Monday, December 30, 2013

Designed for change

New Year’s resolutions came up as my daughter and I visited. 

Neither of us has resolutions to make (or break) as we compared notes.

Maybe this means we’ve learned from experience (also called “the hard way”) that resolutions can be tough to keep.

Commit to what you intend to do puts a price tag on resolutions we give our names to. 

Resolutions ask honesty of us to stay in the running. Yearly intentions aren’t for wimps. 

Resolutions aren’t keen on our tendency to look for wiggle room on ideas that sounded good but come with snags in the execution thereof.

This year my daughter and I are off the hook as far as resolutions. Nevertheless it’s well to approach January more specifically than other months. 

January is symbolic of all the new starts or renewed intentions there are to make. It's the canvas on which we establish the designs that become the signature of our new year. 

Common sense tells us we should do more with a fresh start than simply celebrate beforehand on New Year’s Eve.

My plan is to take insights gained this year as advice for mindful living in 2014.

When we’re mindful of some lesson learned, and apply its wisdom to present circumstances, or lay it carefully aside for the future, we create a fund of personal wealth which is sure to pay ongoing dividends. 

Each new year becomes richer for what we collect along the way. We change by what we change. We change, as well, by what we let ourselves be changed.

The notations below, entered into my personal journal over the course of 2013, are among insights that will cross over to 2014 with me. 

It’s amazing what someone else’s interests can do for your own.   (January 2013)

Tend to what matters.  (January 2013)

It takes action to get action.  (January 2013)

Risk often gives way to reward.   (April 2013)

How you do things says a lot about how you regard things.  (April 2013)

Open your heart to those who value it.  (May 2013)

Experience leads us to new places.  (May 2013)

You always see something interesting when you travel a new road.  (June 2013)

Your dreams are the future but it’s the present where you have to be.  (August 2013)

Often it’s the small things we remember the longest and with deepest appreciation.  (October 2013)

Luck is sometimes crazy good fortune. Luck can be like that. It’s just as apt to happen when you lay the foundation for it. Luck likes it when you’re prepared for it.  (November 2013)

Live the moment, let the hard days pass, expect good ahead and always appreciate the time given to you.  (December 2013)

Ro Giencke

December 30, 2013





Friday, December 20, 2013

December is the color of blue

Every month has a color that suits it.   

Now here’s where I may be showing I’m behind times. Perhaps this color thing is in place already.

Maybe some Pantone-like color choice for each month has long been in existence. If so this is the cue for me to say Oh excuse me, and whistle my way offscreen.

If a color scheme for each month hasn’t been devised, however, let’s get going. 

Just as a month has a birthstone and zodiac sign it might as well also have a color assigned it as part of the package deal.

With this in mind it seems to me that December, of all its confreres, has dibs on the color blue.

Deep blue, midnight blue, cobalt blue, all shades of blue fit with December. 

December is frosty blue skies, blue fingertips and mountainsides of blue spruce mantled with snow.

Its color of blue is also the aquamarine of tropical seas. 

There are no coastal shores here but they're our December getaways. They're right up there with hot toddies for easing seasonal aches.

It's sufficient evidence to second the motion that December and blue go hand in (blue suede) glove. 

For those who need more convincing consider blue in other December formats.

Indigo blue dusk blooms in the withdrawal of each short winter day. The indigo hue, which spreads and intensifies with dark, is a tint of blue I propose be given a name, December Sunset.

December dusk quiets the day. Vast blue shadows of snowy ground merge into chilled inky blue silence.

Night's metallic blue glitter is equally a December color. 

Through frosted windows, or stamping numb toes in lined boots in the crunchy snow, we gaze up in wonder at stars piercing with light the cerulean field above our heads.

The color blue is the festive color of the December holidays. It’s a primary color we choose for gift wrap, ribbon and bows. 

It’s the blue bulbs in sets of colored Christmas tree lights. They merrily twinkle or glow as if under a lampshade under a coating of new snow.

It's pale blue candles which rest in greenery on our fireplace mantels. It's designer blue, in all its range of shades, which is a current color trend in party wear. 

It’s the rich royal blue of cashmere pashimas we fling fashionably around our shoulders as we step into our round of December events.  

This time of year, for a multitude of reasons, can bring a person down. “I feel blue,” we say.

The holidays can trigger flashbacks to a time when we were little and life was secure, as it can appear without a doubt as we look back.  

Comparisons between then and now can lead to a blue outbreak. It may be a fleeting thing. It can sometimes persist through the holidays.

At this time we remember loved ones no longer with us. Each grieves in a personal way. Loss can make celebrations going around us ring not with glad peals but dimly as from afar.

For others the season's downcast mood is a response to lack of sun. Daylight is at its lowest in December.

Those who get blue often can pinpoint what makes them react to the season as they do.

Understanding the seasonal effect is good information to have. It doesn’t automatically lift the heaviness some recognize as a constituent of this month.

 We can take steps, by many different aids, to gain peace over regrets or loneliness at this time of connections and community. 

One approach is to shift the word blue away from a symbol for feelings that have gone south (but  not with the vacationers chasing the sun).

We adopt the tactic of using the color blue to our benefit. We utilize blue as our token of joy.  

We can begin using blue to advantage by regarding it like vivid December sky. On it the clouds of care sail away. The sun beams down to warm us through and through.

