Exploring the Land of the Midnight Sun

This past week I vacationed in Alaska with my husband, my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, my three nieces, and my nephew.

Here’s a photo of the squad.

This trip has been in the works for almost two years! My mom traveled to Alaska two summers ago with a group of her friends, and she had the absolute time of her life. When she came home, she couldn’t stop talking about the adventures she’d had and her desire for all of us to make the same trip.

(Here’s just a glimpse of the beauty we witnessed in AK)

But you and I know vacations are never as glamorous as they appear in the photos we capture, and this trip was no different. Traveling with ten humans is no joke. Some of us are introverts; others are extroverts. Some of us like to sleep in; others like to stay up late. You have shower schedules and people with varying appetites. Not everyone likes mustard on their sandwiches.

We also came to realize that even though we’re blood, we’re not always the best communicators.

Still, this trip was special. Being a long distance Auntie, it really meant a lot to be with my kiddos, to ride with them in the bed of a truck, to play cards with them on a ferry, to cheer them on as they reeled in fish, and to listen to their riddles.

Here they are, from oldest to youngest!

      

     

They each have wildly different personalities and from each of these precious young humans I gleaned something special this week.

In no particular order, here are some of the bits of wisdom I collected from these kids.

  1. Don’t be afraid to somersault when everyone else is walking
  2. Never give up, even if you continually reel in seaweed
  3. Share your talents, even among strangers
  4. Make friends wherever you go

There ya have it. In keeping with my Gratitude Series, this week I’m most thankful for the opportunity to vacation with my family, even if we are a crazy bunch.

What are you most grateful for this week?

XO

T. Shaw

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An Attitude of Gratitude (Week 1)

Last week, I mentioned that I wanted to start a gratitude series, where I would be able to take time every week to reflect on the good in my life. Welcome to the first installment!

**

The day I graduated with my M.A. in English, I told my husband that I wanted my first act as a graduate to be visiting my local, public library, so I could apply for my very own library card. Even though I have studied literature for several years, I have rarely found time to read for pleasure. Finally, I was going to be able to make my own reading lists! However, when we got to the library, it was closed. Ha, just my luck. But ya know, I persevered and went again the following week.

I haven’t had a public library card since elementary school. I remember going there often with my mom and picking out picture books. One of our absolute favorites was a book called A Five-Dog Night. If I remember correctly, it’s about a grumpy old man that an old woman befriends. She happens to measure the temperature by how many dogs she snuggles in her bed every night. Now that I’m talking about the plot, it sounds a little creepy, but I promise it was a cute, heartwarming story, but I digress.

Over these last couple months, I’ve checked out a few books.

Image result for mosquitoland       Image result for we were liars       Image result for the light between oceans

Image result for the light we cannot see       Image result for the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

I truly can’t explain how much I have loved this summer post graduation. I feel undeniably free. Perhaps that is why I haven’t been blogging as much. I have enjoyed living with very few responsibilities. Life has been relaxing, especially when I’m in the arms of a good book.

That is why this week I’m most grateful for my library card. I’m reminded of Ray Bradbury’s admiration for libraries and his belief that those who have access to a library have access to a free education.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

XO

T. Shaw

Is gratitude weird?

My church just started a series called “Summer in the Psalms.” This past Monday a speaker taught on Psalm 1. One of the things she said that stuck out to me was, “What resides in your hearts and minds will become your daily lives.”

I was immediately reminded of one of my graduation presents. It is a journal called A Life of Gratitude: How to Appreciate It All Big and Small by Lori Roberts. Basically, it includes short prompts that hopefully inspire thankfulness as you dwell on “the good stuff more often.”

Instead of keeping my meditations private, I thought I’d share what I’m grateful for here. My goal was to post every Wednesday, and I was hoping you guys would also share what you’re grateful for in the comments.

But then I typed up my gratitude list from the first entry of my journal…

  • sunshine
  • a light breeze
  • the birds that sing, even the one that bites me (yes, I’m talking about my not so nice parakeet named Sam)
  • Dobby, my furry best friend
  • my marriage
  • my home with my parents
  • the future ahead
  • the new growth on my bonsai
  • my friends
  • my family
  • graduating “on time”
  • literature
  • the power of words
  • poetry
  • author Isabel Allende
  • Danny’s new position
  • Wednesdays
  • summer break
  • good T.V.
  • quiet moments,
  • singing,
  • God’s Word
  • prayer
  • yoga
  • blue skies
  • fluffy clouds
  • long—I mean, short walks
  • long showers that help me think/remember how blessed I am

Originally, I had no intention of sharing this list. Then when I typed it up, my list suddenly felt silly, maybe even a little bit weird. I’m still going to share, because it meant everything to sit on my back patio, take in the fresh air, and reflect on even the smallest bits of goodness that either get unintentionally ignored or forgotten.

Feel free to make your own mini list in the comments. I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for at this moment in time.

Also, I’m hoping that every Wednesday I can take some time to reflect and expound on 1-3 things that I’m thankful for that week. We’ll see how it goes!

Happy Wednesday, y’all! I hope you have an awesome rest of the week.

XO

T. Shaw

It mocks me

It mocks me—the grand piano—that resides in my living room.

It was purchased for my older brother. After playing for some time, his piano instructor recommended that my parents buy a bigger keyboard for him, but our dad brought home the monster with white teeth instead. My family and I always give my dad a hard time about this—his go big or go home attitude. He’s a very humble man, but sometimes he has expensive taste.

My brother played for awhile, but eventually the instrument was no longer a priority. His interests changed, but that was okay, because my parents believed I could learn to play. The problem was that I never hit the keys until an hour before my lesson, because I believed that I could master a piece without training.

