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Posts tagged ‘love’

20
Apr
Clouds Chasing the Sun.  Photo by Andrea O'Connell

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

The challenge this week is to capture the sun!  I usually battle with the sun when developing images…. When there’s too much sun-glare it can wreak havoc on an image.   So, it’s nice, for a change, to have an occasion to relish the sun!

A Roseate Spoonbill sun dance:

Sun Dancing. Photo by Andrea O’Connell

Clouds chasing the sun:

Clouds Chasing the Sun. Photo by Andrea O’Connell


An orange flower drinks in the sun:

Drinking in the Sun. Photo by Andrea O’Connell

13
Feb

a valentine in white and pink

Although it’s not quite Valentines Day…. I’m getting in the spirit a bit early this year!

Happy and loving wishes to all….

10
Feb

Weekly Photo Challenge: Regret

The weekly photo challenge this week is a tough one.  The word is “regret.”  I looked through all my photo archives and I found a few photos that would maybe resemble the emotion “regret.” But, not really.  Regret is a complex emotion, not easily recognizable in a photo because it could look like so many other emotions.  Regret is pensive, but pensive is not “regret.”  Regret can be sad, but sad is not “regret.”

You see what I mean?

Regret is a multifaceted emotion – layered with either a tinge or a great deal of sadness, or anger, or longing, or remorse.

Regret may consist of angst, too.  Regret rears its elusive head over things we did, or didn’t do; things left unsaid; things left undone after it’s too late to change the things we did.  Generally. saying “I’m sorry,” cures the regret.  Well, in fiction and other fairy tales that’s true.

Regret also takes the form of wishing we could turn the clock back to redo or undo things.  (If only life had the same “undo” or “redo” button that Microsoft Office and other software has.)   Wouldn’t it be nice if that”Easy” button in the Staples televisions commercials really worked?

So, I found a couple of photos that captured an element of regret.  I have a photo of a butterfly whose wings are badly damaged and who is clearly close to death.  But, when I saw that photo tonight what I felt was sadness and then I realized I regretted taking the photo.

Another photo I looked was of my niece with a sad and pensive look with tears forming in her eyes.  She wasn’t feeling regret, she was having one of those meltdowns that all kids have when they don’t get to do what they want to do.  It wasn’t regret.  Does a 6-year-old feel regret?

And then I had a picture of a Florida Panther that was really cute.  He has his forehead between his paws, down on the grass as if he’s trying to scratch the top of his head on the ground.  And I almost chose that photo because it was as close as I thought I would get to embodying regret. Of course, I know the panther was just giving his head a good scratch in the grass so it really didn’t look regretful.  And after all, the more anthropomorphically realistic our animal photos are, the more we love them – the funnier they are.  And funny is fun but it doesn’t say “regret” plus the photo is a bit blurry – horrors!

So, I kept looking for photos and nothing said “regret” to me.  I looked up the dictionary meaning, too:

Regret:

1. To feel sorry, disappointed, or distressed about.

2. To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn.
(verb)

To feel regret.

(noun)

1. A sense of loss and longing for someone or something gone.
2. A feeling of disappointment or distress about something that one wishes could be different.
3. regrets A courteous expression of regret, especially at having to decline an invitation.

I was about ready to skip this photo challenge when I remembered what I’d bought tonight at the grocery store!!!!!   And I said, out loud, BINGO!  Talk about regret…. There’s guilt there, too….. Double whammy.

Mind you, I bought this in the grocery store tonight after I’d had a HUGE steak dinner at Outback Steakhouse.

After all, they say, it’s best NOT to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, right?  Well I went to Publix grocery store, still full as a whale, and look what I bought and what I immediately began to eat?!!!!!

So, here’s my chocolate chip-yummy-frosting-early-valentine-to-myself-definition of regret…. :)

29
Jan

life’s a beach and other beauty secrets

Update:  Until now, I didn’t know the difference between a Florida Panther and a Bobcat.  As it turns out, what I’d been calling a Bobcat is really the endangered Florida Panther. Apologies to all the big cats for my error…. :)

In my earlier post, a Panther bobcat photo had made its way into every one of the pictures I’d exported from LightRoom 4 (LR 4).   Well, I figured out how it happened!  And, it was not at all the fault of an errant or stalking Panther Bobcat, either!  It was silly me.  Now I know how it works…

I’d inadvertently made the photo of the Panther Bobcat my “signature” when I was trying to create a photo-signature.  Each time a new photo was exported, the Panther bobcat photo appeared as a signature.

