaning and packing and trying to get too much done. It all adds up to one cranky momma and the first inklings of a pity party. I tend to be a “glass one quarter empty” kindof person. I’m not a true pessimist and I can see the positive side, but I have to work at it. I’m much more likely to say “that’s pretty good, but….” than “Wow! That’s great!”.

So there I was, cleaning the disgusting food out of the fridge (it took some serious thinking to figure out that the “moldy brain” I found was really the scraps of pie crust that got shoved to the back and forgotten), and it occurred to me that I really have nothing to complain about. Yeah, my life isn’t perfect, but oh well. It’s too easy to notice the annoyances and stop there. As I took out the trash I started making a list:

– It’s 27 degrees outside but the wind’s not blowing and I have a coat that keeps me toasty warm.

– Remnants of that inch of snow I woke up yesterday morning are still lingering but I have boots that keep my feet warm (even in the mornings waiting in the cold at the train station)

– No one else is home and the house was just too quiet. The only company available was the TV but when I turned it on the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special was on. Oh I love that show!

– I have a three hour drive ahead of me tomorrow in what could potentially be awful, holiday traffic but I filled up the gas tank for $1.67/ gallon (and I can probably convince my son to do some of the driving).

– I’ve got to pack and hope I remember to bring the right games but my children are all looking forward to some time laughing and playing games and generally enjoying each other.

– There is a lot of cooking ahead of me in the next few days and I’ll be doing it in a small, unfamiliar kitchen but this is all food my family loves and looks forward to each year.

– If I remember to bring my camera and the batteries don’t die on me (and if they do, that’s what stores are for!) then I’ll take lots of pictures to help us remember the time together.

– I have food to eat and enough to share, a warm bed to sleep in and doors that lock at night.

Like I said above, my life is far from perfect but it’s also far from awful. I need to remind myself of that more often. Please, leave a comment sharing some annoyance in your life that reminds you how thankful you really are.

Christmas Rant December 22, 2007

Posted by phoenixhopes in Christmas, Holidays.
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I don’t much like Christmas. There, I said it, so shoot me. I don’t like the expectations, I don’t like the expense, I don’t like the crowds. I don’t like the mess. Should I go on? (The food however… I do like the food. Christmas food is awesome. Cardamon rolls, butter toffee, cookies, candies, peppermint ice cream, one tiny sip of eggnog. The food I’ll keep.)

At Christmas I fight too many ghosts… those unpleasant memories of not so great Christmases Past. Memories of never doing enough, never being enough. Of trying to make up for a dad who was too drunk to care.

I know, I know, I have a choice. THIS is my life now and I want to live in it and not in the past. I can make Christmas whatever I want it to be. But what if I just want it to be over? I want to wake up and it’s just another day and I can go back to the regularly scheduled struggle of being a single mom. I don’t want to deal with all this extra pressure.

I don’t think there’s any getting out of it though. Christmas will be in three days even if I attempt to wish it away. And, like it or not, I am the mother, the responsible one. It’s up to me to help the kids have good memories of the time we spend together. Although I try to gift them with things they want and need, I really don’t much care if they remember the ‘stuff’ with fondness. I do care that they remember the time.

Maybe I’m just the Memory Facilitator. My job isn’t to infuse their brains with happiness and peace but to help create an atmosphere where cozy family times can incubate and grow. I can set the scene but I can’t make them get along.

My Christmas Wish for my children is that they can look back on the time we spend together without the need to fight the Ghost of Christmas Past. And maybe, when enough time has passed, my own ghosts will fade away.