Gifts

“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that—warm things, kind things, sweet things—help and comfort and laughter—and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.” 

Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess

It’s hard for me to believe tomorrow is the first of December, 2018.

Which means Christmas will now be counted in “days away ” and shopping begins to inch toward “frenzy” mode.

If there is one thing I’ve learned this year is how quickly things change. Which, for me, means I need to make a few changes.

This year instead of buying I’m going to find ways to spend more quality time with those important to me. Honestly, I don’t know of anyone who need more “stuff.” I do believe there are many of us who need a few more minutes of quality time spent with loved ones.

So…I’m going to make that happen.

The cost to me = zero.

The return value = priceless.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” 

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

The Summer of Fudge

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” 

Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

We rushed about this morning so we could go to a large estate sale. The wait to get inside to view all the treasures was long and the worthiness of this investment of time was certainly debated among all of us who waited.

For me, it was worth every minute. I was able to walk on elegant rugs as I meandered through all the custom furniture, bronze artwork, and then stand beside the restored 1880’s Steinway Parlor Piano. My inner child was thrilled.

My greatest find was a surprise. In the kitchen was a bookshelf hidden inside a built-in cabinet. As I walked over the red and white cover of this cookbook caught my eye. The cookbook was in great condition with a note attached telling me it was an intact Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook, First Edition, Third Printing, Copyright 1953.

This was the same cookbook my mom had–the cookbook I used the summer I call, “the summer of fudge.” All those memories unfolded before me as I turned and looked at page 135. On the left hand column was Chocolate Fudge, the right column White Taffy. That entire summer I’d fine tuned my candy skills with that one fudge recipe–it met all my requirements–it was super easy and I knew we’d always have all the ingredients.

As I put this book on my own kitchen shelf, I remembered those summer afternoons. It was a very unstable and unpredictable time in my life. Actually seeing page 135 again reminded me how making candy was the one constant in my roller coaster life. Without a doubt, as I measured and stirred, I subconsciously understood I was in control of that little space in time. I knew as long as I followed directions and stayed patient, things would be all right.

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.” 

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

A Local Treasure Trove

“It was like walking into a treasure trove of books, hoarded by pirate librarians.” 

Pseudonymous Bosch, The Name of This Book Is Secret

I’ve been needing some kind of boost but, for the life of me, I have not been able to figure out what I needed.

Then I remembered my little local used bookstore.

Perfect.

Since it is only a block from the grocery store–my main mission of the day–I thought it was a perfect time to pay a return visit.

I knew I’d found my recharging spot the moment I walked into this little space. Every single room had walls covered with shelves that were completely filled with books–from the floor to the ceiling with stacks of books standing in front of each group of shelves. Subjects ranged from Texas history to religion to self-help to hobbies and cookbooks. I was completely frozen in place for a few seconds.

The first book I found was this little red book titled, Unconventional Prayers, by Dr. Allen A. Stockdale. Date of publication was 1955. The list of prayers made me smile. A few examples:

  • About My Conduct At A Baseball Game
  • By A Young Lady on a Small Salary
  • Anvils Wear Out Hammers
  • A Secretary Who Has A Selfish Boss
  • My Grumbling And Complaining Tongue

I knew immediately I had to get the book so I could share.

The first prayer I read was titled “Getting My Strength Renewed”–a message not lost on me.

Let me share that with you today.

True Guardian Angel, of the springs of living water, meet me when I am weary and even discouraged, and lead me to the eternal springs of living water. Help me to find quickly God’s way of renewed strength; may I never think that I have enough power of my own. As the servant of the living God, lead me to the divine sources of fresh and abundant strength. Keep me from wilting in the valley of duty when there are refreshing springs of life and vigor in the hills of God nearby. 

Thank you, Dr. Stockdale, for your very special book. I am so thankful I found it today. It was incredibly appropriate and an amazing gift.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

Advice from an Old Farmer

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.

Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.

Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.

Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.

Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.

Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.

Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.

It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.

You cannot unsay a cruel word.

Every path has a few puddles.