Here’s a whole new crop of pretties that have been to the beauty parlor of LR 4.  They’ve gotten manicures, pedicures, new hairdo’s and brighter smiles, too.

Click any picture to see a slide show of the enhancements.

Basically, what I’ve learned to do is sharpen, adjust the exposure, saturation, hue.  I’ve learned to change the “clarity” settings by playing with shadows, highlights, blacks and whites.  And so much more.  The hardest part for me was the export and import process, but I’m getting that down now.

It amazes me that up until now I have worked with my images completely untouched when all along I could have livened them up with a trip to an LR 4 Beauty School!

About the photos: 

The beach photos were captured from the balcony of a condo in Pompano Beach, Florida, in July 2010.  The other photos were captured at Flamingo Gardens, in Davie, Florida, where they take care of injured and endangered animals of every kind.  The two Muscovy duck pictures (babies and Mother duck) were captured from my (former) back yard, on the canal.  And, the lizard I captured at Butterfly World, in Coconut Creek, also in Florida.

I love visiting all these places.  I especially enjoy being at the beach and watching the waves roll in and out.  There’s nothing so restful.

27
Jan

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope

This week the theme of the weekly photo challenge is hope…. (which I’m full of).

The first thing I thought of?  Being hired at Microsoft!  Oh, how I am hoping.

I don’t want just any job, I want the best job.  I want a job that feels more like love than work. I want to love having my job and I want my employer to love my passion and creativity and hard work, too.

So far, the Microsoft opportunity feels like the best fit.  And so, when the interviews are over, I hope Microsoft hands me something that looks like this:

And, here’s another little reminder of hope.

It was spring and all the birdies were building their nests when I shot this picture, at Butterfly World, in Florida.  This little fellow was trying to bring that entire twig up to his nest in a nearby tree.

He tried and tried and tried….hoping to get it to the nest. It was amazing to see.

Ultimately, though, he turned to another twig more his size, leaving that one a much bigger bird.

11
Dec

a flat stanley story

I know this is going from the sick to the sublime and I’d intended to write more about the military disposal of US Soldiers…..

This is me wearing Flat Stanley - This photo is not part of the project!!!

Well, this story was flat-out more important.

This is a Flat Stanley story (the travel-driven picture-project that first-graders trick you into doing for them).

Well, in truth, my brother was tapped to do this project for Elizabeth, our niece, but he roped me in knowing I’d never flat-out refuse.

Below is the story for Elizabeth’s first grade class about Flat Stanley’s travels in Winter Park, Florida

 

 

Flat as a pancake, he was.  Naturally you’d think he would squeeze-in and fit anywhere.  Well, that would be true if not for the wind.  You see, the wind was his problem.  He was so flat the wind would lift him up and take him away quicker than you could say “pancake.”  When the wind blew him hither and yon, he’d be very lost and a little bit afraid.

One day the wind blew him, still flat as a pancake, to Elizabeth’s First Grade class. All of Elizabeth’s friends immediately loved him.  (Well, he was cute.  They couldn’t help but love him.)

Elizabeth was the first to talk to him, she said, “What’s your name?”  “They call me Stanley,” he told her, “and I don’t know where I am.  Am I somewhere special? ” he asked a little sadly.

“Yes, you’re in our class!  The kids screamed happily.  Then Elizabeth asked, “Where did you come from, Stanley?”

“I don’t know. I blew in,” said Stanley, starting to cry.  “You see, I’m flat and so any wind takes me places and it’s scary.”

“Oh my,” gasped Elizabeth.  “Yes,” cried Stanley, “If you blow on me, I could end up anywhere, that’s how flat I am.”

Really crying now, Stanley said, “I am so flat, I fly anywhere the wind blows me.  But I want to go places by choice, not just where the wind wants to take me.”  Then poor Stanley said, sniffling, “That’s why I can’t stop crying.  I want to go places where I am loved.”

“We’ll help you, Stanley!” cried Elizabeth!  And all the kids cheered, “Yes, we’ll help, too!”

Quietly amazed, Stanley asked, “You will?  You would really help me?  Even though I could fly away and be lost any minute because I’m so flat?”

