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…

 

Worth a Thousand Words

“Snow is…a beautiful reminder of life and all its quirks. It makes me pause. Think. Stay still. Even my mind takes the hint. It makes me feel giddy. Like a kid. I bring my hot cocoa to the window and simply sit and reminisce…It brings me back to days of school cancellations and snow igloos and King of the Mountain games in my childhood neighborhood…That for this one moment in time, I’m not an adult with all the headaches that can accompany that responsibility, but instead, I’m still the girl in pigtails with the handmade hat and mittens, just waiting to build her next snowman.”
― R.B. O’Brien

Do you ever stumble upon an old picture and find yourself transported back to that very spot?

The picture I found today has extra transporting powers because it has so much to share about so many things from this time in my life–the happy days of my childhood.

What a gift to have the time to actually study some of these old photos. In this picture, Gram is holding my cousin, Johnny and my sister, Beth. I am in the immediate foreground of the picture–a position I hold by way of declaring it be so, I am sure. My ear to ear grin tells me I was thrilled to be seated close to the woman I adored.

It appears Mom had been busy with those home perm kits–both Beth and I have some pretty sassy looking curls.

As I gaze, my senses come alive with memories.

I can feel the coarse fabric of the big armchair, the ridges and valleys of the leaf design would leave firm impressions on any body part pressed against them for even a short period of time. This chair and the matching coach were prominent fixtures in our living room throughout my early childhood.  The arms of both pieces of furniture were broad enough to support all three of us girls when our grandparents, aunts, and uncles came for a visit. I still remember squirming my upper body back and forth so I could get as close to them as possible.

The ever-present ashtray was never far from Gram’s reach, a burning cigarette held within the little, indented glass edges. Her etched handbag nearby as well, holding her peppermint candies, embroidered hankies, and an extra pack of cigarettes. It looks like Gram had filled the candy dish beside the lamp. This subtle observation may be another reason I am sporting such a big grin.

I have always loved palm tree prints. As I evaluate this image, I am no longer surprised at that fondness. This was our living room, a place where we all gathered to talk, watch TV, or recover on the coach during those childhood bouts with measles, chicken pox, and mumps. Between the three of us, we battled pretty much every childhood illness.

The black box on the wall on the right side of the photo was some sort of control to the coal burning furnace–I think. I remember there were three different chains that you could pull that did something to the furnace or the venting system. I was repeatedly told NOT to pull them–which meant pulling them became my everyday goal and obsession.

I imagine this picture was taken about sixty years ago. What a wonderful cluster of memories to take with me into the weekend.

May Y’all find some of your own.

“Don’t you wish you could take a single childhood memory and blow it up into a bubble and live inside it forever?”
― Sarah Addison Allen, Lost Lake

I am…

B…simply being…  

God bless.

~Peace~

 

 

A Moment in Time

Back Home!

If I had the power to turn back the clock,
Go Back to that house at the end of the block—
That house that was HOME when I was a kid,
I know that I’d love it more now than I did.

If I could be back there at my mother’s knee,
And hear once again all the things she told me,
I’d listen as I never listened before,
For she knew so well just what life had in store.

And all the advice my dad use to give,
His voice I’ll remember as long as I live;
But it didn’t seem really important then;
What I’d give just to live it all over again.

And what I’d give for the chance I once had,
To do so much more for my mother and dad;
To give them more joy and a little less pain;
A little more sunshine—a little less rain.

But the years roll on and we cannot go back,
Whether we were born in a mansion or in a shack;
But we can start right now—in the hour that’s here,
Tod do something more for the ones we hold dear.
~Author Unknown~

This poem was posted on Facebook a few days ago. As I read it, the words tugged at my heart, pulling up old memories. I didn’t know how I’d use it, but I knew I needed to tuck it away and share it in one of my stories.

I was going through old photos in search of a picture that matched the emotions I felt as I  read the poem. Tucked away was this little blurry picture of our house on First Street in Traer, Iowa. 606 First Street, to be exact. The person in the front yard is my sister, Beth. The shadowy person at the front door is my precious Gram. Interesting, today was the first time I’d looked at this photo closely since they’ve both passed away. I have to say, it gives me a very different type of perspective and a strong underlying melancholy.

