Staying in the Moment

time-machine-retro-style-illustration-34241376In trying to reinvigorate my blogging for This and That With Calandra, I have been following WordPress’ “Daily Post,” which provides starter prompts for new posts. Today’s prompt was this:

“Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?”

My answer is NEITHER! Time took a different turn for me when I first became a mother in 2006. Many people said, “Enjoy them while they’re young!” Others said, “It’ll get easier as they get older.” Well I decided that I wanted to stay in the moment. Why dwell on the past, and why rush the future? Every stage of my children’s development has been a joy to watch – trying and frustrating at times – but enjoyable nonetheless. Every brain cell I spend thinking about the past or future is energy wasted, energy I could have used in the present moment.

Staying in the moment doesn’t just apply to my children. As you can tell from many of my posts on TTWC, I love to reminisce. There’s nothing wrong with remembering, but wishing to revisit days gone by is non-productive for me. Planning for the future is fine, but I’ll see it when it gets here. So I have no use for time machines. I prefer to stay in the moment!

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The Mood of Autumn

Calandra Y. Branch:

A great post about Autumn from a musical perspective. Originally posted in “Good Music Speaks.”

Originally posted on Good Music Speaks:

leavesThe colors of the leaves are changing quickly now.  A few are starting to fall into my lawn.  All of those stupid trees seemed like a good idea in the spring and summer when they gave me some shade from the heat of the sun.  Now I’m beginning to regret the arrangement, as I work to fill bag after bag of fallen leaves. It’s coming.  You can feel it in the crisp night air.  Some days are still warm, but the warmth is fading, and the cold winter is ahead of us.  Days are shorter and nights are stretching longer.  It can even seem a bit melancholy at times.

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Richard Strauss

This mood is captured over and over again in music from a great variety of sources.  The German composer Richard Strauss included an Autumnal mood in his Vier letzte Lieder, the four last songs he composed, at age…

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Autumn Saturdays

It is a rainy and raw Saturday in New York; the kind of day that reminds me of why Autumn is my favorite season. My mind immediately rolls back to Autumn Saturdays of my youth.

My mother and I rose early to do the weekly chores. My father went out to run errands. Momma had a pot of Great Northerns (beans) on the stove and cornbread in the oven. Storm clouds dimmed the sunlight that usually lit up the living room, which was now colored a muted gray. The raindrops tapped out a melody on the windows, and the growing wind later joined in harmony.

By the time our work was done, Daddy was back home so we sat and ate our beans and cornbread.  We watched television – flipping between the news reports of the Nor’Easter that was blowing through the area, and bowling matches (hey, don’t judge – we were a bowling family!).

Quiet afternoons led to quiet nights, preparing for church the next day. I miss days like this…the smells and sounds of Autumn Saturdays.

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It’s My Season!

Autumn Leaves

Some of you know that Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. The changing landscape paints a beautiful nature canvas of leaves turning rich shades of red, yellow and gold. The temperature shifts from hot and steamy to crisp and chilly. It’s the time of year that prompts long afternoons drinking tea while snuggling under a throw and catching up on some reading.

Ok…who am I kidding? I have a 6- and 8-year old. There’s no time for the at-home luxuries of Autumn! But it is still the time I love most. There is a quietness broken only by rustling trees and the crunch of fallen leaves under the sole of those brand new leather boots you bought on sale ;-).

So for you Summer Sun Worshippers, don’t fret. Embrace ‘Snuggle Season’ and enjoy nature’s beauty. Find a reason to love the Fall!

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K.I.S.S.

Growing up in church, I often heard preachers begin their sermons with a joke, saying their wives told them before service to remember to KISS when delivering their sermon. “Keep It Short, Stupid.”

I want to first say a special “Thank you” to a few of my fellow bloggers for telling me to KISS. They didn’t verbally tell me this, but their brief but effective and engaging posts have encouraged me to tell myself to KISS.

I haven’t posted in This and That With Calandra for a little while very long time! Several posts ago I vowed not to get wrapped up in the (in)frequency of my posts. I wouldn’t write if I didn’t have anything to say. Well now I’m tackling the issue of brevity. Sometimes I have something to say, but I feel like it’s not enough content for a post. But as Cochise said to Preach in Cooley High, “You ain’t got to make no speech brotha…Go!”

Having said that, look for more posts to come!

Shout out to my “brief bloggers” Lisa Stanton (I Am A New Lis) and DK Wyatt (My Love For Music)

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The Art of…The Little Things

I was sitting outside and watched a little boy who was diligently following a pigeon around. When the bird stopped walking, the little boy stopped, crouched down and stared at the bird with the intensity of a National Geographic Explorer! His fascination with the bird fascinated me, as I pondered how the simplest things appeal to children. I am always amazed at the way children learn. As they are exposed to more of the world around them, they take in new experiences with such intensity and awe. I guess in some ways we do the same as adults, as we get excited about new technology and gadgets. Perhaps we are more impressed with the extravagant and extraordinary. But I contend that sometimes we need to go back to basics and remember to appreciate the little things in life.

In our relationships, we often expect grand gestures. But when was the last time something subtle and simple made you smile? I found that having children has had a great impact on my simpler view of things. The smallest expressions make the biggest difference. I get joy from the little things – like when my son gives me a hug, “just because.” Or when my daughter comes to me some mornings, wraps her arms around me, nestles her head in the crook of my neck and then softly says, “Mama.” These are the moments I appreciate the most.

When was the last time you took the time to appreciate the little things?

The Art of Storytelling

story-storytelling-word-clouds-cloud-words-tags-related-to-myth-legend-digital-tablet-35485420Today I read a friend’s post about New York’s famous “Black and White” cookies. I shared with her that my Dad used to buy giant ones when were kids, but I probably ate too many and now I get queasy just looking at them! But I started to remember how he introduced me to them. He was telling me some story of his youth and mentioned how his father would buy them for him. I didn’t understand what he was talking about because I had never heard of them. So on our next trip to the bakery, he pointed them out to me and bought a box of them home. I realized that my father ALWAYS did that. Asking my father a question would often result in a long, Cliff Huxtable-esque series of stories. But sometimes, he also took the time to show me what he was talking about. Once I saw a Ouija board in the background scenery of an old episode of Sanford & Son. I didn’t know what it was, but described it to him and asked him what it was. He not only told me – he went out and bought one for me. That was my Dad’s way. What he knew, he taught and he showed. What he wasn’t sure about, he pointed me to our big set of green and white World Book encyclopedias and encouraged me to look it up.

Of course, I have passed this down to my children. They ask me a question, I explain, then I Google it if I need to show them a picture, or enhance the story. Last summer, my children attended a funeral of an elderly family member and began asking questions about his life. For several months afterward, they would continue to ask about other family members, both living and dead. Where were they born? What did they do? How did they die? Every day, they would choose someone else to ask about and I would give them short stories about these relatives. When I shared this with their Sunday School teacher, she reminded me that this was a perfect example of storytelling. This is how family histories and oral traditions are passed down from generation to generation. I thought about this and immediately remembered how well I can recite the bulk of my maternal family history – after years of attending annual family reunions as a child and hearing our family history told each time. As a child, most of my recitation was rote, but now I can tell the story with much more depth and understanding and pass it along to my children – and even to other family members who don’t know the stories.

Let us never forget to tell stories – whether about our past, or the world around  us. Our children, especially, need to shape their worldview in context of their experiences and that of their ancestors. Never ignore a question – it can often lead to great teaching moments, moments that I know I have treasured since my own childhood.

What stories are you telling?