Snow Day Gratitudes

What a surprise, to wake up this morning and discover it was a snow day! We don’t typically get much snow here in the Joplin area, and it’s a rare occurrence before January. As the day progressed we received about 3 1/2 – 4 inches, keeping school aged kids at home and providing me the opportunity for snow day gratitudes.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Autumn Collides with Winter

I’m way past the point where I enjoy playing in the snow. I feel the cold more deeply than I did as a child. However, I appreciate the beauty found in snow covered landscapes.

When I had to get out for a short time, I combined errands and accomplished everything in one trip. Greg drove for me, and although the roads weren’t yet icy, I appreciated the chauffeuring. His generosity freed me to take in the wintry transformation.

The photo below represents the day well…a brightly colored fall leaf lying in fresh snow. It’s beautiful and I’m grateful for the sight.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Thai Food to Warm the Body

My friend Mike surprised me a few days ago, with a gift certificate to my favorite Thai food restaurant in town. While we were out today, Greg and I stopped by Kinnaree to pick up a to-go order.

The little restaurant was packed! When I remarked on how busy they were the waitress paused to say when it’s cold, people warm up with Thai food.

I’m grateful for Kinnaree Thai Restaurant for their veggie meal options and exceptional service. And I’m thankful to Mike for the gift certificate. He made me smile, when I asked Why the gift? His answer: “Because you are being Cindy.”

I love that!

Snow Day Gratitudes

No Two Snowflakes Alike

I learned as a child that no two snowflakes are alike. Each one is wonderfully unique. As the snow gently fell around me, tiny snowflakes landed on my arm and I studied them, fascinated.

It doesn’t matter how old I get. I’m still in awe of nature and the beauty it offers when I have the eyes to see it. The minuscule flakes were perfectly formed, and they were each different from the other. What a marvelous life lesson snowflakes present, reminding me to just be myself, my unique, glorious, quirky self…and allow others the same freedom. I’m grateful for their magic.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Snow Day FaceTime

Another happy surprise came today in the form of a phone call. A snow day meant the grandkids got an extra day off added to the weekend. Aubrey called me, using a feature on our phones known as FaceTime. We could chat, we could see each other as we talked.

It was fun to carry our phones around and show each other what our respective yards looked like, under their blankets of snow.

With a touch of a button, Aubrey’s sweet face transformed into a “drawing”, a living, moving, talking animation. I love that my grandkids are all so techie. She laughed as I tried to duplicate what she did, without success. I’ll have to be shown the next time we are together. I’m grateful for the fun talk and for learning something new about my phone.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Winter Wonderland

As I snapped photos of this early snowfall, I was most drawn to the backyard garden. I’ve learned to appreciate this personal paradise year around. Each season brings its own charm and beauty.

I seldom see the garden cloaked in a layer of snow, even during the winter. It’s so breathtaking. Magical is a better word. Familiar plants and tables and containers change with the snow and I am enthralled with the unfamiliarity of this space that I know so well.

Every time I see snow falling and piling up in the garden, I wish for a working lamppost next to the path, similar to the one in the Narnia stories. Even without that beacon of light, the garden is welcoming and draws me in.

I’m so grateful for every gift this snow day brought to me today. If it’s the only one we receive this winter, it is enough.

Snow Day Gratitudes

Journey 60: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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A snow day equals a movie day, and what a delightful way to spend a cozy afternoon indoors. I journeyed today to India, via the wonderful movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and I was enchanted. Released in 2011, I have somehow missed this movie. Watching new releases recently, I saw previews for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, due in theaters March 6. At the DVD rental store yesterday, I found the first installment and brought it home. I’m so glad I did.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has an all star cast including Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel, and Tina Desae. The film was directed by John Madden and is based on the novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach. This comedy drama is rated PG-13 for minor language and brief sexual content and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

British retirees book rooms in the exotic, yet crumbling, Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, India, for a variety of reasons. All are experiencing life changes that are not entirely due to age. Evelyn (Dench) has just lost her husband of 40 years and must liquidate her assets in England to pay off his debts. Graham (Wilkinson) has reached retirement age as a judge and has a past in India that has haunted him all his life. Douglas (Nighy) and his wife Jean (Wilton) lost their retirement savings through investments in their daughter’s internet company. Muriel (Smith) needs a hip replacement surgery and can obtain one at a much lower cost in India. And Madge (Imrie) seeks a rich husband while Norman (Pickup) is easing his loneliness by chasing women.

The travelers are surprised by the deteriorating condition of the hotel, as the online brochure showed more opulence. (I found it intriguing, for me and for the characters, that their rooms did not have doors on them.) They meet the charming and optimistic manager and part owner of the hotel, Sonny (Patel) and they agree to stay, some of the new occupants more reluctantly than others. The old hotel, once owned by Sonny’s father, exudes a charm of its own, and soon the retirees have settled into their surroundings and are adjusting to new lives, in a new locale. Each person follows his or her own path, some toward love, some toward independence for the first time, and a couple of them toward the beauty of life itself. As they open to India, they also open to new places within themselves, releasing the past and embracing the present. Even Sonny, whose mother does not accept or approve of his girlfriend Sunaina (Desae), finds himself changing along with his first guests.

