Terrorism

“Terrorism isn’t a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the death of innocents and destruction of property to make us fearful. Terrorists use the media to magnify their actions and further spread fear. And when we react out of fear, when we change our policy to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed — even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail — even if their attacks succeed.”
― Bruce Schneier

 

It has been quite a month here in central Texas.

I’ve perched myself on top of my little hill, observing with uneasiness, as someone terrorized the city of Austin.

I”d been feeling rather smug, thinking I was beyond this mad man’s craziness.

That was all well and good until a package exploded at a FedEx facility outside of San Antonio.

It’s a feeling we’ve all come to accept as part of our lives–unfortunately, we see evidence of terrorism every single day.

Terrorism oozes into your head, unbidden, and hangs out there. Even though it was happening far from me, I watched my fellow Texans suffer, grieve, and attempt to live their lives in their now normal state of extreme caution and trepidation.

Before long, I realized fear had begun its cautionary whispers which bounced around in my head throughout the day and into your uneasy sleep at night. It wears away on you because you don’t rest—you are concerned for yourself and for those people who are part of your daily life. Suddenly, getting that package delivered is now overshadowed by fear—not just for yourself—but for that driver you see and talk with every day.

The reign of terror ended early yesterday morning when the man who orchestrated these past weeks of angst killed himself and injured a SWAT team member by setting off his last bomb inside his getaway car.

It is over but it has taken a large toll. There are new walking wounded.

The Police Chief shared at the press conference yesterday the bomber left a video confession. Maybe this will shed some light on why he did what he did. The Mayor of Austin spoke at this press conference as well, leaving us all with some advice I hope we all think about and follow. He advised us all to walk across the street and get to know your neighbors. Get to know—really know each other and take care of each other.

Today, I am thankful I can sit on my hill with less fear–venturing out to the store or worry about the safety of my UPS driver. I am thankful for my little community and my neighbors.

My prayers continue for those who suffered as a direct result of these bombings—both physically and mentally. The victims are many. The wounds deep and mostly invisible.

Our world has become an even scarier place.

We need to seek out the good—not just look for the helpers but we must become one of them.

The only way to survive is by helping each other through all of these insane twists and turns.

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”
― David Levithan, Love Is the Higher Law

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all.

~Peace~

 I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos 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.

For the Love of a Dog

“In my lap I had my dear little pug, the smell of whose ears will always be sweeter to me than all the perfumes of Araby and the scent of heliotrope combined.”
― Kathryn Davis, Versaille

Sometimes God gives us a challenge that forces us to slow down.

This past week was one of those times. I was given time to pay attention to all I love and hold precious, a time to be gracious,  and thankful.

A little over a week ago, my oldest dog, Bud, began acting as if he was in pain. Bud has never been a very subtle dog–this was no exception. He would suddenly stop and sit, staring at me with a rather annoyed look on his face. The most noticeable change was the most troubling–for the first time in his twelve-year lifetime, he’d stopped following me–something was brewing.

When he stopped eating and began a near continuous whimper, I knew I needed real help.

Long story short, the vet discovered several hot spots on his tail. I’d never had a dog with hot spots before—I do not ever want to deal with hot spots again.

With the help of topical and oral antibiotics combined with an e-collar, we began our journey down the long and winding road of recovery.

I was reminded how slowly time goes as you sit with a loved one in pain. Bud would settle down and not cry if I sat with him. I sat in my chair, talking to him as I stroked his back. His comfort became the focal point of my days.

I was also reminded of a very simple fact—you can not rush healing. After five days of medication, prayer, patience, and a lot of whining of my own, he was getting better.

Unless I had to travel, Bud has been by my side every day since April 8, 2006. Today, he is resting quietly beside me, awaiting his breakfast, no longer in pain. His tail is better and so am I.

My world is back on its axis–all is right in Hibdonville.

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
― Roger A. Caras

I am…

B…simply being…

May God continue to bless us all.

~Peace~

 

Leaving the Light On

We all lose friends.. we lose them in death, to distance and over time. But even though they may be lost, hope is not. The key is to keep them in your heart, and when the time is right, you can pick up the friendship right where you left off. Even the lost find their way home when you leave the light on.     
Amy Marie Walz

 

This week did not go as I’d planned.

Isn’t there some old saying that says something like when man makes plans, God laughs?

As usual, I gave God some chuckles.

A  goal for 2018 is to get back to Iowa to visit old friends. Facebook has given me the huge gift of re-establishing connections with many of the people I grew up with in Traer, Iowa. Why I never went back to see these special people when I still lived in Iowa is somewhat of a mystery to me. My best guess is I was simply not ready.

What I never imagined was the possibility that some of the people I wanted to see would not be there when I finally returned.

I’d left Traer when my family moved from this little community after I’d finished eighth grade. My eighth grade year had been one of huge changes for our family. I’d certainly had personal challenges all through that year, centering around school and other extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, I made some very bad choices.

