Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019!

The New Year is almost upon us, I'm kinda glad 2018 is over, it was in many ways a tough Year for so many.  There was a considerable amount of crisis, sorrow, loss and baggage that 2018 brought with it for many of us.  I'm looking forward to 2019 bringing some new beginnings and positive things to balance things out.  Life is filled with Ups and Downs, those Valleys can be rough to navigate as you endure them while waiting on the Upswing.  Even Blessings always come with Burdens, Bishop T.D. Jakes gave a great Message about that Sunday Afternoon, I found it uplifting and quite personally relevant... to whom much is given, much is required!   Sometimes you can be quite Blessed and yet still Feel pretty Miserable shouldering the Burdens.  Life is filled with contradictions like that, everyone's Life, not just yours or mine.

We closed out this Old Year with some Challenges, some aren't resolved, but we Hope they will be in 2019.  The Young Prince dislocated his Knee while I was at Work Friday Night and he was in the Old Neighborhood.  I had to leave early to respond and get to him, then take Saturday off Work too.  He panicked since his knee was sitting at the side of his leg and he was all alone in the dark of the Evening, with nobody around to know he was hurt, but he popped it back into place himself before I arrived!  I hit the ER with him and then had to leave before his turn, since it was quite the jam packed Human Sideshow on a Friday Night in da Hood, so he had a full blown Anxiety Attack too and couldn't Cope with the crazy and overcrowded environment!  We ended up just having him Heal here at Home and tough it out with the pain, he's doing better now.   But then his Sister got Sick Today, so Miss Priss is standing vigil with her Human, as Princess T is hunkered down under piles of blankets riding out whatever she's succumbed to!?

Perhaps I even gave it to her, since after spending about an eternal Hour Friday Night in the ER with some clearly contagious people around us, I didn't Feel Well at all by Saturday Morning.  My Friend living with us felt Sick shortly thereafter, then The Man... and finally Princess T and The Young Prince succumbed too in rapid succession.  Whatever it was spread fast but seemed to only last about 24 Hours before you began feeling considerably better, but that 24 Hours was utterly miserable lemme tell ya!  I think we may all be Okay by the stroke of Midnight on New Year's Eve?   I'd like to enter 2019 Well and without dread and carry thru baggage from 2018.  I am an incurable Optimist, it's just my Nature to be... I am Thankful that I am not inclined to Pessimism.  I know some of you might be and I do Hope you can muster some Optimism about what the New Year might hold for you... and hold for us all?   I Hope that even if your Cup isn't running over, you're at least able to view it as half Full and not as half Empty?

My Brother Shared some Images of our dearly departed Mom that I hadn't seen before, taken during Christmastime at The Nursing Home.  It was a Gift to see her Smiling Face as she received her presents, before things got really bad for her as death approached.  She was always particularly fond of new Jewelry Making Supplies, she Created Jewelry for everyone... Family, Friends, Staff, Strangers.  It wasn't at all surprising that her favorite Gift would be something she could in turn Give Back from... to bestow as Gifts unto others.  Mom had the Great Gift of Herself, of possessing the Gift Of Hospitality which she Gave Joyfully to everyone and anyone... she Loved people and socializing with them.  I always said Mom never met a True Stranger, because even if she got a Wrong Number Caller, by the end of the conversation you'd of thought they had been longtime Friends after their serendipitous chinwag!  *Smiles*

Mom Loved Entertaining and Sharing a Meal with someone.   She always said you cannot Share a Meal and break Bread together without getting to 'know' someone better.  She always wanted to look fierce and put on her Jewelry, have her Hair done, her Nails done and wear Fashionable Wardrobe.  To remain Relevant to be used by God to Bless those around her as best she could and with whatever she still had left, even if it was not much.  She Gave freely even out of her own lack... that never diminished with her age or health declining.   Many people might have just given up and not Cared about their appearance or not wanted to bother to muster the Energy to bestow Joy upon others while they themselves deteriorated and were in an obvious final decline.  But that was not Mom's State of Being and it was attractive to others, she always had many Friends.

I recently got this Book of Mom's Welsh Heart Throb, Tom Jones, still devastatingly handsome well into his advanced Senior Years, still very Welsh in looks.  A lot of Welsh people have amazing voices and exotic good looks, my Mom's Older Brother and Younger Sister had amazing voices.  I remember taking my Uncle to Las Vegas and he'd joke around and spontaneously break out in song in the Casinos, people thought he was part of a legitimate Act since his voice is sublime, it was hilarious.  I remember when the Venetian Casino opened and my Uncle stood by the Gondola Rides and started singing Italian Opera as a lark.  Crowds gathered to listen and then applaud, assuming he was part of a legit Casino Act!   I remember having to interpret for people due to my Uncle and Mom's thick Gaelic accents, Mom never lost hers in all the years of living in America.

