Archive for the Gratitude Category

morning gift

Posted in Gratitude with tags on July 18, 2012 by cgeary

it was so quiet during my walk this morning that i could hear the university bell tower ringing in seven o’clock and then the melody of a lovely hymn that we sing at church. it is a hymn i love but did not grow up singing. i could not remember the words but the melody is expansive, portending optimism and hope for the day ahead.

Happy New Year!!! The way forward….

Posted in Celebration, Gratitude, Light on January 1, 2012 by cgeary

So, I’ve been thinking about what should go into my New Year’s resolutions, goals, intentions, etc. this year. I have to admit I am always conflicted between making a plan or letting it be and seeing where it all goes. So what about a loose plan to let things be, see where it all goes and enjoy it as it comes? What else can you do, really?

Best wishes for grace and peace and light in 2012!

2011 — My year in review

Posted in Celebration, Gratitude, Light, Travel with tags , on December 31, 2011 by cgeary

Hello World —

Usually I start the new year with a list of some sort — resolutions, goals, intentions…I decided this time to first take stock of the year that is ending. It is amazing how much of it goes by in a blur. It has been an interesting process going back over memories of this one…so here are some…not in particular order..organized thematically (ish).

Transitions…The best news of the year came in late November that Ron would be working in NC starting in January. (Emily’s job at Springs Creative was a close second.) He got a good job with a very nice organization…less overseas travel. It will be so nice for him to be home and not traveling back and forth from Baltimore. It will be an adjustment for us after six years of a commute of one sort or another, but one I am happy to make. I know that he felt some sadness and ambivalence about leaving his job in Baltimore, but I know he knows this is right. I was hoping he would be able to take more time off in between jobs but that didn’t happen the way I was hoping.

When I was growing up, my family moved a lot, mostly around the Southeast US, more when I was younger and less as I got older. It seemed that one (or more) of us always got sick after the move…we always thought because of the stress perhaps. Ron did better than that though. He got very sick before his move…complicating the logistics (his and mine) in all sorts of ways. He had an acute attack of pancreatitis the Sunday before his last week in Baltimore. I flew up there immediately after I found out and was glad to be able to. Illness is a transition of sorts and is always about more than the physical symptoms. It is a way your body records your history…this may have been coming on for a while but ignored one way or the other, but it certainly has gotten Ron’s attention now. Good timing with the new job…a time to rearrange life so he is not working 10 hours a day or traveling so much…taking the easier path of living in only one place at a time and being alone less of the time. A good time to get on that healthy diet he has been talking about and getting more exercise. While I wish these changes had happened before this health crisis, I am glad that Ron is interpreting it as an awakening to taking good care of himself and slowing down.

My own health has been good this year..around May sometime I finally was able to get my head around taking action to lose weight…diet and exercise…really that is it. I have lost 20 pounds since then…more slowly than initially I had hoped but it is ok too. The keys to my success? A good digital scale, weighing every day, finding a diet based on portion control and healthy eating (only natural food, no sugar, no alcohol (not completely compliant on that one, but have cut way back). I added a short weight routine and am more regular in my running and yoga. I feel so much better and am very motivated to lose the next 10 to 20 pounds during the next year.

Travel — I would say this has been a light travel year, though when I start listing where I’ve been I guess it was light only in comparison to my husband and my work colleagues. I was very happy to return to Asia — Bangkok and Hanoi — if only for a week this past May. Ron and I went to England and to Ireland in June for vacation. Ron actually had a board meeting in London so I got to wander during the days in London on my own — and then we both went to Ireland and got to see Emily and Aonghus and Aonghus’ parents Lena and Harry. They took us on a lovely tour of Donegal and included us in family gatherings. In the US I visited Baltimore and DC a few times, Boston, Phoenix (to see Ron’s brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Karen), NY (to see Max in Henry V), Charlotte (where Emily now lives) and Atlanta. My friend Louanne gave me a travel journal for my birthday, so I kept a journal of my travels, with photographs. I don’t always write as I travel…though sometimes I do…I have finished most of the writing for the year but have some more photos to add.

