The RIGHT Stuff

11 Apr

The social media recently had several viral posts from families who felt it amusing to share the “wish list” from their youngsters at holiday time. Some have bashed and some have bantered about the lengthy desires from REAL unicorns to “a thing that turns into other stuff” all without comment from me. I chose not to lend any more attention to in my opinion the overly indulged children.
A few days ago a child proved to me there are a few parents “getting it right.”  Consider a 12- year old girl  who had achieved an award and was given a $100 gift certificate to her favorite restaurant. She chose to not only take mom and her younger brother along but the pastor and wife from their church. Thrilled to tell their server at the local Olive Garden Restaurant that the meal was “on her” her dimpled smile gained attention from those seated around the family.
Why do I draw attention to this act? It shows that not all children “want it all.” It also shows that when a child who obviously does not routinely get handed “whatever she wants.” does receive, she has been taught to show and share gratitude. Children learn from the examples set before them. If you are a harried parent and dislike what you are seeing in your children…look no farther than the mirror to find the first step in change.
There will be those negative downers who will call attention not to the generosity of the child but at how the group probably couldn’t afford dessert at today’s prices. Yet it was such a delight to watch this encounter the child was offered complementary desserts—which she initially turned down …because everyone was quite replete. The server promptly packaged “to go” desserts that were shared later at church with her friends.
Fellow travelers do not grow weary in doing good…it is always rewarded. No, this small, working class family didn’t make the news. There was no viral video coverage. It was enough for them to share a meal and a smile as recognition of a job well done. I encourage all parents to use learning opportunities to make teachable moments and make a difference. The next time your child does something great—be sure to let them know you are proud of them. Then take a moment to pat yourself on the back for teaching them the right stuff.

Fitting the Pieces Back Together

3 Apr

A recent journey was cut short as I was sidelined by an injury. My left knee after several long months has been poked, twisted, x-rayed, stretched and injected. The doctor has decided it will not improve without the intervention of surgery. A date has been set and after being poked, x-rayed, relieved of several vials of blood and given an EKG—I have been declared ready for surgery. All that’s left now is the food restrictions the night before and the lovely task of washing with the antibacterial scrub provided. *SEE Gelatinous GOO entry.

It can be frustrating, those times in our lives when we are delayed or detoured by circumstances. When it seems all we can do is wait for the fractured pieces of our lives to be fit back together. Sometimes the next step is painful in the same way a surgeon must take his scalpel and extract, trim, or remove whatever is causing the problem—our circumstances must also face the cutting edge of change.

I have been warned that once the cutting is complete and the surgeon carefully repairs and sutures the tattered and frayed edges back together I will be in pain. It will be necessary to first rest my knee and then to strengthen it through physical therapy. If I am to regain mobility it is important that I adhere to the doctors instructions—even though it will hurt.

Are there areas of your life that are fractured? Perhaps there are relationships that have been broken or wounded. Are there attitudes or habits that need adjusting? Perhaps you have been “running on empty” for so long you have forgotten your body needs rest. Are you holding on to past hurts—never surrendering them to the Healer of all hurts?

In the same way my knee would remain weak and pained without the attention of the surgeon…my heart would remain fractured if left embittered by holding on to past hurts. Moving forward means laying the broken pieces of fractured dreams, severed relationships and hopelessness at the feet of the Prince of Peace. My fellow travelers I urge you to lay your burdens down…stop, rest a bit, regain your strength and move on. Continue loving and living the journey.

