November 15, 2017

WEDDING FUN & a message for the world

A couple of weeks ago I was so happy to attend pre-wedding festivities, the wedding, and the reception for a friend and colleague. She's a wonderful young woman, beautiful inside and out. Smart, down to earth, focused; she knows who she is and what she wants; she's respectful of her family and culture, but is also making her own way in the world. I mention the pre-wedding festivities because the events went on for days! See, she's Indian, and her culture really celebrates weddings! She invited me to share in all the different ceremonies and fun times so I could learn about her culture and experience something new.

And this was all taking place about 250 miles from my home, in two cities. So there was driving and hotels involved. I knew that I wouldn't know anyone except the Bride and her cousin (whom I'd only met once or twice) at the events.

First the henna party. Bridal henna (Mehndi) is intricate and takes a loooong time to apply. Her's started at about 2pm and was still in progress when I arrived at 5; she wasn't up and walking around until about 6. That's 4 hours of sitting pretty still and not being able to use your hands! But it was so beautiful!! All the Bridesmaids, Bride's family and friends come over for a "girls night in" party - food, fun, laughter, and henna for everyone!

The next day was the Maiyan and Jaggo ceremonies. Again, the home is filled with family and friends, food, fun, and laughter. Music and ritual. And color - everywhere color. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay for the Jaggo, so no photos of that!

Finally the wedding day! My friend's wedding attire was absolutely stunning!! And so was she. I was able to be at her family home early to watch her get ready. Hair and make-up started at 4am!! Indian weddings take place in the morning, so the preparations had to start early. I was honored to be included. I'm sure by this time, many of her friends and family were wondering who I was and what I was doing always hanging around, but they were gracious and hospitable.

One of the most personally moving of these experiences came at the wedding. While all the family and friends had been gracious, I still felt a bit like a fish out of water. Especially at the temple. I had no idea of where to go or what to do. I only knew from my friend that I had to cover my head, take off my shoes and sit on the floor. I didn't want to do anything to offend anyone. So I was hanging out on the fringes, by myself. I was approached by a woman with her husband and daughter who thought I looked very familiar and couldn't figure out where she knew me from. I knew we hadn't met before because I was so far from home. She asked me why I was standing there by myself. I related I just didn't really want to get in the way and wasn't quite sure of where to go. She took me by the hand and said, "Oh no, you come with me," and off we went. Yasmine took me under her wing and helped me feel a part of the wedding. She made sure I could see when the Groom/Bride families met outside the temple, I sat with her family for tea (and lunch after the wedding), and she continued to watch over me and sit with me once we went inside the temple for the wedding. I'm so sorry I didn't get a photo of her and her family.

A peek of Yasmine in the lavender, just in front of the woman in magenta

One of my friends, when I told her this story, said, "God sent an angel to guide you!"
Yes, indeed. And here's the truly amazing part of this story - you see,
Yasmine is a Muslim, who befriended this Christian, at a wedding at the Sikh Gurdwara temple.
Graciousness, hospitality, love of family and friends - isn't that what the world needs more of?

Oh, and the wedding reception?? A huge dance party and a total blast!!

October 16, 2017

Project Something Beautiful: GRATITUDE

Gratitude is one of my two "touchstone" words. I start each day in prayer, in "gratitude and grace for everything You have done for me." Starting the day with gratitude sets the tone. If I can continue to live each day, each moment, in gratitude I am in a better place; I am a better person. I have so much in my life to be grateful for that I am overwhelmed on a daily basis. Once I started to consider the things I'm grateful for, this post became much longer than I had anticipated. What's on your Gratitude List?



Photo by Cynthia Dawson




Sunsets over the ocean

And finally, technology... technology has allowed me to find a wonderful group of photographers, some of whom are participating in Project Something Beautiful; and allowed me to complete this blog post while traveling with friends in a 5th wheel, accessing photos I've stored in the cloud. Life is indeed good. And I am so very grateful.

This post is part of a series and a blog circle titled "Project Something Beautiful," exploring our lives and emotions. I'm so excited to collaborate with this wonderful group of talented women. For more on GRATITUDE, check out Tina's blog here: Love Came Down Photography

September 16, 2017

Project Something Beautiful: STILL

STILL. Calm. Quiet. Reflect. Peace. God. Breathe. Me. Rest. Difficult. Fleeting. Worth fighting for.
I am blessed to be able to start my day being STILL with God ~ to me, these go hand in hand. I read his Word, I write my prayers, I meditate, I reflect, I breathe. And I feel the stillness within, and peace.
But then the day moves on and that stillness is left in the dust as I take care of the seemingly millions of little things and some big ones. There always seems to be one more thing that needs to be done; one more something. One more way to keep moving. One more thing for my brain to focus on, to worry over. One more, one more, one more... I want my stillness to be with me throughout my day. I need that grounded feeling to stay balanced. By dinner time, usually earlier, my morning stillness has evaporated, not to be found again until the new day dawns. And my soul is unsettled.
If I can only stop for a bit in the midst of all the movement and recharge. I need to be still. I remember a meditation prayer taught to me about a year ago by Rev. Judy Yates Siker during a woman's retreat ... and I take some time to breathe.

 Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know
Be still

And I am made whole.

Meditation ~ Psalm 46:10

This post is part of a series and a blog circle titled "Project Something Beautiful," exploring our lives and emotions. I'm so excited to collaborate with this wonderful group of talented women. For more on STILL, check out Britney's blog here:  Britney Wharton Photography

August 23, 2017

August Monthly Madness

OK... we used to have Fab Fridays because I was off work on Friday. We would go do something different each month (well, maybe not EVERY month!) on a Friday. Well, now that I'm totally retired, we don't need to go on a Friday, we can go any day. So "Fab Friday" doesn't really work anymore. So I'm thinking it should be "Montly Madness," what do you think?

For August's Madness, we went to the Orange County Fair. Neither of us had been in a loooong time. But this was the year, and here's why: I submitted photos to the fair's photo competition and had two accepted for the competition and exhibition. So, of course we had to go see them!! And, I received an Honorable Mention for the Photojournalism photo and 3rd place for the Color-Children & Family photo!!! I was so excited just to have them accepted. Then blown away to get ribbons!! So, here are some photos from our August Montly Madness!! To see the rest, check out the Monthly Madness tab!

Yep, deep fried Oreos!!