Found these tips today thought they can be of use to someone. This day an age it’s good to be aware of these things.
I heard the broadcasts this morning, “It’s been seventeen years.” Each year as September 11 approaches we are called to remember the day when the unthinkable happened. We will remember exactly where we were and what we were doing the moment we first heard the news that our great and powerful nation was attacked on our soil. That day in New York City there were no Republicans, no Democrats, no white, black, brown, yellow, or purple. There were Americans fighting to survive together. We are called to remember as one nation “indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” Let us remember, let us never forget that all that we hold so dear can be gone in the blink of an eye.
For the first responders and families who lost a loved one, the remembrance has been 17 years. Each day they wake up without a mom or a dad, son, brother, sister, wife. They may wake up with a scar, an illness from the fallen debris or ash-filled air. All I have left is to pray for their continued peace and strength as I promise never to forget and tell the stories to the next generation.
Let us not forget, let us not take our freedoms for granted. We are not perfect as a nation, but it is possible to make it work.
Just Friends, For all Time
Alondra Elena Delopas sat on a swivel chair in her lanai listening to the rain as the winds picked up and thunder clapped in the distance. Baby Girl lay with her legs sprawled but her nose pressed against the screen. She struggled to see what was moving in the conservation land that bordered the small condo-villa community where they lived. If Baby Girl saw something coming closer, she jumped and whimpered excitedly thinking she would get a chance to run out to chase after it.
Can’t Turn Back Time
Alondra or “Lonnie,” as close friends and family called her, was having a rough week. Today, clients canceled the only two appointments she had scheduled. They didn’t want to look at houses in a storm; maybe they just weren’t ready. It’s happened before. She usually found listening to the rain soothing, but today, the stormy tropical weather didn’t help her mood. She felt tired, cold and lonely. She went back inside to read but couldn’t wrap her head around on another “kick your business into high gear” self-help book. She turned to the mindlessness of surfing the net on her phone where she found the same stories, memes, and jokes all over again.
One story caught her eye. It was another of those stories where old friends from high school find each other and decide to spend the rest of their days making up for lost time. All of it made possible through the magic of social media. The funny thing is that she recently had been thinking about her friend Bobby from high school. They had been in school together since seventh grade. She’d adored him during high school and college but never in a romantic way. Outside of school, they were part of the same social group from church, and they worked at the same summer jobs. Bobby and Lonnie enjoyed a lot of the same things, and she liked hanging out with him. He was smart, witty, and amusing; they could talk for hours even when everyone else had gone. Bobby had introduced Lonnie to her boyfriend Harry, and he started dating Bernice.
Many years later a co-worker told her that it was impossible for men and woman to be “just friends.” She had started to argue the point by bringing up her friendship with Bobby, but before she opened her mouth, saw a memory flash before her. It was a crisp autumn day in Upstate New York when Bobby’s parents invited her to drive with them when he returned to the State College after the break.
Trip Back to School
It was a two-hour ride, and his parents had made plans to stop at their friend’s house for lunch along the way. Afterward, while they waited for his parents to finish their visit, Bobby and Lonnie went for a walk in the wooded land behind the house. They chatted talked and laughed like so many times before, but in some way, Alondra sensed that it was not a day like every other. At times she could be intuitive and sensitive to subtle changes in her surroundings. There seemed to be something in the air made her feel obligated to comment that it was too bad that Bernice could not come along. She believed Bernice would have enjoyed the beautiful landscape dressed for the fall. Bobby quietly agreed, and they walked on.
They stopped on a small wooden bridge as they crossed over the swollen creek. A burst of cold air made Alondra regret that she had left her jacket back at the house. Bobby stepped closer and put his arm timidly around her shoulder. She felt his face so close to hers, and then as he gently turned her toward him, she felt his soft lips lightly brush hers. Her immediate impulse was to push him away. “What are you doing?” she reprimanded. The hurt in his loving eyes pierced her heart, and she took his face in her hands and looked tenderly into his gentle mismatched eyes, one blue, and one hazel. She told him she was crazy about him, how could she not; he was her dearest friend, but they couldn’t do this to Bernice. Bobby nodded in agreement, and they started to walk back to the house in silence.
