Days of Gratitude #2

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

Today, one of the things I am most grateful for are those people who faithfully read what I have to say whenever I get around to saying it. They are always kind and encouraging. Thank you.

The thoughts I shared yesterday rang true for everyone who sent me a note. Because of that I thought I’d continue sharing quick thoughts along with pictures.  

Looking through my pictures it’s sad I don’t have more pictures of when I was young and just starting my career. I was so lucky to begin my work in  imaging when I did. Many of the people I worked with as a student and later as a staff are still my good friends today. For that fact I am so grateful. 

I have very few pictures of the people I grew up with in Traer. Thanks to social media I have been able to reconnect with them. What a gift that is! 

Today I’m sharing more random pictures–again in no special order.

See if these don’t bring back more memories for you, too. 

More tomorrow.

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Thank you, Glynis Morse, for sharing this photo of Sedona with me. It is a magical place.  Thank you. 

Epiphanies

“It’s very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.” 

Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

It’s been an interesting week, working to establish a daily self care routine.

The days have been full of those little tasks we all do as we begin the new year. As I updated my calendar I noticed names and dates on last year’s calendar.

My eyes filled with tears and my chest tightened.

Thumbing through the weeks of 2019, I realized I’d made different appointments for our dogs, Duffy and Ruby, not knowing these would be their last. Such a small task was so eye and heart opening for me.

It was a swift reality check and a harsh reminder of how precious life is.

This morning, if you’ve joined me in reading, Simple Abundance, you read about the play Our Town. When I was much younger, I had to read this play for one of my English courses. At the time I thought it was such a waste of my time. After reading the quotes Sarah Ban Breathnach chose, I think I may need to revisit this play.

For me, these two paragraphs were very powerful and caught me completely off guard.

“In Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town a deeply poignant scene takes place in a grave yard. Ghosts comfort the young heroine, who has recently died in childbirth. Emily, still longing for the life she has just left, wishes to revisit one ordinary, “unimportant” day in her life. When she gets her wish, she realizes how much the living take for granted. 

Eventually her visit is too much for her to bear. “I didn’t realize,” she confesses mournfully, “all that was going on and we never noticed…Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners…Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize  you.” 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

“It always comes down to just two choices. Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A Story from Different Seasons

 

 

Summers

“I look around the room and can’t help but think about how it is the little things we look back on in life. I wonder how often people think that they should pay more attention to them.” 

Erika Lance, Behind the Veil

Writing about the meter man yesterday set my mind in motion.

I’ve been thinking about other memories from my childhood, especially summertime ones.

  • I remember hurrying through lunch so I could get in the pool as soon as it opened at 1 p.m. After all–I knew I could NOT go into the water for 45 minutes after eating which meant I HAD to be done with lunch by 12:15.
  • This brings up another food related issue–remember fasting for 3–or was it 4–hours before going to communion? I think I could not drink anything for an hour before receiving communion. As I got older I started factoring in how long the first part of Mass would be so I could eat for a longer period of time. Going to a hot church on an empty stomach never worked out well for me.
  • I remember walking all over town from one friend’s house to anothers. The only requirement was telling mom where I was headed. My sisters and I were lucky because there were so many kids our age in our neighborhood. Unless there was something special going on, we never had to go far to be with friends.
  • In our little town in Iowa there were summer carnivals every year. I remember how excited we all were when we saw the trucks come through town and start setting things up on Main Street.
  • Having the windows open so I could hear the trains come through town while I fought sleep in order to make plans for the next day.
  • Swimming lessons and learning the skills needed so I could swim my two laps and go into the 10 foot part of the pool.
  • Lightning bugs.
  • Kool-aid.
  • Rushing through breakfast so I’d be ready to run outside to play as soon as the first neighbor kid knocked on the front door.
  • Fresh sweet corn on the 4th of July followed by ripe watermelon.
  • Sparklers.
  • None questioned whether or not we were safe. Our parents had those soft rules of being home in time for supper and come in when the street lights went on.
  • Growing up in a small town at the time my friends and I grew up was one of the many blessings I didn’t appreciate until not that many years ago. We didn’t need much more than a swim suit and a summer pass to the pool. Shoes were often optional.
  • Talking my dad into buying my first pair of flip flops–they were called thongs then–he absolutely hated them.
  • Home made ice cream.
  • Taking pictures with the Kodak camera and realizing we’d used the last side of the flash cube. Unfortunately there was still one unexposed picture on the roll. That meant it maybe months before that roll is used up and another few months before it’s taken in to be developed.
  • Singing and swinging on the swingset in the backyard.
  • Fresh tomatoes from the garden.
  • Going uptown for my mom to buy a loaf of bread and a package of cigarettes–she’d sent along a handwritten note which worked just fine, no questions asked. There would always be some drama when I got home because I never wanted to give them to her so she’d have to quit.
  • Waiting for my Gram to come visit.
  • Trying to drink a Fizzie–I think that’s how it was spelled. I never was able to drink one–reminded me of my dad’s Alka-seltzer.
  • Collecting pop bottles and turning them in for cash at John’s Little Store on the hill. Hopefully everyone would make it to the store before their paper sack broke. John was always patient with us and had the absolute best penny candy–it was worth the walk.
  • Going to the movies so we could all get out of the heat. If I was very lucky, I’d get to have my very own bag of candy and popcorn.
  • Nightly neighborhood hide and seek which evolved into kick the can.
  • Saying my prayers with my mom never once thinking she wouldn’t always be there.