Ro Giencke

December 20, 2013




Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas letters

Oh so cold here! Twelve below zero this morning and perfectly bright and sunny in aspect as it gets to be when air pressure is high and all of the Arctic is visiting us.

It’s wonderful reason to be warm inside getting at Christmas letters. The seasonal wishes will be traveling over new laid snow. Upwards of eight inches fell earlier this week, blanketing everything in white.

As the addresses go on the envelopes, the sheet of stamps beside the festive cards marking our mail for postal delivery, the thought that comes is of the friends with whom we mark another year.

Christmas correspondence affirms gratitude for relationships that can make every day feel like a holiday.

It expresses the hope within us for peace, health and happiness. These hopes are universal – they don’t need passports or have certain boundaries imposed on them. This is the time, this end season of the year, to reboot good wishes for our belabored and imperfect but marvelously amazing world.

As I mentally sum up the year to make a Christmas letter not too lengthy and not too lacking I count back through the months. The year 2013 has had ups and downs accompanied by the personal growth that perhaps we were intended for through the hard stuff and the fun events.

The challenges that a year doles out require all of us to dig deep to find reservoirs of courage or perseverance. Successes when they come lift us. They’re the easy things we pick out from the sequence of days. But the ordinary moments give a balance and identity that may be the most important part of us that we share.

One year is life stretching us. It’s like a coach or personal trainer. Its aim, as it appears to me, is to keep us flexed, poised and ready for more.

The Christmas cards being readied for mailing tell me that friends and family are vital ties of human connection. These ones companion us through a year and sometimes through a lifetime. They hear our stories. They share in our joys. With understanding wisdom they place us in our hearts when situations are tough.  

Every day has its routines and often its surprises. Time has deviations of pattern sometimes planned and occasionally coming out of nowhere.

We’re grateful for the rhythm of our days together at this time in our lives. There’s a natural desire to share something of this with others.

Christmas cards help in this. Writing our letters, signing our names to the holly-decorated cards, and stamping the envelopes with the special holiday stamps give us a ritual to make the most of.

If we let it, we can pause and refresh ourselves in the midst of seasonal busyness. By these cards and greetings we invite in and reiterate our allegiance to those in our lives in meaningful ways.

Words can and do make a difference. The amount of mail generated at this season speaks volumes to the value of the personal touch as only each of us can deliver it.

Ro Giencke

December 6, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratitude Given and Received

A sense of heightening holiday time prevails as we fill our pantries with the good food to make ready for the Thanksgiving Day table.

The venerable November event inaugurates the season of parties, gatherings and homecomings. It flips the switch on the light that shines cheerfully through the dark period of the year.

A recent email from a friend catches the anticipation and planning in our homes this busy week. 

With mention that she’s hosting her family’s Thanksgiving dinner she concluded by saying she’d concentrate on the food and it will all work out.

It was the last line in her note that widened my smile. She said she best get back to work to get it done. Succinctly she identified the process for successful hosting – food and thoughtful preparation. 

My thoughts will be with her as she and her husband seat their large group at table.

This Thanksgiving, for most of us, we’re in a different place than a year ago. 

This relocation generally doesn’t have to do with another setting. We may very well be tucking our legs under the holiday tablecloth at the same house as before. The surroundings in many cases aren’t changed – but we are.

Life circumstances are good at putting us in a different place. For each of us the preceding twelve months have brought a mix of experiences.

Most of us have known something of joy and gain and loss and pain. We've secured employment and been downsized in careers.

We’ve acquired homes or other possessions. We’ve suffered foreclosures or lost ground in other ways as through diminished health.

Relationships for some have wonderfully begun. Don’t count on fairy tale endings when people are involved. Cessation of romance, trust or any other involvement of the heart is the wound many carry this year.

Great numbers had dreams realized. Never liking to be left out of the equation, disappointment  has a universal tendency to pop up. It introduces discouragement by taking down a hope or raising an obstacle.  

Ah yes, we sit in a different place than at this time last year.

Thanksgiving Day, wisely set aside by our government, should wisely be used by us in return. 

More than the surfeit of food, more than the gorge of Christmas shopping which begins immediately, the day is well used to give thanks for the gift of life we share with others.

Giving thanks for what is in our lives includes time enjoyed and which utilizes the best in us. It takes in good moments of every kind that make more of our days. 

It can be gratitude for someone who has touched some aspect of us. Some of those remembered are with us, some no longer so.

 A year can deal harshly. In these hard situations support generously supplied, or wisdom or patience that gets one through, is the thanksgiving to give concentration to.

Life, as I’ve come to grasp it, isn’t to be understood but to be lived. Giving thanks in all conditions is wired to the entire spectrum of who we are – no matter who we are, where we are or at whose Thanksgiving table we gather.

Thanksgiving Day, by its very reason of creation, calls to the importance of taking time for purposeful consideration.

The day was established as a day of thanksgiving and prayer by our first president George Washington, made a national holiday by 16th president Abraham Lincoln, and the date later set by Congress as the fourth Thursday of November. 

It upholds an important tenet that precedes the founding of our country. It can be traced to the Pilgrims more than a century earlier.

These English colonizers, driven by zeal for God, and perhaps impractical in their idea of how they were to survive on remote rocky shores, hung on. 

With the help of American native neighbors they made a home where they could in faith and future abide. This is what was celebrated at that first Thanksgiving. 

Faith in the present, which in part draws from the past, hope in the future and gratitude given and received continues to be our Thanksgiving today.

Ro Giencke

November 26, 2013