“Yes,” promised Elizabeth. “You should go to places that are fun and where people will love and take good care of you.”

“Yes!  But, I’m so flat!  What if they don’t like me?!” Stanley cried.

“It’s okay to be flat, Stanley.  You are you and you are loved!  We’d love you if you were big or too tall; small, or too wide; Fat or too flat, Stanley!“  Elizabeth assured Stanley.   “Flat is fun, Stanley! You should be proud to be flat, Stanley!  Elizabeth’s classmates all exclaimed.

Then, Elizabeth said, “I know!  We’re going to call you Flat Stanley!”

Stanley got excited, and jumping up and down he hollered, “Yaaaaay!  Okay!  I’ll be that name.”  Stanley was roaring happy and said, “I’ll be Flat Stanley!  I always wanted two names!  I always wanted to have a first and a last name. I’m Flat Stanley now!” said Stanley as he jumped, or rather floated, up and down on the air!

Then Flat Stanley paused, and said, “But, I don’t know where to go.  Where will I go?”

Elizabeth had a great idea, and said, “I know!  Since you are flat, Stanley, we can mail you to lots of fun places!  We will mail you to our aunts and uncles and friends, too.  They’ll take you places and you’ll be loved, Flat Stanley,” said Elizabeth, excitedly.

Another kid chimed in and said, “Yeah, and they’ll mail you back to us so you can tell us all a story about your travels!”

And so the travels of Flat Stanley began.  Elizabeth sent Flat Stanley to Winter Park, Florida.  He had fun in Winter Park.  Oh, he had loads of fun!

Here are the things Stanley saw and the places he went in Winter Park, Florida.

(p.s. Flat Stanley had fun, but is very happy to be back in Elizabeth’s First Grade Class again.)

Click to enlarge the picture:

16
Oct

love jazz, part one

Hey Internet.   Jazz here.   Remember me?

I’m still here even though she took my picture away!  I’m still here.

You remember me now?

My face used to be all over the place in here.  Remember that handsome picture of me?

She replaced me with a dead butterfly.

Heck if I know why.

Those butterflies were real once, I guess.

My picture is better than a dead butterfly, okay?

It gets me sad.  I can’t explain it.  I’m not really a good explain-er of things.  I’m a dog, after all.  (By the way, this is new to me, so don’t expect me to wax-poetic here, okay?)

So I’m here instead of her – the lover-of-dead-butterflies-better-than-me.

I’m here because she just kicked me off her lap.

She said, “Jazzy, I need my lap to read the paper,” and told me to get down.

I wish I could make decisions around here for once in my life!  I was comfortable, too.

Well, the plain truth is:  I hate it when she sits there crinkling the paper.  She says, “I’m reading the paper, Jazz.”  Oh?  Well, “Ruff-ruff, I don’t care,” I say.  But I do care.

All she’s doing is crinkle crinkle crinkling that paper and it’s LOUD, and it drives me up the wall!

Don’t get me wrong, she is the best human any dog could want.  Lots of other dogs in my neighborhood dig her – and I hate that!  I hate when she’s cool with the other dogs, it really kills me!  It’s like a knife in my heart.

I can’t help my jealousy, I was born that way.  People don’t understand me because my tail won’t stop wagging even when I want it to.

She knows how jealous I am and she gets mad.  Sometimes she even raises her voice at me and I really hate that.  She doesn’t get it – she’s mine – she’s only mine.

She lets any human sit on my couch.  They move my things around. They play with my pillows.

The worst is when some human is so big they can’t feel when they’re sitting right on top of my toy.  I go out of my mind when they do that and they always do.

When they get in my face because I’m acting nutty, it really makes me crazy.  Sweat comes pouring out of my mouth and my tongue hangs on the left of my mouth and it looks stupid and I scratch at the humans legs and at the couch and all they do is yell at me!

But, it’s MY TOY THEY ARE SITTING ON!

They don’t care that it’s MY TOY!

Well, I don’t care that my long nails scratch their pale skin!

I scratch like crazy but then I keep getting yelled at and I really hate that, but it sure doesn’t stop me until she gets involved and all of a sudden I’m where I really want to be – in her arms.

Home is when I’m in her arms.

I’m in one of her arms actually.  I am really balancing on her shoulder.  (I rest my feet on an elastic thing that’s across her body and under her shirt – she calls it an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder thing.)

