Her Hands Have Touched Hearts and Souls

Moments with Momma – Volume 5

These hands have worked so hard and today they are making a Halloween headpiece for the costume I will wear to a Halloween party next weekend.

As I watched her struggle to pull the floral wire tight enough to hold the blooms in place, I thought about all the things her hands have done. She has always loved flowers! These hands have dug in the dirt for more years than I have been alive, coaxing beautiful blooms to grow from tiny plants. Her flower gardens have been a source of pride and joy for her. She would point out each flower and tell you it’s story as she slowly wandered from flower bed to flower bed. Her landscaping was a work of art. When a large yard became too much and she moved to a condo, her love of flowers went with her. To most, her patio looked way too small for a flower garden, but we were all wrong. She filled the entire space with flowers. There were flower up high, down low and in between. She tended her small paradise with love and care, removing each and every bloom when it passed its peak, watering endlessly and talking to them to encourage them to be strong.

When she sold her condo to leave indiana and move in with us, one of her great grandsons took her beloved flowers home with him. Since she has been here with us, she hasn’t had any flowers to tend but I think its time she got those hands dirty again. We have a large lanai and pool deck that is begging for more color. Maybe keeping her hands in the dirt with keep her heart in the game.

As I thought about her hands, the strangest memory came to me. I remember as a young child growing up in the 60’s watching her get dressed up to go to town. Back then, women wore gorgeous, tailored suits to go shopping. After all, it was the time of Jackie O. I would lay across her bed and watch her put on her nylon stockings. Her hands would gather up the stocking all the way down to the toe. She put her toe in and then she started working that gossamer fabric up her leg gently working back and forth to make sure it was smooth and straight. Then she would put on her suit. She had two that I thought were the most beautiful clothes any woman had ever worn! One was bright spring green trimmed in navy blue and the other was cheerful, sunflower yellow trimmed in black. Once dressed, her hands would add the finishing touches – a thin belt threaded through the tiniest of belt loops and fastened in front. She would always smooth the front of her suit after the belt was on. Then she added a fabulous silk scarf that tucked in the top of the suit jacket for that perfect put-together look. Finally, she would pull out the perfectly matched pair of high heels, classic pumps in either navy or black. She looked so stunning!

I also remember her using those hands to paint greeting cards. She loved to paint. One year she decided to hand paint all of her Christmas cards. For months she would spend her spare time in her painting room creating winter scenes on blank cards. They were beautiful beyond description and lovingly made from these very hands.

Isn’t it strange how just noticing her hands today brought back all these memories! Her hands are not as strong and sure as they once were, but the joy she has brought to others through these loving and giving hands will live forever in the hearts she has touched.

Thanks for being here today. Have a great weekend and we will talk to you again on Monday!

Love

Suzy

It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses. Sometimes there is Melancholy.

Moments with Momma – volume 4

Most of the time Mom is upbeat about her new life in SW Florida, but there have been a couple of days when she has felt differently. When questioned, she had a hard time describing what she was feeling. Then she found the word – Melancholy.

Hmmm, Melancholy. What a dark, foreboding, yet somehow romantic word. When I hear the word, I immediately think about the harsh, raw, wind blowing across the damp and dreary Scottish Moors. I feel the heaviness of the clouds as they blanket the landscape. I can feel the chill creep into the very bones of the heroines of a romantic novel as she draws her woolen shawl tightly around her shoulders. She gazes across the desolate moors thinking about the love of her life whose life was cut short as he bravely fought for the future of the kingdom, leaving her alone, heavy with his child in this lonely land.

When I asked her what her thoughts were when she was feeling melancholy, what she said actually gave credence to the above description. She talks about things that will never be again such as how she hasn’t been truly happy since my dad passed away, about how so many of her great friends have passed, how she misses doing all the things she use to be able to do that she will never be able to do again. She says it’s a heaviness in the heart. It’s not sadness or regret, just a heaviness from missing the people and things that were.

She explained to me that one of the biggest blows to a person’s life is when his/her driving privileges are taken away. It’s like stripping the person of their freedom. When Mom moved down here we all decided it was not safe for her to drive. Her reaction time has slowed and she was in a new and unfamiliar place. I am here every minute of every day to take her anywhere she wants to go whenever she wants to go but, I guess it’s just not the same.

So, the question I have been sitting with over the past few days is this: what is the lesson I can take away from these conversations? The answer? I need to be fully present every moment and to be fully engaged in everything life puts in front of me. I need to love a little deeper and express that love more openly. I need to appreciate my friends more completely. I need to never take for granted the ability to move freely and to drive. I need to notice the beautiful things around me, to drink in the fragrances of the flowers, to feel the breeze on my skin. Most importantly – I need to be so filled with gratitude for every single experience I have that I feel as light as air. I need to mentally record every experience and every moment of joy so I can look back on them in the future and be grateful.

