Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Self Worth The Struggle

The farther behind I leave the past, the closer I am to forging my own character. Isabelle Eberhardt

I have played many roles in my lifetime, one overlapping the next, but really being who I was meant to be is yet to come. Children have no choice in their parents, siblings come as they may, birth families are a hodgepodge of chance, mates are chosen haphazardly, but when all is said and done who you become is self inflicted.
There are so many things the young do not really realize, even if they hear it a million times. I was so clueless, about so many things, before I turned forty and I have been turning ever since. Life and love kicked me in the teeth over and over, but it was almost as if the pain simply accumulated until my fortieth birthday. I thought that was the last huge turning point, but just lately I realized something important about what happens next.
I had an awakening, and believed that I became me at that moment, but all I really did was stop being whatever others expected. Without notice I have been gathering the tools needed for what is before me now. Shedding the costumes, of roles outgrown and outlived, has taken a long time. As each layer was pealed back I found debris, dealing with clean up was a necessary chore. It seems I am soul deep now, and the shedding has begun again. Damage control has its place in the mix it seems.
Finding myself suddenly alone left me no choice but to plot a path all my own. There is a freedom to that, yet it can feel overpowering too. I must learn the song of my soul as I have had to learn so many other things. To earn my way I must always be willing to face hard truths, and eager to carefully mend as I go. When I find my perfect rhythm I will know I wear the last costume, one hand sewn with thoughtful stitches. If I choose fabric of sufficient strength it will serve me well for however long I am blessed with the role of a self worth the struggle.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Women Friends

Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.
Christina Baldwin

All humans benefit from the gentle touch of a friend, but women cozy into each other in an almost magical way. We form a sisterhood that links us one to the next, bonded by mirrored images of one another in different stages of development. Men are often threatened by the relationships we share, some even do all they can to isolate us from one another, but that only increases our need for female understanding. Some day I hope to have a best friend who is male, but he will not replace what I share with anyone else. And if he is smart he will not seek to steal the place another earned, but will seek a place that belongs only to him. I am a proud member of the sisterhood. The email that follows says it all quite nicely. Women reading it will nod in instant understanding, I challenge men to take its words to heart.

A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As they talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.
"Don't forget your girlfriends," she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. "They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you'll have, you are still going to need girlfriends. Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with them. And remember that "girlfriends" are not only your friends, but your sisters, your daughters, and other relatives too. You'll need other women. Women always do."
'What a funny piece of advice,' the young woman thought. 'Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't I just joined the couple- world? I'm now a married woman, for goodness sake! - a grownup, Surely my husband and the family we'll start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!'
But she listened to her Mother; she kept contact with her girlfriends and made more each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her Mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, girlfriends are the mainstays of her life.
After almost 50 years of living in this world, here is what I've learned:
Times passes. Life happens. Distance separates. Children grow up. Love waxes and wanes. Hearts break. Careers end. Jobs come and go. Parents die. Colleagues forget favors. Men don't call when they say they will.
BUT girlfriends are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can reach. When you have to walk that lonesome valley, and you have to walk it for yourself, your girlfriends will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end. Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you. Or come in and carry you out.
My mother, sister, sister-in-law, "sisters", extended family, and friends bless my life! The world wouldn't be the same without them, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other. Every day, we need each other still. Pass this on to the women who help make your life work. I just did.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Go Toward The Light

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. Helen Keller US blind & deaf educator (1880 - 1968)

I hate to keep harping on the same thing, but it just seems so hopeful to know that even the blind can see the truth. I have been having some computer issues and my time online is overflowing with trying to solve them. Getting kicked offline every few minutes makes posting an iffy endeavor, but am going to do my best to keep up. Doing the best that I can do, is the best that I can do.

I thank a friend for sending me an email that says things I agree with. I hope others enjoy it as much as I did and absorb its gentle message of wonder. Nothing in black was written by me, but my soul knows the song well and sings it often.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the rooms only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it. In his minds eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."

Epilogue: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy. "Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present."




Monday, March 28, 2005

The Kingdom Of Self

Not the senses I have but what I do with them is my kingdom. Helen Keller US blind & deaf educator (1880 - 1968)

