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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom from unexpected places’

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. (Thomas A. Edison) 

Recently, I heard about a redwood tree flourishing inside a concrete-bound city area. Several years ago, my husband tried to coax an infant California sequoia into facing less temperate Ohio. The seedling didn’t last longer than a few weeks.

Naturalists recommend native plants. I agree. Either the plants die or take over kudzu-style. However, stories involving thumbs greener than mine intrigue me.

Successful human you-can’t-do-that experiences fascinate me even more. The drug addict who triumphs over his addiction, the individual with special needs who runs a business or succeeds in a public office.

One small thing today I didn’t think I could do, what is it? Oh yeah, I thought my computer had died. It didn’t. I brought it back to life. And my father told me he wanted me to take a mechanical aptitude test to see how low a score I would get.

Erase the negative messages. Plant new ones. Let them grow. May we astound ourselves. And continue planting…

 

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winter through the screen (2)_LI

All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart. (Tahereh Mafi)

Snow. A four-letter word. Not in a vulgar, but in a testy sense. Nevertheless, I know I’m blessed as I feel and hear warm air rise from the furnace. My husband kept a thick, warm coat in the back seat of the car until we saw a homeless man who could use it. Socks next maybe. Some packaged food…

Inside the house I wheeze. Yet, I have the medications necessary to recover. Outside, who knows how long I would last?

A cardinal stops to snack at the birdfeeder. A squirrel gorges on the feed. I look at my belly and suspect I have more in common with the squirrel.

The snow melts and then promises to appear again. Need never melts completely. However, compassion isn’t a job; it’s a way of life. 

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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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The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. (Aristotle)

Monday’s focus: the eclipse across the United States. Nature’s rare event preempts hate broadcasted in a continuous loop—at least for a while. The moment was so brief many of the clickable links have already been removed.

I had appointments during show time, so I look for photos taken by other people, extend that moment and revel in it.

The shadows. Conquering real-life human darkness remains.

Us and them.

Blame taken to blind extremes.

If taken literally, of course all lives matter. However, the notion bypasses struggle that doesn’t fit the whole. Equal as human beings? Yes, we are—in universal acceptance of that fact, no. The privileged don’t need to fight for privilege.

In several different groups, the same topic comes up, and I wonder if it is a divine accident. As friends, the people in these groups trust one another. We talk about both understanding and misunderstanding in the nitty-gritty of the everyday. The blatant and the subtle, the repercussions. The details of our sharing can’t be spread in a public blog. The common human threads can.

The moon and the sun aligned this week. May the people who rely on Mother Nature, eventually, join as family.

(pic: made from public domain photos)

 

 

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You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on them. You don’t let them have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space. (Johnny Cash)

Somewhere around two in the morning I waken with a throbbing right hand. Did I roll over onto it? Did my sleeping body drift into the past and forget that arthritis rules my right thumb. Inflammation tells each movement what it can do and what it can’t. And it is a strict taskmaster.

Of course I rebel. I have writing projects to complete, and the cooking, cleaning, and laundry don’t do themselves. Fantasy appears only in story form. Even on the written page reality intervenes. Sure, I can invent a character, a girl who floats into the air at will. However, if she levitates at the local Seven-Eleven havoc will appear, unless, of course that is part of the plot.

A cold compress helps my hand. It tells it to stop complaining for a few minutes anyway. Somewhat. So does calming thought. But sleep does not return. I get up at four and begin to write, trying to embrace the silence as a gift. I add a page to my next novel, then another. This does not mean they won’t be backspaced later. A story has progressed. The missed sleep will demand to be repaid later. For now I take advantage of the moment.

The ache reminds me that I am alive. Fully. In this moment. I’m told this is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis. As my parents, aunts, and uncles told me: “It won’t kill you. You’ll just die with it.”

Finding someone with more serious problems is easier than I would like. I’ve been praying for a young friend who is expected to be in intensive care for longer than the two weeks originally expected. She, too, is a writer. And a reader. Her security is a book resting on her chest along with the ambiance of IVs, monitors, and an existence where pain owns the building. She has had two surgeries. Complications continue. So far her miracle begins with survival.

A child close to me has a friend who died of a rare inherited disorder; her sister has the same disease. My little friend is reluctant to talk about her grief. So I cannot reveal her identity. Life and joy do not circumvent difficulties. They travel through them.

The sun peeks through the window of my office, also a toy room, the place where my grandchildren and I play. The rays will find family pictures, disorder, my half-empty coffee cup, and possibilities I don’t see yet.

Sure, I would like to take the brace off my hand post-miracle. But I’m not going to count on it. However, I haven’t typed the ending to my story yet. That choice isn’t mine anyway.

 

seeing the inside brightness

hand brace09212015_0000

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When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. (Marcus Aurelius)

I am treading water at the Y on an ordinary Sunday afternoon. I feel amazingly free in the deep end of the pool as I kick and move my arms through the tepid water. There are not many people here today, so I swim back and forth with no direction planned, no agenda, only the idea that this hour or so belongs to me, my husband Jay, and the generosity of the water.