I was searching for something or someone to give me some direction because I’d lost so many things in my personal life. I wanted to belong somewhere regardless of the cost. No one was whispering in my ear, trying to influence me. I was as stubborn then as I am now and I’d made some bizarre my choices. The more off-the-wall those decisions were, the more attention came my way. This became a whirlwind of craziness that lead me to a place that worried my family. My dad had tried all the things he knew to steer me back on track–between his new marriage and my behavior, it became obvious to him this would be a great time to start a new life somewhere else.

When school was out, my brain knew we were leaving. My heart refused to believe it. I made bargains with my dad, hoping he would change his mind. I even tried to be nice to my step-mom, thinking I could win her over. I made nightly deals with God, promising to change my ways if we could just stay—I wanted to stay and start high school with my friends.

No deal.

So, we left the little community where I’d grown up–the place that held most of the people I knew in the whole wide world.

It was my little town—a place where I’d gotten lost both literally, returned home by way of the local town cop, and figuratively, struggling to understand how my mom could have really died and left my sisters and me all alone with a dad who had no clue what to do with the three of us.

Because of these types of thoughts, it’s become very important for me to return to this little place—to see those who are still there so I can feel I’ve had some closure to the part of my childhood that played out there.

I firmly believe Traer holds the key that will enable me to shake up my memories in a way that will reposition the big puzzle representing my life. Right now, there are pieces holding positions just outside of the main puzzle. I cannot figure out how these pieces fit into the big picture. For so many years it’s felt as if the entire puzzle board was slightly off-kilter. There seem to be little patches of pieces waiting for someone to suggest a slight shift in position that will magically draw all those stragglers together with one firm snap.

This week, as I worked on my travel plans, I learned one of those classmates had died.

I was taken so off-guard. I’d never imagined I’d never have the opportunity to see all those people I’d remembered so easily and often over the past fifty plus years.

Now, I’d never have the chance to tell one of them—Nancy—how happy I’d been we’d had the chance to reconnect by way of Facebook. I never had the chance to thank her for how good she’d always made me feel when we were young and she’d hang out with me. She was one of the kids I always wanted to be friends with—even my kid brain knew we had very few common interests. Now, as adults, I wanted to look into her eyes and tell her how much I appreciated and treasured her.

Now, I continue to plan my trip, knowing it is even more important to stay on course. I know how important it is for me to get there and see those people who were and still are the building blocks of the person I am today. These are the people who saw me as my most innocent self and watched as I struggled growing up. They are some of the most real and most kind people I’ve ever known—they need to know that and hear it from me.

Regardless of how I reshuffle dates, there won’t be enough time there this trip.I can’t do it all in one visit—I can get it started, though.

Once again, God’s message to me stresses how vital it is to let those I love know how important they are to me.

Today, I grieve not only the loss of my childhood friend, Nancy, but I feel the loss of an opportunity to sit and talk with her, adult to adult, laughing as we share our life experiences, rejoicing over our successes while encouraging each other over the failures. Each shared moment would have added a few more pieces to our respective puzzle boards, re-establishing those connections we’d unknowingly set up all those years ago.

God bless you, Nancy. My world certainly has been brighter for having known you. See you on the other side.

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

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you all. Remember to tell those you love how much you love them.

~Peace~

A Plan

“Support your own success. What do you need to do to make your dreams a reality? What steps do you need to take? How can you be ready for an opportunity? Think of everything that you would need to do to harness opportunity. Start working on those things. You will want to make the most optimum use of any opportunity that comes along. How can you do that if you’re not ready? Don’t sell yourself short. Do what you can TODAY for a better tomorrow. Your efforts will pay off. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams.”
― Akiroq Brost

I realized last Friday I needed to make a change. I was mentally and physically tired–kinda like Ruby’s new little piglet.

Nearly a year ago I began my storytelling. Little did I know how much I would enjoy it! I’d gone back and read some of my older stories and discovered I’d grown as a storyteller. What a wonderful discovery but…I needed to re-evaluate where I was going and if I was on the right track.

I was beginning to see by publishing a story Monday through Friday left me very little time to research, read, and learn. I am surrounded by all these marvelous tools, but I have no real idea how to use them in a way where they could help me work more quickly and more efficiently.

My supply of the easy short stories was wearing thin. Combine that with my cumbersome methods of writing, I was working very hard in order to complete my daily tales.

That little voice in my head, my very quiet and patient “logical self” whispered, “Dear One, it’s time you made a new plan.”

I’ve resisted doing this for a very long time. In the past, cutting back was my way to avoid putting my words out there. Now, I know I’ve gotten over that fear, I believe in myself and I know I’ve committed myself to writing. It is time, for now,  to make a plan where I write a little less and concentrate a little more on learning.

For the next two months, I’ll publish two stories a week. This will give me time to read and learn. I need to get a firm understanding of how to use the WordPress platform. Right now, I know how to get my words out there. Any little glitch throws everything into a tailspin. I’ll be researching topics I’ve wanted to develop and share, taking time to expand on what I find instead of just superficial summaries. I know my readers have some of the same questions and interests I do. With more preparation, I can dig deeper. How grand it will be to have a collection of stories to pull from and share. I can grow the Barbara Storytelling Bank. Once that’s done, I’ll be back on my daily schedule.