The day will come when all of us will be in Mom’s position. We will be looking back over our lives and melancholy will fill our hearts. Time marches on, friends pass and situations change in a heartbeat. None of us know when these things will come so it’s just the most important thing in all of life to be unendingly grateful for every experience that happens today and every day.

Blessings to you, my friends. Thanks for being here with us on this journey.

Love,

Suzy

You Better Watch Out! Momma Got Wheels!

Moments with Momma – volume 3

My sweet Mom has always been a Go-Getter! She was always on the move, always so athletic and so fearless. She was always on at least one bowling league, played golf as many days a week as possible, was active in the ladies card clubs as well as so many other things! She and my dad spent every Friday night out ballroom dancing where they could really cut a rug. There was literally nothing she wouldn’t try. According to her, the best way to cut a watermelon was by wielding a machete overhead and slicing the melon open with one swift downward blow. She was a great shot with a shotgun. She could spend the day out shooting with her brothers, come home, clean up in her dancing shoes and head out for a night on the town with dad. What a lady!

The problem is now she is not so mobile. The stroke and the falls have taken their tolls so now she has been forced to slow down. She gets around the house by surface surfing or using the walker but long walks or outings were out of the question – UNTIL – we had her get herself a new set of wheels.

Every morning I take our Golden Doodle for a 2.5 mile walk through the neighborhood just as the gorgeous SW Florida sunrise is happening. In the evenings my husband and I take the dog for another 1.5 -2 mile walk as the sun is setting. Now Mom can enjoy these blessings as well! She really enjoys seeing the wildlife, especially the burrowing owls that have set up household in our neighborhood. She is looking forward to the morning we see an armadillo or bald eagle.

Another great thing about her new set of wheels is that it comes apart in 4 pieces! My niece and great niece were visiting last week. We learned together how to take it apart and reassemble it. It is SUPER easy! We can pack all the pieces in the trunk and head off for great adventures beyond the neighborhood! So far we have only taken it to Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda but there are many things on our adventure list! We have lovingly dubbed the mobile chair The Adventure Buggy. As soon as the weather cools off just a little bit more in the middle of the day, we are heading to the Botanical Gardens. We are both super excited about that!

We hope you enjoy a few of our pictures from our world. Thanks so much for joining us today! We would love for you to subscribe to our blog so you never miss an episode!

Sunset in the neighborhood.
Sunrise in the neighborhood
Just another sunset ūüôā
Bald Eagle on our path
Mom is in the lead!
Lacy Mae, the reason we walk!
Armadillo just doing its thing

Love,

Suzy

Sweet Mother of Jesus! That Was GOOD!!!

Moments with Momma – volume 2

October 20, 2020

Hello again! We are so glad you are here! Things have been heating up around here – especially in the kitchen. The kitchen is where Mom and I have found common ground. Finding common ground is what has made this work for us.

We wanted Mom to move in. We prepared for her to move in. We planned and schemed and thought we had done all the things to insure a smooth transition; however, when the time came, it was still a huge adjustment for everyone. The last time we had lived together I was an 18 year old kid heading off to college with no idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Mom ran the household exactly the way she wanted to. We all followed her house rules. Now she was moving into our house where I ran the household exactly the way I wanted to. I had been running our household for 36 years. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit bossy and I run a pretty tight ship. So here we were, two grown women each use to being the Queen of the Home.

In my mind, my role was to make Mom my patient, to care for her every need, make sure she was safe at every moment, make sure she was taking her medication correctly and so on – you know, be the Warden. All she wanted was a safe place to live where she could be as independent as possible and to have someone to do things with. So, it took us a minute. Then it started coming together.

She had collected recipes from her friends for decades. She brought them all with her. I had a 4 week rotation of menus already prepared that worked for me. But it isn’t about me. It is about us. We have come to a workable arrangement. Mom plans the weekly menus using all her favorite recipes and we cook together. It has been so much fun! She is sharing favorite foods from her life and we are spending so much great time together in the kitchen. While we are cooking she gets to tell me about who she got the recipes from, when she got them, what was going on and a bit about the people who gave her the recipes. Truly a winning situation for everyone.

Last night our dinner was so good I definitely heard the angles sing. We want to share the recipe with you! Here’s to finding common ground!