A woman arrives. She leans against the wall. We smile at one another. Within minutes we are talking. She shows me an exercise that is good for back pain. She tucks water weights under her arms and then relaxes, torso straight, legs dangled in the water. She has had serious back surgery—and has been recovering for months.

However, I don’t realize how intense her situation has been until after we have been chatting for a while. She had pain all over her body. The cause had not been easily diagnosed. She had a congenital condition; she was missing a portion of bone, discs, in her back. That section has been rebuilt, a beyond-major task. Yet, pain has not left her life. It remains. She has not succumbed to relying on heavy medications. She keeps going without feeling sorry for herself.

When I think I have been sufficiently impressed she gives me more to absorb. Her grandson, Jonathan, was born with half of a heart. He was not expected to survive. He has had three cardiac surgeries and is now five-years-old. For him to have survived this long has been a miracle. With incredible calm she says that he will eventually need a heart transplant, but that his chances of survival will be greater when he is older.

“If he can make it, so can I,” she says.

I watch and listen so closely I wonder if I have blinked. My youngest granddaughter is scheduled for open heart surgery at the end of April. This woman’s words and attitude travel through the water and give me more than hope. They bring peace. Worry is counterproductive. Gratitude yields more gratitude tinged with joy.

“So, what is your name?” I ask.

“Sue.”

I can remember that one.

She claims to be an ordinary person. In fact, in an e-mail I receive from her later, everyday-woman seems to be her theme. She has three children and five grandchildren. She emphasizes gratitude and offers prayers for folk who suffer greater losses.

We are all both ordinary and unique, flawed, gifted, and human. To think anyone is superior is delusional. I believe that how we approach each day makes the difference. And no one can judge whether an individual is great or not. Even if one moment brings a person success, the next stress offers the chance to grow or to break—as long as the life-game continues.

Night makes day brighter. Winter makes spring sweeter.

Here’s to the privilege of being alive! Cheers. I lift a glass of water, but the beverage isn’t what matters. It’s the attitude of peace that does.

Thanks, Sue! See you at the Y.

not giving up story not over

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You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always their actions, not words, that matter. (Nicholas Sparks)

Snow was predicted for today, but I expected a token inch or so. Our street, finally plowed yesterday afternoon, is now hidden. In the semi-darkness of early morning the white bitterness seems to explode its message; winter has won this battle. When the phone rings before eight in the morning I know what I will hear before I answer. The call comes from two states away, where it isn’t seven in the morning yet. My sister-in-law has not called to chat.

My mother-in-law has left her physical body in Midwestern winter and joined a higher, temperature-free dimension. As I look outside again I realize that like the February snow, Mary’s death was inevitable. But, I thought my spirit would be better prepared. Winter will end. This goodbye is final. At least from a limited five-senses point of view.

The first bird I see at the bird feeder is a female cardinal. The cardinal is a symbol of a visitor from the next dimension. Next, two more cardinals arrive. They don’t stay long. They feed and then fly into our blue spruce.

I think about the transience of life’s experience and that thought leads into disconnected memories:

I see my mother-in-law’s move from a more affluent neighborhood to a less wealthy one, not because she needs to do it, but because she sees a mission there, a house closer to her church. My vision follows the many people Mary invites into her home, the folk who stay for a while and then leave, changed somehow because of her welcoming…

Next my memory revisits the day when my younger son has tied a towel around his neck as a cape. He is two days shy of his third birthday and he is playing superman. He tries to fly off a chair, but his fantasy doesn’t transfer into reality. He has sustained a concussion. I don’t have a car. My mother-in-law drops what she is doing and takes me and superman junior to the hospital. Then she waits until after Steve is treated before bringing us home. Mary and Son-number-two are buddies. They have been since he was an infant…

Mary and Son-number-two’s daughter are also buddies. Nana is now declining. Ella pretends to be a bear. Nana pretends to be frightened. The game continues.

And so does today’s snow—along with a deep and penetrating cold. No, I could not ask Mary to stay on this earth with a body that is no longer able to contain her incredible spirit. She needed to leave it. The human Methuselah-model has not yet been designed. I said goodbye to Mary the last time I saw her, and I meant it. However…there is always a however. My generous attitude was aimed toward her, not me.

Another cardinal stops for a bite to eat before taking off.

Okay, how do I rephrase goodbye? See you in the next dimension, Mary. I don’t know when. But in the meantime, you have an enormous number of people asking about you. So long. Peace, beautiful lady!

cardinal, symbol of visiting past loved one

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Art is partly communication, but only partly. The rest is discovery. (William Golding, novelist, playwright, poet, Nobelist, 1911-1993)

If this airplane were a roller coaster I would be clutching the sides of my seat and gritting my teeth until they were ground to the gum line. I would not be screaming because it multiplies my terror instead of dissipating it. The edges of cliffs or even a mezzanine with a low railing are not my friends. However, as I buckle-up inside an airplane I’m exhilarated, not intimidated. As the plane rises, surreal beauty appears outside the window. Reality takes on a different form when seen from above the clouds. Neat. Manageable. Set into squares that mimic a child’s crossword puzzle—with interchangeable pieces.