Awkward quiet moments always made Alondra respond with humor. She elbowed Bobby in the ribs now and said jokingly that the bridge must have been bewitched because she had felt something strange too. He sheepishly chuckled and added that without a doubt the setting was perfect for a romantic moment. “What were we thinking? “ They said in unison, which caused them to laugh again and end the uncomfortable moment. When they got back, his parents were ready to continue the trip. At his dorm, they said their goodbyes as old friends do. They promised to stay in touch and would see each other when he got back at his next school break. And so it was until she left the state. Their friendship survived.
That’s What Friends are For
Alondra never told Bobby of her conversation with Bernice several weeks prior. Bernice told Alondra that she was feeling insecure about her relationship with Bobby. She confessed that she wondered if Bobby, by spending so much time alone with Lonnie was feeling an attraction beyond friendship. “You know, you are cute, petite and always dressed nice. Maybe…” the words were left hanging in the air. Alondra looked at her friend as if with disbelief. First of all, Alondra considered herself too short and was often frustrated with her thick and wavy brown hair. Although she filled her clothes in all the right places, they were just hand-me-downs from her older cousin which she had adapted with accessories and trims from the five and dime so that they looked more age appropriate.
Bernice had powder blue eyes and baby fine blond hair that she always wore straight down as was the norm among their group. She was tall and lanky; sometimes it seemed that she was still getting used to her young-adult body. Alondra found the whole idea absurd and pooh-poohed Bernice’s fears. Although she and Bobby never spoke of such things, Alondra reassured Bernice that Bobby loved her; that he was just a supportive friend who didn’t want Lonnie to deal with her recent break-up alone.
On her way home from State College with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Alondra played that conversation over in her head. She didn’t see it coming but did Bernice know anything before. The incident was never spoken of again by anyone.
Not that Person
Alondra didn’t know if it was the rough week that just past combined with the dreary, stormy weather that made her feel vulnerable enough to want to reach out to her old friend. She had to admit that after that day in the woods, the “what if” would haunt her now and then. Lonnie got a cup of tea and found herself searching Facebook profiles for Robert James Smith from Brooklyn, NY. She quickly became overwhelmed by the number of profiles with the same name all over the world. She scolded herself and gave up the search. “This is ridiculous. I will not be that person.”
Alondra Elena Delopas was not one to let a life lesson slip by. Her life experiences had taught her that. She remembered from somewhere a suggestion that moments stay in our memories so that we could retrieve their message when we need them. She was sure these vivid memories of her friendship with Bobby came back to her so vividly for a reason now. Maybe, she thought, it was merely to confirm that Karma is a b!+@h. “Hum,” she thought. “so this is what it feels like?”
Another verifiable cliché
Indeed the story seems familiar, almost too fresh in her memory. It seemed played out in reverse with older actors. As she considered the analogy, she realized that her friend Nan was right when she paraphrased Gabriel Garcia Marquez. “Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have to give.” Remembering her platonic love for Bobby helped her understand what confused her for years. Remembering her relationship with Bobby was the missing piece of the puzzle. As she accepted this truth, she let go of the pain and hurt. She became aware that there was nothing to forgive. At that moment, she chose to remember the good times, the adventures, even the caring and affection.
Alondra Elena Delopas realized that she had been more fortunate than most. Love is meant to be shared, offered expecting nothing in return. She had shared something special and given her love more than once. Each time in a different way, with a different purpose and intensity but authentic, it was a true love. No one could say differently.
She added another verifiable cliché to her list: “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. “
A couple of years later she felt that restlessness to try to find Bobby again. For the sake of their friendship, she wanted to connect to see how his life had turned out. She found him and wrote a letter that she never sent.
Read it at this link from a previous post. https://rosalind.life/2018/05/28/the-letter-i-never-wrote/
Oh coffee, dear coffee
Friday RDP: Coffee
I like to say I’m a social drinker when it comes to coffee. My favorite is espresso, and I have such weakness for its aroma. The taste must not be bitter or harsh as it goes down the throat and lands warm in one’s belly. It’s not unlike a fine brandy that goes down smooth and velvety but then can burn a hole in your stomach when
it hits bottom.
