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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom in unexpected places’

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. (A.A. Milne in Winnie-the-Pooh)

Rebe leads our play—sometimes with linear logic, sometimes not. In a child’s imagination, anything can happen. I ask questions only when I don’t understand the current scene: Is it day or night? Is the couch a make-believe car or taxi?

Usually I laugh at my granddaughter’s off-the-wall scenarios. Her sense of humor has developed far beyond the understanding of a nine-year-old child.

Today she dives into the serious. I don’t offer more than attention. Her doll, Ava, wears a layer of dirt from being dragged everywhere, but since her midsection is cloth, a full bath is not possible. In Rebe’s scene, her child has a fictitious illness, grow disease—her version of failure to thrive taken to the ultimate.

On a culturally learned keep-everything-nice level, I want to lead her to a gentler setting, but I let her continue, and listen. Perhaps she practices for real-life grief, in her own controlled setting, close to Grandma on this tangible, ordinary Wednesday. I don’t know. She is game initiator.

I play the role of surviving daughter. My baby-doll sister doesn’t make it through surgery. However, the next thirty-second-later day, Rebe lets me know something bizarre and unexplained happens. Both of us die and go to heaven. We have a party and then continue a regular routine. From the other side of the clouds.

“Let’s bake something,” she suggests.

“In heaven?” I ask.

Apparently, that scenario has ended. She wants to know if I have ever tasted flour.

“Yes. Probably when I was your age. It doesn’t taste like anything. Go ahead. Try it. It’s an organic brand.”

She lifts one flour-covered finger to her lips and agrees.

True, the taste of the flour is the-definition-of-bland. We discuss how different it is when the rest of the cookie recipe ingredients are added and baked.

Her eyes shine and smile broadens with the notion of how things change when they are mixed together.

People change, too. Sure, I enjoy my silent hours alone when I can create without needing to wash the floors later. Hours to play with words, mix them, add and subtract them. Give them power. However, I would have nothing with heart to create if all I had were continuous quiet.

Yes, Piglet, your heart is small, but size doesn’t have much to do with gratitude or love. Love and gratitude don’t take up space; they embrace people. And change them.

Thanks for a great day, Rebe. I love you.

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A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.  (Alan Kay)

I awaken from a short evening nap on the couch at my brother-in-law’s house. I can’t breathe. One inhalation of albuterol, two. Desperate, wheezy attempts to get air out of my lungs.

“Should I take you to the ER?” my husband asks.

We are six hours from home. The ER could be one mile away or as far away as Mercury. I don’t know. Finally, a pause between coughs. Water. More water.

I decide I will make it through the night. My brother-in-law escorts me to the most efficient air-conditioned room. My sister-in-law sleeps on the floor. I remain in a recliner I can’t adjust with a fractured right hand in a brace. My sister-in-law maneuvers the chair up and down as I need it, even for my nighttime bathroom trips. She needs to leave for work at eight in the morning, yet is willing to help me.

My wheezing doesn’t stop, but it doesn’t reach a critical level. I have no idea how much time lapses between albuterol rescue inhalations.

A frightening scene? Maybe. However, my in-laws are close-by. Jay is in a room next door. Love lives here. It fills me. Night will not give up a single hour of darkness. Yet, light survives. In hearts and minds.

A trip to Urgent Care. Antibiotics. Prednisone. More waiting to be the full me I recognize.

To breathe freely.

To turn the key in my car’s ignition with my right hand.

To sign Stinky, Rotten Threats, Book Two in the Star League Chronicles, now available, with a signature that doesn’t look as if I were pretending to wield an electric saw struck by lightning.  

To cut my own sandwiches.

To celebrate the ordinary.

The magic available in fantasy doesn’t exist on the everyday plane. The magic available inside the human spirit has power. It changes perspective. I’d like to say my IQ is 80 points higher because I learned to accept and appreciate care.

More likely, I’m simply a lot happier.

The same flower, in darkness and in light

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What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  

Outdoor solar lights line the walkway to my brother-in-law’s house.  They were a birthday gift from my older son’s family—so recently that the lights have not yet absorbed enough sun to shine. Their brightness exists as a potential, a promise.

Yesterday, I sat and watched as my daughter-in-law skillfully assembled the lights. My younger son and oldest granddaughter planted them.

