Tag Archives: happiness

On This Day

Sunday, November 17 was a cold, foggy day in 1957.  All those years ago and I was a naive young girl sitting painting my nails and talking to my family.  Excited, yes and somewhat scared at what I was getting myself into. what I was about to do.

Wedding photo

Our wedding 1957

This was the day I was going to marry my Dashing Young Scotsman.  Oh so many years ago.

I clearly remember sitting in the car on the way to the church with my own, supportive Dad who asked me again was I sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the young man waiting at the church.  He told me that there was still time to change my mind.  Of course, I was sure and no I didn’t change my mind.

And the Dashing Young Scotsman became the son my Father didn’t have.; his own son having died as a small baby.  My parents loved him as did my sisters.

So on this day 60 years ago, I married my soulmate and for the next 41 years, we celebrated the fact that we had found each other.

What a long time ago, no doubt before many of you were born, but what a glorious day it was for me.  And how glad I am that I didn’t change my mind on the way to the church.

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions,
they can take away your money,
and they can take away your health.
But no one can ever take away your precious memories.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother, Friend
1938-

.

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WATCHING

The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits,
but not when it misses.”
― Francis Bacon

There will be three Fridays the 13th this year – February, March and November.  And we just have to decide whether we are superstitious or not.

Wikipedia gives us a name for Friday the 13th – “paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”)”

I’m not superstitious and for me, it is just another Friday but I am being extra careful today.

Now to other things.  Today I am WATCHING

Judith & Alice

  • The way a newly born baby attracts people and noticing the joy of being allowed to hold her
  • The huge waves rolling onto the beach; they are quite magnificent in their power
  • Surfers battling these waves and some succeeding in standing up
  • Children paddling in the surf
  • Two older couples just enjoying the sunshine, sand and the water’s edge
  • Puffs of smoke emanating from White Island – New Zealand’s most active cone volcano.  It’s very close only 48kms/30 miles from shore.  It’s puffing away merrily today.
  • And strangers interacting as they meet on the beach
  • A couple walking their dogs
  • A small child clambering onto a tyre strung up to make a swing
  • My partner stretched out on a lounger contentedly reading
  • Teachers from the local school rounding up the pupils
  • A group of teenagers enjoying their lunch on the beach
  • The same group chasing each other and generally having fun
  • The brilliant sun shining down onto our part of the world that we call Paradise.

Ohope beach

Sharing

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness;
it has no taste.”
Charlotte Bronte

Sharing with seagulls

Sharing with seagulls

Awake and  sharing

  • The early sunshine peeping around the curtains
  • That comfortable feeling of knowing you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right person
  • An early morning walk along the beach to get the weekend newspapers
  •  The almost deserted beach with four seagulls
  • The ocean with four surfers
  • The holiday feel in the air – Waitangi Day weekend*
  • The buzz as I pass the surf club, its members getting ready for competition
  • The smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the barbecue when I return from my walk
  • Conversation and jokes with friends visiting for the weekend
  • Memories of my sister who visited from London 12 months ago and

SHARING our corner of Paradise with my friends in the blogging world.  Wish you could all be here with us to share.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi

* Waitangi Day held each day on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, on that date in 1840.

I Will Not Die

Have you discovered Dawna Markova?   According to Amazon.com  “Dawna Markova Ph.D. is internationally known for her ground-breaking work in helping people learn with passion and live purposefully. She is former research affiliate of the Organizational Learning Center at MIT, and her previous books include The Open Mind, No Enemies Within, An Unused Intelligence, How Your Child is Smart, and Learning Unlimited.”

I first came across her when I read her poem “I will not die” shortly after my husband died and when death and dying were at the forefront of my mind.  I have since purchased the book and have read some others of hers.

The poem was written in the 1980s when Markova was facing a life-threatening illness, and appears in the book of the same name.  Click here to read an excerpt.

I really love this poem.  It says so much to me and about me.  I hope you enjoy it too.

