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

shallow focus of clear hourglass

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/

#shapingyourstory  #DigDeeper

Oh coffee, dear coffee

Friday RDP: Coffee

shallow focus photo of orange ceramic mug on white saucer

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. 

aroma beans blur breakfast

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?

silhouette of people beside usa flag

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

and,

“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?

Any ideas?

https://rosalind.life/2018/06/03/roseanne-samantha-and-free-speech/

 

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

from Morguefiles

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.

dandelion flowers

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.

beverage breakfast cake chilled

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

 

The Practical Aspect of Romance

I like to read other bloggers stories. I truly believe the human experience is one.  Often I find something in the blog that resonates with my spirit.   Yesterday I was visited by Simplytrizah, and when I visited her page in return, I was quite amused.  In Trizah’s Random Thoughts, she tells the stories of her adventures looking for romance from the perspective of a millennial newly cast in the adult world.  As I commented on one of her posts, some things about dating during this time period are the same regardless of age.  

I was reminded that on my trip back from visiting my family, I had a three and a half hour layover between flights and I started looking for something light and funny to read.  I came across an e-book that looked promising.  It was supposedly a humorous look at romance in the Third Age.  I enjoy romantic comedies with the likes of Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep and of course the adventures of Grace and Frankie.  When I looked at the reviews, however, I was discouraged.   It seems that some readers were disappointed that the protagonist did not exhibit or reference any signs of aging.  I suppose the idea aging gracefully is subjective, but it did get me thinking about the message we are leaving for the young woman.  What have we learned as the generation who created the sexual revolution is aging?

I decided to share a portion of a short story that I’m working on.  I’ve enrolled in an editing, and re-writing course and this is one of the stories that I want to do.  I might even work it into a longer piece about One Ordinary Life.   This part of the story centers around a modern tribe of women who periodically get together for support and encouragement – think Red Tent in modern day New England.  The friends are gathered to make a large pot of fish chowder on a cold winter night; add a little wine and conversation and I have a story!

Is it possible to be practical and a romantic at the same time?

 “At this stage of the game,” Nan continued her lecture, “dating is all about the practicality of the matter. It’s not about Disney princesses or Hollywood’s love stories. That doesn’t happen in real life and much less at our age. Before you step into the labyrinth called dating, ask yourself why do you want a man. Do you want entertainment, part-time companionship, just sex, financial security? Determine that first, and then go after what you want…”

Examples and testimonies followed, but Clotilde was unusually quiet and had stopped listening. She sipped her wine and chopped her vegetables as her mind wandered to places where her friends could not imagine.

That night she wrote in her journal:

“They tell me that there are no castles in the clouds, nor do valiant princes exist who ride on white stallions and risk their lives for fair maidens. They tell me it’s all a question of convenience, the practicality of the matter. They say that the years pass us quickly and if we don’t act with good judgment now, we are weighed down by life’s regrets. 

I was a lonely, caged dove unable to spread my wings, imprisoned by fear. Your eyes sparkled with mischief, and I said “Who cares! Let’s fly!” With you, I believe there are indeed places where dreams come true.  Your warm breath touches my cheek, and your kiss awakens the sleeping beauty of my soul. My spirit flies like an eagle! The years fall away. I transcend the clouds safely nestled in your arms to find that castle where dreams become a reality.”

Nan and her friends were too late with their intervention that night; for Clotilde had already crossed over to the land of unicorns, rainbows, and pots of gold.

The fragrance of our lives

I wonder how the month of May compares with Christmas for the retail industry.  It seems there are people out shopping for Mother’s Day, Graduations and let’s not forget Father’s Day and June weddings.  

On the weekend right after Mother’s Day, as Blaise walked into a major department store, he found himself accosted by a beautiful young woman who was dressed as if she was on her way to a night on the town.  She blocked his path and with a coquettish smile asked “wanna try?”  He froze as he took her in.  Her makeup was perfect- her lips just the right shade of red; her long black gown was open to show her long legs and she smelled wonderful.   As he regained his composure he realized she had a bottle of cologne in her hand, she was a fragrance model.   “It’s called ENOUGH, its debuting today and it’s guaranteed to make your girlfriend realize you’re all she’ll ever need.” She smiled again and winked at him and said, “Hi, my name is Marcy”

