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Posts Tagged ‘love’

Peace isInspiration does exist, but it must find you working. (Pablo Picasso.)

Editing a manuscript can be like searching through garbage for lost tarnished silverware. Before the utensils pass inspection, they need to lose some crud. A shine may or may not happen after vigorous polishing.

Living real life is far more difficult. Its garbage never goes away. Peaceful existence demands a less judgmental approach. And—the work is never completed.

Sometimes persons who seemed to be so perfect, flub, big time. A friend disappears when needed. Or worse, dies. The evening news brings more continued discord than it brings news.

And yet, mother nature, world history, and current politics never promised to be fair.

I’m glad I can find inspiration in the love real life allows. Sometimes in the simplest ways. A day with a six-year-old grandchild. An unexpected phone call or thank-you card. A well-timed compliment. A new friend.

Inspiration exists, but it needs more than published-word acknowledgment. Thanks to all for your smiles, in person or via cyberspace. Sent to me, sure. However, any gift offered without expectation, is richer than any polished silver or word. Pass it on…

Peace.

 

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hands united (3)_LI“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.” (Anne Frank)

Chaos reigns in national news. I blush when I consider how the American citizen appears to people in other countries—if certain groups remain the example. To be the greatest country means to be an instrument for peace—for all. However, greatness requires an emphasis on action, not boasts.

I applaud the many people who speak out, especially those who manage to point out wrongs without including pejorative and prejudicial terms. Or profanity. Without tossing hatred at hatred. Fire never puts out fire.

When I hear the ugly on TV, I groan. Of course, I react! The challenge comes with opportunities to magnify a horrified response: Bullied calls to war. Refusals to notice hurricane victims not in the continental US. Religion without acceptance of different nations and people.

However, there is nothing simple about choosing what is sometimes called a higher road. There are no quick solutions or instant gratifications along its path. I’ve fallen from a metaphorical mountain bridge now and then.

Fortunately, along the road again I find friends, incredible friends. We share how we think and feel, honestly. And, we speak “…the beauty that still remains.”

One of these friends told a story of a small boy who practiced his one line in a Christmas pageant. As innkeeper he needed to tell Joseph and Mary there was no room in the inn. However, when he saw his classmates and looked in their eyes, he couldn’t follow through. He said, “Come on in…” I don’t know how the play ended. I can only wish.

My wish for the world? Anne Frank pointed out beauty. It could not save her, but it exists. Inside anyone who notices. For the human-race, may all divisions merge. Into possibilities.

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Hahvey

Unconditional love is hard to compete with. (Abbi Glines)              

Greetings! My name is Hahvey, (Hah-VAY) official household greeter, master purr machine, and symbol for unconditional love.

Okay, I may slip in your way as you walk up the stairs. However, certain hazards occur when cats lead. Relax and love me back. I’m leading the way to your room for the night. Extra warmth provided as needed by orange fur. Your sister, my wonderful keeper-of-the-can-opener? Well, you already know how devoted she is.

You left your purse at the annual party, the fest with all the beautiful songs. The purse contained prized possessions, like your phone, and your sister turned around and drove through the ice and snow. A good four inches of it. Temperatures my beautiful fur won’t touch. Not when I could freeze my nose, tail, or valuable parts in between.

You appear puzzled. Unfortunately, feline and human languages don’t align perfectly. I have inflections in my meow; my body language is easy to read. You need words from a dictionary thicker than my litter box to communicate. You are busy with many things. Recognize the line?

Unwind. Spend some quality time with your only sister. Okay? My feline buddy, Oui, and I will keep your entertained. You know we can do it. You’ve seen pictures of our antics.

By the way, you already know Oui means yes in French. He’s a positive addition to our group of living, loving creatures here. Did you know Hahvey is a diminutive form of a Hebrew word, Ahavah? Ahavah means love. No surprise, huh?

Oh, by the way, one more scratch. Behind the left ear this time. Yeah, you caught my drift.

Happy New Year, Ahavah-style.

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Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. (Richard P. Feynman)

But I do wonder why. A friend is suffering, fighting for her life. The cause of her illness appears to be random. She is young, with two elementary-school-aged girls. Another person I care about is going through chemotherapy for stage-three breast cancer. Beauty, ugliness, life, death, intertwine. Colors bleed into one another. They rarely remain sterile. Each horizon appears slightly different even in the same location. One same-tint batch of paint may differ slightly from the next batch.