Emillie’s Pasta – from Barb Godzwa

Ingredients:

1 lb sweet Italian Sausage

1 lb hot Italian Sausage

4-5 cloves of garlic – I use the minced garlic in a jar with olive oil

1-2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

2 cans diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano – juice and all

1 lb ziti pasta

1 bag of baby spinach leaves

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Brown the sausage in a large pan breaking it up into small pieces. Drain and return to pan.
  2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and Italian seasoning. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, juice and all.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Drain but reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  6. Combine sausage mixture and pasta together into one pot over medium heat. Mix well
  7. Add spinach leaves (remove large stems) and stir together.
  8. Add the reserved pasta water, shredded mozzarella and parmesan. Stir well and heat until the cheese is melted.

NOTE: If your mixture seems to need more liquid, I added about a cup of heavy cream when I added the cheeses.

NOTE: Do yourself a huge favor and buy a block of parmesan cheese. Use your cheese shredder/grater to shred it right before adding it to the pot. You will not be sorry!

The end result was beyond magnificent – a religious experience actually! We added roasted broccoli for a side and a grape salad for dessert. Oh my, Oh my, Oh my!

Bonus points!!! Because this recipe makes such a large quantity, we fed the 4 of us and had enough left over to freeze for another meal!

Thanks so much for being here with us!

Love,

Suzy

Moments With Momma – Volume 1

The circle of life has come full circle. I have heard that phrase “the circle of life” my whole life but, until recently, it was just a whimsical thought. About 6 weeks ago it became our reality.

The backstory:

Mom had a stroke a couple of years ago from which she recovered fairly well. Unfortunately, it did leave her unable to live alone due to her lack of balance which caused a constant risk of falling. My sister, Rhonda, was at a point in her life when she could retire. She volunteered to sell her house and move in with Mom. That was a blessing! We were not in a position to have her live with us at that time. Our home had tons of stairs, was not handicapped suitable and we worked full time. It was just not a good match. A little over a year ago we sold our business and our home and moved to Florida to embrace semi-retirement. Along came 2020. Mom had fallen several times over the past couple of years, but nothing incredibly serious – until March. She fell in her bathroom in the wee hours of the morning and broke her left leg just below the hip joint. The paramedics took her to the hospital where they found out the break was severe and required immediate surgery. Rhonda called me to let me know. I started scheduling a flight to get back to Indiana and was just ready to push the “Purchase” button when she called me back. The response to the pandemic was developing moment by moment. The hospital closed down to any visitors other than one person to be there during the surgery. I would not be allowed to enter the hospital even if I was allowed to fly. So, there I sat, in Florida, half the continent away, waiting for phone updates. She made it through the surgery and was transported to a re-hab center for her recovery. The re-hab center was on total lockdown and allowed no visitors at all. The patients were confined to their rooms at all times. Mom had a miserable experience from start to finish. She was in pain and isolated from everyone. Luckily she has always had a fighting spirit so she dug in and worked to get better. The moment they agreed to release her, she went back home. She and Rhonda continued to live together. The effects of the stroke and the broken leg combined with her advanced age of 85 made the situation more than Rhonda could handle alone. I was home full time and I had Kevin and Ross available so we all decided it would be safer for Mom to move in with us. Mom agreed that it would be best. She sold her home and all of her belongings. That was extremely hard on her emotionally as well as physically but she got it done. On September 7th, she got on a plane that delivered her to the next phase of her life. Despite everything that she had been through, her attitude has been amazing! She relishes each day in Paradise! So, that is how we got to where we are today. We have gone full circle from me being the one being cared for to me being the caregiver. It took a minute for us to all settle in to our new life just like it takes a minute to adjust to all the new phases of life, but we are doing great!!!

There are going to be many great adventures as we continue our quest together. Because we all know it won’t last forever, I want to record and share our journey every step of the way. I invite you to come along with us. Please subscribe to our blog so you never miss a moment. We will be sharing the good times and the bad, figuring out things that work and things that don’t, laughing our laughs and drying our tears – and we are going to do it together. Maybe some of the tricks we learn along the way will help you or someone you know as the circle of life continues to come full circle.

Thank you so much for being here!

Suzy

Can Dandelions Determine Your Future?

Untitled design-2There is no solid, true reality in our world – there is only our own individual perception of experiences in our individual lives that form our unique version of reality. ¬†There is also no concrete future for us either. ¬†We only have the now moment and the perceptions of what happens around us, combined with the thousands of daily decisions we make, to steer the direction of our lives towards a possible future. ¬†Don’t believe me? ¬†Let’s look at some dandelions for clarity.

We have four houses in a row. ¬† A new dandelion springs up in each of the 4 front yards overnight. ¬†Here’s what happens.

