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Cherish the Darkening Days

The darkening days draw us in. Into groups around fires with food and laughter,

we are reminded on one holiday and then another throughout the Winter that we have meaning.

Fiona and Joyce on shalavee.com

We are loved as human beings and sisters and daughters and Mothers.

Eamion and Fiona at Grammy's on Shalavee.com

As we gather with our families and our friends and we count with them the purposes and connections we have in our lives, we are inwardly focused on our basic needs. Mary Beth and Robert for dinner on shalavee.com

Those of community and hope and love.

Eamon and Caitlin on shalavee.com

And when you add pie and gravy to all of this, it is as close as one can get to heaven without buying a ticket.

Remember those you have lost and cherish the ones remaining even harder.

Happy Thanksgiving Lovely People!!!

Blog Suicide

Don’t stop me if I’ve told you this because I’m going somewhere different with it today. A thoughtful and somewhat sad place but I can’t stop thinking about it.

I started blogging with truly no clue about blogging. I did it because someone I knew said I should. I’d never really even read a blog. And I just began. What’s followed is a lot of blood, sweat , and tantrums.

I have stayed the course though and am glad I did because of the growth I have experienced both as a writer and as a human being who needed to prove my worth and the value of human connection. But you don’t get to enjoy the lessons unless you go the distance.

This can be a very solitary practice. So many sources of input vying for your attention that I feel lucky if anyone reads my blog. Please don’t feel bad that you don’t comment either. Those that can do. Purposes of entertainment are personal to everyone. And I can remember being reluctant to comment once too.

I have been online now long enough to see some of my fellow bloggers discontinue their blogging. One gal got a full-time job. Two just sort of stopped publishing posts and show up to “like” something every once in a while. But the one that upset me the most was a gal who I almost met this past Summer at the Blog U conference. She committed blog suicide.

I was just about to write a piece on how upset I was about her abrupt disappearance when Robin Williams took his life. And the death of this wonderful and beloved man seemed too tragic to even use the word suicide in any other context. But I do feel a kind of concern for this gal’s welfare and here’s why.

There’s a community here online and when you connect with people, they’re just like the people you know from your everyday life. Like your mail carrier or your bus driver. They make you happy when they chat with you. But then what if you heard them start to say that you were so pretty and that they could never consider themselves pretty. Or that you were smart and they just knew they were dumb. And then one day they were missing from their job permanently.

This gal praised me and I was so flattered but I felt that shift into implosion. Suggestions of unhappiness and unworthiness and anxiety. And then wham, she was missing. She had deleted her blog address and all of her social media outlets. I wanted to scream out, why? One of ours was gone. Many of us new bloggers have felt that wavering doubt of that first year of blogging. I understand low self-esteem so well. I comprehend comparing myself to other bloggers and writers (and designers) and feeling crappy about me. And I guess I am reminded again of how I love doing this and how tenuous our bonds with others really are.

So Jean, if you are still reading my blog, know that I heard your distress and felt absolutely powerless to help you. I did notice you go missing. I am not a more talented a blogger or writer or mother than you are. I hope that you and your children are well and looking forward to a happy holiday season. And that if you ever needed an ear or anything I have to give you, I am still here. Imprisoned in this box but also out in the world contributing my soul and gathering happiness anyway I can.

Sincerely,

Shalagh

Gifts of Spirit and Five Good Things

Some months, that gratitude basket is empty and some, my basket is overflowing. Maybe some of my thankfulness is relief from getting through my October’s gauntlet of events alive. But the gratefulness keeps rolling in. Grief comes too but it’s easier to handle when your heart’s got spare mirth.

In honor of all my recent gifts of spirit, I’m doing a five things list to start the week off. It wraps up my random events and thoughts like making the most fabulous stew from my life thought leftovers.Jeanne and Me on Shalavee.com

  • On Saturday, I got to meet Jeanne. I began to follow her blog, Bees Knees Bungalow like three years ago after I began my blog. She is a garage sale guru who repaints and style her vintage finds so nicely. And I immediately knew, we were kindred spirits. She happened to be in Baltimore for a cruise with her mother throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Such a wonderful thing to meet up with a friend whom you’ve never met. And how amazing a gift to meet her and solidify the bond of our kindred spirits. Happy Birthday Lovely.

fall tray and bottle on Shalavee.com

  • Mark had a few employees over as an appreciation party on the same day. The fact that he’s been keeping his business going and it’s clientele is increasing is encouraging. He’s very good at what he does. His success is our success. He’s at that 3 year mark for On Your Mark Lighting. That’s the point when you decide whether to keep going or not.

cards for friends from Shalavee.com

  • I finished painting Fiona’s room. No excuses, no prisoners. And now I get to actually decorate it! And since I’ve promised myself to create everyday, all those projects I will share with you soon. I am looking forward to them.

fall foliage in the rain on Shalavee.com

  • My children are alive and so am I. Eamon got through his pneumonia and Fiona didn’t get it. And the husband took himself to a doctor in a timely fashion to get treated when his cold became instant infection. On my return drive from an appointment in Baltimore on Thursday in torrential downpours, I had a few scary hydroplaning moments on a major highway. This was the kind of trip where you are suddenly living in the moment until you make it home alive. I was never so happy to see my home and my un-napped daughter.

art in the kitchen on Shalavee.com

  • My husband stepped up for me on a couple of occasions this week. He watched Fiona and I was able to do what I needed to do. And he discovered that he can take and handle her anywhere, even keep both children relatively happy simultaneously, and he got a chance to earn his own Daddy badge for himself. Competency can only be earned by practice. We both needed to allow for that.

