Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gratitude and Dreams

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!
Live the life you’ve imagined.
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau (1817 -1862)

Nearly every year since 1998, we throw a "Gratitude & Dreams" party. We invite our friends to write what made them grateful in the past year and what their dreams are for the coming year. I now have a binder filled with our guests’ past Gratitudes & Dreams.

Here is a sampling of our friends' past Gratitude entries:

  • Thankful for “Popcorn” the school bunny.
  • Our son cleaned his room.
  • Being able to see stars again (after cataract surgery).
  • Boyfriend came home from Iraq safe and sound.
  • The robbers only took our jewelry and not our computer or committed identity theft.
  • How great it is to live in California, appreciating this more every year.
  • Survived 25 years of marital bliss(ters).
  • For having met a wonderful woman several years ago and in 2006 she agreed to become my wife.

And some of their past Dreams entries:

  • To master “Für Elise”.
  • Learn not to shudder when George W. appears on TV (January 2001).
  • Hike up Mt. Ranier.
  • Teach my daughter how to paint.
  • Music gigs 30 minutes or less from home.
  • Study to become an excellent Rodin art docent.
  • Start writing the stories in my head.
  • To grow more fragrant roses.
  • San Jose Sharks make the playoffs.
  • Stop comparing my children to vicious dogs or village idiots, at least out loud. (I assure you, she's kidding!)
Here are my entries for this year. In 2008 I am grateful that:

  • My family was blessed with good health and able bodies.
  • My mother has healed and can live independently again.
  • I am blessed with a saint of a husband who supports me, in spite of all my crazy passions.
  • We are blessed with two children who make me burst with love and pride.
  • Our daughter was super-organized about applying to colleges and already got accepted to two colleges.
  • Our son has a great set of friends and is enjoying high school.
  • I am blessed with friends who nourish my soul.
  • The right candidate won the presidential election.
  • I have been introduced to the wonderful world of blogging.
For 2009, I dream that our blessings continue and

  • Our president will continue his focus on leading our nation, from darkness into the light, for all the right reasons and that he will be blessed with wisdom and strength to be a guiding light for a better and safer world.
  • Our ailing family members will heal.
  • We can all weather these tough economic times and can show compassion for each other.
  • People will have equal rights and equal opportunities to succeed, be able to marry the one they love, and choose what happens to their bodies.
  • Our children find their bliss and continue on their path of becoming responsible and compassionate citizens of the world.
  • Our daughter will be happy and be able pursue her passions in college.
  • Our son will be safe and careful on his new BMX bicycle.
  • My husband continues to enjoy his work and will be able to spend more time riding trains and making films.
  • I give away what I don't need and organize every closet.
What made you grateful this year and what are your dreams for next year?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Subway Tiles at the Museum of Natural History

When we were in New York this summer, we spent a lot of time in subway stations. Yes, it was hot, muggy and not exactly aromatic, but the subway system is an impressive labyrinth that is the most economic way to travel in Manhattan and it can often get you to your destination faster than if you traveled the surface streets.

People-watching on the subways is immensely interesting,and often entertaining, but my favorite thing about the New York subway system is the tile design. We had a particularly long wait at the 81st Street Station after my kids and I spent the afternoon at the Museum of Natural History.

I amused myself, and those who observed me, by taking a picture of every animal mosaic I could find at the station. My teenage kids were horrified to be seen with their loony mother who was obsessed with, of all things, tiles. Here are some samples of those tiles:

You can find more on my flickr account here. Which is your favorite?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

This morning started rainy and cold. Cold by wimpy California standards, that is. I was bracing myself for a rough Monday morning drive because this is the first rain in a long time and the roads are slick.

Five minutes into my drive, I quickly rolled down the window and snapped the photo above before the light turned green. Well that turned my mood around. Then I was greeted by this sight:

Do you think there is there a pot of gold between those two trees?

Only a few hundred yards down the road, I pulled over once again because now there is double reason to celebrate:

All these rainbows made be think of Israel Kamakawiwo Ole's version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over therainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?
--music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

May all the dreams you dare to dream really come true!
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