An Unexpected Gift

“One of the most beneficial and valuable gifts we can give to ourselves in this life: is allowing ourselves to be surprised! It is okay if life surprises you. It’s a good thing!” 

C. JoyBell C.

At an estate sale a few days ago I walked into the laundry room and found this book sitting on the counter.

I was so surprised and even more surprised by the smile it brought to my face.

This book became a time machine transporting me back to my high school typing class.

Taking this class was one of the biggest battles I had in my high school years. I saw no point in taking a class meant for girls who were going to be secretaries. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life but knew I did not want to be a secretary.

Little did I know…

Today I’m surrounded by keyboards which have very little resemblance to the manual and later electric typewriters we used in my high school typing class.

Who knew?

“Surprise is just a paradox. Sometimes it annoys us; sometimes it shakes the tears of joy within us; sometimes it makes us ponder; sometimes it ceases our words and leaves our jaws open, and sometimes, it shuts our lips; for a moment, surprises can put our minds into a state of confusion and halt the movement of the body. Watch out for surprises for surprises are there to surprise you!” 

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day 2020

He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” 

Bob Marley

Oh, the places we’ve gone, the people we’ve met, and the life we’ve shared.

I cannot imagine my life without you.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Michael, I love you.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” 

Lao Tzu

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

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2020

“Maybe sometimes we should just sit, and in the sitting understand that life speaks in stillness and therefore on occasion we would be wise to join it there.” 

Craig D. Lounsbrough

I’ve stepped away from my desk these past few weeks.

Part of this time was filled with year end appointments and procedures. It surprised me how each event took its toll, both mentally and physically. The time remaining I declared  “my time.”

I rested, read, and began the search for my word for 2020.

My word was actually pretty obvious once I was still and listened. My word is “self.”

I wasn’t comfortable with this word, questioning and feeling it was a very selfish word choice. After a lot of internal debating, I realized the source of all the questions and creating such uneasiness.It should not have surprised me–I’d been listening to all those old critical voices and judges I spent most of my life believing.

As I became aware (my 2019 word) where the uncertainty came from, I knew I’d found the best word for me.

As I began the second day of the new year, I knew I was ready to sit, write, and share.

“You don’t need to wait for someone else to notice your talents before nourishing them. You don’t need others to accept you to feel accepted. You don’t need to wait. You can begin, at any moment, to work on noticing, nourishing, and accepting yourself. You can work on being a better friend to your reflection. You can start listening to yourself like you wish other people would. You can become curious about who you are. You can begin to learn the language of your mind and body so that you can decode it, understand it, speak it. You can work on understanding yourself instead of always trying to make yourself into someone else.” 

Vironika Tugaleva, The Art of Talking to Yourself

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Simple Things

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” 

Bob Hope

A week from today is Christmas Eve.

I’ve been working on Christmas cards for some time now. It’s taking me a while because I’m doing them very differently this year.

The idea has been brewing over this past year as I browsed my way through many estate sales. Every sale had a collection of unclaimed family pictures. To see the different family celebrations recorded and stacked in boxes broke my heart over and over again.

After the first few sales, I realized I had my own stack of pictures sitting in albums in my office closet. I knew odds were high they’d stay in that very spot until Michael and I made our next move or–God forbid– have our own estate sale.

Going through pictures for my stories sparked the idea to make my own cards. Each individual card would be personalized to feature photos of the person the card will be sent to or spotlight an event they’d remember.

It has been a time consuming project. Most of the photos take me down a road filled with memories. The surprising thing about this project is I know these old pictures filed away in a dark closet will be on their way to bring a smiles to my loved ones. Even though we are miles apart, I know we will be walking down memory road together.

So simple…

“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.” 

Eric Severeid

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

The Religion of Kindness

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” 

Dalai Lama XIV

Michael and I have spent a lot of time these past few weeks in waiting rooms.

Our waits have yielded good results and we are thankful.

I don’t think everyone in those places we shared experienced the same good results. Many of the most senior patients seemed to be waiting alone or with an aide after being dropped off by an agency bus. Each little person seemed alone and sad–which made me sad as well. How did our society get so busy we’ve forgotten our elders?

I had time to study some of those faces. Their expressions have stayed with me this week. I couldn’t help wondering how they’re doing. At the end of the day, did they have loved ones to talk with about the tests, the results, the future, and their fears?

These experiences and memories were good reminders for me to be kind.

My heart asks you to be the same.

The Test

Oh, yes, I’ve reached those golden days

You hear so much about;

I don’t feel any older yet, 

But will one day, no doubt. 

The sky is still a lovely blue, 

The rose is just as sweet. 

Each day is like another chance

To make my life complete. 

Sure, there’s hardship, sorrow and pain,

Who thought there wouldn’t be? 

But now I know it’s just a test

To find the worth in me. 

~Betty Irean Loeb

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Thank you, Michael Hibdon, for sending me pictures of our lovely pansies and violas. I was so proud of you yesterday as you helped the little elderly people who waited with us in clinic. God bless you. I love you. 

Lighting a Candle

It is a Jewish custom to light a memorial candle year after year on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. The candle burns for twenty-four hours and is a reminder of the life that was lost and the love that will never die. I recommend this ritual to all those who are searching for a lasting way to sanctify the memory of a loved one.                                  ~Rabbi Naomi Levy

I’ve been at a loss for words this week, searching for some way to talk about the loss of yet another young life lost too soon.

As the days passed and memories streamed across my mind, I prayed for her family.

