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Posts Tagged ‘positive attitudes’

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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When I was 5 years, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. (John Lennon)

 The young Beatle-to-be obviously didn’t have nuns as teachers. He would have been knocked down a step or two, or three, or four. With or without a cracking ruler.

If only happiness didn’t need to be pursued. I tell my grandchildren they are important often. Sure, action and discipline remain necessary. The-world-owes-me makes a sad goal. However, a happy-to-be-alive everyday life isn’t easy to achieve.

“You need to live to be 138,” one grandchild told me recently. “I’m going to need you that long.”

Sweet. Yes. And yet a potent message. A need to be assured remains powerful.

The little things. Always the little things. How well or poorly are they set together?

 

 

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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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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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open door

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. (Ernest Hemingway

In 2012 I wrote a journal during Lent when memories of trauma ate through the present. Today I survive, as imperfectly as everyone else. I decided to reread an entry or two. This story appeared on an ordinary Wednesday when I was babysitting two of my granddaughters. Rebe was four and Ella was a toddler:  

I’m rinsing breakfast dishes as the doorbell rings. Jay is busy with Ella, so I answer. Outside a young girl stands sobbing. She asks to use our phone.

     “Who are you?” I ask.

     She doesn’t answer. Instead she tells me her boyfriend beat her up, and she wants to call the police.

     Jay is standing behind me by now. He holds Ella. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t want this girl standing out in the cold. I let her in and get her a glass of water, then finish the dishes as she calls from our living room.

     When I get back, Ella blows kisses to her and the girl smiles and tells me she has a one-year-old child.

     “How old are you?”

     “Eighteen.”

     The girl’s skin is a flawless ebony. I would have guessed she was much younger.

     While I don’t watch the clock, it seems like a long time until two policewomen arrive in two separate cars.

     We leave the room. I need to change Ella’s diaper anyway. On our way into the bedroom we hear one of the officers ask, “So why do you stay with him?”

     Apparently this is not a first-time event.

     After the girl leaves with bus money we provide, one of the policewomen comes back into the house and chides us for our kindness. This girl’s live-in is trouble. It is her choice to remain in jeopardy. Drugs are an issue.

       We should have called the police and made her stay on the porch. Twenty-twenty hindsight. (Although, an addition added to this entry in 2020, I doubt I would have followed her advice. After all, an abused eighteen-year-old girl is a child in need.)

Ella as a baby

       I am relieved later while Ella and Rebe watch Caillou, a children’s cartoon show, where a lost toy dinosaur is the only problem. Two little girls wrapped in the discovery of a stuffed toy and the loving concern of Caillou’s father.

     Real life isn’t always that sweet. I have been fortunate. My flaw today was trust. Yet, I pray that our little Ella’s blown kisses can be a blessing into the soul of this lost girl. A seed, perhaps. One that can grow someday, even if I never see it blossom.

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