The 50’s Through the Eyes of Frank Miller

 

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” 

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

When I saw the book below at an estate sale a few months ago, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Frank Miller was a household name in Iowa as I was growing up–and for good reasons.

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For those who don’t know, Frank Miller was a Pulitzer Prize winning “cartoonist” for The Des Moines Register for three decades. In 1983 The Register published a book presenting selected works from his years at the paper.

To introduce those who don’t know him and those of us who want to know more about him, let me share what James Flansburg said about him in the introduction:

“Frank Miller captured the essence of Iowa. He was a cartoonist and proud of it. But also from 1953 to 1983 his pen and brushes produced hundreds of sketches and paintings that caught the beauty of the state and the anomaly of man’s trying to harness nature…

…Frank Miller didn’t really draw for the readers of The Register and the 30 other papers in which he was syndicated. He drew for an audience of one: Frank Miller…He was one of those rare beings who got paid for doing what he otherwise who’d have been doing for nothing…

…In that sense–unassuming, but not humble, aware of his talent but not crowing about it, convinced of his rightness but recognizing other views–Frank Miller appears to be a study in huge indifference. He lost interest in a work the instant it was finished…

…people didn’t like the cartoons he liked and liked the ones he didn’t very much care for. My guess, for example, is that he didn’t much like his Pulitzer Prize winning cartoon.So the way a Frank Miller would handle that would be to say as little as possible. “I think I’ve drawn better cartoons,” he said…

…We sat side by side int The Register newsroom for a long while–he illustrated  my political column for many years–and I never knew he had an alcohol problem until the day he told me he’d be gone for a while because he was going to put himself into the hospital for the cure. (It was the beginning of what he regarded as his most important work in the last several years of his life, helping alcoholics try to repair their shattered lives). Nor did many people know about it when his right elbow gave out–cartoonists are subject to something like tennis elbow because of the fine detail work of drawing–and he started to teach himself to draw with his left hand…

…Miller’s first dealing with The Register demonstrated his qualities as an affable, rational person who knew how to play whatever cards fate dealt. After army service in World War II Europe and study at the University of Kansas and Kansas City Art Institute, Miller had followed his father as a staff artist at the Kansas City Star. IN November of 1951, Register editor Kenneth MacDonald wrote Miller to ask if Miller was interested in a Register job for which he’d been recommended by his old teacher Karl Mattern, the noted artist. “Last May I was called to active duty with he Army Reserves,” said Miler’s reply, “and as I write I am in San Francisco ready to ship to Korea.” On his letter was an ink sketch of a sergeant in full combat gear. “Damn. An I always did like Des Moines,” said the caption. Miller laughed at the situation that would have had almost anyone else raving…

…Eighteen months later Miller was on The Register payroll and on his way to becoming as important a figure in Iowa’s day-to-day life as The Register’s first front page cartoonist, Jay N. (Ding) Darling…

…Miller never sided with a political figure–issues yes–individuals no–and Miller was not particularly interested in knowing or even meeting the great and near-great…His letter file would have been a valuable find for an autograph hunter or maybe even a scholar. But Miller wasn’t interested. He threw them away after reading them…

…When I cleaned out his desk and boxed his belongings after his death, I found, among other things, two letters and one photograph…

…The photograph and one of the letters were from Gene McCarthy and were carefully preserved. The other letter was from President Lyndon Johnson and it was in relatively good condition except for the dozens of brown ring stains from the coffee cups that Miller had set on it over the years.

Some of the cartoons for the 1950’s:

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The more things change, the more they remain the same. ~Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

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…

 

Prayer

“For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.” 

― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Over the past few weeks I’ve been able to relight my votive candle. Until now the wax would have melted without lighting the wick. I’d forgotten how the glow of light illuminating Mary’s face helps calm my restless and sometimes anxious soul.

Right now there seems to be so much heartache around me–both on a personal level and as I observe the unrest in this country I love.

I can’t help but think of that sociology or psychology experiment where an infant monkey was denied physical contact and how that tiny little one failed to thrive both physically and emotionally. Are we on an entire world scale collectively failing to thrive because of our isolation from each other? Is our fearful withdrawal creating another type of illness just as dangerous as “the Covid?”

I’m not sure of the answer. After so many months of uncertainty, I don’t know who or what to believe. I find myself watching hours, days, and months march by with only more uncertainty ahead. I wonder what our future holds as colder weather moves in with all the usual viruses meeting up CV-19 and its mutated cousins. 

