Thinking about Memorial Day

Do you remember the paper mache’ poppies? You know the ones we used to see everywhere when we growing up. I was one of the kids passing them out at the local grocery store in exchange for whatever donation was given. I am sure I was not happy to spend my Saturday there!

I was young and really did not appreciate–if I even knew–what that poppy symbolized. Because my dad was a veteran of WWII, he was an active member of the local VFW. My mom, my sisters, and I were part of the American Legion. One of the things we did for Memorial Day was make sure everyone had a commemorative poppy.

Late Saturday, an older man came up to me and asked if I knew what the poppy represented. This type of interaction happened to me all the time. There could have been ten other kids standing around but I was the one who was asked the questions. I debated saying I did know, but thought he may quiz me about it. I was honest and said I really did not know the whole story.

He told me it was important to know and shared this with me:

First of all, he said, you are not wearing the poppy correctly. It is to be worn over your heart. As he looked me straight in the eyes, he stressed that I would understand why this was important after he finished his story.

My memory is not complete so I am borrowing from an American Legion post:

The red petals stand for the vast outpouring of blood; the yellow and black center, the mud and desolation of all battlefields.

The green of the stem is symbolic of the forests, meadows and fields where generations of Americans have perished to make this land free.

The stem represents the courage and determination of our fallen warriors.

The assembled product, a flower, is a symbol of resurrection, which is sure to follow.

His words were much more simple, filled with the type of emphasis that only comes from being there, really experiencing the battles of war personally. He watched my face as he spoke, pausing now and then to make sure I was getting his point. When his story was complete, he stepped back in silence and somber reflection. He leaned toward me, asking me if I thought I understood why it is important to wear that poppy correctly? Now I was able to honestly answer that question. Which I did, with a soft and respectful, yes.

That was decades ago–probably over fifty years have passed since that grocery store lesson. I can picture myself standing beside this little round man, dressed in his bib overhauls, giving me the gift of a very powerful lesson about the real cost of the freedom.

Oh the challenges our nation has faced since that long past day in May. One thing has not changed. As Memorial Day approaches, it is vitally important for us all to remember those who have fought to defend our freedoms and those who protect us today.

We are in such turmoil and unease. As I asked last night, I ask for your prayers, remembering our great country and for those who defend and protect us. God bless them, God bless us all, and please, God, bless America.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace. I love you.

 

 

 

A Time For Reflection

Mother’s Day.

A hard day for those of us who have lost our moms. It doesn’t matter how old we were when the loss happened–this is a life event we all carry with us from that day forward.

I send my love out to those of you who are facing your first “motherless” Mother’s Day. May your memories give you comfort. May you come to understand, as I have, that your mom will always be with you. Not just in the memories, but in little things you do, little things you say, little habits you may not have recognized until now. I was blessed with a mom who loved me. Unfortunately, my mom, my sisters, and I were not blessed with much time.

Time. It is such an illusive concept. We keep thinking we have more. Don’t be fooled. As we’ve all been told, life can change in just a matter of seconds. This Mother’s Day, put the electronics away. Open your mind and heart by spending some attentive quality time with your mom. As anyone who has lost their mom will tell you, we would give anything to spend one more day with them. We’d ask questions, really listen to what she told us, and share stories of our own. We would make sure she knew how important and special she was and is to us; how her life lessons are infused into our very being.

Use your time wisely, my dear friends, and cherish those you love. If your mom is here, please make sure she knows how important she is to you. Only you can do that.

Make your mom, and yourself, proud.

I am

B…simply being…

Peace and love to y’all.

 

Another Trip to the Library

I have a great library. Now that I am retired, not only do I have more time to read but I can choose HOW I read. I can read a new book or I can re-read a book that has become a traveling companion. These select few are special and I feel as though they are “old friends.” Some have traveled with me for many years. Not only do they share their printed words, but they magically pull up memories of what was happening in my life the first time I read them. I can see where I was, who I was with, see my notes and highlighting, and physically feel what was going on in my world at the time. Oh the power of books! I am blessed to have some very big hitters.

Simple Abundance, by Sarah Breathnach, is one of my favorites. My first copy was a gift, making it very special. This book has been around for a long time, very popular in the early 90’s. It was one of the books read by a group of women I met with once a week for years. I’ll always remember the night one of the leaders of the group talked about the book, explaining what she liked about it and shared different readings with us. She had passed her copy around and we all wanted to know where we could find our own copy. She said she had a surprise for us–and handed out a copy for each of us.