When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

The best sermons are lived, not preached.

Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.

Don’t judge folks by their relatives.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Live a good, honorable life… Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.

Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.

Most times, it just gets down to common sense.

When I read this earlier today, I knew it would be the center piece of my story today.

I found myself wishing I’d read some of this little quips much earlier in my life. In reality,  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t ready to appreciate all of these until recently.

Why not give yourself a moment to read and think about these little tidbits of wisdom?

I think you’ll smile and be glad you did.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

Sharing and Caring

“Thank you, God for the times You have said, “no.” They have helped me depend on You so much more.

Thank you, God, for unanswered prayer. It reminds me that You know what’s best for me, even when my opinion differs from Yours.

Thank You, Lord, for the things you have withheld from me. You have protected me from what I may never realize.

Thank You, God, for the doors You have closed. They have prevented me from going where You would rather not have me go.

Thank you, Lord, for the physical pain You’ve allowed in my life. It has helped me more closely relate to Your sufferings on my behalf.

Thank you, Lord, for the alone times in my life. Those times have forced me to lean in closer to You.

Thank you, God, for the uncertainties I’ve experienced. They have deepened my trust in You.

Thank You, Lord, for the times You came through for me when I didn’t even know I needed a rescue.

Thank You, Lord, for the losses I have experienced. They have been a reminder that You are my greatest gain.

Thank You, God, for the tears I have shed. They have kept my heart soft and mold-able.

Thank You, God, for the times I haven’t been able to control my circumstances. They have reminded me that You are sovereign and on the throne.

Thank You, God, for those people in my life whom You have called home to be with You. Their absence from this earth keeps my heart longing for heaven.

Thank You, God, that I have an inheritance in the heavenly places…something that this world can never steal from me and I could never selfishly squander.

Thank You, God, for the greatest gift You could ever give me: forgiveness through Your perfect Son’s death on the cross on my behalf.

Thank You, God, for the righteousness You credited toward me, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a righteousness I could never earn or attain on my own.

Thank You, Father, that You know me, You hear me, and You see my tears. Remind me through difficult times that You are God, You are on the throne, and You are eternally good.

And thank You, Lord, not only for my eternal salvation, but for the salvation You afford every day of my life as You save me from myself, my foolishness, my own limited insights, and my frailties in light of Your power and strength.”

– Cindy McMenamin, Author

As I read for my story today, I came across this prayer. I’m not sure–I may have used it last year. I did not find it and finally decided repetition is a good thing. Besides, Cindy’s words are too wonderful not share on this day, the day before Thanksgiving.

As I read Caroline Myss’ newsletter, I felt part of it was also something I needed to share today. It certainly tugged at my Catholic background–which made me smile and a little sad all at the same time–all the emotions seemed very appropriate and fitting for the season.

Except for the Grace of God Go I

I remember hearing that spiritual prayer of acknowledged gratitude over and over again while I was growing up. And I certainly heard the nuns say it. As a child, I loved the sound of that phrase because it was a phrase that seemed to hide a great jewel of wisdom. It was a type of treasure chest made of simple words that when strung together communicated a powerful truth. “Except for the grace of God go I.” It was apparent that those words conveyed some sort of profound meaning because I noticed how the nuns would nod their heads in a type of collective agreement after one of them uttered that phrase. Eventually I let go of my mission to crack through the deeper meaning of this phrase and got on with the business of growing up. I was about eight-years-old when I made that decision.

That phrase exploded out of the dust of my mental archives in my early thirties, right on time you might say. It was just one of those days, really, that starts out gorgeous but ends up being a game changer. That day was made for walking. So that’s what I did. After a few hours, I got an iced-tea and sat on a bench to check messages and all that sort of thing. I didn’t pay any notice at all to the guy who sat on the bench a few minutes later. Why would I? But, as I was about to find out, certainly noticed me.