I absolutely loved this movie. I smiled through the whole film and teared up more than once as truths touched deeply. I especially identified with Judi Dench’s character, Evelyn, who finding herself in a strange land, both outwardly and inwardly, began to blog daily about her experiences. On the way to the hotel, Evelyn asks Graham if everything is going to be all right.  The judge confesses he is more scared than she is. Then he straightens in newly found courage and says, “No…it’s going to be extraordinary.”

And the transformations are extraordinary. Graham finds a long lost love and realizes that the fear and shame he has lived with all his life were entirely his own creations. He did not ruin another’s life. Muriel, who has allowed bitterness and prejudice to choke her life, finds grace and purpose again. Madge, who fears she has nothing to offer any longer, finds she can give encouragement and support to others. Norman quits pretending to be someone other than who he is and meets the perfect companion, while Douglas and Jean examine their lives as a couple as their paths seem to be taking them in different directions.

Because Evelyn is blogging, she often narrates the movie, and so many of her words are quote worthy. I stopped and rewound this movie often to capture her wisdom by typing into my phone. As the inhabitants of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel become friends and their lives shift, Evelyn writes, “Old habits die easier than we think and new ones form.” The symphony of sound and color in Jaipur awakens life in her and in most of the others, while it terrifies a couple of those who at first refuse to accept their circumstances. “Resist and be knocked down,” is Evelyn’s sage advice. “Dive in and swim through to the other side.”

About leaving their old lives in England and embracing the new, she shares, “There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. Only a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws.” I love the visual and the energetic feel of that truth. I’m going to write that one down and add it to my deck of inspiring quotes and affirmations. Evelyn, who blamed her late husband for keeping her small, recognized at last that she is the author of her own life story and wept sad yet healing tears.

What a gorgeously visual and deeply moving film, as rich and complex as India herself. I am excited to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which opens Friday in theaters. I am also convinced that any movie with the word “hotel” in it is a good one for me to see! As this movie concluded, Evelyn narrates as images of the retirees living their new lives unfolded, “The person who risks nothing, does nothing…has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So we must celebrate the changes. Because as someone (Sonny) said, ‘Everything will be all right in the end. And if it’s not all right, then trust me…it’s not yet the end.’” I so agree. And I am celebrating!

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel cast

Journey 47: Snow Day

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Because of sleet and snow overnight, Joplin and the surrounding area had its first snow day of the season. That meant I stayed home, cozy in my “comfy” clothes and warm fuzzy socks.

With blinds on the windows open, I sipped hot Scottish tea and enjoyed watching huge snowflakes float by, spun by blasts of cold air as they drifted toward the ground. So beautiful, nature’s show, especially when I can watch from the comfort of my chair, snuggled beneath a thick blanket. It presented the perfect opportunity to read. I spent time in Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver and The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life by Thomas Moore. Both books speak deeply to my soul.

And both books inspired me for my afternoon activity, cleaning out my old desk that’s been in my office for years. I am transforming my home office into a writing/reading/meditation room. Stuff has accumulated in there over the years. I am very sensitive to energy and its flow, and yet I’ve let my office get choked with clutter and items I no longer use. There’s even a litter box for the cats in there. What not so subtle message is THAT sending out? I barely even use this space right now. That’s about to change.

As my life is shifting, I desire to create a fresh space that inspires and invigorates me. I started today by clearing the surface and emptying three drawers in my big desk. A trash bag filled as I threw away scraps of paper, broken calculators and useless ink pens. I found 27 keys in a drawer and hundreds of paper clips! I saved files with genealogy papers, drawings from my kids and mementos from a family vacation. I’ll replace the desk with a beautiful writing table that I purchased. The table feels more open and sparks my creativity.

From the desk I’ll move clockwise around the room, sorting items into three piles: DISCARD (junk, broken items, old files, things too worn to benefit another) DONATE (items that no longer inspire me, draw me, or serve me) and KEEP (anything that still inspires me or brings me joy…or that I need for real estate or writing). I’m going to be ruthless here. If I haven’t opened a book in years, it’s getting donated. If I’m not sure what lurks in a drawer, it all gets pulled out and sorted into the above mentioned piles. I know from experience that once my space is decluttered and cleared of old energy, new energy flows through the room, and my creativity flows with it. It is vital to me that my environment supports me and becomes an extension of me. I’m excited to clear away the cobwebs, both literally and energetically, and enjoy the beautiful new space I am creating.

Thomas Moore writes, “Home is an emotional state, a place in the imagination where feelings of security, belonging, placement, family, protection, memory and personal history abide.” This room, and indeed, my whole house, is shifting to reflect my state of being. And by letting go of what I don’t need or use, I’m creating space to welcome in new things, allowing what I do need to arrive. In the last chapter that I read this morning, in Outrageous Openness, Tosha Silver wrote about this very thing…cleaning out the home, cars, even purses and wallets so that spiritual work can deeply penetrate once the clutter is gone. She says, “You don’t have to release anything you use, love or need. Just the rest of it. Your intuition will show you.”

I am letting the Divine and my intuition nudge me and guide me. The last file I pulled out of the bottom drawer of the desk contained stories I had written, back in 1992. Rather than toss them, I read through one, slowly and thoughtfully, with an eye toward criticism. And you know what? It is well written. Very well written. I placed the file into the KEEP box, feeling encouraged. I am returning to an earlier love. It is time. And my space is shifting to support me.

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