agnestirrito

"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe


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Friday’s Five—July 3, 2020

I’m writing these words tonight about an hour away from Independence Day in the USA. Firecrackers are booming already in my neighborhood, and they have been for hours. Someone has started celebrating early.

I’ll go out after I write these words and likely catch a few sparkly scenes. Free riding off someone else’s joy. Not a bad way to live sometimes.

I think there is something in the sharing.

Last week I made a post on social media, asking people to tell me something good. Over a hundred comments later, I felt enriched and buoyed by somebody else’s joy.

Lots of someones actually. Turns out I have several friends who appreciate the everyday things, too.

So, in their honor tonight, I’ll list more than five good things tonight. These were things that friends mentioned and I bet you will find something here to claim, too:

Good books

Tomatoes

Planting flowers and trees

Bookstores and time to look

Eating four BLTs ( no judging…it’s homegrown tomato time here)

Wind chimes

Garage clean outs

Art moments

Time with loved ones ( this one was repeated over and over)

Naps

Cures

Biking on a New Orleans street

A gift of lavender from a market vendor

Birdsong

Cherries

Petting a zebra

“Praying with a grateful heart”—that one from an art friend who I think of tonight and say “Amen.”

May you find huge lists of good things today and every day. And may we all remember that these everyday moments hold a lot of magic. They are gifts. Without them, life would be dark indeed.

I hope those readers in the USA will celebrate freedom tomorrow. It has nothing to do with doing what we want and everything to do with doing what is right.

Happy Independence Day! As my mom always said to my ever present eye roll: Happy 4th of Julie! Who knows why… haha…

but I think of her every single year and smile.

Be safe and well and strong, dear readers. 🌟


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Friday’s Five—June 26, 2020

Sometimes it is good to remember to stop and say thank you. Maybe you say it to a family member, a good friend, the universe.

Maybe you say it to God. I often do…or try to. Sometimes I find myself with a long list of “pleases” that include all kinds of directions and details. As if. Haha. I know better. I know my instructions are not necessary. Often my prayers are answered anyway. Daily, in fact. Multiple times per day. And I sometimes realize that maybe I need to spend a few more minutes sending up those follow up words. After all, stopping to give thanks is a pretty good way to spend time.

I offer a prayer today; I was taught this one as a child:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to The Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning

Is now and ever shall be

World without end. Amen.

I’m going to offer gratitude for some of the smallest things tonight:

ripening tomatoes

zinnias in bloom

the smell of newly cut grass

a walk in the rain

a snoring dog

Good things. Small on the surface, but they would be dearly missed if they were not part of my life. A friend and I talked about the word precious today.

This list fits.

I know you have a list. I hope you notice all the big and little gifts of the day.

It is easy to be distracted with the problems and pandemic, but we can choose to stop and offer thanks for the many ways our lives are enriched every single day.

I hope you will notice with me.

Be safe. Take care.


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Friday’s Five—June 19, 2020: Dads

Let’s talk dads tonight, dear readers.

I’m going to share five good memories of mine:

He laughed when people thought he was my grandfather. That taught me all I’ve needed to know about self respect and positivity.

He raced me to the car after Bingo games, even though he was terminally ill with cancer (and I didn’t know it.) That taught me there is always more going on with people than we know.

He always took me with him where he was going if I asked to go. That taught me care for others, sacrifice, and the realization that kids note everything you do/say/have time for.

He played the organ in our home as we danced around our tiny living room. He played it at the fair one year, in the days when vendors set up things like that. I remember standing beside him, so proud of what he could do. That taught me the wonder of arts and how to honor the gifts of others.

He bought a hoe for me at our small town hardware store. I still laugh, knowing now all the other kids my age were likely getting new bikes. But we didn’t have sidewalks, we had gardens. Plural. That taught me hard work, thirst, appreciation for a cool breeze, and the reward of sticking with something to the end.

Oh, I could go on, but you get the idea.

A good father is nothing to take for granted.

I had one, and my children had one, too.

My son is a father now. A good one.

I hope if you’re missing your father, you’ll reach back into the corner of your mind where he lives and recall some special times.

If your dad is still on this side, I hope you will take a moment to celebrate him. Tell him thanks for some small thing he’s done. You’ll look back one day and understand there were no small things. Every single one was limitless. Love.

Oh, let’s have a poem about fathers:

Father’s Song
By Gregory Orr

Yesterday, against admonishment,
my daughter balanced on the couch back,
fell and cut her mouth.

Because I saw it happen I knew
she was not hurt, and yet
a child's blood so red
it stops a father's heart.

