A Remembering Time

“The people you love become ghosts inside of you, and like this you keep them alive.” 

Rob Montgomery

I sigh as I begin to write today.

This time of year there are always many people meandering through my mind.

Time has not dulled the loss very much. I miss them.

This Thanksgiving I had the idea to light a large votive candle for all those people I missed. As the flame flickered, I visualized each person, thanking them for being in my life.

As the flame burned throughout the day, I felt the presence of those I’d pictured in my mind earlier. The warm light from the candle eased its way into those empty places in my heart, leaving me feeling comforted and very loved.

Thank you, God.

“Mrs. Casey, do you love Christmas? 

Well you know, she answered reflectively, Christmas can be a sad time for people too. It’s a remembering time for us older ones. We remember the people who are gone.

Oh, I never thought of that, I told her in surprise.

Well that’s youth for you, she said; you don’t start to look back over your shoulder until there is something to look back at, and around Christmas I tend to think of the Christmases past and the people gone with them.” 

Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Thanksgiving Eve

God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.” ~ Izaak Walton

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Hibdonville. Doctor appointments and procedures all need to be scheduled before the end of the year. I’m thinking it’s a good thing I’m retired so I have time to do all I need in order to stay healthy.

As a result, time has certainly gotten away from me. I’m finding it impossible it is the day before Thanksgiving–Thanksgiving Eve.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

As a kid it was the start of the Christmas countdown–excitement grew daily. As an adult working healthcare worker it meant a day off work–unless it was your holiday. Today, as a woman closer now to seventy than sixty, it means I find myself looking back a little more often than looking forward.

Retirement’s given me time to see those unanswered prayers over the years were actually blessings shrouded in what appeared to be denial and disappointment. All my life experiences have given me the gift of empathy enabling me to better understand the challenges facing family and friends.

All this was going through my mind today as I drove home from shopping. I found myself feeling such gratitude for my life and all the people who have been such important parts of it.  It took me a few seconds to realize the song playing on the radio was Tim McGraw’s song, Humble and Kind. I’m not sure I’ve ever really listened to the words before today.

I’m sharing just in case you haven’t either.

“Humble And Kind”

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door

Don’t forget the key’s under the mat

When childhood stars shine

Always stay humble and kind

Go to church ’cause your mamma says to

Visit grandpa every chance that you can

It won’t be wasted time

Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”

Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie

I know you got mountains to climb

But always stay humble and kind

When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you

When the work you put in is realized

Let yourself feel the pride

But always stay humble and kind

Don’t expect a free ride from no one

Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why

Bitterness keeps you from flyin’

Always stay humble and kind

Know the difference between sleeping with someone

And sleeping with someone you love

“I love you” ain’t no pick-up line

So always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”

Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie

I know you got mountains to climb

But always stay humble and kind

When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you

When the work you put in is realized

Let yourself feel the pride

But always stay humble and kind

When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle

Shut off the AC and roll the windows down

Let that summer sun shine

Always stay humble and kind

Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you

When you get where you’re going don’t forget turn back around

And help the next one in line

Always stay humble and kind ~ Lori McKenna

I am…

B..simply being. 

~Peace~

A History Lesson from Frank Miller

It is human nature that repeats itself, not history. ~John Toland   

My guess is I’m not the only one who was so busy with school and starting new jobs we missed a lot of what happened in our world during the 70’s.

Today’s impeachment hearings remind me of the Watergate tapes and Nixon. Sitting at my desk, I saw the book published by The Des Moines Register of Frank Miller’s cartoons. I’d forgotten I had a great historical resource waiting for me.

The cartoon above is dated, November 2, 1973.

I thought back to my own history. On this day I would have been a staff radiologic technologist for only a few months. I was waiting to take my boards or waiting for results. Either way, I was in a very uncomfortable place. It seemed I was juggling so many things. There was no time to think about world events. I needed to focus on my own future.

It was a treat to sit down today with Mr. Miller’s cartoon collage. What a great way to review both Iowa and world events.

Thanks, Frank, for taking me back in time.