This was the house I remember being at my Mom’s knee. These were the days she had time to tell me the stories of how she met my Dad and what happened when my sisters and I were born. This was the house of making homemade soups, sneaking those fresh-cut egg noodles, cutting up fresh strawberries, devouring watermelon, shucking sweet corn, surviving home perms, and trying to sit still for home manicures followed by Mom’s red fingernail polish. This house was the home full of special little things, good times, and happy memories.

As I wrote my story today, I felt the need for some words of comfort and wisdom from my newest counselor, Rabbi Levy. I think I found just the right thing to share.

I haven’t forgotten you, even though it’s been some time now since I’ve seen your face, touched your hand, heard your voice. You are with me all the time. I used to think you left me. I know better now. You come to me. Sometimes in fleeting moments, I feel your presence close by. But I still miss you. And nothing, no person, no joy, no accomplishment, no distraction, not even God, can fill the gaping hole your absence has left in my life. But mixed together with all my sadness, there is a great joy for having known you. I want to thank you for the time we shared, for the love you gave, for the wisdom you spread. Thank you for the magnificent moments and for the ordinary ones too. There was beauty in our simplicity. Holiness in our unspectacular days. And I will carry the lessons you taught me always. Your life has ended, but your light can never be extinguished. It continues to shine upon me even on the darkest nights and illuminates my way. I light this candle in your honor and in your memory. May God bless you as you have blessed me with love, with grace, and with peace. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (p. 222). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Valentine’s Day

“Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell someone how much you love, how much you care.”
Aulic Ice

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

At one time I’m sure I knew the history of Valentine’s Day. This line of questioning is just one more example of wondering about things I once knew…

To refresh my memory I searched History.com to see what I could find.

I learned February has been celebrated as the month of romance for a long time; no one really knows the true origin of how February 14th became known as St. Valentine’s Day.

The Catholic Church recognizes three St. Valentines. All three were martyred.

Father Valentine was a priest who served The Church in the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men after declaring single men made better soldiers than married men with families. Valentine saw this edict as unjust and continued to marry young lovers. When this practice was discovered, Father Valentine was executed.

Another story talks about one other Valentine who may have been killed because he was helping Christians escape the brutality of the Roman prisons. This man was also put to death for his actions.

One more legend has it that another Valentine was in prison and sent the first “Valentine” greeting after falling in love with a young woman. This young lady visited him often in prison and may have been the daughter of his jailor. Before Valentine’s death, he sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.” Interesting, isn’t it, that this phrase is still used today.

There are many stories and myths about the origins of Valentine’s Day. Some people believe it commemorates the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial. Others feel St. Valentine’s Day is in the middle of February in an effort by The Catholic Church to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, celebrated February 15th.

Lupercalia is a pagan fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and the Roman founders, twins Romulus and Remus.

At the beginning of the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, gather at a sacred cave where Romulus and Remus were cared for by the she-wolf, Lupa. In this cave, the priests would sacrifice a goat, a symbol of fertility, and a dog, a symbol of purification. The hides of both were cut into strips, dipped into the sacrificial blood, and taken out into the streets.  These strips were used in a slapping motion on both women and crop fields, believing this practice would increase fertility.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day was first celebrated by all classes in the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small gifts or handwritten notes. By 1900, printed cards began to replace handwritten letters thanks to the improvements to printing technology.

Valentine’s Day cards in the United States probably began in the early 1700s. In 1840, Esther Howland, known as “Mother of the Valentine” began selling the first mass-produced cards. Ms. Howland made her creations out of real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures called “scrap.”

In 1913 Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began producing Valentine’s Day cards. Today the American Greeting Card Association reports we send 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards, second only to Christmas cards, a holiday where we send 2.6 billion cards. 85% of those Valentine’s Day cards are purchased by women.

Such an interesting little bit of history to share. Thanks for learning with me today.