The outline of streets, trees, buildings, livestock and lives melt away. I take a picture from the window shortly after we take off from the Dayton airport, the beginning of an adventure, also called a family wedding and vacation.

The scientist could explain the view below in exact, predictable, discernible, terms. I value learning about how the universe works. However, my natural perception tends toward the artistic and spiritual—I am viewing the metaphorical.

I look at the vague blocks and circles of green or brown below. They remind me of rigid opinions. Whenever people are lumped together behind a false label, faces disappear: all poor people are lazy, sloppy, and ignorant; the individual born with a disability couldn’t possibly have talents. All Republicans are money-hungry; all Democrats are fanatical leftists. But, I don’t want to stay with the negativity of false images, even if the metaphor feels valid.

So, I look into the circles and blocks of color below and discover unity despite chaos. Destruction, construction, gardens, landfills, saplings, boulders, sewers, fresh water, predators, and saints join to form uniform patterns. I consider the value of relaxing and letting go. I can never be a pseudo grand-puppeteer. I believe a Higher Power exists; I suspect I’m not suited for the job.

The flight attendant begins the standard safety instructions. Our journey through the sky continues. In a few hours the action below will reveal itself again. I pray to step into the confusion of the next airport with a sense of confidence, with a knowledge that all can be well in its own way. I am a part of the universe; the universe is a part of me.

air shot

 

 

 

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“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” (Walt Streightiff)

Sometimes the imaginative play of my two older grandchildren makes me laugh out loud. I’m their quintessential audience. They know it; so do I.

Rebe’s doll-under-the-T-shirt-motherhood game expands as she decides she is a mama who gives birth to a new baby every day for ten days in a row. Every doll and stuffed animal comes off the toy shelf: dog, rabbit, cow, even Barney the dinosaur. Rebe glories in her perpetual-motion image. Her ten-year-old big sister, Kate, recognizes the impossibility of it all and expands on the scenario. She decides that she is among the newborn lineup. Not only is she the product of a mob birth, she can talk, crawl, and create mischief.

Naturally, Kate notes, this phenomenon would draw the attention of paparazzi. As soon as a fantasy crowd appears she says, “goo.” After they leave, her antics return.

I write fiction and have been publishing frequently with http://pikerpress.com. However, my stories need a basis in reality. Rebe mimics a rooster to announce morning and then moves the day into evening thirty seconds later. Characters change places midstream.

For a child an empty plastic teacup holds coffee, tea, or a magic potion that turns a bird into a frog or a chicken into a dinosaur. Possibilities are endless. A youngster’s chi embraces the sky and has arm room left to grasp more.

I am in no hurry for my granddaughters to grow up. Sure, I’m tired by the end of the day after trying to keep up with individuals who move with hummingbird-wing speed. My own chores remain untouched. I have written nothing. All tasks have been put off for tomorrow, maybe the day after. But, not many people have been in the presence of a woman who gave birth to ten babies—almost simultaneously.

Besides, there’s something priceless about sitting in front of the television between two girls who both want dibs on Grandma. Actually, I’m not owned by either girl, just temporarily transported into their world where anything can happen. A zombie may suddenly appear and eat us alive. Yet, we can laugh through the experience and leap into the next one, without losing any of the fun.

save the kid in you

 

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If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? (Casey Stengel)

When is this sink ever going to drain? I ask myself. Sometimes aloud. Sometimes not. With or without an oath. The plunger is my friend, but sometimes it gets lazy and refuses to let the water move no matter how much energy I put into my part of the job. After all, I have not dropped crud or grease down the pipes. Sure, the man who put in my new dishwasher said I should have one of my old pipes replaced, relatively soon. It looks like it came from Rome’s original system. But, if it has lasted this long, and all I have is a few occasional drips easily captured in an aluminum pan, what should it matter? Someone is coming next week to look at the problem.

“Sure, I can handle it,” that man says as he squats under the sink. Then comes the uh oh. The piece breaks off in his hands. I suppose I should have taken a picture of the rotted, clogged, rusted pipe that has been living under our sink since the house was built in 1957—but it wouldn’t have drawn many people back for a second look. If this piece of pipe had been living tissue it would have needed emergency bypass surgery. The medical team would have wondered how the patient had managed to stay alive.

Nothing short of a miracle has kept water flowing through galvanized metal blocked so thoroughly acid would need to fight to pass through. And yet, this old hunk of metal has done the best it could until the end. Sorry I made you work so hard, I tell the severed piece lying on my kitchen floor. Although I’m not really talking to an inanimate object. I’m telling myself to pay more attention to those aspects of the ordinary that give me clues I ignore, generally because I’m busy with so-called more important matters.

Sure I know where I’m going. Sort of. On a spiritual plane anyway. But since I happen to live on this existential planet it might be a good idea to recognize where I am, every step, stone, and pipe along the way.

tomorrow year not specified06092014_0000

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