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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

The real index of civilization is when people are kinder than they need to be. (Louis de Bernieres)

The wooden railing that leads to our basement is old and splintering. It left two of those shards in my left hand. I tried the smear-the-area-with-baking-soda-paste cure. One of the splinters disappeared with the treatment. The other said, No way, I’m not giving up that easily. And I am left with an aching hand.

I feel like a fool as I ask a neighbor if she can help me. She recently earned a nursing degree. The temperature outside has dropped into the Frigid Zone and the sun set at least an hour ago. Why couldn’t I have thought to ask her before dark?

But Madison is quick to assist me.

“I’ll come to your house. After all you are doing me the favor,” I say.

“No, no,” she replies. “It’s dark. I don’t want you to fall on the ice. I’ll be there as soon as I get my shoes on.”

She arrives. And so does her husband, Nathan. He brings an electric sander—to get to the source of the problem, the offending basement railing.

I wish I had dressed more appropriately, at least something better than an out-of-season green Christmas sweatshirt and gray long johns. But, Madison and Nathan don’t act as if they notice.

Unexpected gifts are often the best. Nathan smooths the railing and Madison removes the splinter with a steady hand. I barely feel a pinch.

Thanks, to both of you. I feel blessed for hours after you leave. Kindness has a way of lingering.

kindness is earth angel

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We are flawed creatures, all of us. Some of us think that means we should fix our flaws. But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left. (Sarah Vowell)

Sarah Vowell has written six nonfiction historical books, including Lafayette in the Somewhat United States and Unfamiliar Fishes. She is an actress. I’ve seen her interviewed and been mesmerized by her wit. Therefore, I read the last sentence—several times. “But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left.” Should that read But get rid of flaws and there would be no one left? Or should it be, But get rid of my flaws and I would not be?

Then again, perhaps Ms. Vowell is onto something. Each individual is a part of the whole. We share flaws the way we share common emotional existence. No one has it all. Perhaps that is why we were designed to be social beings. I am part of the whole. The whole is part of me. Or, she could be saying that without flaws she is only a shell with no one inside. It’s a question for my grammar-freak friends.

Today gray clouds fill the sky, but an almost circular hole opens and lets the blue peek through. By the time I have driven to my destination the sun has won. For now. The TV news loves to forecast sensationalism and doom. Unusually warm winter temperatures should fight with cold air soon, giving birth to storms.

And I realize that storms inside me want to rise, too. They want to make a big fuss about recent mistakes, failures that feel larger and higher than the clouds. Yet, those mistakes don’t rise to more than my four-foot-eleven height off the ground.

Then four-year-old Dakota rushes into our house. His huge brown eyes let me know he is happy to be here. Little people don’t hide their feelings. He asks why at least a thousand times. “Why isn’t your hair long like my mommy’s?” “Why isn’t Jay back from the YMCA yet?” When he heard that I was going for physical therapy for my neck he wanted to know, “Are they going to take your neck off?”

Fortunately that answer was a simple no. I smile at his innocence. He doesn’t know how small he is yet, how much growing he needs to do before he is an adult. The statement, in an hour, has as much meaning to him as the unfathomable size of the universe has for me. I can’t grasp it. Nor will I ever comprehend more than theory.

Yet, none of the people I love are perfect. If they were I would have nothing in common with them. So, I thank Sarah Vowell for her honesty, and look at my flaws with a tad more reverence.

mistakes The Optiism Revolution

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Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. (Vincent Van Gogh)

D has worked in jails. She’s seen pain and ugliness. She understands both justice and injustice—from the inside. And the experience has not hardened her.

Sure, I’ve given a dollar or two to displaced folk. But, if I’m going to be honest I have rarely looked those individuals in the eye. Once as I was driving out of a heavily traveled area I handed a few dollars to a young woman. She smiled; I notice she was almost toothless. Immediately I interpreted it as  meth mouth. Maybe she had it; maybe she didn’t. I was not going to solve the depth of her problems anyway.

I feel overwhelmed by the causes and power of homelessness. D saw a situation where she could help and dived right into it. She stopped long enough to talk to a couple who had nowhere to go.

The young girl, unmarried, was pregnant. Her family kicked her out of the house. Her partner also lost everything. D checked out their stories. By some divine serendipitous fluke, D’s friend in another state was able to verify the facts. D found a safe haven for the girl and a halfway house for the man.

Although this is the summarized version of the story, it includes the essence. I don’t want to accidentally relay the couple’s identities for the sake of curiosity. Therefore, I keep D’s name quiet as well.

