Thank you Dad

April 29, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, country living, dating, faith, family, flowers, gardening, gifts, knitting, Life, love, photography, relationships | 22 Comments

One of the beautiful flowers in the bouquet fireflys husband gave herThe summer of my seventeenth birthday I was invited to attend my best friend’s older sister’s wedding. My friend was named Rudy, and oddly enough he was the younger brother of the guy who had been my boyfriend the year before. I was a senior, Rudy was a freshman and for some reason we just really hit it off as friends and continued to be best friends for a couple of years–an entirely platonic friendship. Some of my best times in high school were with Rudy, and hopefully the same was true for him of the time he spent with me.

When he invited me to attend his sister’s wedding and reception, I was very excited: they were a very large Mexican-American Catholic family and the reception promised to be one of those big, noisy, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” type receptions. There was a snag, however. I needed a somewhat formal dress to wear, but I didn’t have any extra money at the time to buy one. Without a new dress, I felt I could not attend the wedding.

Another of the beautiful flowers in the bouquet fireflys husband gave herSitting with my father one afternoon, I lamented my problem and he listened very kindly. He and I have been very close ever since I was a little kid, and I could usually share my problems and thoughts about life with him and get some good feedback or at least a patient ear. I did not want to ask him and my mother to buy a dress for me, in fact I would not have thought to do so. From when I was a young teenager my sister and I baby sat for spending money and always bought our own clothes. Putting a drain on family finances for something as superfluous as a new dress to wear to a wedding was not anywhere on the radar in my mind.

After hearing me out my father came up with a suggestion which I cherish to this day. He asked if I happened to already have a dress that would suit the occasion, and I said I did but that I had already worn it a couple of times and it no longer felt special. He said, “Well, one thing you could do is breath new life into the old dress.” Hmm. Breath new life into the old dress. What an interesting idea. I told him I would give it a try.

A day or so later, I took the old dress out of my closet and hung it on the door of my bedroom. I stepped back and looked at it for a couple of minutes and then I got the idea — created the idea — that it was in fact, brand new. The interesting thing is that a feeling did wash over me just like the feeling I would get when I did in fact have something brand new. That was a very intriguing phenomenon. In fact, it felt so good that I did it a couple more times until I completely had the feeling all inside and out of me that the dress I had already worn a couple of times and owned for at least a year was instead brand, spanking new.

A grapevine comes newly to ife out by fireflys barnThe day of the wedding, that wonderful feeling of “the new dress” continued through the day and the long, happy party afterwards. I danced all afternoon and into the evening in that “new” dress, and I felt pretty and happy and full of magic the entire time.

Today, yesterday, and for some of the tomorrows ahead, people have been and will be talking about how bad the economy is. Things are so expensive. Gas prices have soared. Food costs too much. Money will not go so far. It is and will be in the press, and believe me the press will not rest on this subject no matter how discouraged the population gets … they will “press” onward and remind you and I constantly of just how bad things are and will be.

Okay. Fine, the cost of gas has gone up, food prices have gone up, some people will not be able to buy some of the new stuff they would like to buy in the months or year ahead. Sometimes it will be me, sometimes it will be you. It will affect us all and it seems we have no choice in the matter.

The fact is, however, we have a considerable amount of choice. The most important choice any one of us can make is how we choose to regard our lives and the economy. Is something being taken away from us, or are we being given an opportunity?

A dear country flower on a pretty little vine by fireflys barnPersonally I have this little rule that adds to my own happiness in life: If the press is promoting an idea, I do my best to think the opposite of that idea. If they promote the idea that life sucks because money is tight, I am bound and determined to create my own attitude that life is wonderful in new ways because expenses are shifting.

I would not be the spiritual being that I am, the artist or creative person I am, if I allowed my attitudes about life to be sculpted by merchants of fear who would have me think that all of the dresses in my closet are old and that no new dresses are on the horizon. (I’m speaking figuratively, you get that right?)
It does not have to be bad news that gas prices have gone up and affected the cost of other goods and services. We can all create whatever attitude about gas and food and heating and so forth we choose to.

fireflys river in the morning light with fogI can walk out in my yard, stroll around and see one beautiful little thing after another that delights my heart no end. I can gather pods and twigs and feathers and nuts as I go along and make pretty little things to hang in my windows or sell in an Etsy store.