I knew it could be an annoyance to them to work so hard on speaking fluent English only to have people react as if they were still speaking in a foreign language and most people not even knowing where Wales is!  Welsh is a beautiful Celtic language, but it almost completely died out and is trying to be resurrected by current generations.  My Mom and Uncle remembered when they'd be punished for speaking Welsh in the Schools, mostly run by the English and the cultural repression in their own Country even during their Era of growing up there.  With English sovereignty over Wales made official with Henry VIII's Act of Union in 1536, use of Welsh was largely banned and laws were passed which removed the official status of the Welsh language.  By 1911 it had become a Minority Language and today is only spoken fluently by perhaps 11% of the population.   Thankfully in Private some Welsh proudly and fiercely held on to their Culture and language in spite of years of oppression, Mom could still speak Welsh, I wish she'd taught us more of her Native tongue.

My Dad endeared himself to my Mom's Family by trying to learn the Welsh language and Culture while stationed in their Country in the 1950's.  Being of Native American descent he was familiar with oppression of Culture and language.  So he had a point of reference of trying to hold onto one's Cultural identity and Pride of who one distinctly is, in spite of generations of discrimination and the dominance of another Culture over your people.  I think it is tragic that in the World we cannot always manage to positively reinforce differences and distinctions of Cultures and just Respect them as much as our own.   Different does not mean inferior or less worthy of existing, it does not mean there cannot be Harmony of Cultures coexisting and being mutually respectful of one another.  I personally Believe that it is entirely possible, it doesn't have to be mutually exclusive, I think Humanity just has to work upon it collectively though.   I do Hope that 2019 brings more Harmony among various World Cultures, more Peace and Understanding of one another and less division or hatred and judgment.

There's a lot of Issues I Wish could be resolved in my Lifetime, Prejudice being among them.   Of coarse things like lasting Peace would be Idyllic too wouldn't it?   So many say they want it, how many work upon actually living Peacefully and in Harmony with all around them daily is questionable though.  I think about all of the Technological Advances being so amazing and yet the Human Species still can't solve some pretty basic stuff.   I recently bought this Antique Camera at our Antique Mall for a mere Dollar.   A remnant of a distant Past in Technology and not very functional Today, we've come so far in the realm of Photography, not so much in the realm of lasting World Peace.  Of coarse a Camera is an inanimate object, so we can improve upon it with consistency more than we can improve upon People getting along and playing well with others.   We can only really have an impact that is lasting upon ourselves being improved upon.  Each person has a responsibility to do that to and for themselves, an individual option to be better or worse versions of Self.   Which are you right now?

There is always room for Self Improvement, each of us is a Work in Progress to some degree, fighting and Calming our inner 'beasts' and unlovely parts of Self.   Some's Self Work needs a lot of Progress, with some there is not a lot of Work actually being done and going on with any consistency that is evident.   Perhaps they don't see the need for any improvement, perhaps the perception is that they are at a pinnacle of Being already and it's just not necessary?   I don't have that delusion at all, so I try to put in the Work to be a better and not a worse version of Self.   Sometimes I even succeed at Self Improvement!  *Winks*   New Year's Resolutions...  Yes, we always come to that at this time of Year don't we?   What we Hope to achieve and improve with the rolling around of a brand New Year, of New Beginnings being implemented with a Fresh Start of a New Year!   Do you still make New Year's Resolutions, or have you entirely given up on the Practice, perhaps due to past failures or ineffectiveness of achieving some Goals set? 

I try to Guard against setting unattainable Goals or those that are too broad and vague, perhaps dooming them to failure.  Losing Weight, Yes, that one seems to be my constant Resolution, each Year I vow to accomplish it, some Years I actually did!  But Maintenance was always an Issue for me at a certain Season of Life.  You see, I was a very thin Person for the vast majority of my Life and maintaining a healthy weight therefore was effortless... until... suddenly... it wasn't anymore!  That tipping point for me was in my Fifties, after a surgery that upset my hormonal balance as a Woman and was quite unexpected.   Suddenly I went from being effortlessly svelte to considerably overweight in less than a Year after that surgery, the burden began.   Being thin again was suddenly like trying to be young again, though I knew Weight could be adjusted and so I set Goals to accomplish it.   I remember when I lost 61 lbs. over the span of 10 Months and actually Feeling like I'd beat the problem forever.  Forever lasted only 12 Months... Le Sigh!

