heatherfromthegrove’s Seven New Year’s Revelations Wrap-up… and the journey continues

“Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. 
They move on. They move away. 
The moments that used to define them are covered by 
moments of their own accomplishments. 

It is not until much later, that 
children understand; 
their stories and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories 
of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, 
beneath the water of their lives.” 
― 
Paulo Coelho

 

As I say each year, on this day, the 8th of January:

 “For those of you who have been following, reading and enjoying each of my seven New Year revelations …. Thank You.

I would like to point out that they are not New Year Resolutions. I don’t make New Year Resolutions anymore. They are my own personal revelations. Epiphanies. Discoveries. In the past decade, I’ve faced some daunting challenges and heart-wrenching events. I’d like to think that I’ve handled them with dignity, compassion, grace, and humor. Always humor. It helps take the edge off.

So, the lessons that these “life tests” have taught me are my “revelations.” As I move forward with my life, I will use them as my guide. Wisdom has to be earned. For me, it’s an ongoing journey, as I’m sure it is for all of you, as well.”

Here’s a synopsis (the numbers have a hyperlink back to each revelation post):

  • New Year’s Revelation No 1“Life’s too short”
  • New Year’s Revelation No 2“Learn about the world around you”
  • New Year’s Revelation No 3“Read a person’s eyes… “
  • New Year’s Revelation No 4“If you’re a man, be a gentleman… “
  • New Year’s Revelation No 5“I may be small, but I’m strong”
  • New Year’s Revelation No 6“Keep things neat, clean and tidy… “
  • New Year’s Revelation No 7“Why the hell should I care what anybody thinks of me?”

And on it goes.

I’m looking forward to whatever 2015 has in store for me.

I wish you all a blessed, healthy and happy  2015 and may your own personal journey bring you deep fulfillment and wisdom… and loads of wonderful opportunity and adventures!

Cheers,

heatherfromthegrove

(Photo credit: Heather Joan Marinos. © 2015. All Rights Reserved. Use of this photo in any form is strictly prohibited.)

Advertisements

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 7 of 7: “Why the hell should I care what anybody thinks of me?”

blueborder

This year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

blueborder

My mother used to say:

“Why the hell should I care what anybody thinks of me?!”

My mother danced to the tune of a different drummer. Although a Roman Catholic, she did not appreciate having religious dogma “jammed down her throat” (her exact words).  She questioned. She rebelled. She made adjustments. To her, religion was deeply personal and spiritual. She did not join groups and attend Church gatherings, just to socialize and keep up appearances.

She prayed. Privately. She believed. Deeply.

She was a woman of Faith – but in her own, singular way.  She was actually more religious than some of the people I knew who went to Church daily.

Ever since I can remember, she would instruct me not to care about what people thought about me.  She spoke to me about the importance of embracing who I was, to try to change the things about myself that I needed to change – but not for anyone else. She taught me to accept what I cannot change – to embrace my flaws, as well as my virtues.  She taught me to be me.

She rarely wore make-up and, as for jewelry – just her wedding band.  On special occasions, she’d wear a strand of pearls. She didn’t have pierced ears, nor did she ever pluck her eyebrows (she didn’t have to, they were perfectly formed). She preferred the smell of Bromley’s English Fern soap to any kind of perfume.  My mother used to tell me a story about her mother (my grandmother, who died well before I was born) and how she didn’t need to wear jewelry in order to feel or be rich. Apparently, a woman once asked my grandmother why she never wore jewelry, implying (in a derogatory manner) that she must therefore be very poor.  My grandmother replied “My children are my jewels. They enrich my life.”  My mother was the youngest of six children and all six adored their mother (my grandmother).

My mother was not one to self-edit.  She spoke exactly what was on her mind, not mincing any words. This often made for some awkward moments and uncomfortable silences when in the company of friends and relatives. Whilst we (my siblings and I) would wince (like all young people, we were very easily embarrassed by things that our elders would say or do), my mother would shrug the moment off. She always, always stood by what she said and did.

It’s no wonder, then, that I – despite having to wear eyeglasses since the age of two, endure years of eye patches, endure school taunts about being “four-eyed”, or having skin as white as a ghost, and on and on – am a very, very confident woman.