I do know the power of prayer so my votive candle has returned to my favorite spot on our back patio. It is here I visit daily to pray. It is the only thing I know for sure I can do to help. 

Join me.

God our Father, giver of life, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care. You are the rock on which this nation was founded. You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Reclaim this land for your glory and dwell among your people.

Send your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders. Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Remind your people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing your will.

Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, patroness of our land, grant us the courage to reject the “culture of death.” Lead us into a new millennium of life. We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
Amen.

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Weary

“Her eyes look tired, but it’s her soul that’s truly weary.” ~Liz Newman~

 

I’ve taken some time away from my desk so I could do some quiet reflection.

Like so many I’d become weary.

Weary of extremes I encountered everywhere throughout my day.

Weary of having to use caution in how I talked with valued friends because they may or may not share my political opinion.

Weary of hearing how many people died of Covid-19 in our country today or how many have died since this whole nightmare began.

Weary of not seeing my family who live far from me because I worry we make each other sick.

Weary of being isolated.

Weary of not being able to hug people without questioning if I’m doing the “safe” thing.

Weary of asking for things to be repeated because I cannot hear what’s being said behind the masks or no longer to read lips.

Weary of people who do not respect each other’s compromised health issues.

Weary of people not just putting on the damn mask.

Weary of not seeing smiles.

Weary of being afraid I, too, may get sick.

Weary of being weary.

So, I took some time to observe all the little miracles that happened all around me every single day.

I’ve seen the sun rise in the mornings as I became aware of its march across the sky as the seasons marched on.

I’ve seen the sun set in the evenings as we’ve sat outside waiting for the air to cool while the deer stroll by with their fawns and the bats come out to devour a few mosquitos.

I’ve seen birds migrate across the skies, moving north this past spring and coming back our direction now that Fall is approaching.

I’ve watched our youngest puppy, Eli, grow and become the new companion for our old dog, Bud, and a playmate for our other puppy, Abby.

I’ve become aware of how much I have grown spiritually as I’ve limited my outside influences and concentrated on investigating my own beliefs.

I’m learning how I think about things really does influence what I see.

I’m learning to open my mind to ways of thinking I never would have considered.

I’m learning to be still–I have a LOT of work to do on this lesson.

I’m learning to choose my words more carefully–do I really know this or that never happens or always happens?

I’m learning to think before I speak–words cannot be erased by an apology. A few moments spent in thought may save years of regret.

I’m learning that adage what people think of me is none of my business is true.

Let it go.

I’m learning to stop over thinking EVERYTHING.

Let it go.

I’m learning to forgive those who have hurt me.

Let it go.

I’m learning to forgive myself.

Dear one, let it go.

God sent me here for a reason. My job is to figure out what MY reason is. I cannot learn if I’m paying attention to things that are not part of MY lessons.

I’ve been so lucky because I’ve been given time to think about this and work on finding my path. It takes time and patience.

I am grateful.

I’ve been lucky to have people who have walked beside me on my journey. Some for a short time,, others for a life time.

I am grateful.

Once I started thinking about all the miracles I’ve witnessed in my life, my weariness dissolved.

I am grateful.

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Gracious God, in the busy-ness of my day, I sometimes forget to stop to thank you for all that is good in my life.

My blessings are many and my heart is filled with gratefulness for the gift of living, for the ability to love and be loved, for the opportunity to see the everyday wonders of creation, for sleep and water, for a mind that thinks and a body that feels.

I thank you, too, for those things in my life that are less than I would hope them to be. Things that seem challenging, unfair, or difficult. When my heart feels stretched and empty, and pools of tears form in my weary eyes, still I rejoice that you are as near to me as my next breath and that in the midst of turbulence, I am growing and learning.

In the silence of my soul, I thank you most of all for your unconditional and eternal love.

Amen 

~Tam Worth~

Talking with God

I’ve been talking with God a lot these days.

It’s a good thing He is used to some of the language popping out of my head and mouth in moments of disbelief and frustration.

Here is a little bit of the conversation I had today:

Dear Lord, Please help me be still and listen–really listen–before I respond. Help me remember the power in silence.

Help me remember all my family members who sacrificed so much of their time to help my family. Help me to find a way to help others in that same spirit of true compassion.