My daughter cried her tears;
I held some ice
against her lip.
That was the end of it.

Round and round: bow and kiss.
I try to teach her caution;
she tries to teach me risk.


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Friday’s Five—June 12, 2020

This day has felt like a Saturday. That’s good. My mind has been thinking of beautiful things to share here tonight, and as always, they come:

I did not expect to bring out the finger-paints with 9 month old Clara, but that happened. We both giggled and made faces and held a moment of light between us. Secret spaces where so much happens in just seconds…to really capture it in words might take a lifetime. Here is our collaboration:

Art by Clara, age 9 months.
(a collaboration with Loulou)

My little tomato garden is growing. Sofia and Emma happily tend to it on the days they are here. This week, though, brought us a

new something to watch in awe and delight:

Baby Cardinals in progress
June 2020 ❤️

Worlds of conversation and questions and explanations and excitement ensued.

Long walks were the norm this week. Welcome. And, one day, a 60 degree morning in June. In Texas. Respites. Reasons to believe things will improve. Noticing. All the things that I have been too busy to see, I see.

My son mowed a path in the woods this week so that I can get to those gorgeous cape jasmine I mentioned in my last post. I smell them from my walk, yards away. Glorious.

Extra pages in my journal this week. More writing time. More things that work themselves out within the lines of notebooks. The awareness that when we decide to do something, the world makes room.

I think I’m past five now, but I must include this dragonfly. She has become my new friend of late.

I stand amazed as she waits for me to get a shot. I thank her. She flits and flies and returns. Again and again. Day after day. I am certain she wants me to try again tomorrow. To keep trying. She is a patient teacher.

Dragonfly who deserves a name
June 2020

I understand more about Mary Oliver and so many other poets who walked deeper into a world that others barely see.

It is amazing what we see when we look.

I hope you will look this week. Look for the spaces that offer you respite. Sink into them in silence and let them take you to a world you will name when you find the words. It may take a lifetime. That’s ok.

A short afterthought and request~~~

Be well, dear readers. And if you will, lift up a man named Seth. Just one “please heal him” will do. He is the husband of a lifelong friend, and he is facing a medical battle. I believe in the power of intention. He needs us. Thank you. 🌟


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Friday’s Five: June 5, 2020/Little Lights

How can it already be June?

Tonight, I walked outside to see the “strawberry moon” and while it took its sweet time rising so I could view it, I was given a beautiful distraction: dozens—maybe hundreds—of fireflies.

I tried to get a photo, but they are elusive and obviously do not wish to be seen, so see them with me as I saw them: brilliant nightlights, flickering messengers in the almost summer darkness. Hope. Lightening bugs to some of us. It was a beautiful and peace filled moment, though. To stand in quiet freedom and witness beauty in simplicity. To see something in my little part of the universe and try to share it here, with you. You have likely seen sun glittering on water—-that, but substitute the water for a blanket of dark sky—little miniature flashlights teasing us as we look and see one and two and oh, countless sparkles around us.

Points of light kept coming to mind. I know that’s a political program or endeavor from decades ago, but that’s the phrase that came to mind from these minuscule messengers tonight. What if each person decided to do their tiny part to bring joy? grace? love? laughter? healing?

