AtoZ Challenge P is for PRECIOUS

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FROM MY MEMORY BOX

PRECIOUS GEMSTONES
(A Tribute to my mother)

Precious gemstones, sparkling blue-green
Embedded in chiseled ivory
Shimmering reflections of the sea
Vibrant and alive; brave and defiant.

Gold sun flecks, intricate details
Dancing on the waves of life
Hidden secrets of tales untold
Projection of love’s warm, gentle kindness.

Behind the windows darkness lives
Barely a flicker of light-hope
Hear the sounds, smell the smells, hands touch,
If only the window could open wide.

The looking glass is just a blur
Where did that young woman go now?
Long dark tresses, smooth satin skin,
Life of the sea and sunlight in her eyes.

I am here, alive in the dark
Behind the windowpanes of green.
Living life with other senses
Sounds of the sea, warmth of the sun, love’s touch.

This dark place has not smothered me
I am strong and willing to live
My loved ones still have need of me
I direct their paths and provide comfort.

The will was there, but the time had come
A Valley to cross, the River so deep
A choir in need of a new voice
Not my will but Thine be done, I bid farewell.

The dark shades were now lifted
The Saving Grace within her sight
At His gates, she marveled.

AtoZ Challenge-NEVER a Dull Moment

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I remember those days when there was NEVER a dull moment in my life. Work, School, church, sports, birthdays, hospitals, friendships – drama at every turn. We spent our days running from one activity to the next, connecting and catching up in the car. No break during vacations either, they were usually jam-packed with pexels-photo-713149.jpegactivities as well. Trying to make the most of our time, how did we fit so much in a 24 hour period? Now I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

Now and then we’d call a timeout. The kids would sleep in, or they’d watch Saturday morning cartoons as they waited to have a leisurely breakfast with all the trimmings. Pancakes or French toast swimming in syrup or eggs and bacon with an Italian breadstick from the bakery in town, where my Dad had stopped before coming over for coffee. Usually, he managed to get it to us still warm from the oven. We’d use real butter and watch it melt on the bread right before our eyes. Just to remember it, my mouth waters.

In the summer we’d pack a picnic and head for the beach early enough to enjoy nature’s sights and sounds before the crowds lined the shore. We’d lay on our blankets soothed by the surf, the birds, and the ocean breeze. Later we would head to the boardwalk for a stroll, some fried dough and try our hand at the arcade games. The most challenging part was choosing a prize with that would equal the number of tickets we had won. At the end of the day were ready to start the week all over again.

It seemed like this was the natural order of things, but I think when we are in the middle of living like that, we forget to pause. I don’t remember the exact moment that I decided to do things differently but somewhere along the way I told myself it couldn’t continue. I was burning the candle at both ends as they say and burning out my kids as well. Years later I read the book The Four Agreements by Dr. Miguel Ruiz, and it validated all my decisions and choices. There was nothing magical about it. There was nothing in that book that I hadn’t heard before, but because it was able to put into words what I had been thinking, I felt enlightened. For a while, after I read it, I was giving that book away to family, friends, and co-workers – anyone who I felt needed to take another look at life.

I still keep those “Agreements” with myself. It is my understanding that in life there is NEVER a dull moment. I believe every moment is special whether they are quiet and peaceful or full of drama and pain. I had a friend who would always remind me “It is what it is.” I agree, but it’s up to us to take whatever “it” is and make the moments count. We fine-tune our skills with each experience and put it towards a rewarding life. We learn to listen to our internal voice and realize that when things are getting out of hand, we need to take care of ourselves first. It’s not selfish, its practical, its common sense. To be there for others, we need to be oK.

Does it make sense?

AtoZ Challenge- MOTHER of an Adult Child

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In my mind, M will always be for MOTHER and the many ways she made our life special. How many cards with acrostic poems did I draw or buy for her birthday or Mother’s Day through the years of her abbreviated life? Today’s poem is not for her but of what I learned and have passed on…

Dirty coffee cup on the counter—again.
Forgot to rinse—again.coffee cup in hand
A sigh escapes me
And like a gentle whirlwind,
Takes me down the path
So often traveled, once again.