In reality, that’s all any of us can do.

When I read about the Jewish tradition of lighting a candle on the anniversary of the loss of a loved, I felt so much peace. For me, this seems like the perfect way to remember a loved one. As All Soul’s Day is tomorrow, I think the timing is perfect.

Maybe this tradition will give you peace as well?

A Memorial Prayer  

I haven’t forgotten you, even though it’s been some time now since I’ve seen your face, touched your hand, heard your voice. You are with me all the time. I used to think you left me. I know better now. You come to me. Sometimes in fleeting moments I feel your presence close by. But I still miss you. And nothing, no person, no joy, no accomplishment, no distraction, not even God, can fill the gaping hole your absence has left in my life. But mixed together with all my sadness, there is a great joy for having known you. I want to thank you for the time we shared, for the love you gave, for the wisdom you spread. Thank you for the magnificent moments and for the ordinary ones too. There was beauty in our simplicity. Holiness in our unspectacular days. And I will carry the lessons you taught me always. Your life has ended, but your light can never be extinguished. It continues to shine upon me even on the darkest nights and illuminates my way. I light this candle in your honor and in your memory. May God bless you as you have blessed me with love, with grace, and with peace. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (pp. 220-222). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

October

“May you Fall in love with October

and all the beauty it brings,

May your life be as colorful as

the turning of the leaves,

On each blessed autumn day” 

Charmaine J. Forde

One this first day of October I find myself thinking back to other autumn days.

With little effort I hear leaves crunch under foot as I watch gusts of wind peel more leaves off the top of racked stacks and push them down the street. Closing my eyes, I step effortlessly into that long ago scene. It’s early evening and the light of the street light is dim. The persistent wind brings with it smoke from nearby bonfires as well as the subtle aroma of a pie cooling on someone’s windowsill.  Even after all these years, my mouth waters, making me smile.

O God of Creation, you have blessed us with the changing of the seasons. 

As we welcome the autumn months, 

may the earlier setting of the sun 

remind us to take time to rest. 

May the brilliant colors of the leaves 

remind us of the wonder of your creation. 

May the steam of our breath in the cool air 

remind us that it is you who give us the breath of life. 

 May the harvest from the fields remind us of the abundance we have been given and bounty we are to share with others.

May the dying of summer’s spirit remind us of your great promise that death is temporary and life is eternal.

We praise you for your goodness forever and ever. Amen.  ~Unknown~

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Little Moments

“It probably wouldn’t last. It never does. But it would come back around again. That’s how life works. And that’s why it’s important to treasure the peaceful times-so you can persevere through the other kind.” 

Jean Ferris, Thrice Upon a Marigold

The past few months have been difficult.

Yesterday I found myself stuck in some tearful moments.

July 1, 2019, marked two months since I said good bye to my precious Ruby and three months since I said good bye to my little man, Duffy.

I was sad.

As the tears flowed,  I missed them both even more because that would have been the time when they’d worm their way close to me and find some goofy way to cheer me up. Just simply leaning against my leg or pulling at my shoe string would make me smile.

I miss them.

Every single day, I miss them.

Today, I sat and watched and laughed at the outlandish spirit of our Abby and thanked God for the strength of our twelve year old, Bud.

What I’m discovering is the empty place in my heart is pulling in all the little things I never would have noticed. I would have been too busy to sit and watch Abby race around the yard and Bud patiently waiting for her to “do her business.” Watching a puppy push their limits, learning how to climb and jump and trust you to always be there for them.

Retirement has given me the gift of time. My awareness of the magnitude of this blessing grows stronger daily.

Dear God, 

I thank you for the growth in the awareness of my many blessings.

I am grateful for the expanding gift of patience which allows me to take time to actually see the many layers my gifts often contain. 

God, thank you for the many loving souls surrounding me and the sweet memories of those who are with you now.  

I ask you to send your angels to comfort those who have also lost loved ones.  May they find solace in your love and continue to heal knowing they are never alone.  Amen.

Barbara Jo Burton Hibdon

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace be with you, my friends.~

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.~

Meter Man!

“It is a mind-wandering time

Remember the old times

when illusions were distinct

Remember the old times

when a friendly chat

was all we needed

to brighten up our hearts” 

Rixa White

I’d spent the morning working in the yard.

I was tired, thirsty, and hungry. I’d started early in hopes of completing what I wanted to get done before the heat took command of the day.

I almost made it–my goal was in sight but the sun had burned its way through the clouds, raising both the temperature and the humidity.

I waved the white flag.

As I ate my peanut butter toast and drank my third glass of chilled water, I read through my Facebook feeds. What I found became the theme of today’s story–meter readers.

I grew up in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls part of Iowa. As a kid, and even as a young adult, our meters were read manually by a man who came to every house every month.

The interesting part of this was the meters were located INSIDE the houses. Not a problem because commmon practice was to leave doors unlocked.

As I rehydrated, other posts of meter man experiences sparked my own memories.

I remember being home, all of us going about daily routine, when a sharp knock would be heard on the back door, the door opening as a strong male voice sang out, “Meter Man!”

If, by chance no one was home and the door locked, the meter man would leave a card in the door frame. This card had pictures of the meter dials so the homeowner could read his own meter and mail it into the power company.

The degree of trust, goodness, and honestly for members of our community does not seem real or remotely possible to me today.

It was such a great memory I had to share in case you had similiar experiences and wanted to take your own walk back in time.

Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.” 

Saul Bellow

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~