Lately, tea sits better in my stomach. Black English tea with oatmeal cakes for breakfast is part of my morning ritual and green tea infused with fruits for during the day. Sometimes, an herbal tea gets me through the night. When I’m visiting with a coffee drinker, however, I can’t resist the smell, the heavenly fragrance of a good cup of coffee; the intoxicating aroma of espresso does make me a bit tipsy, and I struggle with the temptation knowing I will regret it later.
Although you can get a great coffee smell and of course good coffee from the single cup pods, I prefer an authentic espresso maker. To be clear, I’m not talking about the big digitalized models that take up half one’s counter space; I’m speaking of a small pot on the stove top. It brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. I’ve concluded, that the secret to both good tea and coffee is in the boiling water – a hot running boil. Sometimes if I’m feeling really daring, I will have my espresso with milk, steamed and made foamy with a handheld frother. I know I’m going to lie awake thinking about it tonight, then I can say “ I couldn’t sleep last night because of the coffee.”
Seriously though, besides the physical pleasure from the coffee, I also have an emotional attachment. I don’t have to taste the coffee to feel I’m at my mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen table feeling safe and loved. When we were young, we would have a cup of hot milk with a couple of drops of coffee. We felt so grown up when we were able to participate in having a “café con leche” with the elders.
Many years later when I lived alone in an apartment building in an old mill city in New England, there lived an older gentleman at the end of the hall near the exit door. Every morning as I set out to go to work, I would be assaulted with the smell of freshly brewed espresso. I knew he was making it like my grandmother and I was often tempted to knock on the door and invite myself in. He didn’t seem like a friendly fellow; I wonder what would have happened if we were to share a cup of coffee and a piece of warm homemade bread with real butter. What stories would he have to tell? What stories would we have in common?
What’s your relationship with coffee? Is it just a way to make it through the day? Does the smell of coffee connect you with a memory of a loved one? An old friend perhaps?
My first week at #RagTag Daily Prompt. #coffee
This was fun! Is the format OK? Not sure about pingbacks.
Just Do It! Dream Crazy.
Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt
A few months ago I wrote a post about Freedom of Speech which included Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee and of course a section on Collin Kaepernick. In light of Nike choosing to work with Kaepernick for their 30th-anniversary campaign, and people burning their sneakers or cutting up their clothes, I felt the need to speak my mind about the way I see it – well because that’s what I do. You’ve been warned! (previously mentioned post can be found at the end of this one)
How much “sacrifice” is enough?
Let me start by saying that I support our Military and veterans. I believe our veterans and their families make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Not just freedom for a handful of power-hungry individuals, for but for all Americans. I will add that it’s a shame that the money generated by owners of professional sports franchises and professional athletes themselves is obscene compared to what “benefits” our active duty military and veterans get. I believe that one does not “honor” our country, our Republic by honoring a piece of cloth waving on a stick. We honor our country by honoring its people – all of our people, all the colors, shapes, sizes and abilities. The dreams of our people have made us a great nation. We celebrate strength and persistence in our people. I believe that is the message of the Nike campaign.
Let me follow that by saying, just to be clear; I do not purchase Nike products. Not now, or as long as I can remember. They don’t suit me. The shoes are too confining, the shirts and pants geared to more athletic types, which I am not. It’s a personal choice to be comfortable especially when I’m paying my hard earned money for a product.
Having said that, I have to admit that Nike has excellent marketing and a catchy slogan. I’ve used it myself when I’ve been obsessing about something I want to take on; for example, a new job, a major move to a new city or merely to get back on the treadmill and be more mindful of my food choices. Usually, it happens that after weighing all the pros and cons, sleeping on it, consulting each and every one of my friends and family, I get up one morning and after I’ve brushed my teeth, I stare at the mirror and say sternly to myself “JUST DO IT!” Suddenly I’m all pumped up and feel strong and confident like an Olympic athlete. Actually, that’s how I started blogging one day.
I want to share the full commercial that Nike is putting out as part of this controversial campaign. I find it pretty neat. It’s bigger than Collin Kaepernick, and it’s bigger than DJT. https://youtu.be/Fq2CvmgoO7I
Over the past couple of days, the networks and all kinds of social and news media have had lots to say. One of the first conversations I heard was that people took offense to the slogan that suggests that Kaepernick lost everything, but they contend, that Kaepernick had nothing to lose. I don’t know much about the game; the sports reports indicate that he was a second-rate quarterback that had one good season and then was underperforming each year after that. That may be true, but I think sitting on a bench and getting an NFL paycheck is better than being without a job or sponsors even if you did walk away with one-third of your original signed contract. ( ALL these sports guys get paid way too much anyway, but that’s another story.)
