Of owls and other things…

Almost every day, while I’m out on the back porch, I hear a diurnal owl hooting, and I feel a kinship of sorts with this daytime owl. He also calls out in the early hours of night and I’m relieved to hear another call back, but most of the time the poor, mixed up animal makes a ruckus calling out in the daytime, all alone, with no answer.

I’m a night owl, but the world operates on early birds, and I envy those admirable souls who happily rise at dawn and power through their mornings with one cup of tea or a protein bar.

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At the farm, I’ll sit out on the front porch, carrying a large mug of coffee, blinking at the bright sun. Somedays it might be ten o’clock, while other days noon approaches. I’m embarrassed to tell you that. I need lots of sleep, but I adore the night. I did the whole rise at dawn for twenty years. My children had to wake up at six, and I would go out for a quick three mile run while they showered. Later in the day, once I had gathered my wits about me, I’d think about taking a quick run because I hadn’t yet worked out.

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I completely forgot the morning run! Essentially, I was running while asleep. I’d go to bed by eleven, and volunteer at the school, helping children learn to read, and at nine in the morning, I was falling asleep to the drone of a lone voice making sense of the letters on a page. Madness! I don’t fit into this world. I tried for thirty years, and finally have succumbed to my natural clock. Just like that owl who loves the daytime.

I wonder if he/she feels out of step and somewhat lonely. I know, these pics don’t fully explain my life. I love being at the farm, only I’m the last one to join it. And the flowers? Well, whenever I create a new bouquet, I like to gaze at the colors and profusion of colors as I wash the dishes. It’s a bit jumbled and wild, but it suits me.

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When I was ten years old, I’d go to bed rather late. I think my nocturnal mother sent me up by ten o’clock, but sleep didn’t find me easily. I’d gaze down through my window at the neighbors next door, still in their kitchen, talking to kids who hadn’t been sent to sleep. And at eleven I’d turn on my radio to listen to an hour of mystery stories. After that, I’d often wait well past midnight passed until I succumbed to sleep.

Trust me. I wished I could drop off into dreams when my head touched the soft pillow, but it didn’t. When the genetic testing indicated I had a gene for insomnia, I laughed at the doctor. I figured that one out years ago. I could try to be an early bird, but I never caught the worm. I was too busy swilling down shots of espresso.

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There. See that? A beautiful sunrise? No. the gloaming. The time when the sun has set but the light hangs in the sky, suspended for an hour in the summer. Almost daily I try to say good night to the sun. I’m trying to accept my place in the world. And what can this possibly have to do with happiness? Well, accepting who we are is essential. We must come to terms with ourselves, embracing the good parts and trying to do away with the bad. That’s responsible and noteworthy, right?

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If we embrace who we are at the core, but try to change the bad, I think that’s a good thing. It leads to happiness. I fought my night owl ways for most of my life, thinking I was bad and sloppy and lazy. But that wasn’t bad. I write best at night. Fact. Words flow through my hands and I don’t even think much about what is coming out of me. So, yes, I welcome the sun as it lowers and evening hovers nearby. My time is coming. I sit on the back porch and drink in the light, knowing I haven’t yet done a full day’s work. No shame. No blame.

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See the lights that turn on at dusk? I accept who I am. Finally. I’ll bet there are aspects of you that you wish you could change, but it’s such a part of you that it feels impossible. Can’t you finally accept yourself? I know women who have starved themselves, working out twice a day to slim down, and all that work doesn’t make them happy. When my friends start eating again and actually drink a latte when we sit and visit, I can see their joie de vivre has returned!

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Yes. me, drinking a wee dram of whisky at night. I perch on the bed, reading or writing and sip some good whisky, though really I’m a scotch, neat please, kind of woman. And my husband sits outside in the humid night, smoking a cigar, listening to country music and we’re both content. We’ve spent all our words on the car ride down, and dined together. I’ll visit him and listen to the whip-o-wills calling and then I make my way inside to enjoy the rest of my evening.

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The point is this: accept yourself. Love your eccentricities that make you who you are. I know an older man who works at engraving from midnight to five a.m. He’s fabulously talented and turns out the most minute yet beautiful creations. He owns who he is. Can’t we all do that? In the U.S., I think many of us suffer from FOMO, and we also want to belong, to be doing what others are doing. Sticking out, or being slightly eccentric is frowned upon. That bothers me. A lot. (See my coffee? Nothing makes sense without it!)

