Showing Up

“Love does not cost anything. Kind words and deeds do not cost anything. The real beauty of the world is equal for everyone to see. It was given by God equally to all, without restrictions.

Everyone, was given a beautiful vehicle in which to express love to others. Feelings are free to express and give to ourselves and each other through our willingness to give and care.

What is complicated about this… Why have we made others feel they have to climb mountains and swim oceans in order to make a difference.

All we need to understand my friends, is that human life was given equally to us all, not partially but in totality.

The sun was given to all. It does not shine on the few. So, just has nature is indifferent to our station or situation, we need to know that we are all equal. We need to focus on the things that are constant and not place our values on things that can be blown away with the next, great, wind.

Value life in what ever house it dwells. For when it comes time that we are all stripped to bare bones before the divine and facing eternity, we will understand that the only law we were meant to follow, was to love ourselves and each other. Nothing more…nothing less.”

Carla Jo Masterson

This morning my cousin posted an old picture of her mom sitting beside her at their kitchen table.

I smiled.

It was a wonderful picture–both looked happy and full of life.

Her photo reminded me of one of the last times I’d seen my aunt and uncle.

It was the day of my dad’s funeral.

I’m sure Howard and Theresa had not seen or spoken with my dad for many years. In spite of all the family baggage shared among us, they were there, waiting to wrap my sisters and I in their warm, loving arms.

I was so surprised to see them–the represented so much of my past life to me and made me feel as though my mom was part of their hugs. What a gift they gave us that day.

I’ve become very aware how unpredictable life can be and how quickly we can find ourselves in a world we no longer recognize. I’ve learned that’s when those of us who have been in that strange land need to step forward and stay close to the new arrivals.

Sometimes the most important thing we can do is simply show up.

“We can all make a difference in the lives of others in need, because it is the most simple of gestures that make the most significant of differences.”

Miya Yamanouchi

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace be with you~

 

 

 

Ego

“Patience, he thought. So much of this was patience – waiting, and thinking and doing things right. So much of all this, so much of all living was patience and thinking.” 

Gary Paulsen, Hatchet

I’ve had zero patience with myself this past week. My self talk has been especially nasty.

I’ve blamed it on the heat–maybe I’m dehydrated. I’m tired–maybe I need a nap. I did just get home after traveling and indulging in those late conversations fueled by excellent wine and amazing company.

Maybe…

All those ideas are basically old excuses made so I can dismiss the negativity. I’m a pretty quick study and I have that worn out puzzle memorized–connecting all the dots is a snap and in a matter of minutes every uncomfortable question is excused away.

Case closed–moving on.

NOT so fast, girl friend.

I’ve discovered any issue explained in such a neat and easy fashion must be flagged as dangerous. More often than not, I’ve read or heard something that stirred up something in my past that remains hidden in my subconscious mind.

It gets tricky trying to understand what triggered the internal alarm that alerted my insecure and fragile ego. This summer I’ve been pushing hard against all those walls I’ve constructed over the past sixty years. I suspect the answer may be as simple as slowing down some–giving myself more space a little more time.

Right now, at this very moment, I’m thinking it’s time to pour the wine, take a deep breath, and give thanks for all the good surrounding me.

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” 

Albert Einstein

I am…

B…simply being…

I am blessed and I am grateful.

~Peace be with you~

Cinderellie

“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave.” 

Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

In July of 1985, I walked away from my old life and home, packed my car, and headed from Waterloo, Iowa, to Denver, Colorado. My two sisters took vacation time to travel west with me to help me settle into a duplex I had not seen in a town I wasn’t even sure how to spell–was Englewood spelled with an I or an E?

I did learn how to spell my new hometown and we did make it to my new address without any real problems. There was that scary guy in Sterling, Colorado who ran a stop sign. In a nano-second all our futures were in question–thank God our guardian angels were near and attentive.

The three of us arrived, tired, but quickly unloaded the car and moved what we had into my new home. As the sun rose and set, we waited for the moving truck to arrive.

We waited…and waited..and waited. My entire house had been in storage for weeks because there was a high demand for moving trucks in Iowa at that time. I was part of many who were heading west.

As time passed, I was learning how expensive it was to move to a new city in a new state where you had no established credit. My savings dwindled away and we were all still sleeping on the living room floor.

When the moving company returned my many calls, the news was not good. They could not locate “my stuff.”

What? I’m a thousand miles from “home” and I’m being told the moving company has lost all my stuff? And…I’m scheduled to start my new job in a week.

