Trust

“That is the curse of lying, Sister. Once you place that crown of the liar upon your head, you can take it off again, but it leaves a stain for all time.”
― Terry Goodkind, Soul of the Fire

Retirement has given me time to think back to parts of my life sequestered away in different little nooks and crannies. The sound of falling leaves and the smell of bonfires burning in the distance transported me to a place in time I had not visited in a long time. In one quick sweep, I saw myself standing in front of my old house in Traer, shuffling my feet through a widening pile of leaves, waiting for my friends to come by so we could all walk together to our music teacher’s house for chorus practice.

Now, this memory is a very serious one–not one that I am very proud of and one that probably set the course of my life for years to come. First of all, we were not going to have chorus practice. It’d been canceled earlier in the day because our teacher, Mrs. Wilson, was sick. Some of my friends had decided to go out anyway. Not so easy for me since I had just told my Dad and his new wife, Irene, we did not have practice that night. No way they would let me go out when there was no real plan for the night. I mean, teens out roaming around at night in a small town….nope. No way. Nadda. Not going to happen.

Well, someone suggested after multiple phone calls back and forth, I just needed to tell them I was going to practice. Odds are that they weren’t really paying attention and won’t remember me telling them. It’d be an early night so it won’t be a big deal. Just come on–they’d be walking by in ten minutes.

They pleaded. They really, really, really wanted me to come along. I really, really, really wanted to go. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged. This was a very new and a very heady experience for me.

With all my inner voices screaming at me that this was NOT a smart move, I decided to act fast, grabbed my coat, and rushed out the front door, yelling, “Bye, Dad, I’m going to practice.”

As predicted, my Dad did not remember. What I could not have predicted and was about to discover, Irene never ever forgot anything.

I was with my friends and it was wonderful. We walked up and down the streets, imitating the line walk we had all seen on the new TV show, The Monkees. We pushed, shoved, and laughed. We told each other our scariest ghost stories and made plans for Halloween. The wind gusted harder as we walked. The once clear evening had become overcast and cold. One of the guys said his parents weren’t home, why not head over to his house and warm up.

Meanwhile, at my house, Irene was looking up Mrs. Wilson’s phone number as my Dad dialed. Within a matter of minutes, my great escape was about to become one of my biggest nightmares.

Even now, I don’t know how he knew where to find me. We were crowded in Bruce’s kitchen, checking out what was in the ‘frig, when the knock at the front door came. We all tried to be quiet, but the giggles persisted as someone went to see who was there. What I heard next put pure fear into my heart.

“Barb, it’s your Dad.”

I was pretty sure my Dad was not there to join our little impromptu party.

The silence was deafening as I walked out the door, across the porch, and down the steps to where my Dad stood.

He did not speak to me–just pointed the way home.

If you took the route my friends and I’d just taken, we weren’t far from home. It’s only been a few minutes earlier when we’d raced each other through backyards and down alleys. Dad was not directing me that way–he marched us home by way of the sidewalks. I was a full block ahead of him, hearing his every word. Those words were sparse, repeated over and over, ensuring I got his message.

I got it. Loud and clear.

“I am so disappointed in you. You are no longer the good example you once were for your sisters. Your sisters are embarrassed by you. I am disappointed in you.”

It was one of the lowest times of my life.

My nightmare was not over–it continued when I got to school the next day. Mrs. Wilson told us all about a phone call made to her house the night before. She did not mention my name–there was no need. She was not happy one of her students used her as a way to get out of the house. That was not alright with her. She was very disappointed in that student. It would not–could not–happen again or she would end our special choral group.

This was one of my biggest lessons about trust. In a matter of minutes, I learned trust is earned through hard work. It is lost easily with just one reckless decision.

Over the years, I’ve been haunted by questions. Would things have been different in how our very new family developed if I had made a different choice? Had I set a certain ball in motion that night, creating a momentum I did not understand or know how to stop?

I found a quote earlier that helped me as I wrote and shared this story today.

In my life, I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve missed, I’ve hurt, I’ve trusted, I’ve made mistakes, but most of all, I’ve learned. 

I am…

B…simply being…

Love Y’all.

Peace

 

 

 

 

 

Rising Up

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. 

Theodore Roosevelt, “Man in the Arena”

 

I was reading Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong, when I realized my blog is my arena. This is the place I show up and risk being seen. I agree with Brene when she said we all want to show up and be seen in our lives. But, there is a catch. In order to do that, we will all struggle and fail–meaning we will be brave and be broken-hearted. It is by getting back up on our feet–rising up–we learn who we are.