We each have a kingdom. The size of this sacred realm is only limited by the vision of its ruler. The fact that Helen Keller realized that and found a way to tell us is mind boggling. I needed reminded of it today, which is why I was driven to place it on the calendar at the first of the month when I gathered these quotes. God's hand is everywhere. I just love the things in life that make me go hmmm.
I have been going through a lot of things lately that inspire high emotion and demand silent patience. Add to that mix a full moon, flavor it with computer frustration, and full-blown insanity is just a heartbeat away. Hey folks, I need these quotes as much as anyone, and I often reread my own words too, gently reminding myself of lessons learned or miles traveled.
Clearing my vision and revaluating my kingdom puts everything in perfect balance. After a long lingering gaze I take firm control of my throne and rule with confidence. Today was no exception. What follows are some things I decided after thinking about it and letting it grow.
High emotions are much better than no emotion at all, and the issues causing mine are all positive. Positive changes deserve and demand passion of an intensity hot enough to fuel the energy needed to implement them. Viewed in this light the emotions I am experiencing are equal to the job ahead of me. Wow!
Patience is my strong suit. What I am waiting for is well worth any wait necessary to see it well done. I have the tools, picking them up is a conscious decision. I knewwwww that!
I have no power over moon phases, but realizing its effect on me decreases its power to inspire even momentary insanity. What a relief!!
Computers are evil creatures, overflowing with demonic gremlins. Frustration is unavoidable unless you pull the plug and walk away. Not an option!
Clueless people will always try to kick you, one kick back is a knee jerk reaction, anything that follows is intentional. The energy needed for fool kicking is limitless, once begun it just goes on and on. I doubt a fool was ever convinced of anything by kicking so I will let my actions speak and leave my feet for moving forward. The verse that follows was inspired by all I decided this sunny day.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter To All

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go... And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over.
Gloria Naylor

I have been lucky with friendships, both offline and on. I value every friendship and try to give as much as I receive. Being a good friend means loving without boundaries. I have friends who know me inside out and those are the best, because so much is instantly evident to them without explanation. It is a comforting thing to be really understood.
I care deeply for people. I rarely put up walls to keep others out, I could not seek to assist in any real way and slam doors, but that means I am wide open to all I come in contact with. Sometimes that is painful, yet my lifepath demands I remain open. I face the negative that comes for the sake of the positive I can give to the ones who need it. But without the support of friends I doubt I would get far.
For every person who does not have a clue and does not want one there are dozens who do. I rest in their comfort with delight. Friends are priceless to this endeavor, so to all who call me friend and mean it I hope I give to you at least a portion of what you have gifted me with.

Hope is reality not yet truly realized, faith is the life blood that keeps hope alive.
Glenda Mahan


Friday, March 25, 2005

Snake Handling

One should count each day a separate life.
Seneca Roman dramatist, philosopher, & politician (5 BC - 65 AD)

Happy Good Friday. I will not dwell on the quote today, because all who read here know that is my philosophy. I endlessly begin again with life, day by day, or moment by moment when necessary. Reading it over and over will not convince, but it may irritate. Not a big fan of being irritated here, so I try to keep a lid on doing it to anyone else. I always attempt to do unto others as I want them to do unto me. That does not guarantee anything, but it suits my soul, which is all I have complete control over.
Some people draw negative and enjoy its sting. I have no affinity for pain, although I know well the drill that must be played out to rid an ache from my heart. I would much rather be ignored altogether than receive negative attention of any sort. Touch me gently or leave me be is all I ask. Bully me and wake a sleeping snake that will not hesitate to put the fangs deep in self defense.
What is lived through tints everything, but overcoming lightens even the darkest corners of the trunk you carry through life. I roar when necessary to keep anyone from placing things there that I am not willing to carry. Tending that sacred place is a full time job, because all too often folks seek to lighten their load by dumping things on others. I will be the first to share a burden with someone who wants to rid themselves of things in a positive way, but I will never willingly drag someone else's burden around while they run away.
If you would not let someone come into your home and dump a bucket of snakes onto the floor before they cut and ran, reconsider letting them do the same inside your soul. And if you are a snake handler tend to what belongs to you. Assuming that someone else has the same love for snakes as you do could be dangerous.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sharing Fear

For the most part, fear is nothing but an illusion. When you share it with someone else, it tends to disappear.
Marilyn C. Barrick

Sharing any burden lessens the weight of it upon your shoulders. Fear was a huge problem for me once upon a lifetime ago, but I learned the value of facing it and becoming its master. I did not stop feeling fear, I just refuse to let it stop me from doing what needs done to get where I seek to go.
Dee your comment was wonderful. I am so happy for you, I know what a struggle it can be to change habits of a lifetime. I feel as if we walked together for a time, side by side, sharing our burdens and traveling with you made the road much more pleasant. I needed comfort too remember. You are welcome to travel with me anytime. I don't make that offer lightly.
Annie thanks for the email that follows. I laughed until I cried. I hope others enjoy it as well. As a woman well over 40 I can relate to things said, and the fact that it was written by a man relieves me of all guilt about being considered a man basher. Andy Rooney is a delightful lunatic with a mind that sees things in a special way. I for one am glad he addressed this issue.