With the onset of Diabetes about six Years ago I have a reason to keep at it though, knowing that excessive Weight is a contributor to the disease.  My Nutritarian change in diet is slowly transforming my body and has become a Lifestyle that I can choose to continue for the rest of my Life.  Whether or not it beat the Diabetes or at least Manages it successfully remains to be seen, even as I lose Weight and transform my outwardly appearance.   It's a Journey, a part of my Journey in this Life... a Resolution I've managed to implement before a New Year began and which I can vow to continue successfully after this New Year rings in Tonight!   I Hope you have measures of success too my Friends at any Changes you Hope to implement in 2019 to improve Life and the Quality of it for you and yours!  HAPPY NEW YEAR and usher it in Safely my Friends!


Blessings, Love and Light from the Arizona Desert... at the close of 2018... Dawn... The Bohemian

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Joys And Sorrows Interwoven

Life has a way of weaving Joys and Sorrows inexplicably, interwoven in the Tapestry of Life together, until it all blends together into rather what is a glorious mess that you can still very much appreciate, cherish and Love.   As a Vintage Textile Lover I am always drawn to the Beautiful pieces with flaws and which show the History thru the Process of Time and wear imparted.  Life itself can be very much like THAT.

While we Deal with the worries and stress of our Son not being Well, it is tempting to become withdrawn and retreat into self imposed isolation and insulation.  I resist that Temptation, my Friend and I went out together to do some after Christmas Sale shopping Today... a wee bit of Retail Therapy, it works it's Wonders.  *Winks*   I came across this lovely Enchanting piece marked 85% Off and had to have her.

The little House lights up... I've seen and even own some similar pieces by this particular Artisan and usually they're spendy at full retail price.  She would have been a piece I couldn't have afforded had she not been at such a deep discount after Christmas, she still had her original price tag attached.  I found her at our Antique Mall 75% Off that price and then got another 10% Off for my Employee Discount... can I get a whoop whoop!!!

My Friend and I debated whether she was an Angel or a Fairie, it matters not who is Right... each of us COULD be, right, it's all subjective?  *Winks*  I Needed a dose of Enchantment and Ethereal thrown into my Holidays right about now, post-Christmas, so Angel or Fairie, she fit the Bill.   Though, like I mentioned at the start of this post, inexplicably, even after Dealing with something Sorrowful, something Joyful always Balances everything out, almost Miraculously, at just the right time!

Even tho' the Christmas Call with The Son had been very, very difficult, we have two other Adult Children.   The Youngest Daughter called first from Mexico and we did a video chat to see the whole Familia gathering there for Christmas and a Birthday.  Our Son-In-Law's Mother's Birthday is on Christmas Day, she's almost 90 now and still going strong, Bless her Heart.  Still helping with the raising of all of the Younger Siblings of The G-Kid Force.  Our Daughter is SMI but stable right now, she's also Clean and Sober for the first time in a couple of decades and it has Miraculously held, Praise God!

She is a Living Testimony that even decades of Dangerous Drug use and Addiction can be Recovered from.   She calls it a definite God Thing, a Surreal Spiritual Intervention, her particular Recovery Story.  It will be a Lifelong Process not to backslide into, but after over two decades of use that should have killed her and wrecked her considerably, she's doing Well, feeling Well, looking Radiantly Beautiful again, like her Old Self.   The Self that I remember so long ago her Being, the Child I thought I might have forever Lost and was given back to me.  Though the Serious Mental Illness will always be a struggle, we can Roll with that much easier than the substance abuse issues.  Hard to explain, but it's just easier for me to Deal with any Major Illness compared to trying to Deal with any Major Addictions of a Loved One.

The Grandchildren Celebrated their Abuelita's Birth and their Mother's Re-Birth, there was much Joy and Celebration, everyone came, they had a house full!  No matter how much Sorrow the Journey might have taken you through there is always room for Celebration along that Journey as well, no matter how difficult and rocky that Path is.   Resist the temptation not to also Celebrate the Joys of Life and Living Fully and in each Moment, while Dealing with the Sorrows of Life too.

Our next call from our Oldest Daughter and Family, who live back East, and had even more Joyful News and Surprises to reveal.   Their Oldest Daughter and her Husband are expecting their first Child, a little Girl, in early July!  I Love the Name they have chosen for the newest Great-Grandbaby, I am Delighted for them, they are going to be Wonderful Parents!   The extended Family are planning a Vacation to the West Coast after the Baby arrives and we're Hopeful can stop by on their way through Arizona towards their destination in Cali, great News too!