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That photo? Yes, it’s Harry Potter. I love watching Harry Potter on the television, even though I’ve seen the films twenty times. Who cares? I’m delighted by hearing a network is having a “Harry Potter weekend” and I mix up cookie dough, and have my Starbucks at hand and a warm cookie in the other while watching parts of every movie…again. I feel cozy, happy and content. I’m learning to embrace the introspective parts of me too. What do you want to embrace that makes you unique?

That’s the road to happiness, I believe. Understanding yourself, how you fit into the world and making it work. For you. Your family. Your world. If we’re fundamentally kind and nice, then the rest is fluff. If we work hard and are trying to be decent people, the rest can fall into place. Those parts that make you who you are. Acceptance. I believe faith in God is essential, but many don’t choose that path. Okay, then. You can still love who you are. What you do, how much you weigh, how old you are, where you live, and how to make it through this pandemic nicely. Let’s be true to ourselves and yet, be kind.

I’m wishing you all the happiness you can hold….

Until next time….

Deanna

 

 

 

grace and gratitude…

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Today was rainy, gray and dark, so I poured myself another cup of coffee, lit some candles and went to the couch to read and pray. Yes, I try to stay on track, but my mind wanders. The coffee helps.

Gratitude is splendid and sets my world aright. When I’m feeling down or overwhelmed by people and their problems, I change my outlook and turn it upside down. How? Let’s say I’m putting away my husband’s clothes, and I’m tired of matching his mismatched socks. Where the other sock goes is a mystery I hope to uncover someday. But I thank God for my husband, who is busy at work, again, day after day, often working eleven and twelve hour days. I pray over him, his life and I thank God for him.

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If you’re busy feeling thankful for a person, you’re far less likely to feel anger or annoyed by them. So say out loud how thankful you are for all those “problem” people in your life. You don’t know how much longer you have with them. Be thankful.

 

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That little picture above? Was given as gift to me years ago when I had no money and cold only accept this gift and not reiterate. I treasure this and each year place it on my kitchen windowsill so I remember the joy of Christmas. Yes, it’s a secular view, but that goes along with the message of the birth of Jesus. I remember the reason for the season.

I’ve long forgotten the beautiful soul who gave away so many of these pretties, but I look at the picture and remember being so little and excited about Santa’s visit! I slow down and try to remember Christmas is a gift. Name the reasons why you are thankful right now. Even our problems can be blessings in disguise, teaching us patience, kindness and mercy.

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Make time to sit and reflect on your blessings. Name what you are thankful for right now. One time, when I was so sick and about to have my bladder surgically removed, because the lining has disintegrated and I felt the acidic burn every second of the day, and someone asked me what I was thankful for. Really? My hair was falling out, my two children needed constant attention, I was using opium suppositories for the unrelenting pain, and my street was being torn up with new sewers going in. And my husband was working more than twelve hour days. Thankful? Seriously?

 

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But she was serious. I was thirty-two, my family lived 1000 miles away, and I kept driving to the Mayo Clinic for tests. They did not want to do the surgery because I was “too young”. Too young for this pain? Too young to have this “middle-aged women’s disease”? I quipped, “I’m thankful that I can see.” That’s it. That’s all I said. And now I look back at all that happened that awful summer and I see more blessings.

 

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I had angels in disguise watching my girls as I stayed in the hospital for eight days after the eight hour surgery. When I came home, I couldn’t stand up straight, but I walked around the block every day. I’m thankful for my surgeon’s skilled hands. I left her a note on my body, written by a nurse trying to calm me down pre-surgery, that said, “I want to have another baby.” So my surgeon took care with my body. She told me she hoped I could have another child after my body healed. What a sweet surgeon to care about that for me.

 

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I had another baby two years post-surgery. It was touch and go, but I’m thankful for my son. For the people along the way who helped me. My neighbor who knew I had surpassed my limit, since I was yelling at my two kids in the bathtub that awful summer, and she asked if she could take them for an hour. Blessed peace. No road work sounds. Just silence. Thank you Judy. I’m grateful to this day.

List them. Write them out. Speak them out loud. Your gratitude. Even for the tough times. Maybe even especially for the rough times, when we learn so much.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time.