GratiTuesday Guest Post: Bloggers Who Inspire

Guest post by Marty, Snakes in the Grass

Many thanks to Janis for inviting me to guest blog on her GratiTuesday series. To my regular readers who’ve followed me over here today, I do recommend that you check out her blog on a regular basis. Janis took the retirement plunge around the same time as me. Her posts are all about making that transition in as graceful and enjoyable way as possible.

In trying to figure out how I could submit something meaningful here, I have to admit that I was momentarily bereft of ideas. In fact, my first thought after agreeing to participate was to immediately think about my own struggles when writing about gratitude.

Each year during the week of Thanksgiving, I write a post on my blog where I give a listing from A-Z of all the things in my life that make me feel grateful. It’s an arduous undertaking because not only have I put myself into a position of having to come up with 26 items, but I also need to be watchful to not repeat too much of what I used previously. For instance, I seem to regularly blank out with the letter Q. Realizing that I can’t list the Who album “Quadrophenia” each time, last year I simply left it blank and pleaded with my readers to offer up their own suggestions. The lesson here is the same one I learned in 30+ years of government service: if you can’t do it yourself, contract out the work!

Some of us, though, just have a way of a better way of expressing themselves. Take Janis, for instance. Back on the April 17th tax day, she wrote a great post which singles out the virtues of how her tax money is spent. My first reaction after reading it was unmitigated jealousy because I hadn’t thought of writing it first. But my second reaction was admiration and even… <wait for it>gratitude that in this era of antigovernment, anti-progressive fervor, she had the tenacity to say what so many of us are thinking.

[Unsolicited advice to prospective guest-bloggers: always suck up to the host blogger. It ensures you’ll be asked back in the future.]

Which at last brings me to my point: other than finally having the time to read big, huge books I mostly avoided during my working years, I really had no retirement “bucket list.” The one desire I did have, however, was to write whatever entered my head and post it to a blog I could call my own. After doing just that, I came into regular contact with other bloggers whom I now choose to believe are my new colleagues — except we don’t get on each other’s nerves, and to my knowledge none of us ever forgets to wipe down the microwave after using it.

The bloggers I follow here on WordPress bring me unique perspectives, plus glimpses into their struggles and life experiences. They are at times utterly hilarious when sharing the foibles and calamities we all occasionally face; fascinating with recollections of earlier years; heartbreaking when providing us a front row seat into the challenges they face; and admirable because of just how gifted and talented some people are as writers. Please click on each of these links to see what I’m talking about.

So, here’s to all you bloggers who inspire me regularly. I am very grateful.

From Janis:

Thank you, Marty, for sharing your GratiTuesday guest post with us! I, too, am grateful for all the fabulous bloggers whose posts I read on a regular basis, including yours. And, yes, you are invited back as a guest writer anytime 😉 !

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered Marty’s blog, I encourage you to check it out. Although some serious content appears every now-and-then, his great sense of humor always shines through.

Please stop by next Tuesday when Christie from So What? Now What? shares her gratitude.

GratiTuesday Guest Post: Space

Guest post by Pat, Retirement Transition

Picture Credit: Pixabay

I love when an idea comes at me multiple ways.  This has happened in the past couple of weeks with the concept of Space.

During a Thai Yoga Massage (one of my 52 New Things this year inspired by Joanne at My Life Lived Full), apparently, my “space meridians” are blocked.  The therapist asked me “What do you need to let go? Where are you holding ground too much?”  He suggested I look at adding more space into my life, getting outdoors, taking some action, taking some risk.

Then the New Moon Ritual for me this month (another New Thing) had similar space references: “What boundaries do you have to leap over? How will you broaden your horizons?”  And my first cards pulled in my new Tarot Purpose deck (yup, still another New Things item) were: Make Decisions, Protection, and Letting Go.

The Universe is definitely sending me a message about letting go and expanding.  Not surprisingly, this spring I have been focusing on space with our recent downsizing move.  Letting go (finally) of the old space where I felt shackled.  Designing this new space to be comfortable and welcoming.  Making the new space the right environment for living the retirement lifestyle I envision.

So today I am Grateful for my Space.  While it is not completed in design/creation, there are multiple elements that make me grateful for this space we are creating:

  • There is positive energy in this house! It has solid “bones” (100 years worth), lots of woodwork, unique chandeliers, and stained glass windows to provide beauty.
  • The house feels like my sanctuary. It has many nooks and (new) comfy chairs where I can cuddle to read, write, and daydream. We’ve decorated with artwork that reflects our travels and love of arts & crafts shows.
  • It has the bigger kitchen that was a “must have” and is encouraging me to cook again. (And the 2-bay garage for hubby’s toys.)
  • We are working on creating outdoor spaces as well – a porch to sit and watch the world go by and a patio for friends to gather for evening meals.
  • I am grateful that I have the ability and the support (thanks, hubby) to create a space that brings me joy and that allows me to embrace the lifestyle I want to live at this stage of life.

I am grateful for my new space and looking forward to expanding in entertaining of friends (which for me is taking risk).  Universe… I’ve heard your message.