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Butterfly

Photo - Ed Dear



Another Wedding

I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he
wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.

~Author Unknown

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary.  If my late husband was still alive we would have celebrated 54 years!    As it was we had only 41 years together.  What a lot of years to devote to one person.

I have a nephew who celebrates his wedding on the same day but it is nowhere near as many years as ours.

Yesterday was Thursday and lunch at Mary Potter Hospice.  I love Thursdays.  I come away filled with hope and admiration for the folk who are facing the end of their days with such equanimity and peace – well usually they are.  I am sure in the dark of night they maybe are not quite so calm, but the face they offer to the world, in this case a volunteer, is one of acceptance.

So yesterday….I went into one of the rooms and hanging on the rail around the bed was a long dress carrier.  One of the visitors apologised and took the carrier down.  I commented that it looked like a wedding dress, whereupon all the visitors laughed and said that was exactly what it was.

Lunch orders were forgotten for the next few minutes as they told me that there was to be a wedding in the hospice chapel that night.  The patient and his partner had decided to ‘just do it’.  Of course, I asked if I could see the dress.  I not only saw the wedding dress, but in the carrier were the dresses for the bridesmaid and for the mother of the bride. What a symbol of hope and acceptance that was.

I told them it was my anniversary and they all congratulated me.  Hugs all around (except the frail patient of course).  His son and daughters were there and there was excitement in the air.  About 30 people were expected to attend and a small reception had been planned.

So at this time of grief there was also a ray of hope.  I don’t know the patient’s name – we use only first names – nor do I know where he and his family live, so I shall have to check next Thursday with the staff to find out how the wedding went.

And to this couple I wish only the best for the time they have now together.  We know that life is transitory and who knows whether tomorrow will come.  And if tomorrow never comes?

“Love is a symbol of eternity.  It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.”  ~Author Unknown

Rainbow

My rainbow

A Day With the Boys

Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends – and hardly ever our own grown children.
Ruth Goode, author 1902-1997

The boys are on holiday from school at present and we decided to have a day together.

After picking up two boys from their house and then meeting the other two at the railway station, we went to Mary Potter Hospice.

A call went out the other day for volunteers to do some gardening.  They had been given a flat of black and white pansies and wanted to plant them urgently to make an  “All Blacks” Garden.  They needed help in moving plants from one garden bed, removing them to another and planting the new plants.

The boys entered into this wholeheartedly and were officially crowned the Youngest volunteers at MPH.  The Hospice grounds rang with laughter of four cousins enjoying themselves.  James, the eldest commented that if he ever has a house of his own, the grounds will be all concreted.  He thinks his Granma’s patio is just about right.  Little planting, many pots and exposed aggregate.

Front garden

There was a husband and wife team already  there when we arrived and it took hardly any time (approx 1.5 hours) to do all the planting, removing and weeding necessary to make the beds look great again.

Blood and bone

Unfortunately, somebody had carried the mulch/blood and bone through the complex instead of taking it around the outside.  The smell that greeted us was truly awful  It smelt like a bad case of diarrhea but the smell dispersed in a short time.  dreadful while it lasted and of course, each of the boys made a comment as you can imagine.

Cold drinks for the boys, coffee for Granma and we were off to the food court at the mall for lunch.  I tend to forget that growing boys need constant feeding.  The food court is great because they can each choose what they want to eat from whichever concession they like.

Boys on wall

The next stop was Hang Dog, an indoor rock climbing arena where the boys showed their prowess at scaling walls.  More laughter as they worked out how to manage the harnesses, belaying etc.  After two hours they decided they had ‘done’ Hang Dog and so we went to my daughter’s house where they spent a further couple of hours playing ‘Black Ops’ on the PS3.

Boys at play

Two teams.  The oldest and youngest vs the other two.  A very serious undertaking quite different to the other things they did today.

More memories to keep and take out later when they have grown up and maybe wont want to spend a whole day with their Granma.