I do not conduct myself or my life… for other people.

I do not seek approval, I need to approve of myself.

I dress the way I choose to.  I do not second-guess myself.

I do not care what others say or think about me.  Everyone is subjective and each person’s perspective is based on their own life experiences.  So, what is important to me is how I think about myself.  I always ask myself “Am I being the best I can be? Am I doing the best that I can do? Am I learning as much as I can? ”  The answer is not always a resounding “Yes!” but the journey is not over, yet.  Fingers crossed.

Most importantly, I stand by what I do and what I say.

My closest friends and family know that when they ask me for advice, I will not sugar coat it.  I tell it like it is (unfortunately, telling it “like it is” is not always what they want to hear).

I am my mother’s daughter.

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: “Keep things neat, clean and tidy…”

blueborder

This year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

blueborder

My father used to say:

“Keep things neat, clean and tidy, for God’s sake!”

My father was a neat freak.  Everything and everyone in our household had to be clean and tidy. Clothes had to be ironed… properly.  Including sheets, towels and jeans.  Clothes were folded or hung neatly – by type and color.  The term “ring around the collar” was an obscenity in our home. Bathrooms were pristine.  You could eat off the kitchen floor – it was that clean.  Glassware and crystal had to be spot-free.  There were never, ever any dirty dishes left in our kitchen sink. Books were ordered alphabetically by the author’s last name, grouped together by genre and subject matter.

My father despised clutter.  He was always reading four to five books at any given time period, so he had them piled perfectly – one on top of the other.  If anyone touched or moved a book, he would know. And World War III would commence.

If he saw a fluff or thread on the freshly vacuumed carpet, he would not rest until he went to pick it up.

Was he OCD?  Just a tad. But that was part of who he was. I could not imagine him being any other way. Nor would I have wanted him to be.

His children – my siblings and I – possess varying degrees of this neat gene. Some are more obsessive than others.

Okay, I confess.

I cannot write unless my desk is clutter-free.

My books are ordered in such a way that would make any old school librarian beam with delight.

Like my father, I always have four or five books piled neatly beside my reading chair. Piled just so.

Framed pictures must be perfectly lined in a row.

Towels, folded neatly on the bathroom rack.

Cooking spices are ordered alphabetically, with the labels facing forward.

Cat litter boxes – neatly lined in a row (with eight cats, cleanliness and tidiness has taken on a whole new level of attention).

My husband likes to shake things up a bit… and every so often, he’ll move some artwork or picture frame – tilting them, so that they’re not linear. Or, he’ll toss a towel over the shower rod and throw his clothes in a pile on a chair.

He is amused by my annoyance.

I quietly place everything in their right place.

Okay, sometimes I’m not that quiet about it.

The way I see it, there’s nothing wrong with being a tad OCD.

I like the sense of order and the smell of a clean house.

So, I thank my father for passing on that neat freak gene to me.

Gotta go now. Remy, one of my youngest cats, just unraveled the toilet paper roll.

My work is never done.

“Certainly it would not be too much to say that the home is the communal embodiment of family life. Thus the purity of the dwelling is almost as important for the family as is the cleanliness of the body for the individual.”

Victor Aimé Huber

 

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 5 of 7: “I may be small, but I’m strong.”

blueborderThis year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

blueborder

My mother used to say:

“I may be small, but I’m strong.”

My mother was 4’11” tall.  She was “petite” but fierce.  Her hands, though small, were strong.  As wayward children, we knew her vice grip well.  She could beat a 6′ tall burly man in an arm wrestling match.  But her eyes, oh those eyes.  When she was angry, her eyes were like steel and ice.  And if that gaze was directed at one of us, we knew we were in deep trouble.  She didn’t have to utter a word. Just one look.

Throughout her life, she suffered a series of debilitating illnesses – from brain clots, osteoporosis, and heart problems to multiple cancers.  She was always in pain, but rarely showed it.  She whistled through it. She laughed at it. She refused to succumb to it. She despised weakness and was damned if she was going to let anyone see her vulnerable.

When she experienced a life challenge – physical, emotional, family related or economic – she bore it defiantly… almost like daring it to bring her down.  Except that it never did.