This book will not be a fast read for me. So much of what Brene says validates the struggles I am going through right now in my life. It is another example of the teacher showing up when the student is ready. Yes, Brene Brown, I am ready, and I’ll share a little with y’all.

Brene talks about “wholeheartedness.” She describes wholeheartedness as “cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up and say, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. At night saying, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, and sometimes afraid, but that does not change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

She continues by telling us we must show up and be seen “even if that means we are risking failure, hurt, shame, and heartbreak. Doing otherwise is killing us–killing our spirits, our hopes, our potential, our creativity, our ability to lead, our love our faith, our joy…when we own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling.”

The timing of this seemed especially poignant to me after a week filled with many people coming forward to share their experiences with sexual harassment.

“There are too many people today who instead of feeling hurt are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they’re inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they’re choosing to live disappointed.”

“…We more need people who are willing to demonstrate what it looks like to risk and endure failure, disappointment, and regret–people willing to feel their own hurt instead of working it out on other people, people willing to own their own stories, live their values, and keep showing up.”

I found a real treasure today. Thanks, Brene Brown.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you and wish you all a wonderful weekend.

Peace

 

 

 

Forgiveness

A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness

If I have harmed anyone in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly through my own confusion, I ask for their forgiveness. If anyone has harmed me in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly, through their own confusions, I forgive them. And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive, I forgive myself for that. For all the ways I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself, judge or be unkind to myself, through my own confusions, I forgive myself.

As I shared yesterday, throughout my life, God has offered me many opportunities to successfully learn my life lessons. Patience is and always has been at the top of that list followed closely by forgiveness. There are several things I’ve carried around with me over the years that continue to challenge my ability to forgive. Working through all that old stuff is one of the reasons I started sharing my stories. I am learning that unpacking some of these things from that crusty old bag is not only difficult but pretty scary. I’ve been asking myself since I began this journey if I was really ready to unpack this bag, shake it all up and out, look it all over, and share.

Several of these stories happened in the Fall and around Halloween. I think next week will be the perfect time to start the unpacking.

“Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

I am…

B…simply being…

I wish you all love and peace.

Patience

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”
Orson F. Whitney

 

It appears God has assigned some very specific lessons for me these past few weeks. His lesson plans seem to be very focused on teaching me the virtue of patience.

I was not being the most appreciative student today. I was feeling very annoyed, frustrated, and angry about some of the challenges that have come my way. I knew it was time for me to take some time away and work on gathering my thoughts and myself together.

Writing always soothes my restlessness. Thank God for that. I began to search for quotes and prayers about patience. My post begins with a quote I found and ends with a prayer. This prayer is written by Naomi Levy, originally titled, A Parent’s Prayer for Patience. Thank you, Naomi, I’ve adapted your prayer to my needs today.

When life tests me, teach me, God, how to respond with wisdom. When I grow irritable, send me patience. When my fury rages, teach me the power of restraint. When I become fixed in my ways, teach me to be flexible. When I take myself too seriously, bless me with a sense of humor. When I am exhausted, fill me with strength. When I am frightened, fill me with courage. When I am stubborn, teach me how to bend. When I act hypocritically, help me to align my deeds with my values. When mundane pressures threaten to overwhelm me, help me to remember how truly blessed I am. When I lose my way, God, please guide me on the road back to Joy, back to Love, back to Peace, back to You.  Amen

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, Y’all.

 

Country Life

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”
John Burroughs, Leaf and Tendril

It is finally feeling like Fall here in the hill country of Texas. The mornings are cool enough for a light sweater or jacket and the evenings are definitely chilly enough to pull out the Solo Stove Bonfire Pit and enjoy a fire on the back patio.

Our life is easy. Our life is simple. I am thankful every single day.

We tell time by the school bus and the Monday morning trash pickup. If the rest of the world was as punctual and dependable as these two parts of our lives, we would all be much less stressed. We have a colony of feral cats who are watched over by our neighbors, Lucy and Bill. For a person who is not a cat person, my attachment to these cats has surprised me. The white pelicans are migrating through on their way to the Gulf. The Cardinals have returned for the winter, serenading us at sunrise and sunset. Our herd of very healthy whitetail deer wanders through our yard throughout the day. The bucks are still in full velvet. Two handsome young bucks greeted me as I walked out the back door this morning. Evenings are quiet enough we can hear the bands playing at On The Rocks, a local bar and restaurant that overlooks Lake LBJ, while we watch the skies for meteors and satellites.

