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Archive for November, 2013

Today I’m heading home after a week-long cultural exchange experience. My muscles are sore, and I’m tired. But it’s a good tired, the kind one feels after finishing a long race in record time.

You may know that I have a very small family, no siblings, no parents, no aunts or uncles. I have a husband, a son, and a cousin, but not just any cousin. Kate is a sister-cousin, a “twin cousin.” We are 14 months apart in age and have never had fewer than 450 miles separating our homes, but our spirits have always intertwined such that intervals of time and space do not exist for us. We have always been together.

When her oldest daughter announced her engagement, I made plans to attend the wedding. Before long an idea emerged, an opportunity to immerse myself in a foreign culture. I volunteered for the Bridal Mission Trip. I would become one of the family for the five days leading up to the big event. And when I say big, I mean BIG … eight bride’s maids and a maid of honor … eight groomsmen and two best men … five flower girls … three ring security boys … and let’s not forget the bride and groom!

Since wishes were lofty and budgets limited, Can-Do Kate wore (and generously shared with me) many hats: Wedding Planner, Florist, Rehearsal Dinner Caterer, Reception Party Decorator (which included borrowing, laundering, and ironing linens for 18  huge tables). The morning of the wedding, still in our pajamas, Kate and I assembled 10 beautiful bouquets with white roses, poms, greenery, and tiny purple and blue orchid blossoms. I wired at least 70 of those delicate flowers, a skill I learned via You Tube video a mere ten minutes into my morning coffee.

flowers

Some of the Bouquets

The week was full of so many women working long days together to make it all happen. Kate’s home was Wedding Central, with every horizontal surface piled high with vases, flowers, ribbons, photos, tulle, wires, scissors, pens, paints, pliers, knives, candles, and shoes … so many shoes! I cooked and cleaned and did dishes, mountains of dishes. I designed and created the wedding programs while busily preparing a rehearsal dinner for 40. The rest of the details are a blur.

The take-aways, though, are crystal clear. I learned what Instagram is, installed it and posted my first photo. I learned about spray tans, eyelash extensions, and bustling a wedding dress train. I learned about submersible electric candles, floating candles, and acrylic paint pens that write on wine glasses. And I learned about the joys of service, offering my skills, energy, and love to make the dreams of some very special people come true. For an entire week, I was part of a female contingency that demonstrated unconditional love at a grassroots level. This past week, I felt the presence of Divine Spirit, Divine Love, and Divine Connection. Now I know the true meaning of the phrase, “God is in the Details.”

I am overflowing with gratitude for this unique, family-centered opportunity and my heart is singing with joy from the experience.

Bride

Beautiful Bride Robyn

table

Table Decorations

Dance

Congratulations and Best Wishes to Jimmy & Robyn Cnota

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Traditional Thanksgiving Picture

The Idea of Thanksgiving Appeals to Me

I love the idea of Thanksgiving.

In the abstract, it feels all warm and loving, full of togetherness, joy, and gratitude. Thanksgiving in America these days, however, requires excavation with heavy equipment to unearth those essential elements.

How many references to Black Friday must I chop my way through to find a single relic of heartfelt gratitude? I find it nearly impossible to embrace a deep sense of contentment for my many blessings while simultaneously making plans to buy, Buy, BUY … more, More, MORE! From all indications, Black Friday has become the holiday, and Thanksgiving is merely the feeding frenzy before “the biggest shopping event of a lifetime, you won’t want to miss!”

I love a bargain as much as the next guy (possibly more!), but this year I’m feeling a bit nauseated at the mere thought of the holiday season. There is nothing about Black Friday that appeals to me … not the excitement of getting up at 3 a.m. … not the opportunity to compete for one of a “limited number available” … not even the adrenaline rush of getting the lowest price imaginable on something I can’t live without. Oh, okay. I’ll admit that last one does appeal to me a little. But I don’t want to pay the spiritual price for that kind of bargain.

So this year, instead of just complaining, I’m going to take self-loving action. I hereby give myself permission to make Thanksgiving 2013 a two-day affair. So, since Black Friday will fall on a “sacred holiday” this year, I will turn a blind eye to it. I will delete every email, skip over every print reference. I will not be shopping online or in the stores that day.

Instead, I will fill the day with activities that honor my family, my home, and my values. I might paint, listen to music, or write. One thing for certain, I’ll be sleeping in and smiling my way through the day.

It will be a REAL holiday … the kind where you get the freedom to do whatever you feel like. Do you know that feeling? It’s the one I got when I was six years old and school was cancelled because there was two feet of snow on the ground. The whole day was suddenly filled with endless opportunities for fun: sledding, snow ball fights, building snowmen and snow forts, and drinking hot chocolate. It was self-indulgence at its best. It was as if every bit of the routine had been swept away to make time for UNBRIDLED PLAY. I want some of THAT.

So this year, when I see the words Black Friday, I’ll assume a conspiratorial smile as I envision the words buried in a snowdrift. No matter what the weather is this year, for me November 29, 2013, is gonna be a SNOW DAY!

Sledding

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