Father, help me use the lessons I’ve been given and successfully learned to help others. There are many who are facing some of the same problems.

Please help me continue to learn and grow as I face what feels like overwhelming challenges daily. Help me stay strong and in connection with you.

In this crazy world, I believe in the power and forgiveness of you, my God. Please guide me to where I am needed and help me understand what I am here to do.

Thank you for listening, God. Thank you for never giving up on me and for always–always–loving me–unconditionally.

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Thank you, Debbie Long, for sharing your beautiful photo with me to use in today’s story. I treasure you and send you thanks and much love. xoxo

Magic

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” 

Charles de Lint

I doubt I am the only person feeling alone lately. A feeling made more intense because our world seems less and less familiar as unprecedented events unfold before us on daily basis.

I’m learning the importance of slowing down so I can appreciate the small things around me.

While watering a week or so ago, doing my usual slow shuffle around the yard, I looked down and saw the rock included in today’s story. As you can see, the outline of the heart is irregular and the overall condition of the heart could be described as rough–all symbolism that seemed so appropriate for these days.

Again, I don’t think I’m the only one feeling a little beat up and worn down these days. My intuition tells me this rock was literally on my path to show me I was not alone. I smiled as I  picked up my newest treasure, brushed it off, and put it in my pocket. After some more cleaning my latest heart rock resides beside my computer where it reminds me of my own inner beauty and strength–chips and all.

“We need to be open to ways in which we are being spoken to and in which we are receiving some form of communication. Some people call them signs. Open your heart and allow yourself to be touched by them. They are often stunning expressions of your place in the universe.” 

Susan Barbara Apollon, Touched by the Extraordinary

 Not long after this Michael was talking with our insurance company updating information. As he chatted with the agent, he asked the young woman where she was located. I saw his eyes get big as he listened to her reply. The next thing I heard him say was that I was from Iowa, too, and asked what part of Iowa she was from. Her reply was, Tama County, Iowa.

What?

Nicole was talking to us from the little county I grew up in and her sister had once been the Tama County Pork Queen.

How cool is all this? It was like a shot of adrenaline!

What are the odds he’d call and get to talk with someone from my hometown area?

This was another reminder the world is pretty messed up right now but there are still good things and good people in it. I just need to take a breath, stop, look around, and appreciate all the gifts scattered along the way.

“To experience more synchronicity and ‘coincidences’ we need to listen and be aware of the world around us and also our intuition.

That’s how the universe speaks to itself, it’s an ongoing flow of information that comes from both the outside and from within.

Pay attention to how the universe speaks to you today and participate in the flow by being attentive and by listening to your inner voice.” 

Maria Erving

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

An Unexpected Gift

“One of the most beneficial and valuable gifts we can give to ourselves in this life: is allowing ourselves to be surprised! It is okay if life surprises you. It’s a good thing!” 

C. JoyBell C.

At an estate sale a few days ago I walked into the laundry room and found this book sitting on the counter.

I was so surprised and even more surprised by the smile it brought to my face.

This book became a time machine transporting me back to my high school typing class.

Taking this class was one of the biggest battles I had in my high school years. I saw no point in taking a class meant for girls who were going to be secretaries. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life but knew I did not want to be a secretary.

Little did I know…

Today I’m surrounded by keyboards which have very little resemblance to the manual and later electric typewriters we used in my high school typing class.

Who knew?

“Surprise is just a paradox. Sometimes it annoys us; sometimes it shakes the tears of joy within us; sometimes it makes us ponder; sometimes it ceases our words and leaves our jaws open, and sometimes, it shuts our lips; for a moment, surprises can put our minds into a state of confusion and halt the movement of the body. Watch out for surprises for surprises are there to surprise you!” 

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

Unconditional Gratitude

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, it’s gratefulness that makes us happy.” 

Dalai Lama XIV, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

I’ve added a new book to my daily reading. It’s titled, Gratitude–A Way of Life, by Louise Hay and Friends. This book is a collection of essays written by different authors about the importance of gratitude in their lives.

One of the first chapters I read talked about unconditional gratitude. This was a new phrase to me and I was very impressed with what the author, Lee Coit, had to say.