I continue to review the notes I made when I read Mariane Williamson’s book, Every Day Grace. I’d like to share another prayer of Mariane’s that was a powerful one for me. I hope it helps you as well.

Dear God, please show me the way. What thoughts do I need to think to be able to navigate my life at this point? What perceptions do I need? What insights will guide me? Who do I need to forgive? What parts of my personality do I need to look at? What changes do I need to make? Please come upon me and heal my life. Amen.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love Y’all.

Peace

 

 

Every Day Grace

Oh…Mondays…

Just like retirement does little to change the excitement of a Friday afternoon, Monday mornings still have a certain “feel.” The feel of this Monday took on its own little bit of flair when I found myself sitting in my new favorite dentist’s chair. I really like and respect my dentist. Unfortunately, my neck and jaw do not feel the same.

Meaning it’s time to go to the prayer file and find something to share.

Thank you, Marianne Williamson, for this prayer shared from your book, Every Day Grace.

Dear God, I give you this morning. Please take away my despair of yesterday. Help me forgive the things that caused me pain and would keep me bound. Help me to begin again. Please bless my path and illuminate my mind. I surrender to you the day ahead. Please bless every person and situation I encounter. Make me who you would have me be. That I might do as You would have me do. Please enter my heart and remove all anger, fear, and pain. Renewal my soul and free my spirit. Thank you, God, for this day. Amen. 

I am…

B…simply being…

Love Y’all.

Peace

 

 

 

The Zen of Cleaning

When cleaning I do it the way people go to church—not so much to discover anything new, although I’m alert for new things, but mainly to reacquaint myself with the familiar. It’s nice to go over familiar paths.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

I’ve been cleaning these past few days and I know my methods bewilder my husband. When I came across this quote, I had to smile. This describes the way I clean perfectly. As I dust here and sweep there,  I remember where each thing came from and who gave it to us. As I make my way from room to room, it fell like I am a participant in my own very personal cleansing ritual. At the end of the day, I am both tired and renewed.

Now, we are still making our new home our own as we create new, Texas-size memories. Our home in Colorado had over twenty years of history spread over the hardwood floors, walls, doors, and carpeting. Our New Year’s Eve parties were special each leaving its unique “footprints” in that space we called home. There were those little dents in the hardwood floor from a heel that lost its cap–special because the wearer was new to our house and was on her first date with our friend who would later become her husband. A faint stain left from a bottle of red wine that toppled over as we raised our glasses, toasting each other and singing Auld Lang Syne. And not to be forgotten, all those cute little dogs faces that’d flashed into my mind each time I oiled the heavy front door. All things I am so grateful for sparked by the very simple task of cleaning.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Stay safe and well.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love Y’all.

Peace

 

 

 

A Lunch at Killians

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I found this picture today as I was organizing my desk–AGAIN. It is a picture packed with memories.

It is a picture packed with memories.

The picture was taken sometime in the 1980’s. I’d recently divorced and this was the house I had to keep. I thought it was the most amazing little house on the planet. I loved this little place.

This picture was taken in the living room. The little wicker desk was my Dad’s sister, Ruby’s, and fit this space perfectly. What caught my attention today was what surrounded this desk. It was such a nice surprise, I had to share.

The macrame wall hanging and the plant hanger were gifts from my friend, Mary. When we downsized from our home in Colorado to our RV two-plus years ago, choices had to be made. These three items did not make the cut so I was so happy to find this picture.

While I smiled at the princess phone sitting on the desk and the little bottle of wine on the mantle,  I remembered a lunch date Mary and I made with each other shortly after we passed our boards. That was no small feat–we wanted to do something special.

Over the years we had shared our stories about going with our older relatives to a Tea Room for special occasions. Mary had gone with her Grandmother to the Tea Room at Killians in Cedar Rapids. I had gone with my great-aunt to the Tea Room at Brandies in Omaha. We both felt we had to have this type of experience again. So we dressed up and headed to Cedar Rapids the next day we had time off.

Cool. A road trip.

Mary picked me up and we headed to Cedar Rapids from Waterloo. It took us about two hours, arriving just in time for lunch. We did a quick pass through the store but our goal was lunch. We followed the signs to the Tea Room. There was no person to greet us–our first clue–so we found our own seats. We waited at our little table. We waited and waited.

