A Prayer for Comfort

Heavenly Father,
You hold time within your hands, and see it all, from beginning to end. Please keep and carry these precious people in their sadness and loss. Cover them with your great wings of love, give their weary hearts rest and their minds sound sleep. Lord, lift their eyes so that they may catch a glimpse of eternity, and be comforted by the promise of heaven.

We ask all this in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

My thoughts and prayers are focused on one of my dearest friends. Words escape me so I am drawing on prayer.

I am…

B…simply being…

May God bless them and send His angels to comfort them.

~Peace be with you~

Garage Sales

I was depressed, but that was a side issue. This was more like closing up shop, or, say, having a big garage sale, where you look at everything you’ve bought in your life, and you remember how much it meant to you, and now you just tag it for a quarter and watch ’em carry it off, and you don’t care. That’s more like how it was.

Jane Smiley

Having a garage/yard sale is a humbling experience. We had very limited experience with them until we began downsizing in order to put our house up for sale.

For months we had weekend sales, pricing things in order to sell our house. During this time we watched as our prized possessions walked away for a fraction of the price we’d paid for them. If that was all there was to that experience,  things would be less painful. It was never that easy. For some reason, people who come to your sale seemed to feel they have the right to make some type of judgment about your stuff. That’s not taking into account those people who would pick things up to ask you about the price and then walk away with them when you began to help someone else.

After a year of having these monthly sales, we were down to the final collection stuff. Unfortunately, on that Saturday morning in the middle of May, we woke up to about a foot of fresh snow. Looking at the tire tracks left in the heavy spring snow, we knew we’d be lucky to find anyone brave enough to come out at all, much less pack things up and take them away.

This last batch of things included the dining room set I’d brought with me from Iowa–the first real thing I’d purchased as an adult. I loved it and cherished the memories attached to it. The set was solid Oak and heavy. If we did not find someone to take it away today, I did not know what we’d do with it. Time was running out. We had to be out of our house soon.

As the sun broke through the clouds and the snow began to melt, a newer SUV drove slowly up the street. I’d taken a call the day before from a woman who wanted to know if we still had the dining room furniture. She’d just gone through a divorce and needed so many things. If we still had it she would be there to pick up tomorrow. Her call was made long before the snow began to fall. Once I saw the amount of snow that fell, I did not believe anyone would venture out.

I was wrong–she and her friend came and took it all. I’m still not sure how in the world we got it all in the back of her car but we did. She was gracious and kind as we closed up the back of the car and she turned to leave. She looked at me, grasped my hands in hers,  and thanked me for being there to help her. She knew she’d acquired quality furniture and she was grateful.

The two of us had helped each other at a time when we both needed it.

That was the last day of our last garage sale. I don’t anticipate we will ever do another sale of that type. I’d watched as my treasures left my home. On this day, I was blessed to have this wonderful, gracious woman thank me. We’d both been at the right place at the right time in order to help each other so we could all move on with our lives.

What a wonderful way to end those challenging days and begin fresh and new.

I take those memories with me when we go to sales in order to refurbish our new home. Now I believe we both approach the sale tables with heavy hearts. We understand there is a back story–a tale that few will ever know or even begin to understand.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you~

Carpool Karaoke

“And I thought about how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. And how many people enjoyed good times with those songs. And how much those songs really mean. I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. I bet if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud. I hope the people who wrote those songs are happy. I hope they feel it’s enough. I really do because they’ve made me happy. And I’m only one person.” 

Stephen Chomsky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

I have to tell you working outside when they start adding the term “heat index” to the weather forecast is just as uncomfortable as it was when I was living in Iowa and the words “wind chill” were used. The heat zaps the energy right out of you–meaning once cooled down, a nap quickly follows.

I am very thankful for my nap time. The problem is it takes away from the time I have in my reading/writing chair. Of course, you throw in a little bit of attention deficit disorder and time literally flies by me.

As I searched for things to share, I came across the clip from James Corden and Paul McCartney’s Carpool Karaoke. During those very creative moments, I was transported back in time. Suddenly, I was that ten-year old kid sitting upstairs in my bedroom, playing my transistor radio listening as the top 40 hits counted down. The music of The Beatles was always part of those shows.

Who would have ever imagined the music of The Beatles would still be so poignant in our world today?

For those of us who heard those songs when they were new, James Corden took us on a true magical musical tour. For a few minutes those songs created a collage of pictures while the music reached into my soul, reminding me everything’s gonna be alright.

If you have not seen that segment of Carpool Karaoke, do yourself a favor and watch it soon–watch it at least once while you try to escape the heat of summer.

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you~

 

Hard Labor

“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” 

Gordon B. Hinckley

For the past few days, Michael and I have been working on the yard. It has been much harder than I ever imagined.

Friday we had help getting the four large piles of fill dirt scattered across the rocky ground that surrounds our new shed/truck port. When we were done, the lot was covered with a thick blanket of new top soil. Even with all that help it took hours.

Yesterday our seed arrived. Grabbing our hats, sunscreen, and yard tools, we headed off to plant our seeds.

To our surprise, the heat and humidity we’d complained about over the weekend had baked the top of our fresh layer of soil into a thick, hard crust. There would be no planting until we re-tilled the soil.

Hours later we began to scatter our special seeds that’d been developed to survive the harsh summers we face here in the Texas hill country. Mother Nature has given us a serious challenge and we are prepared.

We are now on full-time sprinkler duty–keeping our use as low as possible–and sprout alert.

The hours working the soil gave me an outlet for my frustrations as well as time to think. So many things are just so wrong right now. We are smart people. I do not understand why we are in such a mess. By the time I’d finished pounding through the rock hard dirt, I’d released a lot of tension. Even as hard as I was literally hitting the ground, I found no answers–only more questions.

I’d started yesterday reading an email that contained my favorite prayer. The words of this prayer also ran through my mind yesterday and were, without a doubt, another reason I ended my day feeling very tired but more at peace.

I’d like to share my favorite prayer with you.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

The power of prayer is phenomenal. May God hear our prayers and bless us all.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you.~

Happy Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh…to be so bored today!

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

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

The Flip Side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s where the virtue in self grows.” 

Nikki Rowe

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

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

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

 

 

Words

Magic Words

“Silly words cause trills 

because they’re ludicrous and funny.

Happy words paint endless smiles

and swallow troubles whole.

Thoughtful words are thus

because they make the day feel sunny.

But hurtful words are such

that pierce the heart and weigh the soul.” 

Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: “Ya. I’m okay.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silence.

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

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

Words–like arrows to the heart.

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

Words are wicked weapons. Use them carefully.

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

Jason Versey, A Walk with Prudence

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you.

~Peace~

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

 

 

 

 

A Morning Prayer

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

I fell behind on my to-do list today.

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

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

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

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

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

A Morning Prayer

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

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

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

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

 

 

 

Merle

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

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

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

Morgan Matson, Second Chance Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give yourself the gift of making a memory today.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and Peace, y’all

They Say It’s Your Birthday

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

Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

Happy Birthday to my very own miracle.

I love you.

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

Bob Marley

I am…

B…simply being…

I am blessed and I am thankful.

~Peace~