The Good People

“The good people never die.” 

“What do you mean?” Sky glanced at Leon. He was staring straight ahead and he looked really sad. She wondered if he’d lost someone too.

“They live on in the things they said and did – they live on inside of us.” 

Siobhan Curham, Tell it to the Moon

Late yesterday I learned my friend, Margie, lost her husband, Paul, after a long battle with cancer. Margie, I send you my love and prayers. May your memories comfort you as your family and friends surround you with their love and care.

As my good friend Judi reminds me, the longer we live the more people we will say good-bye to.

I never have been so good with reality.

Treasure those you love, my dear friends.

It certainly has been a month filled with not so gentle reminders.

“I am always saddened by the death of a good person. It is from this sadness that a feeling of gratitude emerges. I feel honored to have known them and blessed that their passing serves as a reminder to me that my time on this beautiful earth is limited and that I should seize the opportunity I have to forgive, share, explore, and love. I can think of no greater way to honor the deceased than to live this way.” 

Steve Maraboli

I am…

B…simply being…

May Tom, John, and Paul all rest in peace. What a picture that thought creates in my mind!

Yes, God does have a marvelous sense of humor.

Take time to be kind and may God bless us all.

~Peace be with you~

Self Work

The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss—an arm, a leg, money, a wife, etc.—is sure to be noticed. 

-Soren Kierkegaard

I’ve been doing what I call “self work” for most of my adult life. I’ve been fortunate to find the right teachers at the right time. Not only have I had excellent teachers, I had the added benefit of traveling with like-minded seekers who are now some of  my closest friends.

Looking back, some of these connections seem miraculous. From a last-minute decision to attend a non-credit class to reconnecting with old friends via Facebook to finding an obscure book standing upright on the shelf at the small local library, I am learning more about myself as the stream of teachers flow in.

That little obscure book has been sitting beside me for days now–I’ve delayed opening it–I’m not sure why. Maybe the title was a trigger: Unworthy, How to Stop Hating Yourself, by Anneli Rufus.

I began reading it today. That little uneasiness I felt was warranted. This author has much to share with me and I bet she has some insight for you as well.

Below are some of the notes I made today.  The words “self hate” may sound strong to you–as Ms. Rufus says, “Maybe I no longer hate myself–I just don’t like myself much.” Whatever terminology feels best to you, Anneli speaks honestly to those of us who feel or who have ever felt unworthy.

“We the afflicted, we who hate ourselves, need to know that thinking, actions, and feeling come easily to those with self-respect; that these seemingly simple processes–thinking, acting, and feeling, thus including hope and love–are monumentally different for us, requiring twice as much effort on our part as other as others have to expand. For us, even a simple task–dressing, ordering food in restaurants–means thinking, over thinking, unthinking, striding through thick waves of shame, dread and fear. That sound ludicrously like an act of courage.”

“For more than forty years I believed that I was not all there. For more than forty years I did not understand that I WAS there but someone else had made me believe I was not all there.” 

“Start here: You are astounding just for being human, merely for belonging to this species that is capable of language, laughter, creativity, and love. With just one hand you can soothe a child, play a tune, or stitch a wound. With just one eye, you could signal warning or friendship, read the entire contents of a library, or find your way out of the woods. And your brain is the Universe’s greatest creation.”

I hope these snippets stir up your curiosity about what I will share tomorrow and what we can learn together.

“The only way to make a spoilt machine work again is to break it down, work on its inner system and fix it again. Screw out the bolts of your life, examine and work on yourself, fix your life again and get going.” 

Israelmore Ayivor

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace be with you~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start at the Beginning

“I do love the beginning of the summer hols,’ said Julian. They always seem to stretch out ahead for ages and ages.’

‘They go so nice and slowly at first,’ said Anne, his little sister. ‘Then they start to gallop.” 

Enid Blyton, Five Go Off in a Caravan

What an odd week this has been!

To me, a retired person no longer in the traditional workplace, this has been a week filled with Mondays and Fridays. These days must have been a nightmare for all my friends out there still punching the clock every day.

With the early summer heat I’ve had the perfect opportunity to continue to read, write, and learn about myself and my past. I’m finding so much to share I am overwhelmed with where to begin.

I know–what’s so hard–begin and the beginning.

The catch is–I’m not sure where the beginning really is.

So, I’m taking this journey the same way I do any other trip–pretty much flying by the seat of my pants. Lucky for me, I won’t be alone because I’ll be pulling you all along with me. Learning is always easier and better when you can share it, cementing all that knowledge in place.

Over these past few years of serious introspection, I’ve become aware of just how much  I’d adapted in order to survive. I feel this is one of the reasons I’ve had such a difficult early retirement–I no longer knew who I was–my work and my career were everything to me.

