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Posts Tagged ‘positive attitudes’

both books (2)_LI

I’m growing older, but not up. (Jimmy Buffett)

The tension in my neck tells me I am not in synch with the world as it is. Mass natural disasters are difficult enough to understand; mass hatred is another. I don’t need to delineate any of it. The blind can hear about it, and the deaf can read closed-caption. The unaffected remain in a narrow, wire-thin margin.

Pain begins before the first commercial on any news channel. Gentle heat helps my muscles. Distraction, blended with love, helps my spirit.

My husband and I take Dakota to afternoon kindergarten on Thursdays. Dakota asks me to sit in the back seat with him. We discuss the six-year-old boy world and his unique observations along the familiar route.

This young man notices details: The recycling truck has two steering wheels and two sets of brakes… He discerns how a toy train track fits together. His mechanical expertise will probably surpass mine before he reaches third grade!

During a rare pause Dakota notices the back cover of my second book, Stinky Rotten Threats. It is on the back seat between us.

“Isn’t that your picture? Why is it there?”

I smile. When I am with this young man, my intention is to focus on him. My successes, failures, and mundane trips to the doctor or post office don’t come up. He probably assumes I don’t pretend to pilot a plane without knowing what an instrument panel is. However, other than stocking the refrigerator with his favorite cheese and hot sauce, he wouldn’t know what else fills my day.

“This is what I do, buddy. I write. This is my second book.” (The first was The Curse Under the Freckles.)

“Wow,” he says flipping through the pages without looking at them. “It must have taken you more than an hour and a half.”

Dakota’s notion of numbers and time hasn’t developed yet. I realize I want world change overnight, in my spirit, even if my head knows a sudden transformation is as impossible as writing a middle-grade fantasy adventure in an hour and a half. The Star League Chronicles fights evil—not with fists and swords, but with truth. Even in make-believe, a story takes more than one page for goodness to win.

“Two years,” I answer. “It took me two years.”

He doesn’t say anything, but I suspect he thinks I must be mighty slow.

I don’t mind. Slow is the general idea. My neck thanks me. Growing up all the way isn’t recommended anyway.

 

 

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We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

A friend is doing me a favor. My right hand has limited strength. A fractured metacarpal, age, and arthritis have limited my joint flexibility. Maneuvering a Lovenox injection into my belly prior to a diagnostic procedure would be like repairing eyeglass screws with vise grips. Who knows what I would stick with the needle? A thumb, wrist, or table top in a bizarre flip move—if I managed to remove the tricky cap.

Not only does J. arrive to help me at 7:30 in the morning on five consecutive days, she brings in the newspaper—and one morning she delivers a bag of apples. Farmers’ market fresh. The photo below is no longer accurate. I had two ripe red beauties for lunch today. Four have been baked, cinnamon sweet. Yum, maybe one more now.

A pre-school neighbor has an EpiPen dependent peanut allergy. Even so, for the experience, her parents took her door-to-door to greet neighbors on Halloween. I gave the little girl two dollars to spend on a treat for herself earlier Tuesday morning. However, the snacks we shared with visiting princesses and superheroes were not safe for her.

I offered her an apple. She was thrilled. J.’s gift expanded. Something as simple as a piece of fruit has made a child happy.

The apple has further symbolism for me. I belong to a spiritual group that is, yes, named after a fruit. Many years ago, before I joined, a young woman read a Scripture quote, “You are the apple of my eye.” Several members were pregnant, and round as apples. They laughed. The name stuck, long after the developing children were born, and became parents.

Now, we are grandparents. Ephemeral fruit, hoping to nurture life in a different way. Acceptance of ourselves and others, the ability to listen, change at any age, live and not simply exist—no matter how ugly the world may become.

Once fresh fruit rots it can become compost. It nourishes the soil. Rotten places inside me, any human, can disappear into the past…if I let go. And accept a humility that wasn’t in my agenda.