Daylight Savings Time

26 Mar

Have y’all adjusted to the time change by now? Yes, that time of year when we change the clocks to reflect daylight savings. (Have to wonder just what made Benjamin Franklin think up the concept–and why.) Most individuals groan at the lost hour of sleep and that’s the end of it. We just all get used to the time change. There are always those few who forget and joke about it—one friend forgot until TUESDAY! Couldn’t figure out why he was late for everything.
It was a sunny and warm Texas afternoon—one of the first after a colder than normal winter. The family deciding take advantage of the warm weather walked the few blocks to where they had been invited to share the evening meal.
Dinner was delicious—everyone ate too much of the good food. Soon it was time to make their way home so their little ones could get to bed. Opening the door to leave, Mom was shocked to realize how dark the moonless evening had become. In the light of the afternoon sun no one had thought to grab a flashlight.
Oh, they managed well enough on the familiar walk home by taking their time and watching out for one another—but next time I imagine they will remember to bring along a light.
Are there times on your journey where you feel like you’re walking in the dark? The path may be familiar but the darkness can still be overwhelming. There is also the darkness of venturing out on a new plan. Often we are unprepared for the sudden change. Our world turns upside down and we stumble along bumping into whatever is in our path. Fear of the unknown is never too far from our struggles.
We can allay those fears on our physical walk by following a few safety rules—stick together, keep moving and of course remember the flashlight. What about those dark days of our journey—can we prepare for them? While I don’t think we can foresee all the pitfalls of life, we can practice some safety rules.
Don’t get distracted.
Don’t panic.
Don’t let the darkness keep you stuck.
Keep moving forward with other like-minded friends or family.
As for our “flashlight” always walk enlightened by wisdom.
Then when the unexpected happens you can keep moving forward in confidence. Stay safe on your journey my friends. Just think of that extra hour you will gain back in the fall. Live loving the journey—day and night.

Hump Day

23 Mar

There is a television commercial that focuses on a camel wandering around a cubical farm asking the employees what day it is.  It is a Wednesday and the camel enjoys telling everyone it is “Hump Day!” As is the case with many commercials, beyond calling attention to the middle of the week, I’ve no recollection of what is being marketed.

If Wednesday is “Hump Day” what does that say about Thursday? Personally I agree with the Douglas Adams character, Arthur Dent who claimed he “Never got the hang of Thursdays.”

For many years my schedule was centered around the demands of my ministry family. Being married to a minister our week looked a little different than others. Weekly activities started on Tuesday. (Monday’s were our day “off”) Wednesday was Bible Study night or quizzing at church. Friday and Saturday normally meant choir rehearsal, and other preparations for Sunday’s service. And of course Sunday was a full day of activities relating to the church. Thus leaving Thursday as the odd duck day. I rarely lost track of what day of the week it was because of what was happening that day. There was a sense of security in all the busyness.

That is not the case with many individuals who no longer have demands made for their time. It was not uncommon for my late father-in-law to use his phone to determine the day of the week—and no he never owned a Smart Phone or any beyond the rotary dial type. He would call his doctor’s office and ask if he had an appointment that day. After being assured he did not he would casually ask, “Oh, okay so what day is today?”

Never would I have imagined I would find myself in this category a full 30 years earlier than he. Yet, I will often confirm the day of the week by checking my cel phone. The majority of individuals living in my building have no schedule beyond the activities of the apartment building. My lack of busyness is only temporary, as I hope to recover from an injury and move on, not so for many here.

Many sit in the lobby waiting for the mail to arrive. I hear snatches of conversations about the day of the week. It seems Meals on Wheels delivers 3 days a week. The community van arrives once a week to take residence shopping at the local grocery. Once a month there is a potluck luncheon—always the 3rd Tuesday. Monthly trips to the local Food Pantry sees activity as residence busily swap out the foods they don’t want. Those items no one wants are placed on a table in the lobby and mysteriously disappear. (I suspect they are like the unwanted 5 pound fruit cake that gets passed family to family every Christmas.)

Another resident and I—both new to the building, have tried our hand at the business of busyness. We have introduced a few opportunities to aid in relieving the boredom of everyday existence. Amazingly we have discovered a sense of contentedness among many in being miserable. Rather oxymoronic but very true. At least misery loves company, and for those who rarely receive any it is enough.

The other favorite pastime is gossiping. The folks here have raised it to an art form. My mother reared me by the “Thumper Philosophy” based on the Disney character who said, “If you can’t say something nice…don’t say anything.” I suspect if that were enforced here there are those individuals who would have nothing to say at all. I had to chuckle when one resident in retelling a tale admitted to “already sharing more than she knew!”