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

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

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

Life Will Be the Death of Me

“Dr. Richard Selzer is a surgeon and a favorite author of mine. He writes the most beautiful and compassionate descriptions of his patients and the human dramas they confront. In his book Letters to a Young Doctor, he said that most young people seem to be protected for a time by an imaginary membrane that shields them from horror. They walk in it every day but are hardly aware of its presence. As the immune system protects the human body from the unseen threat of harmful bacteria, so this mythical membrane guards them from life-threatening situations. Not every young person has this protection, of course, because children do die of cancer, congenital heart problems, and other disorders. But most of them are shielded—and don’t realize it. Then, as years roll by, one day it happens. Without warning, the membrane tears, and horror seeps into a person’s life or into the life of a loved one. It is at this moment that an unexpected theological crisis presents itself.” 

James C. Dobson, Life on the Edge: The Next Generation’s Guide to a Meaningful Future

I’ve often said teachers appear when the student is ready.

Even though this is one of my core beliefs, I continue to be surprised when new teachers arrive from unexpected places.  Each experience enables me to continue on my journey in ways I would never would have foreseen.

It’s taken a lot of journaling before I realized I’d left parts of myself behind in order to survive. Now, in my year of awareness, I understand I must acknowledge that little hidden girl, setting her free so she can join in for the rest of our journey.

My sister, Sue, happened to mention a book she’d been reading. She felt it would be an excellent book for me to read. When she told me the author was Chelsea Handler, I was surprised. I didn’t know Chelsea had written a book. I enjoyed her comedy but because of our age differences, I never thought she’d have anything to say that would benefit me.

Sue had just started suggestion books so I thought I’d check this out to see if we were “on the same page,” so to speak. Luckily, I found a print copy of  Life Will Be the Death of Me.

Within minutes Chelsea had me hooked. Maybe it was her frank honesty describing her unusual family and the death of her brother, Chet. Whatever it was, I found myself comparing my childhood experiences with hers. I was reading her story furiously, stopping to think back on my own hazy childhood, as I learned from her hard fought insights.

These are the notes I made for myself and to share with you:

“I’ve been nine for a very long time. (Chelsea Handler lost her older brother, the person she idolized, at the age of nine). 

That nine year old brain had no ability to distinguish death and rejection. 

That nine year old brain didn’t understand that  my brother didn’t choose to die. 

Subconsciously I was waiting for  my bother to come home because that’s what he said he was going to do…

I didn’t know then that my brother’s death was defining me. 

In therapy: I was with a person who could help me process what had happened and turn the parts of me that acted like a nine-year-old into a self-actualized adult who had come to a better understanding of what it means to dig deep and admit your pain–thereby beginning the process of relinguishing it. …my brother’s dying no longer had to define my existence. 

I define me, no event or person does.

On her mother’s death: I felt bad that I wasn’t dreading my mother’s death as she (her sister) was–I just wanted to get it over with. 

…I was forty the day I was born. 

That’s my sister. Just loving and happy to be a part of things. Easy going. Qualities I had never given any thought to or admired. No demands for an apology, no hard feelings. Well, maybe there are hard feelings, but no feelings are hard enough to erase the love and understanding she will always have for me…

From her therapist, Dan: You just explained beautifully that you want people to take care of  you, so you’re always looking to fill that need because it’s something you didn’t have growing up–adult supervision and reliability.

More from Dan: Sad is your internal reaction, which turns to anger because anger sets you in kinetic motion to avoid the sadness of sitting there and not listening to music, and knowing your plans have been thwarted. Your anger is your way to avoid sadness. 

Dan continues: You were a helpless little girl who had parents who left you alone too much. When something doesn’t go your way, you get angry because you fell that helplessness. 

I have come to understand that motion had been cemented in my life at a time when I needed it to survive, and over time it became the only way I knew. It was my oxygen. I didn’t know how not to move fast, or how not to state my opinion, or how to just observe something rather than insert myself. 

Just because I grew up with all the things I needed and never had any perceivable struggle, that didn’t preclude me from having the right to unearth my pain. 

…He (Dan, her therapist) wanted me to live those moments slowly and repeatedly, to make sure the pain didn’t get stuck there again–to write it out. 