The book is set up to read an entry a day. I’ll share the beginning of what Sarah wrote for January 5:

Many women today feel a sadness we cannot name. Though we accomplish much of what we set out to do, we sense that something is missing in outlives and–fruitlessly–search “out there” for answers. What’s often wrong is that we are disconnected from an authentic sense of self.   Emily Hancock

I think many of us are searching for our authentic selves. As I give my thanks for my blessings today, one of the things I am grateful for is being able to share my search with you.

God bless you with love and peace.

I am…

B…simply being…

 

 

 

A Slow Day

Everybody needs a slow day–I took one today. I am learning to listen to my body and some days you just don’t push it.

In light of that I’m sharing simple things today.

First thing to share is that our friends brought home their new puppy today. She is adorable. I’ve attached a picture of her so you can fall in love with her, too. She is described as very affectionate and ALL puppy. Cannot wait to meet her and hold her squiggly little body and smell that puppy breath.

Secondly,  I’m sharing something I discovered about a month ago. I’ve wanted to go back to school but honestly, could not commit to the time. Not sure how I stumbled upon on-line courses called MOOCs. I had to Google the acronym to see what it was and found it stood for: Massive Open Online Course. The courses are offered through several different sources for pretty low prices or free. The source I am most pleased with at this time is Coursera–you can check them out at: Coursera.org. They offer a wide variety of courses for free or a fee if you want a certificate of completion.

Lastly, but most importantly, I am thankful my husband was home today to take care of me. Thanks, Mickey. Your attention alone made a world of difference. I had three other care givers–all three dogs were beside me while I rested. Of course, part of that fact is they are allowed on the bed during the day–that might have been a huge incentive. Regardless, it was a joyously lazy day.

I took advice from Anne Lamott today:

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you. 

I am rested, renewed, mostly recharged. I am…

B…simply being…

Peace and love to all.

 

My Guidance

I was clearing some space on my desk when I saw my Guide for the Advanced Soul sitting beside my computer. I am always curious about what that little book will tell me. This is the guidance the Universe sent my way:

The people we are in relationship with are always a mirror, reflecting our own beliefs, and simultaneously we are mirrors reflecting their beliefs. So relationship is one of the most powerful tools for growth…if we look honestly at our relationships we can see so much about how we have created them.    Shakti Gawain

I wish you all love and peace.

I am

B…simply being…

 

Musings

I’ve had some extra time this week to think about things. What that usually means is I take long walks into my past. This week was no exception. There are some things back there that have always puzzled me. I found some unusual help this time though, from “The Royals.”

I have been running from myself for most of my life. When Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William, began talking about their mother, Diana, a switch turned on for me. I found, and continue to find, great comfort in their words when they talk about the struggles they have had in their lives after her death. Whenever Prince Harry speaks,  his words give me chills. It appears we had and have some of the same challenges. By speaking out he gave me a very valuable gift–he opened the door for me to speak of my own challenges. I am grateful for that.

I grew up in a little town in northeast Iowa. My family was not from there originally, a fact that I think was hard for my mom. Looking back on life’s events as an older adult gives me such a different perspective of things. My mom had been a single working woman, living at home with her parents, until she was 27 years old. She thought she was an old maid. She often told me how she met my dad at a dance. She said she knew when she met him he was special but did not think he was ever going to ask her to marry him. Looking back, that is the only story she ever shared with me about her days as a single woman. Of course, I was so young I would not have understood much more than that. She never had a chance to share more–she was dead by the time I was ten, my younger sister eight, and my youngest sister, six. That, my friends, is the tip of the iceberg.

I only have a kid’s memory of so many things. Our small community had its share of tragedies during this time. The most significant one I remember is that a classmate of mine’s mother died after being in a car accident. I think we were in second grade so we were probably seven years old. I had to be at school early that morning–I was in trouble for having a messy desk and was supposed to come in and clean it out. When I got to my room, my teacher was not there so I went looking for her. I found everyone in the room next door all standing in the front of the class room. They were talking softly about a car accident. One teacher said that the doctors did not think that my friend’s mom was hurt very badly. They were wrong, she said.  My classmates mom had died earlier that morning from a head injury that had not been detected. Lots more whispers.