I learned a lot during this time in my life. I learned a cashier’s check does not clear immediately. I learned that the cost of living in the Denver area was MUCH higher than I’d expected. Seven to ten days is a very long time to pinch pennies. I learned even though Denver was a mile high and the nights often cool down, it is still very hot in July. I learned that three women living in an empty duplex for a week with nothing to do lose patience with waiting and with each other.

My lessons continued to come fast a furious. I can’t say it was easy–I struggled. I can say I did eventually learn to trust myself and I survived–alone. There were no cell phones–long distance phone calls were expensive. I had no extra money for phone calls. I had my kind and generous friend, Cindy, who was there for me. The problem was Cindy lived quite a distance away and she had a young daughter and her own new job. Being on call did restrict us but thank heavens calling her was a local call.

My first day at my new job was a whirlwind. My co-worker lived a short distance from me. In order to make it easy for me, she offered to give me a ride that week back and forth to Children’s Hospital in Denver. Lucky for me, both our department and the hospital at the time were small. The cardiology department and cardiovascular surgery shared the third floor of Tammen Hall, expanding the size of my work family. That first day it seemed I met dozens of people, all of them were talking about the Huey Lewis and the News concert they’d all gone to that past Sunday.

As I stood listening to snipets of their conversations and enjoyed their bursts of laughter, I knew I’d found my new spot. My gut told me, with time and patience, I’d find my way into this exciting group of people. I wasn’t sure how. I only knew that they represented a large part of what my new life would hold–I was soaking up their energy and the genuine love I felt they had for each other.

By the grace of God I DID become part of this amazing group of people. We were all the same age or close to the same age. Our work was important to us and we worked extremely hard doing it as well as we know how. We worked long hours and covered call–our time off was precious. We played as hard as we worked. Because we were older, we’d all been “players” in the past and most of us had experienced “being played.” We were done with the games–we wanted people around us we could trust. We encouraged each other when we had bad days, when we made mistakes, when we lost patients, when we had relationship issues, and when we experienced those times when we felt lost and alone. Through it all, we knew we would be there for each other…

I’ll never ever forget how this group of people took me in and made me feel loved and always welcome.

This group I knew I had to join earlier this month–to be with one of our own and comfort her during her time of loss as only old friends can.

The best way I can think to talk about Julie and John is to retell a story she shared at John’s memorial. I’d heard the story before but it’d faded from my memory.

Both John and Julie worked at Children’s in Denver for years–Julie in the heart room in the OR and John was a radiologist. Even though they’d most likely walked by each other daily, they’d never really met. Now they were both newly single meaning there were several people making it their mission to get them together. As we know, timing is everything–throw in a little bit of luck and you have a grand plan. The date of the annual hospital gala was rapidly approaching. All those great minds came together to nudge John, suggesting he ask Julie to the grand event. He agreed to ask her and the plan was in motion.

John asked and Julie nervously accepted.

John arrived at Julie’s and rang the bell. Carol, Julie’s roommate, rushed to answer, and as Carol describes it, she opened the door to this tall and handsome man, dressed in a black tuxedo, smiling, and holding a single red rose. Carol quickly admits she wanted to say she was Julie but, alas, knew he knew better. Welcoming him in, she ran upstairs to tell Julie he was there. Opening the bedroom door, Carol sings out:

“Cinderellie, Cinderellie, your Prince Charming is here!”

For the next 26 years, John was her Prince Charming, standing beside her through all their trials and tribulations. It wasn’t easy. They faced many challenges and they both found ways to make it all work. They were a good team and they had three amazing sons who will help us all take care of their mom.

It has been an honor, privilege, and a blessing witnessing and being a small part of this grand story. Like so many of our childhood fairy tales, we watch helplessly as the ominous music crescendos, signaling the wicked witch has released her evilness out into our world. We prayed the witch would be foiled. If we could find a way to defeat her our hero and heroine would live happily FOREVER after. Reality strikes again. This time, cancer proved to be the greatest and strongest Witch of the West and that damn clock chimed midnight much too soon.

I love you, Julie. My John rest in peace knowing we will all take care of you as we’ve taken care of each other for all these years. You will not be alone–none of us will be because we all have our memories to give us comfort and eventual peace.

Abba 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. 

I am…

B…simply being…

Reach out to those who may need you today.

~Peace be with you~

I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog. You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful pictures on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa. Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.  

 

 

Many Gifts

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” 

R.J. Palacio, Wonder

I’ve been thinking about my quick trip back to Denver. It was wonderful to be back with my old group of friends–maybe it was so special because it was last-minute–meaning I had a limited amount of time to over think things–this time I packed and I went.