I’ve seen suggestions for the desperate such as placing useful items in a purse and giving them to homeless women, or wrapping warm coats around telephone poles with a note: for anyone who needs something warm. However, D went ten steps further. She gave hope and possibilities.

I know D has overcome a lot in her own life. When she was a child her mother threw her and her siblings out into the snow. The children had no hats or coats. A neighbor brought the kids inside and called a relative who saved them. D knows how the cold and helplessness feel.

But D has not let loss live inside her soul. Thanks for the openness of your heart, ordinary angel. You are a blessing. Just wanted you to know it!

angels as ordinary people Optimisim Revolution

 

 

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You are important, valuable and unique. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Live your truth and be amazing. (Ricardo Housham)

 Our outdoor thermometer reads twenty-two degrees; this is a step up from yesterday’s reading of eight degrees. I wait for the sun to shine as brightly as it does in mid-June, even if brightness and warmth are not synonymous.

Like many people I have survived trauma. Cold desperate winters remained inside my being long after each spring thaw. The situation is more common than most individuals want to admit. Since those days I have embraced the pain as well as the good that came from the past. After a lot of hard work. Time. Meditation. The love of friends.

However, I only recently learned that memories live in the body as well as in the mind. Why am I perfectly fine one moment, and then, without warning, an internal storm rises? I tend to retreat. Others strike back. The why isn’t always obvious. Even if I don’t act upon how I feel, the response remains.

As a writer I watch people. When threatened, one person may stare with contempt, mouth closed, jaw clenched. Another may fight without editing words or actions. We are emotional beings—whether we want to admit it or not.

The body remembers trauma, sadness, and loss even if the mind has long-ago gone to the next page. Am I depressed? Heck no! I have a loving family, a passion for writing, and more energy than many almost-seventy-year-old people. Moreover, the physical therapy for my misbehaving neck is working.

Nevertheless, I suspect that part of the disconnection between my head and shoulders has something to do with blocks inside my body’s memory. And that is where Marcia Erdman comes in. She does something called Defusion Therapy. She is also a licensed massage therapist. And she is highly intuitive.

“You give more than you have to give,” she told me once.

And she was spot on.

One brain therapy works for me because I don’t have problems that keep me from living life. I have blocks that keep me from reaching for the sky. No, I won’t harness every lofty goal, but why not try? Why not make the world a better place, simply by being in it—as fully as possible. Marcia uses an approach that includes Three in one Concepts. In essence this means that the mind and body work together to choose rather than react when stress inevitably appears.

Marcia’s system includes muscle testing and symbols, such as flowers, to improve areas that need growth. The highlighted sites explain the system better than I can. Besides, I’m a newbie. And for people in the Greater Cincinnati area, Marcia is accepting clients. Simply click on the link connected to her name.

In the meantime I watch the snow fall since rebelling against it won’t make winter pass any faster. Peace upon all. Wherever you may be.

 

becoming PIQ

 

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Most of us can’t help but live as though we’ve got two lives to live, one is the mock-up, the other the finished version, and then there are all those versions in between. (André Aciman)

I am sitting among friends, other women who are senior citizens on the outside with young spirits on the inside. Every Tuesday morning we meet and talk about our lives as they really are, not as we want them to be. We call ourselves Apple. This name appeared before I joined, forty years ago. Someone in the group mentioned the biblical quote: “You are the apple of my eye.” And laughter resounded. Many of the women looked like apples—their bellies were swollen with advanced pregnancies.

Now many of those babies are parents. But the Apple name stuck. We’ve changed over the years. The singing and harmony that drew me in doesn’t exist. The room isn’t as filled as it used to be. Members have moved or found other interests. In the early days the stay-at-home wife was common. That changed. Many of us went back to work. So did I. But I was fortunate to find a part time position that didn’t interfere with the time for the gathering. One woman died in a car accident. Two others care for disabled husbands.

As friends we have seen one another through triumph and tragedy, seasons and years.

M knows I hate driving in snow. She called an hour before the sharing time began, and she asked me if I wanted a ride. No false pride here. I accepted with gratitude.

Now a squall begins outside. Complete with a threatening wind. The kind that sets my worry gene into gear. But I pause. Listen to my Apple sisters share inspirational stories. And laugh. No, the storm isn’t okay. But it exists. We can’t harness it.

A ten-or-twelve vehicle pile-up on our local Interstate is making national news right now. I don’t know about it yet. Awareness is good. Especially when that means a major highway is closed. Continuous in-depth coverage? Maybe not. Especially when it begins a rolling snowball of coast-to-coast anxiety.