FragranceBlaise didn’t come in shopping for cologne but when Marcy wearing that big smile, pointed at him with a spritzer bottle, he responded: “sure, why not.”  He found that he did like the fragrance.  Smells like a man, he thought. He enjoyed feeling fresh, clean and masculine with a touch of cologne or aftershave. It reminded him of his dad.  On Sunday morning his dad told them that a man needs to clean up and be ready to stand before God.  He would wear his best shirt and use his best cologne. During the week he would head straight for the shower when he came home from the shop.  After a while his dad would come down with nails clean, hair combed back and smelling like a dandy just to please Mom.  That’s what a family man does his dad had taught him, always come clean to the dinner table.   Without a second thought, Blaise had Marcy ring it up.  The fragrance would be his present for Camille, his wife. 

On Monday Blaise had to be up early for work. After he showered and dressed, he remembered the new cologne he’d bought over the weekend.  Because he was going to the office, he sprayed himself lightly, just ENOUGH he smirked to himself at the clever play on words. 

In the bedroom, Camille was getting a whiff of something powerful coming from the bathroom, and she felt her stomach turn.  What on earth?!  When she sensed Blaise coming into the room, she closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep.  She still had another hour before the alarm rang for her.   Blaise stood over the bed trying to decide whether or not to wake her so that she could enjoy him and his new cologne.   Camille wishing for him to go away with that smell, kept her eyes closed and pretended to roll away from him in her sleep.  Blaise tiptoed out of the room and headed to work. 

Blaise was greeted by Mrs. Meddles at the front desk like any other morning.  She was an older woman who reminded him of his mom.  She was always ready with a smile and a cheerful good morning as everyone came in.  “Don’t you look dapper today?”  Blaise gave her a shy smile “just as I do every day” he told her and continued on his way down the hall.   She stared after him a little longer as he walked out of sight and then it hit her, it was the fragrance that made him look different.  He was wearing cologne today and she could swear he had a spring in his step.  Or did he?  She asked herself.   She remembered Bill when he was that age.  He would get playful whenever he wore cologne.  She loved that clean fresh shaven smell.  It was like the chicken or the egg.  Did he get frisky because he was wearing cologne or because of her reaction to him?  It was so long ago, she felt lonely all of a sudden.  It had been years since she and Bill….. The last heart attack took her Bill away.  The stranger in her house just stared at her when she got home each evening.  Did he remember?  Fragrance is a powerful thing.  She wondered if she were to buy his old cologne or her perfume would he have a reaction? Would there be at least a flicker, a bit of recognition in his gray eyes?   “Good morning, don’t you look nice today?” she was grateful for the interruption.   “Good morning, Mrs. Meddles.  It’s always nice to see your smiling face in the morning.” said Mary Grey.   Mrs. Meddles was glad to have people streaming in regularly now as she greeted each one with a smile and a cheerful comment. 

On the other side of town, Camille was arriving at work.  As she got in the elevator, she heard Winnie Madison call out “hold it for us!”   Winnie came running to catch the elevator to their office, followed closely by her boyfriend, Randall.   Camille had heard all about Randall who worked on the same floor of their office building.  Winnie and Randall started saying their goodbyes, and Camille tried to focus on the numbers above the door in front of her as the elevator made its way up to the 22nd floor. Winnie told her it was difficult for her to be apart from him during the day.  “Doesn’t he smell wonderful?” Winnie asked “I can just eat him up”   Camille didn’t know where to look, but she had noticed a smooth, wood and musk fragrance as the elevator doors closed.  She was feeling lightheaded as she got off the elevator.  Camille didn’t want to remember all the intimate details Winnie had shared but found herself wondering if it was true what they said about fragrances and pheromones.   She thought of Blaise.

During the coffee break, Camille asked about Randall’s fragrance.  She admitted it was pleasant and told Winnie that she was thinking of getting new cologne for Blaise for Father’s Day. She told her of the incident that morning with whatever cheap, awful smelly thing that he wore after he showered.  “Of course, I know what kind it is; I bought it for him this weekend.  They were presenting it to the public at the mall.   It was a little pricey, but I think it’s worth it.  It’s called ENOUGH but be careful, it may be too much for you and Blaise.”  They shared understanding giggles.  Camille decided to go after work to pick up a bottle, but Winnie teased, “Fragrances don’t have the same reaction on everyone you know.”  Camille smiled; she didn’t think she would wait for Father’s Day to find out. 

