Monday, December 30, 2019

The smaller things

For the last three years I've been experiencing life larger than I had before - volunteering five times at a refugee camp in Greece, multiple other travel destinations (Sedona, Spokane, Las Vegas, Denver, NYC, Toronto, London, Iceland, Greenland).

I'm no longer traveling to Greece, and for now I've slowed my travel to other places.

But now there are the smaller things:
  • We had a low-key holiday season. We plugged in the lights on our little tree each morning. I said, "Alexa, classical Christmas" a dozen times or more, and the music of the season played on low for hours each day, bringing up the best of the memories for me. We had an advent wreath and lit the candles each night, with readings by John Pavlovitz. We went to two music presentations. I went to church on Christmas Eve with my neighbor, a new widow. And on Christmas Day my husband Art fixed prime rib for me and four friends. No gifts given or received, except love and community. I'm grateful to have had just the right amount of holyday experiences.
  • We've been volunteering at an asylum seekers' shelter on Saturday evenings. At first it was just us, but now a half dozen or so other people from our retirement community have joined us. Shirley loves to manage the kitchen; Sharon and Judy want all the donated clothes to be sorted out and available to our guests; Art takes charge of bus tickets and getting the travelers to the Greyhound station. My friend Huen is blessedly bilingual. And Pete, brand new last week, wants to go again. I'm grateful to have such company each week.
  • Last week at the shelter, there was no underwear for our guests. I put out a plea in my community, and the result was several hundred dollars in cash and checks and almost that many pairs of underwear! I am grateful to live in this generous community.
  • I'm no longer doing the accounting for the nonprofit I volunteered for. With the time I'm saving, I can spend more time reading, which I'd set aside as a primary interest. I'm grateful to be able to give up things that no longer engage me and to take up things that do. On Facebook, I signed on for a "chain letter" to post, each day for a week, books that I have loved: The Chosen; Your Money or Your Life; The Kite Runner; Plainsong; Being Mortal; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; and The Poisonwood Bible. I'm grateful to have had a love of reading instilled in me when I was a little girl.

  • Sometime in the next week I'll go to the movies with a friend to see "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" and "Little Women". It has been a long time since I've seen a movie other than on Netflix. I'm grateful for friends to join me.
  • As a result of supportive walking shoes, custom orthotics, physical therapy and massage, my body is realigning itself and the discomfort in my back and hip is receding. I'm grateful that my body has somewhat forgiven me for my inattention to its needs.
  • I hadn't realized that Larisa, our Designer Cat, has a daily routine. That's probably because I'd been out of the house so often that I didn't notice. But I can pretty much count on her to find my lap at 8:30 in the evening, whether I'm watching TV in our Arizona room or reading in my recliner in the living room. And she goes to bed with us until about six minutes after we turn out the light. I think she really wants to be with us as part of her daily schedule. When we first got Larisa, ten years ago, she wouldn't let us touch her for 62 days. I'm grateful that she's come around!
  • My husband and I bought e-bikes. Today he's gone to U-Haul to have a hitch installed on one of our cars, so we can ride together on Tucson's extensive bike trails. I've been going with a good friend, but I'd like Art to have the same experience. Besides, we're taking a bike-and-barge trip in May, and I want us to be prepared so we can really enjoy the adventure. I'm grateful to be able to travel still.
  • For four days in January, we will be in Sedona at a timeshare on Oak Creek. We're grateful that four of our children have decided to join us.
  • I had a joyful "pay it forward" experience. I was selling a small humidifier for $15 and a woman asked if it was still available. I said yes. She asked if I would take $10, since "I am low on funds and my baby is sick." I said yes and we agreed to meet somewhere at 6 p.m. She wasn't there, and apologized by saying "I was taking care of my baby and lost track of time." I asked when a better time would be. She said, "Really? My friend can meet you at 7. She will be riding her bicycle." I went to the place and waited for the friend. She handed me $10 and I said, "Is there anything else she needs?" She said she didn't know, just that the baby was crying. I gave her back the $10 and said, "Tell her Happy New Year and to pay it forward." Fifteen minutes later I got a thank you message from the young woman. I am grateful for opportunities to help others who haven't been as fortunate as me. 
My very best wishes to you for a peaceful new year.


Elizabeth said...

I liked your post a lot. When we take time to think about it, we have a lot to be grateful for. Australia is on fire as I write and I am grateful I moved this year from a bush surrounded village to the city.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Most of us have much to be grateful for and we all should take the time to count our blessings. What gives the most joy in life is to give a helping hand to others. You live a most joyful life.

Madeline Kasian said...

I felt a sense of inner peace while reading your post. Our holidays were low key but just right,also. I had some sadness from the fact we do have some family nearby who have chosen, over the years, to mostly ignore us.. not sure how that happened.. but it is what it is. I have similar goals for 2020: More reading,I FINALLY fo9und a good book club! And Poisonwood Bible is one of my all time favorite books as well!

I would like to hear more about the BIKE AND BARGE trip.. where? Will it be with e bikes?? Hope you will post more about that.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

DJan said...

What a wonderful, uplifting post. I am smiling to think of how your neighbors have joined you in your volunteer service. Love and caring is contagious, a benign virus that you are spreading. Wishing you all the very best for the new year. :-)

Bob Lowry said...

I am interested in how your electric bikes work out. Though they are not cheap, like your neighborhood we have all sorts of trails along the canals that beg to be explored. My wife's knee and hip issues make pedaling difficult. Electric-powered biking would make us more mobile and allow us to take advantage of the opportunity.