Category Archives: Seeking Joy

A Valentine for My Husband

Again this year, advertisers courted us to purchase a variety of Valentine products and services, marketed for lovers. But… Valentine’s Day can be a perfect day to focus on the blessings of love in our lives. 

Given the state of unrest and suffering in the world,  a day set aside to celebrate a gentler agenda is welcome…and it’s fabulous that  a day is set aside to focus on love.  The world needs more days like this.

As I prepared our Valentine’s Day dinner this week, I thought about the blessings that a marriage of many years can bring.

We never run out of things to talk about.

I whipped up a white cake recipe, coloring part of the cake mix red, to create a red and white swirl cupcake…and counted some of the blessings of love that my husband brings to my life:

CIMG2528

I look forward to hearing your key in the door when you have been away on errands.

I appreciate the flowers you frequently bring to me on random days, for no particular reason or occasion.

I know you have my back when I am concerned about something and you seem to say just the right thing to put it in perspective.

When the cupcakes were done, I removed the pan from the oven, enjoying the warm vanilla aroma, and continued my reverie:.

CIMG2531

One of my favorite times of the day is having breakfast with you in the morning…a quiet time together before the busy day begins.  The sun shines into our breakfast room heralding the new day, and we watch cardinals, bluejays and red bellied woodpeckers through the window.  Even on rainy days, it’s a cozy way to begin the day.  We sit across the table from one another, silently reading two morning  papers, … occasionally reading something interesting to one another.

I prepared almond frosting and red decorating sugar and selected a few large chocolate discs for decorating the mini and regular size cupcakes.  

CIMG2534

My second favorite time of the day is our pillow talk at bedtime, sharing the the good and the great, and the not so great, about our day, and our plans for tomorrow.  No matter how busy we each have been during the day, we touch base again at day’s end.  

Thank you for your loving care and attention to my parents, especially in their senior years.

CIMG2536

You occasionally reach out and touch me gently as you walk by, even in a crowd, …and I interpret your touch as a quiet message that says, “I see you.  I love you.”

You have the best hugs in the universe, and we know we can ask for each other for a hug anytime (some hectic days a hug is needed).

CIMG2537

My heart grow in affection for you as I watch you being a loving father to our children.

CIMG2538

Even when we were engaged in working through some disagreement or hurt, I have always felt loved by you. 

I am proud to take your arm as your wife and join in any and all social situations, and I know you are proud of me too.

CIMG2543

I’m so glad we can laugh together!  It feels so good to laugh.

I am thankful there continues to be room in our relationship for our independence as individuals in thought and activities, as well as our togetherness as a couple..

We have been together for some time now and have so many shared memories we can talk over…something we can do when we really grow old.

I made some homemade boiled custard to serve with the cupcakes and strawberries,… and a sweet Valentine’s dessert is ready.

CIMG2547

Happy Valentine’s Day to my Husband!  …and to all  new and experienced lovers everywhere.

In Thomas Moore’s (1779-1852) words:

“…the heart that has truely loved never forgets….”

“…time will but make thee more dear….”

Sue Marquis Bishop February 2015..

Advertisements

Do You Yearn for a ‘Slow Day’ ?

AS TIME MARCHES ON, the world seems to spin ever faster, with escalating demands and multi-tasking required to get through each day. As a writer, I welcome a day to slow down and experience the world. I not only welcome it, but require it to refresh my own well of humanity and creative spirit.

IT WAS OFTEN DIFFICULT in previous years to slow down the rat race – such as when I was a young mother, and later a career woman and administrator. I am grateful that at this period of my life, I have more flexibility to schedule a Slow Day now and then.

TODAY WAS SUCH A DAY… a walk by the lake, a trip down memory lane at the flea market, tulip memories, dinner in the ice house.

MY HUSBAND BROUGHT home a lovely bouquet of tulips today. Tulips are harbingers of Spring and remind me of so many happy memories!
CIMG1536

IN OUR EARLY MARRIAGE, we lived on Tulip Drive in Indiana. After we graduated from Indiana University with our master’s degrees, we bought our first house. It was a two bedroom house with three acres of lawn, on a busy street across from a golf course. We were happy there. We started our careers in teaching, and became parents for the first time while we lived there. We thought our modest home was a mansion.