Sweet memories at every turn
Prickly thorns around the bend,

A bump in the road
Puddles of tears,
Sunshine after the rain.

Wasn’t it you, so tiny
Who laid in my arms?
Crumpled, wrinkled, helpless
I sobbed, as you wailed.
Did the eyes of our souls look ahead?

Now we stand at a crossroad,
And as I fasten your wings,
I ask. . .
Did I teach you enough?
Did you learn your lessons well?
Only time will tell.

 

AtoZ Challenge- K is for …

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So many choices today! Lots of fun K words that I can play with. K is for Kardashians is one story that I won’t address because it would prompt me to create a sarcastic, judgmental blog. Sorry, there is something about DIY royals that makes me want to shut off the TV. Their only claim to fame is money, outrageous behavior and in some cases, good looks. How people eat that up, I’ll never understand.

I was not a fan of the Free Willy movies either, but I could talk about those elegant black and white giants gracefully dancing in the open sea with a Tchaikovsky ballet playing in the background. However, I don’t like to think about when they get hungry and stop frolicking to grab a snack of penguin or baby seal. There is a reason they nicknamed Orcas “KILLER Whales.”

I prefer to tell you stories of when a group of us got together every Thursday for KARAOKE. Only about 3 of our friends really stepped up to the mike to pour their hearts out each week to remember the songs that helped them transition to adulthood. I’m more of a wind-beneath-your -wings kind of a person so that every now and then I would sing “back-up” for one of our soloists. As stories go, a younger generation started coming around wanting to join in on the good times. They complained however that the DJ only played old songs. Someone with a different sound soon replaced him, and we moved on. Another club, another DJ but the energy dwindled. We moved on to other things, but I was fun while it lasted. We still remember those days with fondness.

What about KARMA? This idea that has become part of our “everyday vernacular” as my English teacher would say. It’s a religious belief that our actions determine our future state – in this life or the next. People like to say “KARMA is a B*+*% “ but don’t really know why. Every day we see those bad things happen to good people and vice versa. I remember when things were not going well at work I would tell my colleagues, “I can feel my KARMA fraying around the edges. We need to figure this out because I’m not going anywhere with frazzled Karma! “. Totally inappropriate use and yet they understood. Go figure.

KARMA brings me to K is for KINDNESS. Another favorite truism of mine is some variation of “be kind to everyone you meet for the other person may be fighting a battle you know nothing of.” A universal truth is that no one knows what is going on in our heads or our hearts – except ourselves. To paraphrase Dr. Miguel Ruiz’s Toltec Wisdom, each one of us is the star of our own movie, and we struggle to act our parts the best we can. I have worked and personally know many people who put on a mask to hide the pain of their struggle or fears. I’m one of those that believes that no one enjoys being miserable there is usually an underlying stressor. I recognize that I can’t save the world but one act of kindness one person at a time goes a long way. I have witnessed that.

I know I am a shameless dreamer and do-gooder, like KERMIT the Frog – which also happens to start with K.

What are your thoughts about KARMA and KINDNESS?

AtoZ Challenge – JOURNEY

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“Life is about the JOURNEY, not the destination.” I consider this quote one of my favorite expressions which continually renews the way I look at life. Whenever I’m with someone who is planning a wedding or a great vacation, I always remind them to enjoy everything leading up to the big event because it’s all over so quickly. People today spend countless hours and dollars planning for that special day, but then they are too busy or tired to enjoy it. I love to look at old photos of fun times, but I also warn people about trying to capture too many moments with the phone, you may be missing the opportunity for adventure or special moments that you can’t rewind. Laugh about the stressors and mishaps for someday they’ll be great stories to tell the grandchildren or reminders for yourself before you put your head down to sleep.

