Time for Me

“Solitude is where I place my chaos to rest and awaken my inner peace.”
― Nikki Rowe

I had this entire day to myself.

I know I need my alone time. It is important for my peace of mind and sense of self. Even after just a few hours, I am beginning to feel back in control of my world, my mind more centered, and the weight of that damn extra baggage I lug around with me everywhere has lightened up a little.

It was an excellent day. There was no agenda. I just had to show up and let things roll.

“I lied and said I was busy.
I was busy;
but not in a way most people understand.

I was busy taking deeper breaths.
I was busy silencing irrational thoughts.
I was busy calming a racing heart.
I was busy telling myself I am okay.

Sometimes, this is my busy –
and I will not apologize for it.”
― Brittin Oakman

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

 

 

The Gift of Friends

“No friendship is an accident. ”
― O. Henry, Heart of the West

Today is the birthday of three of my friends.

Happy Birthday, Jodi, Linda, and Jim.

Each of you came into my life at different times, each bringing your own special and unique gifts. I am so thankful.

As I take a walk down Memory Lane, the first person I’d meet is Linda. Linda and I were friends in grade school and junior high. She always had a smile and was full of energy. I loved her for her sense of adventure. She seemed fearless. An added bonus was the fact that my Dad knew her parents meaning I could actually go to her house after school. Linda lived in the country. For a town kid like me, that was so incredibly special because that meant I got to ride the bus. I never knew what to expect when we arrived at her house “out in the country.”

Now…I have to confess…as fearless as Linda was I was her direct counterbalance in this Universe. I was afraid of EVERYTHING.

Of course, I could not act like I was afraid so I had to devise all kinds of maneuvers to appear to be just fine with whatever it was we needed to get done as far as completing her chores. The most consistent thing to challenge my acting ability was the Houdini escape pig who always seemed to get out just before the school bus arrived. That pig was HUGE in my skinny little town kid eyes! It was our job to herd that big beast back home to the pen. I spent more time and energy running in some sort of zig-zag pattern making every effort to stay as far away from the pig as possible. I really really really disliked that hog. I was little, if any, help. We (meaning Linda) did eventually get him back where he belonged. Thank you, Linda Wendt Mossman, for being a friend then and now. Happy Birthday.

The next person I’d meet on the stroll today would be Jodi. She was one of the first people I met after moving to Waterloo from Traer. What a culture shock for me–moving from a small community school to a small city school. I was scared to death most of that first month of school. Jodi and I had many things in common–which neither one of us really shared until we were much older. I think kids are so open we felt our common bonds even without speaking about them. She never ever gave up on me and was successful in breaking me out of the house for different get-togethers. I was so grateful to her for never having to explain some of the craziness she saw going on at our house. Now, we laugh about some of those times. After we graduated we stayed close friends until I moved to Denver in the mid-eighties. I still miss those weekend nights when we would sit around her kitchen table and share stories from our week. When I count my blessings, Jodi McGrane Verbraken is definitely at the top of the list. Happy Birthday, my dear friend who has been by my side for so many life-changing things. I cherish you and love you.

The person furthest down memory lane is Jim. I met Jim and his wife, Jan, at a little RV park in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Michael and I had our RV parked in Pleasant Valley, in the little town Howard, along the Arkansas River,  for many years. Jim and Jan and many others used this little spot along the river as a weekend getaway when we were all still working in Denver. I didn’t get a chance to really get to know Jim until we had retired. Both Jim and his wife, Jan, have the most contagious laughs on the planet along with being two of the most giving people on the planet. I am so grateful I have them as friends. Happy Birthday, Jim Finegan. I am looking forward to seeing you and Jan next week.