Even at the very end of her life, with cancer festering rapidly throughout her small body, she looked at me – smiling and loving eyes penetrating my soul – and she said “My darling girl, don’t cry for me. I’ll be fine.”  She was 79. I was 45. I was not fine.  I was losing the most precious person in my life.

In the years since, I’ve experienced some interesting life challenges. Friends and family have expressed their amazement at how stoically I’ve handled myself, how strong and resilient I am.

I’ve had a good teacher.

    “The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.”

― C. JoyBell C.

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 4 of 7: “If you’re a man, be a gentleman…”

blueborder

This year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

blueborder

My father used to say:

“If you’re a man, be a gentleman – always. If you’re a woman, be a lady – not a strumpet.”

My father was the quintessential Gentleman. When he  went for a stroll with my mother, he would always walk on the  curb side of the sidewalk – to protect my mother from passing cars or rain puddle splashes.  He would open doors for her, sit her down on a chair before seating himself, exit a bus or train first and then extend his hand to help her down, and he would always (without hesitation or a word of complaint) wash the dishes after she cooked us one of her savoury meals.

He was most certainly NOT a male chauvinist.  He was a gentleman – in the old-fashioned sense.  There is a difference. And he dressed impeccably – complete with a perfectly pressed handkerchief in his pocket. No kleenex or tissues for him!

His behaviour and manners taught me what I should expect of a man. That’s a long, tall order in this day and age.  However, when he met my husband (at that time, my boyfriend) for the first time in 1979, I could see that he approved.  How could he not?  Their characters were similar in many ways.

And, yes, of course my husband is a gentleman. He doesn’t use handkerchiefs, but he always sports a very nice hat.

My father expected the men in his household (he and my brother) to be gentlemen and the women (wife and daughters) to comport themselves like ladies. My mother was very much a lady.

Although our manners are ladylike, my sister and I are products of the Baby Boomer generation and when we started wearing jeans…. well, all hell broke loose in the household.  I remember my father lecturing me about how slovenly and unladylike jeans were.  Try as he might, he could not come to peace with modern casual wear.  If he were alive today and saw some of the skimpy, body-clinging dresses that a lot of young women wear…. he would be speechless (with horror).  He would probably prefer jeans to some of their outfits (er, fabric swatches).

Are gentlemen a dying breed?  I don’t think so.

Just the other day, I was on a MetroRail during rush hour.  The train was packed with people and there was standing room only. A young man – twentysomething – stood up, smiled at me and asked me to take his seat.  I gave him one of my most radiant smiles, thanked him and sat down.

His parents taught him well.

In my generation, women were fighting for their positions in professions like law, medicine, engineering and business. Unfortunately, some women felt that they had to be hard and aggressive in order to compete and excel in their fields.  Many mistook gentlemanly overtures for male chauvinism and, as a result, they rejected any gesture that would differentiate the genders.

Well, be careful what you wish for, ladies. If you don’t want a man to be a gentleman, then he won’t be.

This twentysomething generation, however, never ceases to amaze and impress me. They don’t have the gender struggle of the Baby Boomers.  Today, most professions enjoy a fairly even ratio of men to women. And for the most part, these young men and women are polite, respectful, environmentally conscious, and have a sense of family, community and an interest the world at large.

So there is hope.

And, as far my father (my darling Daddy) – thank you for being such an exemplary role model.

Would you be proud of me today? I’d like to think so.

Except that I do curse a lot.  That would be a big no-no in your books.

I’m trying to curb that.  Miracles don’t happen overnight.

 

 

Images via Crazyyetwise.files.wordpress.com and akrasakis.blogspot.com.

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 3 of 7: “Read a person’s eyes… “

blueborder

This year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

blueborderMy mother used to say:

“Read a person’s eyes. Eyes don’t lie.”

You’ve heard the Shakespearean quote before. “The eyes are the window to your soul.”  Not only did my mother know this to be true, she made this her yardstick to determine who was honest and who was not, who was a true friend and who was not, and on and on.  She always told me that if a person won’t look you in the eyes, they were most likely dishonest or hiding something.

