Nudges

“You know, bicycling isn’t just a matter of balance,” I said. “it’s a matter of faith. You can keep upright only by moving forward. You have to have your eyes on the goal, not the ground. I’m going to call that the Bicyclist’s Philosophy of Life.” 

Susan Vreeland, Clara and Mr. Tiffany

I started riding a bicycle this week for the first time in twenty-five years–give or take a few years.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike. I gotta say–I disagree.

This week I grabbed my helmet and started peddling. I felt like I was eight years old again–my sense of balance was in the negative zone and my self-confidence was even lower. I had many starts and stops but I persisted.

My new bicycle is a power assist bike–a RADmini step through, to be exact. With the power assist I am able to make it up the steep hills that surround our little house on the HILL.

It’s taking a lot longer than I thought it would but I am finding my core. After all these years I know it’s in there somewhere. After each ride I feel stronger and more in control of the ride. The hardest thing for me is turning. I am positive as a young person I never thought once about making a turn. Now that one maneuver creates anxiety the moment I get on my bike.

I KNOW I’m over thinking all of this. I need to stop the drama, get on my beautiful new bike, and RIDE, RIDE, RIDE…

At this stage of my life I will be generous with myself and take all my challenges one pedal at a time. I survived a near wipe-out by staying centered and calm. THAT was a major victory for me–made even more momentous by the fact had I fallen I would have ended up in the middle of a very large fire ant mound.

Mother Nature is also giving me encouragement. On my first long morning ride–if you can actually call it long–I saw a coyote saunter across the road ahead of me and as I made my way home, a magnificent Bald Eagle flew across my path.

My form is far from pretty–I’m sure it’s a form uniquely my own. I shake my head and lumber on. I can feel my tenacious determination rearing its meek little head, giving me support while gently applying steady nudges forward.

“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” 

James E. Starrs, The Literary Cyclist: Great Bicycling Scenes in Literature

Before closing my computer for the weekend, I wanted to share a prayer I found earlier today. It is perfect for me and I think it may help others who read my stories. I am grateful for your powerful presence here in my storyteller’s corner. I treasure you.

   Dear Lord, there has been too much change in my life recently, and I feel overwhelmed. Because I try to be a responsible person, I sometimes forget that it is unwise for me to allow my sense of duty to override my common sense. 

   Lord, help me to allow myself more time to rest, relax, and pray. Guide me toward something spiritual to read every day and a quiet time afterwards to reflect on what I  have read and how it pertains to my life. I truly want to simplify my life and live more as Christ did. Help me remember that there is no loss or problem I must face alone. you are always near, with Your love and compassion to comfort me. 

   ~Amen

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

 

Resilience

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” 

Elizabeth Edwards

I think it was Tim Shriver who said what has not been grieved will continue to show up in your life.

I was reminded of this quote these past few weeks as I attempted to processed the unknown illness of our Tibetan Terrier,  Ruby,  and the sudden death of our Lhasa Apso, Duffy.

The pain from these two incidents has pulled up some old stuff. Stuff I’ve had to shove down into some deep dark place many years ago in order to survive and maintain the status quo of my family,  my sisters, and myself.

Interesting, I chose to not edit the order of that list because I wanted it to serve as a reminder of where I still placed my priorities even now, at the age of 65 years. Without conscious thought, I’d automatically placed  myself at the end of those who needed care and/or protection.

It’s past time to reset those priority button so I can work on my core beliefs, acknowledge my own worth, and begin to work on the grief  I’ve carried around with me for the past fifty some years.

“The reality of grief is far different from what others see from the outside. There is pain in this world that you can’t be cheered out of. You don’t need solutions. You don’t need to move on from your grief. You need someone to see your grief, to acknowledge it. You need someone to hold your hands while you stand there in blinking horror, staring at the hole that was your life. Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.” 

Megan Devine, It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

 

The New Normal

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” 

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

Our pack is quietly moving into our new normal. We are all eating and sleeping better. We’ve all moved closer to each other–physically and emotionally.

We move on–side by side–day by day–baby step by baby step.

I found a prayer I’d like to share with you today.

   Lord, teach me to be patient–with life, with people and with myself. I sometimes try to hurry things along too much, and I push for answers before the time is right. Teach me to trust Your sense of timing rather than my own and to surrender my will to Your grater and wiser plan. 

