A New Teacher

“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I found a new teacher today–by way of a new book.

I’ve Been Thinking…, by Maria Shriver.

Maria was on The Today Show this morning talking about her latest book. She described it as a book for anyone going through a transition in their lives.

Well…that sounded like a pretty good description of me. Before the morning was over, I’d ordered a sample and headed to the office.

I have to tell you, Maria had me by the end of the introduction. As I read those first few pages, the discussion felt so personal because she talked about some of the same things I’ve been saying in my own daily pages and blogs. She shared how thinking and writing helped her get “above the noise of daily life.” As I read, her story seemed to mirror my own when she stated her writing comes from a place deep in her heart and helps her to clear her mind and find peace.

Each chapter begins with a favorite quote and ends it with a prayer–similar to how I write my blog. As I noticed this, I felt as though this was a subtle Godwink of encouragement and validation for my own work.

Even though I’ve read just a small part of this book, I think I’ve found a new teacher–I’m ready.

As all the chapters do, the introduction ends with a prayer as well–a version of St. Teresa’s Prayer. I hope Maria won’t mind my sharing.

Morning Prayer

May today there be peace within
May your trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith
May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God
Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your should the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love
It is there for each and every one of us.
~St. Teresa of Avila~

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Many thanks to my friend, Judith Weitzel Wilmer, for allowing me to use her wonderful photo today. It certainly is a new way to share a glass of wine! Thanks, Judi! Love you. 

 

A Prayer for Insight

There are days when all ideas stall. Today was one of those days.

Lucky for me, I have a Rabbi to help me.

Thank you, Rabbi Naomi Levy, for your encouraging words and allowing me to share your prayer for insight.

A Prayer for Daily Insight

Open my eyes, God. Help me to perceive what I have ignored, to uncover what I have forsaken, to find what I have been searching for. Remind me that I don’t have to journey far to discover something new, for miracles surround me, blessings and holiness abound. And You are near. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (p. 31). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Our Trees

“There are rich counsels in the trees.”
― Herbert P. Horne

As I kid, I escaped to the trees in our front yard—they were my trees.

My trees were an important a part of my life. They never asked questions or criticized what I said or thought. They provided one of my safest hiding places, they were my protectors, supporting me when I needed a place to go.

The last time I drove by my old house, those two trees were gone. I knew there would be changes in the old neighborhood, I wasn’t ready for such visual evidence of all the years that had passed since I’d been there. I sighed and cried.

Yes, those crabapple trees were messy. I’m sure those who lived in our old house after we left hated them as much as my dad did. Every year I’d hear him swear under his breath as he shook his head, telling me he was going to cut them down next year. He was tired of dealing with those little slippery crab apples that covered the front yard and sidewalk for the majority of the summer and fall.

As I’ve aged, my love for trees has grown. We planted new trees at our house in Colorado living there long enough to see them become large, healthy trees. Moving to Texas has given me the gift of the oak trees. I’ve fallen in love with them. Now, Michael and I have oak trees to nurture–the centerpieces of the lot we just added to our property. The lot has been cleared and we are now attending to the trees. On Monday, we will have an arborist help us trim and clean up these amazing trees. I cannot wait to see how beautiful they will be after some knowledgeable care and attention.

Last weekend we spent a few hours cleaning up the yard. When it was time to call it a day, we each opened a cold one, pulled up a couple of lawn chairs, and sat under the canopy of our trees. For both of us, it was about as close to heaven on earth we’d ever experienced–sitting side-by-side–sheltered under our trees as the wind gently whispered through their weathered boughs.

“Listen to the trees as they sway in the wind.
Their leaves are telling secrets. Their bark sings songs of olden days as it grows around the trunks. And their roots give names to all things.
Their language has been lost.
But not the gestures.”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless and have a wonderful weekend.

~Peace~  

Worrying

“How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his first question to his boss was, “Where are you going to get $200,000 per year?” To which the man responded, “That’s your worry.”
― Max Lucado

I come from a family of worriers. With age, I have become a master worrier.