So, I can balance real good ’cause my legs and chin hang over her shoulder and it’s the best.  I works perfect UNTIL she moves to talk to another human.   I go crazy when she does that with me on her shoulder!

I can’t even stand it when she’s looking at another human!  I hate it. Can’t help it. I hate it. I do.

Jealousy is my only flaw (except for the five times I pooped in her bathroom and once on her bed).   I really had to go, okay?  I told you I have only two flaws! That aint’ too bad for a dog, right?

Why am I getting defensive?

I’m sorry, okay?

That’s not like me.  I’m a pretty happy kid, usually.

If you wanna know the truth, I’m itchy ’cause I didn’t sleep good last night.  It’s her fault.

We went to sleep real late because she had her tablet that glows that she reads from.  She reads in the bed with that thing when all I want to do is sleep.

That’s about the extent of what she does anyway.  She sits on the couch, sits at the computer.  Sits on the couch; sits at the computer. Sits on the couch; sits at the compu….  Well, you get the picture?

Sometimes she takes me out.  Me and her and her mom (my Grammy), we take my bed and other stuff and we go in my car.  I like to be in the back, in my bed where I can see her.  When she stops she looks back at me and says sweet things and it feels so good and makes me and my tail so happy.

We ride in my car to a house where there are three other humans – one who is small and blond.  There are two dogs there and I tolerate them.  There’s a bird and two fish.  And they got some grass, too!  Man, that back-yard is long and wide!  There’s nothing like that yard!   There are a lot of stories to smell in that grass – all kinds of stories to smell.  I’ll tell you some of the stories I’ve smelled there when I get a chance to sneak back to her computer.

You know…. She goes out a lot without me.  I like to go with her.  I used to cry when she left me alone. I’m okay now about it.  I deal with it now, you know?  Now I just sleep and dream until she comes back.

Dreams are awesome, too!   Dreams are cool – when they’re good dreams.

When they’re not good it’s not like dreamin’ at all.  It’s nightmarin’.

Uh-oh, I really gotta go!  She’s coming!!!!   See ya!

Love,

Jazz

2
Sep

cute X two

This video of twin babies talking and laughing with each other is wonderful!   Ellen DeGeneres added cute dialog to the second video.  I watched this first one over and over tonight – can’t get enough of how adorable these babies are – how cute they are as they communicate and laugh together.

Here’s The Ellen Show Translation (cute!)

16
Aug

her baby, she told me….

She lost another one.  Another baby.  This was the third one she’s lost in three years, she told me.

She has two other children.  A 9 year old, and a 3 year old.

Her two children were looking forward to having a brother.  After the pregnancy got far enough along, at about the fourth month, she told the children about the baby.  They were over the moon about it!   So was she.

The three of them, mom, and two children, talked about the baby every day.

The kids began to plan, as kids do, for the eventual arrival of a new brother.

The kids wanted to name their brother; wanted to pick out his clothes; they drew pictures for his room, and talked incessantly about the baby, she told me.  When the baby came, the kids wanted to take turns doing baby chores like giving the baby a bottle, or holding or bathing him.

What about diapers, she asked them?  No, that was not on their radar.  Kids their age don’t think diapers – baby’s don’t make messes in their world.

There was a mess, though. The mess occurred when the baby was nearly six months in her womb.

She is single, poor, young, no health insurance.  Without health insurance, the doctor visits during pregnancy were inconsistent.  Well, she’s stretched thin, what with two kids to feed.

And, when you’re busy trying to survive moment-to-moment, when your amniotic fluid is slowly leaking from your womb to the extent the baby becomes endangered, you may not pay attention because you have two mouths in front of you to feed.

So, you ignore it until you can’t anymore and you push out a dead baby.

But you still have to work and take care of the kids the day you pushed out the baby.

The hospital tells you the baby needs a funeral, or should be cremated.

You opt for cremation.  But, before the baby is taken away, you take pictures.

You show the pictures to people. You show people the pictures of the dead baby you just pushed out of your body?

You showed them to me.

I was looking at pictures of two beautiful children – live children.  And then there were pictures of a dead baby.  A lot of pictures.

She didn’t see the look on my face because I held myself in perfect check.  I didn’t want to be rude, but I had to turn away.

I was able to maintain composure but I am haunted by it.  The baby was still very pink.

I was overwhelmed at seeing those pictures and suddenly felt as if I was under water.