   Help me let life unfold slowly, like the small rosebud whose petals unravel bit by bit, and remind me that in hurrying the bloom along, I destroy the bud and much of the beauty therein. Instead let me wait for all to unfold in its own time. Each moment and state of growth contains a liveliness. Teach me to slow down enough to appreciate life and all it holds.  Amen. 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Paw Prints

“People leave imprints on our lives, shaping who we become in much the same way that a symbol is pressed into the page of a book to tell you who it comes from. Dogs, however, leave paw prints on our lives and our souls, which are as unique as fingerprints in every way.” 

Ashly Lorenzana   

It’s been a long week filled with moments of sadness intermixed with hours of numbness.

I’ve definitely been taking my little world for granted. The unexpected loss of our Duffy caught me off guard.

The house remains unnaturally quiet. I had not recognized what an instigator Duffy was or how much his whole spirit filled up a room. The void he left is immeasurable.

I have been surrounded by those who love me. I’ve been showered with kind words and deeds. I am humbled and grateful.

I have been reminded how important it is to be kind. I see there is no right or wrong when it comes to being kind and expressing sympathy. I know the most important thing is to just show up–in whatever way you can find to do so.

Our little house on the hill has lost its Prince. Across the land, smiles and tails are at half mast.

We are a hardy lot.

The remaining little pack is tight and exceptionally tolerant of each other right now. I think we feel the need to stay close–so we are doing just that.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I am…

B…simply being.

~May God bless us all with peace.~

My Teacher

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” 

T.H. White, The Once and Future King

My mind has been filled with thoughts of my Duffy for the past few days. Most of them are happy thoughts. The ones that are unhappy revolve around feeling I did not spend enough time with him.

I always thought I had more time.

My precious Duff may be the one who finally helps me understand time is never promised. It’s up to us to grab onto every single minute and be in that moment. Let go of the yesterdays and give all the worries about tomorrow to the Universe. Be aware of the present and wallow in it.

He taught me so many other things.

He taught me it’s okay to ask for help when you’re scared. He was our early storm warning system. When a storm was on the way he wanted to be close to us. Once he had that connection, he relaxed and let the storm pass.

He showed me examples of trust every single day. He simply knew those who loved him would always catch him if he missed a jump, grab him before he slipped off the couch, or make decisions in his best interest.

Even when he was not feeling well–he could not have been feeling well for some time–he always made his s-ing type maneuvers and instigated all kinds of disruptions with the other dogs. There was not many quiet moments here with the Duff around. It is extremely quiet today.

He loved everyone he met but he lived to sit on Michael’s lap. Those lap visits were full of huge hugs while nudging Michael’s hand for more and more pets. There were never enough hands on this little man.

As each day goes by, I see more and more things he taught me.

As of now, some of the most valuable lessons are:

There is nothing more important than spending time with those you love. Nothing. Do whatever you have to do to get their attention–do figure eights and wind yourself around their legs if you have to in order to get their attention.

Be vocal and tell those you love you are excited to see them. I miss his little howls of joy whenever we all climbed out of bed in the morning or met each other at the door later in the day. He was happy to see us and he let us know it.

Remember the work–whatever that work may be–will be there tomorrow or the next day. Sit down, stretch out, and share your space with those you love. Regardless of whatever else may be going on in your space, ignore it so you can give extra big hugs to those all around.

If someone is unhappy with you, go to your favorite spot and stay there until they forget about it. When you come back in, come back as though nothing has happened. A little joyful howl upon entrance is a sure bet all will be forgiven.

Above all else, hold your head up high and know you are worthy of all good things. You are a prince/princess. Turn your back to the negatives and let them pass. God’s got this and He has it all in control.

I know I was fortunate to have had him in my life.

Monday he took a giant piece of my heart with him but left me with even more love and hundreds of memories. I know, as time goes on, I’ll be comforted by them. These little gifts, all gifts that reflect the cleverness of Duffy, will allow me to heel…pun intended.

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

The Prince of Royal Court

We had to say good-bye to our Duffy today.

He was the purest example of unconditional love I’ve ever known.

I knew something was wrong with this little guy and I had a pretty good idea what the outcome would be–should be–for him.