I stood there thinking, how can that be? Moms don’t die.

In my mind, I see exactly where I was standing that day–how the soft morning sunlight came through the windows, illuminating the desktops, reflecting off chalk dust that was always flying through the air. The huddle of teachers remained close together in the front of the room. I remained invisible. Yes, they said, she had been hit from behind. You know, they said, it’s that bad spot out on the highway where so many other accidents had happened. Well, it’s been icy, they said, so she had a cement block in the back of her car for traction. When she was hit, they said, it flew and hit her head…

No one noticed as I turned and quietly walked out of the room. Oh, so many questions I carried out with me that day.

I wonder if my friend, my classmate from so many years ago, has any of the same questions I do? Does Prince Harry comfort her as he speaks of his demons? Do my other friends who also lost their moms when they were young feel the way I do–like you’ve always been a little lost? Always searching for something…

The month of May has always has been a time when I question so many things. I’ve sidestepped them for many, many years. Now it is time calm my demons by writing about them. If Prince Harry helped me, maybe I can help someone else?

This part of my life made me, me.

I am

B…simply being…

Wishing you all love and peace.

 

 

 

Resources

I had forgotten how comforting it was to have a resource to turn to when I needed some type of encouragement. We all have to do our own soul-searching. What is good to know is we have other resources out there to help us along the way. Advisors we can keep close to us–just an arm’s length–like my little book, A Guide for the Advanced Soul.

I have several “advisors” sitting close by me. I’ll call them in for consultation often and share their words of wisdom. It’s all part of why I believe we are here–to help each other in our journey. Heaven knows, we need that type of help right now. We are all questioning so many basic things.

Venice Bloodworth was introduced to me by my husband, Michael. She was someone totally new to me until he shared her book. Now her book is another one in the front row of my go to authors/advisors whenever I need someone to make sense of things. Someone to renew my hope in–well–something.

Venice wrote her book, The Key to Yourself, in the 50’s. The copyright of the book we have on our shelf is 1952–a year before I was born. I’m not sure why I even noticed that but it made a really big impression on me. She wrote then what many of us read a few years ago thinking it was the first time someone had written it. Her wording is a little cumbersome today, but that makes it even more special to me. An example from a quote she credits to “Selected” which begins Chapter 3:

The Conscious Mind

If you think you are beaten, you are; If you think you dar not, you don’t; If you’d like to wind, but you think you can’t, It’s almost a cinch you won’t’ If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost, For out in the world you’ll find success begins with a fellow’s will; It’s all in the state of the mind. 

Later in that chapter she says: It is strange that we so long failed to understand the wonderful power of thought, for it is taught by every religion and philosophy in the history of the world. Paul, when in captivity and chained to a Roman solder, gave to the world this message:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are  just, whatsoever things ar pure, whatsoever things are lovely, and of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.. 

I, like many, am troubled by what is unfolding around us. I am unsure what to do other than try to find a way to help each other through it all until we can figure out what to do next. Our minds are powerful. As Venice says, if we think we’ll lose, we have lost. We–all of us–have to rediscover our own power. Look for our advisors–whether it is by talking with each other or rediscovering words like these shared by those who have passed this way before us.

I am.

B…simply being…

God bless you all with love and peace.

 

 

 

 

Insight

Years ago a friend of mine showed me a book she said she consulted daily. The name of the book was, A guide for the Advanced Soul, by Susan Hayward. She handed it to me and told me to open it to any page. What was written on that page, she said, was  my guidance for the day.

The book impressed me so much I bought it the next day.  I have not found the words I remember reading that night so long ago. The feeling I had while reading them has never left me. I knew that night, down to my very soul, that my life was about to change in a very big way.

What happened, you ask, that made me think something was happening in my life? Something very simple–I went out for lunch–a lunch that had been in the works for months. I finally met that friend of a friend–yes–a blind date. Love at first sight, you say? I have to say, yes. There really is a thing! I was the biggest skeptic in the world until that day. In less than an hour I had become a believer. Twenty five years later, I still believe.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the “stuff” that bombards us all day long we forget to look for the magic. You know, all those unexpected blessing that simply shower down on us at times when we least expect them and often when we need them the most. It’s some powerful stuff, love. Remember that. Do not take it for granted.

Tonight, I have consulted my guide for the advanced soul. Let me share the wisdom found:

Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you. 

