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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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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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What can be done about the young people growing up today?

1 Dec

It is absolutely unbelievable to me how impaired young people are today. Political correctness gone wild … I am so tired of being called a racist, homophobic, Nazi, Elitist! I am not any of those things. But, I do say my truth. It may be different than someone else’s truth because of their background or indoctrination!
The fact that our colleges and universities have become so expensive and yet they are turning kids against their grandparents is shocking!! One of my favorite grandsons is refusing to talk to me right now, because of my views. Specifically, I said in my blog that I agreed with Meagan Kelly that “blackface” as a costume is harmless and no insult to blacks. And I believe that!
Now in my 70s I have more and more friends who are black. I consider them a blessing in my life. And yet, I am frequently called “racist”. Go figure!   When I was young and knew no one except casual servers who were black, then it was probably true.  If you want to end racism, you need to get people together.  Keeping them separate does not do it.  And yet, there is a black history month, and black students Union at some schools.  It is true that sometimes it is easier to be with people who are exactly like you, but no one is.

 

I don’t have an appropriate photo, so here is my dog, Magnus. He has manners and civility, both.

Today I went to a luncheon where most people disliked the President of the United States.  That is allowed, in this country. No one will arrest them for their views.  But, one man said something that has really made me think.  Someone asked “What ever happened to civility and manners?” And He said “That was before they began to calling manners and civility ‘Political Correctness’ and mocking them.”

This surprised me.  I NEVER think of manners as being politically correct.  Manners are simply manners.  But, it is true that Political Correctness stops conversation. It is true that it shames people, on purpose. To me Political Correctness is the thing that keeps us from being able to speak truthfully about anything that might be called a stereotype.  Where do you think Stereotypes come from? It comes from things being lumped together, rightly or wrongly.

Stereotype threat describes the experience of “being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype of one’s group” (Steel & Aronson, 1995).
I had never heard of Stereotype threat until I began writing this blog.  It is a perfect example of the nonsense we are told daily. I “get it” but I do not agree that forcing people to avoid any possible chance of running into a stereotype is helping them.  People simply must “get a grip”.
I want to be free to say what I  believe without being traumatized by the threat of breaking some code of political correctness.  I have no intention of using bad manners. There is no reason for anything but civility.  So I do not understand that man’s saying that those who “mock” Political Correctness (that would be me) are contributing to a lack of manners or civility.

My contention is that we need a lot more of both of those things.  Manners are not taught to children like they once were.  And Civil disobedience is encouraged on school campuses.  No wonder we are living in a time when both are lacking.

A friend wrote about the young today:

“They need a taste of reality. For our parents, it was a World War, for us it was Viet Nam. These kids have seen no suffering. They have been been indulged, have no manners, and are incapable of serious logical thinking. “
I agree with him.

 

Copyright©.  2018 Bonnie B. Matheson

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