heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 4 of 7: Celebrate life… every damn moment of it!

(Image via Pixabay.com)
“Serenity is the balance between good and bad, life and death, horrors and pleasures. Life is, as it were, defined by death. If there wasn’t death of things, then there wouldn’t be any life to celebrate.”
Norman Davies, British-Polish historian

Here today, gone tomorrow. I’m in the throes of an existential crisis at the moment… thinking about how fleeting and finite life truly is.  There are many questions (about life and death) that none of us can really answer – questions like, “Is there life after death” or “Is this all there is, and then there’s nothing?” I have these “crises” every now and then… and when they happen, I always reach the same conclusion: celebrate life… every damn moment of it. Don’t worry about the alternative.

It’s a great coping mechanism. For example, for decades, my husband and I have enjoyed candlelight dinners every single night – complete with music (usually jazz or blues). And we still do. Also, I take the time to dance – even when I’m alone in the house (although my cats find it quite disconcerting). I plant trees and flowers in my yard… it’s wonderful to see things grow and flourish. There are so many ways and reasons to celebrate life.

The rest will happen… at one time or another. No need to preempt it. Just seize the moment and savor it.

“Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet, essayist and journalist



heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 1 of 7: The solace of animals


Miranda, when she was much younger, relaxing on top of Bacchus

(Photo  of Miranda and Bacchus – Copyright © Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved).
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ”
Anatole France, French poet, journalist and novelist

It’s very late in the day for me to be posting my first “Revelation” of the New Year, but this evening, we buried our ancient cat, Miranda. She died peacefully at home on the 29th. It’s a somber day for us, as we cherish each of our cats. And now there are 7 left. One of them, Zorba, has been wailing mournfully (off and on) since Miranda died. He reacted the same way when our old dog, Bacchus, died two years ago. Cats do grieve. Zorba, we think, is very attuned to the intricacies of life and death. A sensitive soul, he is the spiritual one of our cat colony. All of the cats have been taking turns comforting my husband and I, as we grieve. Just earlier today, I was sitting in my reading chair and, suddenly I had two cats on my lap and one straddling the back of my chair.  I cannot imagine a home without animals.

And I cannot understand people who dislike animals. I am not comfortable around animal-haters. It’s a deal-breaker for me. But, to each his own.

To bring up a child with a pet dog or cat is to teach him/her tenderness, compassion and respect.

To give an elderly person a pet or exposure to animals is to provide them with joy, comfort, affection and companionship.

As for someone like me, who is somewhat halfway (okay, maybe a little more than halfway) between the two… I can say that I find true solace and serenity with my beautiful creatures. They have seen me through the best of times and the worst of times. In the hardest moments of my life, they reminded me that there is always a reason to laugh, to lighten up and relax. They give me perspective. And in return, I give them my heart, my time, my protection and, of course, some seriously good food.


Sept 2, 2001 – Dec 29, 2017


(Photo of Miranda – Copyright © Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved).

In Memoriam 2017 – music, film and television

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

“Music is the ultimate medium for expressions of love, and those expressions find a beautiful backdrop in the environment. Music is also a popular rallying point — at its central core, it’s a way for people to get in touch with the best parts of themselves and to voice the love in their hearts. And the environment is one of the great loves of our lives — when we think of the best parts of ourselves, the environment is always there, informing us, as a backdrop.”

— Gord Downie, Canadian rock singer-songwriter, musician, writer and activist

“It would be hard for me now, at this age and stage, to leave a song without a glimmer of hope… I always like to have a glimmer of hopefulness, even in collapse.”

— Gord Downie

A guiding light

Sambro Lighthouse (Halifax, Nova Scotia)


“Lighthouses are endlessly suggestive signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connectedness to each other. ”   

Virginia Woolf 

My grandfather was a lighthouse keeper… almost a century ago and on the other side of the ocean… far, far away. I wonder what he thought, all by himself – day after day –  in the middle of an endless sea.

