365 Grateful!

This will be a quick one. A while back I started another blog, Perpetual Gratitude, which was inspired by a woman who overcame depression by photographing one thing each day for which she was grateful. Although I have been lax in keeping up with my blogs (due to grad school demands), my life continues to be filled with gratitude. Today I took a few minutes to check out the blog that started it all, 365 Grateful, and decided to share the link with you. I urge you to check out this magnificent, inspiring, uplifting blog and consider how you can cultivate gratitude in your life. Once I finish school, I plan to return to regular blogging and sharing gratefulness with you!

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BE GRATEFUL! It will change your life. 🙂

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Beautiful Blogger Award

Thank you to Doris for bestowing this beautiful blogging award on my blog. There were no ‘rules’ passed along regarding accepting the award. To be honest, it is nice to be recognized without strings attached, so I thank you Doris for your thoughtfulness. Due to the fact that I am back in school now and my time is limited, I am not going to “choose” who deserves an award such as this. So if you are a reader of this blog, feel free to take this award for your page. All of you are deserving! Blessings to you and may today be filled with contentment and gratitude.

Reminiscing on This Thanksgiving Day ~

Yes, believe it or not it is Thanksgiving Day! Later we will be heading to Kentucky to spend the weekend with my folks. All the kids are coming in with their kids. My Colorado brother and his wife are flying in. Another brother is living in Kentucky, as is the family of my deceased brother. We will most certainly eat a lot, laugh even more, enjoy the camaraderie and the chaos. This will be the first time the family, all of us, will be together since my brother’s funeral in April, 2005. Just this year, Mom and Dad celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Dad survived an aneurism that he was not supposed to survive. My son and his wife suffered a miscarriage which broke all of our hearts, but now they are preparing to foster children. Their strength and courage is awe-inspiring. My daughter, the older of two girls, stays active with her community involvement, volunteering and work. She and John are raising her son, my grandson Jacob. The younger daughter and youngest child is expecting her first child. She and Eric, along with his daughter, will also be there. We will all be in Kentucky, grieving our losses, celebrating our miracles, and loving with passion. Life is short, too short, and we know it. I am fortunate to be part of a family that celebrates life, the blessings and the curses, all of it. L’Chaim!

As I was thinking about whether to post today, it occurred to me that I began blogging two years ago this month, November 17, 2009, to be exact. I began blogging because I was going out of my mind looking for work, wondering what I should do, depressing my life away. I had no idea at the time that blogging would become such a big part of my life. Another example of someone changing one thing in his or her life and life responds in positive ways. One analogy is a plant that thrives but without water it wilts. I was wilting. When the plant is watered, a  seemingly dead  plant will spring back to life and flourish. Blogging was the water I needed, an outlet to express myself, be creative, whatever.

Blogging helped me uncover a passion, develop a life plan, form friendships across miles and continents. Now I am in grad school preparing for a career that I have talked about for years. I picked up the camera again, a hobby that I abandoned decades ago but now see as part of an income-generating side line. Life is brighter and more hopeful as I move forward. Instead of this one blog, this primary blog, I now have three blogs, and one blog set aside for creative writing–even though I haven’t touched it much . . . yet!  Those blogs are linked to this one in the menu across the top of this page, so feel free to take a “gander.”

I truly have bountiful blessings. I am a rich woman! Thank you. Gracias. Todah Rabah. Merci. Danke. Obrigado. Grazie. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

I have included a reprint of my very first post ever if you are interested. This is the one that started it all. Enjoy.

🙂

Well, the time has come for me to get with the times, hence this blog.  There are many reasons why this seems to be the right time for me to begin such an undertaking.  First and foremost, I enjoy the writing process.  It keeps my mind alert and focused.  As someone who has been unemployed for a year now (a sign of the times which deserves its own blog) I find that I need to do something that will keep my mind from atrophying.  There is no one subject or theme for this blog–at least not yet!  I feel sure that in time a  theme will begin to emerge, but for now I simply write what comes to my mind.

Secondly, I want to write for my family, especially my children.  I want to share myself with them.  They don’t  know my story, at least not my perspective on my story.  Do any of us really know or understand our parents unless they make a concerted effort to be open and vulnerable to our impressions and judgements?  I think that if we were to be more open, more transparent with each other — parent and child — we would find within ourselves a deeper compassion and love, one for the other.  At least I’m hoping that is the case.  Simply put, I want my children to forgive the wrongs I committed against them.  Mind you, I’m not talking about intent to do my children harm, rather the wrongs of the stronger over the weaker, the wrongs that occur when one thinks and acts out of their own pain and memories rather than with a sensitivity of how one’s behavior affects those in his or her care, in this case, one’s offspring, my offspring.