I am busy thinking a lot about what I am doing right and what I’d like to change. And I ‘m so very happy to know that I have your company dear reader. You get the first dish always.

Let the Good times Roll, Let them wash your rock and roll hair. Let the Good times Roll.” -The Cars-

Intentional In-touchness

You may remember, back in January, I became a participant of a project called Bold Brilliant Beautiful You. My gut told me there was something very necessary about joining these women. And I continue to find out how right I am. Because connections are a good thing.

I grew up as an isolationist. My parents divorced and then my sister moved away. There was no religious community. Friends came and went. Our extended family lived far away. We would befriend neighbors who would eventually move away. There were weekends with Dad when I was little. Summer weeks as a teen. Then he moved too.

When I was a young adult, I was a party thrower. I worked in restaurants and had as much social life as I wanted. But I’m not in my 20’s or in the city anymore. Now, I’m married with kids in the country and we’re not super social like we used to be. Visits with family on occasions and Holidays and once a year reunions with friends from an hour away is the extent of our social life. Add that the first baby was born in a town where I knew no one. We have more acquaintances with this next baby 8 years later but children can dampen some of our partying attending enthusiasm. I long for the party throwing of the old days and community block parties.

Seems the computer, which once was evil beyond belief, ended up being my soul savior. Then the blog I had created warranted I interrelate with strangers outside my known world. Now I have an opportunity to talk and exchange ideas with people from all over the world of like minds and differing opinions. The biggest benefit of these interactions ?  I have begun to see my invisible self. Not a small feat. And I owe it to  practicing what I call intentional in-touchness.

Sunset on the courthouse green on Shalavee.com

The private message conversation below demonstrates what this is and what it means to me. Patti is one of the amazing women I met through the Bold Brilliant Beautiful You project. I wrote a comment on her blog and the first message is Patti talking.

Friday 3:22am

Hey! How are you? I wanted to followup on the note you left on my blog about my goals to be Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You had a baby at 46? How was that? I turn 40 in one week and am thinking of having a third but am scared….Anyway, I wanted to reach out and say hi and thanks for your positive energy in my direction!

Friday 7:13am

Hey Patti. Thanks for your return communication. Yes, 46. Really no different than having my first baby at 38. You have to steel yourself against the over the prime hype. I refused any invasive tests. Only ultra sounds. And kept a positive attitude even with another good case of morning sickness. She’s perfect. And I’m such a better parent now. I’ll keep in touch via social media. My number one goal right now is intentional in-touchness Love, Shalagh

Monday 9:15pm

Hey Patti I tried to follow you on Instagram but you are a private user. Shalagh

Did you try recently? I realized at ALT that if I wanted people to follow me, I needed to make myself public. So I thought about it and then did public. Try it again and if you have a problem let me know! I love the idea of intentional in-touchness. What does that mean for you? Patti

I tried last night. It’s still saying you’re private and I’m shown as having requested to follow you. Hmm, I guess intentional in-touchness is following a person everywhere and then making sure to read their stuff and comment and get a feeling for them. It’s a little more effort than just obligatory following. It takes checking back and making a note and being sincere. I notice intentional in-touchness from others. It makes me feel good and I want to gift it to others. And now I’ll have to write about it. Thanks Patti. I can honestly say I didn’t really know myself until I heard others say happy positive stuff about what I’d said. And you did it again.

So this is me savouring every blog post I’ve signed up to receive in my inbox. Trying weekly to reach out and say hi to people, comment, and like their stuff. They’re sticking their necks out and deserve to have people acknowledge this. I get it and know how hard it can be sometimes to step up and say hello. When you get a real piece of mail, it feels really good right?. It’s this odd acknowledgement that you’re worth the postage. And that feeling is a gift someone gifts you. It’s called caring and I’m practicing intentional intouchness so that I can give that gift to others that I may feel the universe hand it back to me. It’s a selfless and selfish act all in one.

Our Story

We had a “meeting” set up for 10am. And we met. Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Alberta or Ramona or Jill. But what we really did was to sit in that coffee shop and tell our stories.

Each of us has one or two thousand of these. Tales of our locations or our health or our secret dreams spilled out upon the tabletop as we went around and back and forth. We understand the power. Storytelling is from forever.

We may forget these stories are important in our impatience to hear ourselves talk. One minute, I force myself to shut my mouth and open my ears wider. Even the stories people refuse to tell are telling. Because Everyone’s life has a story or two thousand. And we’ll always be in the mood to listen for familiar truths.

Story teller, moment giver. There’s no shame in your tale. How noble and freeing it is to attempt to deliver one’s truth, whatever that is to you. Amen and keep those stories coming.

(This post originally published Feb. 21,2012. Six months ago, I met with some fabulous women at a local coffee shop. So much has happened since. Tomorrow, we will share our stories in the same coffee shop. )

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