A Good Day

What are the key components of a good day?  Waking up healthy?  Waking up period?  Sleeping in?  Getting up early and having quiet time?  A healthy breakfast? A not so healthy breakfast? A steaming cup of your favorite coffee or tea?  A job you love?  Not having to go to work?  A quiet lunch?  A lunch with friends?  An afternoon nap?  A good dinner?  Company for dinner?  Having someone else cook dinner?  A movie?  A night out? Game night? A quiet evening at home?

There are so many options and it seems that the answer is mainly based on our particular preferences and interests.  Or is the answer really more about our attitude?  Can it be a good day when you oversleep and are running late and there’s no time for breakfast and your cup of coffee is lying on the pavement because you put it on the roof of your car and forgot about it after you got the door unlocked, got inside, and drove away?  What about if someone swipes your lunch or you eat peanut butter and jelly at your desk or if all your coworkers go out for lunch and forget to invite you?  What if some annoying presidential speech is on instead of your favorite show or your cable goes out or you’re eating alone because that special someone still hasn’t shown up in your life? 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting life to be easy, to go our way, to be what we want and expect.  Except that it’s not really how life goes, is it?  It’s a roller coaster of good things and not so good things and sometimes really horrible things. Even though it goes against everything I feel, I am trying, making a solid effort to be thankful, even when things aren’t going the way I want, when I’m hurt or sick or grieving or lonely or just plain fed up. 

But sometimes there are days like today, that are very nearly perfect.  Even though I was up at five am, I was warm and cozy in my comfortable bed, with a good book to read while I waited for the sun to rise at 8:42 so I could take Hannah outside.  After I let the chickens out, I kicked a ball around for Hannah while I watched to see whether the sun was going to be able to poke out from behind the clouds (it didn’t).

There were some errands to run and the first on the list was a stop at a new bakery for a freshly baked chocolate croissant. There will be more about that in a future post – oh yes!  Other errands included a stop at the hardware store, a consignment shop, and a grocery store, but also one of my other favorite places, the Boulevard Market for some cheese.

Then it was off to visit my cousins who were hard at work on a house they are renovating.  The house is lovely, an old farmhouse in the country whose walls are crying out for a family to come and make it their home.  The sun had come out and the temperature was up over fifty-five degrees, which very rarely happens in late November in Michigan.

After a delicious lunch, it was time to get some chili cooking and then go outside to pull the last of the carrots from the garden.  After last night’s rain, it was a muddy and dirty job, but it was still a joy to pull the rainbow colored carrots out to enjoy over the next few weeks.  This probably wasn’t the high point of the day, but next on the agenda was pulling thistles and burdocks that had gotten away from us over the summer.  Hopefully this year we can win the battle that I’ve personally declared against pickers! 

After that it was time to tromp around the perimeter of our sixteen acres.  Hannah bounded in and out of the tall grass, appearing and disappearing, very busy with so many things to smell and investigate, and unfortunately, roll in.  Some of the grass in the meadow was so soft, I had to take a moment to lie down and soak in a little sunshine. 

a-fall-rest

Much to Hannah’s dismay, the next thing on the agenda was a bath for her.  Maybe one day she will realize that anytime she rolls in something that she finds delightful, a bath is sure to follow.  Then it was time for a brief rest before my little cousins came over to help put ornaments on a tiny tree in our living room and decorate the dollhouse for Christmas.  And handcuff me to the rocking chair, but it was all in good fun.

mini-christmas-tree

A delicious meal of chili with cornbread followed, plus a chocolate cookie from the earlier trip to the bakery.  While I did dishes I listened to a favorite podcast and then puttered around my room enjoying some solitude.  Now it’s time to get this posted and get into my jammies and call it a day.  A very, very good day.

Who’s Hungry?