Learning to Soar in a Changing World

“It’s so curious:  one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief.  But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.:  ~Colette

 

For some time now I have noticed a definite shift in my feelings about grieving for my late husband.  After many years I am able to look back and see just how far I have come from that ghastly day in 1998 when my soul-mate was declared ‘dead’.

Of course, at the time I didn’t know how I was going to live without him.  I had grown up with him having met and married him when I was 19.  And now 41 years later he was gone.

The few days following his death are still even now, a blur.  I do remember seeing my two adult children sitting with a man (who later turned out to be the funeral director) under a tree in my son’s garden.  Those two adult children made all the arrangements necessary for us to move to the next stage – a funeral and the function afterwards. I declared to anybody who would listen that I was not going to the funeral.  Of course, I was ignored, nobody believed me and of course, I went.

Those of you have been there know that at the beginning you can tell how many hours since your loved one died. This moves into how many days, then weeks, followed by months and then (as for me now) years. I would not say that any of the stages through which I have passed have been easy. Time does not heal regardless of the old adage, but it does make living without that special one easier.

I learned that I can go on – it doesn’t come with a choice.  I learned that there is still life without that special person and that given the opportunity friends and family will be very supportive as one goes through the stages of grief.  My family still support me on those ‘mean blue days’ that sneak up on one when one isn’t watching.

As part of my healing, I wrote.  I wrote how I was surviving, what I could do and did to get through each day and I found this exercise cathartic. this was published in a small book that I gave to friends and clients who found themselves in a similar situation.

And one day I realized that in fact I was growing and learning to live in this changing world.  I also changed the focus of my life coaching work towards people who found themselves alone through death, divorce or separation. And I founded a group that I call ‘Together”.  This is a loose group of people who come together regularly, or not as they choose, to support each other in their loss.  This has proved to be very helpful for a number of people.

And so the learning and coping go hand in hand and no doubt will do until I too die.


The Busy Years

Wide horizon, eager life,
Busy years of honest strife,
Ever seeking, ever founding,
Never ending, ever rounding,
Guarding tenderly the old,
Taking of the new glad hold,
Pure in purpose, bright in heart —
Thus we gain — at least a start!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I remember during the busy years often wishing for a day to myself.  A day to wake up when I was ready, not when somebody else’s calendar of events said I had to; a day when I could do as I pleased without having to consider anybody else.

Well now I have those days.  And usually I can fill them with activities always of my choosing.  But just occasionally, on a wet Sunday afternoon, at home with my little dog companion, I really miss those busy years.

Those were the years when my late husband was making his way in the world and we didn’t know how long we would be in any one place or where the next transfer would take us.  They were also the years when the children were growing up and making friends wherever we found ourselves.

They were the years when I had to come to terms with leaving old friends and starting again in a new country.  And they were the years when I was surrounded by love and a loving family.

I clearly remember dinner time.  Dinner had always to be on time as somebody had another place to be – Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, gym, ballet, rugby practice, netball practice, squash et al.  And so dinner of necessity, was always something that I could produce easily and that I knew would be met without groans at something new.  Now I have time to try out the new recipes but don’t do this often as it is not much fun cooking a great dish for one.  So my friends become guinea pigs.   I always make dinner for myself each night but it is again, the easy things that I know and can produce easily.

I remember trying to juggle getting children to different places often at the same time.  Easy when Father was home; not so easy when he was away.  And then they got their driving licences and so could drive themselves.

I remember the hustle and bustle of mornings.  Getting young children up and ready for school.  Then as they were older, getting them out of their beds (have you tried this with teenagers?)  in time for breakfast before they left the house. This routine didn’t change much in any of the three continents in which we lived.

In Scotland, the children were at nursery school so they were only there in the mornings and came home for lunch.  In New Zealand children take packed lunches to school.  That was new to me and so much debate with myself over what to put in the lunchboxes.  So making lunches had to be factored into the morning rush.

In Canada they came home for lunch and then back to New Zealand for packed lunches again.  Once the children were in senior school they could buy their lunches.  That was a godsend for me because by then I was working.