Women Over Forty
Andy Rooney - CBS 60 Minutes
As I grow in age, I value women who are over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why: A woman over 40 will not lay next to you in bed and ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think.
If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And, it's usually something more interesting.
A woman over 40 knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Few women past the age of 40 give a damn what you might think about her or what she's doing.
Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you, if they think they can get away with it.
Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated.
A woman over 40 has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn't trust the guy with other women. Women over 40 couldn't care less if you're attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won't betray her.
Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. They always know.
A woman over 40 looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women or drag queens.
Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.
Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk or if you are acting like one! You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her.
Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of 40+, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year-old waitress. Ladies, I apologize.
For all those men who say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free." Here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage . Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire Pig, just to get a little sausage.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Life Worth Living

You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more.
Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, February 2003

Some people gather heartache and tears, building a huge mountain. They erect a castle there, surround it with a wide moat, draw up the bridge against invaders, and never move on. I hope I never become a pain collector. Growth demands that you examine pain, tend all woundings then travel on.
Some folks walk their whole life looking behind, steps uncertain, walking backward with all focus on what was and no time for what could be. I hope my attention always remains forward, trying to catch the beauty in every moment, the worth of every tick of the clock.
Hearts are not indestructible, but they are not shrinky dinks either. Whether heartache makes them shrivel or swell is a choice like anything else in life. It is one thing to protect yourself from further injury from a known wounder, it is a different kind of thing to lock all possibilities out for fear of a possilble heartache. One response keeps you safe the other keeps you isolated. Joy as well as sorrow is produced inside that wondrous organ, but if it is on lockdown it may continue beating without sustaining a life worth living.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

One Moment Of Hopelessness

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering you own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew.
Saint Francis de Sales

An awakening is the sudden realization that if you do not repair the damage in your life you will be doomed to live a nightmare. Once you admit how wrong things are it is impossible to go back to pretending. At that point only two choices remain, two clear paths lead from that special place of understanding.
One road just extends what is behind you only it is littered with the added debris of hopelessness that knowledge of its difficultly and its final destination inspires. It was my thought of forty more years of torture followed by the nursing home then the cemetery that brought me to a wakening spot. Everything in me rebelled at the notion of taking even one more footstep down a road so hopeless.
The other path is in shadow. Where it leads is uncertain. Every step taken there demands faith, and any light cast comes from you. It is determination to change things that keeps the road ahead illuminated. Time, practice, and patience ease the journey. Every positive alteration clears away some of the fog, until you suddenly realize that you no longer have to struggle to see where you are headed.
Each day I remind myself of that other road, and the nightmare my life used to be. I begin again with the task of plotting my course, noticing where I stumble, rejoicing in the places I can run free toward whatever is just ahead. When I fall now I do not consider the possiblility of retracing my steps. I pick myself up and go on, safe in the knowledge that nothing faced on this road will ever be as scary as the life I once lived. And it all began with one moment of hopelessness. Life is wonderful that way.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Anger Management

Speak when you are angry--and you will make the best speech you'll ever regret. Laurence J. Peter US educator & writer (1919 - 1988)

My husband was hot tempered, quick to anger, rapid to wound, so I am careful how I use words and what force I put behind them. During the first twenty years of my marriage I took to heart every word said and shrunk to atom size inside, but after my awakening the rules changed. His temper did not improve overnight, and my heart did not stop feeling agony for things said either, yet we came to a place of comfortable compromise that worked most times. Without simple guidelines I doubt very much if we would have stayed together long enough to adjust into a lasting friendship.
He was allowed free minutes to vent any way he saw fit. I rarely listened while he chanted, although I was certainly within earshot at all times. I mostly just paid attention to its rhythm, ignoring content in self defense, since things said during that time were always regretted by him and forgiven by me anyway. Durning free minutes I often hummed a tune to myself to the rap he was performing.
Near the end of the free time I would warn him if necessary. Once I began listening I believed every word said, but the exercise always seemed to give him enough venting space to use up all the word weapons. And each time the venting was briefer, and quieter. It was a perfect example of our different natures. He was vocal, I was silent. He was a screamer, I was a slammer. He yelled as habit mostly. I rarely slammed, but when I did he knew better than to yell about anything.
When his time was up I was always calm, because I had not ingested any of his poison. I spoke with a gentle voice and he was forced to lower his or fight on alone. I smiled at him the same way I would at any beloved frustrated friend, and his face always soften even if he could not smile back. I touched him as I spoke to show that our connection had not been destroyed by his outburst. Once we got to the touching place it was always a short journey to a sane discussion of real issues.
Time is a precious gift. While he was learning to control and direct his anger I allowed him the time to unlearn old habits. And without my tears and pleas he was forced to hear some of what he was saying as it was said. Reasons to fight were rare after we formed a real friendship. Every day ended the same way. Alone, candles burning, music playing, during long talks about everything under the sun. Like real friends only better.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Scale Balancing