We could have given him insulin injections and kept him captive here so I didn’t have to say good-bye so soon. We were caught a little bit off guard and not really ready. It was way, way, way too soon to be making this decision.

In reality it isn’t about our feelings. It was our responsibility to do what was best for this beautiful dog who had put all his trust in us to do the best for him.

That left little room for debate–in my opinion.

Today at about 1215 we let him go. It was beyond hard in so many ways.

Duffy was the most loving, funny, and generous soul I’ve ever known. He never doubted you’d be there to catch him when he missed a jump or misjudged the edge of the couch. He just set his course, settled in, and trusted you to take care of him.

We always said we needed to be a little bit more like Duffy.

I am so grateful for the time we had with him. I’m not sure what we did to deserve him but I am so very thankful for almost every minute.

He’d come in to sit with me every day as I wrote my stories. Writing today is only happening because I needed to get some of the pain out of my head. Not sure if I’ll be ready to tell any stories tomorrow.

Run free, little man.

You left your mark on many hearts here and left with huge pieces of Micheal’s and mine. I love you and will miss you every single day. You were a powerful soul. This space echoes in your absence.

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

Gardening

“In a world full of roses, stand out like a dandelion in the middle of a green, plush lawn!” 

June Stoyer

It’s been busy here in Hibdonville.

The weather has been perfect for cleaning up the gardens. Throw in a few trips to the nursery for plants, compost, and mulch and I have not had much time for writing stories.

I’ll catch up with you all next week.

God bless.

“May I a small house and large garden have;

And a few friends,

And many books, both true.” 

Abraham Cowley

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

 

Bridging the Gap

“Sorry.

Sorry means you feel the pulse of other people’s pain as well as your own, and saying it means you take a share of it. And so it binds us together, makes us trodden and sodden as one another. Sorry is a lot of things. It’s a hole refilled. A debt repaid. Sorry is the wake of misdeed. It’s the crippling ripple of consequence. Sorry is sadness, just as knowing is sadness. Sorry is sometimes self-pity. But Sorry, really, is not about you. It’s theirs to take or leave.

Sorry means you leave yourself open, to embrace or to ridicule or to revenge. Sorry is a question that begs forgiveness, because the metronome of a good heart won’t settle until things are set right and true. Sorry doesn’t take things back, but it pushes things forward. It bridges the gap. Sorry is a sacrament. It’s an offering. A gift.” 

Craig Silvey, Jasper Jones

Sunday I spent a few hours sitting between these two beautiful people. Something about them makes me think of my mom’s family which means I was in a very magical place Sunday afternoon.

Pinky and I did not always have a good relationship.

Our conflict began many years ago over a dog poop incident. Yes. You read that correctly. Dog poop.

He had cautioned me very nicely not let my dogs relieve themselves in his yard. Well, when a dog decides to make that stop it’s not always easy to pull them away. I explained to him I was very careful with my dogs and I’d pick up after them. Okay. He was not happy with that answer but he accepted it.

The next weekend I was out walking the dogs and was so happy when both dogs walked by Pinky and Mary Lou’s yard.  What I did not know was Pinky had stepped in a “gift” left by a dog whose owner looked a lot like me. She did not pick up. He had tracked that little present into his RV and all over the freshly cleaned carpeting before he’d realized it.

As I walked by I heard a very firm voice ask me to stop. It was Pinky and he was angry. I was so confused. We hadn’t even stopped in his yard. I had no idea what he was talking about but there was no doubt he was very angry with me. I tried to defend my self but he was not listening to my excuses. He had seen me and that was all the proof he needed.

I walked quickly home and told Michael I would be keeping my distance from Pinky. For many years Pinky and I went out of our way to avoid each other. His wonderful wife, Mary Lou, went out of her way to visit with us and loved me just like nothing had happened.

About four years ago I heard a knock on our RV door. I wasn’t expecting anyone so I peeked through the window. I was shocked to see Mr. Pinky. I went into panic mode trying to think if I’d done something wrong? Michael wasn’t there so I couldn’t send him to the door. Pinky had already seen me so I had to answer the door.