Here are some of the thoughts that caught my attention:

“…Long ago, I found that being grateful for what I had  helped me get over feeling sorry for myself. My appreciation of others always raised my own level of happiness. Whenever I thought I felt unappreciated, I’d count up all the wonderful things that had happened to me recently, and my joy would return. Being grateful for what I have is also and effective way of releasing a sense of loss. When I am aware of all the love I am receiving, I can quickly forget my problems. Gratitude is an excellent way of removing my concentration from negative situations and placing my attention on what is right…

The second thing I noticed about being grateful was that I could extend my present joy backwards by holding thoughts of gratitude about people and events from my past. It always makes me smile, and my heart fills with joy when I reminisce fondly about by beautiful friends and the special times we’ve had. I’ve noticed over the past years that the more gratitude I fell about the past, the happier I am in the present. Getting to a joyful state with gratitude is easy when I use pleasant memories from my gratitude. Being grateful for those who we think have hurt us is harder, but it is very effective for healing the past. I call this unconditional gratitude. Unconditional means that we give gratitude to everyone regardless of whether we think they deserve it or  not.

What works for me is to remember only the good things about each person and let the other thoughts go. I can always find something about each one for which I am truly grateful. I have even started with the idea that at least these people are out of my life my life now…

…Gratitude, like its sister, forgiveness, frees the giver first of all. Gratitude brings freedom to our self-imposed prison of hatred and revenge. Perceived past wrongs are our prison bars. Hatred not only locks us in a tiny cell of self-pity, it keeps out those who are seeking to bring love into our life. (Hatred includes everything from rage to seemly innocent desire to avoid someone.) Our past, released with gratitude, frees our present to be as it could be…

I begin to see that what I judged as harmful and unfair was really a misinterpretation, a faulty judgement based on my perception, which is very limited in its scope. 

Human perception seems very powerful. It proceeds from our limited self-concept…If we refuse to act on this perception but desire to see what is happening in our life spiritually, we get an entirely different view. We begin to see the interconnected and inter supporting relationships of reality. We begin to see the spiritual dance in which we are engaged…Unconditional gratitude, rather than seeking to control the situation, frees you from stress and pain. Unconditional gratitude replaces your frustration with peace, joy, and happiness that is naturally yours.”

These words have been buzzing around my mind now for days and given me a new way of thinking about things. Maybe they will have the same effect on you.

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Thank you, Julie Strain, for starting my day with this beautiful photo and allowing me the use it as part of my story today. I love you and I’m blessed to have you as my friend. 

Good Old Days

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” 

Andy Bernard

Thirty-five years ago this past week, my sisters and I started the road trip to my future. We left Waterloo, Iowa, stopped in Omaha to visit family, and continued on to Denver, Colorado. In less than a month I’d be starting my new job.

I was the poster child for not knowing what you don’t know–I’m pretty sure my picture has not been replaced.

This feels like such a big anniversary I’ve been thinking a lot about what to write. I’ve decided it needs to be broken up into more than one story so that’s what I’m going to do.

As I searched for quotes, I came across the one I’ve posted below and felt it said many of the things I’ve been thinking for some time. See if you agree.

“You’re innocent until proven guilty,” Mandy exclaimed, unable to hide her gleeful smile. She missed the way people used to have normal conversations, used to be more caring for each other than themselves, back in the Seventies and Eighties. These days, she realized, neighbors kept to themselves, their kids kept to themselves, nobody talked to each other anymore. They went to work, went shopping and shut themselves up at home in front of glowing computer screens and cellphones… but maybe the nostalgic, better times in her life would stay buried, maybe the world would never be what it was. In the 21st century music was bad, movies were bad, society was failing and there were very few intelligent people left who missed the way things used to be… maybe though, Mandy could change things. 

Thinking back to the old home movies in her basement, she recalled what Alecto had told her. “We wanted more than anything else in the world to be normal, but we failed.” The 1960’s and 1970’s were very strange times, but Mandy missed it all, she missed the days when Super-8 was the popular film type, when music had lyrics that made you think, when movies had powerful meanings instead of bad comedy and when people would just walk to a friend’s house for the afternoon instead of texting in bed all day. She missed soda fountains and department stores and non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags, she wished cellphones, bad pop music and LED lights didn’t exist… she hated how everything had a diagnosis or pill now, how people who didn’t fit in with modern, lazy society were just prescribed medications without a second thought… she hated how old, reliable cars were replaced with cheap hybrid vehicles… she hated how everything could be done online, so that people could just ignore each other… the world was becoming much more convenient, but at the same time, less human, and her teenage life was considered nostalgic history now.

