Time Flies

On the threshold of the new year, we all tend to look back to the year past. Today’s media are doing the same: famous people who left us, couples who married, split, got babies, worst and best dressed, tragedies and triumphs, the year in politics, the weather in 2012, surviving the end of the Mayan calendar…and the list goes on. Gossip blended with more serious stuff.

We all have a few things on the top of our minds when we think back to the year just ending. And similarly, we probably have a few visions for the new year. But most of us might agree that the year has passed very fast, where did it go? And we say: time flies! When I look back on my year, I thought that I could tell a short story using some of the pictures I’ve taken of birds.

Early last spring, our adult son had a very serious accident, which resulted in several surgeries and kept him on crutches for the rest of this year. In seeking balance, strength and peace of mind, I walked a lot in the nature reserve close by.

I observed the many birds that live there and every now and then snapped a picture. It was calming and soothing just to be in the nature. And these walks helped me to remain positive through some of the heaviest weeks “on record” for me.

Being on the water was also helpful to me. And there of course were the pelicans keeping us company.

Then came the hight of the summer. Mind much calmer now, things looking up slightly. And with the heat came tropical storm Debby.

The nature reserve and the beach flooded…the birds withdrew to dry land for a while. I guess there was enough food for them outside the flooded marsh, in the park and even in our yard.

The summer brought lots of joy and comfort in the form of visits by family and friends. On our regular walks on the beach we could observe the herons, pelicans and sea gulls.

In the middle of the summer, literally, I also started my blog. Its title was influenced by my own tough lessons playing out right at that time. Blogging has given me so much on many different levels: continuously learning from others, new friends and a new community, and an opportunity to write. I consider this one of the really positive “events” of this past year.

Of course there has been work too, but obviously of much lesser priority for me than previously. I’ve been traveling, mostly in Europe and here in the US. I see travel as a window to the world that widens our perspectives and look forward to doing a bit more of that in the new year, both for work and pleasure.

The late fall finally brought good health news and other positive developments to the family.  The best Christmas gifts one can wish for.

The rough ride has taught me many valuable life lessons this year. Maybe most importantly: live in the now, do not take anything for granted, and always remain grateful for who and what you have in your life.

So now it’s officially winter. Time to soak in the hot tub. Cleanse the soul and look forward to the new year with positive expectations and hope of being able to make a small difference, to bring a few rays of light to the world. That would be wonderful. Blessings and Happy New Year!

Journey to a New Year

Life is a journey

sometimes the ride is smooth

the highway newly paved

the speed pleasant

we’re going places

happily riding along.

Other times

the going gets rough

disappointments muddy the road

setbacks and obstacles

like small stones

are thrown our way.

We may be forced to stop

park for a while

review, reflect and learn

renew our faith

and then continue

better equipped

our journey that is life.

Now that the journey takes us to a new year, I wish that all my readers – and myself – will have

  • wisdom and willingness to continue to learn
  • faith and trust in life
  • strength to overcome whatever life throws our way
  • ability to be grateful for what we have.

I wish us all a blessed and happy 2013.

Boxing Day…(or Guest Post XI)

Hiff there! I hope it’s not too late to say Merry Christmas? It’s all continuing tomorrow, Boxing Day, right?

Bumble telling stories
Anyway, I’m just sending you all Seasons Greetings, taking advantage of the fact that mom and dad have gone to bed early today. That’s very different from yesterday, let me tell you! Food, presents, hugs, friends, food, Xmas glogg …Xmas songs by Elvis and Louis Armstrong…more food. It was lively and it was late!

Bumble xmas 2012
I sat in the easy chair the whole evening. Better to be out of the way. I mean whenever I wasn’t helping in the kitchen. You know, carving the ham and the turkey. Or helping with the desserts.
Santa Lamp
I like Christmas. Particularly the food part and the gifts. This year I got a new leash, one that blinks in the dark so the drivers can see us whenever I need to take mom across the street on her evening walk. I also got a bag of yummy bacon-wrapped biscuits and a new fox. It doesn’t look very new anymore, of course…it was a long night.

My fox

I have only one complaint about Christmas. I don’t understand why I should wear some ridiculous red hat or a costume! I’m not the Santa! Do I look happy in these outfits?

Bumble xmas hat

I didn’t think so. After putting up with these pageants for a few years, I finally had a heart to heart with mom about it last year. I thought she got it.