If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.
Robert Fritz

For the first 40 years of my life I did nothing more than compromise myself and invite others to do likewise. I was constantly torn apart trying to make everyone happy. I pleased nobody in the end, least of all myself. Things are different, because I see the cost of love and life from a completely opposite point of view nowadays.
I believe any affection that demands the death of self before it is given is too dear a bargain, by far. I could not find any happiness from someone doing something for me that caused them unhappiness. I could not enjoy a pleasure that inspired pain. And anyone who really loves me will feel the same concern about the cost of what they ask of me as I do about what I ask of them. But my past makes the asking a difficult thing, to say the least.
I am more apt to take what is given freely than to demand more than is offered. If I have to wrestle affection from someone I simply do not want any part of it. That does not mean that I take shit from others, it means that anyone who professes to really love me will not need to be begged to do it correctly. A healthy love will never seek to destroy. But victims of love litter the landscape, I know because I once rested there myself. Like recognizes like, yanno!
The choices I make in the pursuit of my happiness are colored by the things I have survived. Knowing what I do not want is sometimes much more important than being certain of what I do. I would much rather suffer the agony of loneliness because I am alone than live with the deeper pain of being isolated within a relationship. I will not give up my right to make my own choices, or limit my choices when in the end I am the one that will pay the price for the things I do or fail to do.
There is a freedom to that, but it also puts all responsibility at my door. I can no longer place the blame for any unhappiness upon others. I can not act the victim while living a life that is chosen by me. True realization of that unavoidable fact is driving me toward the building of a life that is as equal in value to the cost of the living of it. Balancing the scales is my job now.


Friday, March 18, 2005

Drinking With An Optimist

Today's Quote:
A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
H. L. Mencken US editor (1880 - 1956)

I am by nature and inclination an optimist. I see the glass as half full. I expect the rainbow at the end of every storm. I search for the silver lining in every dark cloud. And I seek the best in everyone. Life has given me enough disappointments and heartaches to make me cynical, but I was never even tempted to board that dark train that all too often leads to nowhere.
What little comfort that can come from being right when something goes wrong is not enough pleasure to keep me satisfied. I would rather feel the bliss of achieving something that took some struggle, and belief in my ability goes a long way toward placing the seemingly unattainable within my reach. A cynic just does not bother reaching for what he knows he can not achieve. He guarantees failure and then gets satisfaction from knowing beforehand. Well duh!!!!
I lived with a cynic for 30 years, and he was much unhappier than I ever was, no matter what was going on around us. But after I changed my mousy ways he changed his cynical spots to a size that did not seek to steal my rainbows. If you are a cynic drink from an optimists glass from time to time, it will gentle your attitude. If you live with one just keep sharing rainbows and silver linings. See the best in them and give them the best in you. Try topping off that glass and drinking together, it worked for us.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

No Space For Panic

Today's Quote:
The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.
Francis Maitland Balfour

Life can be like a carnival ride, and the last couple of days I have been doing little more than hanging on. I spent some uncomfortable hours gazing into a fun house mirror too, feeling like I was somehow lost in a time warp. Seeing my past in a family members present inspired a bit of reliving, before it stiffened all resolve to inspire others to avoid making the same mistakes I have along the way.
Unresolved issues do not just lay quiet. Locking your lips and holding things inside releases a poison that eventually demands attention in one way or another. When placed under pressure and on lock down your body will react in some uncontrollable way. Before I learned to handle things as they occurred I suffered from panic attacks. I have not had an episode in close to a quarter of a century, because I took my Doctor's advice and began fixing the things that were causing the rage I was swallowing. That lesson seems to be one each of us comes to in our own way, but forewarned is forearmed after all.
Patience is something I seem to have in abundance, which is a good thing since the demand for it is so intense right now. I am still having issues with this cable hook up. I have a 14yr old son who is suddenly acting as if he is his own boss. A project linked firmly to my future is on hold, while someone involved deals with issues of their own. Keeping my sanity will be a struggle, but I am familiar with this drill and have no worry about unraveling under pressure. Knowing the enemy is half the battle.
If everything we own comes to us too easily then soon nothing has any real value. The things worth fighting for are more precious once achieved. All I have to do is continue doing all I can to reach where I seek to go and I will get there eventually. I learned long ago that panic is the symptom of inaction. I act in self defense so panic has no place to set a trap.
Well since I composed the first part of this post I have solved the cable issue by going back to dial up. Someday I will have a computer that will support cable, but until that happens snail speed is my happy fate. And the unruly son is settling down into the firm hand that is holding him. My journey to the basement took hours of fiddling, but I achieved that too. See what happens when you do not give in to inaction? Panic did not have an inch of space in which to grow and I am in better shape this moment than I was at any other during this long endless day.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Keep The Faith

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
Mahatma Gandhi Indian ascetic & nationalist leader (1869 - 1948)