  1. ¬†Bert is one of those people who obsesses over his yard. ¬†Every blade of grass must be cut to the exact, optimal length. ¬†Every flower bed has to be mulched to perfection, and God have mercy on any poor soul who inadvertantly lets the tires of their car get off the edge of the driveway onto his perfectly manicured lawn. ¬†Bert walks out of his house to survey his kingdom and there it is – the dandelion!!!! ¬†Fury rises in his very soul as he bolts to the garage to grab the bottle of poison needed to kill his foe. ¬†After carefully dousing just the weed so as not to get killer on any surrounding grass, he runs to the phone to call his lawn care professionals and orders them to come out today to spray every inch of his domain to eliminate any possibility of further invasions by the enemy dandelions. ¬† Bert’s perception of reality is that dandelions are vile weeds with no reason to exist. ¬†He will eliminate them in any way possible, even at the risk of poisoning his water system and the soil.
  2. Casey has a job that he loves. ¬†This job keeps his mind challenged and engaged 24 hours a day every day. ¬†He is so pleased with his his work life that very few things outside of work catch his attention. ¬†Casey happily walks out his front door with his laptop and coffee and heads to his car which will take him to the place he finds fulfillment. ¬†He strolls confidently past the dandelion without even noticing that it is there. ¬†Casey’s perception of reality is that dandelions are completely neutral and have no impact on his life whatsoever.
  3. Savannah walks out of her door just as the sun is rising and spots the dandelion. ¬†She is ecstatic! ¬†Savannah is an Herbalist and she knows the potent, medicinal properties found within the dandelion plant. ¬†She knows that dandelions are best in the early spring when their green leaves can be cooked and used as a tonic to revive the body after a long, cold winter. ¬†She knows that the root can be dried and ground to make an herbal tea that nourishes the liver and digestive tract while also being a diuretic. ¬†She sees every single part of the dandelion plant as a useful tool in her herbal medicine chest. ¬†Savannah’s perception of reality is that the dandelion plant is a gift from God for which she is very grateful. ¬†She finds great value in the dandelion plant.
  4. And lastly we have Gracie. ¬†Gracie is a 4 year old, joy filled, happy-go-lucky child who loves her life. ¬†She races outside under the careful watch of her mother. ¬†Then she spots it! ¬†That most beautiful, bright, yellow flower – the dandelion. ¬†She squeals with delight and plucks the flower from the plant. ¬†After admiring the most perfect thing she has seen all day, she runs up to her mother and gives her mother this most wonderful gift with a heart of unconditional love. ¬†When her mother accepts the gift with the same level of enthusiasm as it was given, Gracie is filled with joy that she has made her mother happy by sharing this beautiful gift with her. ¬†Gracie’s perception of reality is that gorgeous, yellow flowers that magically spring up in your yard are gifts to share with others to spread joy.

Four different reactions to the same neutral event. ¬†This shows exactly what I mean when I say there is no actual reality – only each person’s perception of reality. This is why it is so critically important that we be willing to at least try to see events through other people’s eyes so that we can try to understand their perception of reality. ¬†Too often we only see our perspective. ¬†We see an issue as black and white. ¬†We are right, our viewpoint is the only viewpoint. ¬†If you don’t share my viewpoint you are just plain stupid and wrong.

Maybe if we took some time to talk to another person we would find out why they believe what they do and maybe we could see where they are coming from. ¬†We definitely don’t have to change our perception of reality to match theirs, but maybe we could judge less harshly when we understand that their perception actually has some merit.

So, how did the decisions each person made about how to react to the dandelion create the path to each person’s future? ¬†Bert’s continued to obsess over his yard until he developed a full blown obsessive compulsive disorder. ¬†This eventually forced him into years of mental health counseling. ¬†Casey continued to love his job. ¬†He climbed the ladder to financial wealth so he could buy a luxury, loft condo in the downtown area of the city where he worked. ¬†Lawn care was never a concern for him. ¬†Savannah built a YouTube channel where she could share her knowledge and wisdom of herbs with a huge audience of like minded people, which gave her much joy. ¬†Gracie grew up to be a fashion jewelry designer creating beautiful works of art that brought joy to everyone who wore them.

And to think – it all started with a dandelion!

I hope you all have a magical day filled with delightful thoughts that bring joy to your version of reality.

Love to all,

Suzy

 

 

These Festering Pimples Had To POP!

Untitled designIt seems our whole world is on fire as we speak.  The flames are growing hotter and more wide spread every minute!   As someone who LOVES words, it mystifies me that I am not able to find the words to describe my feelings over what is happening.  It has taken several days for me to think it through before bringing this post to light.