With the gift of more time, I now have the opportunity to check in with my sister. Since I am not rushed, I listen to her talk a more critical ear, hearing some clues she may also be a card-carrying worrier.

I’ve discovered even though we cannot fix the things giving us both some anxiety, by talking about the things causing our “concerns,” we can lessen our worry meter spikes. By reaching out to each other, we stop the whirlwind of uncontrolled thoughts. Most days, by the time we’ve unloaded our worries, we each leave the conversation feeling things are more manageable and much less dire.

You have to love these successful lessons and celebrate the joys of caring and sharing.

“Never worry alone. When anxiety grabs my mind, it is self-perpetuating. Worrisome thoughts reproduce faster than rabbits, so one of the most powerful ways to stop the spiral of worry is simply to disclose my worry to a friend… The simple act of reassurance from another human being [becomes] a tool of the Spirit to cast out fear — because peace and fear are both contagious.”
― John Ortberg Jr., The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

 

 

 

Choices

“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Bein

Journaling has helped me be more positive and grateful for the gifts I’ve been given while appreciating the work I’ve done.

I’ve had wonderful teachers. I listened attentively, absorbing their words and gleaning from their wisdom.

I’ve encountered challenging lessons. I studied each course, working hard to master each task assigned.

I’ve written daily, digging into my past, asking difficult questions about my family and the roles I’ve played over my lifetime.

I’ve been patient, praying for an open mind and a forgiving heart, all enabling me to learn and grow.

Slowly, after months of quiet soul-searching, I feel there’s been an internal shift. The weight of my past–all those over-stuffed bags I’ve carried around all these years–is reshaping itself. I’m beginning to feel more steady and stable; self-confidence is crowding out fear allowing me to feel I am in control of where I go from here. I’ve prepared. I am ready.

All those lessons and life experiences have been building the foundation for my future. I’ve been undergoing a slow metamorphosis. My guardian angel is urging me on–reminding me this is my 65th year. Stay aware, Barbara, she advises, time waits for no one.

I am ready–to thrive, grow, and enjoy every single day.

I am grateful.

I choose…
to live by choice, not by chance;
to make changes, not excuses;
to be motivated, not manipulated;
to be useful, not used;
to excel, not compete;
I choose self-esteem, not self-pity.
I choose to listen to my inner voice,
not the random opinion of others.

And so it is…

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Compromising vs Settling

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

As I hung up the phone, I noticed my husband, watching me.

“What was that all about?” he asked.

“Nothing, really, the “bug service” is not sending Ronnie to do our service today. They are sending Stephen.”

“Really.”

“Yes.”

Silence.

Hmmm.

I waited, knowing there was something more he wanted to say.

“Why do you do that, settle for something you don’t want?”

Hmmm.

I felt my skin bristle; my head began making small back and forth motions as I squared my shoulders. I slowly inhaled, standing just a little straighter, a little taller.

“No, I did not settle for anything, I compromised.”

Hmmm.

The more I thought about that little verbal exchange, the more I questioned my behavior. Had I been just settling for things? Just what was the difference between settling and compromising?

I pulled up my desktop New Oxford Dictionary, typed in the word compromise:

accept standards that are lower than is desirable: we were not prepared to compromise on safety.
• [with object] weaken (a reputation or principle) by accepting standards that are lower than is desirable: commercial pressures could compromise safety.  

I typed in the word settle:

• [no object] (settle for) accept or agree to (something that one considers to be less than satisfactory): it was too cold for champagne so they settled for a cup of tea.

Regardless of which word used, my gut told me I had not been true to myself lately. In an attempt to make and keep the peace, I’d been accepting some things that were not making me feel good about myself.

One little comment has made me very aware of how I allow things to unfold around me. By being “nice” I was sacrificing my self-worth. I needed to get a grip on a few things. I need to care for myself and my gentle spirit.

Awareness comes from some indirect means sometimes. I am grateful for that gift and I am very thankful I was paying attention.

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

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

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

 

 

 

A Morning Prayer

I fell behind on my to-do list today.

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

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

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

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

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

A Morning Prayer

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

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

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

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

 

 

 

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~