Keeping the faith in the basic goodness of mankind is a necessity to true happiness. I have been hurt by the actions of certain people, but I never mistrust anyone without just cause. To burn the orchard because there are a few bad apples would be foolish. Faith works wonders. Believing the best can often inspire positive change, while believing the worst only invites negative behavior. It seems a no-brainer to choose between a possible positive and a certain negative.
I have lived through dark times, but I always look for the light in every situation and always search for the light in every person I encounter. And I have rarely been disappointed. When someone does not live up to the positive, knowing that I had no hand in making it happen by expecting it allows me to see it in better perspective. The baggage that I do not pack just does not belong to me.
Try believing the best of others and watch them try harder to live up to your faith. But first and foremost try having faith in yourself, spread your wings and soar. The heights that can be reached with the winds of belief to guide your flight is limitless. Keep the faith if you have it, create the faith if you lack it, and live it with the true happiness that comes from giving all of mankind the benefit of the doubt.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Solve Problems, Cope With Facts

If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact - not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.
Shimon Peres Israeli (Polish-born) politician (1923 - )

Facts can be problem-some, they can be problematic too, but once squarely faced any power they still possess over you is voluntary. Once you admit that you can not do a damn thing about something it becomes pointless to continue struggling to change it. Facing a fact helps you adjust to its location and alter your own.
When you let go of trying to solve a fact you have extra energy for tackling changeable issues. The focus wasted on a fact can be put to much better use. And coping with certainties only makes sense, otherwise you trap yourself inside a vacuum that will not support real life. Solve problems without fighting facts, and you may alter things in ways you never anticipated.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Challenge Yourself

Challenge Yourself. We don't know who we are until we see what we can do.
Martha Grimes

Challenge yourself; be like an infant, struggling to expand the orbit circumstances created. Learn to crawl, stand, totter, walk, then run with the same dedication and determination that a child uses. Children do not seem to realize the possibility that they cannot do something, doubt comes with age.
Challenge yourself; do the unexpected and watch the people who take you for granted take notice instead. Being unpredictable forces a person to examine new avenues. Shortening the list of things you have never done is liberating, and stumbling on a passion along the way is almost magical.
Challenge yourself; be all that you can be, even if up to now you have not been anything much. It is not a matter of where you began, or who you were yesterday. What matters most is who you are at this very moment, so be someone you would like to know.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Racing This Train

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers US humorist & showman (1879 - 1935)

In my life I have found that to be all too true. I keep moving forward, even when I would rather just sit and enjoy the view. New beginnings inspire an awareness of time wasted that propels me toward a brighter future with a determination to excel. I say new beginnings, because my rebirth was only the first step of an ongoing process. Resolving issues and learning new things has become a way of life for me. I suspect that it is the same for all who follow a like path. If this train runs me over it will have to struggle to catch me first. If I do not reach my dreams it will not be from lack of trying. No matter what happens, I get a lot of comfort from the fact that I will never be troubled with what if's. Should have, would have, or could have will not pester me in my old age, if I am gifted with one.
I have not turned from any opportunity that even hinted at a positive, no matter how frightened I was of the unknown, and have done my best to minimize the negatives I still possess. The more I practice the better I get, but I still have far to travel. I know I am on the right track, I hear the whistle blowing in the distance and the ground is rumbling under my feet. I will not just sit and watch others live, and let the train run me down. Everyone has the same capacity to be a train racer or a track sitter. Which are you?


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Mistake Management

1876 1st telephone call made (Alexander Graham Bell to Thomas Watson)

If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down. Mary Pickford US (Canadian-born) movie actress (1893 - 1979)

Mistakes are what we learn the most from; somehow hard lessons just seem much easier to remember. Mistakes come in every shape and size. The variety of screw ups possible is endless, and I have certainly sampled more than my fair share. One thing I have noticed is that learning from them is one thing, turning from them is quite another. Recognizing a misstep is easier than not taking it, but admitting its existence is a huge step. Knowledge is only power if you put it into action.
Every human falls in some way. I am never surprised to find myself suddenly flat on my face. But I am much too stubborn to just sit idle and watch life pass me by. Getting up again gets tiresome sometimes, since every tumble leaves some kind of injury that must be dealt with. Staying upright is a balancing act, once you tumble regaining your feet takes courage. Giving up is simple, hell it takes no effort at all.
I hope I never lose the hunger to walk upright, even when I can only limp along. I have no doubt I will fall on my ass many times before this journey is done, but I have a balance now that is making it harder and harder to trip over the same old obstacles. Awareness of triggers that cause some mistakes makes them more manageable. Growth in this area of my being is happening like an automatic update to a program long ignored.
Falling down is certain. Getting up is optional. It is also mandatory to living a full life that you begin as many times as necessary to get it right. Your capacity to succeed has nothing to do with finances or location. Each human spirit has the same ability to overcome any adversity. Every new leaf turned over reveals rich dirt underneath for planting a meaningful garden. Planting it where sunlight reaches it, and watering it with the best intentions insures a healthy crop.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Happiness Banquet