Dan explained that in very traumatic times, you freeze. 

You do the only thing you can do to survive the pain, which is to shut off and retreat to your own world, because if you were to absorb the pain from all the people around you or acknowledge your own pain, you wouldn’t be able to cope. So, you coped just like everyone else in your family…your coping mechanism was motion. Do something–anything other than sitting around with your feelings.

Regarding her father’s death: I felt sad, but not necessarily about my father. What I was pouring wasn’t just  my bother, or my father , or my cousin, or Chunk, or Tammy. It was mourning the childhood that had lasted years into my adulthood–because I got stuck. I was reconciling myself to the loss of my youth as a self-actualized adult, no that I had the tools to face it all—

Until therapy, Chelsea says: I couldn’t see that I’d adopted certain habits to avoid my deep pain. I cultivated a kid of hubris that allowed me to barrel through life, knocking over everything in my way; and then look back and be surprised at the casualties. Casualties represented weakness, or disloyalty, or people who couldn’t cut the mustard. I never took them as signs that maybe the common denominator was me. 

Don’t let people decide what king of mood you’re gone to be in. Don’t let anyone change your life in one day. Don’t let death take you down and keep your down. Go down, but get back up. If we don’t give in to our despair–and instead lock it away–we fail to properly mourn the people we love. How on earth are we honoring the very people we are grieving if we fail to mourn them fully? We should be celebrating the people we’ve lost. 

…I made it my business to unlock my nine year old brain and look at my behavior. That’s when the lights started turning on everywhere I looked. Chet’s death and my response to it became the blueprint I followed anytime I experienced disappointment with people…

I learned that adventure is never bad, but the alacrity with which you go through life has an impact on the wisdom that life has to offer you. That slowing down doesn’t mean you have to do less. It means you have to pay attention more and catch what the wold is throwing at you. That every situation you put yourself in deserves your full attention, and that each of us has a responsibility to be more aware of ourselves and others. 

I learned that sayin nothing can be much more powerful than saying anything. To not work so hard at making an impression and to let things settle more. Some people’s lessons are to learn how to use their voice, or speak out more, my lesson is to keep quiet a little more and let things happen around me instead of me inserting myself…There’s power in adjusting your behavior and pulling back. 

Strength doesn’t have to eclipse vulnerability. Vulnerability is strength…Being able to apologize is strength…the most important thing isn’t always the giant leap, it’s the steps you take to get where you want to go. 

Your voice has meaning. Find something you care about that has nothing to do with you, and learn about it. Pay attention when you’re tired. Take care of yourself. Read more. Watch less TV. Find new people to teach you new life lessons. Be proactive. 

Know that you have something of value that is unlike what anyone else has. 

Go after happiness like it’s the only thing you can take with you when you die. Stand up for yourself. Treat yourself the way the person you love the most in the world. Get on your own team.” 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

It’s a Small World

“Friends can make you feel that the world is smaller and less sneaky than it really is, because you know people who have similar experiences.” 

Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

Today I began listening to a book I’ve been meaning to read for about ten years. I found it as a recorded book so I thought it was a great opportunity to finally hear this story. The book is, The Girls From Ames, by Jeffrey Zaslow.

I have to admit, the only reason I was originally drawn to it because I figured it had to be about girls from Ames.

For once, I was right. It is about girls from Ames but it’s about a lot more. At least it has been for me.

The book chronicles the lives of eleven women over the course of their forty year friendship. The stories shared are hauntingly familiar to those of my own younger days. I’ve had to go back and repeat parts of the book because my mind gets triggered by one story or another, putting my ears on hold as it pulls up one of my own long lost childhood memory. My emotions have been all over the place. One minute I’m laughing, the next minute I’m in tears.

The main thing I’m feeling this afternoon is gratitude for the people in my life I call friends.

Heavenly Father,

I am thankful for the gift of friendship. You have positioned souls along my path who have added brilliance, depth, and texture to the tapestry of my life. You have blessed me in ways I am just beginning to understand. Each person, in their own individual way, has helped me believe and trust in your goodness. Each day my awareness grows. Please, God, help each person see how valuable they are to me. I ask you to keep them safe as you surround them with peace and love.   Amen. 