“Don’t Just

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…

God bless.

~Peace~

The First Day of March

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

For decades, whenever the calendar declares it is March 1, a series of images flash into my mind:

The sun was shining in between clouds that had a more summer-like appearance than I remembered seeing the last time I’d paid any attention to the sky. I was young, in my junior year of high school. The gusty winds of March had begun in earnest. It was wonderful to feel my hair blow across my face and into my mouth as I laughed at everything John said to me.

I had my prop, the basketball, which had been my ticket out of the house.  I’d set up a play date at the basketball court at Lowell Grade School.  This particular court was a place my sisters and I escaped to often. It was across the street from our house. Neither Dad or Irene had any problems with us going there. That was a very important part of growing up in my house, I was never allowed to go far from home.

On this day, March first, the snow had mostly melted, leaving mushy puddles in scattered spots across the court. For the most part, I tried to avoid them but my first serious crush, John, worked hard to hit them with a force that covered us both with freezing slush. It was a glorious day.

John.

I see him so clearly in my head on this day–a date that has become such an odd anniversary of sorts. His dark hair, dark skin, early beard, kinda goofy walk with his feet angled outward and a pace that would be called speed walking today. He was always in a rush–I’m not sure if even he knew where he was going.

All I knew was I was in love with him–he was cute, funny, full of energy, mysterious, and troubled.

He lived with his mom and his younger brother. His mom worked a lot which meant he was responsible for his little brother. He was adamant he had to be home in time to cook dinner for his brother when his mom was working. That fact made us a good match–I was responsible for my sisters, too.

As the school year ended, so did our relationship. I was devastated–how could that be? We were so perfect together–he introduced me to the Rolling Stones and Bill Cosby’s Noah’s Ark routine. He played “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” over and over again. This was one of the first times, and by far, not the last time, I realized I was so very naive.

The last time I had any real contact with him was a Saturday night just before the school year ended. For whatever reason, he just showed up my backdoor. Luckily, Dad and Irene were out because it would NOT have been okay for a boy to show up at our house. He came to the door and asked if I would come with him. I’m pretty sure he’d been drinking–my naive mind saw no danger–I only knew he was there–at MY door. I went with him.

The part of the street we lived on had no stop signs or stop lights for a very long distance, making it the perfect stretch of road for kids to race their cars.

My gut told me he was angry and sad. My gut was also screaming at me when he floored the car leaving our driveway. By the time he got past the grade school, he was beginning to lose control of the car. I was sitting next to him so I could see that the speedometer was steadily climbing–I buried my head in his shoulder as we began to slide–I think it was my movement that brought him back to reality.  He slowed down, turned towards his house, and parked the car. He looked at me for a long time, saying nothing.

We sat in silence. My gut told me that he was in very deep trouble. I told him I was going to walk home and got out of the car. He grabbed my arm and pulled me back, saying he was sorry, and he’d take me home. He hung his head and told me that he just could not do this anymore.

The next time I saw him was after we’d graduated. Actually, I did not see him, none of us did.

It was the first freeze of the winter and John was speeding when he hit a railroad bridge in the little community where he had just started college. He was killed instantly. His head injuries too severe for an open casket.

As my friends and I stood beside his coffin, my gut screamed at me that his accident was no accident.

My heart still wonders what happened to his little brother.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

May we all stay aware.

~Peace~

Many thanks to my dear friends, Kimberlee Salimeno, for allowing me to borrow her picture for today’s story. Love you.  

 

 

 

 

 

It Was a Day For Me

“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.”
― Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty

Today became an unplanned self-care day.

It was so good and I am so thankful.

Of course, now I’m having a tad bit of a guilt attack for not getting much crossed off my to-do list. Not to worry–I found this great quote as a way to prepare for my day tomorrow.

“You get up in the morning; it’s the start of yet another day in your daily life. However, if you want to make it interesting, exciting, extract the best out of it and make those 24 hours go a long way then make-believe that it’s your last day! Make every minute, every second, nay, every heartbeat count. Do things you’ve hesitated doing before. Go on, apologize to that dear friend with whom you haven’t spoken for quite some time now. Express your true feelings to your sweetheart. Give a hug to your children or grandchildren and tell them how much you love them. Wear that beautiful dress you’ve been saving for an occasion. Eat from your best crockery, drink from those crystal glasses that you’ve been maintaining for some grand party. What’s more precious than your own life? YOU are THAT important person you’ve been waiting for so long. Throw yourself a party, pamper your own self, tickle those taste buds and have a blast.

We keep waiting for that right occasion to take out that pretty dress, little realizing that we may not fit into it after some time. We keep maintaining those crystal and bone china ware little realizing that they can break. Use them often; use them for and on your own self because the most important person is YOU.”
― Latika Teotia

I am…

B…simply being…

Get out there and spread wonder and experience joy.

~Peace~

 

 

 

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~