At some point in all our lives, each of us has had one of those deep, swollen, painful pimples or boils under our skin. ¬† We can feel it – it’s just kind of festering under the skin, not yet ready to come to the surface. ¬†As we wait for it to surface, it grows larger and more painful. ¬†And then, there it is! ¬†It has come to the surface and it explodes. ¬†It has to come to a head and explode before it can begin to heal. ¬†That is exactly how I feel about what is happening. ¬†As horrifying and terrible as so many recent events have been, they had to happen so that this whole ugly, festering, nastiness that has been brewing under the skin of society could finally come to light – hopefully for the last time. ¬† As a society, we have looked the other way for far too long. ¬† We have known forever that our police force harbors an ugly, infected, puss pocket of dirty cops. ¬†It is not a new thing! Hollywood brings them to our living room in all their movies about big cities, crime, the Mob, etc. ¬†They didn’t make it up – it really exists and we all knew it, we just chose to ignore it like we try to ignore that bump that forms under our skin. ¬†I truly believe that the vast majority of police officers are honest, hard working, public servants. ¬†I am not pointing fingers at cops in general. ¬†We must have law and order for society to function successfully. ¬†It’s just that now the fact that there are a few horribly rotten apples in the barrel is really coming out into the light for us all to look at. ¬†Before we can get rid of it, we have to be able to see it for exactly what it is. It’s only by bringing this dark energy into the light that it can be eliminated.

Not only is a small pocket of our law enforcement totally corrupt, so is a huge part of our Government. ¬†The fact that there are high level political leaders PAYING protesters to come to cities across this nation to destroy property and destroy people’s lives is as disgusting as the original event. ¬†To intentionally cause social unrest and to use a cold blooded MURDER for political gain makes me sick! ¬†Again, this has been going on for a very long, long time. ¬†It’s not new! ¬†There are FAR more dirty politicians than there are dirty cops. ¬†These politicians are being paid for votes by huge companies who stand to make huge profits off the decisions made by politicians – even if it hurts people! ¬†Money and Greed and the thirst for Power – that’s all it is! ¬†The time has come to expose the darkness and bring it into the light for all to see. ¬†Then it can be eliminated.

The same can be said for many other social injustices that are now coming to light for us to look at such as human trafficking. ¬†Sexual abuse of all kinds has been going on since the beginning of time. ¬†Selling ¬†people into sexual slavery is certainly not a new thing but over the past couple of years it has been coming to light. ¬†It’s ugly and nasty and Hellish, but it’s not new. ¬†Praise God it is coming to the light so that we can see how disgusting it is. ¬†Again it is the light that will force out the darkness.

All of these social diseases are caused by greed and the lust for power.   As I said in a prior post, I dream of a society that thrives on cooperation instead of competition.  This is my soapbox.  All of us MUST work to raise ourselves above ANY type of discrimination and we MUST link hands with our neighbors to lift them up with us.

If you are reading this thinking to yourself that you have already risen above discrimination, I challenge your belief. ¬†ALL of us have had or still have feelings about other people that equal discrimination. ¬†You think it’s only about race or sexual orientation? ¬†NO! ¬†It goes so far beyond that! ¬†I am just as guilty as any other human on the planet. ¬†To say I have never thought negative thoughts about someone because of whatever it might be, I would be lying. ¬†If we have ever looked at a person who is morbidly obese and thought a negative thought about them, we are guilty. ¬†If we have ever looked at someone as being below us because of what job they have, we are guilty. If we have ever looked at someone as being below us because they are handicapped, or less educated, or poor, we are guilty. ¬†If we really think about it, for a society to be sanitary and as rodent free as possible, trash collectors are more valuable than lawyers yet we look down on trash collectors. ¬†We have judged people based on their clothing choices, their music preferences, even the piercings and tattoos they have. ¬†Something that hits particularly close to home for my family is when hateful comments are made about adoptions and adopted children. ¬†Believe me, your heart breaks when your child looks you in the eye and asks, “Mom, what is wrong with being adopted? ¬†I thought it was pretty cool and that I was hand picked. ¬†Why do people make fun of it?” or when you hear people say, “we don’t want to adopt, we want to have our OWN child.” ¬†How hateful and selfish can people be?

As long as a person is not harming another person, animal or the earth, it is not our place ¬†to judge! ¬†Jesus tells us very plainly that it is our job to love one another. ¬†That’s it! ¬†That is our job – to love one another! ¬†He also very plainly tells us that it is not for us to point out the fleck of dust in another person’s eye when we have a plank in our own eye. ¬†“Let him who is faultless cast the first stone.”

This is humankind’s greatest challenge. ¬†If we are ever to progress to higher levels of humanity, we must rise above competition, greed, power hunger and judgment. ¬†We are all connected to one another and to God. ¬†What happens to one of us spreads to all of us. ¬†Just as the ripples in a pond spread out in all directions to touch the shore when a stone is tossed, so our actions ripple through the universe to touch everyone and everything in some way. ¬†We must strive to toss stones of love and acceptance if this is what we want to spread to all.