From Janis:

Thank you, Pat, for sharing your GratiTuesday guest post with us! The space you are creating sounds cozy and welcoming, and reflective of you and your husband’s interests and personalities.

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered Pat’s blog, you are in for a treat. Join her on her journey “envisioning & implementing life’s next stage”.

Please stop by next Tuesday when Marty from Snakes in the Grass shares his gratitude.

GratiTuesday Guest Post: MARS Garden Tour

Guest post by Donna, Retirement Reflections

For the past twenty-seven years, The Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society (MARS) has organized an annual MARS Garden Tour on Vancouver Island. Participants have the opportunity to view backyards (of all shapes and sizes) that have been transformed into innovative sanctuaries. Although I am not a gardener, I look forward to attending this event each year. Below are a few highlights from our recent self-guided tour.

This property is one block down from our home. I’ve passed it hundreds of times, never knowing that there was an oasis hiding behind the cedar hedge!

These Master Gardeners had the right idea. Wine was served in the side yard, while tea was waiting on the front porch.  Centrally located chairs in the backyard made a perfect spot to soak in the serene sights, sounds, and fragrance. I wanted to move in!

One property owner said that she had worked steadily for the past three months to prepare for this Garden Tour. She is no stranger to hard work. Above is a photo of the house when she and her husband first bought it in 2008. Beside it is a photo of what her home looks like today. BTW – Richard REALLY wanted to drive away in their car.

At our next stop, these flowers caught my eye. Any plants that admit they ‘R. Grumpy’ are plants to which I can relate! (For those of you more interested in actual gardens, than wordplay, this rhododendron is a yakushimanum hybrid. It thrives in cooler climates and can reach three feet in height. It produces creamy flowers that are tinged pink in mid-spring. See, I was listening!)

Can you tell that my camera was attracted to bright colours, textures…and water views?

As in previous years, this garden tour also included:

  • Displays by local artists,
  • Floral art arrangements,
  • Master Gardeners to answer questions,
  • Music,
  • Refreshments,
  • Attendants at each garden to assist participants.

If you have the chance to visit this, or a similar garden tour, I highly recommend it.

As with so many enriching community events (that are often taken for granted), endless volunteer hours are required to make everything happen smoothly. Many of these generous volunteers remain unseen.

A heartfelt thank you to all who have worked tirelessly to put together the MARS Garden Tour (and so many other community events like it). When you have the opportunity, why not consider volunteering to support a well-loved activity in your community? Your efforts may make more of a difference than you realize.

Is there an annual community event in your area that you look forward to attending each year?

From Janis:

Thank you, Donna, for sharing your GratiTuesday guest post with us! A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into putting on these community events as your pictures from the beautiful MARS Garden Tour illustrate.

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered Donna’s blog, please check it out. Her tagline, “New Chapters, New Discoveries and New Adventures” says it all.

Please stop by next Tuesday when Pat from Retirement Transition shares her gratitude.

GratiTuesday: Sharing Space

Every so often, I have been invited to write guest posts for other people’s blogs. I am always extremely flattered to be asked and happy to do it if I can. Our blogs are very personal, and we put a lot of time and thought into their proper care and feeding. To be asked to contribute our words to another blogger’s site requires a leap of faith on their part. Even though the blog owner always has the right to edit, it’s important to have an initial confidence in the person writing the guest post. The expectation is that the post will be one that they are happy to share with their followers.

One of the positive benefits of guest posting is the exposure you get to a whole new audience. Even though you might share a few – or many – followers, chances are pretty good someone new will read what you’ve written and click on over to your blog. Each time I’ve been a guest on someone else’s blog, I’ve been pleased to gain several new followers. In addition, I’ve discovered a few bloggers whose comments on my guest post have led me to their blog.

For the next seven Tuesdays, I am sharing my space with bloggers that I have followed for a while. I have met two of them in person, but the others feel like friends too, because that’s what blogging does: it brings people together, builds a community, and creates relationships with people you probably would never have met in the non-blogging world.

Donna, from Retirement Reflections, will be my first guest host on Tuesday, June 5.

I am grateful that these seven bloggers said “yes” to me when I asked them to contribute a GratiTuesday post. I am also grateful for all their time and effort (they have their own blogs to manage, after all). I hope you enjoy reading what they’ve written and, if they are new to you, I’d be grateful if you checked out their blog too.

GratiTuesday: Busy Bees

Last December, the United Nations General Assembly designated each May 20 going forward as World Bee Day. The purpose of the proclamation was to bring to the world’s attention the importance of preserving bees and other pollinators

I’m not sure if you noticed, but your bees didn’t take Sunday off to celebrate. Nope, they continued to tirelessly work in your yard and in the fields to ensure their important work got done.

Bees play a crucial role in increasing crop yields and promoting food security and nutrition. Without them, we would have ceased to exist long ago. We eat their honey, we use their wax, and we rely on them to help our food grow. Bees are responsible for pollinating nearly 85% of all food crops. A third of all food produced in the world depends on pollination.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of bee species die off each year due to a variety of factors, including disease, parasites, pesticides, and the destruction of their main food sources. As more species die, we will lose crops and, eventually, certain plants will become extinct because they can’t reproduce. The fate of bees can also indicate when environmental dangers exist. Mass bee deaths have been past indications of the use of toxic chemicals, or severe climate changes, giving scientists further proof of how fragile our environment really is. In fact, research indicates that our environment would collapse if honeybees no longer existed.

So, if you didn’t get a chance to thank your bees last Sunday on World Bee Day, today is a great day to tell them how grateful you are for all their hard work. And, even better, here are a few concrete steps you can take:

  • Do not use any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides on plants or in your garden.
  • Plant your garden with native and bee friendly plants. Lawns are bee deserts.
  • Provide water for bees by putting out a little water basin for the bees to drink from during the warm days of summer. Put a few stones and floating cork on the water so bees won’t drown.
  • Buy local and raw honey from your local beekeepers.
  • Educate yourself, your children, and your grandchildren about bees. The Pollinator Partnership is just one source of great information about bees and their importance to our world.

GratiTuesday: Whimsey on Wheels

My car is boring. It has the standard four wheels, hood and trunk, and interior with front and back seats. It is dark gray. Big whoop.

I saw my first Art Car many years ago in the parking lot of a local grocery store. I was on my way home from work and, since it was winter, it was getting pretty dark. In my hurry to get home, I might not have noticed the car except that it was all lit up – both inside and out. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera with me, so I wasn’t able to take a picture of the chassis-mounted Christmas confection.

Several months later I was thrilled to see the car again, parked on a frontage road. This time I had my phone, so I was able to snap a picture. It was daytime, so it didn’t have the same magical quality, but I was pleased to capture its wonderfulness nonetheless.

I’ve seen a few Art Cars since then and have discovered that they are an actual “thing”. A simple search on the googles results in tons of information, including amazing images, locations of Art Car parades, and instructions on how you (yes, you) can create your own Art Car.

Wikipedia defines an Art Car as: “a vehicle that has had its appearance modified as an act of personal artistic expression. Art Cars are often driven and owned by their creators, who are sometimes referred to as “Cartists”. Most car artists are ordinary people with no artistic training”.

Maybe many of these cartists have no formal artistic training, but they do have an abundance of creativity, a playful spirit, and the desire to share their masterpieces with others. This VW van, below, was on display at a local Tiki celebration weekend.

My latest Art Car encounter occurred just this past week. As I was out running errands, I saw this glorious vehicle out of the corner of my eye and had to stop. Not only was I able to see another of these cars up close, but I had the pleasure of meeting Jesus Garcia, the cartist, and all-around good guy. He was nice enough to spend about half an hour with me showing me his car and patiently answering all my questions (“Why did you decide to start decorating your car?” “What do you use as adhesive?” “What was the first object you placed on your car?” etc, etc, etc.).

A joy to behold!
Jesus Garcia, Cartist Extraordinaire.
Hard to miss coming at you in your rearview mirror.
The elk on the saw blade started it all.
How many creatures can you see?
The interior is as crazy as the exterior.

I will almost certainly continue to own conventional cars. Introverted me rather likes driving around without attracting much attention. I also try to avoid dings and scratches that mar the surface. On the other hand, I love that not everyone is just like me. I do so very much appreciate people who view their autos as very large blank slates begging to be decorated. I am grateful that they have the creativity and courage to pick up that first piece of whimsey and glue it to their car.

GratiTuesday: Buy Nothing Project

It’s a simple concept really, one that has been around forever: neighbors helping neighbors. Borrowing a cup of sugar, lending a tool, or handing down clothes your child has outgrown. Because of social media, this transfer of items – no longer needed by one person but wanted by others – can extend beyond a few houses on a single block.

I discovered the Buy Nothing Project through another local Facebook site and was immediately intrigued. As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, my husband and I have been focusing on getting rid of stuff. Most of our unwanted items are donated to our local charity shops or, sometimes, listed on eBay, but what about those items that don’t fit neatly in the Donate or Sell boxes? Things like half-used but perfectly good pads of paper, or partially used colored pencils, or three-ring binders that are no longer needed? Do we have to just throw them away? Despite our desire to get rid of clutter, we didn’t want to add to the landfill… especially if someone else could use them.

The Buy Nothing Project (buynothingproject.org) Mission Statement says it all:

We offer a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors.

How great is that?

Here are just some of the listings found recently on our local Buy Nothing Facebook page: gently used shoes, a bag of yarn, board games, succulent cuttings, wine corks, a need for a ride to the doctor, an offer of lemons from a backyard tree, some used-once but no longer wanted skin lotion, a baby seat. (By the way, that baby seat gift was followed up by a delightful gratitude post showing the new owner’s baby enjoying his gifted seat. After he is done with it, my guess is that the seat will be regifted to someone else.)

On the Buy Nothing Project About page, you can learn more about their vision and principles, and find a group near you to join. What if there isn’t already a group in your area? They also provide information about how you can set one up.

The Buy Nothing Project started in 2013, when two friends, Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, created an experimental hyper-local gift economy on Bainbridge Island, WA. I am grateful to them for having the vision and a shared belief in the kindness of others. Their little experiment in community giving has become a worldwide social movement, with groups in 20 nations.