It’s not Carolyn’s birthday today but that is her needlepoint wall hanging I am using as my story photo. Carolyn and I worked together at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, for many many years. I carried this little wall hanging with me for decades–some of the age shows around the edges. I hung it where I could see it every morning–its last place was just inside my closet door–Carolyn greeted me every day before I hit the road to work. When we sold our house and became full-time RVers, I had to let many things go. This was one. So, tearfully I took a picture of it, knowing it would now be well-preserved. Thank you, Carolyn Nederhoff for this wonderful gift that symbolized our friendship and helped get me through my working days without your giving spirit. I think of you often and send you my love today. I hope one of our old hospital gang will share this with you. Many hugs sent to you today and always.

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

I am…

B…simply being…

I am blessed and I am grateful.

~Peace~

 

This is Us

Then I thought, boy, isn’t that just typical? You wait and wait and wait for something, and then when it happens, you feel sad.”
― Sharon Creech, Absolutely Normal Chaos

Even though I told myself I would not do it until I had a few things crossed off my to-do list, I just watched the latest episode of This is Us. My to-do list is untouched.

As it began, I almost turned it off. I wasn’t sure I was ready.

Like we’ve all known for a long time, I knew Jack was going to die. I expected him to die in the fire. As the story unfolded, I was caught off guard by all the memories that came flooding into my mind. All those patients I’d seen in similar situations over the years–I was surprised by the flashback of faces and their tragic scenarios. I was not prepared for that.

I don’t know how these amazing writers could have thrown in anything more to trigger tears that would crescendo into sobs. From Kevin’s list of making amends to the fire turning the kitchen into an inferno to Jack escaping from the house with the dog. The images and stories this show ignites are beyond compare. I’d gone through a whole box of kleenex. I was sobbing and very grateful to be home alone. I am definitely a person who needs her space when it’s time for a good cry.

This show never fails to make me think, reminding me how fragile life really is and how I need to let go of the small stuff, staying aware and grateful.

“Thank you for the day and night,
for rainy spells and summer’s light.
Thank you for the skies of blue
and puffy clouds in grayish hue.
Thank you for the giggle fest
and midnight’s cloak to hasten rest.
Thank you for tomorrow new
and yesterday’s tomorrow too.
Thank you for “I’m glad we met”
and also for “we haven’t yet.”
Thank you for the peace of mind
a grateful soul doth always find.”
Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all.

~Peace~

 

 

Saddle Up

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
― Jim Morrison

The things that scared me have often surprised me as much as they’ve nearly paralyzed me.

Learning to scuba dive was one of those times.

I loved to swim. I felt I was a good swimmer. My form was probably questionable but I never doubted my overall strength.

Learning how to scuba dive taught me a lot about myself. All was well until we put all our gear on and went under water for the first time.

When the time came to put my head underwater and take that first breath through our regulator–I panicked.

I could not get it through my head I really could breathe underwater. I had to get a handle on my fear and get it under control. Michael and I had made plans to go to Maui. Diving was a big part of it. In fact, we scheduled everything around me doing my final check out dive in there.

I was struggling and my fear was escalating. Honestly, I have no idea how I was able to pass all my pool testing and advance to the point where I qualified for the final open water exam. As we traveled to Maui, I prayed I’d be able to complete this final test. For me, it was a test in every possible way.

When we arrived in Maui we went to the dive shop and signed up for a couple of dives. My checkout dive would be done during our first dive. I met the dive master, John, who would be doing my open water exam. I was honest, telling him I was pretty nervous about making my first dive in the ocean. John listened to my concerns, shared some of his personal stories which helped put me at ease. By the time we left I was feeling much more ready and a little more self-confident.

That first dive was early the next morning. We were both ready to get this dive under our belts so we arrived bright and early.  As I gathered all my gear and began to set up for my dive, I looked around for John. Michael was watching me carefully knowing I was nervous. When he noticed John was not around, he went to get an update. The captain of the boat told us John had a family emergency so he would not be there. My heart sank. My nerves kicked into high gear. The new dive master would be over soon to meet us, the captain said. We just needed to hold tight.

As I watched the crew load the boat, I heard someone call my name. I turned to find a woman about my height holding out her hand. I am sure my mouth had fallen open as she introduced herself to me. There, standing in front of me, was a person who looked EXACTLY like my ninth grade swimming instructor, Miss Katzer.