CARING FOR THE LAWN WAS A CHALLENGE, but we were young. It took most of one day each week for my husband to mow the lawn on the riding lawn mower. When our son was small, he would climb up on his dad’s lap and ride, sometimes falling asleep in his arms as he mowed a few rows. We planted a garden in the back yard with tomatoes, beans, onions, cucumbers, beans, corn, squash, gourds. We planted the garden rows farther apart so he could mow between the rows with the riding lawn mower (sounds crazy, huh!). We celebrated each year when the red and yellow tulips bloomed announcing Spring and an end to Indiana winter. Seeing the tulips bloom each year stirs my remembering of when we were young parents.

WE EXTENDED OUR WALK to Davidson Lake today. We sat on a bench at the water’s edge for a long time just sharing our thoughts and making plans. We watched a couple drifting along in a boat on the lake.
CIMG1531

CIMG1532

AFTER OUR WALK, we browsed a downtown flea market of vintage furniture and other household items. We didn’t buy anything, but enjoyed looking over the strange, familiar and interesting things on display. On the way home, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant that we had never noticed before.
CIMG1550
CIMG1549
The restaurant was in an interesting old building that was an ice house years ago.
CIMG1548
The seating on the porch was inviting, but we chose to dine inside.
CIMG1551

THE RESTAURANT HAD ATMOSPHERE with old pine floors, exposed brick and stone doorways. Tablecloths were black and glasses shone on the tables.
CIMG1537

THE TUSCAN BEAN SOUP with spinach, celery, garlic, chicken stock, carrots, onions and parmesan topping was wonderful with the hot bread.
CIMG1541

THE SHRIMP cooked in white wine and spices was good to the last bite.
CIMG1542

AND BEST OF ALL… homemade pistachio gelato! The first time I had pistachio gelato was in Cortona, Italy, on a trip with my dear sister Yvonne. It was fabulous! I must be sure to bring her here when she visits and we can laugh about how much pistachio gelato we ate on that trip.
CIMG1543

IN THE EVENING, we played a game of cards and watched an old movie with two seasoned actors, The Bucket List. Before heading for bed, I made my To-Do List for tomorrow with renewed enthusiasm, grateful to have shared this slow day with my husband.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2014

Look Up! The Trees are Shouting “Spring is on the Loose!”

Look up! Look out as you walk! The Bradford Pear trees, Forsythia and Redbud trees, that herald the coming Spring with their fertile flowering, are beginning to shout.
CIMG0793
It’s been a long winter, especially for our friends and family in the North. This year, our mild winter mixed with unpredictable bursts of cold and snow and dreary, left us in the southern U.S, also eager for Spring. What a thrill to walk under and among cascading blooms.

It’s time to put on our walking shoes and get out our bicycles to witness first hand the magical transformation of the season of rest into the season of hope and renewal.
CIMG0795

Spring!
A time
of new beginnings.

Nature
is adding,
dividing and multiplying.

I’ll
make a
change this Spring.

Old grievances
left behind.
It’s a new day.

My forsythia.
Dainty yellow
blooms held aloft
on graceful arms,
longer than a
prima ballerina could.
CIMG0976

Beauty
doesn’t last
but the memory
of beauty savored
does.
CIMG0791

Time to start a list of Spring projects and personal goals.

Spring
breezes whisper
in my ear –
hope, engage, reach –
act now!

My Top Ten Blessings This Thanksgiving

THANKSGIVING IS THE TIME OF YEAR to count our blessings, one by one – and I have many. It is our family tradition when we sit down to the Thanksgiving meal, for each of us to share at least one thing we are thankful for during the past year.

Thanksgiving at mother-in-law Nora's.  Traditional pecan pies and jam cake with caramel icing
Thanksgiving at mother-in-law Nora’s. Traditional pecan pies and jam cake with caramel icing, Italian crème cake, Hummingbird cake

AS I REFLECT ON THE PAST YEAR, I am so aware of new blessings that have come my way, since I retired from an academic career, and started freelance writing. I truly loved my work in the university and was unsure about leaving it. But, I found there are new life experiences to be savored. Oh yes! And it’s something for those who have yet to retire to look forward to.

TOP TEN NEW BLESSINGS I am thankful for this year:

1. A LEISURELY BREAKFAST with my husband and time to read two morning newspapers before starting the day’s activities.

2. SHOPPING DURING THE WEEK in uncrowded stores, when most working people are in their places of employment.

3. SCHEDULING ROUTINE APPOINTMENTS (e.g., medical and dental) in the afternoons, in case I want to sleep late or finish work at home first.

