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Posts Tagged ‘appreciation’

We’re capable of much more than mediocrity, much more than merely getting by in this world. (Sharon Salzberg, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection)

A Child’s description of a YMCA pool. “Nothing like the ocean…deeper even at the beginning.”

Two brothers enter the pool. I hear the younger boy say to the other, “This water is eleven feet deep. But it is nothing like the ocean. The ocean is deeper even at the beginning.”

I smile at the child’s innocence. His simple joy. The boy has his green wrist band now. So, he can plunge into the deep end. With confidence. Swim tests completed.

Unfortunately, during Covid19 days those times need to be reserved. Socially distanced. Limited. Nevertheless, I watch the family interact. Enjoy. Celebrate. As I tread water. And reality. As well as I can.

“You have a delightful family,” I finally tell Mom. She smiles. A camera slung around her shoulders. Pictures captured inside.

She is an attractive lady. Black hair almost to her shoulders. Smooth skin the color of dark chocolate. The boys are a tad lighter, with a chestnut tinge. Lean. Active. The father, attentive. Smiling. He doesn’t see me. I smile anyway. To a beauty that I recognize inside him.

And I think about how the ocean seems deeper, even at the edge. A long way between shores. A deep space between peoples.

“Have a blessed day,” I say to the woman as this group’s assigned time ends. As the staff prepares to clean. To keep the space safe during a pandemic virus.

Safe. Such a short word with such an expansive unsaid meaning.

Peace. For all.

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Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost. (Erol Ozan)

 

 

The directional app on my phone

remains mute, while the road twists

and my mind twists with it 

into places where I am lost, again.

 

Memories explode bully-style inside

my brain synapses, creating panic.

No sound, but an arrow on my screen says

turn left at the next corner. I remember

 

the shop with the worn yellow sign.

And space in my head and heart opens.

I know to move through uncertainty.

Celebrate my detours. Consider

 

the possibility that others hide pain

behind strange, sour, surly behavior.

May peace be made from pieces,

one imperfect turn at a time.

 

published in For a Better World 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by Sharon M. Draper

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”  (Alice Walker)

 “Nine robed figured dressed all in white. Heads covered with softly pointed hoods.” And Sharon M. Draper sets a scene with two short sentences. Not soft. Or safe. She writes the novel to honor her own grandmother. Her heritage. Yet, it embraces a larger truth. Heart. Courage.

 Human creatures wear skin color. Stella and Jojo, silhouetted on the cover of Stella by Starlight, are amazing human individuals. With a story. Skin color is only the cover, the beginning.

 I lost count of the number of times I have read Chapter Eleven: Truth. Two pages. Written in the main character’s handwriting. Prose poetry. 

To find truth in my life, I ask my mirrored reflection what I see. Beyond wrinkles. Beyond the piece of spinach caught between my front teeth.

 Am I more than today’s limited experience? Can I speak out, reach out? Admit failure. Try again. I can’t tell my darker friends I know how they feel. I don’t. Except in an empathetic sense. Listen? Yes! Care. Definitely. Stand for what is right? Of course.

The character, Stella, epitomizes power, seized when it was needed. However, the power of the oppressed can never be found without allies. Peace. May as many people as possible join. Now.

 

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Know you what it is to be a child? It is to be something very different from the man of to-day. It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of baptism; it is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief; it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything, for each child has his fairy godmother in his own soul. (Francis Thompson)

 Instead of a rant about racial prejudice, I reprinted this long-ago blog from March of 2011. I will let the children in the scene speak. May their innocence win.

 

A two-year-old girl at the Museum Center in Cincinnati protects one of the Children’s Center’s naked dolls as if it were her own. Her mother laughs. “I wonder how we are going to get out of here without it.” I watch as it becomes clear that she only wants this brown doll, not a nearly identical pale one she picks up by mistake. The little girl has ivory skin and wisps of honey hair, but she gravitates toward color.

