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Gratitude

21 Feb

 Thursday, Feb 21, 2019 —

                                                                            Gratitude

 I am spending a weekend in the country, at an adorable cottage on my daughter’s farm, near The Plains, VA. The weather has gone from a temperature of 67 degrees when I arrived on Friday, to a cold wet rain with the threat of snow or sleet on Sunday night.  It’s typical Virginia late winter/early spring weather. I don’t believe it will snow tonight. But still, the weather is a constant mystery. And I love it. The fact that it is so changeable is fun. I have plenty of warm clothes. And I am so grateful for everything. So grateful to have the chance to come here and decompress.

The fireplace in the cottage is made of stone, not firebrick, and it throws off a lot of heat. There is a joke around the farm, about how much wood I use. It is true that I am profligate with wood burning; I love the sight and sound of an open fire so much. I could stare at the fire for hours–It brings all sorts of imagination to the fore. Before I knew about meditation, I loved to look at the fire in a fireplace and let my mind rest. “Sometimes I sets and thinks, and sometimes, I just sets” is an old Virginia expression to which I relate. And a fire in the fireplace is one trigger for that same sort of non-thinking that meditation brings about. Restful in the extreme.

Everywhere I look, there is beauty, and peace. A huge pond ripples and glistens with reflected light from the sky– no sun today but a glistening, rippling expanse of water that seems to be trying to move outside its banks. Hundreds of daffodils are emerging, halfway up out of the ground. They must be confused by the different signals that Mother Nature is sending them.” Rise Up!” “No, never mind. Hang tight.” And though the leaves on the poor little struggling spring flowers have brown tips where frost has tainted them, the stems will soar, soon enough and blossoms open. Yellow blooms will extend soon down the driveway and we will know for sure that spring is here. We are on the way to the month of March now. More than halfway through February.

The gratitude I feel extends well past this farm. The entire countryside, unblemished by commercial space or even many houses, is open to all the wildlife that lives here. Deer herds are actually a problem. Bears are sighted regularly, and possums and raccoons and squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks abound. Birds are plentiful; even hawks and eagles soar in the sky above this county. Riders on horseback and runners on foot share these roads with bicyclers, who seem to come in droves. No wonder they are here. We have hundreds of miles of dirt roads. We also have wonderful two- lane, paved roads, which many people wish the bicyclers would stay off. I do worry about someone running them down, by accident.

When I wake up here in the cottage, my heart is full the moment I realize I am in my own bed, my old bed from my own, former house.  Here in the cottage, of course, it is different from city living. Sometimes the heat is off, or it is intensely windy. At times like that I am grateful for the curtains surrounding my bed, and I draw them the moment I get in. It makes a little house for me to stay, snug and warm, and cuddling my dog, Magnus, for added warmth.

Most of the time, I now live in Washington, D.C. with my 101 year old mother. I sleep in my old room, in my childhood house.  There is already a bed in that room, SO, there was no point in bringing my bed to Washington. Besides, my bed is a four-poster, with high posts. We did measure to see if it would fit in my bedroom at Mother’s, but it would not because the eaves in that bedroom come down too close and too low. So. I sleep in the bed that was there, missing my own bed in the cottage, with its pretty hangings which I can draw if it gets too cold. At Mother’s, the central heat is very effective. There is no need for bed-hangings.

My sensitivity to gratitude has been heightened by meditation. I believe that meditation has altered something in me, and I am forever changed. When such intense gratitude engulfs me, I wallow in it. Being grateful for the gratitude may sound silly. But that is how I feel. And I believe it is contagious. Be careful. You might catch it from reading this.

If I let myself, I will never be able to stop thinking of things for which to be grateful. For the peace that engulfs me, and all the things around me. The sheets on the bed, the feather pillows upon which I rest my head and the duvet that keeps me cosy. My warm dog, who sleeps beside me every night. My fireplace and tiny kitchen, indoor plumbing and central heat and air conditioning.

Best of all for daily comfort is Magnus. What a marvelous thing it is to have a loving dog. I appreciate him for the companionship he gives. We all need something to love and if you do not have a partner, it is important to find something else upon whom to bestow your affection. Dogs are super easy to love, and they love us unconditionally. Never underestimate the power of love, even the love between a dog and its owner. That feeling of love actually sends positive physiological signals to our bodies and our souls. Thank goodness for pets, all varieties.  I am grateful.

Magnus

                                                                                         **

Copyright©.  2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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The Journey Continues

20 Jan

We are all on a journey. It is different for everyone. No one can prepare for this journey because what happens on it and where it takes us is completely random.
The journey of which I speak is the one we begin when our parents begin to fail. I don’t mean “fail” in the sense that they seem older, or look older, or act older. I mean when they actually have an event, which ages them quickly. Sometimes it is a fall, or a broken bone. Sometimes it is a heart attack or a stroke. Sometimes it is a disease like Cancer or Diabetes or Parkinson’s Disease. And worst of all it can happen that they become demented in some way, generally from Alzheimers Disease.

pear trees blossom in the snow


When one of these things happen, life suddenly changes dramatically. I remember the first time something like that occurred with my mother. It was Memorial Day 2007, and she had had a pool party. After the guests left she was gathering wet towels to take to the house to be washed and she tripped and fell. She broke her hip. Lucky for her she was not alone when she fell. Her secretary was nearby and called an ambulance.
I heard about this by phone, as I was driving a car with my sister in law, as a passenger, somewhere near Great Meadow in The Plains Virginia. I remember it very well, because it was such a shock. To be told one’s 89 year old Mother has broken her hip is intense. And for many people that is the end of the line. They never really recover. They sort of give up. It crossed my mind that Mother might not come back from this, but immediately after that thought, I rejected it. NO! My Mother will NOT give up. I will go to the hospital and make sure she knows this is just an inconvenience.