4. TAKING A TIME-OUT “Me Day” to do just want I want to do. If I want to read all day – it’s ok. I am so oriented to being productive, that it took awhile to feel comfortable taking an occasional day off.

5. SPENDING MORE QUALITY OF TIME with loved ones (e.g., enjoying family in new activities, learning more about family history, lingering at the table with friends).

The Pie That Made My Dad Propose (recipe in Aug 29, 2013 post)
The Pie That Made My Dad Propose (recipe in Aug 29, 2013 post)

6. FEELING AND LOOKING (and being) more rested. When I was working full-time, I had a demanding schedule that sometimes compromised my time to sleep. I don’t take naps, but am able to get a full 8 hours of sleep a night now. When I meet an old acquaintance who comments, “You look fantastic.” I reply, “It’s called being rested.”

7. HAVING LARGER BLOCKS OF FREE TIME available, so I can work longer on a project I have started (writing or home-based), rather than working on it in only short bursts of time. And I might add, the rewards are great when I complete a project I was eager to do.

8. SEEING A REAL OPPORTUNITY to plan and implement some of the “if only I had time” goals. When it really gets down to planning, there are some things I thought I wanted to do, that I no longer have a desire to do. But making a new “bucket list” is exciting – and working on the list introduces new adventures in my life.

9. THE SPONTANEITY to drop what I am doing and seize an emergent opportunity. The freedom to change plans midstream is an unexpected pleasure (e.g., meeting friends for coffee or a concert at the last minute).

10. THE OPPORTUNITY TO PURSUE new interests and develop new skills. Learning something new every day is my mantra!

image-30

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

WHAT IS ON YOUR list of blessings this year?

A Message for Christmas: The Gift of Happiness

ARE YOU A CLIPPER TOO? I occasionally clip an article or note, from a news source or research article, that I want to read again, or share with someone else. Three years ago, I clipped an article from the “Charlotte Observer” (Dec 18, 2010), that delivered a positive and powerful message – especially for the Christmas season. I shared it with a friend that I thought might find it particularly meaningful. This holiday season, the message merits repeating, as we engage in a whirlwind of activities in the build-up to Christmas. The author is Lynne Hinton, minister and author. She has graciously given permission to re-print her message as a post on the blog, Womenlivinglifeafter50.com. Thank you Lynne.

CIMG0771

THERE IS A LINE FROM A MOVIE that I can’t get out of my head. One character, a light-hearted woman, is trying to encourage her friend, a more melancholy character. They are on vacation together. After a few days, she tells her solemn friend to be joyful, because good things are coming her way. Her friend replies, “That’s easy for you to say; you have the gift of happiness.”

BEFORE SEEING THE FILM, I never really thought of some people having a gift of happiness, while others do not. I see now the truth of it. There are some folks who just seem to have the gift of joy and lightness of being, while it appears that the rest of us have to work to be happy. I know this, because I am more of a “glass half-empty” kind of person. I don’t come by my joy easily. It takes work – spiritual and emotional discipline – for me to be happy.

AS THE HOLIDAYS APPROACH, I have been thinking about the gifts I will give and receive that I hope will bring pleasure to my friends and family. We always want our presents to be enjoyed by our loved ones. Aren’t we looking for that present of happiness so we can buy it, wrap it up, tie a big red ribbon around it, and hide it under the tree?

PERHAPS THERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT GIFT-GIVING this year. Perhaps the best gift we can give to those we love, is to do the work, so we can become people of joy. If you think about it, happy people are much more fun to be around then miserable people.

I’M NOT SUGGESTING selfishness. I’m not promoting spending the money we were going to spend on others on ourselves. I am suggesting that we make the effort to be the people that others want to be around. I am suggesting that the best gift we might give away, is finding and fostering our own emotional health.

WHEN WE ARE HEALTHY AND WHOLE, hopeful and joyful, we give happiness away. And when that happens, others often make the same kind of decisions for themselves.

WHEN WE SEE HAPPY PEOPLE, we want to be happy people.

BE A PERSON OF JOY. Give yourself, and those who love you, the gift that will matter most. BE HAPPY.