Sunday, February 17, 2008

... for just a brief moment ...

"Nana ... when someone dies, what age are they in Heaven? How old is your mom there?"

We were at the cemetery this morning and youngest granddaughter B was cleaning my mom's headstone when she asked this question. In the dappled sunlight sparkling through the trees, her sister J trimmed the flowers we'd brought, poured the contents of the little flower food packet into the container of water and set the bouquet of colorful flowers inside.

"Well, B ... she's not any age. Age only applies to our physical selves because these bodies are born and they die. We're physically very temporary, so we count the years to measure the bit of time that we spend in a body.

Our divine selves aren't physical, though, so they have no age. In our true divine spirit, we are eternal, so there are no years to count."

J, being the older sister who knows these types of things, added that we don't have any gender in Heaven, either, because that's part of the physical body, too. No color differences, of course, since you have to have a physical body to have any color.

Age, gender, color, weight, nationality, job, bank account ... None of that matters, none of that lasts. Without our bodies, who are we truly in our deepest, purest, truest self?

We finished our clean-up, then knelt under the old tree that shelters Mom's plot and thoughtfully said our prayers, as the ocean breeze lifted our words to the skies.

Friday, February 15, 2008

"Today is my birthday!"

"Today is my birthday!" I've been happily telling everyone today (Friday, February 15). I've just felt so glowingly happy today, like a 7-year-old at her birthday party. I brought brownies in to work and asked everyone to help me celebrate my birthday. I got such nice notes and in-person birthday wishes from folks. Our Flex programming superstar even brought me a Starbucks mocha and a hug. *smile*

Daughter and granddaughters all sent birthday wishes. Daughter's went someting like "Happy birthday to you! cha-cha-cha! Happy birthday to you! cha-cha-cha! ... " and ended with "Smooches!" The grands love those Hoops and Yo-Yo Hallmark e-cards, so I got some great chuckles from the e-cards they sent, too. (I'm grinning right now; those cards are so silly-silly, you can't help it. Go take a look ... ) My brothers, my dad, cousins, various friends - all sent greetings, cards, gifts. I belong to an online group and the great members there posted absolutely wonderfully uplifting greetings! Those really gave a lift to my heart today, too!

I worked until 7:30, then went to church for a Lenten presentation on living your faith out loud. It started at 7, so I missed nearly an hour of it, but the last hour was pretty wonderful. Very entertaining talk by an enormously entertaining Irish priest. Irish priests always seem to be able to tell the best stories! My dear friend was there; my goddaughter (her daughter) was there, too, and I told my goddaughter's friends "Today's my birthday!" and they laughed and gave me hugs, too.

The priest told a story that pretty much sums up the way I've felt today, a story about the real gifts a person receives. The good wishes, the books, CDs, cards, gift baskets - they aren't the real gift. They are expressions of the real gift. The real gift is the thoughtfulness of others, the time and care they took to extend themselves to me. They could have continued about their day with no harm done. But, instead, they reached out with thoughtful kindness and expressed the loveliest sentiments; they took a moment to engage with another human being to try to make a person happy and bring a smile to my face. The human family is just pretty darned wonderful.

For years, I never made a big deal about my birthday - seldom told anyone, barely acknowledged it myself. Boy, was I missing out! For the last couple of years, I've been celebrating and telling everyone with excitement "Today is my birthday!" There is so much joy in saying that and in seeing others engage in the excitement of a birthday. I think people actually like to wish others a "Happy Birthday!" You can't tell someone "Happy Birthday!" without smiling yourself! It's just such a warm fuzzy, isn't it?

It's just been a marvelous day, from beginning to end. Happy Birthday to me! yay! yay!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

BIG hearts ...

I received this "Biggest Heart Award" from the wonderful Rosalie at Quilted Hills. Thank you, Rosalie! Rosalie describes herself on her blog as "Mother of three, Grandmother of one, Sister to five, Lover, Rancher, Thinker, Quilter, Gardener, Cook, Friend." She is all that and more. A wonderfully talented writer and photographer, her stories of life on a ranch come alive and I often imagine myself living life the way she does, according to the natural rhythms of the seasons, under open skies and with vast fields open before me. She has a generous heart and a creative soul. Do yourself a favor and go for a visit!