You see, tho' we have many Beloved Grandchildren, there are many of them that we have not had the Joy of being with in person.  With The Man's precarious Health and inability to Travel, it has hindered us from making the pilgrimages we used to make to visit Family Nationally and Internationally, when it was still possible and he was Well.   This Grand-Daughter, the Youngest of our Oldest Daughter's brood, used to be such a Tomboy.  Seeing her Blossoming into Feminine Womanhood this Year has been quite the Transformation!  Kinda like going from Sporty Spice to Posh Spice practically overnight... LOL... I know, I'm showing my Age by even making that comparison, right?!  *Bwahahahaha!!!*

The Middle Grand-Daughter is still her Edgy Self and still experimenting with Hair Color, I swear she and The Young Prince have a different look every Month!  *Smiles*  She's a Platinum Blonde for the Holidays, it's closest to her Natural Hair Color.   The Young Prince recently told me he's going back to his more Natural Hair Color next Month too and tightening up the shaved parts of his Mohawk.  He and this Cousin are the most into their Piercings and Tattoos, they pull off their Edgy Vibe nicely and are really Good Kids who just happen to be very Free Spirited and fiercely Independent and Non-Conformists, I can relate to that and they know this.  *Winks*

So this is the Grand-Daughter who is now expecting our next Great-Grandbaby, and her Handsome Husband.   I just Love all the T-Shirts they had made for the entire Family to Reveal the Good News to the rest of us!  Our Daughter and Son-In-Law are excited to be Grandparents for the first time AND they're also getting a new Home built on their Acreage, which is almost completed.   They have several Acres in an Idyllic setting in Pennsylvania that is very Norman Rockwell looking, Green rolling Hills, Streams and Old Historic Farmhouses and Barns scattered everywhere.   What used to be on their Property was a 1700's Historic Farmhouse that sadly had to be razed as it became uninhabitable with Age and structural instability.  Sadly we can't Save them all and let's face it, about 300 Years is a long Run for any Residence!

So Yes, my Friends, our Sorrows have been Interwoven with much Joy as well... we Feel Richly Blessed and quite Hopeful that everything will be alright in the End... and if it's not alright yet, it's not the End.

The Son and Daughter-In-Law having some Christmas Fun on FB...

Their Precious Youngest... The Grandbabies always bring such Joy!!!


May a Wonderful New Year unfold for you... Blessings, Love and Light from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

An Amy Winehouse Kinda Day

The Son called Today, the day after Christmas, we haven't seen or heard from him much, he's been off the grid and we all know Why really.   When he's off the grid I worry, when he comes back on the grid I'm intensely relieved, but when I see he's still not Well I worry.  When I heard his voice I knew he was under the influence of the prescription pain meds he's become dependent upon, he was FUBAR again.   A back injury at work several years ago caused an addiction that he once kicked, but as he ages, the pain from the old injuries gets worse and working in The Trades takes a physical toll on aging people anyway.   Toil hard all day and wreck yourself physically, then turn to for relief what will eventually kill you if you can't get off the Opiods that Big Pharma push as Pain Management.  It's become a National Epidemic and scourge, people are dying daily, Loved Ones watch their Beloved succumb to Prescription Medication Addiction and Abuse.  The lyrics of Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' spin in my head as we talk.  He's seizing during the conversation, we hope it won't require another 911 call, but it always might.   The Rehab finally has a bed open and will take someone without Insurance, he promises he'll go... before his body taps out.  We can only Pray he will and it's not too late to get Well and stay Well.  I have waffled on whether to be transparent about a very Private Pain, but we're not the only Family Dealing with the Issues of Life, whatever they may be.  The day after Christmas... in my Head Christmas always plays out Idyllic... without calls like this.   And yet, just hearing his voice means he's still with us and hanging in there... it gives me Hope even tho' it brings much Pain as well... and Fear.  I can never hear Dear, Beautiful, Young Amy sing that poignant Song without weeping FOR her and the Family she left behind... for all the Families who've ever had to endure the suffering and collateral damage addictions bring.


Dawn... The Bohemian

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas Baby!

Traditionally we've opened gifts on Christmas Eve Day so that The Force can spend Christmas Day with extended Family.  I don't mind, this means that The Man and I get to sleep in and that's a gift in and of itself when you're raising Grandkids lemme tell ya!  *Winks*

Since Alduin, the Bearded Dragon, was one of The Young Prince's gifts he came down to join us, he's getting really big fast.  Beardies love interaction with their Humans and being part of the action.  We had looked for a little Santa Hat for him, since they will gladly tolerate wearing Costumes, but couldn't find one small enough.  *LOL*

Christmas is rarely full of surprises since The Force prefer helping me pick out their own gifts, but they did have a few surprises in store.   For her it was a plush Grumpy Cat, Make-Up and Victoria's Secret Perfumes... so now she doesn't have to steal her Brother's Theatrical Make-Up and Essential Oils!  *Smiles... but Seriously, that's a Big Deal!*

For him it was a vintage 1970's Zig Zag Man Glass, Dragon's Blood Essential Oil {his favorite} and Atari Flashback Game that has 75 of the Classic Original Video Games on it.   The Atari will be 'shared', he'll likely bore of playing the Classics before his younger Sister will.  He'll leverage letting her 'earn' time to play the Games to get her to help clean his rooms.  *Smiles*

She actually likes cleaning and organizing and it gives her great intel to be actually allowed in to snoop round in his rooms.   Things will get 'borrowed' and turn up missing, and the whole Cycle will be Complete!  *LOL*   She'd forgotten about some of the stuff she'd picked out Weeks ago, so it was still kinda a surprise for her to open pressies and rediscover them.

