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Archive for May, 2014

Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other. (William Faulkner)

For well over an hour I tread water in the adults-only side of the pool and feel temporarily invincible. The air is hot and the water cool as I kick and spread my arms over the water, no need to touch the bottom to feel safe. Of course I know this is play. My life is okay at the moment, with more ups than downs—not perfect. Few people live a utopian existence.

However, one simple thought about imperfection brings to mind some people who need a miracle, immediately. I can’t provide it. In fact, every time another bit of news about their particular situation arrives I find myself holding my breath, as if I were underwater; it doesn’t help. The facts don’t change. And truth is beyond my understanding. It is far larger than anything I can comprehend. I keep hoping that this is only their forty-years-in-the-desert portion of a glorious adventure in a grand new land. But, I don’t have any of the previews for tomorrow. I scarcely have all the information I need for my own agenda for the rest of the week.

I suspect many people have concerns about friends, family, that little old lady next door who seems to have experienced more than her share of disaster and sure doesn’t deserve it. Life isn’t fair, not a new notion.

All I can do is to continue to tread, in and out of the pool—and to love as fully as I can. Dragons can be beaten. Sometimes swords just make them angrier, but forgiveness and acceptance confuse the heck out of them. I guess you just need to know that particular dragon’s vulnerabilities or needs. And that is how the miracles come in. I pray for that kind of truth; when slaying dragons it’s the only kind of knowledge that counts.

 

dragons can be beaten

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You have made some mistakes, and you may not be where you want to be, but that has nothing to do with your future. ( Zig Ziglar )

This post comes after contemplating the nature of arguments:

Strange how often people use the word mistake with a shrug of the shoulders when they talk about themselves, yet accent both syllables when they refer to other people, especially when those folk express opposing viewpoints. We claim these purported errors to be born of ignorance, incompetence, irreverence, or bullheadedness. I’d like to say I’m immune; I’m not. However, criticism isn’t part of my routine. I want to learn as much as I can from the complete picture—and that information isn’t always immediately available at the flip of an emotion.

The way most people feel about almost anything is super-glued to the soul, even if a person claims to be open-minded. Dissolving that bias takes a lot of energy. What we believe we know becomes like the foundation of a house. No one wants to collapse into rubble. Confrontation with someone with a different notion doesn’t lead to truth; it means battle.

I suspect that a sound foundation doesn’t have to be shattered—provided it is built on integrity, honesty, and love. It may need only a few alterations. The problem arrives when it expects the house next door to wear the same shingles.

I sigh as I scroll through Facebook posts that make me grimace, focusing on hate and violence according to my perspective. Then, I realize that the posts that state my beliefs don’t bother me at all. I see their logic. “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” (Anaïs Nin) While I don’t want to lose focus on World Peace, I don’t want to stop learning from the whole either.

Omniscience isn’t my game, and I don’t want it to be. A daily attempt toward making the world a better place, with a few stumbles along the way? Well, that is another matter.

decorate life with colors

 

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If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. (W. Beran Wolfe)

My birthday approaches—and the vision that faces me in the mirror changed over the years. Fortunately, my happiness no longer relies on a young, smooth complexion or a waistline that would have made Scarlet O’Hara jealous with her pinched, ridiculously tiny middle. I need to look beyond the surface, or inside it, depending upon my perspective at the time.

My middle granddaughter, kindergarten age, once told me she could tell I was older than her daddy; I have wrinkles. Fortunately, I was able to laugh. She meant no insult. She was merely pointing out facts. And my reflection agrees, even when the light has been dimmed.

In some ways I am busier now than I was thirty years ago. Sure, I worked an over-full day in a hospital pharmacy and I had two young boys, but I had little notion of who I was. A task was simply a task. One day led to another and I fell into it with little purpose except to survive. Someday, I wanted to write, but those dream moments felt as vague as fog seen through a window, untouched, distant.

My life now is no more perfect than anyone else’s. However, I no longer live in the past or wait for the future.

When I was born there was a hole in the placenta that fed me. I was starved for the first and last time in my life. My head was the size of a small wilted orange. I weighed four pounds, seven and one-half ounces, full term. My mother was told her newborn would be fine with a little more weight on her skinny limbs. Mom didn’t believe the hospital personnel, especially since I was rushed to the nursery, no time for a quick see-you-later. She did not get the chance to count my fingers and toes until ten days after my birth, the day I was discharged. Therefore, we never bonded as parent and child. However, as the years passed birthdays became enormous celebrations.

As my family grew we celebrated with our cousins. All the children received gifts. The birthday child was honored with cake, candles, the traditional works, but all of us opened un-birthday gifts, such as tiny toy cars or coloring books, balloons or crayons.

The disconnection between my mother and me was not malicious or intentional. It happened because it did. And strange as it may seem, the experience gave me a richer understanding of the less-than-perfect parts inside others. And I am grateful for that lack of love.

Today I type words on a page that celebrate the positive, hug grandchildren, try to let friends see the goodness I see in them, make up my own recipes and add extra servings of affection in each dish. I try to refrain from the negative and after a slip-up, remember to say, I’m sorry. My name remains internationally unknown; I’m not a millionaire, and my publications haven’t made it to any famous listings.