My right hand is bound in a brace; I’m clutching a tissue with the other. Even if I were uninjured and well, I would have a better chance of repairing a cracked raw egg than understanding line one of the directions. I am recovering from a respiratory infection—on an antibiotic long enough to see significant improvement. I have a doctor’s okay to travel, but I am not fully recovered.

Recovery, another form of beginning. Illness and setbacks cause me to forget the internal light that needs time in a different kind of light.

My husband and I laugh about life’s absurdities with our second son Steve and his fiancé, Cecelia. We joke about our childhoods, the inevitable roadblocks that affect everyone.

I see the light in my family’s eyes and recognize it as love.

The sky is late-May blue. The assembled outside lights are not yet needed.

What matters is what lies within.

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What can go wrong will go wrong. (Murphy’s Law)

My computer is unplugged. Temporarily. A few minutes. No more. Its battery is at 69%. I checked two seconds ago. Then, the screen goes as dead as the inside of a serial killer’s conscience. The blackout has just destroyed 83 pages of edits.

On my final manuscript.

Scheduled to go to my publisher.

Today.

Yes, I do know how to write complete sentences. However, under the circumstances, my mind isn’t thinking in complete thoughts, especially as I realize the do-you-want-to-recover document I was editing contains an uncorrected way-too-common phrase I changed on page one.

And, no, I did not wait hours before hitting save. The save button would have a hole in if it were made of any earth material—including diamond.

Glitch two—some missed connection with my new Microsoft Word. No-o-o, a two-letter word that now has at least ten syllables.

Time to breathe before starting over. Two friends help make that happen, Ann and Shannon. They are coming for lunch and a personal concert. Fortunately, lunch has been prepared ahead. Simple. Homemade soup and tossed salad. Bagged tortilla chips. These two women appreciate. Excess is unnecessary.

Ann is blind. I pick her up from home and lead her up the steps leading to our house. She has no difficulty finding her way. Her sunshine greeting, light coming from her spirit, encourages me.

I realize there is no way I could have started over on my manuscript in a milieu of internal darkness. Shannon is already at the house and she is talking to Jay. Her laughter greets us as we enter the house.

We begin our afternoon with music. Neither of my friends could come to the Get Lit Festival last Saturday sponsored by Post Mortem Press. (Lit refers to Literature, not buzzed.) Local artists and writers brought their art to sell. I read a short section from my next middle-grade urban fantasy. I also played and sang three songs.

Nathan Singer from the Whiskey Shambles, rocked the program. He has an established following.

However, Ann and Shannon cheer as I play two songs on my guitar—just for them. Jay claps as well, even though he has heard my music so often, I close the door so he can concentrate on something else, anything else. A song may be incredible, but any sound repeated 7, 468 times requires ear canals as calloused as my fingertips. It’s called survival.

My heart lightens by the time I get back to start-over mode. And that is valuable because one beat after I get to the last page, Murphy’s Law shows up again. The computer freezes. Donkey-stubborn, won’t-get-out-of-bed, it refuses to budge.

My unprintable response remains in my husband’s and my memory since the computer is comatose now. It couldn’t hear if it were a living being anyway. Moreover, I reserve questionable language for the computer. I reboot the gosh-darned thing and pray my story has lived.

Trembling, I consider one of the last changes I made. Perhaps one of the angels my friends left in the house is present because I remember two edits. They are both intact.

Bye-bye, manuscript. Have a good time being formatted into a fantasy kids can enjoy where the good guys win. And hello, real life. No, I did not use the hammer or axe on my computer. The old thing will, however, be replaced. My birthday present from Jay.

After all, the innate beauty in life returns. Eventually. Murphy’s Law never destroys goodness completely.

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I am much less sure about most things than I used to be. But I feel the pull of the love of God all the time and I don’t care nearly so much about not understanding. (Barbara Cawthorne Crafton)

My father died in December more than a decade ago. I brought home a few of the plants from his funeral and hoped they would survive at least the winter.  I could never forget my dad. However, proper botanical maintenance has never been one of my gifts. My older son joked that if killing plants were a felony I’d be on death row.

Nevertheless, one of those pots survived—even now—and occasionally blooms. It has a flower now.