I was surprised to learn I really was much more introverted than extroverted. As time went by and all those different roles I played and the masks fell away, the real Barbara began to emerge. I started to understand why I’d had difficulty during some of the stressful times in my life.

One part of my reading has been about personality types and traits. I’m discovering I’ve spent most of my life forcing my more introverted self into situations where I had to be much more of an extrovert.

No wonder I was exhausted most of the time.

In case you’re wondering whether you are an introvert, check out this website for some excellent information and take this quick introvert quiz:

 https://introvertdear.com/are-you-an-introvert-quiz

One of the first things I read that sparked this line of questioning was the manifesto I am closing with today. See if it stimulates some thoughts for you as well.

“A Manifesto for Introverts

1. There’s a word for ‘people who are in their heads too much’: thinkers.

2. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

3. The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.

4. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend extrovert. There will always be time to be quiet later.

5. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is key to finding work you love and work that matters.

6. One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.

7. It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.

8. ‘Quiet leadership’ is not an oxymoron.

9. Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.

10. ‘In a gentle way, you can shake the world.’ -Mahatma Gandhi” 

Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you. Have a safe and spectacular weekend.

~Peace be with you~

 

My Denver Tribe

“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘As pretty as an airport.” 

Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Getting out of my comfort zone was my main goal this year. Things have lined up pretty well enabling me to meet that goal.

My first challenge was driving from Texas to Iowa. It had been a long time since I’d done any type of distance traveling. It was a marvelous adventure–even those times when I found myself lost and unsure of how to correct my error. If anyone had the ability to listen to my self talk during those times, you would have been laughing. There’s not a lot a very passive driver can do to make fast corrections on an interstate that is under massive construction. Needless to say, my gratitude list was very easy to compose on those days!

A few days ago I went on-line to purchase airline tickets to Denver. I cannot remember the last time I tackled that task. I was in for a surprise.

Once I’d done my best to compare all my options I thought back to the very first time I flew.

Oh, things were so very different.

I’m not sure how old I was–it was in the 70’s and my ex and I we were on our way to California. Flying then was a BIG DEAL. We were up early so we could get dressed in the new outfits we bought just for this segment of the trip. Since we both smoked then, we had seats in the smoking section–meaning we were in the back of the plane. Where we sat was not important to us–being able to smoke on that long flight was, though, was a very big deal. Could this adventure be any better?

My memories of this time are so clear. I can see my navy and red plaid pants, red top, and matching plaid jacket. We walked to the plane, greeted the “stewardess”  and headed down the narrow aisle. We had no idea what we were doing and I’m sure our body language alerted all those we passed. We eventually found our seats,  settled in, and listened to the pre-flight instructions. Our focus was on one thing–the “no smoking light.” Right or wrong, smoking while flying felt like such a big part of that whole series of the things we felt were rights of passage into being an adult. Without one doubt, we had officially made it.

Today flying has lost its glamour–at least for me. I’d much rather drive so I have control over my time and my stuff. There are times when that may not be the best choice. After much debate, it was pretty obvious flying was the better choice.

As we all age, there will be more of these types of trips made in order to support our friends–our tribe–those people we’ve chosen and made family. My brave friend has been strong for so long through so very much–it’s important for me to be back–to rejoin that very special tribe. Distance does not matter in these types of friendships. I’ve never really left–my heart has always been part of them and they have always been a part of me. I need to physically be there in order to complete that circle we forged all those years ago–that sisterhood we formed as way of loving and supporting each other. It was powerful then, it is more powerful now.

I am blessed and I am thankful.

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” 

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I am…

B…simply being…

Keep those you love close. God bless us all.

~Peace be with you~

A Visit from a Vixen

When I… moved to the country, I felt as if I could finally exhale that little bit of breath I’d been unconsciously holding in my lungs. Time is not so relentless when it is possible to watch the sun make an uninhibited arc across the day, when the stars take up more of the night’s space than the darkness, when a footprint lives for days in its moist soil bed, when the only motor to be heard is the occasional tractor several miles away. ~Cecily Schmidt, “Common Threads,” in Wild Child: Girlhoods in the Counterculture edited by Chelsea Cain, 1999

Since we moved to Texas I’ve been saying we live in the country.

I’m not sure that’s entirely true–if you use a broad definition of living in the country–we qualify.

Our days are quiet–not as quiet as they used to be because our little community has been discovered. Now we hear the sounds of development.

It was bound to happen. After all, we found our way here.

We enjoy our early morning sunrises, the visits from our deer friends who now feel safe enough to bring along their new fawns. We’ve named some–limping deer who raised twins last year but only has a singleton this year. There’s Jorge who visited us all last summer. He was a loner, wandering through daily on his way to Bill’s watering station and searching for any vegetable scraps Lucy or I toss out for him. This year he’s returned but is not always alone. Yesterday he showed up with two young does–maybe he is building his own little herd? That would be heartwarming for me.