                                                                                         Shakti Gawain

I wish you all peace, love, and a restful night.

I am.

B…simply being…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Human

Taking a step away from my own story tonight and sharing my thoughts about something that has been in the news for the last 24 hours or so.

The talk today revolved around Jimmy Kimmel’s son, Billy. For those who may not know, he was born with a congenital heart defect, resulting in a successful open heart surgery when he was only a few days of age.  He did well with this surgery but will have more in his future.

I can hear the first comments out of many people’s mouths today, “Well, didn’t they have an ultrasound? How could they have missed a hole in the heart?” The blaming begins…

I am a retired pediatric echocardiographer. Translated, that means I performed  ultrasound on baby’s hearts. My patient population ranged from the fetus to the adult with congenital heart disease.  I was very fortunate. Before I retired I was able to do fetal echoes on women I imaged when they were neonates. What a joy that was for me. Heavens–I miss my patients and their families.

One of the things I wished my patients understood, and I feel most sonographers would agree, is the fact that we carry their stories and images home with us every single day. As a sonographer, we sit right next to our patients–definitely in their personal spaces–often putting all our body weight into their bodies in an attempt to confine that fetus. We are  not there to get “pretty pictures.” We are there to get diagnostic ones. We are accessing that little fetus to make sure all parts are normal in position, size, shape and function. All of this goes on while we hear all about your life–people who are nervous share a lot of personal information. As we work and listen, we attempt to keep our body language normal, our faces neutral, often fighting back tears. We understand just how drastic this woman and her family’s lives are going to change in just a matter of moments.

There is an obstitrician along with his/her ultrasound staff in the LA area who are very unhappy with the results of their studies done for Jimmy’s wife and unborn son. Unfortunately, ultrasound is not an exact science. Many things contribute to a successful diagnostic study: the age of the fetus, how cooperative that little person is at the time of the study, the experience of the sonographer, the experience of the physician reading that study, the level of suspicion regarding possible defects, and the amount of time that practice allows for each exam. If it is a first pregnancy, a young mom, no family history, all other images and prenatal studies normal with an active fetus, imaging compromises may be accepted. Factor into that entire equation the fact that this was a study done on a celebrity’s wife–sigh…

We are all only human–but that is not comforting to those involved with this case. Not for any of us.

My prayers go out for Billy’s continued successful recovery along with prayers for those professionals who are beating themselves up over missing this prenatal diagnosis. God bless you all.

Wishing you all a restful night filled with love and peace.

I am

B…simply being…

 

Happy Summer

Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out. ~Deb Caletti 

Today is the first day of summer. As a tribute to the Summer Solstice, I’d like to take you with me as I think back and remember some of my childhood summer activities. As you read my list, take a minute to think back on your own summertime memories.

My favorite summer activity was going to the pool. I’d have to make sure to have lunch eaten by noon so I could be in the water the minute the pool opened at 1 p.m. You remember that rule about waiting an hour after eating before getting in the water? As I think back to those hot summer afternoons, I see myself sitting impatiently watching the minutes tick by on the round black framed clock on the wall of the bath house–jumping up as soon as my time was up.

Lucky for me, none of my other summer interests involved time restrictions. These are some of the ways I remember spending summer days:

Hide-n-seek, kick the can, tag, croquet, badminton, tree climbing, setting out to explore other neighborhoods, bike rides and learning–sometimes very unsuccessfully–how to use handle brakes, playing catch, softball, swinging, shooting baskets and H-O-R-S-E, hopscotch, fishing with Dad, summer Catechism, going barefoot, catching lightning bugs and putting them in mayonnaise jars so you can have them in your bedroom at night, sunburns, seeing the Coppertone commercials and using “suntan lotion” for the first time, green hair from the pool chlorine, the smell of Lilacs, warm rain, puddles, shooting stars, watermelon, sweet corn, church ice cream socials and homemade ice cream, wet dogs and wet dog smell, tornado warnings and tornadoes, fresh garden vegetables, homegrown tomatoes, discovering the world of books, and wondering who I’d have as a  teacher when school started again.

Although my sisters and I usually stayed busy, I know a daily question for Mom was what could we do because we were so bored?

Oh…to be so bored today!

“We’re so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past, like ancient stars that have burned out, are no longer in orbit around our minds. There are just too many things we have to think about every day, too many new things we have to learn. New styles, new information, new technology, new terminology … But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone.” 