Communication is necessary for the human spirit to thrive. Incidentally according to many health agencies Wednesday is the day most common to suicide. Regardless of the day of the week people need people. I challenge you my fellow travelers to make it a practice to go the extra mile and make an effort to communicate with someone new. It may be that extra bit of attention to get past “hump” day for one more week. Live loving the journey.

Measuring UP

15 Mar

Individuals who enjoy baking usually fall into one of two categories. Either you follow a recipe and measures most—if not all ingredients or you use the pinch method. (A pinch of this a dab of that.) I am acquainted with fabulous bakers from both schools of thought. Personally I prefer to follow a recipe and measure although I have been known to modify a recipe on occasion—especially if I’m improvising with a substitute ingredient. Moving back to Texas without any of my familiar cooking implements caused a bit of creativity on my part in order to bake anything.

Thrilled receiving measuring cups, spoons, etc I could hardly wait to bake a new dessert recipe I found. After making sure I had everything and setting out the newly acquired “tools of the trade” I began to make what I’d hope would be a yummy Chocolate Chess Pie. The end result was more than a major disappointment—it was a disaster.

All the ingredients were fresh and tasty it made no sense that the sum total of its parts was not.

Determined to find out what went wrong I reviewed every step of the recipe. It was then I noticed something strange about the measuring cups I had been given. There were four cups, which nested one into the other. Most sets containing four cups include; a 1 cup, ½ cup, 1/3 cup ¼ cup. Mine however contained; a 1 cup, ¾ cup, 2/3 cup, ½ cup—the set undoubtedly had a few cups missing. By assuming all cups were created equal I unknowingly sabotaged my pie.

Life is like my pie—if you are starting with flawed information it is doomed to fail. Imagine if the first day of Arithmetic Class you understood that 2+2=5. 2+3 would then equal 6 and 2+4=7…No amount of studying would ever produce a passing grade. If you are using the wrong standard you will never measure up. Failing to start on a sure foundation almost always insures you will fall flat.

Those who stubbornly hold to concepts that are legalistic and ungrounded—never challenging them for themselves will, like my measuring cups—have something missing. It is only after close examination and determination that one will discover the truth. Those who blindly follow without ever questioning will discover both guide and follower never moving forward but end up in a ditch.

Travel well and experience the journey for yourself.

Life is a Trade Off

14 Mar

Life is a balancing act. You’ve heard the phrase, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” If you hate the cold you can move to the south—trade off…bugs and HOT summers—especially in Texas. Like spicy food? Eat it and face the consequence of indigestion or take medication and deal with the side effects. You are accustomed to the “extras” that a two-income family enjoy but would like to be a “stay at home mom,” then learn to live within a tighter budget.

Whether choosing the lesser of two evils or making a sacrifice for another goal it is imperative to learn how to live with the decisions made. Setting your alarm to rise early on Saturdays to go to the gym has the trade off of the luxury of sleeping in—the results of the workouts have a greater benefit to a healthy lifestyle. (Not to forget the amount of financial investment in a gym membership that is wasted should you not use it.)

Passion wanes—one can learn to live with memories of past affection or find a new passion. Complacency is the cost of compromise if done so unwillingly. Should you choose to compromise then live with that decision—don’t bitch to everyone of your dissatisfaction or paste on a smile of denial. Life is to be experienced and enjoyed with no regrets—not endured. Learning to be happy with decisions you have made is part of the balancing act called life. No one can live your life for you. Interactions with others along the way can and will make the journey more enjoyable—or bring misery, depending on the company you keep.

I’m a champion of the trade off philosophy. Not making excuses for my decisions—not all have been in my best interest. I’m learning to live in the moment and enjoy what comes along it’s far better than pretending and being miserable. Traveling light makes the journey much easier to move on when the next adventure begins. My friends I urge you to lighten the load by unloading the past…it is of no use to you now. Dump all your fears and doubt, take that step to change what you don’t like and embrace that which you do. Live loving the journey.