I had tried to avert the snooping under the Tree by not labeling some pressies and then forgot which Kiddo they were for, so that made for some surprises too!  *Bwahahahahaha!!!*   He accidentally opened her Grumpy Cat and dryly said, "I'm guessing this is not really mine Gramma?"  What can I say, Senior Moments can be Interesting and quite hilarious!  *LMAO*  He's doing his deliberate Vanna White impersonation presentation of showing his unopened Gift for the Photo Op... my Pathological Picture Taking Rituals are the stuff of Comedic Parody around here!

As you can clearly see we are also very methodical, neat and tidy whilst opening pressies, the OCD of The Force and I kicks in to high gear and The Man thinks that's all rather hilarious.  He's gotten used to it over the Years, tho' we've eased up from the days when we saved Tags and you could almost re-use the Christmas Wrapping Papers coz they had been opened so meticulously neat without wrinkle nor tear!  *Bwahahahahaha!!!*

I don't know if you can see it better in this close-up, but I had Sourced this Vintage 1970's Hand-Painted Zig Zag Man Graphic on a very thick Glass.  I knew The Young Prince would Love it and it was kinda his unexpected Gag Gift.  He is on AZ legalized Medicinal MJ now that he's 18 and it's helping tremendously with managing his SMI, Depression and Anxiety issues.  It is far less damaging than the strong Rx Psychotropics he had to quit taking at age 15, due to harmful serious side effects that almost killed him.

The Adults opted out of the Photo Session early this Morning, we all still looked rather a Hot Mess in our Jammies and my Friend is very shy about being Photographed, especially since she knows I am an avid Blogger.  *LOL*  I'd gotten the obligatory pix of The Man in his New Recliner and Shared it in a previous Post, so he didn't really Need to strike a Pose.  *Smiles*  The Force were very cooperative since I was allowing an early opening of pressies rather than waiting 'til Tonight.

Usually The Young Prince is the most elusive about being in front of the lens, so I took full advantage of how Chill he was about it this Morning.  *Smiles*  Since being on the Medicinal MJ he's much more emotionally stable and Positive about Life.  For those still against Medicinal MJ, let me tell you how many Families I know with Seriously Mentally Ill Loved Ones, Brain Damaged Loved Ones, Loved Ones with Dementia and other Age Related Issues, Loved Ones with Cancer, and Loved Ones suffering from extreme Seizure Disorders, who have had enormous success and Healing.  And with far less damaging side effects and addictions than to the dangerous Rx Drugs Big Pharma and Western Medicine 'push' to Patients and their Families.

The Siblings get along better too when Mood Regulation Issues are controlled and psychotic episodes are managed while on appropriate meds that Help.   Princess T has not had to even be The Beast Princess hardly at all with her Brother, now that he's 'Nicer' and can now get along and play well with others for extended periods of time.  *Smiles*   I had worried with her turning 13 that she might go Wheels Off The Rails into Teen Madness with the Hormonal Changes, but she's been enjoyable and Funny so far.  So keep all body parts crossed that it's sustainable and not subject to change without notice?!  *Winks*

My Friend was cracking up at our Gypsy Swaps we Negotiate at Christmastime between one another... directly after gift opening, the haggling begins.  Princess T will Trade her Gourmet Chocolates for Atari Time... The Young Prince Traded me his Starbucks Gift Card for money to buy Throwing Cards at our Antique Mall Today.  *Smiles*  After a successful good Negotiation, everyone is satisfied with closing their Deals.  *Winks*

"This doesn't bother any of you that you don't do anything Traditionally?", she asks.   Nope, we've never done anything Traditionally from as far back as I can remember actually, that's our Tradition being passed down I suppose from Generation to Generation, being Untraditional and doing our own Thing Happily.

And shouldn't that be the Point actually, doing what Works for you and your Loved Ones, regardless of what everyone else might be doing?   We've Adopted some Traditions and Rituals that we liked and enjoyed over the Years... and we've dumped any Traditional and Ritualistic stuff that is common and just doesn't Work for us.

I don't expect them to Conform to what rigidly might be dictated and just doesn't Work for them personally.   I'm very Happy that our Parents were the same, they weren't your Garden Variety Parents anyway.  Though they had some Traditional and Cultural practices they upheld, Cherished and enjoyed, they were quite Liberal thinking people for their time... ahead of their time actually.  Not necessarily in a rebellious sense, to fight any System and be Militants.  But in a forward thinking way of just Being... in Harmony with everything and everyone around them and having a Peace of who they were at their Cores.