Third, this is one way to improve my writing skills, to exhibit writing “samples” etc, for prospective employers.  Bleh….  Secretly and selfishly, I really do believe I have something of value to write about.  To be a writer or blogger, one must be narcissistic enough to believe that others will be interested in what s/he has to write.  I fall in that category.  Seems arrogant to me, and in truth, that is an arrogant stance.  Sorta.  I guess.  Anyway, arrogant or not , I want folks to read my blogs.  Family foremost, friends second, future employers….well, maybe.

Bottom line, I just like to write.  I like the process.  I hate — strong word? yes, but appropriate — getting started.  So I expect that writing this will be a curse and a blessing.  I will write to my heart’s content.  I will share my world view, life experiences, lessons learned or not, trivia, profound thoughts (as I said, one has to be a bit of an arrogant narcissist to do this), and maybe more.  Please respond if you are so inclined.  Make suggestions.  Offer encouragement.  All I ask is that whatever you write, even if you vehemently disagree with me, that you express yourself truthfully but with absolute respect to me and others who might be reading this.  No name calling.  No foul language.  No insults.  Honest opinions expressed with civility.  (could write another blog on the lack of civility in these days and times.)

Looking forward to this process and your responses!

Chana/ Cecelia Rogow-Futch

An Update

 

Dad continues to improve. I talked with Mom and my brother last night and there is a realistic hope that he will move out of ICU and into a regular room today. I’ll keep you posted. I shot this picture of Dad in July this year, while Richard and I vacationed in Kentucky. In August he and Mom went camping in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. He is 80 years old and Mom is 82. They don’t act it, so this scare has been a real wake-up call for us. I thank you all for the comments and emails offering support through your prayers and positive energy sent our way. It is a humbling experience to realize that people I have never met face-to-face would offer such care and concern. Again I offer you my gratitude. I will continue to update as need be. I “heart” you all. (The blogging vocabulary sometimes says it best. 🙂 )

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’ve never met a bitter person who was thankful, and likewise, I’ve never met a thankful person who was bitter.  Long ago I learned that if I was feeling resentful, bitter, or in a generally foul mood, I just needed to pause for a few moments and offer thanks for the many blessings in my life.  Today I’m not really having an “attitude,”  just the blahs: hot and humid weather, lots of small errands to run, more forms to fill out for grad school, dishes to wash…you get the idea.  So, nothing overwhelmingly terrible is going on.  It’s just one of those days.  Time for a mood adjustment!  Time for a gratitude list!  So, here’s a start:

  1. Freedom to practice my religion
  2. Wonderful husband
  3. Great kids and awesome grandkids
  4. Healthy parents
  5. Nice home
  6. My brain still works (as far as I can tell)
  7. I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste
  8. Food on the table
  9. Clothes on my back
  10. Car that runs (most of the time)
  11. Friends of all ilks, shapes, sizes
  12. Wonderful, flavorful, aromatic coffee…with cinnamon
  13. Books to read (an entire library in our home)
  14. Our health
  15. Freedom to travel
  16. Walks in the woods
  17. Bed to sleep in every night
  18. Music–all kinds
  19. Electricity!
  20. Flowers, birds, gardens

This list took just minutes to create.  Take a few minutes and create your own gratitude list and be amazed at how your attitude is lifted when you have a thankful heart.

Morning Rituals

For as long as I can remember, Mom would get up long before daybreak to begin her day.  She would brew a pot of coffee, pour a cup for herself and one for Dad, add two teaspoons of sugar per cup, then return to bed, coffee in hand, where she and Dad would sit quietly talking for a bit.  We kids were not allowed to bombard them with our demands until they had some time alone together.  This was their daily ritual, one that never changed in all the years I was growing up (except when camping, then the roles reversed.)  It is a most wonderful and intimate way to start one’s day, I imagine.  I remember being on the other side of their bedroom door and hearing their muffled voices.  We never knew what they were talking about, and at times wondered how two people could always have something to discuss every morning, day in and day out. But, they did, and to us this seemed perfectly normal.   I was in high school before learning that this morning ritual was an uncommon habit not practiced in the homes of my friends.     

 Another morning ritual–winter morning ritual– from when I was very young also brings fond memories…now.  Although we lived in Louisiana, winter could (once or twice a year at least) produce a “cold snap,“ with temperatures plummeting into the 20’s.  Central air was a rarity found in few homes at that time.  Rather, we had open flame gas heaters in every room.  That way we could heat the rooms in use, and close off the rooms not in use. At night we slept with no heat in our bedrooms because Mom was too fearful of blankets accidentally being tossed onto the flame. That meant that when bedtime came, we would have to crawl in between marble cold sheets. To say that this was no fun is an understatement, but once I crawled in and made a little cocoon for myself, the chill would quickly dissipate.  It helped that the bed was piled high with Momma Futch’s (Grandma) or Mom’s home-made quilts.  The next morning while it was still dark, after Mom put the coffee on to brew, she would come around to each of our rooms to light the heaters while we were still in bed.  When we arose, the room would still be chilly but not frigid.  Just as bad as crawling into bed at night between cold sheets is stepping into icy clothes in the morning when dressing for school.  So, time permitting, we would warm our clothes before putting them on by standing in front of the heater and literally holding our garments over the flame.   My three brothers and I would each claim a heater for this purpose while Mom was in the kitchen preparing breakfast.  It’s a wonder we didn’t burn the house down!  Speaking of breakfast, we had a variety of choices the entire time I lived at home: Quaker Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Ralston. Add to that  a piece of toast (no one makes toast as good as Mom does.  Ask my kids.  She takes a piece of bread, dots it with dollops of butter, sticks it in the oven to toast, then slathers it with plenty of homemade jelly) and a glass of powder milk and we were set for the day! There you have it; our winter morning ritual on cold Louisiana mornings!     