Are YOU Worth It?

13 Mar

The job of a merchandiser is to arrange items for sale in a manner that make them appealing. Coupling certain items together may encourage greater sales as does presentation. Potential buyers are more likely to give their attention to an area that looks like it contains items of value—rather than items scattered randomly.

A neighbor received a call from the local police recently. She was told her storage unit had been broken into and they needed her to make a statement as to what items of value it had contained. After viewing the storage unit she confirmed that roughly half of her belongings were missing—including the double key lock that had secured the unit.

As we chatted she shared that she had stored the same items for nearly 5 months on her front porch without incident. Anyone could have walked off with the vintage to antique items at any time—but no one bothered them. Yet it was only after they had been stored under lock and key did someone find them worth stealing. When the same items were left in the open no one bothered them because it was assumed anything of value would not have been left unprotected.

Could the same be true for how we “display” ourselves? People working in sales have to be able to sell themselves every day at their jobs if they are to make a commission. They may be trying to sell you the next great gadget but if you don’t find them believable you won’t succumb to their pitch. To be successful a good salesman must first market himself in order to gain your trust in him—then after you value his opinion will you consider his sales pitch.

Taking this a step further—if we fail to protect what we value, no one else will value it either. A great example is seen in how children are perceived today. Those children taught to respect will not only learn a healthy respect for themselves but will also be respected by others. Those individuals who were never taught lessons on value and respect will soon discover they are rarely worth the bother.

Travelers Welcome

9 Mar

There are many little towns in Texas that were once bustling communities. The oil boon of years gone by turned these sleepy little towns into thriving communities almost overnight. Their decline when the oil dried up was predictable but longer in coming. Those towns  which had more to offer than oil have managed to stick around.

Living in one of these small towns has been fodder for many of my blogs. As this is my 250th blog entry I wanted to do something different. I set out to research the history of one of the town’s landmarks, The Traveler’s Hotel. This three-story structure was built to accommodate the growing need for housing during those boon years. Opening during the early 1920’s it boasted a spiral staircase and crystal chandeliers. Those staying in one of its 54 rooms had only to share bathing facilities with one other room! A full service restaurant on the main floor fed many a traveler. Plans had been drawn for additional floors to be added as needed and the foundation reflected those plans. Sadly the future plans for the hotel were cut short when the oil dried up and the nation faced its greatest depression.

Yes, my plan was to write about the building. Somewhere along the way my plans changed—much like the hotel itself. Today, the Housing Authority qualifies those residence, in need, a place to stay in one of its modest 34 apartments. An elevator replaces the once grand staircase and most likely anything else that would have made the hotel memorable has been modified to meet today’s standards.

Amid stories I had read of how the owners fed many in the restaurant who would have gone without during the Depression. How they even supplied rooms to those in need all without charge. As I sat down to write this blog a strange sense of peace prevailed. Being a resident in the structure referred to by most as simply “the hotel” I sense a kinship with others.

Whether I am joining in with conversations in the lobby or sharing a meal during the monthly “pot luck” luncheons, I am made to feel welcome. I’m still learning the names of those who live here. Some have been here for years and others like myself are newbies. We chat as we wait for laundry to be done or for the mail to be delivered. Most, like myself, live alone…save for their many canine companions.

The personality of the hotel is one of caring and compassion for one another. I arrived with nothing more than 2 suitcases of clothing. Today, nearly 3 months later I have all I could need. Looking around my apartment I sense the same spirit that must have been here years ago. The owners changed as did the town around it but the building continues to be an example of what Texas is so good at…fostering independence while sharing hospitality. Yes, we have a rather motley crew of tenants. Some over share while others embellish tales with more than they know. Yes everyone knows when cabbage is on the menu. There are those special few tenants who may need an extra bit of attention—and most of us are glad to give it. The end of the month may come long after funds are depleted so we lend a helping hand or share what we have. When one is gone we grieve for our loss—knowing they are in a better place.