I also want to make clear that I am not a football fan, never have been – except maybe in high school because I was crushing on a couple of football players, but the charm wore off quickly as I realized I had more in common with the philosophers and artists. The sport doesn’t hold my interest long enough to understand why all these guys run and pile on each other over and over again. People have tried to explain it but – well let me be frank, I’m just not into it.
I give Kaepernick credit for feeling so strongly about something that he was willing to risk the dream he had worked for since the fourth grade. Maybe he just decided there was something better to wish for, like equality and justice for all. 2016 was a terrible year for high profile police shootings of unarmed African American men. I went back to look at the disturbing footage before I wrote this piece but I will not engage in rehashing the past. I will say that based on my experiences, I can appreciate the fear, the pain and the rage at the loss of life in an undeserving way.
What is the issue?
The other opinion I will share is that I believe the situation became toxic once DJT decided to make it an issue. I watched his “get that SOB off the bench, he’s fired! ” speech in Alabama in 2017 in which he also complained that the game was losing popularity because when the players hit too hard, they get a penalty. When the not so subtle hints didn’t work, he started putting more pressure on the team owners because as he said, “…It will happen…most of them are friends of mine”.
Before NFL team owners started getting pressure from the Administration to discipline, fire or get “control” of their players, it seemed that each team addressed the issue and the players’ right to “free speech” was respected. It was obvious to most that players were not disrespecting the veterans, the military, the country or the flag. They still “worked,” paid their taxes, and obeyed the laws of this country. Some commentators say the uproar over “taking a knee” would have eventually died down. Of course, that didn’t happen. The team owners felt obligated to play the other game and drew up rules to appease the rhetoric. Essentially they said, we don’t care, what you do, just do it where the public doesn’t see you.
Let’s not forget after all, that there are groups that do not salute the flag, for example, the Jehovah’s Witness or the AnaBaptist like the Amish or Mennonite groups.
Jehovah’s Witnesses intend no disrespect for any government or its rulers by a refusal to salute the flag. It is just that they will not, in an act of worship, bow down to or salute an image representing the State. They view it as similar to the stand taken in Bible times by three young Hebrew men who refused to bow down before the statue raised up on the plain of Dura by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel, chapter 3) – From Watchtower Online
“The flag is fine, but we’re the only nation that worships the flag. It’s very heathen. The kingdom we live in, we pledge our allegiance to God, not the flag.” – quote from the PBS film “The Amish.”
All this research today, trying to get to the bottom of this leaves me with questions instead of an answer. If Collin Kaepernick said was on a jet plane, and God spoke to him and told him to kneel before the flag instead of pledging, would it be OK? If it were Tom Brady, the number one quarterback in America, and who decided to take a knee to protest something that he felt strongly about would it be an issue. Maybe a better comparison would be Tim Tebow as another controversial figure and a mediocre quarterback who brought his personal beliefs on the field each time? Is it really just a racial issue? Was it more about saying “there is no problem here.” Does Nike really aspire to inspire to unite?
Primaries are done here in Florida, and my two favorite candidates did not move on to November’s general elections. I suspected as much, but I was hoping that others would get on board after they got to know them and saw how hard they were working. Don’t get me wrong, we had many qualified candidates running for various seats, but these two guys gave me a good feeling. They were in it, heart and soul; no frills, no deals –just hard work.
I am pretty passionate about politics, not necessarily politicizing all current events or as in nonstop mud-slinging campaigns, but I am a firm believer that every vote does count. I often hear people say they don’t vote because they don’t believe in the process or politicians are all crooks. It is sad that people don’t care enough to do the research or look beyond the headlines. In some cases, it’s getting past the smoke and mirrors to see behind the Wizard’s curtain as Dorothy did the Land of Oz. It irritates me when the same people are the first to complain about the schools, roads, and the water pollution for example. I have known a few politicians personally who sincerely got decided to get involved in politics for the love of their communities. These individuals stepped into the arena believing one voice; one vote could make a difference. We have seen it in recent history in Congress and the Senate and elections around the country.