There was one older waitress who was literally running from person to person. It was not busy–maybe three or four other people in the dining room–but she was working hard to cover a lot of square footage as quickly as she could maneuver.

This was not the Killians’ Tea Room Mary remembered and nothing like my memories of the Tea Room in Omaha. Even with the subdued lighting, we could see that the furniture was cracked and worn, the carpet threadbare, and there were none of the special touches we expected to see on the tabletops. No cloth tablecloths or napkins. No flowers. Nothing. We didn’t even see menus.

We were beginning to think we were invisible. Our waitress, whose name I remembered for a long time, would glance our way but not venture further. Maybe she thought we’d leave? Well–she did not know the two of us–we had talked about this lunch forever. We’d driven all the way down from Waterloo for this lunch. We weren’t going anywhere.

With a head shake and a loud sigh, she headed our way. Head down, arms swinging, order tablet flipping back and forth in her hand. As she got closer, she put her hand in her pocket, took out two short yellow pencils, turned her order pad around, and threw all of the above at our table.

With a tone of voice that told us not to ask any questions, she said, “Write what you want!”

We’d been watching her but were still caught off guard. Quickly, we each grabbed the different flying objects. We quickly decided it was smart to just write down something that would be fast and easy. I remember writing grilled cheese sandwich–so much for special. Whatever we had, we ate quickly and got out of there fast.

We still laugh about that day. I wish Mary was sitting here beside me so she could fill in all those details I am forgetting.

Little did we know that this was just the beginning of many years of experiences like this. Thank you, Mary, for being one of the best things that ever happened to me. God bless you.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, Y’all.

Place of Refuge

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”

[Letters of Note; Troy (MI, USA) Public Library, 1971]”
― E.B. White

I’ve recently discovered podcasts and I absolutely love them. I’ve always been a fan of audiobooks. I could not have survived my daily commutes without my recorded books. I’m not sure it’s a good thing to say, but time flew as I listened to my stories while making my way to downtown Denver or wherever I needed to be that day.

These days, I’m not spending a lot of time in the car. Completing an audiobook now takes me weeks where it used to take me days. A few years ago there was quite a buzz about one specific podcast on one of the morning shows. I remembered that and thought maybe podcasts could be my new survival tool. The podcast creating all the excitement at that time was season one of Serial. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, you have to check it out.

This morning I was listening to the Good Life Project. The host, Jonathan Fields, was talking about how our world has gone digital, leaving those of us who are the touchers and the feelers feeling lost. My summary does not do his podcast justice but what it did for me was remind me of how I felt when I walked into the library here in our new community of Marble Falls, Texas. As I walked through the front doors, I felt such an overwhelming feeling of relief–like I had finally found something I’d been searching for for years. I’d found a place where I could physically walk up to a book, pick it up, smell the pages, and hear the sound of the pages turning. I was a tactile person deprived of touch.

My love for the library goes back to my early childhood. I loved books and visited the Traer Public Library as soon as I was old enough to have a library card. I remember holding my Mom’s hand as we walked up what seemed like hundreds of steps so we could talk to the libraian and get my very own library card.

Going to the library was a true event. The library was a large brick structure with high double entry doors, windows that symmetrically covered the front part of the building, and a long, long, long series of steps that marked the progress made into this very special world of books. It didn’t matter how many times I made this journey, I was always excited to reach the top, pull open the heavy front door, and twist myself inside before the wind gusted the door closed behind me.

No matter what else was going on in my life, whenever I walked through those doors, I was in a world where I could explore and escape. It was my refuge.

My Kindle is priceless because I can carry my entire library with me wherever I go. I would not want to give that up. But, rediscovering the public library was even more precious to me. After listening to Jonathan this morning, I see why walking through the front door that day was such an emotional experience. With those few steps, I was transported back to my first library visit where I’d found my place of personal refuge.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.

Peace

 

 

 

 

Saint Francis

I am sure tomorrow will be a better day for storytelling.

Actually, today’s storytelling went well–things fell apart as I hit the “publish” button. As I hit that, my story disappeared. Poof!

Could it be a pre-Halloween thing?

So, once again, I went to my prayer collection. What a great find–on the top of the stack was my favorite, the Prayer of Saint Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
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 that we are born to eternal life.

I am…

B…simply being…

May God bless us all.

Peace