I had to Smile at Princess T sitting The Target Dog and Grumpy Cat in front of the TV as if they were now watching it!   She's a walking Vans Advertisement Today with all her new gear on... her Brother joked that Vans should be monetizing her for Modeling their whole Winter Line!  *Winks*

I do Hope that you and your Loved Ones have a Memorable Christmas Eve and Christmas Day too my Friends.   That 2019 holds many possibilities and Happiness for you all and is all that you Hope and Dream it will be?!

Our Menagerie here at The Villa Boheme' is quite Chill and Content as Advent winds down and we'll Celebrate Christmas Tomorrow.   It turned out to be a most satisfactory Holiday Season in spite of some of the personal Crisis that we had to endure during it.   It has been mostly Good... and that's a Blessing indeed!

Dawn... The Bohemian and Family

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Just Around The Corner

Christmas, now just around the corner, how many are prepared, how many are totally unprepared and waited until the last minute?   We had our big 20% Off Sale at the Antique Mall, I suspect we attracted a lot of the unprepared, scrambling to purchase those last minute gifts?  How could I tell... well, because of how frantically they were purchasing whatever they bought!  A panic Buyer will almost buy anything!   Sometimes it might be appropriate, but it could be a total crap shoot what the recipient might feel about receiving it?

I'm not a frantic Shopper, it ruins the whole experience for me if I'm in a panic trying to buy anything.  I suspect I'd make rash or simply bad and impulsive decisions should I be a frantic Shopper.   A lot of thought would probably not go into what I'm Gifting if it were bought in a panic.  I prefer to give Thoughtful Gifts and it's kinda evident if you've ever received a Thoughtless one.  Thankfully I've been the recipient of Thoughtful ones more often than not, and given Thoughtful ones, I'm glad about that.

We also don't exchange obligatory Gifts, if there is no existing Special Relationship between the recipient and giver then it seems rather pointless to.  Even in my Corporate Lives, where a fair amount of pressure seemed to be put upon obligatory Gifting at Christmas, I opted out.   If a Gift is not coming from the Heart and from the Joy of Giving, it's not relevant to me.  It's probably not relevant to whoever is on the other end either, so why bother?  Obligatory Gifts and sending out obligatory Christmas Cards are just a pointless by rote practice and a financial drain as well, who needs that during the Holidays... nobody!

If the expectation is to participate, if it's made mandatory, that's even worse in my humble opinion.  Voluntary Gifting is all that I ever ascribe to, I wouldn't even want to receive a mandatory involuntary Gift purchased for me!   I suspect you wouldn't either, so I don't know why the practice just doesn't die out and be laid to rest?   Do you ever Wonder who began such practices and why it ever became widespread?   Even if there is no exchange, if I want to give a Gift or a Card I just do and it will be voluntary and meaningful to me to do it, or I wouldn't at all.

We have a big Family and yet Short Lists for Gifting and Cards, it's necessary actually.   All of the Adults decided a long time ago to focus upon the Children during this Season.  We often mutually agree to forego an exchange with one another to ensure it's not spreading anyone too thin financially and all Kiddos have a really Special Christmas.   I don't want anyone having debt loads and going broke trying to 'do' Christmas... do what you can afford, forego what you cannot, it's as Simple and effortless as that.

I'm an indulgent person by Nature, I know that about me, but I'm also a financially responsible person first and foremost.  We don't buy what we cannot really afford, it's just not a good habit to get into, but many people fall into that unfortunate cycle and trap.   I suppose all of the Years of Debt Counseling folks in dire Crisis during my Corporate Banking days taught me that it can and does happen to anyone, even in the best of Families.   What a person makes is never the problem, it's what they Keep... it's all about Stewardship and not Income.

People can be really intelligent and yet have a Poor Financial IQ and even worse, Poor Character about repayment of Debts.  Or be reckless with their finances.  Excuses abound, I've heard more lines than the Telephone Company has about why folks defaulted on Debts and aren't repaying what they owe.   Justifying why you default on something you owe doesn't eradicate the fact you legitimately owed someone and didn't pay them back.  They substantiate the loss if you never make good on what was owed to them and if you lack at least conscience about that, it speaks volumes of your Character and not in a positive way.  Instant gratification is not worth carrying a risky debt load... EVER.

But on to more positive things than why the Holidays can put peeps in Debt if they're not Careful about staying within their means and exercising good judgment about Holiday spending and budget constraints.   Though the Young Prince lost his Aquatic Frog Christmas Pressy to the Filter Incident, his Dad had given him two Aquarium set-ups and the unfortunate Frog had been residing in the smaller one.   The big Aquarium had no residents and wasn't set up, so we decided to replace the Frog with some entry level Tropical Fish instead and set up the Big Tank for them.