He asked me if I would get him an iced tea. One glance told me he was homeless or en route to that crisis. I asked him if he wanted a sandwich, so long as I was getting him a cold drink. He did. I turned to leave as soon as I gave him his meal but then he said he hated to eat alone and would I mind just sitting with him. I was uncomfortable as all get out – I mean down to the pit of my stomach. But I was in a familiar park and it was day light and I knew I could run faster than him…so I figured, ugh….okay. UGH

He took one bite out of his sandwich, one gulp of his drink and said, “I know you want to get the hell away from me. I know you are uncomfortable as hell right now. You don’t know me or anything about me. I’m a veteran. The war in my head won’t stop. I just try to find quiet places now. That’s all.”

My heart hurt. I could feel the pain in my chest explode. My eyes filled with tears and all I could hear in my head was, “Except for the grace of God go I.” I could have been sent to harm others or to face some type of horror. Or I could have witnessed nightmares early on, but I did not. I sat next to him and felt the whole of my life reshape itself into a simple but deeply meaningful prayer of gratitude and one of grace for the other. It is these moments, these tiny encounters that just show up out of nowhere, that are the purest expression of God in the small and present details of your life. This man changed my life. I have looked for him many times in the park near my home and have never seen him again – not to imply that he was “not of the Earth”. We have yet to cross paths again, but I hope it does happen.

Through him, I entered into yet a deeper mystery about life but with so much gratitude about each day of my life. This is one of my own prayers:

I never know where I will find You or how You will speak to me. Some days it is through new person and other days it is through a new experience. Each day I become more aware of something I did not understand or realize before. I knew I should be grateful for all that I have but now I realize I should also be grateful for all that I do not have. For I do not have traumatic war memories and I do not have scars from being a refugee and I do not have the fear of a homeless person. I am grateful for all I have and for all I do not have. If I am grateful for having been spared a suffering, give me the grace to help those who are suffering. Amen”

Thank you, Cindy McMenamim and Caroline Myss, for joining me in story telling today.

I am…

B…simply being…

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends, may God bless us all.

~Peace~

 

 

 

My Biggest Treasure

“When you find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will stand in front of you when other’s cast stones, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who will hold your hand when your sick, who thinks your pretty without makeup, the one who turns to his friends and say, ‘that’s her’, the one that would bear your rejection because losing you means losing his will to live, who kisses you when you screw up, watches the stars and names one for you and will hold and rock that baby for hours so you can sleep…..you marry him all over again.” 

Shannon Alder

By far, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Even though the materialism of Christmas sneaks in more each year, for the most part, this holiday remains one of family, simplicity, and gratitude.

As I age I understand what my older relatives warned me about–getting older is not easy. Not only is it difficult, it often catches us off guard by the wicked bit of O’Henry irony sprinkled over it all.

This year, more than ever, I appreciate the people in my life who have always been there for me. I am blessed beyond measure and I am grateful for you all.

One person stands out from the rest.

He is the person who deals with my frustration and anger when illusive words evade me and memories drag up unexpected pain. He quietly steps away, allowing me time to read, write, and research more as I attempt to corner each and every thought while hoping I can find the best words to describe it all. Through this process–one that has gone on for decades–he loves me. Even when my need for space becomes somewhat insane, when I am much less than kind, he encourages me to work on–to learn and to grow.

Thank you, Michael Hibdon, for standing beside me, applauding each and every little success while loving me and giving me a safe place for recovery whenever the results are less than stellar.

You are my hero.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

A Little Wednesday Wisdom

I shared the attached story the week of Thanksgiving last year. Just like last year, I was at our local grocery store today. Unfortunately, unlike last year, I was not at all entertained.

It began as Michael and I started walked across the parking lot and spotted a new Mercedes parked far out away from the maddening crowds. The car was parked across two parking spaces in a futile attempt to protect it from door chips. Maybe that move made it a target for some angry pre-holiday shopper. The owner was rewarded with a shopping card wedged between the driver’s door and the side mirror. This was an omen for what we’d soon encounter. Once inside, it was obvious there was very little holiday cheer.

Thank heavens I have this to share from last year. Hope you enjoy re-reading it as much as I did.

