Saturday, December 31, 2022

An Unwritten Year: An Immense Responsibility

We stand at the end of another year: minutes ticking by as we anticipate 2023; waiting to revel in new beginnings; ready to celebrate... what?  If it weren't for the calendar year changing and our traditional or cultural expressions of Endings and Beginnings, I would wonder WHAT are we celebrating?

After all, look at our responses these past few years to COVID, our political divisions, and our social unrest!  Are we celebrating these... or the desire to be released from them and begin anew?

Are you experiencing turbulence in your life?
(Photo: Storm at Sea - Larry Gardepie)

I don't want to be too negative on this final day of 2022, but I am trying to understand why we think things will be any different next year if...

  • We make resolutions that we don't intend to keep, or
  • We aren't more civil and understanding to one another, or
  • We don't put thought and time into changing the turbulence in our lives.

After all, there are individual and social responsibilities in starting anew:

  • Accepting our role in past misunderstandings.
  • Realizing that change cannot happen without self-transformation.
  • Creating a better future that begins with each decision we make.

Where can you create beauty?
(Photo:  Rouen Cathedral,
Rouen, France - Larry Gardepie)

As I reflect on this past year -- those areas where improvements are needed -- and what I want to accomplish during this Year Unwritten, I yearn to discover beauty, seek peace, and work towards harmony.  I don't need to give up what I believe in or my value system.  Instead, I must stay open to the opportunities that present themselves: seeing people as Gifts Unopened and Surprises Awaiting.

How will you build peace and harmony?
(Photo: Two Bridges, Dartmoor National Park,
England - Larry Gardepie)

Walking along a mist-shrouded roadway to take a picture of Two Bridges -- where the guide told us about the bridge and most people stayed on the roadway to take their pictures, I chose to wander off-course down the incline... and was surprised by a new perspective of the bridge's reflection in the serene waters below.
Being willing to go off-course, allowing biases and prejudices to soften, and anticipating a surprise will create an experience much different than if we remained where everyone else is rooted in what was told to them.  I can discover beauty...  I can seek peace...  I can work towards harmony... if I am willing to change... and expect to be surprised.
May this New Year invite each of us to go off-course enough to move past turbulent times and reflect new beginnings in our hearts and minds.

Blessings to 2023!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Trying To Be

I have always admired people who see what is happening: not the ones who can tell me the details of what is visually obvious but the people who seem to understand what is going on below the surface.  How do they do that:  Seeing to Understand?

I wonder if it is similar to people trying to differentiate between Doing and Being?  I tend to stay busy, focusing on deadlines, producing, wanting to improve a situation.  I guess it crowds out the time I could be present to What is Happening Now!

Who are you trying to be?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~

(Photo Credit:  Pearls Before Swine,
Stephan Pastis, December 2, 2022

With the holiday busyness drawing to a close, I also wonder if have a missed the Spirit of the Season?  The Giving and Receiving of Christmas allows us to pay attention to another person's needs and wishes, but how often do we truly understand what is happening below the surface:

  • Why is that gift important to the person?
  • Does the giving symbolize my love and caring?
  • Am I trying to fill a space that no gift can accomplish?

It seems that sometimes the recognition of our Aloneness is what is important.

When do you feel isolated or alone?
(Photo:  Mazatlan Beach - Larry Gardepie)

There are times that just sitting with a friend is all that is needed.  Or listening... asking questions... not talking to hear my own voice but being present to another person's anxiety, worries, or pain.  I don't need to rush in and save.
 Sitting and being present may be the oasis that allows the giving and receiving to go deeper, allowing underlying thoughts and feelings to surface.  Now the real work of understanding occurs:  trying to be... present... authentic... accepting and understanding... human.

What does it mean to be present?
(Photo:  Puerto Vallarta Beach
- Larry Gardepie)

Another thought:  have you noticed that media outlets tend to use the week between Christmas and New Year's as a review of what has happened during the past year:  key stories; triumphs and tragedies; awards received?  Now might be the time for our own self-reflection:
  • Do I lean more toward Doing or Being?
  • Am I more comfortable with Giving or Receiving?
  • Do I Understand What I See or See to Understand?
I guess the ultimate questions are:  What do you want from this New Year?  How will you be present more fully?  Are you willing to change?
May the next few days allow peaceful moments with Loved Ones where you can share what you are noticing, ask questions to understand, and listen to what is happening below the surface.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Valuing Time, Health, Family and Friends

When I was younger, I never really thought about time... or my health... or Loved Ones.  These were always present:

  • I had enough time to do what I wanted.
  • I was relatively healthy and took care of myself.
  • I kept in touch with family and friends.

Now that I am older, things have changed:  I am aware that time is limited; a few health issues allow me to consider... that time is limited; and several Loved Ones have died and are no longer present.