We, as a collective are dragging so many evil, dark things into the light so that they can be seen for exactly what they are Рhorrid, festering, wounds.  Now comes the hard part.  We have to clean the wounds.  We have to wash out the infection and pour in the burning, germ killing alcohol.  We have to care for the wounds so that they never come back again and we have to pray that it heals without leaving too much of a scar.  But how? . . . . . . .

 

 

How Small is Your Prison Cell – part 2 – You Can CRUSH It Even in Hard Times!

Canva - nullSo, we are still talking about the limiting beliefs that you might have that are making your self-made prison cell very small.  This particular entry is fitting for the situation we are in right now!

When we are faced with an “event” which is usually more of a crisis at first, most of us immediately go into victim mode. ¬†We wallow in the agony of what has happened to us. OH! THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL!!! ¬†How could this have happened to me? ¬†This event will end life as I know it. ¬†I will never be able to recover from this horrible thing that has happened to me. ¬†I don’t deserve this, yada, yada, yada.

Let me assure you, when this pandemic happened and we were given the order to shut down businesses, close down beaches, don’t drive unless absolutely necessary and shelter in place, I nearly lost my ever-living mind!!! ¬†I was screaming from the rooftops about how mad I was about this and that. ¬†I was spreading negativity to anyone who would listen to me. ¬†I was fighting with strangers on social media until I was having anxiety attacks multiple times every day. ¬†Finally, it got so bad that I felt like something snapped in my soul. ¬†I thought I was having an actual mental breakdown. ¬†I shut down for 2 whole days. ¬†I felt bad, I had a headache, I was exhausted and just needed a break. ¬†Then I figured out that I hadn’t had a mental breakdown, I had actually snapped back into sanity. ¬†It was at this point that I started to follow my own advise.

I turned off the TV, I stopped reading the negative posts on social media and I started filling my mind with positive things. ¬†It wasn’t that I was sticking my head in the sand. ¬†I wasn’t pretending the EVENT didn’t exist, I just came to the realization that I couldn’t change it no matter how mad I was or how much I screamed. ¬†It was beyond my control.

In order to get out of the box of our self imposed prison cell, we have to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX – outside the walls of our belief that have bound us! ¬†When things feel the tightest is when we need to stretch the hardest. ¬†We can let the EVENT be the dead end or we can let the EVENT be the catalyst for us to forge a new path or look for a new trail. ¬†I’m really going to age myself here, but I think about “The Dukes of Hazard” and the General Lee. ¬†Those crazy country boys drove that car through some hair raising obstacles. ¬†In my minds eye I see them racing down a dusty, country road being chased by multiple cop cars. ¬†They are barely able to stay in front of them until they come to a white water stream. ¬†Instead of slamming on the brakes to stop at the edge of the stream, they pour on the gas and fly OVER the stream. ¬†All of the cop cars slam on their breaks and stop at the edge of the water. ¬†The General Lee clears the stream and the boys are free.

The very first thing we all have to do is either believe that we CAN overcome the EVENT or believe that we MUST overcome the EVENT. ¬†Sometimes desperation is the greatest motivator. ¬†After you believe you must overcome, its important to separate yourself from the event and look at it from outside. ¬†Look at it from an aerial view. ¬†See it for what it truly is instead of how it feels to you. ¬†What barriers does it put up? ¬†How has it changed the rules? ¬† Look at it objectively. ¬†Don’t get sucked into what everyone else is doing because most of the time they are going to be screaming and shaking their fists at the edge of the event. ¬†Don’t become part of the herd mentality. ¬†If you look at it from above you might see the barrier ends just beyond what people can see by standing right in front of it. ¬†Find the loop hole. ¬†Find the path less taken. ¬†Find a way to turn the event into your personal WIN. ¬†What small alterations could you make to what you do to get you around the event? ¬†How could you do it so that you still have a servant’s heart?

Restaurants have been hit hard by this current EVENT as have so many others, but let’s just look at restaurants right now. ¬†They had to close their facilities to dine-in customers BUT they could do carry out. ¬†Those who have done the best with the crisis are the ones who took carry out to a whole new level. ¬†They made romantic dinners, complete with candles for the table, available for carry-out. ¬†They played off the meals in a box we can now order that we prepare at home. ¬†They came up with “make it yourself” boxes so people could successfully cook really good food at home. ¬†Those who had a large social media following started making daily videos of how to prepare food then offered them the boxed meal that they could order. ¬†They made sure to post mouth watering entrees in to-go boxes every day on social media. ¬†They got the word out that they were alive and well. ¬†They gave the impression that they were thriving during hard times. ¬†Because they believed it and because they showed it to their customers, their customers continued to come.