1959 Barbie, the popular girls' doll, debuted, over 800 million sold

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. -Agnes Repplier, 1858-1950, American Author, SocialCritic

The measure of happiness a person experiences is a clear product of what they feed themselves and what they allow others to place on the plate they are eating off of. And even if another hand heaps things there, the fork is still in the hand of the eater. I like to think of life as a banquet, choice as the plate, and utensils equal determination to control what is ingested.
It simplifies things when I look at the big picture in a smaller way. If I were eating out and paying for my meal I certainly would not eat what could not be stomached. If something did not suit me I would not force myself to swallow. Just because love is felt for someone does not mean you are doomed to eat whatever nonsense they cook up for you. And depending on another person to fill your plate to suit your taste is not realistic.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Pressured Into Grace

1911 International Women's Day (1st celebrated)

Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway. John WayneUS movie actor & director (1907 - 1979)

The Duke was right on the mark with that statement, being courageous does not mean you are fright-free. Fearless humans act as if they were invincible, daring God, or man, or nature to disprove that point. A courageous human dares themselves to act in spite of their fear. Of the two I would much rather have courage, because the other seems so foolhardy.
Courage is facing the uncertain, because your soul demands it. Valor is going up against a giant with only a sling shot, a pebble and a prayer. It takes guts to face what must be gazed at through fear. The nerve used to step out on a limb, when every bush may conceal a lumberjack, comes from commitment to whatever cause sent you limb stepping in the first place. Ernest Hemingway called it, "GRACE UNDER PRESSURE".
Grace is very attractive in all its forms. Some people are born graceful, others have to practice endlessly to achieve even a faint semblance of true grace. I have learned a few valuable lessons about courage and grace along the way. The single most important one has been the fact that if you act bravely, especially when you are truly frightened, others see you as brave. And if you gaze into a face that reflects admiration back at you it is virtually impossible to lose heart. The act becomes fact at that magical moment.
A diamond is created from something ordinary by the use of intense pressure. Grace is acquired the same way. Let fear hold up your resolve. Allow yourself to believe what others already know about how much courage you possess. Face facts with a straight spine; alter issues with flair; view adversity as an opportunity to grow, it might not silence all fears, but it will make all your steps much more graceful.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Monkey Moments

1876 Alexander Graham Bell patents telephone

Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room. Sir Winston Churchill British politician (1874 - 1965)

Well, I have had many discussions with both species, and I have to admit that I love monkey chatter almost as much as I do serious talks about weightier issues than any primate could be bothered with undertaking. My brain revels in the exercise of closely inspecting concepts, ideals and issues. A lively sharing of point of view between bright people is stimulating, often my mind spins at hyper speed due to chats that expanded the pathway my thought patterns usually follow.
I always feel like I have to learn things to make up for all the time I just drifted along. Every day I intentionally study something, because I am so weary of being so clueless about so many things for so long. Contemplation feeds my mind until it is stuffed full then one of two things always occurs; either all thoughts slam together in a mighty gridlock, or they fly so rapidly by that I have no time to fully absorb one before the next demands attention. When I have had my fill of the organ grinder the monkey is a perfect playmate.
Last night after I had written my post I acted monkish myself, and I thank the friends who played along with my primate side. I had not realized how much I needed to laugh. I laughed my brain into silence and earned myself a wonderfully dreamless sleep. Long before I was finished monkey chattering my cheeks and sides ached. By the time the last chuckle had echoed to silence my face was damp with tears inspired by near hysteria. Absence of thought was just the therapy I needed.
Life is a matter of balance. Being all one way or all the other makes true balance impossible. Taking everything too seriously is just as bad for a persons equilibrium as taking nothing too seriously, so try to be equal parts organ grinder and monkey.
Winston Churchill was a very intelligent man, who wrestled with serious issues every day, but if his quote is any indication he had a monkey moment from time to time too. Don't you just love the things in life that make you go, hmmmmmm?


Sunday, March 06, 2005

Disposition Dispossessions


I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances. Martha Washington

DISPOSITION: means personality and behavioral tendency.
personality: usual mood or temperament
behavioral tendency:
an inclination or tendency to act in a particular way

DISPOSSESSION: the act of depriving somebody of possessions, or the state of being deprived of everything you have, that usually refers to things like land or money