What do you want to change?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo credit:  Don't Forget, Madalyn Beck)

Maybe that's why I am learning to appreciate the "little things" in life.  A few months ago I came across an art display where someone took small books, ripped out or tore pages, and added miniature objects to create a scene that matched the book's storyline or theme.  How creative!  The ability to re-imagine -- to see differently -- and invite us to experience something deeper than the status quo.  Ingenious!

Where have you been creative
in your concern and love for others?
(Photo:  Book Art, Betty Pepper, Holland America - Larry Gardepie)

In the same way, wouldn't it be wonderful if we focused our limited time and well-being on those around us?  That is, look for little ways to show our appreciation and how much we value family, friends, and work colleagues.  Rather than repeating the storyline we have become accustomed, we could rip out what keeps us separated and add in objects that spotlight the value already present.

How might you express what you value?
(Photo:  Towel Swans - Larry Gardepie

In my limited time on this planet, I have come across many creative people  who have simply and ingeniously expressed care and compassion to others.  They refashion normal objects that bring smiles to others.
As we move through these final weeks of another holiday season and calendar year, may we consider ways to re-imagine how we use the limited time left to us:
  • Acknowledging and understanding the current storyline we tell ourselves;
  • Encouraging different ways to approach life together; and,
  • Valuing healthy relationships with friends and strangers we share this planet.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Who Stole What?

Holiday music and Christmas specials are filling the airwaves, jostling for our attention as we navigate this post-COVID "new normal" world that we live in.  San Diego's Old Globe Theatre is presenting two favorites, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Ebeneezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show" -- favorites that draw in children and adults alike.

Memories of Christmas Past bubble up at this time of year:  family and friends, darkness and cold weather, festive lights and inner warmth remind us of what we have... and may no longer have.

What do the holidays mean to you?
(Photo credit:  How the Grinch Stole
Christmas, Dr. Seuss)

The Grinch and Scrooge teach us of the transformation that can happen when we listen and consider:

  • Why we remember important moments in our lives;
  • The role family, friends and community have in shaping our beliefs; and,
  • How we want to live and respect other traditions and peoples.

These stories suggest that even the meanest and most cold-hearted can change.


Where are we chained to in the Past?
(Photo credit:  Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol)

But even in the midst of this holiday cheer, there may be feelings or struggles that challenge us:  the frenetic energy and busyness of getting everything done; comparing What Was with What Is and wanting more; or missing people who are no longer physically present.  Sometimes an emptiness pierces our well-being, reminding us... that we are human!

Is there a way to pierce the darkness
with Light and Goodness?
(Photo credit:  Rare Cosmic Event
Beamed Light to Earth...,

What I have been learning at this holy time of year:
  • Be Kind... to Self and Others.
  • Listen and Consider... that we are all doing our best.
  • I -- and We -- have Sacred Worth and Value.

Happy Holidays (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day,
Ōmisoka/New Years) as we celebrate Light, Birth, First Fruits, Gifting, and the Sacred in our world!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Accepting What Is

This week has been about Acceptance... of information received; of what others have experienced or are experiencing; of what I cannot control... and Choice.  That is, accepting what is and making a choice on how best to respond.

Earlier in the week I had a conversation with a family member.  We talked about how we were raised, our family memories, and who we are now as adults.  We are no longer those younger siblings who grew up in the same house together.  We have changed.  (I want to believe we have matured!)

A few days later a childhood friend notified me that he has been diagnosed with advanced prostrate cancer.  I sat with his texts, recalled our childhood antics, and asked how I might be a friend.  His responses were uplifting as he shared his love for family, his faith in God, and his trust in the medical professionals.  He seemed at peace with the challenges before him.

How might I accept what is happening to a family member or a friend?

How do you approach stormy days?
(Photo credit:  Charles Schultz)

And today, another friend texted about losing his "dream job" unexpectedly and with no reason given. 
For several days he has been trying to understand why it happened and did he do something wrong.  As we texted, I sensed a struggle between trying to understand and acceptance, questions that cannot be asked and answers not given, despair and relief.  Were these his struggles or mine?  Maybe with the holidays coming up, this was a Gift to be with his young family as he took care of himself and them?

How might I listen and be present when Mystery Remains Unknown?

Can you see beyond what is happening?
(Photo:  Morning Fog over San Diego Bay
- Larry Gardepie

It seems that Life Happens... in very unexpected ways... and then we have a Choice in how we will respond.  It's not fun being moved off-course of plans and aspirations we desire, but maybe the lesson is more about letting go, accepting, and being tender with ourselves as we consider... What comes next?...  How do we survive?...  Will we be okay?

Towards the end of our text conversation, my friend said that each of his last few jobs have been better than the one before.  And, he concluded, maybe the next one will be even better!

How might I listen for Hope and Surprises?

What choices can you make?
(Photo:  Carnival Panorama - Larry Gardepie)

Listening, asking questions, being present, and trying to understand opens us to the possibility of What Is... Next.

Maybe it is time this week for us to accept what is, know that we have the power to choose, and Expect to be Surprised!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)