I saw a piece on Good Morning America today featuring people living in cities or suburban neighborhoods who are turning their little pieces of lawn into vegetable and herb gardens. One lady and her husband grow all kinds of lettuces and other vegetables and supply them to a local restaurant. The restaurant gets a better price from these folks than he would from a commercial outfit, plus the produce is as fresh as can be and organic. The couple earned about $100 per week last year on their back yard garden and hope to double that amount this year. It is an inexpensive side business requiring very little financial investment and only about ten hours of work each week.

Right there you have an example of a couple of people who could be discouraged by economic news, but instead looked toward economic news as an inspiration and an opportunity. Perhaps they looked out at their lawn one day, maybe that lawn was old and tired and shabby looking … an eyesore even. Perhaps it was too small for their dreams and there was no lovely view beyond it. And yet, for some reason they looked at it in an entirely new light and breathed new life into that lawn. I don’t know if it worked that way, but maybe it did.

What about you? Do you need to breath new life into your marriage, your job, your relationship with a friend or loved one? Could you stand to breath new life into your own home, an old faithful family meal, the neighborhood you live in, your relationship with God? What little piece of life could you breath new life into today?

Jen, one of the owners of my LYS (Local Yarn Shop), said to me of my blog, that I have a way of making the ordinary seem extraordinary. If that is so, I am certain it is because my father gave me that idea of breathing new life into my old dress. So now I pass the gift of his advice on to you. I hope you can put it to good use.

Today is our second wedding anniversary and I am off to the kitchen to make up a big batch of his favorite cookies before he gets home from work. What a trip, I have a husband and I’m making him cookies in the middle of the afternoon. Standard issue for some people, completely unexpected turn of events for me in the middle of my life.

Breath in, and …

One more thing: Recall the painting I was working on recently of two golden Bosc pears? I completed it and have put up a photo at my One Painting a Day blog. This is my favorite painting I have ever created. The day I finished it I told my husband I was sure I was in love with my painting. I could not stop gazing about it or thinking about it when I was not gazing at it. It felt just like love. We are going to hang it, and another I just finished, at Zambistro Restaurant later in the week. It is going to be very difficult to part with this one.



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  1. How blessed you are to have had such a kind, wise father. I love your definition of what the “press” does! Yes, let’s think the opposite of what they say!

    Happy Anniversary. May you both always be able to breathe new life into your lives together.

  2. I love this post! The photographs, the sentiment, and…that…painting! Oh my word, it is just beautiful. I also love your rebellion against the negative press and am going to keep this in mind in future. Hope you enjoy your anniversary cookies together.

  3. I enjoy reading your entries. You are both a talented writer and an artist.

    My mother had a “make do or do without” philosophy, too. New is not always better.

  4. Dad gave you a wondeful gift! Thanks to him. Such a fine man! I love reading about all the things going on on the farm. Your gift to see the beauty in all things around you is very special.

    The painting is great! I agree it is one of your very best. Keep up the good work.

    Congratulations on the anniversary!

  5. Congratulations on another year with this wonderful husband you have found!

    You and the Queen of England have some things in common. I have read numerous times of how when she has a dress made, she always keeps the extra fabric so she can later have it changed, be it sleeves, neckline, etc. She is quite frugal this way I have understand. So if one of the richest women in the world does this, well, so can we!!

    I live in evergreen trees, in fact, this neighborhood is rather like a big campground, with pinecones, pinestraw, etc. on the ground, with patches of grass thrown in. Green is a great color…and it is not hard to stay happy just enjoying the smell and site here. Plus you add feeding the birds and squirrels…and all that entails and it is a happy place to be!!

    Yea, it is going to be harder…but we are going to have to be more inventive and learn new things and ways to survive it…and the FATHER will help us do that I am sure!! HE is available to HIS children to help them!!

  6. Simply lovely. I wish I could live by these guidelines, firefly. Alas, too many things get in the way lately. I will keep them in mind though.