I hope your day was filled with love and happiness.

“Love is an afternoon of fishing when I’d sooner be at the ballet.
Love is eating burnt toast and lumpy graving with a big smile.
Love is hearing the words ‘You’re beautiful’ as I fail to squeeze into my fat jeans.
Love is refusing to bring up the past, even if doing so would be a slam dunk to prove your point.
Love is your hand wiping away my tears, trying to erase streaks of mascara.
Love is the warm hug that extinguishes an argument.
Love is a humbly uttered apology, even if not at fault.
Love is easy to recognize but so hard to define; however, I think it boils down to this…
Love is caring so much about the feelings of someone else, you sacrifice whatever it takes to help him or her feel better.
In other words, love is my heart being sensitive to yours.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wish

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all.

~Peace~

 

 

 

Telephonophobia

If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me.

~Song title by Jimmy Buffett

I learned a new word today–telephonophobia. In case it’s a new word for you, let me tell you that it is a reluctance or fear of making or taking calls.

Interesting.

Who knew the kid who once begged for more time on the phone would become someone who really dislikes making and, at times, answering the phone?

Lucky for me, one of my best friends is not afraid. She’s been patient with me while I work my way through conquering this phobia. I’ve learned I need to prepare for important calls–set time aside so I am not distracted, making it easy for me to listen and concentrate. Even though I don’t like calls, once I’m taking part in the conversation, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to connect and share.

I was rewarded in the best way over the weekend. I was able to have a long conversation with my dear friend and old neighbor, Mary Beth. Thanks, MB, for taking a huge chunk out of your day and spending it with me. It wasn’t as great as sitting across the kitchen table with a glass or two of wine–but not bad for the distance that call erased for us both.

After we ended our call, I was so thankful for the time and stories we shared. I am so blessed and I am very grateful.

I found the following quote that sums our friendship up very well.

A woman or man of value doesn’t love you because of what he or she wants you to be or do for them. He or she loves you because your combined souls understand one another, complements each other, and make sense above any other person in this world. You each share a part of their soul’s mirror and see each other’s light reflected in it clearly. You can easily speak from the heart and feel safe doing so. Both of you have been traveling a parallel road your entire life. Without each other’s presence, you feel like an old friend or family member was lost. It bothers you, not because you have given it too much meaning, but because God did. This is the type of person you don’t have to fight for because you can’t get rid of them and your heart doesn’t want them to leave anyways.”
― Shannon L. Alder

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Problem Solving

I may look like I’m not doing anything, but I’m quite busy problem-solving, being creative, or just thinking in my head with about 30 tabs open.

I was scattered today and becoming frustrated.

No matter what I did, I could not get my mind to focus on any one thing. I started at least four different projects, completely none. This is usually a sign I’m trying to do too much. My mind felt like a scratched record–an analogy that definitely shows my age–thoughts and ideas skipping all over the place. I knew I just needed to stop.

I needed to find a way to balance myself–both mentally and physically.

I grabbed my work gloves, gathered some tools, and headed out to do some work in the yard. It’s too early to do much, but I could pull some weeds and clean up some of the flower beds. After an hour of connecting to the good Earth and Mother Nature, I was feeling much better.

I read some of Rabbi Naomi Levy’s book today, Talking to God.  I’d like to share with you a nighttime prayer from this book. I hope you’ll find comfort in Rabbi Levy’s words. May this prayer help you release the burdens and worries of this past week and allow you to rest and recharge fully this weekend.

A Night Prayer

With the darkness comes Your light. Earth and sky blend into one, the heavens seem closer now, the day’s burdens farther somehow. Your presence is almost palpable. Watch over me, God, body, and soul. Stay beside me through the night. Protect me from harm. Banish my fears. Send me dreams that are sweet, fill my heart with Your peace, set my mind at ease. And, at first light, please, restore me to new life. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (p. 35). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I am…

B…simply being…

May God bless us all and keep us safe.

~Peace~

My thanks to Chuck Hackenmiller for allowing me to use his photo published in the I grew up in Iowa Facebook page. Please note, NO re-use permitted without permission from the photographer, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.   