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

The Flip Side

Affirmations are our mental vitamins, providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events and thoughts we experience daily.” 

Tia Walker, The Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love

I talked about the power of words yesterday, giving examples from my life. Bringing these stories back is difficult at times–

We all have stories in our past that caused us pain. I’ve worked hard to dodge my stories for most of my life. I buried them, thinking they’d dissolve over time and just fade away. For me, once my mind was free to focus on me instead of my career, those memories stirred. I no longer had my work buffers in place. The rumblings of those long dormant memories grew stronger, bolder, and more persistent. They’ve refused to quiet.

My heart told me I was ready to search for the real me. My teachers began to appear in forms of old friends, articles, and books. I knew it was time for me to share the more difficult stories. I needed to do that so I could let them go–flip things around so I was using them to move forward instead of them using me to pull me back.

I share to give hope to those who are experiencing or have had similar struggles. I hope my words give insight to those who recognize some of their own behaviors. We are here on this journey together to support each other–easing the rough spots while sharing our experiences and knowledge.

“You are here, alive and awake and for whatever reasons you have fought your battles, it’s time to start focusing on what strengths pulled you up when the entire world had knocked you down. 

That’s where the virtue in self grows.” 

Nikki Rowe

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Again, I am privileged to have another amazing photographer willing to share his talent with me. Thank you, Brian Gustafson, for allowing me to use your photo with my blog post today. It is a visual image of what my inner turmoil feels like at times. You can view more of Brian’s work by following the link below: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/briangustafson.html

 Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from the photographer.

 

 

Words

Magic Words

“Silly words cause trills 

because they’re ludicrous and funny.

Happy words paint endless smiles

and swallow troubles whole.

Thoughtful words are thus

because they make the day feel sunny.

But hurtful words are such

that pierce the heart and weigh the soul.” 

Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

There are times when I am haunted by the memory of words–simple, sarcastic, flippant combinations of words said without thought. Some were comments made when I was just a kid–others when I was older–when I thought I was an “adult.”

Some comments were in jest–a nonchalant observation that became a label I absorbed for the rest of my life because it comes from a person of power. One of those tapes replays like this:

Running to the door to greet my Dad as he comes home from work.

Me: “Dad, how was your work today? Do you want to see the picture I colored?”

Dad: “Oh. (Seconds pass as he turns the page this way and that way.) It looks like you color just like me–I never could stay in the lines.”

From that day on, I no longer liked to color. I tried to do adult coloring books–from the moment I picked up the colored pencil I feared not staying in the lines. My Dad’s approval was every thing to me. With one short comment, I believed I was not good enough. That feeling of unworthiness slowly oozed into other areas of my life.

Other comments were made by relatives trying to help me through the difficulties I was going through after my Mom died. I’d pulled back into myself. I did not understand how this could have really happened–moms do not die. Even though I was only ten years old–I was reminded I was the oldest. I needed to be strong for my sisters. I needed to set a good example. No one asked me how I was doing. My great-aunt who came to take care of Mom stayed to take care of us after Mom died. She told me she was worried about me. After awhile, I didn’t want to come home from school. The minute I walked through the door she’d ask me about my day. I’d shrug my shoulders and tell her it was okay. What else could I say? I didn’t think I could tell her what was really going on–I had to be strong. Eventually she tired of asking and I withdrew more. She began to just watch me–which felt like she didn’t trust me. We were both frustrated. An example of our conversations:

Aunt: ” I heard you talking with Ellen. Is everything okay?”

Me: “Ya. I’m okay.”

Aunt: “I heard you laughing. You sure you’re okay because it didn’t sound like your laugh. Were you forcing yourself to laugh?”

I took a minute to answer because she’d caught me off guard. Had she been eavesdropping on my conversations? Wow. She’d listened to me laugh? Had I forced my laugh? Did I remember how to laugh?

Me: “I think I need to take my hay fever medicine because my nose is all stuffy. That’s probably why my laugh sounds funny.”

Even today, unless I am surprised by something incredibly funny, I listen to  myself and wonder if whether my laugh is genuine or forced.

One of the most significant things said to me happened during the course of a very traumatic breakup. It had been a long and difficult time in our lives. We were young. We were both tired–tired of a lot of things. We’d both been hurt. There wasn’t much good about any of what was left. Our exchange of words remains a part of the baggage I carry today.