Revolution — It has been an amazing year on the planet. Sometimes I feel so hopeless about human beings when I listen to the Republican rhetoric that is so mean and hateful and see others around the world hurting each other (and am also disappointed in the Democrats to ‘man up’ against all of this — where are you all??)…But…I am also buoyed by those who are out there facing down the corruption and the evil. I was so amazed to see the Egyptians in the street…I know the hardest part may still be to come but the Arab spring was so inspiring…And Occupy Wallstreet (and Chapel Hill and everywhere else) gives me hope that something is afoot. It is not clear where it will go or to what effect, but something is happening and I don’t think there is a turning back now. This something that is making people nervous as evidenced by the over-reaction in some places, but it will get bigger. Where am I in this? I am totally supportive and feel some regret at not being in the middle of it…I am raising my voice when I can and want to do more, but have not figured out how to do that and meet my other responsibilities as well. I am thankful that there are those who can be out there in the way that they can.

Wild Goose Festival — This happened the end of June at Shakori Hills in Saxapahaw…I almost missed even knowing about it. A gathering of Christians in the US similar to the Greenbelt festival in England. We went for a day and in the middle of the afternoon I felt the most amazing sense of peace and rightness about the world. It is definitely a gathering of the religious left…politics was there but not the main thing…strains of Christianity that I had not been around…looking towards the Great Turning…lots of discussion of living in intentional communities… music…art…diversity…sustainability..I heard Shane Claiborne and was very inspired and then read his book The Irresistible Revolution over the summer. Not a way that I live, but good to think about.

Books I loved this year and/or made me think differently…Art of the Commonplace…by Wendell Berry (plus his novels like Jayber Crow)…Spontaneous Happiness  by Andrew Weill…Kafka by the Sea and  After Dark by Haruki Murakami (check out his website: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/murakami/site.php)…Crazy Like Us (The Globalization of the American Psyche) by Ethan Watters (in case you don’t yet think that pharmaceutical companies are corporations that care more about money than human beings)…Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy..several by Alexander McCall Smith that I listened to on CD…a beautifully photographed book…Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgessalso Andrea Reusing’s new cookbook, Cooking in the Moment, which I gave to several people for Christmas this year…A Year with Hafiz includes a Hafiz poem for every day of the year, so I started reading that as a daily meditation..You are Here by Thich Naht Hanh…The Sun is still my favorite magazine, though I also found Yes! this year and just subscribed to it in my pursuit of hopefulness.

Social media – I joined Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Facebook is great, I’ve reconnected with several people and been able to keep up with others I might not have otherwise, plus it gives me a place for sharing thoughts and images that I wouldn’t have otherwise. (Also, it is a way to connect to this blog!)  Twitter is too overwhelming for me. Instagram I love though because it is photographs. I am an occaisional user so I don’t have a lot of followers or ‘likes’ (which makes me sad) but it is fun. (I’m ‘cwaszak’ on Instagram.)

Work-I returned the end of 2010 to a place I had worked many years and have been happy to be back with so many people I care about and I find so smart and caring. I have gone through somewhat of a transition in my own conceptualization of the research I want to do…a paradigm shift of sorts..though it is mostly a subtle change in articulation. This is great in that it has given me renewed inspiration for my technical work. The not so great thing this year was that we acquired a large new organization which has made life much more complicated and been an unwelcomed distraction from the work that I think we are meant to do. The merger is still a work in progress and all the pieces have not fallen into place with regards to a new structure…so I am trying to be helpful and stay positive…but in the next year it should be evident if this is going to work for me in the long run or not.

Art- I don’t know where I am going as an artist…the last part of the year..especially this past few weeeks I have not had time to focus on this part of my life…one that I think is essential but is distracted by work for money…I still am figuring it out. I am working on many different things simultaneously but finishing almost nothing. I am planning on submitting some work to some shows and galleries…I have the photos…we’ll see. I feel confused …unfocused about this. I did pick up my Pentax 1000 again and that has made me happy. I also have enjoyed talking to my daughter about her own work as a designer and listening to her thoughts and advice about my work…nice to see her doing something she loves and getting recognition for it…I always thought she had a lot of natural talent…now that talent is maturing as she is learning so much from school and her work colleagues.