Hanging her head low, avoiding the slightly confused stare of the cab driver through the rear view mirror, she started crying uncontrollably, her tears soaking the collar of her coat as the sun blared through the windows in a warm light.” 

Rebecca McNutt, Smog City

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

I’m Going to Miss You

“The sorrow we feel when we lose a loved one is the price we pay to have had them in our lives.” 

Rob Liano

P.J. I didn’t get to spend much time with you nor did I have the opportunity to know you well–but I know my soul knew your soul.

I guess I always thought there’d be more time.

As God keeps pointing out to me, His time frame is not always the same as mine. And as my dear Michael reminds me, what God wants God gets.

Damn I wasn’t ready.

I will miss you, Paul James Robbins, with all my heart.

I will miss watching you sit quietly and listen. There wasn’t much that got by you in our little Pleasant Valley Community.

I knew I always had a spot around your table and you would always listen–not just listen but really hear what I was saying and often what I didn’t say. You were the older brother I always asked for. Oh how I wish I’d found you sooner.

I will miss our early morning emails where we’d share morning coffee together because I knew you’d be up and probably already on your second or third cup.

I will miss those big ol’ hugs and the simple fact you always told me you loved me.

It’s Friday afternoon so I’m betting the boys are meeting up at Larry’s where they will be missing you as well. I picture you looking down with Rascal by your side as you watch over us all. IMG_1229

Mickey and I will be raising a glass to you here in Texas. I am honored to have had the chance to call you friend. I love you.

“People you love never die. That is what Omai had said, all those years ago. And he was right. They don’t die. Not completely. They live in your mind, the way they always lived inside you. You keep their light alive. If you remember them well enough, they can still guide you, like the shine of long-extinguished stars could guide ships in unfamiliar waters.” 

Matt Haig, How to Stop Time

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

Bird by Bird

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” 

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

My next assignment from my WordPress Course is to write about my ideal reader, including a new media element

Okay. I looked at the additional information for today’s assignment and see the very extensive list of media element options. As I clicked on each option I realized this was going to take some time.

My initial reaction was to run.

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I was and am way out of my comfort zone.

But…not a news flash. I knew I needed to slow down, taking things “bird by bird.”

With my very stern internal voice, I reminded myself this would be an investment of time. Time I’d need to set aside to learn all the tools I have at my fingertips. Each topic has the potential to add another dimension to my stories so I can fully engage my “ideal reader.”

Who is my audience, my ideal reader?

As I think about who would read my writing, I think most people would fall under the category of “seekers.”

My reader is someone searching for information to enlighten his or her life. He or she is a lifetime learner as well as a teacher. They work to learn from their experiences and mistakes and want to share and learn from the experiences of others. They question who they are and what they are here to do. They are observers of life.

They want to do and be better.

They are beginning to understand they are spiritual beings having a human experience.

“Life isn’t always about finding yourself. More often than not, it’s about discovering who God created you to be.” 

David A.R. White, Between Heaven and Hollywood: Chasing Your God-Given Dream

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

 

Learning

Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” 

Albert Einstein

My course from WordPress is going well.

The reason I am so positive is what I’ve read so far corresponds with what I’ve been able to figure out on my own. And I’m understanding.

How encouraging is that?

In addition to creating my first blog in the course, I’ve learned about naming my blog and creating a tagline–two tasks I’d done years ago. Today my lesson was to visit other blogs and begin following other writers.

Over time I’ve saved many sites that I read often. Each writer has taught me something and given me encouragement to keep going when I felt I was failing miserably.

The intent of my storytelling was not to have followers but I must confess I really appreciate the fact someone I don’t know is reading what I have to say.

I am grateful for everyone who takes time to read my stories.

There’s a lot to learn about this writing tool. I’m thinking today is probably my last really easy lesson. Will take it a lesson at a time and see what tomorrow has in store for me.

Don’t just learn, experience.

Don’t just read, absorb.

Don’t just change, transform.

Don’t just relate, advocate.

Don’t just promise, prove.

Don’t just criticize, encourage.

Don’t just think, ponder.

Don’t just take, give.

Don’t just see, feel.

Don’t just dream, do. 

Don’t just hear, listen.

Don’t just talk, act.

Don’t just tell, show.

Don’t just exist, live.” 

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~