Day Eighteen: Compose a Series of Anecdotes; the same narrative from a different point of view.  #everydayinspiration

Home to where I’d never been

I came across this quote from North 20°54, West 156°14, a personal essay by Maggie Messitt on Bending Genre. “Maps are about boundaries and perception. They are about recognizing and being recognized.”
It is a beautiful place
One summer as soon as school was out, our parents took us to their little island in the Caribbean. It was the late 1960’s; it was the year my paternal grandfather died. It was unexpected. I don’t remember him, and I don’t think he ever met the twins. That’s probably why they made an effort to get us over there to meet the family now. I was apprehensive at first. My Dad was staying home, but we were going for the whole summer! I was starting my teenage years, which is a big deal in itself but on top of that, all I knew about Puerto Rico were the stories my parents had told me. Whenever they got together with my aunts, uncles and older cousins, they would tell the stories of the “good old days.” According to my parents, “It is a beautiful place! Just wait and see.”
Who are we?
The teen years are confusing. It’s a time when we are trying to figure out who we are. We had moved to this neighborhood a couple of years ago. At first, we were told that we could not speak Spanish outside of our new apartment. Should I be ashamed to speak Spanish? Is there something wrong with speaking Spanish? In order to get this apartment in a “better neighborhood” (read white, blue-collar), my dad had lied and told the landlord that we were Italian. My parents were afraid if she found out we were Puerto Ricans, she could kick us out. Should I be ashamed to be Puerto Rican? We are a light-skinned bunch, and my mother had blue-green eyes. We were able to pull it off – we “passed.” The Fair Housing Act was signed in 1968. In Current Events class, we briefly touched upon the Civil Rights movement, but I didn’t make a connection to what was happening to us. When my parents thought it was safe to do so, they told her the truth. We lived there for many years after.
Puerto Rico had been a United States territory since 1898, and the people were granted United States citizenship one month before we entered World War I in 1917. Wilson signed the compulsory military service act two months later. Puerto Ricans have been serving in the military ever since. In school, we just briefly touched on its history. All I remembered from history class was that it was an island that Spain gave to the United States after they lost the Spanish-American war. Should I tell my friends I was going to Puerto Rico? I don’t know if they knew. I was born and raised in the North East. I looked and sounded just like them. How would they know?
What a beach!
As our plane approached the island, I began to feel excited. Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea after all. The colors were the first thing that amazed me. My siblings and I strained to catch a glimpse through the tiny windows. From the sky, we could see the crystal clear turquoise waters and sandy beaches like superfine white sugar. I remembered during my aunt’s visit, she was so disappointed to see the beaches in New York. “You call this a beach? You have to come and see what a real beach looks like.” She laughed. Now I understood what she was talking about. Compared to this, Manhattan Beach, Brighten Beach, Coney Island looked gray and dirty. There were no boardwalks and no amusement park rides, but it was breathtaking. Beyond the water, we could see the vibrant greens and browns of the mountains with ribbons of rivers running through them. I decided then; I was going to enjoy this adventure.
My mother’s youngest sister, “Asore” still lived at home with her parents. She had taken time off from work to show us around. Our first trip was to the beach of course. I couldn’t get over how clear and warm the water was. The waves didn’t crash on shore; they gently rolled in and quietly rolled out. We didn’t need a beach umbrella; we had put our things between two palm trees and hung a hammock. To this day that is my mental go-to place; effortlessly rocking in the hammock and listening to the sounds of that beach. Afterward, she took us to the thatch-covered eateries that lined the road by the beach as we headed home. We each tried something different rellenos-de-papas, (deep fried meat filled potato balls), alcapurias de jueyes (root vegetables filled with crab meat), and meat-filled turnovers, just to name a few. We were in heaven! Everything was delicious.
Spaceships in the mountains, crawlers in the water
The next stop was El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States. My aunt said that many believed spaceships regularly landed on very top of the mountain. We explored the mountain and the waterfalls. Before we left, we swam in one of the pools that form along the river. I had never been swimming in a river! The water was cold, and I was afraid of what else might be swimming there. On the way back we bought tropical fruit on the side of the road. During that summer we traveled with my aunt and crisscrossed the island at least a couple of times visiting many beautiful places. There are plenty of travel blogs and magazines that talk about the wonders of Puerto Rico. This blog is about perception, awareness, and self-discovery. It’s about a young girl recognizing that there are no boundaries.
Who are these people?
As we visited and got to know family and friends across the island, I began to see Puerto Rico different from what I had imagined. We spent time with cousins our age; boys and girls who laughed and played like our friends in New York City. They used dried palm tree shafts like sleds to go down the grassy hills in the countryside just outside of town. They confidently walked right by the cows and pigs as we stared and walked cautiously slow, afraid that any sound or fast movement might call attention to us. Our cousins fished in the creek and showed us how to collect tadpoles in a glass jar. I don’t usually like tadpoles, but at the time I thought it was all fun and so exciting.
In New York, I didn’t know any Puerto Ricans outside of my family. The ones I saw depicted in movies or on television did not reflect my reality. No one in my family had been to jail or belonged to gangs or sold drugs on the street corners. We went to school and church. My family in New York was tight-knit and made up of all hard working folks, trying to survive all the challenges that came their way. They were printers, handymen, electricians, seamstress, and clerks. I didn’t know of any Puerto Ricans who were doctors or lawyers. In school, we didn’t learn about the artists, poets, musicians, actors, comedians, songwriters and authors. Here we learned that my grandfather’s brother had been the Mayor of their hometown. Our great-grandfather had been a well-known troubadour. Other family members were respected members of the community. It was a life I had seen on TV, but here the characters were real, and they were Puerto Rican.
For the love of art, music, and literature
I was glad my aunts took the time to take us to museums and talk to us about our history. We got to listen to some of waltzes and ballads that were written by Spanish and Puerto Rican composers. There was a Symphonic Orchestra! We saw the folk dancers in streets of San Juan and heard traditional music, played on instruments that originated on the island.