I can speak most about the man who was running for a congressional seat in my district in this recent election. He lives in my city. I didn’t know him before, but I saw firsthand how he managed the campaign, but more importantly, how he handled himself, and I was moved to support him. Let’s call him Fred.
Fred is an educated professional, a trained social worker, and an executive director of a large healthcare facility. If I were to guess, I’d say he’s in his early forties and looks fine in his campaign photos. Fred is an unassuming family man who moved to Florida about 20 years ago from the Midwest, looking for a better life for his family with the chance to enjoy a variety of outdoor sports. He and his family have been active in a local church and through the years have been involved in a variety of volunteer projects like Habitat for Humanity.
Fred decided to get into politics after sitting with families in financial crisis due to medical bills while dealing with terminal illness and end of life realities. Before the big news about toxic algae and intensified red tide blooms, he was concerned about the ecological changes to Florida’s natural resources and talk in Washington about eliminating Environmental Protection Agency safeguards. In short, Fred decided to enter politics because he wanted to be a voice, an agent for change. He had no interested in becoming a “career politician,” he wanted to get in get things done and get back to his family and his career, his life’s mission of helping the less fortunate.
During the campaign, Fred worked hard. His was a barebones, grassroots effort. He took pride in not taking any money from donors with big pockets who would later come knocking on his door for favors. For the most part, he supported his campaign from his own finances. He rolled up his sleeves to make signs, and tee shirts. He traveled around his district knocking on doors and holding town meetings to hear the concerns of his constituents. So why would a nice, qualified guy like Fred not make it past the primaries? The answer is complicated.
As I said at the beginning of this post, both primary candidates were well qualified but this is the Twenty-first Century, and it takes a bit more than good old blood, sweat, and tears to win an election. His opponent, let’s call him Doug, decided to run shortly after newly elected officials began their term in 2017. Doug then had a six-month head start to get his team together and get his name out there to begin networking and making connections for fundraising efforts. Doug’s training was in administration and finances. He had his own company and was skilled in marketing and selling his agenda in social circles. He had a more integrated web presence including a well-organized and attractive web page. These things are critical in today’s elections because our society has become reliant on social media for answers and information.
Doug will need more funds for an intense media campaign to include TV and print ads as he looks toward the general election in November. His opponent is the incumbent and has personal resources as well as the backing of the NRA and ultra-conservative Political Action Committees which can represent business, labor and a variety of special interests. This brings me to why I am in favor of campaign reform, especially when it comes to fundraising efforts.
We have seen time and again good candidates, backed by well-meaning grassroots operations, unable to move forward due to insufficient funds. We have seen special interest groups pour money into campaigns in order to cash in on favors that will benefit a specific group by way of policy changes or government spending. In 2010 the US Supreme Court ruled that political donations and spending is a form of promoting free speech protected under the First Amendment. Since then the Federal Election Commission, which regulates campaign money, has repeatedly asked Congress to amend the law. If you follow politics, you will notice how much of what can be called “dirty politics” is protected under this law.
I think we need to get back to protecting the rights of our citizens so that anyone who has the ability and the passion can run for office and succeed. In the meantime, I will back the candidates that support my beliefs. I don’t believe in extremes of black and white. I think reality is mostly shades of gray. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I believe that the United States of America is a great country. I believe that the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had the foresight to know that the future would change their reality but the upcoming generations would be entitled to the same “unalienable rights.”
With that in mind, I intend to volunteer for the candidates of my choice to represent me. I will continue to encourage everyone to make informed decisions, to look beyond the headlines. Please don’t pass on misinformation just because the heading caught your eye. If something sounds outrageous, go beyond the headlines, look it up in different sites or publications. Mostly I challenge people to cross over and listen respectfully with an open mind to what “the other side” has to say. Not trolling for argument’s sake, but to really understand. You’ll find that the average person on either side wants similar basic things. Don’t buy into the fear and hysteria LOOK It Up and then share what you’ve learned.
And there you have it my friend, my political spiel. On to November!
Happiness Is Like a Butterfly
After another WP workshop to improve my writing, I am going back to some of my favorite posts and reworking them a little. I don’t think this one is done yet. Any thoughts on the subject?
Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. Author unknown, printed in “The Literary American,” 1848. (Credit- Quote Investigator)
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
I have difficulty finding a favorite quote to share because I have many. I store bits wisdom from a variety of people and sources. First and foremost I often quote my parents and grandparents, especially to my younger generation. Its the Wisdom of the Elders.
Through the years I’ve memorized quotes from the Bible and preachers; from educators and authors – even quotes from “the mouth of babes.” As we know kids say the truth no one else dares to.
These quotes and special thoughts are put away in seemingly random places in my mind, but they are usually available when I need them. I often sprinkle them…
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Photographer outs herself as anonymous donor of millions to female artists
Each Day the Sun Rises
Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. Virginia Satir http://www.brainyquote.com
The ocean’s waves came up, splashed around her and sprayed her face as she sat there waiting. She smiled. It was a good omen, she thought, like when the Priest comes around sprinkling everyone with Holy Water. Luella Delsapo came out for a walk early this morning, the beach town just starting to stir, the tide was out and the morning was gray. The sand, full of tiny holes and bubbles was cold and damp under her feet. She didn’t care that the rocks were still wet as she took a seat to gaze at the horizon. It was chilly for summer, and she was glad she brought a shawl. She sipped tea from her travel mug and took a deep breath. The salty air of a brand new day filled her lungs, and she breathed again deeper into her belly. She tried to relax.
Luella liked watching the sunset and closing the day with a colorful display, but she loved the sunrise. There was something promising about imagining a Higher Power slowly pulling up the shades to let the sunlight fill the day and bring us out of the darkness. Compared to sunsets, the morning colors seemed softer, gentler to her as the lavenders and pinks turned to honey behind the brilliant golden ball. Luella was not disappointed this morning. As the sun crowned the horizon, she closed her eyes to take it all in- the sounds, the smells, the cool breeze on her face; she waited for the sun to warm her. Luella Delsapo had longed to be here. She needed to be here.
She had visited other beaches, like the beautiful beaches in the Caribbean with aquamarine waters and parades of colorful fish. She had been to the white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and enjoyed watching dolphins in their natural habitat. It was as if they performed their dance just for the pleasure of being alive. But it was this gray, rocky beach that through the years collected much of her tears. She came after the heartaches or to remember loved ones on her personal memorial days. It was this part of the immense ocean that allowed the winds to take away the hurt and give her the strength to start over. It was here she dared to dream again, and that’s what she came back for.
Recently when a friend passed expectantly, Luella heard the words one can’t escape at every funeral. The expressions of condolences are meant to be of comfort, but after the one-hundredth time, they seem to lose meaning. Well-intended friends and family try to be reassuring with phrases like “she’s in a better place” or “he’s no longer in pain” or “they would not want to see you suffering”; Luella remembered. She had heard it all more than once.
The first time Luella lost someone close, it was shocking to her that a person can actually feel the physical pain of a broken heart. She was twenty-three and never knew the heart could hurt so much. It was as if an elephant was sitting on her chest to make it burst like a water balloon, and yet it didn’t. After a while, as the days passed, when someone approached her to say: I’m sorry for your loss, she said: “Well don’t be, it wasn’t your fault, and there is nothing we can do about it now.”
People told her to give it time; everything is better with time. Well, Luella found out they were right, but it’s not magic. Time heals, but the pain doesn’t go away. It is there in the background, in the corners of the mind. She learned that over time the pain of grief is not felt with the same intensity or frequency, but on any given day something will trigger a memory and the wound is fresh again. Fortunately, she developed the ability to recognize it and give it a moment before continuing with the business of living.
Luella came to understand that to manage grief; one needs to prepare for the flooding of emotions. The first year, was the hardest. On every holiday and every birthday, she was reminded that the life she had dreamed of with her husband was no longer an option. She often cried for herself and for her children. She was familiar with the process now. She created traditions to remember, and activities for self-care. And so it was that each time Luella lost a loved one, she didn’t feel as confused or overwhelmed.
In prayerful mediation, she became aware of the sun warming her soul as her breathing caught the rhythm of the rolling surf – in and out. With each exhale, the ocean rolled out with the pain and gently came back in with hope. She opened her eyes to find the sun well over the horizon, the grayness had dissipated, and it was the start of a beautiful summer day in New England. She found what she came for – a new day with hope for new beginnings.
