Thursday, November 3, 2011

A List of Things I Am Thankful For In 2011

I was recently challenged to list one thing I am thankful for for each of the 21 days in November leading up to Thanksgiving Day. I tried to do them one by one, but I just can't keep up that sort of thing, so here goes a list all at once and in no particular order:

My spouse who supports me in my crazy plans and even helps implement them with me. 
My sons who are not children anymore but competent adults with opinions and ideas and goals all their own, who are smart and kind and generous and creative and inventive and compassionate and who remember to call their mother on the phone now and again, and their father who helped nurture all those things in them.
Their girlfriends who value their originality and compassion and individuality and do things to take care of them when I can't anymore because we live so far apart.
Friends who support me even when I'm a jerk.
My artwork that has brought me self-confidence and satisfaction and fulfillment and has brought me the company of other artists and has lead me to Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
Nature, especially prairie, and my gardens at my homes and the people who have shared time with me in them.
Music and musicians and especially local singer songwriters that you can see live and up close and musical instruments, and CDs and electronics that allow you to take it home and on the road with you.
Wild Ones Natural Landscapers organization that promotes end educates about native landscaping and the friends there.
Amazing parents
An amazing sister
The seasons and the changes in nature that it brings. The cycle of a day that brings morning light and warm glowing later afternoon light and night that brings starry skies and cicadas and morning that brings fog and dew and frost and songbirds' song.
Health and quality health care and healthcare professionals and researchers.
Flowers and florists and garden shops and nurseries and growers that supply them.
Facebook and reacquainting with old friends and meeting new friends .
Books and used book stores and small book stores.
Cats - also lemurs, horses, otters, tigers, dogs, and other animals - the companionship offered by some and the gracefulness, playfulness, and beauty of them all.
Hiking and backpacking and paddling and trips to the wilderness.
GPS's that help me with my total lack of a sense of direction and geocaching with my kids.
Schools and teachers and opportunities for individualized education.
Boy Scouts and leaders and parents and how it shaped my sons.

Lakes and rivers and paddling in them and overcoming fears so that I can enjoy the company of other paddlers and the solitude of a solo trip on the water.

Wood and making things with it like houses and furniture and such.
Good food and fine restaurants and chocolate and olives and raspberries and pomegranates and asparagus.
My senses, the ability to see color and light and the ability to hear a voice and music, the sense of touch to feel warm breeze and cool rain, the smell of a damp woods, dry corn fields, skunk, rosemary, flowers, and the essence of a loved one, the tastes of good food and salt in seaspray.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We Become What We Do

We think we are formed, that we have fully developed personalities, value systems, and ideologies. We think who we are is fairly fixed and stable, that once we have achieved a certain status, become a 'good person', that we are that for all time. We think that we do things because of who we are.
But I want to suggest that it is the other way around. We are who we are because of what we do.
Another way of saying that is if you do not put into practice your principles, you may as well not have them. If you think you are a kind person, but do not do kind things, you are not. If you think you are a creative person but do not do creative things, you are not. If you think you are a fair person, but do not involve yourself in causes that lead to justice and fairness in the world, you are not.
We are what we do, and what we do shapes us. If you think you are the kind of person who picks up litter, yet sometimes you walk past it, you gradually become less the sort of person who does that. You become the sort of person who is not bothered by walking past litter. If you pick up the litter, you become a person who does that more often and values that.
Sometimes, we feel powerless to change a thing, so we do not speak up or take action. But in letting the situation that we do not like continue without any attempt on our part to make change, we become the sort of person who accepts that bad situation.
If we think ourself an artist because we have a degree or used to paint, we might not be an artist anymore. If we worked on a painting or sketched up some ideas in a journal today, we worked at being creative and we are an artist.
If we think ourself a good friend, a good family member, yet we did not interact with any of the people that matter to us, we might be on the way to disconnecting. If we worked at a relationship today, we are becoming more connected to the people that matter to us.
We might think ourself to be an adventurer, but if we have not just returned from, are on an, or are in the planning phases of an adventurer, we might have lost being that.
Our actions and words either build up or tear down. Which kind of person do we want to be? We become that person by doing things that that kind of person does.
You are what you do. What have you done lately?
Who do you think you are?
What did you do today that spoke that? What did you do today that denied that?
What will you do tomorrow to make yourself more the kind of person you want to be?