Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Twelves Ways of Christmas - Way 7: Throwback Thursday (Reflection)

(Over the weekend, I commented to someone that I had the remaining six "Ways of Christmas" outlined and might finish them in January. This is what I wrote but only half-way meant.  I was embarrassed and ashamed that I didn't complete Ways 7 - 12 by December 25th.  I wasn't prepared for the time it was taking to write a story a day for twelve days.  Then I experienced a Christmas disappointment that to many would sound crazy but for me was temporarily devastating.

The remaining half-dozen ways of the season were about to be laid to rest when I read last night that this is the period that was originally part of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  The twelfth day is actually Epiphany, January 6th.  I wasn't over a week late, I was right on time!!!!!  For someone who's often felt like she was missing her life, this was one of the best gifts I could receive.)

So for the Seventh Way of Christmas the Season gave to me Throwback Thursday -also known as Reflection. 

For the longest I thought LOL meant "Love you lots" instead of "Laughing out loud."  I was disappointed to learn people were laughing at me rather than loving me.  When "TB" started showing up, I hadn't a clue what it stood for until I eventually saw Throwback Thursday.

As someone concerned about our diminishing capacity for reflection due to the busyness with which so many live, I should be happy to see throwback's yet I find myself wondering do people stop to consider why they choose particular photos for TB's?  Do they stop to ask why the time or period portrayed means something to them? Do they reflect on the feeling stirred by the photo, of the experience evoked or how they've changed?

Amidst throwing backs popularity, I wonder what new trend will upstage TB's?

Cheekwood tree
On this Throwback Thursday I've been reflecting on the memorable moments and experiences during the holiday.  Initially I wasn't into Christmas.  I thought 2013 might be the first year I didn't have a Christmas tree.  A friend with whom I hadn't spent time in 2-3 years changed that when she invited me to tea at Cheekwood.  The morning she emailed me I had been thinking how I didn't really want a tree. Christmas seemed like a distraction this year.

Our time at Cheekwood the next week prompted me to intentionally consider how I wanted to spend the coming days.   I joyfully decorated our tree and put up wreathes.

Decorating my tree led to another TB or memorable event for me.  I spontaneously called my mother and asked if I could help her finish decorating.  Enroute to where she lives, I called a friend to say I was going to be in town briefly.  Carmen later called to say she was coming to visit.  I made a pot of tea, toasted chocolate bread and the three of us sat in my mother's home sharing stories and most importantly the experience of being together.  The only decorating that got done was when I realized it was 4:00 and I had to be home by 6:00. (Home was 90 miles away.)  Carmen pitched in like she was one of us and my mother's mantel and fireplace were decorated in fifteen minutes.

Other things on my list of "Holiday Throwbacks 2013" include a former neighbor showing up with homemade fruitcake, sitting in the sun hearing Belmont's carillon concert on Christmas Eve and seeing "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Belcourt, hearing a Christmas music potpourri at the Basement,  laughing through two hours of  "A Sanders Family Christmas" thanks to a spontaneous gathering with my mother and aunt, singing for a handful of friends and neighbors while delivering bird seed for a Christmas morning ritual, talking with my three twenty-something nephews and eating homemade chilli in front of an outdoor fire on Christmas Eve. 

The most expensive of these experiences was probably the Belcourt movie at $7.25.  No, I take that back it was my two hours of tea, treats, trees and friendship at Cheekwood and a $19 ticket to the play.  Both of these experiences were well worth the money.

My holiday throwbacks remind me memorable gifts don't have to be exorbitant.  Time and presence are the most memorable gifts to me.

Before the new year arrived, I reflected on my TB's for 2013.  I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and time to see what experiences came to mind.  The first thing that bubbled up was seeing the parking lots of Birchwood, Tennessee filled with cars holding visitors to last January's Sandhill Crane festival.  Tears filled my eyes seeing the hundreds and hundreds of visitors to the festival honoring these amazing birds.  The cranes were bittersweet bookends for my 2013.  One of my final TB's for the year was hearing and seeing close to 2,000 of them flying south in mid-November while I was on the Cumberland Plateau.  They were headed to the Hiwassee Refuge where for the first time in Tennessee they would be hunted.  (Crane hunting season ended New Year's Day.)

Bees at Water's Farm
My list of moments to remember for 2013 included seeing thousands of endangered bats fly from Nickajack Cave, seeing hundreds of honey bees on sunflowers at Water's Farm in late October and monarch butterflies for the first time in my life.

Then there was hiking from the north rim of the Grand Canyon to the south, telling my mother of visions I see in particular one involving her, learning I didn't have breast cancer only a day before she learned she didn't have cancer either, unexpectedly seeing John Lennon's art, thousands of tulips and Bruce Munro's LIGHT at Cheekwood, sharing with Jerry how a work of art at TPAC impacted me as we stood before the piece only to have the artist who I didn't know walk up and share that seeing my reaction to his work had made his night, hearing the great grandchildren of the Von Trapps of "Sound of Music"fame sing and my weeping uncontrollably through one particular song.

Throwbacks take on a depth and often more meaning when time is taken to further reflect.  They suggest something about who we are and even possibly deepening who we can become.  They may also connect to the future - throw forwards into 2014.

I already know my experience with the sandhill cranes continues this year as I make plans to return  to the festival in a couple of weeks. I am trying to keep an open mind though that's challenging since the state wildlife commission voted to hunt them and many of the people I hold dear are not participating in this years event.  I have considered not going to show my disapproval of the committee's action especially since their vote went against public opinion in a major way.  I am going to the refuge because I love the sandhill cranes, not because I approve of what's being done to them.

When I pull back and examine my throwbacks, I realize many of them are connected because they stir joy, a sense of mystery and inspire hope for me.  My email inbox is filled with news stories and petitions related to the assault of chemicals and humankind on creation, butterflies, bees, animals and Mother Earth in general.  My experiences tell me there's another story unfolding and I get to decide which story I'm going to put my attention on.

When I pull back and examine my throwbacks I realize I want to get back to living from a place that's centered and mindful, slow and thoughtful, to a place that feels like home inside me.

Maybe the new trend in 2014 will be throw backs that cause us to pull back and ultimately get back to what's most important in each of our journeys.


Reflection takes time, intention, attention and a spirit of curiosity. 

When you look back over the recent holiday, what moments are your throwback moments? What is it about these moments that gets your attention?  Are they special or disconcerting?  What specifically about these moments do you want to cultivate or change?

What are your throwbacks for 2013?  Can you find a thread (such as community, solitude, art, nature) connecting your TB moments for the year?  Consider one of these moments and ponder how it might be woven into 2014. 
-Dawn, The Good News Muse  2 January 2014

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