Category Archives: family

Celebrating Courage, Creativity and Grit.

One of the most satisfying aspects of blogging is accompanying (and hopefully supporting) fellow bloggers as they discover, pursue, and, eventually, achieve their dreams.

As writer, architect, traveller, and dreamer, Virginia Duran, explains in this video clip,  achieving dreams requires  persistence, strength, skill, creativity, and a great team of supporters. To her list I would add courage.

Virginia has courage as well as  all it takes to be an achiever of dreams.   I was thrilled to see her latest post announcing the publication of  her London  Architectour Guide , which has been  described as an “exquisite travel book for anyone passionate about architecture”.

Other blogging friends with oodles of courage and talent, namely Cynthia Reyes and Marisa Alvarsson, have delighted me and many others recently with their latest achievements.

Much admired and loved blogger, Cynthia, and her  lovely daughter, Lauren Reyes-Grange, have just  written and published the second book in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series. As Cynthia recalls in this guest post  bringing Myrtle’s Game to us, the readers, was no easy task,  and getting it off the harvest table into our hands became a full-on family affair.  They had to adopt Myrtle-like persistence and determination to achieve their dreams. In ‘Myrtle’s Game’, ” Myrtle and her friends are turned away when they try to join in a game with others. The friends walk away, feeling hurt, but that’s just the start of the story.” With persistence, patience, and practice, Myrtle and her friends prove that even a  slow turtle can play the game as well as anyone else. And, more than that, Myrtle  shows us that the best team is the one which is inclusive and allows you to believe in yourself.  

Marisa, who has been a dear blogging friend almost from the beginning of my blogging days in 2012, began her social media life unwilling, like so many of us, to even mention her real name.  We knew her only  as Miss Marzipan, mother to a toddler, and confined to bed rest with a difficult pregnancy.   Today, thanks to Marisa’s creativity and courage, and  the support of her loving family, she has given herself permission to  embrace the dream of being the author of a fabulous cook book ‘Naturally Sweet Vegan Treats“. She is also a wonderful, kind (almost magical 🙂 ) presence on Instagram, with 146K followers.

Another achiever and  blogger, whom I have come to know in recent months is A Voice from Iran, Laleh Chini.  Like Cynthia she lives in Canada, and, like Cynthia, Laleh and  her daughter  Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi worked together as co-authors to produce ‘ Climbing over Grit’. “The story follows the journey of Najma as she is forced into a marriage at the age of eleven and faces the challenges of motherhood with an abusive husband, all while the eight-year war with Iraq is taking place.”  The story  is a tribute to Laleh’s mother.  And a tribute to Laleh’s determination to write stories important to her and her family, and which, she believes,  are important for the rest of the world to know.

Now, if, like me, you have places to go and things to do, and if, unlike me, you have your own dreams to pursue, you may not have time to buy or read the books I mention here, but I would urge you to take a closer look at, at least, one of these strong, creative women and their achievements.

I celebrate them all.  And I thank them  for letting me  be a small part  of their dream journeys.

Special note: the photos in this post are not mine. They belong to the authors and illustrators of the books featured.

ps  I may not be on WordPress very much for a few months, but I will do my best to check your posts whenever I can.

 

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Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ at rest

My garden: festive feijoa

I retreated into silence last night to consider whether it was time to end my quest. My original intention was to post every day of Advent. But that has not happened to this point and, during my little retreat, I decided  there would be no more posts after this one.

After 15 posts (16 including today’s) on silence, my quest seems to have come to a natural conclusion. For now, I am replete with silence. I feel no need to continue.

My quest has been an enriching experience. I am immensely grateful for your participation in my search for silence. Through silence and contemplation, and with your wonderful companionship, I have for the first time, in a long time, been able to create an accepting, peaceful, space in my heart and home for Christmas.

As Linda (Shoreacres) writes in her post Homes Made for the Holidays ” Christmas is coming, after all, and its spirit will find a dwelling in even the smallest or poorest of spaces.”

And so it has, already. In the silence, it came to me.  From my humble home to yours, I send love and best wishes for peace and goodwill now and always. Happy Christmas.