So, with this my 250th entry I ask my fellow travelers to continue to enjoy the journey wherever life takes you. You may find friends and encouragement in the most unlikely of places. Seek out what is good and don’t dwell on what was. Learn from the PAST, Live for TODAY and HOPE for TOMORROW.

100th Day of Kindergarten

3 Mar

The kindergarten classes were encouraged to dress up as “old people”. Mom, jokingly asked her son, Tristan, clad in his best assessment of the aged if he wanted to wear a “pull-up”.  Of course she then had to discuss why and the discussion lead to many “whys” and “how comes.” Thinking on her toes—as every, always prepared, multitasking parent of a kindergartener she finally told him,

“You are born without teeth, and sometimes no hair and you need a diaper. If you live long enough that’s how you might end up when you are one hundred years old, THAT’S WHY!”

As I prepared this entry—with “Mom’s” permission to use her account… I did a little research and must admit to being surprised. Life was vastly different a century ago. One hundred years ago the average life span was…47. An average US worker could expect to earn between $200-$400 a YEAR. Two out of every 10 adults could not read or write and only 6% graduated high school. Yet 18% of households had at least one full time servant. Sugar cost $.04 a pound and coffee $.14 a pound—mind boggling to compare with today’s barista specialties.

Most women washed their hair only once a month with egg yokes and borax. (If you are thinking how some today use beer in combination with eggs for a beauty regiment—canned beer hadn’t been invented yet.)

90% of doctor’s had no college education. Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. (The pharmacist reported, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.”)

Leading causes of death were 1. Pneumonia and influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke

Hard to imagine so many changes in a relatively short period of time considering the technological advances of today have no comparison. We may live longer lives, have better medical care and communications systems once thought only Science Fiction, but one constant remains… we are born wrinkled, without teeth, little hair and an inability to control our bowels.…and those who live long enough return to that state. Aging is part of life, living is what we choose to do in the process. Live well, laugh long and love along the way.

Living Above the Weather

2 Mar

The weatherman has been working overtime lately. It seems no part of our nation has been free of unseasonable weather. Texas has been colder than is customary. Florida has been warmer. A daughter in Ohio has experienced both heat and cold inclement weather patterns. I read an article about a school in Georgia that had an impromptu sleepover as students were stranded following a snow storm in Atlanta, GA.

There is a song associated with winter that starts with, “Oh the weather outside is frightful and the fire so delightful. Since we’ve no place to go, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” I’m quite sure I learned that in school while living in the northern climes in an effort to teach us of contentedness. However, as the weather patterns of recent winters have changed causing states that do not normally see the white fluffies being caught unprepared. I happen to be residing in one of those states.

The wind howling outside my window today bears no resemblance to the sunshine and temperature in the mid 80s of 2 days ago. Texas—along with much of the country is being bombarded with yet another winter storm of cold temperatures, sleet, ice and snow. I must admit to my share of choice words for the weatherman. However, today I chose to enjoy the warmth of spiced hot cider and my heated blanket. As the lyrics make note, “since we’ve no place to go—let it snow!”

I’ve no doubt there are those who would lament, “Go ahead and sing YOU don’t have to be out in this mess,” or “Sing to the tune of car repairs come spring for all the pot holes you didn’t dodge.” For some—myself included, this weather causes tremendous pain to muscles, joints and connective tissues inflamed by the up and down weather pattern.

Regardless of whether you are braving the cold for fun and games or struggling at work to make ends meet, your attitude has no effect on the weather. So why allow something you have no control over decide your frame of mind? The same could be said for many things in our daily lives. We fret over a possible future outcome, we rehash old hurts while holding grudges—when none of that is within our control. The next time you find yourself wasting energy becoming aggravated, stressed or depressed over something out of your control stop breathe deep and “Let it Snow!”

Stay safe and warm on your journey my friends. Choose to live above the weather and not under it.

Long walks and dark chocolate

Life as a wife, mom, nana and follower of Christ; hoping to share from lessons learned

A Word in Your Ear

Stories and Photographs of my travels, Tales of friends, family, animals and my life

Outside The Lines

Fun readings about Color, Art and Segmation!

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