And while I am speaking of family, Max, I think had a good year — first as part of the Shakespeare Festival in NC and then the rest of the year in NYC. I saw him in Henry V performed outdoors by the Classic Theatre of NY in July. I probably wouldn’t know about the High Line park in NYC if he did not work there and I think that is one of the best things in NY now and have spent a number of hours there and taken a lot of photos I love there. It was such a great idea. Renovation and renewal always make me happy. Max seems happy in his pursuit of his acting career.

I also have spent more time with Joshua and Caleb this year than ever before and that has been good. And…this summer we took Mother up to the mountains for her to see her family and celebrate her 87th birthday. This was a chance to reconnect to family I spent a lot of time with during my first 20 years or so, but much less since then. We also got to see Greg and Jennifer this past week in Chapel Hill for the Christmas holidays which was nice.

So while there were difficult moments this year (most of which I have not written about here), there were many, many good ones and good things about the year. I will stop here…just to say I am looking forward to seeing what the next one brings. I will close with a Hafiz poem I read just this morning —

It rises,

a glorious sun, 

if one can sit quiet long enough, 

Seeing it, one feels, I now have everything,

everything I could 

ever want.

Sarah and Elizabeth

Posted in Gratitude, Light on April 17, 2011 by cgeary

This is a photograph of my friend Elizabeth Campbell and her mother, Sarah West Campbell. Sarah died the week before last at age 91. I went to her memorial service last Sunday at the Methodist church downtown. It was a very sweet service. Elizabeth died in 2004 at age 52 of a very aggressive form of cancer diagnosed only months before her death. The last time I was in that church was for a memorial service for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and I became friends about 1997. We met at a video workshop at Duke. We were in a session together and ended up pairing off to take photos of each other. We decided to go to lunch together and then hung out for the rest of the day through the reception that evening. I think we talked non-stop. I had started taking black and white photographs and she was the artist I wanted to be. She was a writer first, but also an astrologer, photographer, videographer. She had gone to UNC but then spent many years in the Hudson Valley in NY state working at the Omega Institute. She split her time between the NC and NY, primarily so she could be close to her mother as Sarah got older.

I met Elizabeth at a time I was going through a lot of personal transitions and her friendship was very dear to me. Though I had stepped away from religious spirituality I had known as a child, I was ready to be pulled back into a way of understanding the world that was not bound by human understanding. Elizabeth was very much a mystic and was a great guide for my new seeking.

Getting back to Elizabeth and Sarah….Elizabeth grew up in a close-knit extended family in Weldon. Her father died when she was in college and her mother moved to Chapel Hill soon after that, where Elizabeth was at UNC. Elizabeth felt extremely connected to her family. She stayed close her to aunts and cousins and saw them on a regular basis. To be Elizabeth’s friend meant that you got to be part of that as well. I spent at least one Thanksgiving dinner and New Year’s Eve dinner and many picnics and birthday parties with Elizabeth and Sarah and others..bringing along Emily or Max when I could. Elizabeth’s family rooted her. I remember when she did a reading for her book Intuitive Astrology in a local bookstore, she started out by saying,”I think half the people in this room are my blood kin.” That made her very happy.

Sarah was light and love and lots of energy. They called her “Skeet,” short for “mosquito” because she was so short…but I never thought of her as small because she seemed like such a force of nature. She was grounded, but interested in everything. She kept up with everyone’s lives and it was evident in all the discussion at her memorial service that she was a pivotal connection for all the members of her extended family.

                         Sarah and her close friend, Vera Hart.

I stayed in touch with Sarah even when Elizabeth was not in town. Sarah came to my wedding in 2002 though Elizabeth was not able to. I tried to stay connected after Elizabeth’s death — not as much as I had meant to — but periodically with Christmas cards and calls. One year I sent her a Valentine’s Day card and she called me to tell me how excited she was to get it….I felt badly that I had not done more.

After the memorial service I went through some of my photographs to find some of Sarah to share here. I selected photographs which best illuminated Sarah’s spirit shining through.