So much possibility and power within us. That’s what I felt standing alone—yet not alone— tonight.

~~~

I hope a June never passes without me giving a nod to the cape jasmine that is now gigantic and blooming once again in the wooded area near my home. It also witnessed the concert of light tonight. For those who never heard the story:

A friend gave me a cutting of it (in a coffee can) years ago. I did not take care of it and thought I had killed it, so I tossed it into the woods. Years later, after an ice storm took down several trees, I noticed a green shrub growing…white fragrant petals…that spring I stood amazed (as I still am today) that what I thought was gone came back bigger and more beautiful than ever.

Take what you will from my story.

I only know this: we have all lived some bad chapters. Terrible days. You likely have experienced something you will never share with anyone. Yet, here you are. You may be weary, but here you are, plodding onward. And we will live to see more light.

Tonight, the fireflies reminded me. A glorious moon. Some white gardenias down the path. A porch light welcoming me back. Moments from a busy day to cherish: a baby’s smile, virtual coffee chat with a friend who loves poetry with me, a text from a young mom who I hope to see soon…even if from a safe distance. Points of light.

Be one. Share one. Know you are one…do not throw your potential away…you are brilliant.

Believe.

[[And in the meantime, plant a few somethings. They will grow and astonish you and remind you of the miracle of seeds and sun and moons and dirt and all things seen and unseen…I’m so hoping another little seed story is taking root in a pot as I write this…maybe the fireflies and tonight’s moon will give them the extra light they need …grow little forgotten-and-found seeds…grow.]]


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Friday’s Five-May 22, 2020

I have lost count of the days I’ve been home lately. At some point, I’ll look back at a calendar or journal entry and know the exact number. Sometime in March though…so definitely a couple months, give or take a day or two.

I looked out today and started thinking about what I have added to my space during these days. What five things could I list? Which five things are items that bring me happiness and are things I might not have purchased in my pre-covid life?

1) cast iron skillet—-a little luxury that I’ve made excellent use of already—-more time to cook and cook well. It is also a nod to nostalgia—my family cooked a lot with cast iron as I grew up. If you like home cooking, there is a terrific lady named Brenda Gantt that you can look up for easy home cooking tips. She uses cast iron all the time.

2) an extra hummingbird feeder and two shepherd hooks—-happy hummingbirds already bringing me smiles as I watch them dart to and fro. Most springs get away without me getting feeders ready, but this spring it’s routine to clean feeders and refill the nectar. I love looking out of each window in my home and knowing there is some new item: feeder/plant/color to view.

3) double embroidery hoop with stand—-getting more hand stitch time in these days…a welcome diversion from the stream of news. The luxury of not having to grip a hoop while sewing means I can spend more time doing the stitches on bigger projects.

4) zinnias and tomatoes and herbs—-things to plant and nurture and watch grow…things to care for during these days. Yeah, I likely would have bought flowers…but it is fun to try new ones and see what I can help thrive.

5) maybe the best item: extra SD cards for my 35 mm camera. This was one of my first covid purchases…I hadn’t used that camera since my last big vacation, and all the cards were full. It’s been a welcome activity to sit and watch things in nature and capture them on film.

What about you? What good things have become part of your days lately? Tangible or not, it’s good practice to think of the good things. Celebrate the little things they bring joy to the days.

Stay safe and well, dear reader. Surround yourself with good thoughts and good things. 🦋


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Friday’s Five—May 8, 2020: Moms Get a Turn This Week

My sis and I were talking earlier this week and she mentioned a beautiful crystal vase our mom had given her years ago. Isn’t it funny how some objects carry so much meaning? I hope she will fill that vase with flowers this weekend to honor a truly good mother AND her own good mothering self as well.

I’m planning to make biscuits tomorrow, and I’ll use a pottery bowl with navy hearts on it. My mom bought that bowl for me over thirty years ago. It was really too expensive at the time, but she bought it for me anyway. It’s seen a lot of good use. I’ll feel her spirit with me when I make those biscuits. I’ll wish I could sit with her and share one or two.

Vases, bowls—-those outward objects that represent people/times/moments. Outward gifts to be grateful for of course, but maybe your mom gave you some not so tangible gifts. Maybe you’ll think about those this weekend. Maybe you’ll hear her voice. Maybe you’ll feel blessed or grateful or loved.

During these hard days especially, I think of my mother and how she’d react to this pandemic.

Honestly, she would be worried, but she would also fill her days with prayer and good works. She would laugh a lot and make us laugh. She would call us to encourage us. She would look forward in hope. She would cook or later in life, ask us to cook for her. She would envelope us in such a sense of well-being that we would feel better than we were. And she would say this:

Be good to yourself.

This was one of her favorite quotes from the book of Sirach. She probably said it when she bought that vase, that bowl. She already knew that when you are good to someone else, you are also good to your own self. Amazing how she continues to teach me, years later.

Thanks mom. I’m surely grateful I had you to love me.

Happy Mother’s Day, dear readers. Be good to yourself. It has an amazing effect. ❤️


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Friday’s Five—May 1, 2020

Let’s start with life. If you’re reading this, you’re still with us. Hallelujah… to praise that we are still here. Do you wake up grateful? I hope you do. ✅