Miss Katzer was quite a character–to say the very least. She was a drill sergeant–a wiry woman with a head full of wild dishwater blonde hair who rarely talked in a normal tone of voice. Everything was screamed out. She expected you to listen–no talking–NO GUM CHEWING. If she saw you chewing gum, she’d pull out the coffee can she always seemed to have at her fingertips and yell for you to spit it out into the can.

Miss Katzer was also known for an injury she had which resulted in her losing toes on one of her feet–a feature she pointed out often as she warned us about the dangers of water skiing.

Why is any of this important?

This dive master who would be doing my check out dive looked so much like Miss Katzer I immediately looked down at her feet to see if she was missing toes. Even though her feet were intact, I was immediately at ease. I knew I would be able to complete my dive–and I did. We completed that day of diving and did several other dives while we were there.

When we returned home and went back to work, I discovered my outlook on many of the problems I’d had at work had changed. My level of anxiety was markedly decreased. What made me nervous just a couple of weeks ago no longer had any power over me. Conquering this mega fear created a landslide of changes in the rest of my life. I knew without a doubt I no longer had anything to fear.

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
John Wayne

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all as we head out to our weekend.

“You have peace,” the old woman said, “when you make it with yourself.”
― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

 

 

 

February 1

“When the groundhog casts his shadow
And the small birds sing
And the pussy willows happen
And the sun shines warm
And when the peepers peep
Then it is Spring”
Margaret Wise Brown

Even though I know there is a lot of Winter left, I love the first day of February.

Growing up in Iowa, I understand winters can be long and hard. February is the time I begin to believe Spring really will come. It’s hard to keep the faith when you battle wind, snow, and below zero temperatures day after day for what feels like months.

I was not foolish enough to believe that those cold days were over. But, with one quick twist of just one calendar page, my belief in the coming spring renewed.

Even though I am now in a much milder climate, I am still excited to see the subtle changes happening around me. There’s something about having something to look forward to after the challenges and the isolation of winter. I am thankful for my positive outlook, realizing there are many who struggle with seasonal depression.

Depression is a serious problem any time of the year for those of us who hesitate to ask for help. I’ve found a way to work around this problem by checking up on my friends more closely. The gift of giving them some of my time helps me as much, if not more than it helps them. Super bonus–all this happens without having to ask for anything!

I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become very protective of my time. When someone gives me the gift of their time, it is precious to me.

Make an investment of your time today–call and reach out to someone you love. Share a little of yourself while telling them how important they are to you.

It’s another win-win deal. You gotta love that.

“we must take care of our families wherever we find them.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

Peace

“You have peace,” the old woman said, “when you make it with yourself.”
― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

 

 

 

 

 

In Search Of…

“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
― Heath L. Buckmaster, Box of Hair: A Fairy Tale

Have you ever had the feeling there is something you need to do but you have no idea what that thing is or how to go about finding it?

That feeling has been a very strong force for me since I began sharing my stories.

As I’ve searched, read, and eventually written, I’ve come upon other quotes or articles that tickle areas in my memory where things are sitting slightly off-kilter. Those thoughts or memories have been jostled around and rearranged over the years. Like an unsteady atom, their imbalance creates a restlessness in me. I’m learning I need order in my life, so search for ways to stabilize myself. I need that internal balance so I can safely navigate my journey of self-discovery.

I am excited to share it–even with that twinge of fear elbowing its way into the arena. Often, like it did today, trailing closely behind those fearful thoughts comes a surprising bit of encouragement. Today, that quick nod came by way of this quote:

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
― C. JoyBell C. 

Nice to get a confirmation slip letting me know I’m on the right course.

“I feel like, God expects me to be human. I feel like, God likes me just the way I am: broken and empty and bruised. I feel like, God doesn’t look at me and wish that I were something else, because He likes me just this way. I feel like, God doesn’t want me to close my eyes and pray for Him to make me holy or for Him to make me pure; because He made me human. I feel like, God already knows I’m human…it is I who needs to learn that.”
― C. JoyBell C.