Additionally, if someone she knew was experiencing some sort of emotional crisis and masking it with smiles, she would look past the facial expression and note the pain or sorrow in his or her eyes.  She saw everything.  Sometimes we look, but we don’t really see.  My mother taught me how to see.  As a writer, this has become one of my most invaluable skills.

My mother’s grey-green eyes were beautiful, moody and expressive. She and I always spoke to each other with our eyes. We could have complete conversations, without ever uttering a word. I have learned that words are sometimes superfluous.

And, one more thing about eyes:  over the years, I’ve gained enough wisdom and experience to know that – at the end of the day (each day) –  it’s important that we (each of us) are able to look ourselves in the mirror, straight in the eye… and not look away.  What this means is that we have done nothing that we regret, nothing that we should be ashamed of.  What this means is that we have conducted ourselves in a manner that is in keeping with our own moral compass.

It is always a good day when we can look ourselves in the eye.

“Look into my eyes and hear what I’m not saying, for my eyes speak louder than my voice ever will.”

~ Author Unknown

 

Image via Sodahead.com.

 

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 2 of 7: “Learn about the world around you”

blueborder

This year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

blueborder

 

My father used to say:

“If you don’t want to read or learn about what’s going on around the world – in other countries, in other cultures – then, you’re an idiot!”

Those were his exact, emphatic words and they were directed at me. The year was 1974. He was reprimanding me for not showing an interest in an international news story that he was reading out loud to us.  Amazingly, I remember that the article was about Russian novelist/historian and Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn being deported from the Soviet Union to Frankfurt (Germany) and stripped of his Soviet Citizenship. Solzhenitsyn had spent 11 years in exile, at a Soviet labor camp for criticizing Stalin. In 1973, he wrote The Gulalg Archipelago (Arkhipelag Gulag) – about the Soviet prison/labor camp system under Stalin. The manuscript, which started to appear in installments in Paris, was seized by the KGB in the Soviet Union.

These were some of the stories that my father tried to engage us with at the breakfast table and in the evenings, after dinner. He would get so frustrated with me when I did not show interest.

But, as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Ironically, I went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science and history.  I write books that focus on socio-economic issues affecting everyday people, and I tell their stories by placing them in their political, historical and cultural context.

I feel privileged to have had such an intense, intelligent and well-read father. How I wish that he were alive today. Oh, what wonderful, spirited discussions and debates we would have!

I can’t emphasize enough (as he did before me) how important it is for us to learn about (and appreciate) the wonderful diversity and nuances of our world community. We are all inter-connected, to some degree.

With knowledge, we gain understanding.

With understanding, we become enlightened, compassionate human beings.

With compassion, we can help each other and we can effect change – positive change.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

Image via Pixabay.com.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 1 of 7: “Life’s Too Short”

blueborder

Happy New Year everyone!

This year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

blueborder

My mother used to say:

“Life’s too damn short, so make the best of it. We only have one life.”

This, from a Roman Catholic.  So I would earnestly ask her the obvious question: “But, what about the Afterlife?”  – to which she would immediately quip “When I get there, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, focus on this life.”

And indeed, when I was a child, it was my mother who would occasionally decree her own “snow day.” Rather than going in to school, I would get to stay home and we would spend the day weaving stories, acting out scenes and letting our imaginations soar.  My storytelling gene… I get from her.

My mother, who was born in the mid-1920s on the Mediterranean island of Malta, was a bon vivant (loosely translated, this means someone who likes to live well). She enjoyed people, loved to laugh and dance, savored both wine and whisky (not at the same time, mind you), and always had a mischievous twinkle in her eye.  When she twitched her lips, you knew she was just about to say something exceedingly irreverent.

She practiced what she preached. She taught me how to celebrate life –  in good times, and in bad.

As she said: “We only have one life.”   Her theory was that if we live with the promise of tomorrow, then we may neglect to live fully today.

I embrace her philosophy wholeheartedly, as those who know me well will certainly attest.

Several years back, I gave a eulogy for my mother.  My last words were: “When my mother entered the gates of heaven, God gave the harpists the day off because he knew that the jazz band had just arrived.”

So, on this first day of what promises to be a glorious new year, let’s plan to make the most of today and every blessed day that follows.  Life is a celebration.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”

~ Denis Waitley

Image via Cyladies.com.