I often remember people that I’ve met on my JOURNEY and I acknowledge that whether it was for a moment or a season, a blessing or a lesson; those who’ve crossed my path have touched my life and added a bit to who I am today. One friend was especially attentive to enjoy the JOURNEY and life’s offerings. “Why stress about where it’s going tomorrow if it’s wonderful now?” Over the years, I’ve come to understand the importance and adapt that philosophy to my life and my JOURNEY.

To give proper credit, I went searching for the author of the quote that has become such a part of our everyday language (and of course memes). I found that Ralph Waldo Emerson is often credited with “Life is a journey, not a destination” but in fact, several ministers and Bible teachers of the time used similar language in journals or teachings. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/08/31/life-journey/

It makes sense to me that such a quote would also have religious connotations. I’m glad some preachers and teachers have tried to redirect their communities. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you may have guessed that my JOURNEY has been via a road with twists and turns. For part of my life, I was teaching that the most important thing in life was the final destination on the other side of those Pearly Gates. For that, I’ve apologized.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped to take a break and look around me. I noticed that some people were too focused getting to the Promised Land, the mansions, walking on the Streets of Gold that they lost the purpose of their JOURNEY and forgot the words of Jesus Christ. “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me in. I needed clothes, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you looked after me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me.” … ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’Matthew 25:35-40.

After a while, I took up my satchel and changed direction –  same JOURNEY, different route. Rather than waiting to see all the wonders “over yonder,” I’ve decided to enjoy JOURNEY, and make the most of the blessings in my simple life.

A to Z challenge – INTENTIONS

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I started blogging again past the ides of March 2018. Inspired by a page I was following, a few days later I signed up for the A to Z challenge for April 2018. I was ready to go. As things go, I started five days after everyone else. No big deal. I’ll post twice a day until I catch up. Well, that didn’t work out and alas all my good INTENTIONS have left me feeling frustrated but not quite discouraged.

I’m not going to lie; I was ready to say OK, maybe this daily blogging is not for me. I put too much pressure on myself, and it stops being fun. I want to be creative, thoughtful and if a post calls for it, I want to be accurate. It feels lifeless, mechanical and automated. I went back to my Reader to find a wonderful post I read a few days ago in which I saw myself. The writer described her process, and I recognized it was how I’ve been operating all these years – Binge Writing. Something or someone will trigger my imagination which makes the sparks fly, and I’m out the gate writing every chance I get. I’ll make notes any time of day on my phone, on the back of an envelope, store receipt, etc. and stitch it all together to make a story. I’ll go at it for a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months but then I seem to hibernate. I am keeping this blog entry for future INSPIRATION.  https://brevity.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/staying-out-of-the-headlights-on-finding-my-own-writing-process/

I was about to try something different and throw in the towel for the A to Z challenge when I remembered that this blog was about ME. I took on the challenge with the honest INTENTIONS to get myself back in the habit of writing- period. Yes, was hoping that after 26 days, a natural part of my daily routine will be for me to get on my computer to write – after I walk the dog and have my tea with mini protein cakes. My apologies to the bloggers in the community that have diligently kept up with the challenge as described in the instructions but I’ve decided then that I will take a detour and resume my challenge for the rest of the month with the ninth letter corresponding to April 9th – I.

Onward to J!

Five Minutes of Fame

Every two weeks in the city where I live, a small group of bloggers and affiliates meets at a locally owned coffee shop to chat, troubleshoot, or share tips and ideas. I had been blogging somewhat consistently for a couple of weeks and wanting to keep the momentum; I finally made it to a meeting. As luck would have it, a journalist from a local news outlet had just surprised the group facilitator to do a story about Blogging and was asking to interview a few group members – today.

In one serendipitous moment, I found myself as one of only two bloggers to show up for the meeting today. I agreed to interview as an honest to goodness “blogger” with about ten posts under my belt and a page in the middle of reconstruction. The interview went well considering it was spur-of-the-moment. I was surprised at how relaxed I felt as I enthusiastically spoke of my “Self Censored” page for my five minutes of fame.