I am…

B…simply being…

May God bless us all.

Peace

“Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.”
― Gautama Buddha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy Love

“Owning a dog is slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack.”
― Jen Lancaster, Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office

Today was dog beauty shop day.

All three dogs saw a new groomer. Always a stressful day for everyone involved.

Each dog had their own appointment–which meant I was running a dog taxi service from our house to Toni, the groomer, since this morning. Hey, I got to know a whole new part of our little community and none of the dogs had to sit in a kennel waiting to be groomed. At the end of the day, the dogs look great, the groomer happy for new clients, and I’m thrilled to have well groomed, good smelling dogs.

A win-win situation for everyone involved.

Not an ideal environment for completing the story I started earlier this morning. That’s okay–gives me a chance to praise my dogs and our new groomer. Thanks, Toni, from The Puppy Parlor.  We have three good looking and very tired dogs.

Whenever we have days like today when one or more of our dogs are gone, I am so surprised at how much energy is missing when they are not here. Who woulda ever thought?

I am thankful.

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”
― Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all.

Peace

 

 

 

Body Language

I speak two languages, Body and English. – Mae West

I’m not sure when I became aware there was a lot more being “said” when I interacted with people than just the spoken words. 

I’m sure we’ve all had those experiences when our parents knew immediately when we were not being completely truthful. My Mom was especially in tune with me. Was it her mother’s Intuition or was it something in the way I behaved that made her suspicious?

That question sparked a curiosity that stayed with me, making body language one of my favorite research topics to read about over the years.

Today, a post from Healthyways.com caught my attention: 7 Habits That Make People Seem Less Intelligent by Michael Taylor. 

As I read over the seven points discussed, I could picture certain situations in my past where I could see myself or someone I was with making these same mistakes. Let me share Michael’s insights.

-Dressing too casually for the situation. I will always remember a male friend–one I was trying to impress–making the comment about a woman who had walked into the restaurant. It was a Saturday morning and we were all at a business meeting. I saw no reason to dress up. I was in my jeans, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes. The woman walking towards us wore a nice pair of slacks, a well-pressed casual blouse, and dress shoes. It began to dawn on me that even though it was a Saturday, we were all at a professional meeting. I needed to stay aware of how I presented myself. Not only did I underdress but what I wore was not in the best condition. From that day on, I would dress for the occasion and the situation. 

-Like our moms told us, stand up straight. A poor posture gives the impression we have little energy and/or confidence. I have to agree with Michael when he says women tend to make themselves smaller when they are in certain social situations. Men, on the other hand, tend to puff themselves up and expand into their environment. I am an introvert by nature. I learned early on I needed to take a minute before going into meetings or social events to visualize myself as strong and successful. As I captured that image, I’d stand up straighter and taller. My mantra was and still is when I find myself in certain stressful situations–fake it until you make it. 

-The next behavior noted in this article surprised me. The author says that excessive head tilts and nods make the person appear vulnerable or submissive. The picture that came to my mind was my dog, Bud. When you talk to him, he will tilt his head this way and that. I had to admit, he’s certainly cute, not particularly intelligent looking. Over nodding confused me because I felt nodding was a subconscious signal of listening. With overuse, nodding gives the appearance we are agreeing to everything or we have no opinion or ideas of our own. The author cautions some other head positions. Looking down can give the impression you are shy while looking up makes you appear aloof or arrogant. Best advice–keep your chin parallel to the ground.

-Miss using words or phrases. This point made me wince because I have been guilty of this so many times. In an attempt to appear much smarter than I was feeling, I grasp for words that I would not ordinarily use. In my haste to get those words or phrases out there and look great–I stumble on the tense or the correct pronunciation. I learned it is always best to present the real me. 