 

 Funny, more of the pale dolls appear abandoned on the floor of the toddler room than darker-skinned ones. I smile, then laugh when I see my granddaughter Rebe making the same choice. “Baby” goes down the slide with her, takes a trip to the grocery in a miniature grocery cart, and explores the sandbox. Sometimes the doll is held upside down, but Rebe is visibly upset if “Baby” disappears into the arms of another child.

 

 Fortunately, I find another. Lots of pale faces lying around. But Rebe is not satisfied with the Caucasian version. As soon as the doll she wants is left for a second, she adopts it, with the speed of a hawk diving for prey.

    

True, Rebe has grown up in a mixed racial community. So did her father. But it seems that another awareness is involved here, on an innocence level lost long before adulthood. I think of the number of adjectives that describe darker skin, from mocha to mahogany to ebony. I can’t think of anywhere near as many words to describe fair and olive-skinned folk. 

 

Little people don’t need words. They go to the essence of a beautiful reality without it.

The photo is created from a simple colored penciled public domain photo, designed to mimic innocence. 

 

 

 

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separated smilesThe way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. (Dolly Parton)

“Put a smile on your face.” A quote. Made by almost any parent. Well-meant perhaps, but misleading. First, the smile needs to be placed in the heart. It isn’t an accessory, like a hat or sweater.

As a teenager, I recall fussing about my thin, flyaway hair. I tried to make it look like someone else’s.

“Pretty is as pretty does,” my mother said with a face that stated, “And you are not pretty in appearance or deed.” That notion could have been restated. “This may seem important to you now. I can show you a better way.” I am glad I eventually discovered a new mirror.

The illustration pictures separated smiles. Without the rest of the person, they appear strange. The completed faces that belong to these mouths, have blessed me. One belongs to my sister. Another to my daughter-in-law. The baby’s grin belongs to my growing, youngest grandchild.

Sure, I’ll put on a smile. A smile that comes from the heart and soul. Not to a command. Sadness is real. It doesn’t need to be fed, but it does need to run its course.

Perhaps joy may take some time. Like waiting through a pandemic. Like hours of labor before birth. Like the negative space that gives lace and art its beauty.

The picture is metaphorical. I have heard all three of the voices attached to these lips, felt their presence, even if that physical touch was distant. These voices speak love.

The past can’t be changed. I offer my mother no advice. However, I have plenty to tell me. I don’t advise someone else about how to feel. I do tell them they have value, then give them space to discover it for themselves.

 

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Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. (Eleanor Roosevelt.)

On this day in 1946, I was the huge bulge in my mother’s middle that made her enormously uncomfortable. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, a hole in my umbilical cord fed her instead of me. She didn’t appreciate it. I don’t blame her.

 I appeared six days later, scrawny, my head the size of an orange. I was malnourished. For the first and last time in my life. Mom wondered why I was so red, wrinkled, and ugly.

The nurses didn’t let her hold me. I was rushed to the nursery. They told her I was all right. Too small. Four pounds and a few more ounces. But okay. A contradiction.

 Would I believe that reason for separation? I’m not sure.

 Too much distance now. In a bonding that never happened. In years. In my mother’s death. In the changes in the economy. Pictured is a typed bill. For ten days in a newborn nursery. Sixty dollars, the current cost a hospital may charge for an aspirin.

 No, I can’t see the print without a magnifying glass either. The past. The present. Neither can be explained with a dogmatic approach. Better in some ways. Worse in others.

 We choose what we know. Now. I pray to choose and love well.

 

 

 

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Cherish your human connections, your relationships with friends and family. (Barbara Bush)

 Jay’s cell phone rings. “Hi, Dakota!”

Our grandson has his own phone. He is calling to help this senior citizen. He called my phone first. Someone else answered. My buddy is taking care of me—he knew before I did that my smart phone had left its less-than-smart user.

I call from our land line, grateful that we still have one. The response? “The owner of this phone left it at Kroger’s.”

I laugh, and then don my mask again to make another trip out of our cave. Jay drives. I am pleased with his company.

Amazing how folk have become dependent upon a hand-held rectangular device. Unfortunately, the phone must have fallen from the side pocket of my purse. Some kind, honest person returned it to the desk.

I am grateful. My connection with the world found. Now, to find connection with me, that old lady I see in the mirror. That old lady who longs to play with trucks on the floor with her grandson.

Time now to call someone else who needs to hear a voice that doesn’t come from a TV set. A phone. An amazing invention when used for providing kindness.

 

 

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Everybody’s talking about people breaking into houses but there are more people in the world who want to break out of houses. (Thornton Wilder, 1897-1975)

 Thornton, you were ahead of your time.

 I am reviewing my four-year-old-child skills. With the same lack of finesse. Making a mask from one of my husband’s old shirts. The mask I have pulls my hearing aids out, and the silk scarf I tried for the grocery store, slid off as if I’d smeared my face with bacon grease.

 Now, I model my newest creation. In cotton, St. Patrick’s Day green, designed for social distancing wear.

 Take an old T-shirt. Cut off the bottom, as wide a space as needed to tie around the face. Then cut out a square on each side, leaving enough room to tie above and below the ears.

 This version took a few minutes, with scissors that have cut a lot of paper. And numbed the cutting edges. Something like chewing celery without teeth.

Yes, I do have artistic ability. And no, I didn’t use any of it here. Genuine creation takes time. All I want now is a walk. Outside. Where the air moves a farther distance than a furnace fan can reach.

Slipshod work is good enough. A little fabric glue between the layers later will complete the project.

And—my husband and I—we are in the sun. Vitamin D, I’m ready to soak you in.

 White clouds and blue sky, may I never take you for granted again.

 

 

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We’re capable of much more than mediocrity, much more than merely getting by in this world. (Sharon Salzberg, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection)

 Unstable weather. Tornadoes. Sun, wind, rain take turns crapshoot style. While a novel virus spreads like something from a horror movie. And yet, somehow, love hasn’t died. My sister-in-law drops off an Easter lily. Neighbors check on us. We pass our blessings on. As news channels broadcast possibilities—none of them definite.

 A friend calls. She’s lonely and wants to visit. It hurts to tell her, “not now.”

 Our birdfeeder is empty. The feed will come. Eventually. When we can get to a store.

 Love. It’s so imperfect.

 My husband and I follow YouTube aerobics in front of our picture window. Our performance is below par, at best. Yet, our relationship deepens during this homebound time when human faults could tear a couple apart.

Are we better people? Good glory, no! Just lucky. We discovered a few life tools, crapshoot style. Sure, the tension could get to us at any time. We could forget. Let aches and pains tell us we need to be center of the universe, or at least the household.

 What is important? Now. A house that sparkles or a home that welcomes change, life as it is? The presence of a husband who thanks me for everything I do. The goodness of a neighbor who cuts our grass as I type. I pray to see blessings. Speak gratitude. Often.

 My husband has a unique skill. When he knows I’m irritated about something, he makes me laugh. I don’t want perfect in a mate. Not really. We would have nothing in common.

 Spring appears with open blossoms. A beginning. Always another beginning. Yes, there will always be an ending. In between are other days.

 

 

 

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When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words. (Thelma Davis)

I’ve been awake for less than five minutes when I look out our front window. A man, dog, and cat walk down our street—together. Yup, that’s a cat. I’m wearing my glasses. Their harmony is clear.

I view the scene as a metaphor for world peace. Somehow. When threat is the word for the day, an opposite scene stands out. And refreshes.

Another phone call arrives from someone who needs to talk. Yes, I’d rather work on an art or writing project, but I know my efforts would be shallow because I haven’t enriched my spirit by giving. I listen to the needs of a recent widow. And as I am drawn in, time doesn’t matter. Time isn’t mine anyway.

A neighbor slips a note inside my front door. She’s scheduling a grocery pick-up. Can she get anything for us? Yes, three items. No more. I won’t take advantage. I will simply accept the honest concern of a friend.

Perhaps the year 2020 doesn’t offer twenty-twenty vision. Yet. Heck, I get caught up in moments when I feel cleaning my house is no different than sweeping a beach at low tide.

Meanwhile, an ugly, dangerous virus threatens every human being in the world. Difficult times can present opportunities. Like plants growing through rock, beauty and goodness survive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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