Me: “I am sorry. This is never going to work. It is time we both go our own way.”

Silence.

We are standing in the kitchen I loved in the house on the corner that was so special to me. I was losing it–literally and figuratively. Eventually he walked closer to me, leaned in, and said:

Him: “Well, I guess you’re right. It’s over. I gotta tell you, though, just so you know. I never thought you were good enough for me anyway.”

Words–like arrows to the heart.

Words can’t be weighed on a scale but they burden the soul. Words can be forgiven but forgetting them is difficult if not impossible. The stain left behind from that wound bleeds through during times of stress and self-doubt.

Words are wicked weapons. Use them carefully.

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” This is a lie. What we say matters. The unkind things we communicate can soil the best of relationships; even with the deepest of regrets…what lingers is a stain of hurt that may fade but will never truly go away. The wounding words we say are like feathers released in a harsh wind, once said; we will never get them back. ~Jason Versey” 

Jason Versey, A Walk with Prudence

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you.

~Peace~

Thank you, Thinking Art, for allowing me to share the image from your post on your Facebook page. 

 

 

 

 

A Morning Prayer

Re-sharing from a few months ago because I ran into some of the same challenges today. 

I fell behind on my to-do list today.

I’ve learned there is no way to push or rush my thoughts into words.

Maybe I have Spring Fever? It certainly feels like Spring is in the air today!

Today I’ll share a Morning Prayer from Rabbi Levy. This will give me some time to gather and sort through my thoughts.

I’ve been reading a lot of material on memoir writing these past few weeks. It is interesting and encouraging to read other writers have experienced some of the same types of angst I’ve encountered lately.

Yes, my friends, I’m being assigned another round of lessons on patience, self-awareness, and perseverance.

A Morning Prayer

There are so many things I take for granted. May I not ignore them today. Just for today, help me, God, to remember that my life is a gift, that my health is a blessing, that this new day is filled with awesome potential, that I have the capacity to bring something wholly new and unique and good into this world. Just for today, help me, God, to remember to be kind and patient to the people who love me, and to those who work with me too. Teach me to see all the beauty that I so often ignore, and to listen to the silent longing of my own soul. Just for today, help me, God, to remember You. Let this be a good day, God, full of joy and love. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (pp. 23-24). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Thanks once again to Kimberly Salimeno for letting me borrow one of her great photos. Love you, my friend.      

 

 

 

Merle

Re-sharing my Father’s Day post from last year.

Daddy,” I whispered, feeling my own breath hitch in my throat. “I love you.”

Just when I was sure he was asleep, the one corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. “I knew that,” he murmured. “Always knew that.” 

Morgan Matson, Second Chance Summer

I was never good at writing about my Dad. It seemed like many of the kids at school had adventure stories to tell about their Dads–places they went or things they did together. I didn’t have those experiences. My story was always short. My Dad worked. The end.

He was the manager of the lumbar yard in the little Iowa town where I grew up. I did not really know exactly what that meant–but I was proud of him and that he was the BOSS–cool.

I’m not sure why, but I spent a lot of time there. I loved hanging out with him. I met a lot of the people who came in to ask him how much lumber they would need for this or what type of wood they should use for that. Some came by just to visit and share stories. I was very young–probably seven or eight years old. He would take a minute to introduce me to his customers. If he was out of the office, his bookkeeper, Delta, would do the same.I felt like just another one of the guys–and I liked that.

My favorite thing to do was clean his desk. It was a collection of catalogs, papers, and a gigantic business ledger. Now, as I look around at my own desk, it looks very much like the desk I used to “clean up” for him. He was a stacker. I did not realize until now that I’d inherited that trait. Gotta love those things that pop into your mind, onto the page, and into reality! I would dust and clean and re-arrange the stacks, all while listening to him order supplies or talk to customers on the phone or in person. He would tell those visiting that I was there to help him work and I was doing such a good job it would take him weeks to find things again.

What is so amazing to me now is how tolerant he was of me being in his work space.