-Using language softeners. This was a new phrase for me as well but definitely describes something I do all the time. I, like many women, find it difficult to accept a compliment. When someone notes something I have done, I tend to minimalize it, crediting my team or co-workers instead of simply saying thank you. Such an easy thing to do but one I struggle with yet today. An interesting suggestion made in this article and a pertinent one for me as I continue to battle allergies. Be aware of mouth breathing. Not only does it make your face look a little odd but it can accentuate the sound of your breathing. Be aware–any loud breathing is definitely not going to give the impression you want. 

-Be cautious about being too judgmental. Criticizing someone you don’t like shines a negative light on you, not them. It makes those around you think you are trying to make yourself look better at someone else’s expense. When you speak about others negatively, it shows a lack of compassion–would you say those things if you’d ever been “in their shoes?” Gossiping is never good. It makes people question what you say about them when they are not around. It is a true trust buster. And–heaven forbid–what if the gossip you shared turned out to be untrue. That makes you look doubly bad. 

-Using profanity. Oh, the times when the “F” word has come flying out of my mouth! Even though there’s been a recent study saying that people who use profanity are more intelligent, I’m thinking it’s still bad judgment. When my speech becomes overpopulated with four-letter words I know I am tired and I am stressed. When my filters are in good working condition, I have the discipline to grab onto more socially acceptable words. Profanity, regardless of why it’s used, shows a definite lack of class. I have had to really watch myself since we’ve moved south–the tone and the verbiage here are much more gentle. 

I enjoyed reading a little about body language today–hope you did, too. It prompted some sweet memories of my Mom, making me smile at some of the stories I tried to sell her. I will continue to read and share. 

“Our first experience of life is primarily felt in the *body.* … We know ourselves in the security of those who hold us and gaze upon us. It’s not heard or seen or thought it’s felt. That’s the original knowing.”
― Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless. 

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for Patience

Words eluded me today–my stories hanging out just beyond my grasp–skittering about in the mist and fog. They were much quicker than I was today.

I conceded, waving the white flag.

One this last Friday of January, 2018, I decided it was a great time to share a prayer and move on into our weekend.

A Prayer for Patience

Dear Father,

Today I feel like every task is a race;
I question much, falling far short of grace.
Such a scary thing, asking for what I need;
Facing new trials, recognizing more lessons to be conceived.

In this moment, Lord, I ask for your restoring grace;
Requesting your wisdom and power to slow my pace.
Dear Father, please grant me patience, please grant
your Holy Spirit be my guide?

Help keep my mind sharp, my ears willing to listen;
Make my hands respond with generosity, sharing all you provide. 
May my words convey your messages of love;
My heart projecting comforting light from above.

May I stay aware, my mind focused intentionally;
May all my works and deeds praise you eternally.

Amen.

~Author Unknown~

I am…

B…simply being.

God bless you all.

Peace

Try a Little Kindness

“MR. BROWNE’S SEPTEMBER PRECEPT:
WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING
RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”
R.J. Palacio, Wonder

It has taken me many years to come to this place where I can admit to my own limitations. I am learning to ask and grow. I now have a place where I can let my guard down and confess I really do not know everything.

I’d begun to tire of the charade. I was tired of pretending.

I began to see others, people I respected and trusted, speak up when they did not know or understand something. They stepped forward and asked questions in order to learn.

As I quietly observed their honest examples, I started asking my own questions.

It took a long time to have enough trust in myself to risk that–simply asking questions.

With each risk taken and each question asked, my belief in myself–my real self–began to grow. With each successful step forward, I grew.

With this growth, I found myself on a new path.  I came to a point–a crossroads–where I knew I needed to forgive myself in order to continue my forward progress. I needed to believe that I had done the best I could in my past with the knowledge I had at that time.

That was a big assignment. It is difficult for me to forgive and forget. When it came to forgiving myself, I struggled. I still so.

I began to see that until I forgave myself for my past mistakes, I would not be able to move on.

I’m working on staying aware, having an open mind, and moving forward. It took me decades to get to where I am. I need to stay patient, take those baby steps, and continue moving on.

“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.”
― C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflection

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

Peace