I purposefully helped him choose a Filter for it that doesn't suck any Tank residents up into it to avert similar Crisis from ever occurring again.  The Pet Shop had a big Christmas Sale on Tank Decor so we opted to indulge and make a more extravagant Asian Jungle Themed habitat for his new Mollies and Mystery Snails.   Mollies are great Beginner Fish, my Dad bred Tropical Fish for Years so I thankfully grew up around and learned a lot about Tropical Fish Care that I can impart to him.

He'd initially wanted a Male Betta Fish, but since only one Male can be kept in a Tank and I suggested considering Community Fish for such a big Tank, he let me guide him towards the decision to get a variety of Mollies instead.   We bought seven Fish, Male and Female, in a few varieties: Black Molly, Sailfin Molly, Dalmation Molly, Golden Lyretail Molly and Balloon Molly.  And two Mystery Snails to keep the Tank clean, a Blue Mystery Snail and a Golden Mystery Snail.

Rather than the ugly, gaudy faux Plants in hideous Neons, I also guided him towards purchasing three kinds of Living Aquarium Plants, which are better for the Fish and make a prettier habitat.  Hey, if it's now costing me Money to run damage control behind his Dad's Christmas Gift, I wanted some damn input this time!  *LOL*   Actually we had a lot of Fun choosing an environment for this lovely big Tank.  Tropical Fresh Water Fish or Salt Water Fish Tanks are soothing and Fun to own and Design.

Since his Dad and Family had already set the tone for a Lovely Asian Themed Aquarium we decided to expand upon that.  We had to, the Small Tank's Decor just looked lost in that much larger Tank once we transferred it all over!   So we bought some of the Sale Decor, which was on deep discount for the Holidays... choosing two with Structures and Greenery... and one that looks very Lord Of The Rings Old Man Of The Forrest.

He decided which Aquatic Living Plants he wanted the Look of and we headed Home to set it all up.   Luckily Mollies enjoy Blood Worms, since I'd bought the unfortunate Frog a large amount of them, since that's what Aquatic Frogs apparently eat and she never even got her Last Meal.   The G-Kid Force's Grief over the demise of said Frog was tempered by their excitement to now have a much more Interesting Tropical Fish Tank set up for Christmas instead!  *Whew!*

I don't like to speak ill of the Dead, but the Aquatic Frog was rather a boring Pet, just mostly chillin' at the bottom of the Tank motionless.   The Fish on the other hand are more interactive with the Children and just do more for them to observe.   They are excited that once the Mollies became familiar with their new Home, they now hang out visibly and rush to the front when the Kiddos approach.   The Young Prince did an admirable job of the Design of his Tank's Decor, he Loves Decorating and was Proud of his results!   With Ivara and Alduin's Habitats, plus the Tropical Fish and Cricket Tanks, he's got quite the Menagerie up there now to keep him Content and immersed in Creature Care.

He and Princess T have bonded a lot over the Creature Care, he's taught her how to Care for everything in his absences and she takes it very Seriously.  I check up to ensure the Care is adequate, but I've had nothing to worry about, The Force are diligent Creature Caregivers and it's given them expanded Responsibility and Focus.   Speaking of Kiddos, I've enjoyed receiving Holiday Images of some of the extended Family.  Most especially some of the other Grandchildren in Mexico and on the East Coast that we never get to see in person.

And of Adult Children that don't live in Arizona either.  Photos for me are always the Greatest of Gifts and what I request for my Holiday Pressies from extended Family and Friends.   I have been the Conservator of Family Photos from as far back as I can remember.  I'm also a Pathological Picture Taker, but if I'm not there I have to rely on Family and Friends to do it FOR me and send me the Imagery!   Extended Family are doing better with that request lately and Color me Happy!

So while we continue to chat about Christmas being just around the corner in this Post, I'll be regaling you with Imagery of The Family... well, some of them.  Some are more elusive about being in front of the Lens and some are more comfortable, so it's not that I'm playing Favorites and showing off particular ones.   This Younger Sister of The Force looks almost exactly like I did at that Age!  Kinda eerie to see a Mirror Image of yourself in Child Form, she is the only one that even has my Grey-Blue Eye Color.   Wow, I now have a Clone!  *LOL*

All of the Youngest Daughter's Children look so much like her tho' that we always joke that she Cloned them ALL!  *Smiles*   We must have very strong Family feature Genes.   The Daughter also was able to spend the Holidays with her Children in Mexico this Year, she's been Well and thus it's been easier for her to be around everyone and we're all delighted.   If you don't have Loved Ones suffering with Serious Mental Illness and/or are in Recovery from Substance Abuse Addictions, you might not understand that it's not always possible or wise to have that quality together time when they're not Well.