I met most of the sales people who called on him. My favorite sales person, and a friend of Dad’s, was a man named, Royal. I think he was my first crush. He drove a huge, shiny, black car. (A car that would come into play later in my childhood.) Royal was very tall, tan, had thick very dark, slicked back hair, and he always smelled good, like my Grandpa. Regardless of the weather, he wore a suit with a tie. Dad would tell him to loosen up his tie and relax for a bit. I am sure I just sat and stared at him. He would take Dad over to the pool hall and buy coffee and pie–I was always invited and I had my choice of ice cream or a malt. One of my most vivid memories is Royal giving me a wooden nickel–remember those? Each time he was scheduled to visited, Dad would tell me so I could join them for coffee and I’d get my nickel and ice cream. I absolutely worshipped Royal. He made me feel special and he would sit with Dad, have coffee, and make us both laugh. I didn’t always understand what they were talking about but I knew he made Dad happy. Of all the things I did understand, even as a little kid, was that making Dad laugh was no small task.

Dad was not the typical Dad nor were we the typical family. He expected a lot from his oldest daughter–the daughter that he really wanted to be a boy. We all did our best, as strong and stubborn individuals and as an embattled family unit. We certainly faced some extreme situations. I am sure there were times when things were not handled very well but we somehow found ways to stay together. What I have come to understand is we all did the best we knew how to do with what we knew at the time.

I wish I had taken the time to really talk to him. I was so busy working at being the woman who could do it all and learn it all. I was fully aware that time was racing by but I felt I’d have that next visit to sit down and talk. That’s the cruelest of tricks, though. You always think you will have more time. Don’t fall for it, my friends.

Interesting, isn’t it,  for someone with no story to tell about their Dad, I seem to have stumbled upon some wonderful memories.

Take some time today to talk with your Dad–listen to him and tell him how important he is to you and that you love him. Next Father’s Day may be too late.

Give yourself the gift of making a memory today.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and Peace, y’all

They Say It’s Your Birthday

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” 

Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

Happy Birthday to my very own miracle.

I love you.

“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” 

Bob Marley

I am…

B…simply being…

I am blessed and I am thankful.

~Peace~

Self-Care

“The day you start giving yourself priority and catering to your own needs first, that day everything will fall in place. Most of us were taught (or believed) that taking care of your own needs first is being selfish. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Unless you look after yourself first, how can you look after others? It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that if you want to help others, you have to take care of your own needs first. No, you are not being selfish by doing that. Charity begins at home- in this case with your own self. You can feed others provided you have enough to eat. More often than not, you are misused if you are nice. You have to compromise many a time to suit needs of others. That way you are seconding yourself to someone else. Stop doing that. You have a right to your needs and a reasonable chance to fulfill them. Demarcate clear boundaries, draw very clear unambiguous lines and stick to them; your personal space should not be violated. If in your relationships you find that all your efforts are concentrated on pleasing others then it is high time you unshackled and freed yourself from their vice like grip or else you will sink into quicksand with no chance of survival. If people don’t like the new you and decide to walk out, don’t stop them, they were never meant to be in your circle. Good riddance. Believe me, you will feel relieved because a very heavy load would have been lifted from your chest. Surround yourself with like-minded people who care for you, respect your individuality, see your value and don’t cross the line. They are people you should stick to- because they are genuine.” 

Latika Teotia

In my midwest Catholic family, I was raised to put others first–that was the way it was–to do otherwise was selfish.

Taking care of myself–self-care–is a relatively new concept for me. I struggle with it most days–I think many of us do. It’s an entirely new thought process for me so I should not expect it to be comfortable immediately.

I’m learning to be patient with myself–I’m more aware and beginning to believe the simple fact is this–I am worthy–as are YOU.

“You need to wake up and realize that you deserve more, and there is more waiting for you out there. Stop settling; it only tarnishes and corrodes your soul.” 

Lebo Grand

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Uncharted Territory

“It’s funny how, in this journey of life, even though we may begin at different times and places, our paths cross with others so that we may share our love, compassion, observations, and hope. This is a design of God that I appreciate and cherish.” 

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Things are very unsettled in my little circle of friends today. Many of those I cherish are traveling through uncharted territory.

It’s scary and it is difficult.

I have no wisdom to share. There is no way I can smooth the rough spots I feel lie ahead. My only way of helping is to remind them often how much I care while making myself available.

A few weeks ago I saw the image I’m using for my story today on one of my Facebook feeds. Thank you, Terry Boyd Lucher, for allowing me to share your photo. Little did I know when I contacted you, a suicide survivor, I would have another level of connection with you besides the love of your photo. Suicide has entered the walls of my tribe and I am grateful to have you here. It was the strength of that tree that caught my eye–reminding me of an image my friend Sandi talked about years ago. I can still see her sitting in our circle all those years ago, sharing the fact that there were times when she felt like a tree hanging on at the edge of a cliff–roots laid bare for all to see. Sandi, too, is a survivor. She is one of my cherished ones traveling a very unfamiliar and uncharted pathway. May the love of those surrounding her illuminate her way today and all the days ahead.