 

The interfaith tree in my dwelling space, 2018; this tree, fully decorated, was given to me in 2016 by a Buddhist friend. The skirt of the tree and the embroidered white cloth come from Christmas celebrations in Cairo. The green prayer beads were a  Hajj gift from a friend in Egypt. The beads help to remind me of another Christmas tree; a fully decorated  Christmas tree given to us by a Muslim friend for our first Christmas in Egypt.

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ Silent Night

Deep silence, deep sorrow, some peace:  Commonwealth War Cemetery, El Alamein, mid 1990s

Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon godly tender pair
Holy infant with curly hair
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Translated by Bettina Klein
© 1998 Silent Night Museum
A-5024 Salzburg, Steingasse 9

No Advent Quest  would be complete without acknowledgement of Silent Night.

This  Christmas Eve will mark the 200th anniversary of the first public performance of Silent Night in 1818.  It was written by Joseph Mohr in 1816, partly as a way to celebrate  peace and freedom, and to encourage joy, following the end of the Napoleonic  Wars.*

A hundred and four years ago on Christmas Eve in 1914, German officer, Walter Kirchhoff, a tenor with the Berlin Opera  “came forward and sang Silent Night in German, and then in English. In the clear, cold night of Christmas Eve, his voice carried very far.The shooting had stopped and in that silence he sang and the British knew the song and sang back.”

Silent Night has been translated into  hundreds of languages and dialects.  The carol was  declared an intangible, cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011.

When I listen to  Silent Night, I remember  the Holy Family’s search for peace and sanctuary. And I hear the yearning of most every one of us for  the deep silence of peace.

 

ps

*For an accurate account  of  why Mohr wrote Silent Night, please read the comment by Shoreacres.

For more information on the recording in the final link please click here

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~the web of years

In silence, understanding, the tapestry of my life

In my quest, I begin to understand how the woof of many  silences is woven through the warp of my life. The  unfolding pattern surprises me, delights me, comforts me, saddens me, enriches me.

 

In the light of the silent stars that shine on the struggling sea, 
In the weary cry of the wind and the whisper of flower and tree, 
Under the breath of laughter, deep in the tide of tears, 
I hear the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years. 

from the The Loom of Years by Alfred Noyes (1902)

ps The image features a selection of gifts received over many years. The wooden sculptures come from Malawi.  They were given to me over 30 years ago and have travelled to many countries with me.  Faithful friends, I call them Thomas and Sarah.

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~the silent guest

 

the unseen guest, the silent listener, be present at my table

Who is the unseen guest at your table, the silent listener to every conversation?  The traditional response is Christ; “Christ is the head of the home, the unseen guest of every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.”

My silent guest list changes for almost every meal. Sometimes the guest is an absent family member, or a far off  friend. At other times, I eat in the company of  loved ones who are no longer living.  Often, it seems to me, my little table is a host to a multitude of  absentees. They outnumber those who are physically present.  It would be crowded and noisy, if it weren’t for  the guests’ gentle, profound, and caring, silence.

 

This post is dedicated to Eileen at Laughter: Carbonated Grace , and to all those who will be missing a loved one at their table this Christmas.

 

PS This is my attempt at a flat lay photo. The two flower photos in the centre of the image are not mine. They were a gift from my photographer friend, David Dobbs.

Silence ~an Advent Quest ~ the dark side lit

By my bed, a floral candle, comfort.

In silence there is darkness, anxiety, fear.  In darkness, lights fulfil their promise.

In silence, I remember the darkness of the first Christmas; the anxiety, the fear. I remember the Star of Wonder, the guiding light.

‘By my bed, on a little round table
The Grandmother placed a candle.
She gave me three kisses telling me they were three
dreams
And tucked me in just where I loved being tucked.
Then she went out of the room and the door was shut.
I lay still, waiting for my three dreams to talk;
But they were silent……..’

from The Candle by Katherine Mansfield

 

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ food for earworms

The silence of one but which one?

Silence, food for earworms, not always pestilential ones.

These lines happily tunnel through my stillness:

‘One is one and all alone
And evermore shall be so.’

from Green Grow the Rushes O