Reading Martha's words got me thinking and sent me rushing toward the dictionary for a common thread that would help me push the idea just a bit harder. Webster did not join the two in a way that satisfied me. I will do it myself from my own place of understanding as I see things, since all important fibers are there just waiting to be spun together.
I believe a persons disposition is a trainable thing. I know that mine certainly was. Sometimes it is nothing more than old tired habits that cause us to act in any certain way. Like auto-pilot we just perform as programmed rather than chart a new way. Reprogramming only happens if we choose. Disposition training is an elective course in Hard Luck School, not a mandatory one, but why anyone would not jump at the chance to learn how to be more centered is beyond me.
Dispossession of your disposition is elective too, it is totally by choice that you replace a good mood for a bad one. Others may push your buttons, but it is you who throws the power switch that puts it all into action. When your hand is holding white knucked tight to a place that someone else forced you to reach for, pause for just a moment to reconsider. Switch off auto-pilot and begin retraining.
I have noticed over time that people do not like to feel things alone. Good or bad people try to share moods. But they are only contagious if you breathe deep and embrace them. So next time try lightening their disposition instead of darkening your own. It is always my first plan of defense.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Perfect Day

1922: Annie Oakley shoots 98 out of 100 clay pigeons, breaking the existing women's trap-shooting record.

As we look deeply within, we understand our perfect balance. There is no fear of the cycle of birth, life and death. For when you stand in the present moment, you are timesless. Rodney Yee

Today was perfect in every way. I hit the floor running and traveled from task to task through a world shimmering in bright sunshine. I wore a coat I did not need on the trip to tend two little dudes, like a good grandma should. I let their chatter keep me distracted while I wrote out checks to pay the bills, and did not mind it as much as usual. It was simply impossible to stress over green paper today.
Keeping an eye on a three year old who was building a tent with covers, over top of a ferrets cage kept me centered. And trying to stay straight faced as a five year old solemnly claimed to be a spy with special powers was a struggle I delighted in. He turned me purple twice, although only spy eyes could see. He said I looked real nice that way. I listened to Dustin so closely that I soon wished I were a spy too and completely ignored my shrinking bank balance.
I flew from their world of tents and OO5's with attitude, coatless this time, finally able to let loose of the giggles held back while the big eyed camper and the spy in training watched my every move. As the car rushed toward 60, the air rushing in the window soared toward 70, and music vibrated all around. Summer tunes threatened to make me forget the season as I visited the post office and bank then headed toward a house as familiar as my own.
My best friend Vicky was ready and waiting for our trip to the gym. We took it easy today, she has been sick, so we swam and hot tubbed together then I spent some delicious minutes in the sauna napping before showering and pulling myself together. We shopped our way home. I found a perfect pair of earrings to mark this perfect day, and I put them on at the check out counter of Payless Shoes. She found some cool summer shades, and we marched out into the sunshine, two soul sisters happy to just be sharing space. The ride home was wind in my hair wonderful.
It is my habit to dream of what could be, but I accept what is. Sometimes the two match, sometimes not. Always I strive to get them as close as possible to a perfect symmetry between the two. Without my dreams the moments I really own would be few. I own them all as they slowly pass, noticed one by one. I walk in sunshine and follow the shadow of my dreams wherever they lead. Try doing the same and revel in the sensation of really living every second, even the ordinary.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Thanks Chris--Five Lessons

Five (5) lessons to make you think about the way we treat people.
1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:
"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello."
I've never forgot en that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain
One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.
A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.
She seemed t o be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached..
It read:
"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."
Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.
"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.
"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.
"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.
By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.
"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.
The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.
The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies... You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.
After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The
peasant learned what many of us never understand!
Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare &serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.
I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.
He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away".
Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

"Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like you do when nobody's watching."
NOW more than ever - Peace...Pass It On.....Pay It Foward
DAILY QUOTE: Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible. Helen Keller, US blind & deaf educator (1880 - 1968)
THIS DAY IN HISTORY (March 3, 1887)
Anne Sullivan begins teaching 6 year old blind-deaf Helen Keller

I am adding daily quotes to my posts, voices that echo the flavor of my message. I chose Helen Keller for the first one, because her story was the first book I remember reading for pleasure. After I closed it I sat rocking slowly on the proch swing, eyes closed, fingers in my ears, trying desperatly to wrap my young mind around the prison her body was. She was my first hero.
The irony that a key played a big part in the story of these two strong female's first meeting was not lost on me, even then. I understood on some level that without one another, neither would have been complete. They were reason people to one another. Anne Sullivan possessed the key that unlocked the door and gave Helen the world. And it also gave the world Helen. She altered her orbit, enlightened our planet, overcomming odds that stagger the mind to contimplate, and left us all a legacy of insights born of total silence and darkeness.
The next time you are tempted to stress over an incidental detail, let your mind rest in Helen's shoes for just a moment. Nothing is hopeless, unless you make it so. When I find myself locked up somehow, I look around for the key. If it is not in plain view, I change my focus and look for my Anne.
Humans usualy find what they are looking for if they do not stop searching. If you look for misfortune it will be your fate no matter what your circumstance. If you look past misfortune, and seek peace of mind the same rules apply. Without sight or sound, Helen looked for success and it was hers, because she let nothing stand in her way. Look carefuly at what is standing in your way, and be very certain it is not you.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Thanks Junie--No Charge For Love

