Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year End Thoughts


This year I seem to be spending much more time leading up to the New Year in thinking about where I've been as well as where I'd like to be - within myself, with myself, my work, my family, my friends.  Some health resolutions I've already started (possibly so the shift won't be quite so drastic come the 1st).

Basically, it's all about taking an inventory on what really is important to me. Sometimes that isn't quite so easy to answer.  I've been heading in one direction for so long (such as teaching), that it's quite startling to consider making a change.

Somehow I'm sensing a year of change..... at the least the potential is there.

New year, new thoughts, new directions.  As I replace the old marked up desk blotter with a new pad, fresh sheets, clean slate, I'm free to contemplate fresh changes in several areas of my life.

You have to love the start of a new year!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas as a Baha'i

Celebrating Christmas, as a Baha'i, is a very personal matter.  I love attending the Lessons and Carols held here on the island in the Episcopalian Church (along with most of the islanders, no matter their faith).  I love seeing the lights and decorations, although I usually do not put up any myself. (Well, I have decided that next year I might put up some lights around the windows.)  I look forward to the loving times and meals with my family - our family rituals and foods that make it so special (including making gingerbread houses with the grandkids each year).  We do exchange gifts, but not outlandishly.

The following article truly articulates what this season, and its festivities, mean to many Baha's.  It certainly resonated with me, and may help to untangle some confusions.

Whether you wish to read it or stop right here, may I wish you a joyous season, special times with your loved ones, and a renewed lift in your spirit, no matter what your personal belief system may be.  Christmas blessings!!


Do Bahá’ís Celebrate Christmas?

Naturally, at this festive time of year, people like to ask whether or not Bahá’ís celebrate Christmas. And the simple answer is: No. Yes. Sort of. Sometimes. It depends.
How’s that for definitive?
The confusion here, I think, lies more in the question itself than in the answer. My befuddled answer above is appropriate to the question, “Do Bahá’ís celebrate Christmas?” because that particular question is really an umbrella for several related-but-different questions.
To clear things up, I thought I’d try to break it down to the best of my ability (with the caveat that these answers are based on my own understanding, which is hardly infallible). So here are some questions that are usually wrapped up in the more general question of whether or not Bahá’ís celebrate Christmas, and my undoubtedly imperfect answers to those questions.
Do Bahá’ís believe in Christ?
Yes, we do.
Here is a synopsis of the Bahá’í view of Jesus:
As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended.

The Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá’u’lláh as the “Spirit of God,” is proclaimed as the One Who “appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost,” and is even extolled as the “Essence of the Spirit.” His mother is described as “that veiled and immortal, that most beauteous, countenance,” and the station of her Son eulogized as a “station which hath been exalted above the imaginings of all that dwell on earth,” whilst Peter is recognized as one whom God has caused “the mysteries of wisdom and of utterance to flow out of his mouth.”
“Know thou,” Bahá’u’lláh has moreover testified, “that when the Son of Man yielded up His breath to God, the whole creation wept with a great weeping. By sacrificing Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created things. Its evidences, as witnessed in all the peoples of the earth, are now manifest before thee. The deepest wisdom which the sages have uttered, the profoundest learning which any mind hath unfolded, the arts which the ablest hands have produced, the influence exerted by the most potent of rulers, are but manifestations of the quickening power released by His transcendent, His all-pervasive and resplendent Spirit. We testify that when He came into the world, He shed the splendor of His glory upon all created things. Through Him the leper recovered from the leprosy of perversity and ignorance. Through Him the unchaste and wayward were healed. Through His power, born of Almighty God, the eyes of the blind were opened and the soul of the sinner sanctified…. He it is Who purified the world. Blessed is the man who, with a face beaming with light, hath turned towards Him.” — Shoghi EffendiThe Promised Day is Come, p. 109
So yes, we revere and adore Christ, and believe in Him as a Divine Messenger of God. (For more info about the Bahá’í relationship to Christianity, go here.)
Do Bahá’ís celebrate Christmas as a religious community?
No, we don’t. We accept Christ wholeheartedly, and therefore honor the celebration of His birth, but we do not celebrate Christmas as a community. We accept and honor Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Muhammad, and other Divine Messengers as well, and if we celebrated all of their births and other holy days associated with each of them . . . well, we’d be partying all year long. And as fun as that sounds, it doesn’t really make sense logistically. And it wouldn’t make sense to only celebrate some and not the others. So as a community, we only celebrate the holy days and holidays associated with the Bahá’í calendar.
But CAN Bahá’ís celebrate Christmas?
Yes, just not in relation to each other. Many of us do joyfully celebrate Christmas with our families and friends who celebrate it. As individuals, we are free to partake in any religious activities that don’t directly interfere with the Bahá’í teachings. In fact, sharing one another’s spiritual traditions is one of the best ways to form bonds of fellowship and unity among people of all faiths, which is one of the central teachings of Bahá’u’lláh: “Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.”
So do Bahá’ís have Christmas trees, bake Christmas cookies, put up Christmas lights, exchange Christmas gifts, etc.?
Maybe. Sometimes. Sort of. It depends. Part of what gets confusing is that Christmas has really become a cultural holiday for many people. Every atheist and agnostic I know still puts up a Christmas tree, sings Christmas songs, and gives Christmas gifts. For most Christians, it’s a very holy holiday. For non-religious folk, it’s a time for family and tradition. For Bahá’ís, it’s sort of both and sort of neither, depending on what angle you’re looking from. Sorting out the cultural practices of the holiday season from the religious ones is enough to make your head spin.
I know some Bahá’í families who put up Christmas trees, but I would say most do not. I personally LOVE a good cookie exchange. Some Bahá’ís exchange gifts with their families and circles of friends, especially those whose extended families are not Bahá’ís. We have a major gift-giving holiday called Ayyam-i-Ha at the end of February, so we usually save the big gift-giving until then.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Staying On Target

As I struggle with my very long to-do list for preparing kits and materials for teaching in January, I came across this quote from Seth Godin “Rather than having a daily debate about today's agenda, you can decide once that you will do something, and then decide every single day how to do it.”  (Actually, a friend just posted it on her weekly status report.)