#shapingyourstory Week Two I’m incorporating assignments into new posts while I’m working on another project. Really enjoying the lessons. Thanks a bunch Michelle W.
Weeds and Flowers in our Life
As I mentioned the other day, I am doing an editing course right here on WordPress called “Writing: Shaping Your Story.” I have re-worked one of my most recent stories looking for an angle to develop a unique voice in telling stories of ordinary life. Enjoy.
Love who you are and what you are and what you do. Laugh at yourself and at life and nothing can touch you. Louise Hay from AZ quotes
The other morning I had one of those incidents where I had to laugh at myself or in spite of myself. I find I do it quite often these days; I believe it’s one of the perks brought on by aging and the wisdom of our years. I do think if you can’t laugh at yourself, maybe it’s time for soul-searching. No one is perfect, and if we can forgive ourselves for that, if we can be OK with our shortcomings, we become more tolerant of others.
I started my day, unlike other mornings. I had my mind set to do a little weeding in the yard. I’m house sitting while taking care of my daughter’s eighty-five-pound furbaby. She and her husband have their hands full with careers and a toddler size human baby, so I decided to make use of idle time and clean up the yard a bit before they got home. Nothing major, I’m not a gardener. I had a flower garden once which was mostly landscaped already when I bought the house. With minimal fuss, that garden managed to come back and thrive every year from spring through fall. These days I’m working on trying to get a potted orchid to flower again or at least to give me hope by staying alive.
I was up and dressed bright and early with my improvised gardening outfit. Yes, I needed a gardening outfit, like I use to have one for walking the dog or play clothes after school. I wore comfortable workout shorts, t-shirt, old sneakers-without socks and a safari hat. Perhaps I should have taken a selfie, but you can probably visualize the image. We live near the southernmost part of Florida and I wanted to get weeds out before the temperature became unbearable but I couldn’t find my daughter’s gardening gloves. I have allergies and an intense dislike for creepy crawly things, so I wasn’t going out there without gloves. What a dilemma! I was going to have to run to the store to pick up a pair of gardening gloves, but I was dressed for tropical weather gardening, not shopping. To quote the grown-up Christopher Robin, “What to do, what to do.”
Some may say my quandary was “just a girl thing” but to understand my problem; we’d have to go back to my family of origin where the mantra was “We may be poor, but we are proud!” Mom always made sure we were with hair combed, clean hands and nails, our clothes ironed with starch and our shoes polished. When we went to church on Sunday, she had to make sure that we looked ready to visit The King of Kings. She learned from her mother to check us out before we walked out of the door to make sure we were “presentable.”
My grandmother was an adorable, plump little woman. Over the years I’ve mentioned that someday I wanted to be a loveable, little old lady like her. (I’m practically there – wink). She wore her thinning white hair in a small bun at the nape of her neck. Her back slightly curved from years as a seamstress. In her late 70s, her alabaster skin was without blemish and smooth, and her eyes were a light turquoise green like the tranquil waters of the Caribbean Basin in the early morning. It had been just recently that my aunt had convinced her that she didn’t need to iron my grandfather’s boxers or her bed sheets because of the new permanent press fabrics. She still starched and pressed her house dresses and my grandfather’s white cotton shirts and khakis.
One summer when I was visiting, my grandmother asked me if I wanted to go to town for some shopping. She was walking to town and wanted some company. We were already in town, but she meant about a 20-minute walk to the stores on the main street, more if she saw friends along the way. I dressed quickly and waited for my grandmother on the porch. This was in the era before cell phones so to entertain myself in the meantime; I checked out the boy next door who was about my age and helping his dad bring things in from the truck. When I saw him, was glad to be feeling cute that day. Little did I know that years later, he would become my husband.
My grandmother, Mrs. Plumeria Martin-Ponte put one foot out on the porch, looked at me and stopped in her tracks. She looked up and down at me, and I noticed the tranquil waters in her eyes were starting to churn like angry waves before a storm. “Go in and change. I’m not taking you with me like that.” Period and end of the story were implied in her tone. Of course, I was young and feeling cute, so I needed to ask why: “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” At the time, I thought it was cool for a girl from the big city to wear overalls with a T-shirt and sneakers. My question triggered a lecture on the proper attire of lovely young ladies going into town. She didn’t want to hear what I did back home, so I went in and changed to a sundress, ladylike sandals and wore my long dark hair in a side braid.