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups. And set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.
"Mister," he said, "I want to buy one of your puppies."
"Well," said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, "These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money."
The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. "I've got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?"
"Sure," said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. "Here, Dolly!" he called. Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others,doing its best to catch up.
"I want that one," the little boy said, pointing to the runt.
The farmer knelt down at the boy's side and said, "Son, you don't want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would."
With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, "You see sir, I don't run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands."
With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup. Holding it carefully he handed it to the little boy. "How much?" asked the little boy.
"No charge," answered the farmer, "There's no charge for love."
The world is full of people who need someone who understands.
It's National Friendship Week.
Show your friends how much you care.

In ways I can not explain the emails I have been getting are really helping me to stay on task with other projects related to my passion to aide and comfort whoever needs a hand. Working in health care for over twenty years gave me a solid background in what I do now. It also helped teach me about the fine art of eye contact and what it means to a hopeless person when they see that someone understands their pain.
Once I had my awakening I began to notice the special pain in others that I had experienced just prior to its beginning. Certain people caught my eye and demanded a closer look. It was kinda like how if you buy a red car all you notice for awhile are other red cars.
One woman in paticular tormented my soul. I only knew her well enough to nod and smile, but the first time I looked straight into her eyes it took my breath away. She seemed to be drowning in my pain. At that moment my fate was sealed, although I did not realize it at the time.
I had just written my first book, and I could not shake the thought that she was supposed to read it for some reason. I tried to talk myself out of it. How crazy would I have seemed walking up to a virtual stranger, handing her a hand written manuscript, and saying she was the chosen one to read it first. It is around 19,000 words long, well over 100 pages type written, so it made an impressive stack.
Well the long and short of it is that I found a way to get the book into her hands and left it to a higher power to see that she read it. That was a long while back, and she wears that pain no more. I talked to her today and gave her the addy here, so she could share in what that moment brought to both our lives. For the part she played in this drama, I will always love her. For the devotion she showed at my side on July 4th, 2003, I call her a forever friend. Nancy, you were a reason person in my life, before I ever realized what that meant. Welcome to the passion that you helped me build.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Thank You Zina--Time Gets Better With Age

I learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing "Silent Night".
Age 5
I learned that our dog doesn't want to eat my broccoli either.
Age 7
I learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back.
Age 9
I learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again.
Age 12
I learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up.
Age 14
I learned that although it's hard to admit it, I'm secretly glad my parents are strict with me.
Age 15
I learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.
Age 24
I learned that brushing my child's hair is one of life's great pleasures.
Age 26
I learned that wherever I go, the world's worst drivers have followed me there.
Age 29
I learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.
Age 30
I learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don't know how to show it.
Age 42
I learned that you can make some one's day by simply sending them a little note.
Age 44
I learned that the greater a person's sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.
Age 46
I learned that children and grandparents are natural allies.
Age 47
I learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
Age 48
I learned that singing "Amazing Grace" can lift my spirits for hours.
Age 49
I learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone.
Age 50
I learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
Age 51
I learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.
Age 52
I learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.
Age 53
I learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.
Age 58
I learned that if you want to do something positive for your children, work to improve your marriage.
Age 61
I learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
Age 62
I learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
Age 64
I learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
Age 65
I learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision.
Age 66
I learned that everyone can use a prayer.
Age 72
I learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
Age 82
I learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch-holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
Age 90
I learned that I still have a lot to learn.
Age 92
I learned that you might want to pass this on to someone you care about. Sometimes they just need a little something to make them smile.

I feel so blessed to have the friendships I have both off and on line. People who know me and love me in spite of all my blunders are a bottomless resource for such positive things. To really touch and be touched soul deep is a privilege that I never get tired of exercising. Resting in a heart felt embrace does not require a friends presence in the same place to be experienced. It travels through phone lines, cable lines, words on paper, or screen: love knows no boundaries.
It recognizes no limits of distance or time spent apart. Faces that have never faced each other can wear matching smiles if souls touch in friendship. Voices never heard can speak as loudly as ones nearby if love directs your hearing. Comfort and concern has an energy and power that transcends time and space when it is real.
Some sweet day I may meet some of the people I have met online, ones I love unconditionally and who love me back in the same way. I will not love them any more than I do now if we meet face to smiling face. If I love you it is with all my heart or nothing. And I do not give it lightly or take it back easily. Each friend is loved in a different, unique way, suited to their needs as well as my own. Some are like sisters, or brothers, or children, or parents, but they all inhabit a special family section of my heart. I have gathered them like a bouquet of wildflowers along the road as I traveled, and their vibrancy and fragrance fill my senses with wonder.