I watched the segment air this morning which caused cobwebs and dust to blow around those corners of my mind. I remember watching myself after another interview in what seems to be another lifetime. My dark brown hair was blown dry in a smooth shoulder length bob with professional, understated makeup. The dark gray skirt suit that I wore to important meetings was freshly out of the cleaners, and I wore a royal blue sweater because everyone still tells me that is definitely my color. I was to talk about a new independent living housing program for our clients and a family group which would help everyone with the transition. I had practiced and had index cards, and yet I froze. If not for my co-worker’s help, I would have been completely lost – what a disaster I thought. Whose idea was this anyway?

Today as I watched myself, I chuckled. I looked so comfortable in my own skin. My hair is short, gray and wild. My clothes were not pressed or laid out from the day before; plus my voice was still hoarse from a recent bout of laryngitis. I wasn’t prepared for the TV that day; I was flying by the seat of my pants, and yet I wasn’t afraid.

All is not perfect. My GPS doesn’t work very well, and the road is still crooked with plenty of bumps and ridges. I am content in my journey though, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s around the bend. I think my younger self would be proud and relieved.

How would you answer the age-old question? What would you say to your younger self?

AtoZ Challenge – oh, BEHAVE

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Here I sit on my second day at the challenge. I realize other members have very clear goals for their themes, but because I was living in the moment, I jumped in without thinking it through. So far I’ve started to think about the next theme B, as soon as I posted the first letter A – ABOUT. This morning I started to write about BEING: Existence. In keeping with my mantra of keeping it simple, I chose the definitions from Oxford Dictionaries. These include being alive, living and my favorite – the nature or essence of a person. This “essence” is really who we are; it’s the spark, it’s what makes us act the way we do depending on the circumstance. It’s what stirs inside when we are excited and hopeful or feels like a lead brick in our stomach when we get bad news.

I was just getting warmed up on this topic, or maybe I saw it was eventually heading towards that other B-word – Boring when a thought crossed my mind “Oh behave!”. It was Austen Powers in my head. True, I didn’t want to get all deep and philosophical about my existence. Getting all straight-laced, proper and preachy is easy. I decided instead to switch topic because as the oldest child, it seemed that “oh behave!” was all I heard from my mom.

I suppose she thought my being alive had a particular purpose. She reminded me to be a good girl, to get good grades, to stop whining or being mouthy or whatever because I needed to be an example for my younger siblings. To be fair, it certainly wasn’t the only thing I heard, my mom was pretty cool, and because I loved her, when I was home, I behaved, the way she wanted for her higher purpose.

Now and then I needed to take off my nerd hat and shake out my uncontrollable hair. Not that I was a wild thing or at least I never really thought myself in that way, but the other day in my memorabilia box I found a note. The note is probably 50 years old. It was from one of my best friends in high school, and it appears that she passed it to me when we crossed in the hallway during a change of class. In her note, she said she had to talk to me in person about something urgent. To which she added,” I know you’ll understand, I’ve seen your crazy side, I don’t think many people have, but I know ….”. I’m not one of those people who need a little “something, something” to get the party started but she was a quiet and serious girl; any number of fun things may have felt crazy to her. We loosely stay in touch through social media now, but I didn’t contact her to see if she remembered what that was all about.  I wonder if she’s learned to get “crazy”.

I am fully aware that I still I have a “crazy side.” I have great fun with friends and family, but mostly I keep it contained until I’m with my granddaughters or my grand nieces and nephews. Sometimes I hear “oh behave, Mom!” from behind my daughter’s stern grin. I enjoy the payback though. It doesn’t take much; a silly walk, a funny face or changing the words to a favorite song as you are singing as loud as you can. I love when we all get to that place where our bellies ache from laughing.

Enjoying those moments is the essence of my being, of my existence. When I’m feeling out of sorts and not very jolly, I seek out chances to laugh or even scavenge for some giggles. I try not to let the well run dry because that’s how I manage to keep it together. These are the memories that I summon up when I need enough energy to climb uphill or swim against the current.

How do you do it? What is the essence of you?