Sunday, 28 December 2014

End of Here

Even as I sit here admiring the blank - well, now, sorta blank - page, I'm still not certain what to write about in this post. It's the last one for the year, and, like most of the other end-of-year ones before it, it must take on a hue of the nostalgic. It shan't be an executive summary of the happenings of 2014, or a (long) list of blessings for which I am thankful. No sireee. Like I'd mentioned some time ago, my prayer journal gets it all - and constantly during the year, too.

I experienced many teachable moments this year. Heck. The entire year was a teachable moment!

I learned not to write people off for the occasional hurt. People who love each other will do that. Hurt each other, I mean. I made a note to self: I'm not perfect, either. There's anger and silence... But, it's the love between them that helps them cross over to the other side of the anger or hurt. Not what society or social media thinks of their relationship; not what their friends have to say about it. It's about their mutual love and how much they care about each other. They know they matter more to each other than what "people have to say." Pshh.

Found on the Internet. Somewhere.

Learned that I'm more patient than I thought I was. I've come to know - and be able to tell - the difference between foolishness-up-with-which-I-cannot-put and a cry for patience. At some point in the year, I remembered how, in the past, there were some who were not as patient with me as I had wanted...needed them to be. I understand, now. Life takes funny turns. And gives you 20/20 vision. And then it comes full circle. So, turns out I've become much more patient. Who knew? No, really. Who knew? It would have been nice to have been so enlightened. It sometimes helps to see yourself through the eyes of another. Which brings me to my next moment.

It sometimes helps to see yourself through the eyes of another. As time wears on, it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day. What's that quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson? "The years teach much which the days never know." Unless someone taps us on the shoulder and draws our attention to it, we don't look up long enough to see the positive difference we make in the lives of others. Plus, others see confidence and ability and so much more that we either have a) come to take for granted, or b) not taken stock of, unless we're updating our résumés or Bios. Characteristics like strength of spirit and fortitude and stick-to-itiveness don't really shine until we are rubbed. Hard. Yeah, to borrow the sentiment from that popular ad, "You're stronger than you think."

Turns out I don't need someone's permission to love them. Who would've thunk it? I can love people, whether they like it or not. I've also taken note that love, like a plant when it's not nurtured, may die. And, like a plant when it is nurtured, love grows. Nay, flourishes.

Know what else? I got better at living in the moment. I could get used to that. I'd better. :-)

Turns out, I can learn something new every day. I learned how to make a wicked sweet potato puddn! Lat, one of my sis, taught me.

In 2014, not all my prayers were answered with "Yes." I also heard, "No." A lot. I also heard, "Wait." All in all, thankful. I believe God's heart toward me is beautiful and perfect. He knows what He's about.

Lest I forget, thank you, dear reader, so very much, for reading my blog. It's not a themed blog and I'm not an expert on anything. I simply like to write about life - and how it goes. And how it goes on. Because, if it's one thing we come to understand is that life goes on. And, btw, it doesn't slow down just because you are late or unprepared. I still write to enlighten, educate and inspire. Hopefully, the young'uns in my family will find some gems in these posts in years to come.

We're winding down - and winding up! 2015. God willing, we'll soon be there. We're nearing the end of here. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. I simply think it'd be good to realize a dream or two - old or new - and be wiser for the journey ahead. Wisdom is the principal thing.

And, one more thing. This became a mantra of mine in 2014: #EverythingIsGoingToBeAlright

Oh, and, one more 'one more thing': Don't blink!


Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Gingerbread House

It's one of those things where, you don't realize you're starting a tradition, until the next time around, 'round about the same time of year.

Now, as Monk would say, "Here's what happened." Minus, of course, a vic and a perp and...wipes.

My six year-old niece got me on the phone a few weeks ago, reminding me of the gingerbread house she and I made "last year." I corrected her.
"It was two years ago, actually. Time flies."
"Oh. So, remember two years ago when we made that gingerbread house?"
"Well, can we make a gingerbread house again this year?"

Her mom and I worked out the details re best date and whose house and all that. The evening came. Durie (sis) and I showed up. We were looking forward to this. Kiki had made such a big deal about making the gingerbread house, her excitement was contagious. Which is not to say that we are great at craft! Minor detail.

As I recall, I might still have had one foot on the outside and one foot in the house when Kiki greeted us! "Yaaay! We're gonna make the gingerbread house!" A few seconds later, even as I tried to get a "Good evening" out of her, she ran off to the kitchen for the box. She squeezed in a hello. Then, seriously, within two minutes of our arrival, we were ushered into the kitchen. She pulled up the little kitchen step ladder to the counter and, being comfortable that she was now on par height-wise, she got to work. Sorta.

As it turns out, it was more of a...supervisory capacity? "We need to open this!" "We need to cut that." Lol! Thankfully, this house was already assembled. Not like the one last year that we had to put together using the icing as "mortar". That was a wise move on her mom's part. Saved us quite a bit of time. So, this was all about the decorations.