I had a very busy job initially as a secretary/PA but within two months I was promoted and had my own secretary and the responsibility for all the female staff in four offices.  A huge jump considering that I hadn’t worked for 13 years.

These were the years when I returned to the workforce; sat and completed the Real Estate examinations; finished a diploma course at University and raised my children; ran the house and generally enjoyed myself.

During those years, I never stopped to think that they would end one day and what would I do then.

The not so busy years were when the children had left home to go their own way.  these were the years of the so-called ’empty nest’ but I was so busy starting my own business and caring for my husband that I really didn’t suffer the ’empty nest syndrome’.

And then my husband decided to retire early and we moved again to an idyllic spot far away from most of civilisation.  This move only lasted a very short time before we moved back.  These were fantastic years.  We had each other and could afford to do the things we wanted.  We travelled to other parts of the world and saw places we had always wanted to see.  Both children met and married their partners and in turn produced children of their own.  And I thought this time would go on and on.

But it was not to be.  And as I have said, one awful day I was left on my own. As Charles Aznavour  sings ‘Yesterday when I was young ….the thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned..”

So now my wish for a day to myself has been granted.  And as I have said, I am usually very happy with my lot but sometimes I really miss those busy years.

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see.”  John Burroughs, 1837 – 1921
American naturalist and essayist


SOLD to the young lady in the third row

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping”   Bo Derek, American actress and model, 1956 –

Would you like a Hermes handbag?  Preferably a Birkin crocodile or even a Grace Kelly crocodile bag?  Well, sorry ladies, Hermes has a waiting list of five years – yes five years.  So put your name down now if you want one.Birkin Crocodile Handbag

But there is a way to gain instant gratification.  Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s in London auctioned some of these designer must have pieces last year.

The Hermes Birkin has a unique history, as it was named for Jane Birkin. She is a British singer and actress who absolutely adored her version of the Hermes handbag, called the Kelly (named for Grace Kelly).  Apparently,  while on a flight from Paris to London, her bag opened, spilling the contents onto the floor of the plane. The then CEO of Hermes, Jean-Louis Dumas was on the same plane and talked with Jane Birkin about what she really wanted in a bag.  The designers got to work and Dumas presented Birkin with a trademark Hermes handbag that has become one of the most sought-after bags in the entire world.

So back to the auctions.  On May 24 this year, Vogue reported “Here’s a great opportunity to seize: if you dream about owning an Hermès Kelly or a Birkin but you don’t have the patience to wait in the list (it lasts for years…) of the French maison, here’s the solution. Tomorrow Christie’s in London will put up for auction a good 78 Hermès bags, among which are  Kellys and Birkins.

The prices start from about the 3-4 thousand pounds that it usually takes to buy the well-known bag made famous in the Fifties by Grace Kelly, to the around 30,000 pounds for a Birkin in crocodile. There are many colours offered, from red to caramel colour, to pink to emerald green, two or more shades. The same goes for the different kinds of leathers, from ostrich to crocodile; different qualities that you can admire closely at the Hermès website, even making the page your own screensaver.

Among the oldest bags to be sold tomorrow, there is a Kelly that dates back to the early Sixties. Created in brown using leather from the Alligator Mississippiensis, it’s put to auction at an estimated price of 7,000-8,000 pounds. From the same decade there is also one of the few bags that is neither a Birkin nor a Kelly. It’s a Sac Mallette in black crocodile with an inside pocket to carry jewels, covered in burgundy velvet, marked with the initials E.M., estimated at around 8,000-10,000 pounds.”

I later found an item in a London paper that reported the following sale:
“… A BLACK CROCODILE ‘BIRKIN’ BAG. HERMÈS, 2004. PRICE REALIZED.  £49,250. ..”

And this little bit to titillate your green-eyed monster (perhaps)

“Former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham, has over 100 Hermes bags. These bags are valued at over two million dollars. While many women don’t have quite this many, there are several other celebrities that have a dozen or so in their wardrobes. The Hermes handbag is so well-known that when Lindsay Lohan recently had hers stolen at an airport, it actually made the news.”