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” ~ Ralph Marston

It’s already Wednesday, the week of Thanksgiving, 2017.

Because I am an award-winning procrastinator, I’ve been moving faster than usual today. I’ve finally accepted this as the way I operate. Being that charter member, regardless of where I was in the grocery store today, I was rushing, avoiding, or waiting.

It was mostly a waiting game.

I was one of the very few walking up and down the aisles with a smile on my face. The more frowns I met, the more I smiled–and my smile grew wider and wider with each cluster of people I encountered. Granted,  I was probably one of the few there by choice. One of my fellow HEB warriors was a mom of three. She patiently directed her oldest son up and down the different rows as she searched up and down for the things she needed. She excused herself for the pace her little pack held, telling me she was not from here. Again–a huge smile crossed my face because I and every other local person in the store had determined that a long time before she confirmed it.

To me, she was a hero.

I had not one single minute of doubt she’d have been done shopping, checked out, loaded the car, and on the way home if she had not offered it all up by giving the keys to the cart to her son. I’m not sure how often he had been the cart pilot, but there were some close calls as he made his way around stocking cards, past full end caps, skirted other kids, and bypassed the very large representation of this community’s more elderly shoppers. Cheers to you, mom. May God bless you with a full glass of wine with a full bottle standing by when you get home.

My favorite entertainer of the day was the young dad trying to keep up with his daughter as she zigged here and zagged there, always searching for that very elusive place where she could let her wild horses ride. He managed to stay close to her, adjusting his speed and chatter as they both sped on ahead.

I had a majestically joy-filled experience.

All this and the fact that it was Thanksgiving Eve, reminded me of a late day run to the post office made shortly after I’d moved to the Denver area. It was the beginning of my first holiday season away from home. I’d had a hard week, I was on call, I was already tired, I was lonely, and I was angry. A subscription I’d canceled had sent the product anyway. That meant, I now had to return it.

All these negatives played over and over in my head as I walked to the post office. A young man and his dad were coming out of the building, the boy stopped to hold the door for me. In my pre-occupied state, I brushed quickly by them, making my way inside.

A rather firm voice broke my litany of poor me, poor pitiful me self-statements. I heard the boy say, “You’re welcome.” His dad was quick to hush; the young man, making his point very adamantly, “She could at least say thank you, dad!”

Wow. For a second, his comment made me angry. Then…I realized how rude I’d been.

The kid was absolutely right.

As I turned to acknowledge, they were gone. The dad had whisked him out to the car.

What a huge lesson I learned that evening from this young man. You never know when or who your teachers will show up or who they will be–he was the first person to help me on my path to being more aware. Since that night, I see how many others neglect expressing appreciation for simple acts of respect and kindness.

This memory was sparked by finding the quote I’ve attached to today’s story by Ralph Marston. Saying thank you takes seconds and costs nothing. Stay aware of all the kindness and care to come your way–be grateful.

For years, Michael and I subscribed to Mr. Marston’s, The Daily Motivator. If you’ve never seen these daily messages, take a minute to check it out. It will give you one other thing to be grateful for and open another gift opportunity for you.

I am…

B…simply being…

My love sent your way.

God bless.

Peace

 

 

 

 

Last Time For Everything

Using a fake ID at a college bar

Getting caught with a girl in the backseat of a car

Running out on the field for the senior game wearing number 17

There’s a last time for everything

Like a George Strait cassette in a Pontiac

I tell ’em Super Cuts, let’s leave it long in the back

Wearing the tux at a high school gym

And she’s wearing your class ring

There’s a last time for everything

Last call, last chance

Last song, last dance

Sometimes you just don’t know when that’s gonna be

Hold me baby, give me a kiss

Like tonight is all there is

Cause there’s a last time for everything

Throwing the ball with the first dog you ever had

Spending all day on the lake with your grandad

Watching Glenn Frey sing “Already Gone” at the Forum in LA

There’s a last time for everything

Last call, last chance

Last song, last dance

Sometimes you just don’t know when that’s gonna be

Hold me baby, give me a kiss

Like tonight is all there is

Cause there’s a last time for everything

Kissing goodbye on her porch and driving away

Introducing her as your fiancee

Getting woke up at 5 am to see if Santa came

There’s a last time for everything

Biscuits and gravy at momma’s house

(Last time for everything)