I'm passing this Biggest Heart Award on to two others with really big hearts:

Mercy of A Fignewton of Your Imagination. I passed on another award to her recently, too, and I know these aren't really her type of things, but I have to recognize Mercy's BIG heart. (Don't feel obligated to pass it along, Mercy; this is just a recognition that you deserve.) She recently took on a position at her church as a coordinator for a program for homeless families. Not easy work, but she's diving in and gathering volunteers, coming up with new ideas to not just feed and clothe and shelter these families, but to create a welcoming place for them with activities and fun. Good on ya, Mercy! You have a BIG heart!

Lynn of It's Gingerbread Lynn! Talk about another BIG heart! Lynn always keeps me laughing with her wonderful writing (think Erma Bombeckish) and her tales of her family of six daughters and a very understanding husband. She "adopts" her daughter's friends and counsels them on beautiful and wise lessons of life and choices. She has slumber parties for her girls even when she's sick, bakes cakes and plays games. She dances in the moonlight. She opens her home to those with nowhere else to go. She cares deeply. I treasure her enormously. Lynn has a BIG heart!

Appropriate to be awarding Biggest Heart Awards on Valentine's Day, no? I don't have a Valentine, but I did have something really nice happen to me after work that put a smile on my face. I stopped at the chinese food place and as I stood in line, the man in front of me started a friendly conversation. We chatted the entire time as we waited there; very nice and casual. After we got our food, he asked me if I'd like to go somewhere and eat our food together. How very sweet! I love random drops of happiness like this, a chance meeting, a nice conversation. Smiling, I had to decline his invitation, but I still thought it was very nice and gave me a lift this evening.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

It's a beautiful morning ...

I really really wish I could have whisked everyone over here for today - IT WAS GORGEOUS! 76 degrees. The kind of beautiful, warm day that makes you think you can do anything and everything and still have time to go sit on the beach with the sun drowsily warming your skin - lol! Can you tell how excited I am? The sun was beautiful, the sky a clear, cloudless blue and the air had the gentlest of warm breezes. aaaahhhhh. I am filled with gratitude for the joy in this day.

One other benefit of the warm weather: Gorgeous men out riding bikes, skateboarding, running, walking - with no shirts on. Good job, God! hee!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

whaddya mean?

Geek alert: I enjoy grammar books and style books. Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, Lapsing into a Comma, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, The Associated Press Stylebook, Wired Style. One of my favorites - and most useful in my work - is Microsoft Manual of Style. Punctuation affects meaning:

A smart dog knows its master.
A smart dog knows it's master.

Why, a comma is important.
Why a comma is important.

Woman without her man is nothing.
Woman, without her, man is nothing.

When it comes to casual communication - blogs, e-mails, letters, IMs, etc. - I think typos, misspellings, orthographic errors, run-on sentences can all be overlooked. Not so, though, for professional writing. (There are a couple of things that bug me in casual writing, though: "prolly" for "probably" and the weird use of CaPItaLiZAtiOn that some people use. I don't get that. One that always bugs me in professional writing is using "zip code" instead of "ZIP Code." ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, per the USPS. Acronyms are capitalized.)

If you're selling a product, idea or message, or promoting a brand, the writing should be professional, clear, precise and accurate. It should express the message well and with clarity, without the distraction of errors. It should promote a sense of the brand and communicate the brand's values. And those values shouldn't tell the consumer "I don't pay attention to details."

I have some fave sites that highlight how hilarious some of these professional errors - and the commentary - can be. Hope they give you a light-hearted laugh!
The Slot: Bill Walsh, Copy Chief at The Washington Post, has a wonderful site and blog that I've been reading for years. Always entertaining and educational.
  • Apostrophe Abuse
  • The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks - I feel "safer"
  • lower case L

  • I spotted this headline recently (and immediately sent to my brothers who also share in "wordy" humor):

    Former Deputy Sentenced For Missing Wife's Murder

    Really? I wasn't aware that it was a crime to miss the murder of one's spouse. Duly noted.