 At a July 4th party at Elizabeth’s house..Elizabeth’s sister Kacky on the left.

                                    Sarah and Elizabeth, same party.

What I am thankful for

Posted in Gratitude on November 25, 2010 by cgeary

Hello World —

Gratitude is the path to a happy life. There is good and bad in everyone’s life and focusing on what is good in one’s life will make you happier than focusing on what is bad…and especially the bad that you cannot easily change. Focusing on the good things…what you are grateful for makes you more aware of them…gives you a more positive vibe…and then you attract more good stuff in your life. This may sound too new age-y for some people, but it is what I believe and what is true for me. I’m not saying I practice this perfectly, but I think if I always started and ended the day thinking about what I am grateful for I would be more content and satisfied and happier. And this is not to say we shouldn’t all have an edge that keeps us trying to make the difficult things better, to improve things for others and ourselves…just that it should start with a recognition of the good things, our strengths.

So — today is Thanksgiving — and the story that we have — whether it is reality or myth — reminds us that difficult times can turn into good times with a little help from our friends and that we should mark that with a feast and  a day of gratitude.

I like to make periodic lists of what I am thankful for — it certainly  seems            a propos for Thanksgiving — here is what is on my list today.

  • a two-day holiday that motivates us to think about what we are grateful for and gives us a break from our everyday routines
  • restaurants that serve Thanksgiving dinner (thank you Acme!)
  • everyone in my family — for the support they give me and the ways in which their lives take them into the world and extend my knowledge of the world through them
  • the beautiful fall colors in my garden (red, especially)
  • my work — I am leaving one job and going (back) to another in a week. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to make the first transition and now the second — I appreciate the lessons I learned in all of this and am ready to embrace the role I have to play in the work I do
  • my friends from whatever part of my life I find them — work, art, play
  • my church for inspiring me to think about how to be part of a community and the importance of working as a community for social justice — but also for the fellowship
  • the grace of new beginnings
  • the Mysteries — consciousness, the universe, the beginning of life, life after death, the beauty of the earth, time
  • the gift of creativity expressed through art
  • yoga
  • massage
  • running
  • tennis
  • the farmer’s market and other outlets for local foods — my CSA in the summer
  • health
  • the Y
  • my home
  • a president I respect
  • my iPhone
  • audiobooks
  • WordPress
  • digital photography and film
  • HBO
  • netflix
  • old family photographs
  • staying at home for the holidays
  • scotch, red wine, belgian-style beer (local breweries)
  • quantum physics…not that I really understand it, but it is mystery worth trying to wrap my head around
  • abundance, diversity, and the consciousness to experience everything.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The kindness of strangers….

Posted in Gratitude, Travel on October 17, 2010 by cgeary

Hello world —

This morning I was checking out of my hotel for a week so that I could travel to Kano and Bauchi. I decided to travel light and leave my big suitcase at the Hilton. I thought about asking about this yesterday but it seemed unnecessary. When I got to the desk to ask to store it they told me I needed a lock. I have never used a lock on my suitcase. It did occur to  me that it might be nice to have one for storage purposes but I didn’t think it would be required. So I thought I would be dragging my big suitcase in small cars with others in the car and in and out of a couple of hotels. I would have bought a lock yesterday, if I had known. It was too early in the  morning for the shop to be open.

As I was checking out I told the cashier of my plight and she told me she would give me her lock. I told her ‘no’ that was too much. But she insisted and brought out a very nice lock. I offered to pay her but she wouldn’t let me. I wanted to make sure that I got the lock back to her when I get back next week…I looked at her name, of course her name is “Grace.”

My father’s gifts

Posted in Gratitude on January 1, 2010 by cgeary

Hello World —

I wrote extensively last week about my father’s death, but I also wanted to share some thoughts about my relationship with him as a way of honoring his life.

I woke up very early the morning of his funeral thinking about him as the person I had known growing up and I started thinking about who I was because of his presence in my life and this list emerged.