I know this. Yet, I get caught up in either tragedy or joy as if either one were the whole of life. During a water aerobics class one day another woman and I talk. She asks how my book is doing. I tell her it’s okay as far as I know. Several copies of “The Curse Under the Freckles” are available through the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Eventually, of course, my beautiful grandchildren slip into the conversation. I mention the fun trips I have had with my husband. When I stop long enough to ask about my exercise partner’s life I discover she won’t be having a fun Thanksgiving. She is having surgery, to repair a previously botched surgery. She lives in constant pain.

This time I need to listen. Both ears open, my lips sealed. I remember a phrase used for a children’s class that made me smile at the time: This is my time to talk and your time to listen. Except now the advice is reversed. I stand close, watch every movement she makes.

I place both of my hands on my pool partner’s shoulders and wish her well. For now this is all I can give. She smiles.

The songs presented by Dan Erdman in his most recent Oasis evening come back to me as I leave the water. Dan’s music focuses on the positive, on the real power of love. Sometimes I hum softly as he plays and stifle the desire to belt it out. Occasionally there are moments when all are invited to join in. Then I feel uplifted, engaged. All of it is good.

Dan’s wife, Marcia, is a dear friend. She accepts me at the core of my being, both the places that express savvy and those that need work. She is the most intuitive person I know.

Needs-work seems to be the human condition. And I love people who readily admit they fit into the imperfect category. Together we can explore the world, find the beauty in a decaying leaf, a breaking body, an unpleasant surprise, and pain. We can celebrate with love, even if we don’t recognize the experience as love at the time. Perhaps it is difficult or downright ordinary. I’m not sure that depth can be seen from inside one moment anyway. I think it needs the context of time and distance. And we can’t do that alone. I know I can’t.

Thanks to all my friends along the adventurous path called life.

life challenges PIQ

 

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Happiness is holding someone in your arms and knowing you hold the whole world. (Orhan Pamuk)

Recent talk among several groups of friends has centered on gratitude. I don’t take it as a coincidence. Ella grins at me as she watches several versions of “five little monkeys jumping on the bed” on YouTube. “Oh dear,” she says as each one falls. Falling is forbidden for her at the moment. The stitches in her chest are deep; they will heal from the inside-out and that will take time. The best recovery in a lot of areas begins as an inside job. I put my arm around her and know I hold the whole world.

Small details jump out at me: the pink edging around her shoes, the smallness of her body and hands, the sunshine white-blond of her comb-resistant hair, even the yogurt stains on her jeans.

Her seven-year-old cousin arrives and without a word Ella lifts her t-shirt and shows Rebe her scar. No whimpering. This is a statement of fact. Rebe looks at me, her eyebrows raised, but she doesn’t speak either. She gives Ella a kiss on the cheek. The children seem to know this is answer enough.

Play continues. Pretend games, a mock form of hide-and-seek, i Pad entertainment. Lots of giggles. Running, monitored and limited in a small house.

My memory goes back to a time when I was in water aerobics class. The news had been fresh that our youngest granddaughter would have Down syndrome, an A/V canal defect and duodenal atresia. At that moment we saw our granddaughter as someone who had not yet been born. So far all we knew were problems, unseen and vague roadblocks, the kind that lead many women toward abortion. Ella had not yet seen her parents’ faces and no one had seen hers.

I recall following aerobic moves as a song played in the background. It was only a rhythmic drum beat. I was seeing the rest room doors behind the instructor, not the instructor. I knew our granddaughter would be a girl—that was all. And the rest of what I understood was surrounded with fear. I wanted to know more than the skirted figure on the door of the restroom could tell, and I didn’t want to know.

Now I look into Ella’s eyes and see sapphire blue, a hint of humor, a ton of strength, and a spirit the angels could emulate. Yes, our little girl has been through more surgery in her short life than I have in my almost 69 years. Yet, she accepts the next day as another experience, not the morning after.

“May I sit next to you, Ella?” I ask.

She smiles. A lot of words aren’t always necessary. Sometimes they get in the way of a simple message. Love loses its beauty when it is over-defined.

learning to be brave and patient

 

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Life isn’t about getting and having, it’s about giving and being. (Kevin Kruse)

 As I’m dusting the windowsill I see the note Kate wrote to Ella, probably several years ago. I saved it because it reflects who Kate is. Ordinarily I choose to publish only quotes and pictures that include correct spelling and grammar. However, there are times when perfection can ruin the beauty of the moment. The sincerity of my eldest granddaughter’s wish blasts out from her innocence. She wants the best for her young cousin. I can’t fault that.