I can’t get the images out of my mind.  It haunts me.

What made her think that I would want to see that?

She is of a different generation, a different culture.  Is that it?   I know in my heart that she showed them to me because she trusts and likes me; I am kind to her.  I go out of my way to be kind to her.  Not everyone is.  Kind, I mean.

A week prior to the day she showed me the pictures, she told me she had picked up the Urn with her baby’s ashes. The children, she said, refused to believe her baby was in there.  The children saw the pictures of the dead baby, she said because she wanted them to understand.

She told me they are too young to understand.  Yes, I said, I imagine that would be true. What could I say? 

She’s a strong girl, though.  She is fine.  I guess if she’s able to look at her baby’s picture on her cell phone, it means she must be doing fine?

I don’t know.  I know she has to survive.

She has other business to attend to.

25
Jul

faith hope and love

I’m feeling a little under the weather tonight – exhausted mostly.  And, I just lost all the data in my iPhone as I was trying to update the software.  I figured out how to restore it, I think.  The phone seems to be righting itself.  It’s taking a long time, though.   I’d be lost without my iphone…. I have faith it will straighten itself out….

Anyway, I don’t have the energy to write tonight.   So, I’m leaving you with a passage from Corinthians, that I have loved since I was a child.

One of the bloggers here, Faith, shared this passage today.  And, I remembered how much I loved it, and how it made me feel to read it.

I am not one to read the bible, or go to church, or pray very much.  But I do have faith – in love especially.

In truth, I have only read pieces here and there from the bible, never the whole thing.

My bible is Shakespeare, poetry, and good fiction.  My personal God lives in everything and everyone, and of course, in Nature.

The interesting thing about this passage – no two versions of it are alike.  There is a vast differences from one version to the next.   I kind of like this version:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.   ~ 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

I have a great story for tomorrow, by the way…. you’ll love it!

3
Apr

my family

There are weddings, and then there are weddings!  Last night I attended a magical wedding and had such a lovely time!

Aja and Ryan, the bride and groom, now husband and wife, are lovely.  Theirs is a perfect union – perfect in every way.  It was one of those weddings where sentimental people cry because the couple is so beautiful and handsome, and the words exchanged are so lovely.

I have known Ryan since he was about three.  He’s nearly in his thirties now; a paramedic; handsome with strong Roman looking features despite his Irish heritage.

Ryan and I are connected via an extended family connection that can get confusing!  Let’s see what you think of this connection.

First, my mom (Pat) and my father (Andy) were divorced around 30 years ago.  My mom and my two brothers (Tim and Tom), and I were left with nothing – my father was not sure-footed when it came to compassion or consideration for his family.  I was in junior college, locally, my two brothers were in high school.  One of my brothers was in private school – an excellent Catholic school – that was expensive. Of course, my father didn’t pay for that, so my brother went to work to pay his way through high school.  My other brother was in a public school, which is free, so he was okay. My college was paid by scholarships and government money, so I was okay.  But, my mom, who hadn’t worked since she was in high school (she was a stay at home mom), had to find a job.  And we had to find a place to live.

We moved into a small two bedroom apartment that was near my junior college and my brother’s public high school.  My mom went on to work for the Bar Association.  She worked with Judges and lawyers, and learned a lot about the legal system, which she passed on to me, and especially my brother who went on to become a lawyer.

Long before all this, while my mother was in high school, in Massachusetts, she met Mary (Ryan’s Grandmother), and they became great friends, they had a whole group of friends, all Irish Catholic, and who all moved to Florida.

My mother and father moved to Florida when I was two years old and there was already a large contingent of family and extended family here.

My mother and Mary remained friends. Then tragedy struck and Mary’s husband passed away from a heart attack.  Mary O’Connor had 3 children: Steve, Debbie, and Tom (O’Connor); she was left on her own to make do, and it wasn’t easy.

Mary was a devout Catholic and attended a church where a Priest named Bill O’Connell served. Father (Bill) O’Connell and Mary O’Connor and her kids became fast friends.  Father O’Connell spent a great deal of time with Mary’s family.   I was a kid then, too, and knew Mary’s kids.  I remember seeing Father O’Connell and Mary and her kids at my Aunt’s house, at Mary’s house, and at another Aunt’s house.  Father O’Connell became a part of our whole family, as extended family.