 

 

 

Party Lines

Eavesdropping is such a regular-person activity.”
Franny Billingsley, Chime

I had a flashback to my childhood today. It made me smile and a little sad.

The little town I grew up in had a large population of Czech families. Those memories include dishes with sauerkraut, heavenly pastries like kolaches, polka music, and party lines.

What?

For those who don’t know what party lines are, let me share what I remember. It won’t take long because I know very little about them. All I really know is how they played into my social life in the early to mid-sixties.

During this time several families or households shared phone lines. When you picked up the receiver, you’d hear a dial tone or overhear someone else’s conversation. The dial tone meant you could make your call, the sound of voices signaled you needed to replace the receiver and wait for your neighbor to finish their call.

If I’m remembering correctly, after three minutes of conversation,  you’d hear three short beeps, signaling you had one minute left of your call time. At the end of that minute, your call would be disconnected. This was an attempt to keep someone from tieing up the line for long periods of time. Now, if you were really fast and determined, you could redial your friend before your neighbor realized your call had ended.

Iowans are nice people. Even Iowans get cranky waiting to make a call. However, this was a great opportunity to practice passive/aggressive behavior. If you had been waiting for a long time, many of us began to pick up and replace the receiver frequently. Those maneuvers began softly. As time passed, aggression dictated the speed and the power of receiver placement. If that did not work, we’d pick up and just listen. The eavesdropper would be quiet at first, especially if the conversation was interesting. In my neighborhood, once we began listening, English was replaced by the language of the speakers native country. Since this made it pointless to listen, loud breathing would go into play accompanied by tongue clicks and heavy sighs.

It was a battle we rarely won. These little grandma ladies could tolerate all our teenage acting out and angst. They’d just talk louder and faster. When it would finally be our turn to make our call, they’d occasionally do a few payback moves. As a way to discourage them, we’d begin to speak in our special made-up languages, working to perfect “pig latin.”  As these skirmishes wore on, it was clear, we were no match for them.

Of course, our biggest fear was someone would pick up so quietly we would not hear them, unknowingly spilling a secret or two. Not only could those little grandma neighbors out talk us, they were super quiet–almost spy-like. Taking the risk to share secrets was a concern. There was one other little worry. What if these little ladies overheard you talking to someone you were not supposed to be talking to…somehow, our parents would know before we even ended the call.

All these thoughts made me pause as I picked up my cell phone. For all those automated phone tree customer service calls, I think I’d feel a lot less frustrated if I could make and end those calls more–let’s say–energetically by way of a heavy old rotary phone.

Maybe I should have kept one old phone just for that type of anger management?

I am…

B…simply being…  

God bless.

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

 

Time for Me

“Solitude is where I place my chaos to rest and awaken my inner peace.”
― Nikki Rowe

I had this entire day to myself.

I know I need my alone time. It is important for my peace of mind and sense of self. Even after just a few hours, I am beginning to feel back in control of my world, my mind more centered, and the weight of that damn extra baggage I lug around with me everywhere has lightened up a little.

It was an excellent day. There was no agenda. I just had to show up and let things roll.

“I lied and said I was busy.
I was busy;
but not in a way most people understand.

I was busy taking deeper breaths.
I was busy silencing irrational thoughts.
I was busy calming a racing heart.
I was busy telling myself I am okay.

Sometimes, this is my busy –
and I will not apologize for it.”
― Brittin Oakman

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

 

 

The Gift of Friends

“No friendship is an accident. ”
― O. Henry, Heart of the West

Today is the birthday of three of my friends.

Happy Birthday, Jodi, Linda, and Jim.

Each of you came into my life at different times, each bringing your own special and unique gifts. I am so thankful.

As I take a walk down Memory Lane, the first person I’d meet is Linda. Linda and I were friends in grade school and junior high. She always had a smile and was full of energy. I loved her for her sense of adventure. She seemed fearless. An added bonus was the fact that my Dad knew her parents meaning I could actually go to her house after school. Linda lived in the country. For a town kid like me, that was so incredibly special because that meant I got to ride the bus. I never knew what to expect when we arrived at her house “out in the country.”