  7. My, what a post !! Thank you so much for sharing your Dad’s wisdom with us… Ever since I became a mother (and probably before that), I’ve been living that way and trying to make my children do so too. My mother hardly ever throws things that could be reused in some way or another. She’s very resourceful in that matter and she probably taught me to see things that way ?

  8. Happy anniversary.
    I am going to read this post a few more times, because I do need to breath new life into my world, my perspective. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, which are always so inspiring and uplifting.

  9. Just gorgeous, firefly. I’ve felt that way for years about the press, which is why I stopped watching the evening news years ago. I spend that time instead with our foster daughters, helping them learn their abc’s. I also teach them that they choose how they perceive and react to what life throws at them, and how to shift that perspective when it no longer serves them. In turn, they have taught me that I live with miracles who flit around the house, wearing my shoes and singing in lisping falsetto. Inspiration and joy at rock-bottom prices.

  10. Beautiful post!

    You hit several nails on the head … in my opinion… There are many things we have no “control” over, BUT we do have “control” over our attitude and our perspective.

    I, too once lived in L.A.

  11. Hello firefly…

    Another beautiful post… My visits here are always special, thank you so much for that. A wise and wonderful earthly Father is a true gift. My sweet Mother is no longer here with me, but I am ever so thankful for my Father…



  12. Firefly, Wow! You really make me stop to think about life. You are a very inspiring person. I love how you look at life, I think if more people could have your same attitude what a different world we would live in. Thank you for inspiring me! Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts with us. Happy Sunny Day to you! Your Friend, Ann
    P.S. I didn’t comment but I loved the quilt!

  13. You are so “right on” with this post. It touches on so many levels and aspects of our lives. When I start feeling sorry for myself especially when budget is concerned I start with (this may sound silly) my drawers and closet. I go thru,try on, sew buttons, make repairs,wash,iron,etc. Then I donate what no longer fits to our local thrift store. As I go thru the rest of the house doing the same, I realize just how much I do have, probably much more than I really need. Works with the drawers and closets in your mind too. Thanks again for the timely post!

  14. Happy anniversary! You are not only blessed, you are a blessing to many others. Thank you for sharing your story of your Father. I too had a Father who taught me to think for myself, to weigh everything I read and heard and see how it fit into my life. You are so right–we don’t have to give in to a world that is topsy-turvy at times. We build our own firm foundation. Bless you!

  15. What a blessing to have a dad with such wisdom and a spirit within yourself to listen and receive his words with such open heartedness. Where so many would have balked and whined you chose to embrace his suggestions and take a chance. How often do we lose in life because we choose to give up but you won!! Most of our happiness comes from our attitudes and not just our situation. Thank you for that reminder!
    Thank you for your insights and stories which always bless me. Your pictures are wonderful too. ~kim

  16. Happy anniversary! Thank you for sharing your world with us. Your blog is the little “golden nugget” that I look forward to when my week has been crazy.
    Great advice from Dad. Breathing new life into things is what I love to do best. Old sweaters become recycled items for charity, or old clothes become rugs, old dresses become new skirts,etc. (reuse-recycle-renew). This even gives me a new perspective on Homeschooling. Maybe I will try something new on Monday. A nature walk perhaps. Thank you. Blessings, to you and yours.

  17. What beautiful thoughts and gentle reminders to start the day with Firefly! Thank you!
    Wishing you Happy Anniversary!

  18. Love your pears. Love mine more. (Hee!) Happy Anniversary, you old farmgirl!

  19. Your words are very encouraging. Thank you.

  20. Wow! What a lot to think about. Thank you.

  21. You are delightful!
    What a lovely post! Warmed my heart.
    I have many more posts to read of yours, but so far we have much in common. I felt a connection to you right away.
    I grew up on a dairy farm in WI… and raised my family in Phoenix, AZ. But we go back to the farm every year.
    I am thrilled to have found your blog!

  22. What a great story!! I have farming in my blood…I grew up on a dairy farm, I owned/operated a veg/herb/flower farm before it all crumbled in divorce…but anyway..I love it and would love to return it again someday….probably the reason why I frequent your blog!*L* Anyway…it’s beautiful, and thank you for sharing.
    Marie in Vermont

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