Bar tenders could do a daily video or social media splash on “Drink of the Day” where they concoct and prepare a drink with specific instructions for their followers to make at home. ¬†Of course, they could always offer the drink for carry out if the viewers didn’t happen to have all the ingredients at home. ¬†The tag line would be something like, Just Add Ice! ¬†By making a personal connection to customers online, they build trust with their customers and the following grows.

If a retail store was closed down, the owner could create a daily video with their dog.  They could show themselves opening boxes of new merchandise and showing it to a dog, or a baby, or a stuffed animal to emphasize that they were in quarantine but then turn to the camera like they just realized their customers could see into the store and offer the merchandise for online ordering.

The key is, no matter what event you are facing, there is always a more positive way to think about it and to deal with it.  Sometimes we are faced with things more difficult than being shut down by a freak of nature.  As a result, sometimes the way around the problem is harder.  The truth still remains Рwhat you think and what you believe about your EVENT will have either a positive or a negative impact on your EVENT.  Enlarge your prison cell by thinking outside the box and seeing possibilities on the other side of the prison cell.

How Small is your Prison Cell? – part 1

1D306A54-8530-4F46-8650-FE4F34622AD9It has been said that we all construct prison cells around ourselves.  The walls, ceiling and floor are made up of the beliefs that define us, the people that surround us and the fears that limit us.

The question each of us must ask ourselves is how small have we made our prison cells and are we happy within the confines of our walls. ¬†Let’s first look at our beliefs as these pour the foundation of our lives. ¬†The funny thing about beliefs is that most of them are not even ours! ¬†They are beliefs passed down to us by those who were around us in our earliest years – the years before we were even capable of forming our own beliefs.

How about your beliefs on religion?  If you were raised in a religious home or even an anti-religious home, these beliefs could be the very corner posts of your prison cell.  Those who raised you instilled these beliefs in you from the day you were  born and , in most cases, offered no room to deviate from the belief.  Even after you were grown and started to have questions about some of it, you would not dare bring up your wavering faith to those who raised you.   For those of you who chose your own religious path in adulthood, this may not apply.

Kevin and I were both raised in the Christian Church.  The religious rules he was raised under were decidedly stricter than mine, but we were both given a strong religious belief system.  There were no questions as to what was true.  We were required by God himself to live a life as close to perfect as possible.  Every single time we did anything wrong, we were sinning against God and he was disappointed in us.  We had to believe that Jesus Christ came to earth in human form, preached his perfect message, took all of our sins upon himself so we could be saved and then was brutally murdered so that we could live forever in Heaven.  After he was dead, he was thrown in a cave with the doorway blocked by a huge stone.  After three days, he rose from the dead.  Badda Bing, Badda Boom, believe it or dwell in Hell for all of eternity. Period.

Then one day the thought occurred to me that maybe there was more than one point of view. ¬† !!!GASP!!! ¬†The thought that started me down this rabbit hole came to me while in elementary school learning about the Native Americans. ¬†According to the doctrine we were fed, they were obviously savages who believed in multiple, false Gods. ¬†Our forefathers were appalled and demanded that they be taught proper religion so their ¬†souls could be saved. ¬†I looked up pictures of their religious sites and practices. ¬†I researched how closely bound they felt to their version of God – how they worshipped and believed. ¬†They believed in a higher power just as strongly as we did, it was just different. ¬†When I asked the BIG question to a Christian scholar, I was shocked at the answer. ¬†I asked if all the Native Americans that had ever lived and died, were now in Hell because they hadn’t been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. ¬†The answer? “The only way to Heaven is through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. ¬†If they were not baptized, they were not saved.”¬†¬† WOW! ¬†That just didn’t sound like the God I prayed to in my endless prayer journals. ¬†How could that even be a thing if these people had never had the opportunity to be taught about Christianity? ¬†If their beliefs in a higher power were just as strong as mine, what made their beliefs wrong and what made my beliefs right? ¬†How were we capable of judging when the Bible clearly tells us to not judge?

Think about this. ¬†What if you had been born in a different part of the world? ¬†What if you had been born to Muslim parents? Or Hindu parents? ¬†Wouldn’t your beliefs in the religion you were raised with be as strong as your current beliefs? ¬†Wouldn’t you then say that Christianity was completely wrong? ¬†I mean, think about this – ¬†what if YOU were raised as a Hindu and believed with every cell in your body that their multiple deity religion was the one true religion. ¬†You would have Hindu holy books and scriptures that you would study just like we have our Bible. ¬† You would believe that your Holy Scriptures were the true words given to you from the deities you worshipped. ¬†Maybe you had never even heard of Christianity or whatever religion you practice? ¬†Just take a minute to let that soak in.

