Tag Archives: T.S. Eliot

THE CRUELEST MONTH

"Only from the heart can you touch the sky." ~ Rumi  (all photos by Marylin Warner)

“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.” ~ Rumi   (all photos by Marylin Warner)

April’s weather is half March, half May, a month of conflicting allergies and confusing mood swings.   In THE WASTE LAND, T.S. Eliot wrote that April was the cruelest month, and according to the National Center For Health Statistics, depression and suicide rates are lowest in the winter months and highest in the springtime.  I never would have suspected that.

On one day, April 14th, there are actually three “special days” devoted to offsetting doldrums and banishing blues. The first is INTERNATIONAL MOMENT OF LAUGHTER DAY. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but laughter is the best medicine, even in small doses. If you have a favorite food or a friend, movie or activity that makes you laugh, enjoy it to the fullest. If the local, national or world news has the opposite effect, this is the day to turn it off.

April 14th is also LOOK UP AT THE SKY DAY. Buddha wrote: “Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.”    I love this. Before her dementia, my mother’s pure, quiet shine came from equal doses of looking up at the sky and kneeling to dig her fingers in the earth.

REACH AS HIGH AS YOU CAN DAY is the third April 14th special day, and this goal also supports looking up at the sky, stretching for dreams and hopeful plans, and reaching for what you want. Combine it with Buddha’s advice; find your way to come out from behind the clouds and shine, even for one day.

I was in high school when I read “The Grand Essentials of Happiness” at the end of a Dear Abby advice column. It was attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but since then I’ve seen the credit given to Rita Mae Brown, George Washington Burnap, Immanuel Kant and others. Whoever first said it, many authors and philosophers have agreed with it. It was the purest formula for happiness I’d ever read, and I’ve never forgotten it. To be happy, we need “Something to do, Someone to love, and Something to look forward to.”

During this “cruelest month,” on bleak days we can always begin with something to do: sit quietly or find a reason to laugh; look up at the sky and reach as high as we can…or kneel and dig our fingers in the soil, and imagine what might grow.

On April 14th, to laugh like a child, act like a child: jump in with both feet.

On April 14th, to laugh like a child, act like a child: jump in with both feet.

Happiness advice from a 10-year-old boy: Keep Calm and Eat Cookies

Happiness advice from a 10-year-old boy: Keep Calm and Eat Cookies

April 10th is "National Siblings Day" ~ so this is for my brother.

April 10th is “National Siblings Day” ~ so this is for my brother. ( I thanked him for not pushing me off the bench; he said I was trying to push him off… I don’t think so.)

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, life questions, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, special days in April, special quotations

HOPE SMILES FROM THE THRESHOLD

happiness and tranquility

telescope

 

 

Dear Mom,

This time of year reminds me of the New Year’s Resolution “trade” we did one year when I was growing up. You made my resolution: “Marylin will REALLY clean up her room, even under the bed.” I made your resolution: “Mom will see that a clean room isn’t the most important thing.”  We laughed and decided it was a pretty good experiment.

At this stage in my adult life, I have three favorite quotes about New Year’s Resolutions:

“I hope that this year to come, you make mistakes…Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes…Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do It. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ~Neil Gaiman

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” ~Brad Paisley

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language – And next year’s words await another voice.”  ~T.S. Eliot

When you and Dad moved out of your house and into your care apartment, I saved boxes of your notebooks, Grandma’s recipes, and files of writing submissions and records. Tucked in a file of newspaper articles and columns you’d kept over the years, there was an envelope filled with faded, fragile newspaper clippings. One was a New Year’s Resolution by Ann Landers. There wasn’t a date or newspaper header, so I didn’t know if it had been written by Ann Landers herself, or by Eppie Lederer or Ruth Crowley, who wrote the column for many years.  But it was an excellent New Year’s Resolution, one definitely worth sharing:

“Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you don’t think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You’ll look 10 years younger. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.”

You could have written this advice, Mom. Instead, you lived it, along with many other wonderful actions, and that has made the difference in many other lives.  Thank you.

For all of us:  2012 has been a year of joys and sorrows. Individually and collectively we have celebrated life, faced fears, and grieved losses.  On the eve of 2013, may we embrace the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson: “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

"Be Glad of Life" pillow sampler (photos by Marylin Warner)

“Be Glad of Life” pillow sampler (photos by Marylin Warner)

 

 

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, experiments, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for