Trick or Treat

Opal - October birthday for herAccording to history.com, the origins of Halloween are traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night of October 31st, before the beginning of their new year on November 1st. They believed that on the night before the new year the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and ghosts returned to earth. It was celebrated with huge bonfires, dressing in costumes and offering sacrifices. As Christianity spread throughout Celtic lands, the church gradually blended with and supplanted older Celtic rites with its own holy days. November 1 became All Souls Day – also called All-hallows – and the night before, formerly Samhain, came to be known as All-hallows Eve. The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

I know lots of people love Halloween but I’ve never been a big fan, even as a child. I liked dressing up in a costume but I didn’t really enjoy going door to door saying “trick or treat” and I didn’t like most of the “treats” that were handed out (never a big fan of junk candy either). I think the last time I went trick or treating I was around eleven and I didn’t wear a costume or carry a goodie bag – I was collecting money for UNICEF, which used to be a common thing to do on Halloween when I was a kid in the 1950’s. My Mom is an excellent seamstress and, aside from making all my clothes when I was a child, she made my Halloween costumes. I don’t remember all of them but one stands out in my memory – she turned me into a fancy colonial lady with a gown that Martha Washington would have been proud of and a “powdered” wig made of cotton balls. That beautiful dress had an encore performance when I was cast as the lead in my third grade class production of “The Laughing Princess”. Apparently I really hammed it up because the teacher told my parents that I had a “future on Broadway”! Alas, another road not taken.

By the time my son was “trick or treating” in the 1980’s I had developed a real dislike for Halloween. For one thing, there were lots of kids in our neighborhood so it cost a small fortune to buy enough bags of candy, which was a challenge for a single parent living paycheck to paycheck. Secondly, it seemed like most of the costumes were not creative or unique anymore and, the later the hour, the worse the costumes became because that’s when the teenage boys came out in scruffy clothes with dirt smeared on their faces. They didn’t even say “trick or treat”! They might as well have said “Give me my free candy”. I can remember saying on more than one occasion “What are you supposed to be?” and being told “A bum” and responding with “Oh, so just like every other day”. When I was a kid there was a sense of excitement and competition about who had the best costume and everybody’s Mom (and sometimes Dad) got involved in helping to create something unique.

One thing I do like about Halloween is the season in which it falls. I have always liked autumn, especially when I lived in New England. I loved taking a ride on country roads, enjoying the beautiful fall colors and stopping at a farm stand for fresh apples and cider. Here in Florida there isn’t much in the way of fall colors but, I manage to find them and I definitely enjoy the cooler temperatures and lower humidity that come with this time of the year. An added bonus is that the cooler weather here is not a harbinger of snow and ice – two things I don’t miss!

Liberty will do anything for a treat!

Liberty will do anything for a treat!

I promise lots of treats and no tricks at Lynda Linke Productions

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Stuff I Like- Part 4

Ocean dreaming 001An October morning at the beach!!

My tolerance for the heat and humidity of the summer months here in NE Florida has decreased over the past few years so I don’t go to the beach as much during those months as I used to but, the spring and fall are delightful. I especially love October and November and, during the years that I had a timeshare in St. Augustine Beach, I always went in late October/early November. The early mornings and nights are cool, the air during the day is warm but, not stifling, the sky is usually clear blue and there is almost always a pleasant breeze. Another bonus is that the beach is quiet in the fall because it is in between family vacation time and the arrival of the “snowbirds” so there are very few people around. I almost feel like the wide open space belongs to me. I live close to the beach, just a 10 minute drive, but my favorite beach is a few miles north of where I live and well worth the few extra minutes it takes to get there. Even the drive is a pleasure – an officially designated scenic highway that winds through a lush hammock, over an inlet, and offers beautiful unobstructed views of the ocean. A rare treat on the East coast.

I was waiting for a day with cooler temperatures and no rain in the forecast so I could put Liberty in the car and head for the beach and that day arrived this week. The timing was perfect because I had been feeling a little bit blue and I knew I needed to take what I call a “happiness action”. We got there and were walking along the shore well before 9 and it was a beautiful morning – I could feel my mood lift. Yes, I practice what I preach! I don’t wait for someone or something to make me happy – I find it for myself.