Blog Kite flying at El Morro Esplanade -Pinterest
I fell in love with Old San Juan and the fort that protected it El Morro (Castillo San Felipe del Morro). It’s still picturesque and quaint, something that you would think of finding in Europe. It was old Spanish Colonial architecture painted in pastels and cobblestone streets where I imagined the Spanish senoritas walking with parasols. I was amazed at all the cultural richness that I found. Yes, I was already a nerd back then, and at the end of the trip, I wanted to twirl on the lawn of El Morro and down the streets of Old San Juan like one of the protagonists of a Roger’s and Hammerstein musical. Picture Julie Andrews as Maria VonTrapp singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music.”


A new me
When school started, I had been excited to share all this with my friends back home. My aunts had given me books and souvenirs that told our story, and I brought these things to school. My friends were not interested, not even the pictures of cute Puerto Rican pop stars made them look. They were still in seventh and eighth grade, and the world didn’t matter much beyond the cute boys in the next class.
I was hurt at first, but no one could take away what I had learned that summer. I wrote about it in my English class and had a piece published in the school yearbook. I argued with my history teacher and told him whatever he was teaching had nothing to do with me. (He was great though. He became one of my favorite teachers, and I Aced his class). In Orchestra class, I played my cello as if I was playing at the Pablo Casals Festival in San Juan.
I was glad we made that trip. I’m pleased with this assignment. Though not a typical road map, it took me on a fabulous journey. “Maps are about boundaries and perception. They are about recognizing and being recognized.” Maggie Messitt
How about you? Have you ever been “home” at a place you’ve never been before?
Day Seventeen: A Map as Your Muse #everydayinspiration

School Ratings, Beyond the Number

abc books chalk chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The task for this assignment was to “mine” material, or story ideas from the web, old drafts, social media, etc. the inspiration came at me from Discover on Reader. The post is https://integratedschools.org/2018/05/30/the-problem-with-great-schools/comment-page-1/?blogsub=confirming#blog_subscription-6 Author Ali McKay from Integrated Schools.org, wrote an article which addressed questions that had been on my mind for some time. I understood the piece was encouraging parents to look beyond the numbers published by the GreatSchools.org rating systems. She explained that based on her own experience, she was pleasantly surprised that although the school she chose for her family was not in the top percentile, the school has been a good match for her children of different ages and skill level. The system does not give a complete picture of whether or not that school is a good fit for your child as it doesn’t take into account other tangibles such as the human factor. Ms. Mckay also notes there appears to be a correlation between racial percentages and the number indicators. The author notes that GreatSchools’ president, Mathew Nelson, encourages parents to visit the school and talk to parents in the community before making the decision that’s right for them. Where I come from that is called CYA on the part of Mr. Nelson. Check out the article attached for more.

