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Archive for the ‘Positivity’ Category

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After fifty years of crocheting, I’m still enjoying it, and recently completed yet another afghan. This “Square Medallion” pattern is started from the centre and worked in rounds, rather than in rows. Each square is edged in half double, then single crochet stitches, and finally all the squares are stitched together to create the finished blanket. My favourite pattern will always be the good old “Granny Square”, but Square Medallions come a close second!

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Perseverance seems to be the key attitude when working on any big project, and I’ve found a few helpful quotations which remind me to never give up:

It always seems impossible until it gets done.

—Nelson Mandela

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

—Confucius

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.

—Ella Fitzgerald

Keep up the old fight!

—Uncle Doug Barton (my godfather:) (thanks, Marilyn, for sending me this quote!)

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Apparently, the much-loved little dog whose family received this afghan is very happy to share it with them! Good! Afghans are made to be used, and to provide comfort as well as warmth.

Now, what shall I crochet next?

I keep on keeping on…

—Frances Crowe (fl. 1800’s)

 

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Boat#3

“Fishing Boats at Sea”, by Claude Monet, 1868

As elders, sailing on this uncharted sea, we need all the help we can get! Here are some of my favourite quotations to help us navigate the waters.

Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.

Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher, 4 BCE-65 CE

Don’t die before you’re dead.

Rachel Wolchin, American writer

It ain’t over till it’s over.

—Yogi Berra, American baseball player, 1925-2015

I’ve had a ball. And as I get older, I just become an older kid.

Jonathan Winters, American actor/comedian, 1925-2013

For those of us who have endured (and survived!) long enough to be called “elders”, sometimes there is a need for encouragement. Fortitude is a word which comes to mind, and strength. These are two attributes that help us to keep on, one step at a time.

Here’s a video of a beautiful, inspiring, and graceful elder, Maia Helles, a retired ballet dancer. Filmed at her cottage on Fire Island in the U.S. when Maia was ninety-five years of age, it shows some of the exercises she practiced regularly.

Maia passed away in 2016 at the age of ninety-nine, leaving a wonderful legacy of hope and encouragement.

It may seem cloyingly upbeat, but this blog’s stated purpose is to “focus on the good”, and on the positive. Years ago, when some health challenges came into my life, I decided to do whatever I could to be my own best coach, my own best advocate. I do experience setbacks on my “positivity” journey at times, and have to get back on track with gentle but firm reminders to myself (and with much patience from my husband!).

A dear friend once said to me, while we were on a brisk exercise walk in the neighbourhood, “Just keep walking, Val!” She meant that I should keep walking rather than stopping to look at gardens every few feet! We were supposed to be exercising, after all. As it turns out, I frequently say those words to myself, especially when experiencing the occasional bout of loss of balance. Boarding city buses can be challenging at times, so I use the mantra, “Just keep walking, Val!”, to gain momentum as I climb aboard.

“Counting” also helps, particularly when going up or down stairs. Just plain counting, 1-2-3 etc., provides a steady rhythm, a sense of security, especially to those of us who have challenges with our vision. Better to count silently to oneself than to take a tumble!

In the depths of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.

—Albert Camus, French philosopher, author, & journalist, 1913-1960

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Forget-me-not flowers in our back garden. I love their simplicity.

Take Heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This little Iris is an inspiration to me. Every spring, the flowers bravely re-appear, with absolutely no help or special care from anyone! For a small, unassuming plant, it has many names: Iris unguicularis, Iris stylosa, Algerian iris, Algerian winter iris, Winter iris.

Our Algerian iris grows from a gravel bed which is situated in a most challenging spot, nestled in amongst strong bamboo roots. It never fails to surprise me when, usually one day in March, I spot its beautiful flowers coming into bloom. This year, it first bloomed during a light snowfall back in late February, and is still blooming in early April. Never fazed, it is a little gem, and serves as a yearly reminder that spring will soon arrive!

For those of you who like plant details, here are the main points about Algerian iris:

Evergreen, rhizomatous, beardless iris.

H. to 8 in. (20cm)   S. indefinite   Almost stemless, flowers 2-3 in. (5-8cm) across

Flowers appear from late autumn to early spring. Prefers a sheltered site against a south or west-facing wall. (But ours is out in the open, except for those protective bamboo roots!)

 

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Boat #2

“The Sailing Boat, Evening Effect”, by Claude Monet, 1885

I’m learning that the process of growing older is an art form, and letting go of some things is part of the artistry. When we create a painting, or take a photograph, it’s the empty spaces that help to define the work, giving it balance and making it beautiful, or at least meaningful!

Life is all about dismantling what’s unimportant. Then you can see what’s really valuable.

–Lilo Raymond, photographer (1923-2009)

lilojug

“Still Life with Pitcher”, photograph by Lilo Raymond

It’s never easy to give up certain activities, people, books or objects that we’ve loved in the past. For example, I’ve had to let go of riding a bike, due to certain physical constraints. But I can still walk, thank goodness! I’m in the process of choosing which activities to hold on to, and which to say goodbye to.

Gardening is a blessing, and I’m hoping to follow in my Dad’s and sister’s footsteps, and putter in my garden for as long as I possibly can, as they did.

The luckiest among us drift into old age within the garden. Bones, muscles and sinews may begin to complain, but the passion’s still there: so much still to do, so many possibilities still to explore.

–Des Kennedy, from The Passionate Gardener–Adventures of an Ardent Green Thumb, (Introduction, page 6)

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Dad’s & Lois’ Geraniums (Pelargoniums) on the deck, summer 2017

Every year, in early autumn, I cut back all fifteen to twenty of my geranium plants (Pelargoniums) and re-pot them, then bring them into the house to overwinter until the spring. Even though some gardeners look disdainfully on these plants, I love them! For one thing, they brighten up the deck, and in my mind, add a little Mediterranean colour to the garden. I inherited some of my geraniums from my Dad, and sister Lois, after they passed away, making my connection to these much-loved plants quite sentimental.  Pelargoniums are among the easiest plants to grow. They just have such a strong will to survive! Cuttings will root easily in a jar of water, with no problem.