During these hot summer days, grab a snack, pour a glass of wine, and take a few minutes to think back. If you’re a baby boomer like me, I think you might be surprised at how awesome those childhood memories really are.

“I wonder if we would ever switch back to old photo albums we got printed from photography shops. A Kodak KB10 camera with 36 photos worth of film roll, waiting for it to complete before sending the photos for developing.

Nothing was instant, it would sometimes take months to compete a film and weeks to get the prints.

The joy of seeing the photos, the disappointment to find a ruined image due to shaky hands.

Even after having lots of camera and GBs of memory cards will never bring the same feeling.”

Crestless Wave

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace be with you.~

Footprints

“Many people walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” 

Windhy Puspitadewi, Confeito

For most of my life I thought I could only have one best friend. I mean, best is THE best, right? So–only one person can be the best.

I don’t think I stopped thinking this way until I’d had time to reflect on my life and the different people I’d met over the years. I realized each person helped me through different stages of my life and enabled me thrive and grow.

First, there are my childhood friends. They knew me as a kid, they knew my sisters, and they knew my family. There is no replacement for this knowledge base and the life experiences we shared.  I am grateful many are still in my life. Even with huge gaps in what we know about each other and our adult lives, we remain friends.

There are friends I met after moving to another town and becoming the new kid my freshman year of high school. This little group of girls became so special to me because they accepted me and treated me like I’d always been one of them. This group also knew my sisters, also knew my family, but this group also knew my stepmother. This updated version of me and my life gave them a whole different knowledge base and our friendships grew as we grew.

After graduating high school, we all went our separate ways. Some to college outside of our area, some married and started families, some to the military, and some to area technical schools and nearby universities. New friendships were born at this rapidly changing time in our lives. We learned what we needed to begin to live our “adult lives.” We built friendships with those we saw every day and our common experiences forged strong bonds. That first step into adulthood was a tough one for many of us. Friendships made during this time were and are important ones to many of us.

Now many of us have retired and moved away from all our groups of friends. For me, finding friends at this time in my life is more challenging than I expected. Finding a person who has common interests and is willing to invest the time to become a true friend is not easy. I’ve evolved into a person with many layers. Some of those layers are harder to peel away than others and uncovering them often reveals old history I’ve chosen to forget for a reason.

New friendships are revitalizing. My new friend Glynis just shared with me today her story of having lunch with her new friend. She describes this special lady as someone who is “wildly creative with purple hair and fun glasses.” She said as she sat beside her she felt “so beige.” I laughed as I thanked God for new friends!

I’m learning I will have many friends in my lifetime. I am grateful I’ve been able to keep friends from each stage of my life and we continue share our lives as we age. Now we are walking our own paths but these paths are parallel to each other. If there is one constant in my life, God has a way of keeping those I love just an arms length away.

“Friends can make you feel that the world is smaller and less sneaky than it really is, because you know people who have similar experiences.” 

Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Birthday Eve

“Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.” 

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

In the past, I’ve used this day to thank all the people in my life who’ve helped me become the person I am today.

I wanted to do something different today because I realized I’d never written a thank you to my Mom or Dad.

I’ve been hesitant to write about them. I barely knew my Mom. What I know is she was my biggest and strongest advocate. Even though I am sure I challenged her every single minute of every single day, she allowed me my space. My Dad and I certainly had more time together. Even with all those years, I don’t think we really never knew each other. I think we both thought we’d around to it one day–we’d both taken small steps in that direction but time snuck up on us and caught us both off guard.