There are many aspects of the public education debate that cause me to have concerns. As I was doing additional research to substantiate my post, I went down the proverbial rabbit hole. I found more unsettling articles about where our political leaders are taking public education, and as I have said before, these problems did not start with the 2016 elections but at least back to the Reagan area. I decided to leave a good portion of my findings to dole out in smaller increments and will publish them over the summer.

Questions about the future of public education have been swirling in my head for decades; since I sat on School Improvement and Education Reform meetings when my own kids were in school. However, now that I have a granddaughter who just finished Kindergarten in a Public School system this year, I’m forced to look at the question that I’ve been avoiding – “now what?” On a personal level, we are grateful that she had an uneventful year, considering that active shooter drills are now part of the school experience. Some liken them to fire drills or duck and cover drills in my era – but not quite. She’s a bright, resourceful and caring child but she is not a fan of going to school because she hates just sitting around for long hours (paraphrasing). She enjoys learning, and her parents make sure she and her sister have plenty of resources at home to complement their education.

The school, my granddaughter, attended last year was about a couple of miles from her home and was rated an overall 7 and 8 for test scores by GreatSchools.org. According to the report on the site, the student body is 85% white, 4% mixed race/ethnicity, 3% black and 12% are considered low-income families. For the most part, her parents heard good things about the school and yet at the beginning of the school year, they worried about the choice to send her public schools. Both parents are college grads, volunteer on a once or twice a month on a regular basis. They find the administrative support staff is pleasant and the teachers that they have encountered seem interested in the success of the students. The school has one principal, no assistant, and one counselor hour for every one hundred students. There is one nurse and one art teacher that come to the school two days a week and work at another school two days a week. They have a resource room to watch pre-recorded lessons, a library and they have a computer room. It appears that this school’s focus is teaching to test scores.

By comparison, a friend of the family has children in public schools within the city limits approximately ten miles from the other school. On GreatSchools.org that school has an overall rating of 5 and for test scores a 6. The student body makes up is 43% white, 36% black, 10% mixed ethnic/race, 67% low-income families. Both parents also college grads and both parents also volunteer in the school. The school has a more interactive educational approach and a fine arts and recreation program which include music and art lessons after school. The kids seem to have a more enjoyable experience, but l may be projecting.

When this family wanted to move, they tried to find an affordable house within that school district. With the fluctuation of the housing market, they did not find what they were looking for. The other option was to move out of the city limits, which would put the kids in the County’s School system and they could then apply for the School Choice Option. If accepted the parents had to pay fees comparable the city’s cost per child rate. On paper the idea sounds great, at least if they don’t live in the district, they can take still take advantage of the school’s programs, without using tax dollars. Keep in mind this is a “low rated” school.

I worked Real Estate for several years and more often than not, I would meet young families with corporate transfers who had researched schools online and would not consider anything outside of the recommendations of the school rating system, often these homes had bigger price tags. Interesting to note is that many of the ads on these sites are sponsors by real estate companies. Ali McKay’s article presents this as an example of modern segregation in today’s education system and consequently the Real Estate market.

To emphasize Ms. MacKay’s point about GreatSchools.org ratings, I found just by comparing these two schools; the score is not necessarily a reflection of how good or bad a school is. The school in the city with a more varied student body was rated 2 points lower than the other school. I find it ironic that the school with the better test scores and higher rating has limited resources in some essential areas. Is it that the school has not requested additional funds or it is overlooked in the budget because the school with the better scores has already tested well? What are we missing? What is the X factor?

Day Sixteen: Mine Your Own Material #everydayinspiration

A book that opened eyes

The previous assignment was quite a challenge for me.  It was to recreate a single day with no backstory, flashbacks, or foreshadowing.   Imagining what may be ahead is part of my nature. To look beyond what I see in front of me is part of my writing style. Everyone has a backstory; sure some may call it baggage, but regardless it does affect our actions and who we are in present day. I was feeling boxed in by staying within the confinement of the day. Every time my mind wandered to the past or the future, I had to reign myself in. 