Now, it’s not always calm around our little house on the hill. A couple of nights ago we were sitting outside, star-gazing, and looking for satellites. Yes, we are a wild and crazy bunch! The moon was waning so it was very dark and stars impressive. As we talked, marveling  at the amazing Universe around us, a blood curtailing scream came out of the field behind us.

What in the world was that sound?

It happened again and it was closer.

That unexplained sound was enough to send me in for the night.

As luck would have it, our dogs had me out a few hours later. Whatever was making that sound had not left and the screaming continued with other chattering sounds in between screams. Once again, I rushed our dogs inside.

I was on a mission to find out what was terrorizing my peaceful evenings. I listened to the sounds of every creature I could think could be living around our house. After some wrong guesses, I found our vocalizer.

It was a fox–most likely a pair of foxes who were out for the evening with their kits or pups. The screams I’d been hearing actually have a name–a vixen scream because it was originally thought it was a sound made only by the female–the vixen. This has been proven false and it can be a sound used to by the pair as a way to alert each other of possible dangers to themselves or to their young.

 

Okay.

Now that I know what was making that sound I was more at ease–not comfortable by any means. The unknown now had a name–taking my imagination out of the equation. Believe me, the images I’d conjured up were much scarier than any fox.

Please stay safe, my friends,  and enjoy your Forth of July holiday.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all and God Bless America.

~Peace be with you~

 

 

 

Memorial Gardens

It’s just fine to feel a little heavy, and it’s just fine to sit here and catch  my breath, and it’s just fine to be a mess at times, and it’s just fine to be relatively normal sometimes. It’s just fine to let it all hit me, surrendering and succumbing and it’s just fine to remember that grief has no rules, and that really, it will in many ways last as long as love does. Forever. 

Scribbles and Crumbs

It was over ten years ago that I built and planted my first memorial garden. I had learned my cousin, Donna, had died. She died in Iowa and I was still working in Denver, Colorado.

That did not set well with me.

I had to find some way to honor the person who had been such an important part of my life.

I decided to plant a garden in her memory. This garden expanded to honor the memory of my sister–we re-named it the Donna-Bethie garden. It was a place where the butterflies gathered and the hummingbirds stopped over the course of the summer. Leaving this little garden behind was one of the hardest parts of leaving Colorado.

When we bought our house in Texas, we planted a new Donna-Bethie garden. The little garden faced some challenges but it has thrived this past year. The tiny little plants are now nearly bush size and the incredible varieties of Texas butterflies visit this garden all day long.

This year has been a tough one. I’ve lost friends and felt I needed to expand my gardens.

My timing certainly could have been better. After several days of seriously hard work, I have the foundation down for two new rock gardens. I am toasting them with a glass of cold water while giving thanks for the ability to have such a lovely way to keep those amazing souls close.

“People you love never die. That is what Omai had said, all those years ago. And he was right. They don’t die. Not completely. They live in your mind, the way they always lived inside you. You keep their light alive. If you remember them well enough, they can still guide you, like the shine of long-extinguished stars could guide ships in unfamiliar waters.” 

Matt Haig, How to Stop Time

 

A Prayer for Comfort

Heavenly Father,
You hold time within your hands, and see it all, from beginning to end. Please keep and carry these precious people in their sadness and loss. Cover them with your great wings of love, give their weary hearts rest and their minds sound sleep. Lord, lift their eyes so that they may catch a glimpse of eternity, and be comforted by the promise of heaven.

We ask all this in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

My thoughts and prayers are focused on one of my dearest friends. Words escape me so I am drawing on prayer.

I am…

B…simply being…

May God bless them and send His angels to comfort them.

~Peace be with you~

Garage Sales

I was depressed, but that was a side issue. This was more like closing up shop, or, say, having a big garage sale, where you look at everything you’ve bought in your life, and you remember how much it meant to you, and now you just tag it for a quarter and watch ’em carry it off, and you don’t care. That’s more like how it was.

Jane Smiley

Having a garage/yard sale is a humbling experience. We had very limited experience with them until we began downsizing in order to put our house up for sale.

For months we had weekend sales, pricing things in order to sell our house. During this time we watched as our prized possessions walked away for a fraction of the price we’d paid for them. If that was all there was to that experience,  things would be less painful. It was never that easy. For some reason, people who come to your sale seemed to feel they have the right to make some type of judgment about your stuff. That’s not taking into account those people who would pick things up to ask you about the price and then walk away with them when you began to help someone else.

