heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 1 of 7: It all begins and ends with Family

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“The family is the nucleus of civilization.”

Will Durant

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Happy New Year everyone!

This year, the inspiration for my New Year’s “Revelations” stem from some of the experiences, life events and lessons learned in the past year.

For me, it was – as Charles Dickens wrote (in A Tale of Two Cities) – “the best of times, it was the worst of times…. it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

And with each year comes more wisdom.

I hope that some or all of these revelations resonate with you.

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It all begins and ends with Family. It forms the core of our belief system and is the springboard from which we go on to conduct the rest of our lives.  Family supersedes nationalistic ideals, political aspirations and even religious dogma.  Family. Is. Everything. Well, at least it should be.

In a Utopian world, the family should be a “safe harbor” where we are loved, cherished, encouraged, and understood. It is an entity that should be devoid of judgment, jealousy, gossip, or hatred and replete with loyalty, familiarity – a strong sense of shared history and kinship. It is a clanship which fosters collaboration over divisiveness. In a Utopian world.

There are some who are blessed with an idyllic family.

There are others whose families do not withstand the passage of time and who crack or even fall apart when tested by hardship or tragedy.

Sadly, there are still more who are born into dysfunctional, damaged, and abusive families.

And then there are those who are left adrift – with no family at all.

“There is no such thing as a “broken family.” Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family. And if you hate those ties, those people will still be your family because whatever you hate will always be with you.”

– C. JoyBell C.

My husband and I have built, for over three decades, that safe harbor we call our intimate family. It’s just the two of us… and all the beloved four-legged creatures who inhabit our house. This “safe harbor” has withstood the passage of time, despite many storms and even some typhoons. We are weather-beaten but happy sailors in this journey that is our life. Unfortunately, we have witnessed a few wreckages along the way.

“There is no greater blessing than a family hand that lifts you from a fall; but there is not lower curse than a family hand that strikes you when you’re down.”    

– Wes Fessler

And, as we all know, blood does not necessarily form a family bond. Families can be born from the heart… by choice. However the connection is formed, the important thing is to understand and maintain the true notion of Family.

We may not live in a Utopian world… but we can (and should) certainly strive to get there.

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.”

Alex Haley

Some Book Recommendations:

Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationshipsby Harry Brighouse & Adam Swift

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Why Can’t We Get Along: Healing Adult Sibling Relationshipsby Peter Goldenthal

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Photo via pdpics.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 5 of 7: “I may be small, but I’m strong.”

blueborderThis year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

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My mother used to say:

“I may be small, but I’m strong.”

My mother was 4’11” tall.  She was “petite” but fierce.  Her hands, though small, were strong.  As wayward children, we knew her vice grip well.  She could beat a 6′ tall burly man in an arm wrestling match.  But her eyes, oh those eyes.  When she was angry, her eyes were like steel and ice.  And if that gaze was directed at one of us, we knew we were in deep trouble.  She didn’t have to utter a word. Just one look.

Throughout her life, she suffered a series of debilitating illnesses – from brain clots, osteoporosis, and heart problems to multiple cancers.  She was always in pain, but rarely showed it.  She whistled through it. She laughed at it. She refused to succumb to it. She despised weakness and was damned if she was going to let anyone see her vulnerable.

When she experienced a life challenge – physical, emotional, family related or economic – she bore it defiantly… almost like daring it to bring her down.  Except that it never did.

Even at the very end of her life, with cancer festering rapidly throughout her small body, she looked at me – smiling and loving eyes penetrating my soul – and she said “My darling girl, don’t cry for me. I’ll be fine.”  She was 79. I was 45. I was not fine.  I was losing the most precious person in my life.

In the years since, I’ve experienced some interesting life challenges. Friends and family have expressed their amazement at how stoically I’ve handled myself, how strong and resilient I am.

I’ve had a good teacher.

    “The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.”

― C. JoyBell C.

 

New Year’s Revelation No. 2 of 7: Humility is attractive, and Arrogance… not so much

 

“Be careful not to mistake insecurity and inadequacy for humility! Humility has nothing to do with the insecure and inadequate! Just like arrogance has nothing to do with greatness!” 
― C. JoyBell C.

 

The very humble among us do not advertise that they are humble.  Their innate humility precludes them from doing so.  All too often, humility is mistaken for low self-esteem.  People who are, by nature, humble… possess the instinctive wisdom to recognize that they are but a small microcosm  of a very big world. They go about their lives, quietly doing their part to contribute to this planet, to make a difference. The thing is, they are not in the least interested in receiving praise  or accolades for their efforts and accomplishments. Theirs is a quiet power ― filled with purpose, not vanity or ego.  Theirs is a simple creed: Observe. Listen. Above all, learn.

As history will attest, these are the people who don’t aspire to greatness. Many of them simply are. Aside from the obvious biblical reference, one figure immediately comes to mind:  Mahatma Gandhi.

By contrast, the arrogant who strut among us believe that the sun rises and sets on their very existence. They want to be heard, but don’t care to listen. They do not seek more knowledge because they believe they know it all. They have all the answers. Their own hubris makes them deaf and blind.  

As history will attest, these are the people who are felled by their own arrogance. And when they fall, they fall hard. There are many historical figures and world leaders who come to mind, more recently: Richard Nixon.

Yes, there are those who are, by nature, humble. Then there are others who have learned how to be humble, through hard lessons and life experiences. 

Personally, I fall into the latter category – learned humility. That said, I am ashamed to admit that I have had my share of arrogant moments, in the course of my life.  It’s a work in progress. 

I guess we are all a Work in Progress…

Cheers,

heatherfromthegrove

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.” 

― Mahatma Gandhi (born: 1869-10-02 died: 1948-01-30 at age: 78)