An apple seed. A thank you. A belief that grows through kindness, yet never calls itself perfect. Gratitude, renewed each day…

Thanks, J.

 

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Whatever might be taken from me need not leave me with a deficit in its wake. (Craig D. Lounsbrough)

Sometimes when sun rays slice through a tree, a new dimension jumps out where the light touches a branch or gnarly root. Now, as autumn strikes the Midwest I want to hold onto the last of warmth, and grab color for a little longer. I found a seasonal water-color painting in my basement. I painted the picture some lost number of years ago. I can’t find an old unused frame. Maybe I’ll buy one, maybe not. The drawing now stands bare in a cheap photo holder.

I saved unprotected paper. A small stain mars the left corner of my amateur work. The stain cause remains unknown. Outside, real leaves drift from one yard to another. Real memories float through my mind. Some are wonderful; the birth of my sons, the gifts of friendships, blessed guidance from an innocent child.

Other memories bring out the stains of the past.

Events better forgotten, emerge like uprooted poison ivy plants. Repeated reminders come through social media. Me-too, statements from women who have been the victims of sexual assault, pop up across the page, and then scream: You are not alone and never have been.

Some of the women, both old and young, share sparse details. Others do not. Eventually, I add a detail or two. Multiple assailants. Their conviction. My mother, as she passes judgment on me. A life sentence that ends only when I can forgive her, far more difficult than forgiving men I expected to leave me in a ditch somewhere. Since these individuals never cared for me, there was no trust to break.

Through social media, a few women admit assault, yet can’t face their memories. Many of the young Me-too’s express anger. Normal. Better than depression and self-destruction.

The real Me-too experiences flash like colorful leaves, but instead of floating away, join into fresh power with other survivors. You are all beautiful; you are not what was taken from you.

 

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Sometimes the best wisdom and advice comes through the simple purity of a child. They don’t see the world as complicated as adults do. (Nishan Panwar)

Dakota and I set up a ramp for his cars in the living room. Since the action tends to include a lot of collision and upside-down accidents, an on-site mechanic becomes necessary. I have the six-year old man for the job.

While his work is magically quick, he doesn’t have a concept of money yet. His bill for removing a nail in my vehicle’s tire is $300. True, the bill includes a heart and secret code, DN. Dependable NASCAR grease monkey? I don’t ask. The F and heart placed together definitely don’t require mentioning. Besides, Dakota accepts invisible cash.

Later, we take turns as airplane pilot. The plane is the couch. Take-off begins in recliner mode. Believable or not, I’ll take it.

“How far are we going this trip, captain?” I ask.

“Twenty miles,” he answers. “And it will take twenty hours.”

“Okay,” I reply, then call back to our ever-changing number of passengers to buckle their seatbelts. My belly laugh remains inside, saved for later. For now, levity heals any lingering abdominal pain.

“I love you, little buddy,” I finally get a chance to say. He doesn’t need to answer back. His grin is enough response. I’ll go back to grownup mode in a few hours—with just a little bit more energy to face the ugly places.

 

 

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There is always more goodness in the world than there appears to be, because goodness is of its very nature modest and retiring. (Evelyn Beatrice Hall, biographer, 1868-1956) 

Since I have three granddaughters, stuffed animals, dolls, and plastic dishes rule our toy room. Dakota needs some male space. We go to a local discount store to find the first installment on a transition toward a more balanced collection. I can’t afford renovation. Gradual change is more fun for a little person anyway because our one male child is in on it.

As Dakota places his five-dollar car purchase on the counter, he smiles. The cashier responds. “Okay if I give you a hug?”

My little guy looks confused, his eyes searching his hairline, but he accepts the quick squeeze. He has no idea how much charm he emanates. Since I am present, I suspect he knows the cashier’s gesture is okay.

Dakota and I arrive home and create a mini traffic world. Up and down the grass outside, on the rug in the living room. Life is contained and uncomplicated—at least for a while.

Later, I smile as I think about how fortunate I am that this little man came into my life—a future step grandson.