~Barbara Jo Burton Hibdon, November 7, 2019

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Thank you, Judith Weitzel Wilmink, for this great picture I’m using as part of my story today. God bless you. I Love you. 

 

Look Closer

“Those little things that you alone see, aren’t by chance. The sign, the squirrel, the dragonfly; the whisper, the song, the lily. It’s me. I’m always with you. I’ll do anything to reach you–to give you hope, keep you on track, answer your questions. Look even closer.” The Universe  

Illumined Ways with Sharon Fallon Shrive

As I read and work on the puzzle pieces of my life, I’m thankful I have these little bits of wisdom to share.

Life is an open book,

A page turned every day,

We alone determine

What the story is to say. 

Some are tales of triumph, 

Others wrought wit woe, 

All have the same beginning–

The end we do not know. 

Be the novel great or small, 

The paper is the same. 

Its content is the measure

Not the cover or the name. 

Choose your message wisely,

Seek justice over wealth;

A classic for the ages–

Not dust upon the shelf. 

When comes the final chapter, 

And the pen is laid to rest, 

May God in final judgement say–

We tried to write our best. 

C. David Hay, Bedside Prayers

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Evening Thoughts

If you sit down at set of sun

And count the acts that you have done,

And, counting, find

One self-denying deed, on word

That eased the heart of him who heard, One glance most kind

That fell like shushing where it went—

Then you may count that day well spent. 

But if, through all the livelong day, 

You’ve cheered no heart, by yea or nay—

If, through it all

You’ve nothing done that you can trace

That brought the sunshine to one face—

No act most small

That helped some soul and nothing cost—

Then count that day as worse than lost. 

~George Eliot

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Lighting a Candle

It is a Jewish custom to light a memorial candle year after year on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. The candle burns for twenty-four hours and is a reminder of the life that was lost and the love that will never die. I recommend this ritual to all those who are searching for a lasting way to sanctify the memory of a loved one.                                  ~Rabbi Naomi Levy

I’ve been at a loss for words this week, searching for some way to talk about the loss of yet another young life lost too soon.

As the days passed and memories streamed across my mind, I prayed for her family.

In reality, that’s all any of us can do.

When I read about the Jewish tradition of lighting a candle on the anniversary of the loss of a loved, I felt so much peace. For me, this seems like the perfect way to remember a loved one. As All Soul’s Day is tomorrow, I think the timing is perfect.

Maybe this tradition will give you peace as well?

A Memorial Prayer  

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 (pp. 220-222). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

An Illusion

“Time is an illusion.” Albert Einstein  

I remember hearing my parents and their friends talk about how fast time goes when you get older. Thinking back to those conversations, I see myself shake my head and begin to roll my eyes. These words seemed to be a secret code that’d unlock the door to the vault containing all the most adventuresome tales, true or imagined, of each person seated around the table.

I’ve found a couple of explanations as to why time goes faster as we get older.

Chelsea Handler, in her new book, Life Will Be the Death of Me, has this to say:

“Time speeds up as it goes by. Someone explained to me that there is a mathematical reason for this: as you age, each year becomes a smaller percentage of the life you have already lived. I’m forty-two as I write this. One year now represents a small percentage of my forty-two years (about 2.38 percent). But when I was eight, one year was a really long time; it was an eighth of my life. (This is why summer lasted about four years when you were a kid.) This may be why I now feel an urgency to know more, to do more to be more.”

I heard this explanation of time on one of the local morning talk shows:

When you’re ten, it feels like you are going through life at ten miles per hour. When you’re twenty-five, you’re traveling at twenty-five miles per hour, thirty-five you’re running through your days at thirty-five miles per hour. Today, I’m traveling at sixty-six miles per hour, wishing I could take my foot off the accelerator and coast for a while at fifty-five.

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” 

Dr. Seuss

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Thank you, Jo Heiple Thedens, for letting me share your photos in my blog. Each photo has its own personality which makes me smile and remember my Iowa roots. 

The 50’s Through the Eyes of Frank Miller

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the cartoons for the 1950’s:

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

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~