My mom and dad met each other later in their lives. I’m sure World War II had a lot to do with that fact. My mom was the middle child of her family and my dad the youngest of his much larger family. My mom lived at home with her parents, working a full-time, thinking she’d never marry. Being 27 years old when she married my dad, she always told me she was sure she was bound to be an “old maid.” My dad had been married before, marrying his high school sweetheart soon after he returned from the war. Sadly, shortly after they married, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She died soon after that diagnosis.

They Mom and Dad worked at Montgomery Wards in Fort Dodge and met at a local dance. Mom said when they met that first night, she knew immediately Dad “the one.” As a kid I thought that was the most romantic story–I can still see myself move very close to her and ask her to tell me the story of how they met one more time. In my mind, this short little story was every bit as beautiful as any ol’ Cinderella story.

They married and moved to Kokomo, a little community outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1953 that was a long way from Fort Dodge, Iowa. There were no planes to jettison anyone across the country. Long distance phone calls were very expensive for the average person. I think back on my days alone in Denver and sympathize with my mom. How alone she must have felt. She’d never lived by herself–always living with her parents and close to her sister and brother. This move may have been easier for my dad since he’d been overseas in the war, but I’m sure he was dealing with some degree of post traumatic stress along with the memories of losing his very young wife.

Through it all, they made it all workout.

I arrived in the early morning hours of September 25, 1953, and their lives were never ever the same.

Thanks, Mom, Thanks, Dad.

As I age, I see so many things in such different light. I sure wish you were here to share your thoughts, your stories,  and your wisdom. I admire you, love you, and miss you.

Thank you for me.

“Your children are not your children.

They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. 

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.” 

Kahlil Gibran

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

 

 

Donna Dee

I loved my cousin, Donna Dee. Not sure why, but I am missing her today.

She was ten years older than I and I knew she was the coolest person on the planet. She told me things no one else would and she always had stories about my mom. She’d often tell me that the two of us were very special; just like my mom and her, she and I were ten years apart in age.

Donna was the daughter of my mom’s oldest sister, Charlotte. That’s the two of them in the picture I’ve posted today. Donna lived with my Grandma most of the time when she was growing up. Because of that, she spent a lot of time with my mom before my mom married my dad. For me, going to Gram’s was the best place on earth. It was the place where I felt the most special and the place I got to be around my three favorite people, my Grandpa, my Gram, and my cousin, Donna.

Donna taught me all the things every little girl needed to know. Some things, I’m pretty sure my mom wished she’d waited a little longer to show me. She had so much wonderful big girl stuff. She taught me how to roll my hair in those painful brush rollers and gave me hints on how to get those little pink pic things to really hold the rollers tightly to your head. I learned how to “tease” my hair and fell in love with the smell of hair spray. She showed me how to use lipstick, telling me how important it was to blot–that final blot was what helped the color last so it wouldn’t smear when you kissed your boyfriend. That always made me giggle–me–a boyfriend.

I loved having all those kiss marked kleenexes around us as we talked. Almost as much as I loved being with Donna–the one person who always knew how to make me feel like I was cool, too.

There was only one time when she did not share. I’d found a little bar of square chocolates on her dresser. To my kid eyes, they looked like someone had shrunk a Hershey bar. See what I mean, she really had super neat things! I asked in all the ways I could think of–please, please, please, could I have just one piece. She would NOT share. Well, I said to my young self, I’ll just wait until she leaves. I’ll only take a couple–she’ll never miss them.

She did miss them.

She never told on us kids–she did this time. Man, I thought, this must have been some really special stuff. First, she wouldn’t share and now she told on me–I mean–us.

My Dad came over to my sisters and me, asking us who had taken Donna’s chocolates? Not me, I said. I was feeling very put out because she did not share. PLUS, they tasted terrible. I’d thrown a lot of it in the trash.  So, really, since I’d thrown it way had I really taken them?

His look focused on me for a few more seconds–I was thinking, rationalizing it all in my head. I stood my ground.

“Okay,” he said, shaking his head and chuckling, “The truth will come out soon enough.”

Very early that morning, the truth indeed came screaming out as one stubborn little kid barely made it the bathroom. Man, I thought, that must have been some seriously bad chocolate! It was then they told me I had eaten EX-Lax, medicine, not candy. Geez Louise, no wonder it tasted so bad.

Oh, the lessons we learn. It was a very very long time before I asked anyone for chocolate.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, Y’all.