These are some of the things my father gave me —

  • a slow temper (this is probably as much nature as nurture — regardless, it has served me well)
  • an appreciation of multiple points of view
  • the ability to adapt to a new situation or environment
  • a sense of humor — an appreciation of a good joke…even puns (his favorite!)
  • blue eyes (but not as blue as his)
  • an appreciation of cause and effect — especially the effect of my actions on the lives of others
  • a love of travel and curiosity about the world
  • a sense of security
  • a logical way of thinking about how to do things and an appreciation of efficiency
  • a value for “getting the job done”
  • self-discipline and tolerance of moderate discomfort in the service of getting what you need
  • a role model for providing for my family and
  • an interest in photography as a way of documenting one’s life and family.

Cindy and Rudy in Waynesville...late 1990s

Beginning again

Posted in Gratitude on January 1, 2010 by cgeary

Hello World

Even when I’m not intensively keeping a journal, I always like to take stock on January 1….to look at what has happened during the past year and think about what I’m thankful for and where I want to go in the next year.

I made a major life transition this year by changing jobs. This time last year I had thought about the possibility but had no inkling of how I might make it happen or that it would happen within the year. The change I made was not totally radical but I moved out of management and a rat race back to technical and what I perceive to be a better use of my talents and time and to be more focused in a way that will give me the feeling that I am actually contributing to a better world. This change is still new enough that I haven’t completely transitioned into what I am going to…that will take a bit of time. I do know though that I made the right decision.

My father’s recent death is also a transition of sorts for me as well. First, of course, I will miss his presence.  It also changes my responsibilities toward and interactions with my mother. It makes me think about preparing for the future differently. In following up on his financial affairs, I have new appreciation for how my father planned for the future and for taking care of my mother.

I’m not sure where I want to go artistically. I have a number of pieces still in progress…and lots of things call me. I had begun scanning family photographs for an album to share with my family members. We used many of those photos (as well as some my son scanned) to put together a slide show of my father’s life for the viewing at the funeral home. It was good to see pictures of my father in healthier times and I can share the DVD with many people who were not able to be at the funeral. I want to finish the rest of the family photos this winter and complete the album (though it will always be a work in progress in order to add more into).

My new job came with a membership to a gym, so I have decided to commit myself to getting into shape this year in a serious way. The past few years I have run and done yoga on a fairly routine basis but it has not been enough. I had a complementary training session with someone at the gym and it opened my eyes to what I need to work on…focusing on getting stronger and improving my flexibility and balance. I signed up for 12 sessions — have done 2 so far — and can tell a difference already.

So what am I grateful for from the past year? Transitions and beginnings…the grace of things working out in ways that we wouldn’t have planned ourselves…two grown children who are working towards vocations that will use their prodigious artistic talents…and who have relationships which make them happy…a solid relationship of my own…my friendship with my brother…my own good health…my mother being in a place where she feels secure and at home and taken care of…my friends and coworkers…especially for their support these past few weeks…my new suzuki crossover…red wine…belgian-style beer…travel this past year to Italy, Ireland, Egypt and Zambia and the anticipation of travel in this new year…skype (!) for saving me so much in phone bills this year…HBO (I finally got it) and watching The Wire from beginning to end…my Wintergarden exhibit at the library…a new printer and a new camera and the discovery of an old camera and a place to buy film for it…places that continue to develop film…

There are many, many things to be grateful for and sometimes life passes by so quickly that I don’t feel that I have time to fully appreciate them. So that is my hope for the new year…that I can slow things down enough to appreciate everything more. It is a tricky wish, however…. tricky figuring out which things to slow down. It is living these tensions though that makes life what it is.

Best Wishes for the New Year!

2009 Open Studio Tour Follow-Up

Posted in Gratitude on November 30, 2009 by cgeary

This is just a quick post to say “thank you” to those of you who visited me during the Tour this year. It was fun to turn my house into a gallery for a couple of weeks and meet a lot of very interesting people who came by to see my photographs and mixed media pieces. At some point I will use my website in a more direct way to sell my photographs and cards, but if anyone is interested in anything at this point, please feel free to contact me through the website (mail@cindywaszakgeary.com) about that.