Terry, I pray your image provides the vision needed for anyone in need of stability and overall toughness and perseverance . This breathtaking photo, for me, certainly demonstrates those two qualities and many more.

Our world is hard. It has no patience for anyone fighting to keep any type of foothold. May we all remember to stay aware and take a moment to simply be kind.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” 

Aesop

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

 

A Little More of the Story

Re-sharing with love.

“Finished crap can be edited. Unfinished greatness languishes forever. The only bad writing is the thing you didn’t write!”
― Margarita Gakis

At times, I can be a slow learner. I shift into low gear, over-analyzing some lessons and life experiences, making them extremely difficult and complicated. Because I don’t fully understand what is being taught or tested, self-doubt creeps in when my guard is down. With fear at the reins, I start trivializing the whole experience.

I now understand I did this because in my mind I cannot fail–that is not an option. In order to maintain my family expectations, I pretended all is well. I’d work on this project and that project for a while, early on determining whatever I was working on was either too difficult or too simple. With that finely honed skill, I’d walk away from one task after another, allowing many to quietly slip away to sit alongside many others.

Over this past year, I’ve written about this behavior in hopes of discovering why I was such a star procrastinator. This dedication to self  helped me begin to understand some of the reasons. The more I wrote, the more I began to see the pattern of self-deception which grew into a lifetime of disruptive behavior.

My Dad made it very clear that I was expected to do my best. My kid brain interpreted that to mean I had to be perfect. I was far from perfect but I became very good at pretending. Pretending can be very tough for a kid. Before long, my act began to develop weak spots. Over time, I learned how to patch those tears and quiet my internal critic.

All I had to do was make sure I was always, always, always busy.

When new assignments came along, I’d work on them whenever I could make the time. Because I was so busy, there was never enough time. I’d fill what extra moments I had with something I wanted to do, pushing that not so favorite job further into the land of tomorrow. By delaying, I’d found a way to put myself in hyper mode, ensuring I’d get it done–but not until the very last moment. This methodology always provided the perfect excuse in case what I’d been working on was not done as well as it could or should have been done. Or, if the whole project failed, it wasn’t my fault. I just did not have enough time.

Over this past year, I began to see how my fear of not being good enough–not being perfect–evolved into procrastination. I saw, often in spite of myself, I’d always ended up doing pretty well. I may not have gotten that A, but I’d never failed. My procrastination was a symptom of my self-doubt. I understood I no longer needed games or excuses. I was good enough simply by being me–by being who I am.

You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being — not because anybody says so, not because you’re successful, not because you make a lot of money — but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason.”
Wayne W. Dyer

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, Y’all.

Thank you, my dear friend, Mary, for letting me borrow your birthday bouquet today.  I Love you.

Trying to Understand

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.” 

David Foster Wallace

When I was in high school, two of my friends attempted suicide. I visited them at the hospital where the doctors and nurses did whatever they did for young people back then. It was eye-opening and difficult to visit them. The Psych ward was a pretty scary place back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. There was only one psych ward in our community which meant there were all different types of illnesses sharing this part of the hospital. For me, this place was mysterious and a little scary–every time I visited the lights were dim, the TV always playing in the large common patient area, and a constant line of patients shuffled here and there as the nursing staff tracked them down in order to administer medication.

My most lasting memory of my visits was hearing the door unlock and lock when the staff let me into the unit. That loss of personal freedom created a moment of panic for me as I wondered what would happen if they would not let me out again?

I was much luckier than my two friends. I certainly had my fair share of challenges but I had people who miraculously showed up in my life whenever I needed them. I was not good at asking for help–I’m still not good at that–but these special people didn’t wait for me to ask–they just stormed in and made sure I stayed okay.

I’ve been reading today trying to find something that would help me understand suicide. I found two quotes–one opening my story today and one will close it. I’m sharing both because each quote helped me see things in a different way. I hope they will for you as well.

“Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong.” 

Sally Brampton, Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you.

~Peace~

I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog. You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful pictures on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa. Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.