However, no one experiences a perfect life. Our Ella probably understands that better than many people do. She approaches a quarantine time. Her open heart surgery has been postponed twice. Now, so that she can move forward, we must keep her away from crowds and lots of germs. Of course she has no fear of infection. Saturday she dropped a vending machine M&M on a restaurant floor and then picked up the candy and chomped on it. Fear of another sick day does not govern her life.

I would like to delete fear from my own life. I would also like to send a message like Kate’s to a few other folk I know, to wish safety, health, and simple joys.

There is a young woman at a place I visit frequently who has recently had a recurrence of cancer. She is frightened, as anyone would be. She says she does not expect to recover this time.

She shows me the site from her biopsy, just below her throat. We share a few tears. I hug her. This is all I have to give. She says six words that scream a lifetime of experience: “I have always been the oddball.”

We are standing in front of a public bathroom mirror. I want to turn her toward the glass and point out what I see—a beauty that isn’t superficial. Tenacity and willingness to serve don’t appear in a flat reflection. Yet, I can’t find an opening in her spirit to explain that different is not a synonym for inferior. She is devastated, too broken for words to seep in yet.

I recall how I was the taunted kid through twelve grades of school. And I never understood why, except for the innate inferiority theory. After all, my parents never told me that I had gifts of any value.

This young woman has struggled through developmental handicaps. She has gone through chemotherapy. She volunteers. Daily. With a smile. She is in too much pain to understand more than a hug. Moreover, my recent accomplishments can obscure the realities of the past. She doesn’t see a future. Now is not the time for me to talk, but to listen.

Then I see her again this morning. She wears a pink fighting-breast-cancer scarf. She readily accepts my embrace and tells me she is taking her driving test on Tuesday. I grin. She talks about her nervousness. I think about facing tons of steel on the road. I envision this young lady approaching a 32-wheeler on the expressway and crushing cancer in the passing lane.

Perhaps enough people have listened to this volunteer. Maybe she is beginning to see her own worth, prayer answered before it was barely begun…

May that power continue to grow.

 

Dear Ella

 

 

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When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you. (Paulo Coelho)

Preschool and kindergarten-aged boys and girls in mismatched socks to designate left and right leg movements, sit facing a mirror with their instructors and occupational therapists. The kids’ families watch ballet class begin—this is recital day.

A couple of the class members react to the rhythm of the music. Others move to their own inner melodies. Some seem shy; others outgoing. One little girl runs as if the polished floor were a glossy playground. A man, probably her father, repeatedly brings her back into the group. All of the children have Down syndrome; none of them fit a pre-cut so-called handicapped pattern. They are unique individuals.

I watch and take pictures that are too fuzzy to save. Perhaps for me this moment can’t be held in a square frozen in time anyway. The program continues as Ella takes the hand of the girl who has been running freestyle and they explore movement through large, pastel-colored hoops. I envision the imaginations of these almost-dancers explode.

No, this isn’t ballet in the traditional sense—it doesn’t need to be. Actually, I need to control a perfectionism I see in myself. I begin each day with enthusiasm, carpe diem all the way. Then my eagerness morphs into frenzy. By noon my energy frizzles. I often jump through self-imposed hoops without enjoying the current moment.

Perhaps it is the perfectionism in me that sparks annoyance when someone needs to give every detail about her son or granddaughter’s perfect SAT scores. “That’s nice.” But if that story began with a struggle that has a survivor element in it, my interest rises. I’d rather hear about the child with a disability who made it despite the odds. Or the tale about how a loving home changed the life of a troubled teen. Sure, a natural ability is good, but what is being done with that talent—besides a claim to superiority?

These children in the ballet class and their families don’t make I’m-the-best statements. They don’t apologize either. In a poem I had published in “For a Better World 2012″ edited by Saad Ghosn, one stanza begins with:

My granddaughter has Down syndrome, I say.

I’m sorry, the reply.

I’m not, my answer.

As I read those direct-not-metaphorical lines at the public library in April I saw eyes widen, some with surprise, others with a smile. The folk with a smile either knew my little girl or they knew someone like her. They understood resilience, possibilities, not an extra chromosome.

Love has enormous power. Unfortunately it doesn’t come packaged in a neat Hallmark card. If it did utopia would be as common as MacDonald restaurants and ants at a picnic. Ella knows the word no and says it clearly. She can be as stubborn as any other child. However, she has a lot to offer the world, and so do the other children in this class.

I don’t need to understand what is happening as I relax and enjoy the moment; I only need to know that it is good, and that my first Christmas gift is in the form of a queue of children. They move in an awkward oblong shape while holding streams of white ribbon, grins escaping like sunshine through the inevitable solstice.

how awesome you are

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