On this trip, I’d planned to write. I was in a place where I had great wi-fi. That first day I sat down to write a quick story from my iPad. It did not go as smoothly as I expected. I’d never used my new iPad for writing.

Lesson learned and note to self–do not start something new when you aren’t home and do not have a real back-up plan.

As I mentioned in my most recent stories, I was wined and dined by my wonderful group of friends. Ann and Jim opened their home to me first–Ann picking me up at the airport with food and wine–recharging me for a night of catching up and story telling.

That night, I climbed into a freshly made bed and slept while the cool evening air circulated in my room. What a great thing–sleeping for the first time in weeks with windows open. Allergies be damned–it was wonderful.

Wednesday I met Kelli–a former co-worker–for lunch. What a great gift to have someone take time on their day off to have lunch with me. Thank you, Kelli. An additional luncheon plus was running into a former practice manager, Julia. How grand was that?

From Ann and Jim’s I re-packed and headed to Doug and Lana’s. These two people are so talented–their home is beautiful. I was able to sit on their back patio and enjoy the deer early in the mornings while enjoying a fresh cup of coffee. Thank you both–it has been a long time since I’ve talked so much. Once again, the food and wine was grand. Thank you. I was also able to meet their niece, Elizabeth. Thanks for taking Friday off to hang with us. Enjoyed you and our thrift store adventure.

Saturday was the day we’d all come together for–the memorial for John, the husband of one of our dearest friends. Time is so sneaky–it appears to drag along some days as we struggle with our daily challenges but in reality it is flying at break neck speed by us all. I am so thankful I was there to be with Julie. It was a day I will remember always. I love you, Julie. Always have–always will.

After Saturday’s gatherings, I was able to unwind with my soul sister, Mary Beth. For twenty years she was my across the street neighbor. We would open wine and talk and talk and talk some more. This time was no different. She cooked as we talked and shared our past, present, and our concerns and plans for our futures. We are much older than we were the first time we sat around kitchen tables. I’d like to think we are somewhat wiser. I definitely know we are very grateful for the time we’ve shared together.

From Mary Beth’s I returned to Ann and Jim’s. Thank you for lending me your wheels while I was there and for taking me back to the airport. You made everything so easy and I thank you.

The day before I returned home, I had lunch with my friend, Sandi. What a treat and a relief to sit down and talk with her fact-to face. She, too, lost her husband recently. She’d been telling me she was doing okay–I needed to see her to confirm that was indeed the truth. Thank you, Sandi, for having lunch with me–loved it and love you. Next trip we need to reserve more time.

After my time with all these amazing people, I know I’ve been given a gift that not all of us receive–the gift of time. I also know I’ve had amazing people beside me all along my journey–and I’ve been able to meet with many of them this summer. I’m thinking there are few people as lucky as I am.

I am thankful and I pray we all have much more time together.

I love you guys.

Thank you, God.

“But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” 

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, A Life for a Life  

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you~  

 

 

The Reflection in the Mirror

“A woman or man of value doesn’t love you because of what he or she wants you to be or do for them. He or she loves you because your combined souls understand one another, complements each other, and make sense above any other person in this world. You each share a part of their soul’s mirror and see each other’s light reflected in it clearly. You can easily speak from the heart and feel safe doing so. Both of you have been traveling a parallel road your entire life. Without each other’s presence, you feel like an old friend or family member was lost. It bothers you, not because you have given it too much meaning, but because God did. This is the type of person you don’t have to fight for because you can’t get rid of them and your heart doesn’t want them to leave anyways.” 

Shannon L. Alder

I have been home from Colorado for a few days now and I have some incredible memories.

I was welcomed into my friends’ homes where we talked for hours. The years evaporated as we all remembered old times while sharing our latest adventures and hopes for our futures.

One visit was especially special. It is the picture highlighting my story today.

Not only did I get to see my dear friend, Paula, she set time aside to cut my hair. Now–this probably seems like no big deal.

It was a very big deal–let me tell you why.

I met Paula in 1985–she was just out of cosmetology school and I’d just moved to Denver. We were both searching for people we could relate to–not an easy assignment for anyone back in the 80’s. We sat together through many stages of each others lives. I followed her around to various locations, sitting in her chair as she stood behind me–both literally and figuratively. We supported each other through the big hair days, perms, perm re-dos and more perm re-dos, highlights, blind dates, engagements, marriage plans, marriages, births, deaths, and dozens of other assorted stories we have both sworn to take with us to our graves.

She has been my professional confidant for decades. I had no idea just how much I’d missed her.

It’d been well over three years since I’d been in her chair. To have the opportunity to plop my rear into this spot once again was both powerful and healing. In a manner of minutes, I saw my old self emerge.