Flowers along the roadside. Clover is coming on, some Queen Anne’s Lace, oxalis (even a white bloom variety!), and plenty of dandelions. Yeah, some folks don’t care for weeds, but if there is color, I count it as a good flower. And in this month of May, let’s try to pay attention to the color we are given —free bouquets to view daily. Maybe you’ll make a nature mandala? A honeysuckle crown? ✅

Something to do. I do not understand the word “bored”…so if you get that way, all I can say is … wow. Don’t you have a drawer to clean out? A car to wash? Heck…a window? 🧽 A book to read? Cookies to bake? Anything??????✅

Someone to cherish. I’m missing lots of someones these days. But I have words. I can text. Email. Skype. Call. Make contact virtually. So, in the time until it’s safer, I will think of creative ways to show love. I believe even Pope Francis encouraged the “creativity of love” early on in this pandemic. The reality is it is better to miss for awhile than for a lifetime. So suck it up and deal. ✅

Know-how. Sure, there are plenty of things I can’t do, but there are several that I CAN. Start listing them or ticking them off when you get slump-y. “Play those positive mental tapes” as a dear friend used to tell all her students. Advice that’s truer than true. ✅

I know there are marvelous things that are true about you, dear reader. I invite you to tell me anything at all…you probably won’t because…well…that’s how we often are…but I’d love to read something from your list.

Meantime…hang in there. We have made it through a full month (plus +++) of pandemic time. We have not liked it, but we have made it.

And we will keep making it and if we encourage one another, the walk will be not as hard, not as lonely, not as frightening.

So. Take care of somebody. Reach out to anyone this week. Do for them what you can. Carry on. ✅


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Friday’s Five —April 24, 2020

Five very good things from these past few days—

because if I have learned anything in my years here in this realm, it is this: there are beautiful gifts in front of us every day, but we must take a breath and slow down and pay attention.

1–my dear friend Kim enlisted her hubby to help, and they came to my house and created a raised bed garden for me. It has already been a daily delight for the grands and for me…such kindness and generosity. 🌱The bigger gift was paying attention when I mentioned I’d love to make one someday. How rare and sweet to be given an answer to a wish. 🌟 ( Listen to your people. Make a wish come true when you can. ❤️)

2-good music on the radio. As I write this post, NPR is playing a classical music segment. It’s calming. But this week I heard my fave song (Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd) in its entirety as I was driving—windows down, volume up. You know exactly what I mean, I hope. 🙌🏼 🎶 (Know the power of music to elevate your mood. Listen.)

3-cocktail hour with my sis. I kidded with her this week that we did long distance “virtual” cocktail hours before pandemic time made them cool. We are going on six plus years now—once a week and sometimes more—we settle in to create/chat/vent/sip, and I am always happy to hear her sweet voice. 🍷📱🍷 (Make extra “special”time for your loved ones.)

4-children’s laughter. Emma and Sofia are imaginative and happy and their voices reflect that, no matter what we are in the midst of…and this week, when I saw baby Clara, she smiled her slow sweet smile of recognition and then pushed her arms and legs out in what I translate as recognition of the love we already share. She “answers” with her own language and I answer with mine, knowing she already understands far more than people might think. 👶🏼 🥰 (Always talk with children at a higher level than you think they understand.)

5-poetry. It is National Poetry Month, and I’ve made a point to post a poem a day on social media. Usually, I create a project of some sort…this year, it’s a postcard project, which serves multiple purposes: it puts poetry into the world, lifts someone’s spirits, and supports our USPS. Will you join me in a grassroots effort to help our postal service? Will you send an extra piece of mail out once a week? (You have power to change things…use it well.) 🌟✅🧚🏻

Stay strong and well, dear readers. The world is in the midst of upheaval, but we carry on with our heads up and eyes open to the gifts around us. They are our strength. Remember. ❤️🌟🌟🌟


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Friday’s Five

Tonight I’m remembering another time in my past when I made a determined and conscious effort to keep blogging, to keep writing even though the world I was in seemed to be (and was) spinning out of control.

I’ve often looked back at that time and wondered why I felt that I had to write, what was it about that act that somehow centered me. I understand it is control. This is one tiny way of making order out of mess.

For me, this act of writing and documenting is also an act of defiance. It is the I will look for and find joy in the midst of out of kilter days. I have that power.

I celebrated a birthday a few days ago, and while some might think that this is a terrible time for a celebration, I disagree. I’m glad my family and friends disagreed, too, because they brightened my day in many special and memorable ways.

We really get to choose more than we realize. I choose to keep looking for the light.

Here, a few of those bright light moments…

“Snow glows” and woodpeppers” —Emma’s words for dandelions and woodpeckers as we wander outside for walks …

“I want to write in your journal” Sofia tells me and then takes letter dictation for the words she’s wanting to record—-I recognize this as the gift it is…

That little orchid I bought in Sara’s honor a couple of weeks ago is getting much love and attention from her nieces. Something to care for gives us direction.

Visiting cardinals…they have returned, and I am able to give them lots more attention now that I work from home these days. I moved part of my work area to the sunporch so the outside is never far from view.

Photographs…old and new and the treasure of reliving the moments.

“Snow glows” and wishes ❤️

Keep wishing and watching and reveling in the days you are given.

Stay safe, dear readers. Stay home if you can. 🌟