Twelve years ago, my mother and her sister (my aunt) died within two months of each other. My mother was 79, my Aunt, 86. According to their express instructions, they wanted to be cremated and requested that I scatter their ashes in the open sea – so that they would go back home to Europe. It was an honour and a privilege to fulfill their wishes. One of the most peaceful and serene moments in my life was when I leaned across the fishing boat, said a prayer and – one-by-one – scattered each beloved woman’s ashes. I said my goodbyes and wished them a safe journey. Despite the moody sky and the very (very) rocky waves, time stood still.  I knew, in my heart, that the steady gaze of the lighthouse would guide them home.

“I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve.”    

George Bernard Shaw

—– Photo Cerdit: By Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In Memoriam 2016 – the loved and the lost

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

– John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


A perspective on life and loss

Recent political developments in the United States have caused quite a stir across the globe.  Social media is flooded with comments and rantings from both sides of the political spectrum. I myself have contributed to this “animated” discussion. But when someone (be it a friend or a family member) passes away in the middle of all the histrionics, everything screeches to a halt. It’s amazing how quickly we re-align our priorities…. because, at the end of the day, it’s family and friends that really count the most.

There will be other elections. Other presidents. What is done in one term can be undone in another. So, let’s chill out and focus on what really matters.

This post is dedicated to all of our loved ones who have gone too soon. And to the families and friends who are left behind to grieve their loss.

I love the poetry and writings of Kahlil Gibran and I always take the wisdom of his words to heart.

I hope you do, too.

On Death
by Kahlil Gibran

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Remembering Yesterday

keithFebruary 28, 1953 – June 30, 2015

Photo: Copyright © 2016 by Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved.

“To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.”– Clara Luz Zúñiga Ortega, Spanish author

When a sibling dies unexpectedly, it reminds us (acutely so) of our own mortality – of how precious life is, how finite our journey really is. The sorrow we feel… not only for the loss itself, but also for the words left unsaid… sears the heart. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that there will never be another dinner together, or stories and jokes to tell, or confidences to share.

But amidst all the uncertainty of what life has in store for us, one thing remains fixed and certain: the memory of our loved ones will be etched forever in our thoughts and hearts.


Random Acts of Kindness


“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”    – Henry James

Apparently today (February 17) is National Random Acts of Kindness Day… which begs the question “Do we really need a day to remind us to be kind to others? ”

Isn’t kindness an act of simple human decency – one that should come naturally … whenever, however, and to whomever?  It certainly should be.

I encourage you to read The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness, by Sidney D. Piburn. It is a beautiful selection of vignettes written by and about His Holiness The Dalai Lama. You don’t have to be a Buddhist or even have any knowledge of Buddhism to read and appreciate this book.

Kindness begins at home and, as such,  our children’s treatment of others is – more often than not – a reflection of our own behavior.  There are some really good, age-appropriate books that teach children the importance of kindness. I’ve listed some of them below.

Ages 4 -6

  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee – by Philip Stead
  • Hey, Little Ant – by Philip and Hannah Hoose
  • How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? – by Jane Yolen
  • How Kind – by Mary Murphy
  • The Lion and the Mouse – by Jerry Pinkney
  • The Mine-O-Saur  –by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
  • Stone Soup – by Jon J. Muth
  • Stellaluna – by Janell Cannon
  • Toot & Puddle  – by Holly Hobbie

Ages 7-8

  • All Families Are Special – by Norma Simon
  • The Ant Bully – by John Nickle
  • Enemy Pie – by Derek Munson
  • Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  – by Carol McCloud
  • Horace and Morris But Mostly Dolores – by James Howe
  • The Giving Tree – by Shel Silverstein
  • The Golden Rule – by Ilene Cooper
  • Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler – by Margery Cuyler
  • Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – by Emily Pearson
  • When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry – by Molly Bang
  • Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – by Eileen Spinelli
  • The Story of Ruby Bridges – by Robert Coles

Ages 9 -11

  • Bluish – by Virginia Hamilton
  • Hanna’s Suitcase – by Karen Levine
  • Number the Stars – by Lois Lowry
  • Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together – by Herb Shoveller

Ages 12 +

  • Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories – by Dawn Metcalf
  • Freak the Mighty – by Rodman Philbrick
  • Mockingbird – by Kathryn Erskine
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – by Harper Lee

And there are so many more – for children and adults alike. Think of the wonderful conversations you can have with your children, while reading these books together!