As I mentioned in the first post entitled “Beautiful Elders—Sailing on an Uncharted Sea”, acceptance of changes is so important as we age.

Here’s a link to the original post:

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/?s=Beautiful+Elders

Some changes we go through are of our own choosing, and some are forced upon us. Accepting what we are not in control of, or cannot change, is not easy, but does aid us in moving on with our lives. This is a quotation from Albert Einstein which surprised me:

I claim credit for nothing. Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables,or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.

–Albert Einstein, from: The Wisehart Interview, 1930

And Albert was a respected scientist! What a relief to think that we do not have to try to control everything! And what a relief that we can let go of some of the things we used to do.

The above quotation can be seen as stemming from Einstein’s determinism: the philosophical proposition that every event, decision and action is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. See:

http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_determinism.html

Don’t look back, you’re not going that way. (as in the title of this post)

–Mary Engelbreit

Dont Look Back

Illustration by Mary Engelbreit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Sunday, September 24th, 2017 my friend and I joined in with thousands of other people to take part in the Walk for Reconciliation, here in Vancouver. What an amazing, positive experience that was! And the sun shone, making it all the more amazing here on the “Wet Coast,” aka the West Coast of Canada.

For over 500 years the Indigenous People of North and South America (and all over the world, actually) have been shoved aside, downtrodden, frowned upon, stolen from, mistreated, and on goes the list of abuses they have suffered. Colonizers tried to make Indigenous People invisible, tried to actually get rid of them entirely, but they failed. The original people of these lands have not only survived, but they have kept their cultures alive and are working on keeping their languages alive as well. In fact, they are gaining in strength. Just look at these wonderful photographs of the Walk, from Reconciliation Canada:

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/walk-for-reconciliation-2017/thank-you-merci/

Two definitions for the word Reconciliation:

—the restoration of friendly relations;

—the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

Here’s a link explaining more about Reconciliation Canada:

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/about/about-us/

The time has finally come for the true history of Canada to be taught in schools and learned by everyone. “Truth and Reconciliation,” the truth, that is, about residential schools, about what actually happened to the Indigenous People of Canada and about the loss of their lands. As Chief Robert Joseph, a survivor of the residential school system (where he spent eleven years away from his family as a child), said:

“Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today.”—Chief Robert Joseph, Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, and Co-founder of Reconciliation Canada.

Along with the Reconciliation process, there are so many complex and ongoing issues for all of us to learn about and try to understand: land claims, court cases, treaties, human rights, and questions around social justice.

RESPECT is key here, and learning to listen with open minds!

Hopefully, someday the First Nations of Canada will be on an equal footing with the Canadian government and the governments of other countries. Undoubtedly this will take time and a lot of work!

PLEASE NOTE: the photographs in the above link were not taken by me, but by:

reconciliationcanada.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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sailboat

“Sailing Boat with Two Passengers”  (La Barque), 1900, Odilon Redon

Whoever said, “Old age is not for sissies” was certainly right! It struck me recently that living each day, especially during one’s senior years, is like sailing on an uncharted sea. This state of affairs makes life challenging, to say the least. And there’s nothing wrong with facing challenges!

I’ve decided to create a navigational story for myself, and am happy to share it with any of you (no matter what age you are) who are interested. This will be an ongoing project, appearing on my blog from time to time. The navigational entries will always be titled Beautiful Elders: Sailing on an Uncharted Sea.

“As we advance in life, it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.”

—Vincent van Gogh

van gogh

“Vincent van Gogh–Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat”, 1887

Each blog post will contain encouraging, sometimes humorous, and always positive ideas for those of us who are sailing on occasionally stormy seas, occasionally calm ones, and mostly uncharted waters.

For the past few years I have noticed that older people like me are seldom to be seen in much of the media, or even on the streets of my city. Many retirees, (including five of my friends!) have moved away from the city and over to Vancouver Island or to the Sunshine Coast. Living in those places is more peaceful and less expensive than it is in Vancouver.

As for the media, it is full of young stories, young faces, and young bodies. Is this what we are meant to aspire to? Or must we, as elders, become invisible? Must we try to appear younger than our actual years? So it appears!  Of course, keeping fit and healthy, and having good muscle tone is great. But, grey hair is beautiful. Accepting our ageing bodies with grace is wise and positive. And hopefully, our graceful acceptance sends a reassuring message to younger generations.

NOTE TO SELF: KEEP MOVING!

AND: “DON’T LET YESTERDAY OR TOMORROW TAKE UP TOO MUCH OF TODAY”. In other words, try to LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. Easy to say, more difficult to practice!

“There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment.”

—Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor canoeing

In our present-day North American culture, whatever has happened to the concept of respecting the elders? In some cultures (bless them!), such as those of North and South American indigenous people, elders are revered even to this day. It used to be the norm to learn from the wisdom of older people, but in present day Western society, this idea seems to be rare.

However, there is hope! Here’s a quotation from a thirteen-year-old girl I know:

“In another time, being an elder would mean that you had survived. This society has become obsessed with a misconception of beauty that doesn’t include what is real.”

And remember:

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”

—Albert Einstein

Until next time, Pleasant Sailing!

 

 

 

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It’s been a grey and colder than normal Winter and early Spring here in Vancouver. Cherry blossoms are a few weeks behind schedule, but the daffodils are bravely blooming. Here’s an old Carter Family song to remind us to stay positive! (and to look forward to some sunshine!)

 

 

 

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