Not quite sure why, but that seems to help!  Juggling my work requirements with holiday responsibilities (gifts, cooking, family, parties) seems overwhelming at times.

All that stands between me and total disarray are my lists.  Bless you, Workflowy!!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

How Many Crochet Hooks?

Just how many crochet hooks does one need?  I have my own set, what is left of my mother's set, and those that my aunt left me.  Yes, I've been crocheting since age 8.

Unfortunately, I haven't met a crochet hook that I didn't like.  I have some mahogany ones now, one that lights up, and tunisian hooks. Ah, but yesterday I saw a fancy brass one.  So in tribute to those who crochet, and love hooks, I need to share.  Perhaps to prove that I'm not the only one in the world with this fascination??

Crochet hooks.


Monday, December 15, 2014

A Simple Summary of Living Simply

The following post is a perfect, simple summary of why I want to live simply.  As we work on clearing out the mainland house in preparation for selling it, I needed an easier way to sort through all the accumulated "stuff".  The easiest determining factor was would it fit in the house here on the island.  But for the smaller stuff, another way of making the decision was needed.  This is it!  If it's not my/our favorite, out it goes.  Actually, it helps me to breathe, when I can release this stuff.

How to Enjoy Your Favorite Things Every Day

How to Enjoy Your Favorite Things
I used to save my favorite things for special occasions. I thought that made them more special, or maybe I thought I didn’t deserve them all the time. Mostly though, I couldn’t enjoy my favorite things and all of the everyday stuff. It was too much.

It was too much …

  • to take care of
  • to afford
  • to think about
  • to enjoy
  • to appreciate
After decades of accumulating stuff and things, I forgot what my favorite things were. Ruthless decluttering was a great reminder. After selling and donating the majority of our stuff, we were left with our favorite things.

The best way to enjoy your favorite things every day is to only own your favorite things.

Having it all doesn’t require owning it all. Take a look at the things in your life, the things you use every day. Are they your favorite?
Donate your duplicates, the jeans that haven’t fit in a long, long time, and those trendy items you thought would make you happy, but now reside in the back of the closet. Dress with less and wear your favorite things every day.
Sell the equipment, gear, or supplies from the hobby you gave up years ago and make room for your favorite hobby or interest. If sleeping on the ground isn’t your thing anymore, let the tent go and discover more enjoyable ways to explore the outdoors. How do you really want to spend your time? Make time and space for that.
Use your grandmother’s china, the wine glasses from your wedding, and other things you love in your kitchen every day.
Display sentimental photos or other items instead of trendy decor.
If your kids play with the same things day after day, those are their favorite things. Donate the rest with their help.
The best things aren’t things, but less is not nothing. We do need some things in day to day life. Getting rid of the clutter, and things you don’t use or love provides space to discover what you really want and need, and the time you deserve to truly enjoy and appreciate it.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Define "Work"!

Back on the island, ready to buckle down and get to work.  But as I said just that to myself, really, what is my "work"?  Getting organized for my gallery responsibilities, ordering the rest of the materials for basket kits, working on new pieces - all part of living my dream, working for myself, doing what I love.  (Yes, including the organizational bit.)

How happy the world would be if we all could "work" at what we love!  Or at least love what we do?  My wish for everyone this coming year is to take that leap, make the necessary changes to have a happier work life, or at the very least start figuring out just what it is that you really want to do.

Yes, it takes courage.  And sometimes stepping off a cliff, hoping your wings will hold you up.

Be yourself.  Live your dream.  Make mistakes, then pick yourself up.  Try.  At the very least, you will feel alive.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ah, Alaska

Teaching, exploring, visiting friends, weaving, shopping Native stores ...... I love it here.  It's my annual jaunt up north.

Not much snow this year, but the hoar frost is awesome.

I'm recharging my creative batteries for a new year of teaching and weaving. Now if the moose would just make an appearance, as they usually do!

Monday, December 1, 2014

About the Hummingbird Table Cloth

Having received several requests, here are the particulars on the Hummingbird Table Cloth
(posted earlier at http://sallyanaya.blogspot.com/2013/08/hummingbird-table-cloth.html):

There is no pattern, per se.  I started with a chart, but the pattern evolved from there, as I saw where I needed to add vines, delete some busy-ness, etc.  It is one of the few things that I've made where the original concept and pattern changed constantly. So my apologies that there is no pattern to share.

It is 74" in diameter.  

Completed cloth:

Some of the detail that was previously posted:

Thank you, all, for your interest in this work.  I've already asked my daughter to keep it as a family heirloom....or at least humor me until I die.