The news repeats the same stories in an endless loop. Rationalizations for maintaining the status quo continue. The word change becomes a platitude, no more than a vague promise hidden behind plans for the wealthy to grow richer and stronger.

The world needs more than any one voice to discover answers. Argument is counterproductive. The world could use more people who give a gosh-darn for more than themselves. Political motivation gets in the way. Forget party affiliation; look at what is happening to human beings—everywhere. Simple, not easy.

In the meantime, beauty lives hidden within places that keep the spirit alive. In the nonjudgmental acceptance of a child, in the presence of each day, in genuine friendship, in the ability to continue to give.

Peace, upon all.

My little man likes to clean. He is cleaning our coffee table and dusting pictures.

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Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

My teenage granddaughter is helping me with a novel I’m writing; she sees with younger eyes. I value her perspective. I value Kate.

As I drive to her house to drop off the first few chapters, the early morning sun blinds me. Sunglasses dull the intensity of the glare, but the shadowy lenses darken the road and traffic as well.

A premonition hits me. This day is not going to be easy. I’m not completely well yet. Fatigue wants to take over my thoughts and body. I can’t let it.

Along the well-known route I pass a dead opossum in the middle of the road. Around the next corner I see a young boy with a backpack. He is probably waiting for a school bus.

I see both death and learning. 

One turn north and my eyes get a temporary respite. Maybe today’s metaphorical staircase will contain more winding, uneven steps than a direct passage, up or down, in or out of sun and darkness.

The discomfort in my gut lightens for a while, yet the pain I see in the world grows beyond what I understand.

I feel a need to begin with accepting whatever happens today, hear what others say. Even if I can’t understand.

Faith—it’s taking each step as it comes. Into the glaring light. Into the frightening darkness. Into the unexplainable. Into giving without judgment. Into peace.

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Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky. ( Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible)

Our flight to Berlin left three hours ago. Since my IV pole and the solution attached would get in the way on a budget flight, I guess this small hospital room will need to provide any current adventure. The standard-issue hospital gown might be slightly distracting as well. The fact that I am ill could also be a travel problem.

As Friday night became Saturday morning an overfull emergency room wasn’t the kind of adventure I had in mind. True, airport hassle may be distressing, but it doesn’t compare to intense pain caught in a continuous cycle. The clock measured each deep poke into the center of my body and back.

I watched the other folk who also waited.

A woman with blood mimicking a single-tone red tie-die covered her belly. Then I noticed her raised hand, the source. Nevertheless, she appeared calm.

Then, there was a woman who wondered about as if aimless. She sat on the side of my chair.

“You can have this chair if you need it,” I told her. “I can move to the other side.” One spot was open.

She barely turned around, and then moved away. Quickly. I sensed something deeper than physical desperation, but couldn’t prove it. I guessed her injury to be bigger than any hospital could fix.

Once my tests determined I needed to be admitted, I waited in my emergency cell until eight in the morning when a room was ready. My husband had wanted to wait with me, but I told him I was safe. He should care for himself. Go home. Rest. Then, he could care for me.

Yes, the pain continued, but my husband’s deep sense of sacrifice buoyed me.

I have some form of pancreatitis—obviously not connected to alcohol use since root beer is the only beer in my experiential vocabulary. No known connections yet. I’m told they may never be found. Sometimes, even the professionals never discover answers.

Today, I deal with much less discomfort, but many more questions. What the heck happened, and why now? Perhaps answers aren’t always what life is about.

This question I can answer, however: When will you be discharged? The answer: today. As early as this afternoon.

From the huge window in my room, I watch as a flock of geese fly through the rain. In V-shaped formation. Undeterred.

True, my original flight plans didn’t work out. Maybe on the next takeoff I will be more prepared. For now, I’m happy simply to return home.

Goodbye, IV line and helpful staff. I’m ready for departure. Hello, ordinary Tuesday.

composite photos of my room, a colorful approach

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