Spring break on a fold out couch

(Last time for everything)

Little Jimmy on the Opry stage

(Last time for everything)

Hearing Prince sing “Purple Rain”

(Last time for everything)

(Last time for everything)

I’d heard this Brad Paisley song many times before I really listened to the words.

I don’t think anyone would debate the fact music has this insanely sneaky ability to side step any and all self-protective barriers we’ve constructed over the years while erasing any concepts of time. Usually this happens when I hear an old song–one that was popular during a certain time in my past. This song took its time with me–waiting until I was comfortable with the melody–then certain phrases began to catch my attention.

I was not ready for the barrage of memories the lyrics pulled out of my unsuspecting mind. Each time I hear it, the words bring into sharp focus another new old memory.

Pretty powerful stuff.

What’s my latest trigger? “Biscuits and gravy and Mama’s house.”

It made me think of the last time my sisters and I planned on going to Omaha to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. We were all so ready to go see everyone. The Tuesday before the holiday an early snowstorm moved in and made travel unsafe–at least I thought it’d be unsafe. Had I known it’d be the last time we’d all be together for Thanksgiving, I would have taken any risk to be there.

As we prepare for this Thanksgiving, take a moment to look around, treasuring those seated at your table. Our world seems to be spinning faster and faster. In a blink of an eye, things change. This really could be the last time for many things.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~  

 

Yesterdays

“My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulder.” 

William Golding

The thoughts that came into my head this past week surprised me.

Most of them spurred on by a collection of odd dreams that weaved in and out of my rather drugged state. Others came all by themselves, unbidden, following the breadcrumbs left by their predecessors.

Most of the faces I saw were from my very early career in radiology and their visits left me feeling all kinds of emotions.

I couldn’t help wondering what it’d be like if we could all work together again as the more adult, more mature versions of our younger selves? It makes me shake my head and slowly smile.

We were such an interesting collection of people–some very young, eyes wide open as they saw the unexpected and learned, others a little older, pushing to establish themselves in a small but demanding department, and the older, established few who saw the world of medicine changing all around them, unsure where they would fit in.

I was one fighting for my spot. As I bounced around in my search for new territory, I was not always very kind nor was I anywhere near as smart as I thought I was. I know–all surprising, right?

Many of the old familiar faces visited me this week–thank you. It was haunting and blearily lovely.

 “When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.” 

Friedrich Nietzsche

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

My Caregivers

The very best thing about dogs is how they just know when you need them most, and they’ll drop everything that they’re doing to sit with you awhile.” 

Steven Rowley

I’ve had a week of recovery surrounded by the most wonderful caregivers.

Love came in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

From healing massages and dashes to the store to appease whatever whim came to my mind to homemade chicken noodle soup to beautiful plants, brilliant flowers, colored pencils with an amazing picture book to the many gentle words sent via calls and texts. I was spoiled beyond measure.

This morning, Bud came to be beside me as I gathered things together in order to begin writing again.

I am grateful and I am ready.

Thank You, God, for the body You have given me. Most of the time I take my health for granted. I forget how fortunate I am to live without pain or disability, how blessed I am to be able to see and hear and walk and eat. I forget that this body of mine, with all its imperfections, is a gift from You. When I am critical of my appearance, remind me, God, that I am created in Your holy image. If I become jealous of someone else’s appearance, teach me to treasure my unique form. Help me, God, to care for my body. Teach me to refrain from any action that will bring harm to me. If I fall prey to a self-destructive habit, fill me with the strength to conquer my cravings. Lead me to use my body wisely, God. Guide my every limb, God, to perform acts of compassion and kindness. I thank You, God, for creating me as I am. Amen.

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

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~