“Hi, Dad,” I say, as if the white flower carried a heavenly listening device. “What’s it like on the other side?”

Dad doesn’t answer. I suppose I’d be totally freaked if he did, but I move the pot and blossom from the corner to a more prominent position in the sun. My memories answer, though. Too many of them. Hours later. Some are as bright as the sun that shines so bright I wear a baseball hat so I can see the computer screen.

Other memories appear as dark as the Good Fridays of my youth. Always somber. Filled with thou-shalt-nots and guilt.

Somehow storms never coincided with Good Friday and a halo-sun never rose on Easter. Meteorology and religion don’t speak the same language.

I think about a book I’m reading, The Alsolife, by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton. I’m not halfway through, and yet I’m tempted to begin reading again from page one. Then again, perhaps I should wait until I’ve read the last word of the last chapter. Then, I’ll read again with a fuller perspective.

Sometimes today is more than I can absorb, and this is a super-busy week.

The Alsolife explores existence in a fuller context, not as a linear concept—but as past, present, future, the universe—existing as one reality.

Forget aiming toward focusing on punishment. Hell. War. Hate… Choose forgiveness. Sounds right and good. And yet, Reverend Crafton describes how bitter the experience of real-life hurt can be, understood, maybe, only in context with the whole.

I recall a Holy Saturday more than a half-century ago when I thought I would be a corpse the next morning. I lived, but in the aftermath, I believed a morgue would have been a better Easter celebration. Years later, I would see the day differently, with a husband, two handsome sons, and three incredible grandchildren. Color and beauty returned. One moment never remains forever, and yet nothing from the past can be erased.

Now, on this Friday afternoon, I celebrate a moment of silence, sun, the quiet and gentle support of my husband, friends both new and old, family, and the peculiar gift called life—even if I never understand its secrets.

 

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The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. (Victor Hugo)

Ella has scarcely removed her coat when she runs to a shoe box full of small toys. A special Friday. A day off school. Time to play.

She grabs the plastic slide and the character, Diego. I know she will want Dora the Explorer next, so I reach for the figure closer to the same size. (We have several Doras in the box.) Ella chooses the slightly larger figure.

Size is not significant in the world of make-believe. I forget. Play is my granddaughter’s realm. She makes most of the choices here. She needs to yield to the adult world often enough. In make-believe, she has more experience.

We take turns leading the figures down the slide: on their bellies, head first, up the wrong way, and one friend giving the other a gentle nudge to move faster. Then Ella decides head first means vertical, with feet facing up. She laughs.

She is a child, but she lives in the real world, too. She is aware of the attitudes others have toward her whether she can verbally express what she knows or not. Talking about her struggles in her presence, is unfair. Even cruel.

Yes, Ella has Down syndrome. She needs to work harder in some areas. However, she has been reading for several years—sounding out words, not simply memorizing them. Ella has a sense of humor.

“Look!” she says. She turns Diego’s head around.

“Are you doing that again?” I say for Dora. Then I turn Dora’s head around. “But, you do it so much better, Diego.”

Ella howls with laughter.

I suggest placing the two figures on the back of a plush ladybug. “Let’s fly.” Our fantasy world continues.

That’s how I know I’ve been completely accepted into her imaginative space. I consider it a promotion.

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Change yourself to change the world. Keep it personal today. (Horoscope for Taurus, February 25)

I usually read my horoscope in the daily newspaper, not because it rules my day. I’m curious. Sometimes the advice is so vague it could fit any situation; other times it fits in an odd serendipitous way—like accidentally opening a how-to book to the right page—without effort.

Last night my husband and I went to a fun, well-attended family wedding. I noticed we were seated at a table with relatives who have polar political views. Yet, we did not discuss them. We shared our love for one another. Our lives as they are. I felt blessed. When we separated, I experienced a sense of loss, a longing to see these good people again as soon as possible.

If we had delved into our differences, I suspect the bond could have been tested. The differences need mending. Among families and in the world. However, the breaks can’t be healed in a single discussion. They can’t be adjusted within the us-versus-them void.

Have I changed my mind about laws that affect the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized? Absolutely not. That does not mean I need to react with name-calling. What I say reflects who I am. May the power of the written and spoken word add healing, not pain. Eventually…

can-we-risk-peace

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