Merry Christmas Bumble

But this year again when she took the decorations from the storage, I saw the little costume. She had not gotten rid of it. So I gave her the look. You know the one for didn’t we discuss this already. She finally got it and didn’t try to make me put it on. But she left it on the sofa in her office.

My Santa costume

I may need to plan a play sesson with my fox so that we just happen to step on it…a few times. Repeatedly. If that doesn’t work out, I may need to put on some weight during the year. That shouldn’t be too hard, provided that mom collaborates. None of us wants to see that ridiculous costume next year. I hope I’m right.

Xmas tree today

But you know, all in all, it’s been a wonderful Holiday Season so far. And tomorrow is only the Boxing Day. Just in case I don’t get an opportunity to borrow mom’s laptop again in the next few days, I’d like to wish all my friends a Neff  Year full of yummy treats, tummy rubs and exciting explorations. Be good.

Christmas Spirit

old house snowed in

Christmas is knocking on the door

yet again

as it has done so many times before.

The old woman remembers

the Holidays of years past

her house full of life.

 Warmth and laughter

would blend with familiar scents

of Christmas foods and a fresh tree.

This Season she has no company

her home is silent

her garden covered by new snow.

 Memories flood her mind

beautiful images of Christmases past

fill her heart with joy.

She sends her love to everyone

grateful for her full life

she owns the message of peace.

Her quiet musings are broken

by a barely audible sound outside

the Christmas Spirit has arrived.

Another Early Xmas Gift – Thank You!

Father Christmas has been very busy lately in the Blogging World. Lots of gifts delivered. As I am going to have very limited time in the next week or so, I thought I would thank for my other nomination as well and send a few more gifts before Xmas to new recipients.

My blog got another early Xmas gift: a Reality and Shine on Award. This combined award was granted by my dear friend at http://exceedingspeed.wordpress.com/.  Her blog’s title is very telling. She is constantly exceeding the speed limit. If the reader’s expectation is going at 60, and that’s speedy already, her posts always speed at 75! I’m sure many of you are already following her sharp, colorful and timely observations of current events and her loving, humorous narrations of life at home, but if not, you can catch her now! Thank you so much the award, I really appreciate it. Brightens my day in these times of sadness.

The rules for this award seem to be fairly simple so I will try to follow them…
1. Show appreciation of the blogger who nominated you and link back to them in your post
2. Add the award logo to your blog
3. Share 7 things about yourself (hmm, again? Are you going to read further…?)
4. Nominate 5 – 10 or so bloggers you admire
5. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know

So after doing number 1 and number 2, I will need to share 7 more things about myself. This is a bit hard as I have shared so much earlier, but here we go with a few confessions that all have some inner meaning to me:

I. I love story telling, whether in writing or just talking to an audience. I don’t make up the stories, they always have some grounding in my own experiences.

three elephants

II. Poetry is probably the easiest for me to write. It just “comes to me”. I often write it to encourage myself, to stay positive, hoping that the words will have the same effect on others.

fall at the lake

III. I love music. I listen a lot, but haven’t been playing much (guitar) lately. A new favorite is the Playing for Change movement (http://playingforchange.com/). Check it out.

Playing for Change Album

IV. I’m a bit lazy. Really. Just love to sit and think, observe the world. But paradoxically I feel I thrive more when I’m busy. Maybe that’s the underlying reason for continuing to work although I (so-called) retired early from my overly stressful full-time job and relocated to the beach. Not very good at saying no when the phone rings and something interesting and maybe a bit adventurous awaits. Keeping it manageable though…

in the air

V. I feel like a global citizen. What does that mean? To me it means that I have at least a very basic understanding of the world around me. I am curious about different cultures and people and I’d like to experience even more of this beautiful world than what I’ve had the opportunity to do up to now. Maybe I had a slightly nomadic streak when I was younger, but nowadays I truly appreciate my home as the solid base where my life in anchored.

Blue Africa - at home

VI. I am fascinated by history. Love to feel its “wings” when I visit old or ancient places. It helps me understand how we got here, to this particular time.

Ruins close to Taormina Italy

VII. I am quite sensitive, easily feel people’s sentiments, feel the essence in nature and like to be in touch with my God, “friends and family plan” for frequent calling.

misty lake

I hope I didn’t bore you too much? Now, I have the privilege to nominate a few more blogs that I admire, for this award. Here we go:

http://mselenalevontraveling.com/ – her recent adventures in Uganda with the gorilla family and her ongoing travel experiences are original and fascinating!

http://healthyazblog.wordpress.com/ – her blog inspires us all to live well!

http://lauralamere.com/ – she blogs about parenting creative kids, good advice and interesting stories!

http://livingtheseasons.com/ – her blog explores the beauty around us through photos, quotes and stories!

http://ollikekalainen.wordpress.com/ – his photos are exciting, guaranteed, every day!

