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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Season of Giving

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“For it is in giving that we receive.” 
 Francis of Assisi

As we count our blessings this holiday season, please remember that there are millions and millions of people – around the world – who are hungry, homeless, displaced, discouraged and lonely.

In this, the season of giving, please do what you can to help a neighbor, a stranger, a family in your community.

Donate food, clothing, blankets and toys to your local missions.  Help out at your local food bank. Share your Christmas feast with someone less fortunate.

If you dine in restaurants, give your leftovers (that you would normally take home) to the homeless man or woman huddled on the sidewalk. Don’t pass them by, averting your face.  Show them compassion.

Spread a little Hope and Kindness.

After all, this is the season of Light… is it not?

May the true meaning of the holiday season fill your hearts and homes with many blessings.  Remember to take time to slow down and enjoy the simple things. I wish you, dear readers, much happiness today and throughout the New Year.

Blessings and Warmest Wishes,

heatherfromthegrove

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
Charles Dickens

55 and counting

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“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

Sophia Loren

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“Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries
for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those
who have used him well; making them old men and women
inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits
young and in full vigor.  With such people the gray head is
but the impression of the old fellow’s hand in giving them
his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch
in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life.”

Charles Dickens

Image by Mike Baird via Flickr.com.

The Quirks and Eccentricities of Writers

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“I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.”    

Truman Capote

Writers are a curious species.  From writing rituals, superstitions, and funny quirks to over-the-top, Mad Hatter-type eccentricities… we immerse ourselves in an environment, and a process from which all creative juices can flow freely.

If my old marketing colleagues could see me now, they would be shocked.  I used to sport a coiffed, stylish shoulder-length bob  (think Cindy Williams, in her role as Shirley on the TV sitcom “Laverne & Shirley) and always wore chic, professional business attire.  I now look like a cross between Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt, but with round, black glasses. My “writing wear” consists of red Stewart plaid pajama bottoms and my favorite black t-shirt, inscribed (in white) with the words: “Drink Ouzo. [Help save Greece].”  I sit, always barefoot, at my desk oblivious to anyone or anything.  Sometimes, I mutter out loud.

Unlike Truman Capote, I am a vertical author. When I’m deep in thought, I pace back and forth.  Like Capote, however, I am ridiculously obsessed with punctuation and this obsession is annoying even to me.

At the commencement of each day, my desk must be clear and pristine, before I’m able to start writing. I can’t function if it’s messy.

My daily ritual of libation-while-writing evolves from early morning to late night: from water (with a lemon slice) in the early AM, to black coffee (Gevalia, French Roast) until 1 pm, to tea (Earl Grey, no milk or sugar) in the afternoon, to single malt scotch (Glenlivet) at 6pm-ish, then on to wine (preferably a nice Burgundy) in the evening, and, late at night, back to water (with a lemon slice).

And, I hate phones.

I know that I am not alone in my “madness” … so, ‘fess up writers.  What are your writing quirks and eccentricities?  I would love to hear about them!

Don’t worry, we’re in good company.  Some of the greatest literary minds of yore (and also a few familiar modern authors) have been clouded (or sharpened…. it’s all a matter of perspective) by their writing fetishes. 

Victor Hugo, a procrastinator by nature, would remove all of his clothes and give them to his servant, with instructions not to return them until he had completed his writing day.

Charles Dickens had a ritual whereby he would drink a sip of hot water after every 50 lines of writing.

Joyce Carol Oates commences her writing day very early and will not eat breakfast until her day’s work is done.  Sometimes her “breakfast” is at dinnertime!

Orhan Pamuk had a quirky ritual. By his own admission, he would leave his house each morning (after saying goodbye to his wife), as if he were going off to work. He would then walk around a few blocks and return home, as if arriving at the office. This put him in the “work zone” frame of mind.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe would retreat like a hermit into a completely sealed room, devoid of fresh air, and stay there until he completed his work.

So, there you have it.  We are a loopy bunch.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?

Photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography

… “and peace to His people on Earth” … Merry Christmas from heatherfromthegrove in South Florida!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!  ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

May you enjoy and savour the joy of the holiday season, delight in feasting with your family and friends, and may you bow your head in fervent, heartfelt appreciation for all the blessings you received and those that are yet to come.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Cheers,

heatherfromthegrove

 

 

 

 

Image (top) via Skyscrapercity.com