So get out your chequebooks there is a bag with your name on it out there.  But mine is more likely to come from Oroton.  But I do own a prized Louis Vuitton purse bought for me in Paris by the son of a friend.  He gave it to me as a thank you for being kind to his mother.

Louis Vuitton Purse
It is particularly prized because both he and his mother are now dead and this is a constant memory of them both.

I think this quote is apt on this subject.  It is of course, from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest:

Lady Bracknell: Mr. Worthing. I must confess that I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?


Queen’s Birthday, Kinky Boots and Cross Dressing

“Now, I give you fair warning,” shouted the Queen, stamping on the ground as she spoke; “either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!”

The QueenPicture from my book published in 1944

Here in New Zealand, the Queen’s birthday is celebrated on the first Monday in June and this is the last Public Holiday now until Labor Day in October.

We do have the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in which many people are honoured for services to arts, business and the community but there are no official celebrations on this day – the hoi polloi just get a day off work.  Unless that is, you work in retail.  Retailers love a reason to blare out the word SALE and this is a perfect reason they think.  People on holiday, some money to spend, perhaps fractious children and/or rebellious teenagers, and it usually rains on this day in June.

Sale

It’s a wet June Monday in Wellington so how to celebrate?

  1. I could join the throngs at the mall and buy unwanted items just because they are on special.
  2. I could have some friends over for supper.
  3. Of course, I could take Lotte for a walk but at 11.20am she hasn’t left her bed and I suggest it might be some time before she does.
  4. I could tidy my very untidy study.
  5. I could vacuum and rubber glove – oh really we say.
  6. I could call in on a sick friend
  7. I could have coffee with another friend
  8. I could take in a movie – what’s showing locally?  There is a good selection of movies I haven’t seen and I could have coffee there.

The choices are endless.  So I think I shall do items 3, 6 and 7 and then settle down with a book at the fire.  Coffee cup in hand I shall think about the other options and be pleased that I have discarded them.  Perhaps item 8 can be moved to the top of my list on another day, but not today.

Kinky Boots

And Cross-Dressing and Kinky Boots in the title of the blog?  Well, I tuned in on Saturday and found a rerun of the movie Kinky Boots.  This is a feel-good movie based on a true-life story.  As the film, Kinky Boots depicts, when the son (Charlie in the film) inherits the factory, sales of traditional, hand-stitched leather brogues are already in trouble as cheap fashionable imports flood the market.  So to keep the factory operating, he looked for a niche market in which to expand.  And he found it.

Looking to London for inspiration, Charlie discovers sassy drag queen, Lola, whose Soho world of outrageous fashion and stylish, erotic boots for men, gives him the idea to diversify production with erotic women’s boots for a male market.  See the trailer here and the funniest clip from the movie here. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you go out and rent, hire or borrow a copy.  If none of those options is available I would even suggest you steal a copy. It would be well worth the fine you would have to pay.

This is the story of an unlikely friendship between two men from totally different backgrounds and experiences, who join together to create a success.  Fabulous!

I rate this movie alongside “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”.

Priscilla

If you haven’t seen this it’s about two drag queens and a transsexual who are hired for a gig in the middle of a desert in the Australian Northern Territories.  They drive from Sydney to Alice Springs a distance of about 2770 km, or 1721 miles.

Humor and some pathos when they are confronted by a few rednecks in the town are cleverly covered in this movie.  The trip across country in a bus is fun and the songs are classics.  Their meeting and interactions with a group of Aborigines has to be seen to be appreciated.   If you want to see the trailer click here.  The movie is old – 1994 – but ever interesting and involving.  It shows how difficult life as a crossdresser, transvestite or transsexual really can be.

And here is a quote from an anonymous transvestite:  “The transvestite is a man who has discovered a way of being at peace with herself.  Transvestism is a gift not a curse; we should be grateful for it.”