My haircut was the immediate visual part of our visit. It was during the quiet moments that followed as I made my way across town I realized my soul was once again rejoicing in another much needed Denver re-connection.

Thank you, Paula. I love and treasure you.

“While they talked they remembered the years of their youth, and each thought of the other as he had been at another time.” 

John Williams, Stoner

I am…

B…simply being…

I am blessed and I am grateful.

~Peace be with you, my dear friends~

 

 

 

The Gift of Friendship

In your entire life, you can probably count your true friends on one hand. Maybe even on one finger. Those are the friends you need to cherish, and I wouldn’t trade one of them for a hundred of the other kind. I’d rather be completely alone than with a bunch of people who aren’t real. People who are just passing time.” 

Sarah Ockler, Fixing Delilah

My trip back to Colorado last week began with this wonderful woman picking me up at the airport.

As we made our way out of DIA, she handed me a little bag filled with sandwiches and a glass of chilled Chardonnay.

It was the beginning of a week I’ll remember and cherish for a very long time.

Thank you, Ann, for being there for me and making all things so much easier.

I love you.

“A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.” 

Lois Wyse

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace be with you~

The Love Of Friends

When someone loves you, the way they talk about you is different–you feel safe and comfortable. -Jess C. Scott, The Intern

Sometimes you need to sit back and count your blessings.

This is one of those times.

I am surrounded by old friends who have opened their homes and their hearts for me so I can be here for a few days while we all gather to support one of our own.

For this and much more, I am grateful.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

Morning Greetings

 

It’s your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.  Rumi

For the past month or so, I’ve added something to my morning ritual.

I like it.

“In our deeds we can structure our lives so that the simple things that we do everyday, from bathing to cooking, have resonance and ritual. –Ilsa Crawford” Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well

For years I’ve written morning pages which have evolved into an expanded gratitude list. I’d become very comfortable with this early morning routine–my very own ritual–pouring my coffee, selecting my music, lighting my candle, and writing my thanks.

This past month several of my close friends faced life changing experiences. Because many were grieving or feeling helpless and alone, I knew I needed to find a way to connect with them on a more intimate level.

The problem–I’m far away.

So, I decided to send each a text every morning as I wrote and gave thanks for their friendship. With these short messages I was able to reach out and give my support.

After a few weeks, an interesting thing started to happen.

My morning greetings became the focal part of my evolving ritual. My thanks begin with the words I sent to my brave friends. Each person had  shown in their own way what resilience looks like in action.

I am grateful to be here for them in any way I can–I am proud of them all. In a perfect world I would be there in person. Our world is far from perfect–being able to send my message across the miles instantly is incredible to me. In a flash, my words and prayers go where I cannot–

Thank you, God.

“Prayer is a path where there is none.” Noah Benshea, Jacob the Baker: Gentle Wisdom For a Complicated World

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace be with you~

 

 

97…98…99…100! Ready or Not…

“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

Some days my stories come easily–other days they run and hide like we used to do when we played hide-n-seek as kids.

I never liked being the one who had to find everyone. I was not a fast runner so racing kids back “home” after I found them rarely worked out well for me. I was much better at hiding.  We had some amazing places to hide. I don’t remember who was the first one to jump down and hide in the deep window wells of the Congregational Church or duck down behind the walls of the little balcony-like places of the Methodist Church. Whoever that kid was definitely became the champion of the game. Once used, those shadowy spots were no longer secret–although we all rushed to use them on the nights when new kids joined in our game.

That memory was a treat today and a simple story to share.

I think it’s a safe bet I’m not the only one with memories of those hide-n-seek games. I’m  feeling pretty fortunate to have this little tale to share. I hope I’ve stirred up a memory or two for you as well.

The world is shaped by two things — stories told and the memories they leave behind.” Vera Nazarian, Dreams of the Compass Rose

I am…

B…simply being…

Get out and make some memories this weekend.

God bless…

~Peace be with you~

 

 

 

Today’s Gift

I’ve been reading so much about worthiness lately I should not have been surprised when I found this prayer by Maria Shriver in the notes I made while reading her book, I’ve Been Thinking…:

Dear God, I trust that you will meet me right where I am. Help me to make choices that are good for me and those I love. Help me to become the person I’m meant to be. Help me to say and believe that today, I am enough and I am worthy. Help me to know that each day is a gift and I can begin anew.  

Amen.

On this beautiful July day, I felt this would be the perfect thing to share.

May these words help us to trust our journey and remind us that we are enough and worthy.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace be with you~