I slowly opened the door and he began to speak to me in a strong but kind voice. He told me he did not want to come in but he had something important to say to me. He cleared his throat and straightened his back and looked me directly in the eye. That eye contact never broke as he asked me to forgive him for getting so mad at me all those years ago. He told me he had problems with a bad temper all his life and it wasn’t always easy for him to control it. He knew he had made a bad judgement about me because he had been watching me. He knew I was not the kind of person who would leave a mess behind. He paused to rest his voice before asking me to forgive  him.

No one before or since has made such a sincere apology to me. We both had tears in our eyes as I thanked him for the beautiful apology and told him I forgave him. We shared a very clumsy hug, each sniffling a time or two, and he headed down the stairs and home.

We have been the best of friends since that day. There isn’t a day that I don’t think of these two beautiful people and thank God they are in my life.

Sunday Pinky sat beside me and asked me questions no one else has since I retired. He touched my arm and asked me if I missed my work? He’s one of very few people who have asked that question. It touched my soul. We talked more about retirement. He told me he’d retired once but went back for twelve more years because he didn’t believe retirement was good for people. He said people need to be busy and both he and Mary Lou are both busy. He asked me about my home state of Iowa and what the summers were like there. How did he know I’d been feeling a little homesick? How comforting for me for him to take the time to listen to me talk about home. All our conversations were done with steady eye contact. As I think back on our talks I realized just how uncommon that is today.

It was an exceptional day and I will carry it in my heart forever. As I sat with the two of them I had such a strong feeling my family members had come to spend the day with me as well. Thank you, Pinky and Mary Lou, for being a part of and for adding so much to my life. I love you.

“What people see you do may not be remembered; what they hear you say may be forgotten; but how they feel your intervention in their times of need will forever be remembered.” 

Israelmore Ayivor, Leaders’ Watchwords

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

A Treasured Memory

I give thanks for my friends

For connection and laughter,

For comfort and strength,

For encouragement and unity,

For forgiveness and grace,

For celebration and joy.

They are so many things to me,

Such a rich tapestry of blessings,

Woven through my life.

Thank you. ~Author Unknown

Yesterday was an amazing day.

We had part of our chosen family over for a spring BBQ. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze kept the temperature near 80 degrees, and the food and wine were excellent.

It was as if a magical spell had been cast upon our house–we sat within a little bubble of peace and serenity. The challenges we’d all faced in the year since we’d been together were acknowledged and celebrated.

I’ve discovered an unexpected benefit of getting older is how appreciative I’ve become for small gifts. I’d mistakenly believed that all those people and things that’d always been part of my life would always remain. This past year has finally taught me that life is very fragile. My year of awareness continues to grow as I appreciate the fact assumptions are no longer acceptable.

Yesterday, as I sat in my little chair observing the beautiful souls gathered together, I felt so deeply blessed. My tuned up awareness helped me appreciate just how special and rare this day had become. I thanked God as I opened my heart and absorbed every bit of the powerful energy we call love.

There’s a miracle called friendship

that dwells within the heart

And you don’t know when it happens

or when it gets a start…

But the happiness it brings you

always gives a special lift,

And you realize that friendship is

God’s most precious gift!

~Author Unknown

 I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Thanks, Jo Heiple Thedens, for letting me use another one of your great pictures. Your talent is amazing. You and your photography nourish my Iowa roots and heart. Thank you.  

The First Day of Spring

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” 

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

I’ve been able to get outside and into my gardens these past few days. Honestly, there is so much to do I don’t know where to start. The rains we had this past fall and winter blessed us with a bumper crop of wild flowers along with an even larger array of weeds.

My understanding of  the cliché, “Growing like a weed,” has advanced to an entirely different level.

As I walked our yard doing weed assessment, it was appropriate to find St. Francis surrounded by a huge patch of blue bonnets.

For me, the patron saint of ecologists, provides a perfect antidote for the very difficult winter many people endured this year. Now, on this first day of spring, the aftermath of all that snow is causing epic flooding all through the Midwest.

Our weather continues to rage at a magnitude we’ve never experienced. As with all the unrest in our world, we find ourselves caught off guard and completely unprepared.

There are many questions in my mind on this first day of spring. I don’t have any answers but I do know prayer helps.

May the Prayer of St. Francis bring peace to all battling hardships today.

 Lord, make me an instrument
of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred,
let me sow charity;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~