Mental Illness has no Cure, but there are lucid times that can be precious and you take full advantage of the times of Wellness.   Addictions can be Recovered from, but it is a Process, a Lifelong one with many potential obstacles and setbacks along the Journey.   Often Serious Mental Illness and Addictions go hand in hand, since self-medicating to escape the Torment is not uncommon.  Even prescription medications for the Mentally Ill can be a scourge and a double edged sword... and being unmedicated can be even MORE challenging... so it's all rather a Catch 22.

This Holiday Season has been very complex, since we have SMI and Brain Damaged Loved Ones in various degrees of Wellness, Recovery and/or not able to take any medication at all, so have to deal with their Serious Mental Health conditions Cold Turkey.   That has caused Yours Truly more than a fair amount of Anxiety, Stressors and Concerns, but you have to compartmentalize your Emotions in order to Normalize your Days and Enjoy your Holidays.  What I have no Control over I hand over to The Lord to handle for us.

The resilience and Joy of Children who must Deal with complex situations is always something I stand in complete Awe of.   Children tend to Love so unconditionally, Fresh enough from The Father I suppose that they have that Agape kind of Love going on for those who are Special to them, even if it's hard.  Life you see can be hard, bad things happen even to good people... good things even happen to bad people... it's all a Mysterious blend this Journey that is Life.  It's not up to us to dictate how it will actually play out, Rolling with it and Living in the Moment, Mindfully, is always best and typically Calmer.

Having a Peace even in the midst of Storms, having Joy not tied to Circumstances, choosing Happiness and Contentment regardless of your situations is I think a Spiritual Thing mostly.   How each mortal Copes with the Issues of Life has to be a conscious Choice, each of us is given our Path to Journey thru Life upon.   No Path is absent of Negative things happening, to varying degrees there will be Positives and Negatives to Life.   If you disagree with this assessment just keep on Living... you'll eventually notice that it's Truth.

We have viewed our Lives as Blessed ones, some people have had trouble understanding that, since there has been considerable Negatives on our Paths that they view as curses and not Blessings perhaps?  Perspective is EVERYTHING I have found.  How can you still be Happy, Joyful and Content... still genuinely Spiritual and close even while Dealing with considerable Negatives is usually the most asked question?  There is no simple garden variety answer to that question, that Mystery as to why some people can be and some cannot.

Perhaps even BECAUSE of the considerable Challenges our Paths have taken us through we Appreciate more when the Path becomes easy for a time?  Have you ever gone on a long Journey and part of it is arduous and part of it is delightful, well, it's kinda like THAT!   It doesn't mean the Journey wasn't worth taking just because some of it was difficult and some of it was effortless... some of it was Pretty and some of it wasn't.  A combination of both actually made it more Interesting and made you Appreciate certain things about that Journey and it's Destination.   What the Journey Teaches you along it's way is often Priceless.

And we are all in this Together, or we SHOULD be... since any Path taken and any Journey embarked upon needs others.   And in reality there are no 'Others', we are in fact all One in that very Mysterious and Spiritual way we were Created and meant to Be.   Let us uplift one another and support one another wholeheartedly.  May this Holiday Season and Holy Season we're in be more than the glitz and glitter of it all... more than gift exchanges.  May it go and Be Deeper than that... remembering the Reason for the Season is so much more than that, a bigger part of a whole.

 May your State of Being be inclusive and not exclusive, may it not be judgmental but accepting and compassionate.  May you extend and expand your boundaries to encompass more and experience more that Life has to offer... and in the most Positive and enriching of ways.   May you Touch the Life of another in a way that is a Healing Touch, Ministering to you all.   Building up and not tearing down one another.   May what you say be an improvement over Silence and if it is not, be Silent instead.

The most important discipline is Self Discipline, that is the only real Control we have, over ourselves and our own thoughts and actions.   May we never get so Old that we forget what it was like to be Young... and sometimes Foolish.   Even the Old can be Foolish and succumb to it, regardless of vast Experience that Old Age imparts.   May we be Inspired by the Young and the Innocence and Purity that Youth can still possess, before Life snatches it away or pollutes it.

May you have a very Merry Christmas or whatever you may be Celebrating Spiritually in your own way during this time.  May you be preparing for an Awesome New Year with the Hope that 2019 will be a Good Year.  From our Family to Yours may you experience Peace, Love and Light my Friends... Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian 
A life touched by God always ends in touching others. - Erwin McManus

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. - Og Mandino (1923-1996)

For creativity to flourish one should try to look at everything as though it were being seen for the first or the last time. - Quote from "A Thousand Paths To Creativity" by David Baird

Is what I'm about to say an improvement on silence? ~ Galen Pearl