After a year of having these monthly sales, we were down to the final collection stuff. Unfortunately, on that Saturday morning in the middle of May, we woke up to about a foot of fresh snow. Looking at the tire tracks left in the heavy spring snow, we knew we’d be lucky to find anyone brave enough to come out at all, much less pack things up and take them away.

This last batch of things included the dining room set I’d brought with me from Iowa–the first real thing I’d purchased as an adult. I loved it and cherished the memories attached to it. The set was solid Oak and heavy. If we did not find someone to take it away today, I did not know what we’d do with it. Time was running out. We had to be out of our house soon.

As the sun broke through the clouds and the snow began to melt, a newer SUV drove slowly up the street. I’d taken a call the day before from a woman who wanted to know if we still had the dining room furniture. She’d just gone through a divorce and needed so many things. If we still had it she would be there to pick up tomorrow. Her call was made long before the snow began to fall. Once I saw the amount of snow that fell, I did not believe anyone would venture out.

I was wrong–she and her friend came and took it all. I’m still not sure how in the world we got it all in the back of her car but we did. She was gracious and kind as we closed up the back of the car and she turned to leave. She looked at me, grasped my hands in hers,  and thanked me for being there to help her. She knew she’d acquired quality furniture and she was grateful.

The two of us had helped each other at a time when we both needed it.

That was the last day of our last garage sale. I don’t anticipate we will ever do another sale of that type. I’d watched as my treasures left my home. On this day, I was blessed to have this wonderful, gracious woman thank me. We’d both been at the right place at the right time in order to help each other so we could all move on with our lives.

What a wonderful way to end those challenging days and begin fresh and new.

I take those memories with me when we go to sales in order to refurbish our new home. Now I believe we both approach the sale tables with heavy hearts. We understand there is a back story–a tale that few will ever know or even begin to understand.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you~

Carpool Karaoke

“And I thought about how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. And how many people enjoyed good times with those songs. And how much those songs really mean. I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. I bet if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud. I hope the people who wrote those songs are happy. I hope they feel it’s enough. I really do because they’ve made me happy. And I’m only one person.” 

Stephen Chomsky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

I have to tell you working outside when they start adding the term “heat index” to the weather forecast is just as uncomfortable as it was when I was living in Iowa and the words “wind chill” were used. The heat zaps the energy right out of you–meaning once cooled down, a nap quickly follows.

I am very thankful for my nap time. The problem is it takes away from the time I have in my reading/writing chair. Of course, you throw in a little bit of attention deficit disorder and time literally flies by me.

As I searched for things to share, I came across the clip from James Corden and Paul McCartney’s Carpool Karaoke. During those very creative moments, I was transported back in time. Suddenly, I was that ten-year old kid sitting upstairs in my bedroom, playing my transistor radio listening as the top 40 hits counted down. The music of The Beatles was always part of those shows.

Who would have ever imagined the music of The Beatles would still be so poignant in our world today?

For those of us who heard those songs when they were new, James Corden took us on a true magical musical tour. For a few minutes those songs created a collage of pictures while the music reached into my soul, reminding me everything’s gonna be alright.

If you have not seen that segment of Carpool Karaoke, do yourself a favor and watch it soon–watch it at least once while you try to escape the heat of summer.

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you~

 

Hard Labor

“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” 

Gordon B. Hinckley

For the past few days, Michael and I have been working on the yard. It has been much harder than I ever imagined.

Friday we had help getting the four large piles of fill dirt scattered across the rocky ground that surrounds our new shed/truck port. When we were done, the lot was covered with a thick blanket of new top soil. Even with all that help it took hours.

Yesterday our seed arrived. Grabbing our hats, sunscreen, and yard tools, we headed off to plant our seeds.

To our surprise, the heat and humidity we’d complained about over the weekend had baked the top of our fresh layer of soil into a thick, hard crust. There would be no planting until we re-tilled the soil.

Hours later we began to scatter our special seeds that’d been developed to survive the harsh summers we face here in the Texas hill country. Mother Nature has given us a serious challenge and we are prepared.

We are now on full-time sprinkler duty–keeping our use as low as possible–and sprout alert.

The hours working the soil gave me an outlet for my frustrations as well as time to think. So many things are just so wrong right now. We are smart people. I do not understand why we are in such a mess. By the time I’d finished pounding through the rock hard dirt, I’d released a lot of tension. Even as hard as I was literally hitting the ground, I found no answers–only more questions.

I’d started yesterday reading an email that contained my favorite prayer. The words of this prayer also ran through my mind yesterday and were, without a doubt, another reason I ended my day feeling very tired but more at peace.

I’d like to share my favorite prayer with you.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

The power of prayer is phenomenal. May God hear our prayers and bless us all.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you.~