I have a 20′ retractable leash for Liberty that I only use when we go to the beach so she can run in and out of the ocean and chase the sandpipers. The first time I took her to the beach, just a couple of weeks after she came to live with me last April, she was afraid of the ocean. Every time a wave approached she ran the other way! I walked along the shore, where the water is shallow, and gently encouraged her to let the waves wash around her feet. Gradually, she realized the water could only reach as far as she allowed and that began the relationship she has with the ocean to this day – she loves to run in and out of the waves as they rush to the shore but she never lets them wash over her! It brings me great happiness to watch her play – her pure joy is contagious! She met a black Lab, who was also enjoying the ocean, and they ran around and leapt at each other for a few minutes while his owner and I laughed at their antics. She also met a nice little boy and an elderly man who stopped to greet her. Liberty is a social bridge for me and I often speak to people who I wouldn’t have met if I was alone. No wonder I refer to her as my “therapy dog”.

After our walk we enjoyed a drink and some snacks and then Liberty stretched out in the sand and watched the birds running along the shoreline and the people walking by. As I wrote in my journal, I kept pausing to gaze at the ocean and the blue sky and I thanked God over and over for such a beautiful day. All this beauty and happiness cost me nothing but the gas for my car! Makarios 🙂

We don’t make ourselves happy, but we can make choices that lead to happiness. ~Randy Alcorn

Fun in the ocean 10-15-15 beautiful morning at the beach 10-15-15

See more of my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions

More about happiness

Whole and Perfect-The Love HatIn my last post I was writing about expectations and how they can make you unhappy. As mentioned in that post, I recently read”Happiness is a Serious Problem“by Dennis Prager, which led me to do a lot of thinking about the concept of happiness; what it actually means and how to”get” it. For one thing, happiness is not a light weight or simple idea. Pleasure is not the same thing as happiness but in our contemporary culture they are usually confused with each other. I’ve known people who had plenty of money and every material possession they desired and they were often unhappy and I’ve known people who were poor or who had serious health issues (or both) and were happy.  The most important thing I have learned from my own experiences is that this elusive thing has to come from inside yourself – no one can give it to you. That is a statement that can easily be misinterpreted because we all immediately assume that our happiness is derived from things outside of ourselves – relationships, family, material possessions, money, success, approval, etc., that hold great importance to us. I’m not trying to say that those things aren’t enjoyable or pleasurable or don’t add to your happiness; I’m saying that if you’re trying to find happiness solely from external things it will be fleeting or will often seem to be just beyond your reach .

I wasn’t consciously aware of it but, I used to be a person who was always waiting to be happy. Surely, if a certain man loved me or if I lost weight or if I made more money or if my relationship with my son was better or if I won the lottery or if I lived somewhere else – then I’d be happy!  When I was younger my mother used to say I was a “cock-eyed optimist” or that I saw the world through “rose-colored glasses”. Those are nice ways of saying that someone doesn’t see things clearly and is not grounded in reality – in fact, is emotionally immature. I’m much happier now because I have the strength and maturity to deal with negativity when it confronts me instead of trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. The truth is, if you’re happy within yourself, you’ll enjoy all life’s blessings in a more fulfilling way but you’ll also be strong enough to weather life’s storms and keep your balance. It’s not always easy to find your happiness and holding onto it through all the challenges and sadness of life is an ongoing task. Thankfully, I do have a much better understanding of what need to be happy than I did as a younger person and, yes, –  wait for it – self-love was my biggest discovery because it led to everything else!

In past posts I’ve shared my thoughts about expectations, gratitude and humility, which I think are all elements of happiness. Forgiveness is something I didn’t recognize as an element of happiness until I read somewhere that it is more about you than the person you’re trying to forgive. I was awed and humbled by the forgiveness exhibited by some of the families of the victims of the shooting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston this summer and the Amish school in Pennsylvania a few years ago. Thankfully, I’ve never had to deal with anything like that and I honestly don’t know if I’d be able to forgive in that type of situation. I’m ashamed to admit that I have struggled to forgive in situations that were of much less significance. I know that forgiveness is a fundamental tenet of Christianity but, it can bring peace of mind and emotional well-being to anyone. If you harbor feelings of anger and hurt toward someone, who are you punishing? Even if you never again see someone who has wronged you, you’ll feel better if you forgive them for whatever they did and let go of those bad feelings. In the end, forgiveness is really about the type of person you want to be, how you want to think and feel.

I’m fascinated by the concept of human happiness. It is so much deeper and more nuanced than I realized. I just started reading “Happiness” by Randy Alcorn, a Christian pastor and author of more than 40 books, and I learned that the word for blessed in Greek, makarios, was used by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount and actually means to be happy or blissful but, it also means “a self-contained happiness”. I guess I’m on the right track.

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.  ~Agnes Repplier

 

 

Liberty finds her bliss

Liberty finds her bliss

 

Happiness can be found at Lynda Linke Productions  New Christmas cards are available now!

Christmas Eve