Since I was left holding the (icing) bag, I tried my best. At one point, not being comfortable with how rugged-looking the "snow" on the roof was, I decided to use the knife to flatten out the bumps and spread the icing a bit thinner. In horror, Kiki looked away and covered her face, "This is going to be the worst gingerbread house ever!!!" The child was so sure the house was gonna fall apart. Or something. We tried to control our laughter. I explained what I was doing, reassuring her that disaster had been averted.

I let her squeeze some of the icing and we eventually got to putting the colourful candies on the roof, the windows, and the door. Her mom and Durie joined in, too. Then, umm, Santa had an accident. He was supposed to occupy the prime position next to the door - according to the picture on the box. Well, he fell and suffered a few broken bones. I could see Kiki's face on the verge of a cry. We took turns. Before she could take it to heart, we assured her it was gonna be okay. We'd patch Santa up with the icing and, instead of standing on the "snow" next to the door, he'd just be lying on the "snow". Lol! I can laugh at that now. Lol! She was okay with that. Disaster averted. Again.

It mightn't have turned out to be the best looking gingerbread house ever! But, Kiki was happy and we were happy to do the project with her. A new Christmas tradition. Apparently. All being well, I doubt she's gonna skip next year. We got a few pics a couple of days later, showing her enjoying the door!

All in all, it was pretty sweet.

Gingerbread house 2012. Project: Assembling and decorating.

Gingerbread house 2014. Pre-assembled. Project: Decorating.


Monday, 8 December 2014


Some of you have heard my...concerns (yes, let's call them that), about Google's seeming quest for world domination. Well, at the very least, to have at least one tentacle in every area of every person's life. I've ranted online and offline about this. So, I was not surprised, in the least, when I became annoyed on learning that a contact had added me to a Google Plus group. I calmly, but immediately, requested I be removed from the G+ group. I cited my long-held privacy concerns and my reservations about Google+.

Now, I use Google for email, blog and smartphone. I've told myself that I'm probably inextricably linked to Google+ in some hidden way, anyway. Although I use these Google gadgets and apps, I would like to think that I have not completely relinquished all say in the extent to which I've given them access to my data. I relish the idea (however flawed) that I have some control over the extent of my connection with them. Of course, I am careful about the information I provide online, but, most times I imagine them connecting the dots between phone settings/preferences and my contacts; between the pics I take and post - even though I've turned off location - and the appointments in my calendar. It's all connected. I'm sure.

So, why was I annoyed about being added? First, because it was without my permission. Second, it was one of the very tentacles I've tried avoiding, only to be thrown in its grasp without having a say. Like the other day after updating the OS to Lollipop and they replaced the Gallery with Photos - which requires joining G+. The horror! I downloaded another app: Piktures. #TheGooglePlusStaredownContinues.

Anyway, I asked to be removed from the list, and I was. I was also informed that I'd be missing out on group emails, as that would now be the chosen way to communicate with the group. I was okay with that.

Okay, that is, until I learned a few months after that there had been a reception for the group - a group of volunteers - and, believe it or not, I had not got wind of it! (Where's the sarcasm font on this thing?) Silly wabbit. I was of the impression that the recognition and appreciation of volunteers would spur the organizers to seek us out - all emails were still available - to shower us with love and appreciation. Then I reminded myself that that was something I would have done. And, a few other people I know would have done that, too. But, alas, I had not made it easy for them to reach me, having sought and received removal from the G+ list.

Months came and went. I enquired about upcoming volunteering opportunities. I was reminded that I had requested removal from the list (in case I'd forgotten, I s'pose) but was also told I could send an email to find out whether extra help was needed on any given weekend. I agreed to that.

Finally, I had a free weekend - no fighting a cold; no entertaining out-of-towners, etc. - and I considered sending an email. Gotta say, I thought long and hard. I had reservations about doing it. But, I had no excuse to opt out that weekend. In my mind, I imagined they must've decided to teach me a lesson - our way with G+ or else! Also, what if I volunteered and they sent back to say they were already full - because people from "the list" (that stupid list, again!) had already signed up. And, if so, would I have to relent and join the (stupid) list?!

Of course, that's what your mind does. All sorts of negative thoughts, or, as Desiderata calls them, "dark imaginings" take over if you let 'em. Coupled with those "what ifs" was the chiding I gave myself. Was I volunteering to be recognized and shown appreciation, or was I volunteering out of a heart to serve? Welllllll, on that note, I was properly admonished. I sent the email.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I received a quick reply that "that would be GREAT" and "thank you SO MUCH." I was like, whoaah! Guess they need the help. But, what was more, was that I felt this amazing sense of triumph! I felt like I'd pushed the devil off one shoulder, and gave a high-five to the angel on the other!

The volunteers who worked the shift before mine were overjoyed when I got there. They were royally pooped! I immediately got to work in preparing what needed to be prepared. As promised, I checked back in sometime after and helped another volunteer with cleaning up.

There's no denying it. Sometimes the right thing to do isn't always the easiest (or most comfortable) thing to do. But, it pays off. And, when it comes to giving, as that little girl had said after giving out toys for Christmas, "It gives you a warm feeling in your tummy!"