A few years passed.  Father O’Connell became smitten with Mary and her three kids.  He left the priesthood and they married.

About ten years passed and Mary suffered a heart attack – it was her second one.  It happened while my mother and she were chatting on the phone as they often did for hours.  Mary dropped the phone, collapsed, and was rushed to the hospital where she later died.

My mother, who was now a few years divorced and still living in the small two bedroom apartment (I was finishing my Bachelors degree in a college about an hour away – living on campus), was devastated.  Bill was devastated.  Mary’s children were devastated. Mary had grandchildren now (Ryan, Dustin, Cindy, Jenna and Katie), and they were devastated.  We all were – I had an anxiety attack and was taken out of my dorm room and to the hospital – but I was fine, just shaken up.

It was a sad time in our lives when Mary left us.  I loved her. We all did.

Bill and my mother began talking – a lot.  Bill often came over to my mom’s and she’d cook for him.  Mom and Bill would come pick me up at school and take me places; we’d go to the nicest restaurants, as that was Bill’s favorite pastime.

It took a little over a year for Bill to ask my mother to marry him.

Bill O’Connell was going to marry Pat O’Connell.  Bill became my Step Father, and to this day he is in every way a better father then mine ever was. Bill’s Step-children (Mary’s children), became my step brothers and sisters, or so we seemed to be.

Mary’s children: Steve, Debbie and Tom (all O’Connor’s) and Andrea, Tom, and Tim (all O’Connell’s), were closely joined now, but not by blood, just by history and marriage.

We spent every Christmas at my mom and Bill’s house (until my mom didn’t have the strength to do it anymore).  We always had the most crazy Christmas Eve parties!  It was a free-for-all and anybody and everybody was invited.  Our parties became tradition, until about four years ago when my mom lost the strength to continue.

Now we have separate Christmas Eve parties, and it’s sad because I miss it.  Now we have quiet Christmas Eve’s with only my brother Tom, sis-in-law, and my niece, me and mom and Bill.

Anyway, back to my story.

Tom O’Connor married a Debbie, who became an O’Connor.  Now we had two Debbie O’Connors, a Tom O’Connor and a Tom O’Connell.  Tom and Debbie had two children Dustin and Ryan.  Now Ryan has a wife, Aja, married last night.  Tom and Debbie divorced; Tom married Val – thank goodness.  Val is a name easily remembered.

In the late 1980’s, Mary’s daughter Debbie married a man whose last name was “Andrea”.  She became Debbie Andrea. I was still Andrea O’Connell.  So, we had a whole name game going on!

Steve O’Connor, Mary’s oldest son, married Micki.  They had three lovely girls: Cynde, Jenna and Katie.  Jenna married and became an Andrews.  (Can you imagine if she was an Andrea?!!)

Last night, at the wedding, some people asked what my connection is to Ryan.  And, I wanted to say he’s my nephew.  Thought that’s not entirely true, in my heart he and his brother are the nephews I never had.

I refer to Debbie as my Step sister, but that’s not really true, but it’s true in other ways.

Cynde refers to me as her aunt, which I find so dear!   I adore everyone in my extended family, and last night we were all together.  I was the only O’Connell there.

My brother Tim lives in Orlando; my brother Tom, his wife, Mandy were not able to attend, and my mother and Bill, though they love all the extended family, did not attend.  They missed so much last night.

They missed seeing what passed between Aja and Ryan as they said their I do’s.

My body is sore today from all the dancing I did; I am so tired today after drinking one too many beers (yes, I do like beer – in moderation!), but my heart is lighter having spent a wonderful night with my wonderful family.

Much love to Aja and Ryan.

20
Dec

Warmest Wishes to You & Yours

I wish you so much love and happiness this holiday season, and always.  Happy New Year, too!  Let’s dream BIG in 2011!

4
Dec

it was a day of butterflies, blossoms & birds

Oh it was a glorious day!   Very sunny with a nice cool breeze and not a cloud in the sky.

And, oh, the butterflies were especially active – so busy today!  They acted like hummingbirds today…. crazily going after that nectar – wings going a mile a minute –  like dancing sprites!


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4
Dec

happy beautiful morning!

It’s Saturday – the weekend is finally here!  Weekends – a chance to breathe and just be.  Work weeks are the opposite of calm most times.

So, it’s a crisp morning, maybe 65 degrees (that’s cool for us in South Florida!)  I do wish it were a bit cooler, but I can wait a couple more days for the cold spell they say is coming!