I learn later someone I love struggled through the morning commute, slid on the ice, and had a generally difficult day because of that awful four-letter-word beginning with an s. Yet she managed—without the dubious benefit of my fears. I offer my help. She won’t need to drive an hour out of her way for a babysitter. If I could hop in a time machine and change her outcome, I would. But I believe in fantasy only in stories.

I’d like to say that every word I write springs from my soul like some kind of innate holy water of positive thinking. It doesn’t. I work at it just like everyone else does. And I’m grateful for my friends at Apple for their constant support and love.

We’ve come a long way from new mamas to not-so-new grandmas. Together. Thanks. May your friendships be filled with people who listen more than speak, share both their highs and their lows, and know how to laugh at their shortcomings. Peace—one imperfect day at a time.

apples

 

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Love doesn’t make the world go ’round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. (Franklin P. Jones.)

 On the first day of January I am in the locker room at the Y—that sacred realm where children run naked and women hide their extra flesh behind wrapped beach towels. I see Kathy. Actually, I’m not sure she spells her name with a K. I only know her from the Y. She wears a beautiful soul that emanates enthusiasm for life.

Kathy generally arrives at the pool at about the time I am preparing to leave. Several months ago she bought place mats with the characters from Frozen for my granddaughters. She greets me as if I were family.

I finish dressing and wait to make eye contact with her. She is talking to someone else on the other side of the aisle.

“Oh, Terry, Happy New Year!” she exclaims. “I love your smile. It is so contagious.” She hugs me. Not one of those quick, in-a-hurry embraces. A healing squeeze. A you-are-important-and-I’m-letting-you-know-it hug.

And I choose to remember it.

“First hug of the new year,” I say.

I decide to pass the gift on, leak it out to others as the cold outside deepens and the warmth inside my old ’97 Toyota blows rich comforting air toward me.

In “The Curse Under the Freckles” I tell my readers that Chase doesn’t think much of himself, but he is important. He needs to break the curse; the cousin he relies on for almost every move can’t. Chase faces the impossible. He  sees himself as the kid at the bottom, both in class and in life.

Sure, I will need to go outside into the chill soon. Utopia exists only in the dictionary. However, beginnings are important. And every New Year’s resolution I’ve considered reeks with negativity. Perhaps fictional Chase and I have more in common than I realize.

Thanks, Kathy! You’ve made my day. No, correct that statement. You’ve started my year off right.

beginning makes the conditions perfect

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Love as if never getting tired. (Mother Teresa)

My energy level isn’t where it belongs—I choose a get up at 4:30AM, write, start-crockpot-soup and-then-marathon-until-10:00 PM regimen. At mid-afternoon I would crawl into bed and call it a day if I could. Four-year-old Dakota comes to my side. Jay and I are babysitting. I would be fatigued even if my schedule were as blank as copy paper sealed inside the original packaging.

“Play with me,” Dakota says.

He’s wearing his ubiquitous tool belt. I suggest we find something suitable to repair with a plastic wrench. But his pretend mind and mine aren’t in sync yet. Eventually I pick up my iPad. We find scenes from “Home Alone II.” Then he discovers a game where Santa’s beard is decorated—or mangled—in a barber shop. I help him find a razor in the set of game tools. Santa will be bald this year, with green fuzz. We laugh. Dakota’s dark eyes light up brighter than our tree’s.

The world as he recognizes it during each moment, is all that exists.

We are not officially his grandparents. Perhaps, someday, his mommy and my son will marry. In the meantime, I painted him in as the fourth cool snow-person grandchild on our seasonal wall hanging. I bought it several years ago and added the details.

Dakota is two years younger than our youngest granddaughter. The only boy. He creates an even number to our children’s group. The two older girls have already made future family plans for the fuller set, far beyond a reasonable expectation, including home-away-from-home rooms in our house. I don’t care. The girls’ enthusiasm is both encouraging and beautiful.

When Grandpa Jay arrives home Dakota meets him at the door. Jay has achieved rock-star status in this little guy’s eyes. And all Jay needed to do was take him to the YMCA to shoot baskets. My husband wore out long before Mr. Dakota did.

Later Jay fights sleep at our son’s house and Dakota reaches into the refrigerator for two tubes of yogurt—one for each of us.

“Want to see my room?” he asks.

Really I’d rather ask Jay to move over. I won’t. My neck is begging for a hot compress. I feel twice my age, a feminine form of Methuselah reincarnated.

Instead I answer, “Sure.” Mother Teresa did not leave the words “as if” out of her statement about love. Real life limits remain.

The rewards, however, continue.

4 grandkids

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