It’s not who you might think. According to the AARP Bulletin, we live in a country that throws out between 30 and 40 percent of it’s food supply, an estimate of over one-hundred and sixty billion dollars.  In the US, we’re just days past the biggest meal of the year, searching Pinterest to find creative ways to use up the last of our Thanksgiving leftovers, though for many of us, we’re just done, and we’ve tossed out lots of snacks and side dishes right along with the turkey carcass.

turkey

This post isn’t about all of our excess for a change, though, it’s about the people in our country who are hungry, or what is known today as “food insecure.”  ‘Food insecure’ is a ridiculous term – it’s a euphemism so that we don’t have to admit that in America, the land of opportunity, there are people who don’t have enough to eat.  How many people?  According to statistics gathered in 2015, over thirteen percent of households or 43.1 million Americans. 

While it’s criminal and tragic that the majority of households that suffer from food insecurity hunger are households with children being parented by single mothers, what struck me is that in 2014, 5.4 million people over the age of sixty, a whopping nine percent, are hungry.  Three out of five seniors who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) do not participate in the program.  Lack of mobility, access and knowledge of technology and the stigma associated with needing assistance are some of the reasons for this lack of participation.

These are our parents and grandparents who don’t have enough to eat.  According to the National Council on Aging, their inability to purchase quality food that offers good nutrition leads to diseases like diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, gum disease, and asthma.

So what do we do about it?  How do we help those who are struggling?  First, pay attention.  Are there older adults living in your neighborhood? Going to your church? Get to know them and watch out for them, making sure that they are able to get to the store, offer to pick up groceries for them, drop off a meal or extra groceries, especially if the weather has been bad.  Next, research and let them know about programs that are available in your area or national programs, like Meals on Wheels or SNAP.  Lastly, invite them over for a meal or to join you for lunch or dinner and make sure there are some leftovers for them to take home.  And maybe the next time you see an older person in line behind you at the grocery store, you simply pay it forward.

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day, we think about all the things for which we are grateful, all the many blessings we’ve received. Many of us gather around a table filled with an enormous turkey and a dozen side dishes and accompaniments, football playing in the background, surrounded by family and friends. It’s a feast day, a celebration of our founders, a holiday from our regular workday. 

Here there were three generations of women preparing the food, with the guys helping out as needed.  There was plenty to eat and Pocahontas on the television in lieu of football.  There were calls and texts as we sent warm holiday greetings to other family members. 

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Making the dressing

a-work-of-art

A work of art in progress

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Apple pie

Yet for some, that’s not how the day went.  Maybe there was an empty chair at the table for the first time.  Maybe there wasn’t enough money to buy all the fixings for the feast.  Maybe someone drank too much and things were said or done that will be hard to forgive.  Maybe you lived too far away from your family to be able to celebrate with them.  Maybe you were working and today was no different from any other day.  Maybe the dinner you worked so hard to prepare was a disaster and nothing lived up to your expectations. Maybe your family is more than a little dysfunctional and holidays are completely unpredictable.

It’s hard to be thankful in these situations – to find blessings in the midst of pain and hardship. In fact, it’s easy to slip into resentment, bitterness, aching, and longing.  Where is the good in difficult moments?  Is it really possible to be thankful regardless of circumstances?  Should we even try to be grateful when there doesn’t seem to be any reason to be?  Why?

The answer is yes – whether you can believe it in this moment or not.  If we never felt the bitter chill of winter, would we rejoice when we feel the hot summer sun on our skin?  If our throats were never parched, would we experience the refreshment of a cool drink of water?  Would it be right to avoid loving someone just so we’d never have to experience the loss when we look at their empty place at the dinner table? 

If your Thanksgiving Day was just the way you like it, if you’re feeling happy and content because your belly is full of turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie and your team won the game, I am so happy for you!  But if today was one of the longest days of your life and some of your meal was overcooked or undercooked and your kids have been throwing up all day and you never want to see your crazy uncle again and if you can’t stop crying because your son or daughter is at a military base somewhere far away and you wish you could have just one more Thanksgiving with your loved one, my thoughts and prayers are with you.  Remember you are never alone.1-thessalonians