I have had three piano teachers, so it’s obvious I’m the problem. I always joke that if there was only a pill to swallow that provided instant mastery of an instrument I’d take it.

Since a pill of that sort doesn’t exist, I’ll try something I’ve never tried before: consistent practice.

Currently, I’m on page 109 in Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course: Level 1. I hope to finish the book by the end of this year.

XO

T. Shaw

Happy Father’s Day

Today, I’d like to wish all you dads a Happy Father’s Day! Yesterday, we spent time in San Diego, CA, to honor my dad. We didn’t take any pictures, but I’d like to add an oldie but a goodie of my parents.

He is an incredibly selfless, hardworking man. When I picture him, he’s outside working in the yard, wearing a white T-shirt, jeans, and a bucket hat to block out the sun.

He is loyal and loving, and I am extremely blessed to have him as my own.

XO

T. Shaw

Her Pen Pal

For my nephew

Her Pen Pal

Through the bay window
One eye may spy
Six humans, a chattering of chicks,
A Doberman duo, a duckling duet,
And one cat with a gimp.

Their lives orchestrated by
Slap shots, take downs, touch
Downs, layups, yellow cards,
Major scales, call times, and
Camping trips.

Still the boy finds time for
Dear Auntie,
To share about his day,
What’s keeping him busy,
How he celebrated Easter, and
That he relly enjoys when
She writes back.

The Ultimate Party Crasher

The Ultimate Party Crasher

All impurities swept and mopped,
Tables ornamented with
Praying napkins in
Coordinating colors to
Match blue vases borrowed
From her sister’s summer wedding,
Now filled with flowers from
Miss Shelly’s stand at
Famers market.

Doorbells ring, guests arrive,
Stacking gifts, munching chips and dips,
And exchanging home renovation tips, concerning
Outdoor patios, stainless steel appliances,
And the latest candle scents.

Until he arrives,
The ultimate party crasher.
He’s never invited and never notices
How you’ve prepped and planned.
He sneaks in to suck and scavenge,
Slighting every party guest,
From person to person he
Indiscriminately pests, stealing
a taste from everyone’s plate.

And there’s nothing you can do
But wish you could,
Like him—fly.

Five dollar yoga

Five Dollar Yoga

Her eyes rise as
a soft tide amid a forest
of dreams. Her ears hear
dishes clink on the other
side of Shavasana. She envisions
a couple clasping hands across
an expanse with four legs.
For the first time,
she can sense time tick as
the fan breathes. Her eyes
should be shut, but she’s pulled
to praise. To exhale an
offering—all she has,
kneeling before her only need.
Her hands rise from her side
to rest on a hopeful
vacancy. She’s waited
to be filled, and at present,
she is.

 

In response to the daily prompt: forest 

Graduation

At the beginning of this year, I took a personality test.

I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that my type is mediator.
Never expect me to side with you. I’m always on the other side, and when I am on the other side, I’m with you.

Like all good personality tests, the website included a section called “Mediators You May Know.”

I was surprised to find J.R.R. Tolkien, Frodo Baggins, and Arwen on the list. I was also excited, because The Lord of Rings was on my professor’s syllabus, which meant I would read the novels in a few months. (I had seen the movies, but it had been a long time)

Little did I know that Arwen isn’t even in the books. I mean, she exists, but her role is minor. Therefore, I could not identify with her character.

I also didn’t feel very Frodo-esque while reading. He’s more mission-minded than I am. It’s also hard to tell what’s him and what’s the Ring.

Finally, one can only assume so much about Tolkien by simply reading what he writes. Although, I am now interested in reading his biography to see if I can spot any similarities.

It wasn’t until The Two Towers that I finally discovered the character most like me:

Treebeard. 

I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side . . .

I’m also not very hasty. 😉

But by the very end of The Return of the King, I finally observed a bit of Frodo in me. It’s the way he suffers silently. Although I’ve never carried a burden so great, I typically struggle alone. I  won’t share what afflicts me until I’ve reached the other side.

**

I also have a final thesis update for you all.

I FINISHED.

Yesterday, I graduated and earned my M.A. in English.

Again, I feel similar to Frodo. The Ring is destroyed. My academic quest accomplished, but I feel quite sad. An age ends, but I know a new one begins.

I’m excited to get back into blogging. While writing my thesis, I abandoned my blogging schedule, but now I’m ready to get back on track. To start, I’ll be posting new content every Friday. 🙂

Thank you all for being patient with me and lending me your support.

Happy Friday!

💜 T. Shaw

Perceiving Potential

I told my husband that I just wanted to look. If I could kill a miniature cactus, then maybe I should avoid anything too high maintenance. To prevent any casualties, I had devised a plan. I’d google the scientific names and discover how finicky they really were. I wouldn’t be deceived by a pretty appearance.

I perused every aisle, googling and storing the names of my favorite plants as I went. Until, I found a slightly sad looking plant, but the shapes of its leaves caught my attention. I googled the name: Spathiphyllum ‘Domino.’

A peace lily.

Its condition didn’t match its description, but the makings were there.

I kept walking, but the lily lingered with me.

A week later, we went back to the nursery and were recognized by one of the workers. After being asked if we needed assistance, my husband showed the nursery worker the lily I had seen the week prior.

We were told that the peace lily I desired wasn’t in the best health. In fact, none of the plants surrounding the lily were doing so well. The worker had isolated the plants that needed more attention.

He brought out another lily, fully bloomed, that we could buy, and he gave us the one I found for free.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. -Leo Buscaglia

💜 T. Shaw