Congratulations to all of you! And thank you for a wonderful year.

Santa says thank you!

In the meantime, I have received more stars for my Blog of the Year 2012 Award so now I have the “full set”! Thank you to Ivon, Jackie, Tazein (all blogs included in my previous post) and Laura.

Happy Holiday Season to all readers, whether you celebrate in snowy, rainy or sunny environments – it’s what’s in the heart that counts.

Three Stars…Thank You!

The recent days have been very sad here in the US and beyond. Meaningful words still feel difficult to come by. The blogging community, which I have come to truly appreciate and love in the past five months, angel drawinghas reacted to the sad news with many voices. Some have been immediate, shocked reactions and expressions of sympathy, others well-thought out articles with advice, and many, like myself, have been expressing their sadness through poetry and/or photography.

I thought I would dedicate today’s post to thanking for some of the award nominations my blog has received in recent weeks. Being nominated by friends who enjoy reading my blog encourages me to try to find the time to do what I love, namely to write and to work on the images to illustrate my words.

I want to thank Ivon at http://ivonprefontaine.com/ for nominating my blog for the first star in the Blog of the Year 2012 Award, Carolyn at http://abcofspiritalk.wordpress.com/ for throwing the second star my way and Tazein at http://transcendingbordersblog.wordpress.com/ for granting my blog the third star. So now I have three stars for Xmas.

Thank you all so much for these stars. Much appreciated. I am a happy follower of all three blogs as I’m sure most of my readers are, but if you have not yet discovered these blogs, please click on the links now and take a tour!

The ‘rules’ for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award (from the creators of this award) are simple:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award.

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!). I took special notice of that rule.

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…!

You will find the Award Designs (one to six stars) here.

I would like to grant a Blog of the Year 2012 Award to the following 20ish wonderful blogs that have been consistently on my read list since I discovered each of them:

http://exceedingspeed.wordpress.com – you deserve multiple stars, but this particular one’s for becoming Freshly Pressed!

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com/ – congrats for your winning performance in NaNoWriMo!

http://thegreenstudy.com/ – a star for a great writer!

http://ivonprefontaine.com/ – one more for you, thank you for your always beautiful thoughts!

http://luggagelady.net/ – one star to put on your creative luggage!

http://abcofspiritalk.wordpress.com/ – Carolyn, one back to you! You need a bigger design!

http://throughharoldslens.com/ – a star for the Maasai bracelet!

http://retireediary.wordpress.com/ – a more star in your collection of beautiful photos!

http://melodylowes.com/ – a frozen star to decorate one of your wonderful poems!

http://transcendingbordersblog.wordpress.com/ – one more star for your collection Tazein!

http://www.sperka.com/ – a star to guide the adventurous night drives in Thanda!

http://hikingphoto.com/ – a star to light up the night sky for your adventures in Maui!

http://kenneturner.com/ – a star to hide in one of your wonderful images!

http://ljlenehan.com/ – a star to light up your sky of touching poetry!

http://lizziejoysphotosuite.com/ – a star for the beautiful results of your classes!

http://keepingitrealmom.com/ – a star for always keeping it real – and very interesting!

http://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/ – a star to top one of your beautiful twigs!

http://leannecolephotography.com/ – a star from a student to a wonderful teacher!

http://paharidotme.wordpress.com/ – a star for your continuous discovery!

http://cancerkillingrecipe.wordpress.com/ – a star for being the amazing Oneanna65!

http://camtaylor.net/ – a star for teaching us so skillfully about dealing with adversity!

http://letlifeinpractices.com/ – a star for your always excellent advice!

and finally an honorable mention to http://garyschollmeier.com/ – Gary, I assure you this is not an award 🙂 It’s just a little tiny mention for always discovering and picturing everyday beauty!


Congratulations to all of you and a big thank you for being here in the blogging world lighting up my days!

I have also been nominated for another award…but those rules are a bit different (and we’re already much beyond 700 words) so I’ll need to save that for a separate post.

Today I am thinking especially of blogging friends who are educators, and other teachers I know, and their students. Praying that they will both be and feel safe.

Lots of love.