Fast forward to 2018, and I’m standing at the doorway with my car keys in hand, ready to go to the Town Center in workout shorts, a sleeveless t-shirt, sneakers without socks and my wild hair particularly unruly this morning. I was just going to run in and out but what if I saw someone I knew? Well, I don’t know many people in this town, I thought as I encouraged myself. Besides Hollywood A-listers do it all the time, I just won’t take off my sunglasses! That’s when it happened; I laughed at myself for giving so much thought to explain my options as if to my grandmother.
As it turned out, once I was at the Town Center, I remembered a couple of other things I needed and made another stop. I was not just in and out at either store. I chatted with the clerks and a woman behind me in line. No one asked me why I was wearing comfortable workout shorts and sneakers without socks to the trendy Town Center.
At another point in my life, I probably wouldn’t have gone out, or if I had to, I would have changed to something more “presentable.” I realize though that if anyone passes judgment about me because of the clothes I wear, then they don’t value me for the person I am. I am beyond the point where I feel the need to prove my worth. I am what I am, and it is what it is.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Wendy Mass, The Candymakers from Goodreads.
Since it’s my nature to ponder, I reflected on how time and again we judge others by their appearance. I often say that it seems like the experiences from our school years play out throughout our lives. We see the same behaviors at work or in social groups. Only the names and faces change. Naturally, whenever this topic crosses my mind, I am reminded of a young girl, a classmate from my middle and high school years, he name was Grace Fore.
I was an average kid. I managed to stay under the radar and out of trouble. I wasn’t especially popular but had friends from different groups that I had met through various activities like art electives, tutoring, orchestra, boosters, yearbook, and church.
Grace Fore was a loner. She was a good looking girl with her blonde hair and big, blue eyes, but something always looked “off” and not quite right. I didn’t know anything about her home life, but I knew she played the viola beautifully with sentimentality that it moved me. I remember that it was often apparent that she was trying to “fix” her appearance. The kids in school teased her when she tried a new hairstyle and her hair still looked disheveled or when she wore a misshapen dress that she made herself in sewing class. They called her Grace Forlorn. I never actually defended her, I usually just moved my friends along before the taunting got worse. I always wished I had been braver. Can’t help but wonder what it would be like in today’s social media era.
As the world turns, a few years ago, I received a Facebook friend request from Grace Fore with a simple question “Do you remember me?” “Of course,” I answered, “you played the viola beautifully. Do you still play?” She wrote to me about the difficult life she had growing up and how it turned out not much better as an adult. No, she didn’t continue playing, but she wished she had. And then she broke my heart when she said: “but you were always nice to me, and it meant so much.” I never really went out of my way to be nice to her, but I was taught to be kind and not do harm.
If she hadn’t reached out, I would have never known that one small kindness would mean so much after all these years and all she had been through. She unfriended me shortly after over differences in political ideology, but I’m glad we connected. It validated my core beliefs that I continue to develop through my life.
After driving back to my daughter’s house in this meditative state, I decided I needed a drink before I tackled the yard. It was the middle of the day in Florida with temperatures in the triple digits. I poured a tall glass of iced tea, put my feet up and stared out into the yard.
I remembered that in another life during the summer, I would frequently get small bouquets of yellow dandelions from my daughters. They would run into the house filled with love and anticipation. Despite my allergies, I would marvel with oohs and aahs as if they were a dozen long stem roses from a long lost lover and put them in small cups of water till they shriveled up. Sometimes they would bring them one by one, white and puffy so that we could make wishes together. As they blew around the backyard like snowflakes, I wondered how many more weeds I would have to deal with next time.
“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.” Quote from Pinterest attributed to Eeyore.
What a perfect quote from Eeyore. Isn’t it the truth? Yes, dandelions are weeds, but they are bright yellow flowers and conduits for wishes. In the real world, we have found that they also have healing properties and are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
What great lessons we learn every day, I pondered as I continued sipping my cold drink. I shook my head in amazement and snickered to myself as I closed my eyes and decided I would start fresh tomorrow.
#Shaping your story – Week One