Today’s #everydayinspiration option: Tell us about a book that opened your eyes when you were young, or younger in my case.   I chose this option because I knew exactly which book I can effortlessly talk about.  It is “The Four Agreements” by Dr. Miguel Ruiz.  I have referenced this book in part in my previous posts, and today I decided to take the opportunity to tell you a little more. 

I was given this book many years ago by a new neighbor.  Her name was Nora; we had spoken a few times, and one day as I was checking my mail, she stopped me and said: “I think you’ll like this.”  She handed me the book and walked back to her apartment.   I took it upstairs, read the cover, rolled my eyes and put it down.  It read, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, The Four Agreements,  A Toltec Wisdom Book. 

After a couple of days, curiosity got the best of me, and I picked up the book and started reading.  After all, how many times had I heard that you couldn’t judge a book by its cover?  I read a few chapters that night, but quite frankly, I was not in the mood for the mumbo-jumbo about dreams and energy of the light and the stars, the earth and humans.  I put it away.  When Nora asked, I told her I had started to read it but got too busy with work and classes and family. 

Fast forward to a year or so later, and I was between flights at an airport looking for something to read because I had forgotten my book.  On display out front of the store I saw, From The New York Times Bestselling Author, Don Miguel Ruiz – Wisdom from The Mastery Of Love.   Bestseller? Well, whadda ya’ know?  I picked up a copy and started reading.  The four-hour flight was enough to get me hooked.  This seemed an easier read, or maybe I was ready to understand it.  When I finished, I dug out the other book and read it too.  It all made sense now.   I’ve read each book a few times, and when the author and son teamed up to explain the Fifth Agreement, I read that too. 

The “Wisdom” is not magic or beliefs of rituals with supernatural powers.  It’s actually common sense insights that we have heard before from our parents, teachers, and preachers or in this case, from Toltec healers.   The simple way the message is delivered is part of the charm.  This wisdom is broken down into an uncomplicated formula- The Four Agreements.  I will share my impression of what I’ve read.

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word: I take great care to make sure that when I speak, I speak with integrity. I think I show immense strength when I am honest in sharing my thoughts, and I try to be clear for others to understand me.  If I disagree, I am mindful not to attack the person but to address the behavior.  I think when one is conscious of how words are used, and the effect they can have on another person,  one demonstrates respect for the power of the word. 
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally: This agreement is one I find is particularly liberating for me.  You may have noticed that on my blog I often bring up the idea that each person is living his or her own story. Each one is dealing with issues that may be foreign to the next person.  The basic premise is that nothing the other person does is because of you.  They are wrapped up in their reality; each one is the “star” if you will, of their movie.  Sometimes we are hurt by someone because of their belief system.  Once we learn that their opinion does not define us, we are free.   
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions: You probably have heard the saying that starts – When you ass-u-me you make… .  The truth is when we assume; our imagination goes beyond the reality which can lead us to distress. Clear communication is such an essential part of our lives to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama.  When we make assumptions, our preconceived ideas make it almost impossible to move toward a solution.  Learn to ask the right questions that will get you the answer you seek. 
  4. Always Do Your Best: Our best changes from day to day or even from each moment.  Our best is different when we are in good health or when we are ill.  The important thing is to put in all your effort.  Don’t judge or abuse yourself in any way just because your approach is different from the mainstream.  When you do your best – whatever that means to you, be proud that you did it to the greatest of your ability –no regrets.
  5. Be Skeptical but learn to listen: This is another great truth that you’ve heard before.  Just because a leader sad so, doesn’t mean you have to jump off the bridge.  I have also written about listening to different opinions but in the end, research to confirm the truth.  Just because you are trying to be “impeccable with your word,” doesn’t mean everyone else is.  I remember a colleague used to say.  “There are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.” 

Revisiting these agreements at different times has helped me take another look at situations in my life.  I have found that they blend well with my belief system and at times I have felt “enlightened” when I am moved to practice them.  There was a time when I was giving this pair of books to family, friends, and colleagues.  I know some people were able to take it to heart and expressed gratitude.  Some even said it had changed their life by taking another look at some simple truths.

Day Fifteen: Take a Cue from Your Reader  #everydayinspiration   

This post is not a paid endorsement; just a response to an assignment as stated above.   I hope it was helpful.  Thanks for stopping by.

Book cover
The Four Agreements by Dr. Miguel Ruiz courtesy of Barnes and Nobles