This is the perfect day to avoid shopping and find birds and butterflies to photograph.

I think this is exactly what I will do!

All sorts of wonders await!

Happy beautiful morning to you!

27
Nov

the work of forgiveness

Thanksgiving weekend and the air around us seems to literally sing as our friends and loved ones gather around us – as we give thanks that our loved ones joyously grace our lives.

The ability to feel thankful rises from one’s ability to be truly grateful, this goes without saying. But, what about forgiveness? From where does that rise?

When one cannot forgive is it because gratitude and forgiveness are inexorably weaved together via our near-perpetual state of humanness? Is it due to our being human and thus imperfect, that we can not always forgive? It seems to me that choosing to not forgive is the ultimate negative emotion. Think of all the negativity involved in the act of refusing to forgive!

Often we hear people cry, “I just can’t forgive this”, or “I just won’t forgive that….” We nod and say, “I hear ya’, you need to just walk away from that.” And, yes, it is true, there comes a time when, to save our sanity, it is necessary to “walk away” when we feel put upon, abused or used. That is a positive first step. But I think it’s only the first in a long series of steps in the work of forgiveness.

But, do we always walk away with an intent to forgive eventually? What does it take to forgive? Is it necessary to forgive?

When one thinks of what it takes to forgive, really forgive, can that also include a murderer on death row?

Who among us could forgive a murderer? I don’t know if I could, but I have read about people who have been victims of murderers who go to the prison, face the guilty, and forgive them – right in the face of the murderer they say, “We forgive what you did because we know you are sorry for what you have done.” (Will forgiveness work only when the wrong-doer is repentant? I tend to think that is the case.)

Think of the redemption in the act of forgiving like God would forgive! Does the thought of such deep forgiveness stir something in you, as it does me? I want to believe that I could be such a forgiving person should a murderer kill my loved ones, but, to be honest, I don’t know if in reality I could be so forgiving.

I say so often, “Well, we are only human.” In the case of forgiving a murderer, I think it applies – we are not God, right? Well, this is indeed true, but can’t we be “god-like” in our actions and reactions?

I write about the Casey Anthony case because I have so much vested in the case – I’ve followed this case for so long and though I tire of it at times, I am fascinated by it, as many of us are.

And I often think, who is left to forgive Casey Anthony?

Her parents and family can’t forgive her and this is why they choose to believe someone other than Casey killed Caylee.

Can we forgive Casey Anthony? Does it even matter if we choose to forgive her or not?

I don’t have the answer to that. However, here’s a short passage from a little book I treasure. It will not answer the question for us, but may get us to think about what it really means to forgive and live with a grateful heart.

Maybe.

The following is taken from the text: “Attitudes of Gratitude”, by M.J. Ryan., pages 111-113.

Nothing blocks feelings of gratitude more than anger and resentment. That’s why the practice of gratitude requires the work of forgiveness. We can’t feel grateful to our parents for what we received from them when we are still angry about their abuse, self-involvement, insensitivity, alcoholism, or neglect. Nor can we receive the gifts of a relationship that has ended when we still feel hurt over betrayal, angry over deceit, sorrowful over abandonment.

Nor should we. Trying to force ourselves to feel grateful when such strong negative feelings exist only compounds the injury. We have been hurt. Let’s not deny our woundedness on top of everything else. Healing, in the form of acknowledging the grievance and grieving the loss or wound, needs to happen first.

However, there comes a time in the process of emotional resolution for forgiveness. For only forgiveness can move us out of the victim stance and free us to move on. Depending on the kind of wound you have suffered, this may be deep psychological and spiritual work. No one can talk you into it. No one can do it for you. Only you can come to the place where you want to forgive.

What helps the forgiveness process is to understand that resentment is a second-hand emotion, a cover for underlying feelings that have never been expressed….

….At some point you realize you are a better, stronger, more loving person than you might have been if you hadn’t been so hurt, and you recognize the gift in your particular suffering. In that moment, you move from victim to victor, from victor to venerated teacher.

Forgiveness leads to gratitude, and not just gratitude in general but, in a beautifully healing movement, to an outpouring of appreciation for the very things that caused such pain in the first place. Thus is our suffering redeemed.

There are many ways to victimize people. One way is to convince them that they are victims. ~ Karen Hwang

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