The moral of the story is this: ¬†if you have made your prison cell extremely small due to your rigid religious beliefs, is there any room to expand the space by at least opening the door to the possibility that maybe God is too big to be squashed into one tiny, confining box? ¬†Maybe humans are not even capable of comprehending the concept of what God truly is. ¬†Maybe trying to define God by a set of human rules is like comparing the color of the sun to a yellow crayon. ¬†Before we condemn another human to eternity in Hell just because they grew up under different religious rules, maybe we could get to know that human on a personal level. ¬† I am not suggesting in any way that anyone give up their own religious beliefs. ¬†I know faith has given me a strong foundation on which to build my life. ¬†I’m just asking, is there any room to expand our prison cells to be more accepting of others?

 

What if . . . We Chose Bliss?

31cca70c8ade7a51ecbd52addca84f19What if this virus vanished tomorrow?  What form of new normal would you choose?

What if during this time of reflection you chose to follow your bliss instead of following the herd?  Would you go back to the job that paid the bills but left you emotionally, spiritually and physically bankrupt?

What if you chose an occupation that provided for all of your material needs but filled your emotional, spiritual and physical bank accounts to overflowing?

What if you chose to admit that emotional bliss is more important than financial abundance.

What if you chose to believe in who you truly are Рwho you were destined to be on the day of your birth Рwho God sent you here to be Рinstead of who others and society told you to be.  From the day you were born, your parents, community  and society started teaching you who you should be, how you should behave, how you should eat, when you should eat, when you should sleep, what you should study, how you should look, who you should love, who you should hate, how you should earn a living, what you should fear and what you should desire.

What if you saw that all of this conditioning is just the deep desire of others to make you be like them or what they acknowledge as acceptable?

What if you gave yourself permission to be who YOU want to be, to love who You want to love, and be who YOU find acceptable.

What if you chose to support the human race instead of the rat race?

What if we, as a collective, could choose to rid ourselves of the desire to climb that illusive ladder, to be better than anyone else, to compete with others until we could hold our competitor’s severed head high above the crowd to prove we were the victor?

What if we chose to see that we always need others in order to succeed?

What if we worked with a sense of cooperation instead of competition?

What if we chose to do whatever we do with a servant’s heart instead of a winner’s heart?

What if we chose to live our lives in tune with the rhythms of the earth instead of by the never ending sweep of the hands on the clock?

What if we chose to live our lives guided by the lights of the sun, the moon and the stars instead of the buzzing, flickering, false light of the flourescent  bulbs on the other end of the light switch?

It has taken me nearly 60 years, but I have finally decided to follow my bliss. ¬†Do you know what I am at my core? ¬†Do you know what I came here to do? ¬†I am a writer. ¬†I came here to write and to give my writings to anyone who wanted to read them as my gift – not with the singular goal to become wealthy but with the goal of gift giving. ¬†If I am given an outlet for my words, I already am wealthy! ¬†Do you know when I first knew I was a writer? ¬†I was a second grade student in Mrs. Huff’s class at Fall Creek Elementary School. ¬†Mrs. Huff was gone for the day so we had a substitute teacher. ¬†Our morning assignment was to write a paragraph about anything we chose to write about. ¬†In my mind’s eye I saw a glorious sunrise over the high-rise buildings of New York City. ¬†I wrote about the rising sun spilling it’s golden rays over the tops of the buildings like syrup flowing over a stack of pancakes! ¬†LOL! ¬†So dramatic! ¬†Anyway, we had to go up to the teachers desk individually so he could read them. ¬†When he read mine, he swiveled his chair around, put his elbows on his knees so we were eye level, looked me straight in the eye and told me my writing was amazing! ¬†In that moment I knew I had the ability to see something in my mind and get that vision on paper. ¬†To this day it amazes me how we can string a group of letters together to form the threads of thought to weave the very fabric of life! ¬†For my whole life I have kept my writings in ¬†journals in a tote in the attic. ¬†Why? ¬†Because, like all of us, I let others tell me their version of their truth. ¬†I let them tell me that becoming a writer was nearly impossible and if I ever did get a book published, I could never actually make a living at writing. ¬†I needed to be more in life than a writer – more than a day dreamer. ¬†So now, 50 years from that day in second grade, it’s time for me to be my authentic self and to write. ¬†What if you chose to join me on this quest for the truth? ¬†What would you be if you chose to truly be you?