The After Party Before the Next Party

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Well it’s all over now until it is New Years Eve…the aftermath of a lovely Christmas is to me a sigh of relief that all went well, a clean kitchen (finally) and a few days of delightfully normal food to stabilize, everyone safely home from their holiday travels and a ticket in my hand for Hawaii in February. Here in Denver it is currently 7 degrees with light snow falling, and we are losing ground – soon we will have no degrees left unless they are minus. Tomorrow night we are told to expect 15-20 below zero. I have enclosed a cell phone shot looking out of my upstairs studio window. Please excuse the quality but in this case it almost enhances the image….a sugar plum, sparkling blue and white 4 pm scene, when the snow is dry and powdery as stardust. You would almost think that everything is right with the world on a peaceful day like this.

As I sit in my studio, especially in this type of weather, writing my book and taking intermissions from it to paint, I feel fortunate to have both of those pursuits to choose from. It is a luxury to have the time, the warm and cozy space, the inspiration, dinner on the stove and a lot of friends and family who care enough to check in with me once in a while. I feel wealthy in these conditions with those blessings.

My New Year’s wish for all of you is much the same. As the Christmases pile up into nearly a full lifetime, the urgency of time settles in, and I hope you are as inspired as I am to make every moment count. Even if all you are doing is sitting quietly looking out the window at nothing in particular, if you are thankful and cognizant of your blessings, it counts as quality time in my book. In 2015 I plan to use my days wisely, spending them on worthy pursuits, great friends and family, and thankfulness.

Happy New Year!

Jo

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The Wonders of the World

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Photos taken are from the Denver area and Conifer, Colorado

Here we are in late December about to celebrate Christmas and fortunate to be living in the United States of America at a particularly daunting time in history. The world around us churns with random chaos and mayhem, and yet, for the most part, we are able to enjoy our holidays in comfort and joy. This year, as always, my family is all over the world map visiting exotic places where both work and play summon them. Their passports are getting full; one had to be replaced with a new one this year. We are a close family that keeps in almost daily touch with each other, but we are seldom together as a group during the holidays. Christmas is a difficult occasion for me, the older I get, but I am so very thankful that we all live lives rich in unique experiences that includes acquaintances and friends from all over the globe.

Many of our favorite blogs involve travel, and travel in these precarious times is both a luxury and a risk, whether or not you are going out of the country. My family and I  have learned volumes from our travels. My two grown children in particular have been shining examples – respectful and constantly fascinated travelers/ambassadors for the United States of America wherever they go, and they go to some especially unusual places – Yemen, Madagascar, the Arctic Circle, Myanmar and Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Gabon, Irag, Kurdistan, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Viet nam and the list goes on. You would have to know them and hear their stories to realize that they make friends of every person they encounter, and my family does indeed know that for sure, having heard their tales ranging from the hair-raising to the miraculous for many years now. They have gone to places where Americans might not be welcomed, maintaining their dignity and  compassion, knowing that government does not always represent people. They have made lasting friends in all walks of life and with people quite eager to meet Americans and ask questions of them despite the official tone of the location.

My son happened to be in Poland on business when 9/11 occurred, and received the warmest comfort and the most profound sympathy and understanding during his stay there, as his home country was brought to its knees. People are people everywhere.

Christmas always leaves me sentimental and missing my nearest and dearest, but what our family has gained by being away far outweighs my temporary sadness. I am partly responsible for all this distance, instilling in my children a sense of adventure and discovery from the time they could walk. The wonders of their traveling lives are instantly revealed to me via Instagram and text messages until I can see them again, and I find myself wondering how people ever endured such distance without the constant  ability to be in touch. We are so fortunate.

I wish all of you around the world a loving and meaningful holiday season in a safe place with the ones you love the most!

Birthday Schmirthday

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I had to have another birthday last week. I am older than I have ever been and still dazed and confused about life much of the time, but doing fine. These birthdays can kill you. There were a couple days worth of celebration; cards, calls and lovely gifts mixed in with a few dark, unpleasant surprises, but such is life. It was a real birthday – real – not quite all love and laughter every single minute all the time. But that’s ok, I am ok and life goes on. Yesterday I had a birthday lunch and movie with a dear friend, tonight I am having a late celebration with an exceedingly important person in my life, and so the birthday beat goes on….beat beat beat, just like a heart.

I ran across several quotes this week that I happen to love so much that I wanted to share them with you. The one on the cover of the black book that I was given just yesterday, in the above picture, is stunningly true, and I know that because I have lived it. I guess we all have.

Here is the second one, from one of my favorite people for wise and wonderful quotes, Maya Angelou :

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

That can keep you thinking all day long, going over your life and remembering when you might have made that mistake. When you reach the upper birthdays you have probably, if you are getting older AND wiser, weeded some folks out of your days because they are no longer an enhancement to your life, for one reason or another. Life gets short, your days are numbered, you have a sense of urgency about how you will best spend your time remaining. If a certain someone is not ever contributing to the great good, you tend to see less of them, wanting to spend your days in positivity and appreciation for all the things that bring you to a good place, a place of comfort and joy.

Many Thanks to my brother, for sending me one of the most beautiful, original birthday greetings I have ever had. I will keep it and read it every year. Thanks to all my many friends ( including my blog friends whom I have never met) and relatives for remembering me and being the loving support that keeps me going, because it really does take a village, for your entire life. I value your words of wisdom and your ability to make me laugh. I have you in my life because you are all lights in my universe, and we all need to have light. You all influence how I paint, what I write about, what I say in conversation and what I believe in my heart to be true. We are all the sum of many parts, and I am the expression of the sum total of the people I surround myself with. So are you.

But you all probably already knew that, didn’t you?