my piano
My Piano

 

Our move to Kentucky when I was fifteen years old changed some of our rituals.  No longer did we have the open flame heaters.  Now we had central air. Mom was no longer the “alarm clock” who woke us up and started us on our days.  I missed that.  But we still had an alarm clock to get the family up and going in the mornings.  Me.  I played piano, but as I began high school, finding practice time proved to be quite challenging.  Mom’s solution?  Practice first thing in the morning before going to school.  So, each morning around 5:00 (or 5:30 if I overslept) I would get up and practice the piano.  Since I had to do this, it wasn’t like this was my choice, I would begin by practicing a few scales–in fortissimo!  I am told (by my brothers, and a couple of cousins who lived with us for a few months) that I played so loudly the walls would shake.  A bit of an exaggeration, I assure you, but practice I must, and if that was the only time available, then the family had to endure this with me.  The truth of the matter is that playing the piano was seriously important to me. Throughout high school I found ways and places to practice (the school‘s chorus room during study hall, the church piano when no one else was around, etc.)  At one time in my life I was pretty good, good enough to win a small scholarship to begin college.  After a couple of years, however, I forfeited my scholarship by changing my academic major.  Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had continued with music.  Today my piano is a living room ornament, a dust collector, but from time to time I still enjoy sitting down and plunking out a tune.  Much to Richard’s relief, I gave up those early morning practice sessions long before I met him.    

negel vasser
negel vasser

 

My rituals have changed over the years to reflect the changes I have gone through.   When I chose to become Jewish, I took on the rituals of the Jewish people.  Even so, some things don’t change.  Much like Mom, I, too, am an early riser.  Once awake, I find it impossible to stay in bed (most of the time…there are exceptions.)  When the last of the kids left home, my mornings became my quiet time.  For the past decade, my ritual has included more “thank you” time, more prayer time.  Before my feet touch the ground, I thank G-d for having kept me through the night, and giving me another day.  I then wash my hands, pouring cold water over one hand then the other a few times.  This is followed with blessings, prayer and thanksgiving.  Only then do I make myself a cup of coffee as I ease into my day.  Unlike me, my husband the scientist wakes up immediately ready to discuss some deep complicated physics problem, or a burning world issue, and he wants my opinion, even if it’s four o’clock  in the morning.  Fortunately, however, over the years he has learned that trying to engage me in anything resembling deep animated discussion before I’ve had my first cup of coffee is a dangerous proposition.    

Morning rituals create fond memories and foster feelings of security.  But they do more than that.  Rituals are the glue binding families together, and oftentimes bring us back together for various events and holidays throughout our lives. How often do you and your family fondly reminisce about some ritualized activity when gathered together for some event?  Rituals identify who we are and Whose we are.  Rituals mark momentous events reminding us that we are part of a bigger world. They help instill in us our value as individuals within a community, be it religious, familial, cultural or ethnic.  Our days are filled with rituals from arising in the morning to reclining at night.  They are important, for the seemingly small, insignificant rituals become the fiber of our lives.  For me, not only do these rituals provide mooring for my soul, but in addition to everything else I have written here, they create that connection which strengthen my relationship with G-d, and provide markers along the path to holy living.    

Memories of morning rituals from my youth are strong and vivid indicating their importance to me.  Morning rituals continue to be vital  to my spiritual, mental and emotional well-being.     

What are some memories of your morning rituals? What feelings do you have about those rituals (then and now)?  How have your rituals changed over the years?

The Flu

I have tried repeatedly to get this blog written and posted.  No luck.  I have been sick since Monday with the flu, and so has my husband.  We make a pretty miserable pair right now.  However, as bad as I feel, there are several good things about being sick!  They are 1) we get to lay around in our pajamas together all day, 2) I get caught up on my sleep, 3) I realize how fortunate we are to live in a place where I can get good meds from the drugstore, 4) I realize how blessed we are with friends and family who check in on us to make sure we are doing ok.  This list will grow, no doubt, as the day goes on,  but for now this will have to suffice.  Have a good day and see y’all next post.