Now…I have to confess…as fearless as Linda was I was her direct counterbalance in this Universe. I was afraid of EVERYTHING.

Of course, I could not act like I was afraid so I had to devise all kinds of maneuvers to appear to be just fine with whatever it was we needed to get done as far as completing her chores. The most consistent thing to challenge my acting ability was the Houdini escape pig who always seemed to get out just before the school bus arrived. That pig was HUGE in my skinny little town kid eyes! It was our job to herd that big beast back home to the pen. I spent more time and energy running in some sort of zig-zag pattern making every effort to stay as far away from the pig as possible. I really really really disliked that hog. I was little, if any, help. We (meaning Linda) did eventually get him back where he belonged. Thank you, Linda Wendt Mossman, for being a friend then and now. Happy Birthday.

The next person I’d meet on the stroll today would be Jodi. She was one of the first people I met after moving to Waterloo from Traer. What a culture shock for me–moving from a small community school to a small city school. I was scared to death most of that first month of school. Jodi and I had many things in common–which neither one of us really shared until we were much older. I think kids are so open we felt our common bonds even without speaking about them. She never ever gave up on me and was successful in breaking me out of the house for different get-togethers. I was so grateful to her for never having to explain some of the craziness she saw going on at our house. Now, we laugh about some of those times. After we graduated we stayed close friends until I moved to Denver in the mid-eighties. I still miss those weekend nights when we would sit around her kitchen table and share stories from our week. When I count my blessings, Jodi McGrane Verbraken is definitely at the top of the list. Happy Birthday, my dear friend who has been by my side for so many life-changing things. I cherish you and love you.

The person furthest down memory lane is Jim. I met Jim and his wife, Jan, at a little RV park in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Michael and I had our RV parked in Pleasant Valley, in the little town Howard, along the Arkansas River,  for many years. Jim and Jan and many others used this little spot along the river as a weekend getaway when we were all still working in Denver. I didn’t get a chance to really get to know Jim until we had retired. Both Jim and his wife, Jan, have the most contagious laughs on the planet along with being two of the most giving people on the planet. I am so grateful I have them as friends. Happy Birthday, Jim Finegan. I am looking forward to seeing you and Jan next week.

It’s not Carolyn’s birthday today but that is her needlepoint wall hanging I am using as my story photo. Carolyn and I worked together at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, for many many years. I carried this little wall hanging with me for decades–some of the age shows around the edges. I hung it where I could see it every morning–its last place was just inside my closet door–Carolyn greeted me every day before I hit the road to work. When we sold our house and became full-time RVers, I had to let many things go. This was one. So, tearfully I took a picture of it, knowing it would now be well-preserved. Thank you, Carolyn Nederhoff for this wonderful gift that symbolized our friendship and helped get me through my working days without your giving spirit. I think of you often and send you my love today. I hope one of our old hospital gang will share this with you. Many hugs sent to you today and always.

“A spiritual connection with someone lasts forever, even when physical presence fades.”
― Danielle Barone

I am…

B…simply being…

I am blessed and I am grateful.

~Peace~

 

This is Us

Then I thought, boy, isn’t that just typical? You wait and wait and wait for something, and then when it happens, you feel sad.”
― Sharon Creech, Absolutely Normal Chaos

Even though I told myself I would not do it until I had a few things crossed off my to-do list, I just watched the latest episode of This is Us. My to-do list is untouched.

As it began, I almost turned it off. I wasn’t sure I was ready.

Like we’ve all known for a long time, I knew Jack was going to die. I expected him to die in the fire. As the story unfolded, I was caught off guard by all the memories that came flooding into my mind. All those patients I’d seen in similar situations over the years–I was surprised by the flashback of faces and their tragic scenarios. I was not prepared for that.

