Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision. (Helen Keller)

My friend wears her mask over her nose, mouth—and eyes. I don’t comment. She’s blind. It doesn’t matter. I lead her to the hospital’s elevator and through registration. We wait. I suddenly realize

I left my phone in the car. I feel lost without it.

Sun shines through pale beige shades half-drawn along ample windows. The walls wear the same color and light. I try to embrace the moment. The gift of sight. The reason why I give to my friend.

But I left my phone in the car. I feel lost without it.

A medical assistant calls my friend’s name. Only patients are permitted in treatment rooms. I have time to think. To meditate while she meets with her doctor. Instead I bi-locate, tri-locate inside possibilities that will never be

because I left my phone in the car. I feel lost without it.

I find a single scrap of paper. And write. Absorb the moment. What gift is happening now? I breathe in and out. Slowly. My thoughts. Focused one moment, gone the next

because I left my phone in the car. I feel lost without it.

My friend returns. She leaves the aide’s arm and reaches for mine. Communication. Find the difference between sight and vision, want and need.

My friend and I talk. About the trivial, about memories that have lasted. “We’ve had a lot of red lights on this street,” my friend says. She is right. Aware, yet not stuck in the waiting.

My phone rests, messages on hold. Finally, I accept each bite of time. And swallow.

Kaleidoscope, mask and cell phone

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acrylic painting I made recently based upon a photo of a birch in Acadia Park in Maine

There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing. (G. K. Chesterton)

The scene is a circle of young women. In the distant past. I am among the women as I admit I am close to despair.

“Look at the beauty of the trees in the yard,” one member advises. She spreads her arms as if she were Mother Nature enjoying her handiwork.

The scene she describes doesn’t lift me. I feel censured for embracing a less-than-perfect place. And the blue rug where I sit opens. Or at least it seems to open. I fall through. Hidden inside.

Later. Much later. I realize I couldn’t accept the glory because it wasn’t mine. It belonged to someone else. I’d been given a simple answer to a complex situation. An accepting nod would have been better.

Strange. I understand this after my ears needed amplification to catch the most uncomplicated conversation.

It is also strange that I am grateful for the depths because now I can recognize a natural gem and celebrate its worth.

The news advertises fear. With or without facts depending upon the source. A friend calls about her confusion. I don’t have answers. I listen…



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There is no us and them; it’s an illusion. We are all human beings, and we all have a responsibility to support one another and to discover ways of wresting the power from the very, very few people who control all the cash and all the property. (Roger Waters.)

Amazing how lost I can feel even though I know exactly where I’m turning left and right. Three errands. Each simple and specific. And yet my thoughts travel as if my brain synapses have no connections. I want to save the world. It isn’t going to happen.

A red car turns ahead of me into the parking lot as a small boy sticks his head out the window. He is a handsome child. Mocha skin. Hair shaved to reveal a perfectly shaped skull. He returns inside immediately. I imagine the voice of the driver, probably a parent. “Get your seatbelt on right now, young man.”

Then I see the identical shaved hairstyle of a smaller boy. He is seated in the middle of the back seat. The red car is no longer a vehicle in a line of traffic. It is its own world. A mini-community that turns toward another part of the shopping center.

I don’t know the family. And yet a scene hits me. The earth from a distance. Made from easily delineated parts. Water. Land. And everything is blurred as if it had no mountain, valley, creatures, or specks of dust.

When one group of people has never interacted with another, notions develop without dimension, fact, or touch.

“I’m not prejudiced,” an unnamed white woman announces. “I just think all lives matter.” The rebuttal comes, “But is your life being threatened? Has it ever been threatened because your pale-peaches skin has too many freckles?” And the response is a cold stare.

Us and them. May these words become pronouns again and stay out of the judgmental realm. They are too easily used as weapons.

A wider worldview. It may be the only solution. Yet not an easy one.


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True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” (Oprah Winfrey)

What can’t be accomplished in reality, sometimes can be faced through poetry.


Facing the Darkness Under the Bed


As I sweep under my bed and touch

the darkness below the frame

I imagine going back into time


and watch my mom as her mother lies

on another bed. Twelve-year-old Mary Ann

cooks then washes dishes.


Her history textbook is opened

on the kitchen table. Ancient war dates fade,

battles with human losses,


each its own variation

of an untold Pyrrhic victory.

She hears a different kind of battle.


My mother as a young girl

longs to soothe the endless

cries of her mother


in labor for forty-eight hours.

Mama survives but delivers a

second dead baby. Mary Ann learns


to bury hurts as well, cover them

inside forgotten dreams. She leaves

the darkness under her bed


with the dust. Imagination,

it may be physically impossible.

Yet, I reach for the hand


of the twelve-year-old girl who will one day

give birth to me, and allow her

the gift of forbidden tears.


Perhaps then I can give

me full permission for

releasing mine.




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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)

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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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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Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. (Rita Mae Brown)

Stories, the real-life kind. I talk to a friend as she relays an incident involving someone whom she has known her entire life. The young man has mental illness. Voices led him to rob a bank. No gun. He doesn’t own one. He had a knife. And didn’t use it. The threat was enough. Yet, this seriously disturbed man has been the comfort and support of a woman who is severely handicapped. She is alone now. In another state. 

Now, the young man is in jail. The fate by law of a bank robber… I step down now from extreme examples. How often does anyone know the full story about anyone? 

I like to think I’m allergic to judgment. Yet, I’ve come to strong conclusions concerning far less.

These two examples may not be spoken, but they are nevertheless real.

“Turn off your cell phone and pay attention to traffic.” Yes, distracting calls on the road are a dangerous practice. However, do I know how important the conversation is? About the closest liquor store? Maybe. A lost senior citizen… A dying family member… Not within my limited perception.

“Where did you learn grammar? From bubble-gum pop music?” Okay. I admit it. I grimace when I hear, “I can’t wait no more for you.” Maybe this young man needs school before he marries Paula. Yes, it’s a judgment. But I know it.

I met an uneducated, yet wise woman years ago. I wrote about her and published a short story in an Appalachian press about her. The book I wrote remains in limbo. For publication someday, when the virus fog rises. However, when I remember Gladys, I gain better perspective.

During these enclosed, time-to-reflect hours, I may not be able to cure the world. I can cleanse my thinking. And expand my ability to care. Opportunity comes in strange forms. May I find it in the rubble.

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