One would hope that kindness is innate.  However, sometimes we may need a reminder.  In addition to books about kindness, look to some of the iconic men and women whose lives serve as an inspiration to all of us… like Mother Teresa, Pope Francis, The Dalai Lama and so many more.  Their life stories will ignite the kindness spark that lives within each of us.

So, make every day your “Random Acts of Kindness Day.” And while you’re at it, remember to be kind to yourself.

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” Barbara de Angelis



Photo via flickr.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 7 of 7: Celebrate Life


“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumblebee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

Ashley Smith

As we reach the end of the first week of January, I wanted to finish off my 7 New Year’s Revelations on a jazzy note. Despite all of the ups and downs, dramas and drollery…. life is precious and meant to be celebrated.  Gain wisdom and strength from the difficult times and focus on the beauty of  everything – from the simple to the sublime.

Take the time to eat dinner by candlelight and talk with those you love – without glancing at your smartphone! In fact, put the damned smartphone on the charger and turn it off for rest of the night! Communicate with actual spoken words, rather than texts. Put your favorite music on … nice and loud…. and dance around the house! Kiss that special person in your life… long and slow.  Don’t rush through a meal… savour the taste of  good food and libation. Don’t guzzle a drink… sip it slowly.  You’re not going to turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight… so take your time.

And, remember….. the best is yet to come.

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

Mary Ann Radmacher

Some Book Recommendations:

Rites of Passage: Celebrating Life’s Changes – by Kathleen Wall & Gary Ferguson


Life, Love, Laughter: Celebrating Your Existence  – by Osho


Loving Life After Sixty: Celebrating the Autumn of Your Life by Tom Paugh




Photo via flickr.com


heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: The power of Forgiveness


“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

Louis B. Smedes

One would think that three of the most difficult (and uncomfortable) words to utter would be: “I am sorry.”

Not so. It’s the responding declaration of “I forgive you” (and meaning it) that poses the real herculean challenge.

When English poet Alexander Pope wrote “To err is human, to forgive, Divine,” he was echoing what many of our religious faiths teach us.  As a Roman Catholic, I’ve recited the Our Father a million times, solemnly whispering: “God forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Easier said than done…. which is probably why we’re required to repeat the prayer at every Mass before Communion and also after Confession… lest we forget our promise.

Sometimes it’s harder to forgive yourself than to forgive another person.

Sometimes it’s hard and even impossible to forgive. Period.

“As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a rent-free space in your mind.”

Isabelle Holland

Over the span of my lifetime to the present day, I can truthfully say that I have forgiven almost every person who has “trespassed against me.” Almost.

If a person – be it family or friend – says or does something hurtful towards me and they do it out of fear, misinformation, ignorance or haste (we’ve all said things that we’ve wished, in the next instant, that we could take back)…. then I forgive them. Depending on the severity of the hurt, I may not forget.  But I forgive. And the lightness of being that comes with forgiveness is wonderful and freeing.

However, there are a very select few people for whom forgiveness is simply not in the cards… as hard though I try.

If a person – be it family or friend – commits a hateful act with the malicious intent to harm me and/or those I hold dear…. then I cannot forgive them.  And that darkness is always lurking in the shadows.

Maybe someday. One can only hope.

Not for their sake, but for mine.

Some Book Recommendations:

Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hopeby Robert D. Enright


The Wisdom of Forgiveness by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan


For Children: The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson



Photo via pdpics.com