SO off I rushed. I actually arrived before they wheeled Mother into the operating room. But I did not try to interfere and no one asked me for my opinion. Later we discovered that Dr Harris had given Mother a “partial” hip replacement, rather a total one. When I asked him about it, he said “I did not know your mother. All I knew was that I had a patient who was 89 years old, with a broken hip. Most people who are that age do not want to be ready to go to dances at the country club. They are finished. But, now that I know your mother, I know better.”
When I saw mother after the operation she was doing OK, but she was worried. I stayed with her from then on, sleeping in her room on one of those horrid expandable chairs that supposedly become a bed. Ha!!! Horrible. But I stayed and coached mother day and night, about how she could beat the odds. I felt my job was to convince her that she would get better. That she would be dancing again, soon and that she was NOT DONE. I talked to her about it in an upbeat way, until I was blue in the face!


Everyone knows I can be a contrarian. In this case, every person I met was saying “such a shame about your mother”, as if she was dying. That just made me more determined to make sure she did not. She liked the idea that she would be better soon. She was willing to do the work. She did not let this setback defeat her.
Mother was by no means finished. She was in a hurry to get better. She got herself up to Newport, in a hospital plane. That was 12 years ago. She got better over the summer and was dancing by Labor Day. She resumed driving and she was just fine. She was back!!!

Happy!


But, I was different. My trust in Mother always being healthy and alive, was shaken just a bit. She was such a great patient. She showed herself to be willing to do the rehab, and not be depressed. In many ways she was an inspiration. Today she is fast approaching 101 years old. Now my part of the journey is often sad. But Mother is still beautiful and healthy. She still wants to be where ever there is action.

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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Out with the Old, in with the New

9 Jan

Out with the Old, in with the New

It is over. Christmas passed by, and here we are already into the New Year of 2019. Now, Twelfth Night is done and it is beginning to be a little bit lighter each day.

Taking it all down, putting it all away, starting a new fresh year, even while trudging up to the attic and down to the basement, getting things out of the way. It is a bit ironic. Start fresh, but not for a few days. Right now, much of the house is clear of decorations, but the dining room table is full of every thing taken from the other rooms. These decorations in my mother’s house are sometimes as old as I am. Some of them are from my earliest childhood. I wish I knew their stories. Where did those Art Deco angels come from? A whole choir of them sit in the window near the front door. When I was very little, they sang on the dining room table. They are reassuring to me. Time passes, but some things remain the same.

Fresh starts are marvelous. We can always start fresh. But, the New Year makes a logical place to begin anew. And since I am not as fastidious and neat as my mother, I need excuses. My latest book has been languishing as a rather boring first draft, since October. I have not touched it since then. But NOW, I am ready. It is time to add the meat and the spice to that first effort. It is something like cooking from scratch. The first draft is a rich, but bland soup stock. It is sitting, simmering, ready to be changed into something much more interesting and tasty to read. There are many lessons to be learned in the book, but they are subtle. They don’t shout about their benefits. You could call them the meat of the soup.

Next comes the spice. The fun stuff, some gossip, some speculation, and some outright shocking stories that may, or may not, be family stories, or those of close friends.The question always is; “How much do I want to upset my family?” How much spice shall I add? The spice is the best part, in my opinion. But, there is more to the soup than meat and spice.

There are the veggies, these are good for you and useful. Like life tips gained from living a full life, and surviving. Younger readers might gain an insight here or there and older readers may identify. They need to be part of the story, whether it is anyone’s favorite part or not. I am good at mixing things together to make a delicious stew or soup. I am betting that the end result will be fun to read, informative and in the very best cases, life changing.

Of course I suppose that is what every writer craves to hear. “You changed my life.!” Those words are magic. Magic for me, as well as the speaker. And it has happened to me before. That is why I know how exciting it is to hear them.

Back when my entire focus was on childbirth, I was able to really help some women empower themselves. They were hungry for some support in their beliefs about giving birth. I was right there, with as much information as they were ready for. And in some cases they heard me and they took action. Those are the ones who later told me what I wanted so much to hear. They told me that if it were not for my council they would not have dared change doctors, or hospital or they would never have dared hire a midwife. Not everyone needed that knowledge, but for those wanted it, I was available with books and contacts and my own story of empowerment. Those were happy times.

Now, I am a different sort of “pregnant” and getting ready to birth a book. A book about my life and it’s transformation over the last 4 years from desperately unhappy, to a joyful existence in the same place, with the same cast of characters that made me miserable before. Now every day is a good day. I want to share that journey with others.

Copyright©.  2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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