But, the metaphorical button that rolled under the radiator can stay there. I have more important goals to pursue.

happy thankful Optimism Revolution

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Life is mostly froth and bubble; two things stand like stone:
Kindness in another’s trouble
Courage in your own. (Adam Lindsay Gordon)

My ten-year-old granddaughter Kate makes froth and bubble from mixed fruit and juice. She’s creating smoothies. She tries different fruit combinations, milk, and the last of the whipped cream in varying amounts, mixed with ice. Our three-ounce paper cup supply dwindles.

She knows how to use a paring knife and cutting board. I watch her as she turns a banana into neat slices with finesse before I let her work alone in my kitchen—within hearing distance.

She is proud of her achievement, as well as the tastes she imagines as the blender whirs. I can’t hear every word she says; my hearing isn’t that good. But her excitement rings clear over the mechanical noise spurts as she considers names for each blend. She wants to make small samples of her variations, ready for neighbors to taste and rate. I smile. At the moment this may not be realistic, but I won’t put parameters on her enthusiasm. Our fruit supply is limited. I’m not worried about over-supply and under-demand.

My favorite is the Sparkle, the only name she has chosen with any sense of finality. It fits both the creator and the drink. She added a lot of pineapple to this concoction. Let the clean-up happen after the job is completed; it doesn’t turn out to be as bad as I expected. Nothing has landed on the floor and the counter remains relatively clean.

My girl continues to be both wise and kind. As we fill-up on pulverized fruit, she talks about one of her friends at school. The girl has a physical handicap, but mental courage. Kate often defends her friend when she is taunted. Kate doesn’t care what the other kids think. She wants to do what is right.

My Sparkle drink won’t come up through the straw anymore. It is too thick. I discard the straw and gulp. Sometimes life situations can’t be taken a little at a time either; they must be faced. Now. Completely. My oldest granddaughter seems to have grasped that reality. She shines.

We share a smile. She doesn’t know what I am thinking, but it doesn’t matter. She knows she is loved, and for now that is all that matters.

We ate all the pineapple, so I had to draw a picture of one. (For a better display of artistry visit http://sharoncummings.wordpress.com/. You will find a real treat for the eyes and spirit there!)

pineapple05082014_0000

 

 

 

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When you set sail for Ithaca,
wish for the road to be long,
full of adventures, full of knowledge. (C.P. Cavafy )

My husband, younger son, our youngest granddaughter, and I have set sail for St. Louis in a Toyota. We decide to stop to eat. Customers surround the building at our first choice. Sure, this could bring an adventure, but not the one we had in mind. Our little one doesn’t sit still long. Besides, my husband’s mother, Ella’s great grandmother, is waiting for us.

The next restaurant looks much better, especially since I have a gift certificate for this place in my purse. We get a table without a wait.

“Mom, look, isn’t she cute?” comes an animated voice from the table behind me. A teenaged girl with bright eyes and neatly styled dark hair sits with her mother. The girl points to Ella.

“Come on over and say hello,” I say.

The two girls have something in common: they both have Down syndrome.

The teenage girl’s mother and I talk. Before long I realize that we have been visited by a celebrity. The girl with the dark hair’s name is Karrie Brown, easily found on Google. She dreamed of becoming a model. And she did. She has 31,831 likes on her Facebook page as of this moment. (correction, 31,834: I am now one of them.) The following link is only one of many sites that follow her journey: http://www.glamour.com/fashion/blogs/dressed/2013/09/karrie-brown-is-17-has-down-sy.htmlhttp://www.glamour.com/fashion/blogs/dressed/2013/09/karrie-brown-is-17-has-down-sy.html

Karrie’s determination encourages me to keep going after my goal. Age does not need to stand in my way. Too old is a poor excuse. I will not use it. Besides, I have two novels ready to go, and I have had more short stories and poems published this year than I have ever managed previously. I am a late bloomer in the extreme. Okay, Grandma Moses was older.

Ella smiles through bites of chicken. She has possibilities, too. Her speech may be limited, but she loves words—and she sounds them out. She works to capture them. As we continue on our travels Ella goes over the same printed cards with a level of concentration that makes me smile all the way through. Moreover, our youngest granddaughter doesn’t complain about the trivial. She has larger visions in mind. Who knows what adventures she will discover? I’m with her all the way.

People with Down syndrome are as individual as everyone else. They may be likely to display certain characteristics, but these actions don’t describe every person with Trisomy 21.  I notice that my little girl doesn’t need to dominate or be superior in any way. She is who she is. We could all learn to have her level of acceptance. We could all learn from Karrie’s stamina and positive attitude.

I don’t think meeting her was an accident. Some higher power led us to the table behind her and her mother. Her sister just happened to be our server. What a blessing!

Keep up the good work. Karrie. This world can use your positive and beautiful example.

Photo from Karrie’s Facebook page: Karrie Brown Modeling the Future

Karrie Brown - Modeling the FutureLove can’t always be perfect, but it can certainly be sincere. Ask Karrie. It’s her way of life.

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