I don’t know how these amazing writers could have thrown in anything more to trigger tears that would crescendo into sobs. From Kevin’s list of making amends to the fire turning the kitchen into an inferno to Jack escaping from the house with the dog. The images and stories this show ignites are beyond compare. I’d gone through a whole box of kleenex. I was sobbing and very grateful to be home alone. I am definitely a person who needs her space when it’s time for a good cry.

This show never fails to make me think, reminding me how fragile life really is and how I need to let go of the small stuff, staying aware and grateful.

“Thank you for the day and night,
for rainy spells and summer’s light.
Thank you for the skies of blue
and puffy clouds in grayish hue.
Thank you for the giggle fest
and midnight’s cloak to hasten rest.
Thank you for tomorrow new
and yesterday’s tomorrow too.
Thank you for “I’m glad we met”
and also for “we haven’t yet.”
Thank you for the peace of mind
a grateful soul doth always find.”
Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all.

~Peace~

 

 

Saddle Up

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
― Jim Morrison

The things that scared me have often surprised me as much as they’ve nearly paralyzed me.

Learning to scuba dive was one of those times.

I loved to swim. I felt I was a good swimmer. My form was probably questionable but I never doubted my overall strength.

Learning how to scuba dive taught me a lot about myself. All was well until we put all our gear on and went under water for the first time.

When the time came to put my head underwater and take that first breath through our regulator–I panicked.

I could not get it through my head I really could breathe underwater. I had to get a handle on my fear and get it under control. Michael and I had made plans to go to Maui. Diving was a big part of it. In fact, we scheduled everything around me doing my final check out dive in there.

I was struggling and my fear was escalating. Honestly, I have no idea how I was able to pass all my pool testing and advance to the point where I qualified for the final open water exam. As we traveled to Maui, I prayed I’d be able to complete this final test. For me, it was a test in every possible way.

When we arrived in Maui we went to the dive shop and signed up for a couple of dives. My checkout dive would be done during our first dive. I met the dive master, John, who would be doing my open water exam. I was honest, telling him I was pretty nervous about making my first dive in the ocean. John listened to my concerns, shared some of his personal stories which helped put me at ease. By the time we left I was feeling much more ready and a little more self-confident.

That first dive was early the next morning. We were both ready to get this dive under our belts so we arrived bright and early.  As I gathered all my gear and began to set up for my dive, I looked around for John. Michael was watching me carefully knowing I was nervous. When he noticed John was not around, he went to get an update. The captain of the boat told us John had a family emergency so he would not be there. My heart sank. My nerves kicked into high gear. The new dive master would be over soon to meet us, the captain said. We just needed to hold tight.

As I watched the crew load the boat, I heard someone call my name. I turned to find a woman about my height holding out her hand. I am sure my mouth had fallen open as she introduced herself to me. There, standing in front of me, was a person who looked EXACTLY like my ninth grade swimming instructor, Miss Katzer.

Miss Katzer was quite a character–to say the very least. She was a drill sergeant–a wiry woman with a head full of wild dishwater blonde hair who rarely talked in a normal tone of voice. Everything was screamed out. She expected you to listen–no talking–NO GUM CHEWING. If she saw you chewing gum, she’d pull out the coffee can she always seemed to have at her fingertips and yell for you to spit it out into the can.

Miss Katzer was also known for an injury she had which resulted in her losing toes on one of her feet–a feature she pointed out often as she warned us about the dangers of water skiing.

Why is any of this important?

This dive master who would be doing my check out dive looked so much like Miss Katzer I immediately looked down at her feet to see if she was missing toes. Even though her feet were intact, I was immediately at ease. I knew I would be able to complete my dive–and I did. We completed that day of diving and did several other dives while we were there.

When we returned home and went back to work, I discovered my outlook on many of the problems I’d had at work had changed. My level of anxiety was markedly decreased. What made me nervous just a couple of weeks ago no longer had any power over me. Conquering this mega fear created a landslide of changes in the rest of my life. I knew without a doubt I no longer had anything to fear.

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
John Wayne

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all as we head out to our weekend.

“You have peace,” the old woman said, “when you make it with yourself.”
― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven