We tried something new this year. Instead of talking about what we were thankful for, we drew pictures and hung them on a branch. Talk about fun! We set up an "art station" in the living room with markers and index cards and while we chatted, we drew and colored. Our drawings ranged from stick figures to three dimensional recognizable people. Before we sat down to dinner, we hung the pictures up. I've posted some of them here. What I loved about this is that it creates a place where gratitude can be visible and that gratitude is different for everyone. Some researchers maintain that the feeling of gratitude and appreciation can light up areas of our brains in positive ways. Others say it is a way of increasing our positive feelings. I suspect that the more we focus on gratitude, the more we will have to be grateful for.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
|Kotzebue in October: The Chukchi Sea is on the left|
Here in Kotzebue, they tell me that the snow is late this year. It is so far west of Juneau that the light is different. We are in the same time zone so it is darker in the morning and stays lighter into the evening.
When I first saw the frozen Chukchi Sea from the wide road that faces the sea in Kotzebue, I couldn't quite take it in. How can a sea, the margin of the ocean, be frozen? But there it was, right in front of me. Ice that went on forever. People talk about feeling small in front of a mountain. I had never understood that feeling until I stood at the edge of the frozen sea, feeling small in the immensity of the sea ice. There is so much of it. And even though high school chemistry tells us that salt water can freeze, albeit at a lower temperature, it is still disturbing. Every fall, the ice covers the Chukchi Sea, sometimes up to 6 feet deep in places. Standing on the edge, I can see mountains far away to my right. To my left, the sea stretches into tomorrow.
Ice defines Alaska. It is white and sometimes blue and sometimes black. It is always cold and hard and, to my mind, unforgiving. In this picture below, the ice meets the sky and it all seems to be one. Soon people will be traveling on it. Where do you get your bearings when there is so much of it?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I felt good when I voted early this morning before going to work. It was still dark before 8am and big drops of rain pelted the street. The church where my polling place is was lit and inside, the familiar red and white striped curtains were hanging to give every voter the privacy to vote for candidates and propositions and judges. What a system we have! I knew almost all of the election workers, and when I signed in, I recognized about half of the names on the page. I was PK - that means "Personally Known." That is one of the virtues of living in a small town. I took my paper ballot and pulled back the stiff curtain and there, on the metal stand, was a pen to fill in the ovals. Once I had finished voting, I put my precious ballot in the cardstock cover that again guarantees my privacy. I brought it to the machine that sucks ballots into its locked box. One of the election workers handed me an “I Voted Today!” sticker and I could go back into the rain, quietly satisfied that I was doing the same thing as millions of other Americans, protected from those who might force or bribe me to vote a certain way. I don't take it for granted, knowing that women had to fight for the right to vote. I treasure every bit of it.