Showing posts with label From the Heart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label From the Heart. Show all posts

Sunday, January 24, 2021

His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story



I've had the privilege of reading and reviewing many short stories by friends of mine. Being a writer of poetry and riddle books, I've never tackled a fictional short story online. As a young girl, I wrote many. However, as an adult, nope, never fictional.

Fiction wasn't my thing. Maybe it's this whole getting-older-stuff that gets us stepping out of our comfort zone? That's exactly what propelled me to write and publish my first poetry book in 2019, and since then, six riddle books. For some unknown reason, I had and still have a sense of urgency.

I blame time for my bravery to try new things. Time is knocking on my door, and my sense of it passing by too quickly is front and center these days.

So today's review is about jumping in and doing that one thing you've been hesitant to do. For me, it's writing a fictional story. So judge away, lol.


His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story by Barbara Tremblay Cipak

His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story About Love and Light

She stood at the bottom of that radiant sun-soaked hill sobbing from a pain that she didn't fully understand. 

This kind of suffering was beyond anything Kathleen had ever experienced.

It hurt more than when her father unexpectedly died in his sleep from an unknown heart condition when she was only eighteen; and even more than her mother's difficult passing from dementia three months ago.  

At the top of that hill, Kathleen could see Jeffrey, dressed in a lovely black suit. Her heart could feel his soul as if he were still that precious two-year-old rusty haired boy she rocked to sleep every night for years. She wondered how he grew up so quickly into the dapper twenty-year-old she was looking at today.

Kathleen could see Jeffrey comforting his sister. Holly's strong independent nature couldn't console her on this day. At eighteen, Holly needed her brother's shoulder. Kathleen was grateful that her children were there for each other.

Then it hit her. 

Kathleen suddenly realized why she was feeling this indescribable pain. Her children were grieving, and she could feel every part of their anguish. The tears she cried were a combination of all her love, as well as theirs.

Kathleen remembered how it happened, how she died. 

Two weeks ago, life took a turn that led her to the road she was on today.
_________

It was a bright, beautiful Tuesday. With spring in full bloom, she remembered feeling like anything was possible. As she headed downstairs that morning, she had an unexpected moment of knowing that everything would be ok. It was so profound that it stopped her on the steps. She paused to inhale the gift and felt fortunate to be in tune with something that always felt personal to her, something cosmic.

While sitting in her kitchen, waiting for nothing, Kathleen was enjoying a fresh cup of morning coffee. Life had always been a struggle, but Kathleen managed to find rays of sunshine. She called them 'her moments of bliss.' 

Being a single mom, she tried hard to maintain an uplifting attitude. She couldn't afford to slip into hopelessness. She often said, 'my children save my life every day.' To her, that was the greatest gift, and being a good mother was the least she could do for what they gave to her; hope.

Doing everything and expecting nothing had been Kathleen's motto. "Just do," she used to say; the rest will take care of itself.

While sipping that coffee, her phone rang. It was a number she didn't recognize and almost didn't answer. But being a believer in chance, she thought maybe today good luck would shine upon them and send the money they desperately needed for Holly's medication. 

Holly suffered from a rare auto-immune disease and required expensive anti-inflammatories to keep her frequent seizures under control.  

She answered that unexpected call.

"Hello, Kathleen speaking." 
"Hi, is this Kathleen Summers?" 
"Yes, it is."
"Hello, this is the office of Brander and Dorval. We handled your father's Last Will & Testament."

Kathleen was confused. Her father didn't own anything; he didn't have anything. How could there possibly be a Will, and why would someone be contacting her thirty-seven years after his death about a Will!

"What?" Kathleen said sharply

"Yes, there is a Will, and Mr. Brander needs to speak to you about it. Could you come in today, how's 1:00 pm?"

Although nearly speechless from shock, Kathleen agreed. 

Kathleen could hear both her kids shuffling upstairs as they readied themselves for their day. Jefferey loved animals and worked to save money to go to school to become a Veterinarian. His determination alone woke him daily for his job. Never late, always dependable. That was Jeffrey.

Holly never let her health stand in her way. She was about to finish her last semester of High School. Her curiosity about her auto-immune disease led her to want to study within that field. Maybe a doctor, perhaps a researcher; she hadn't figured that out yet.

Kathleen was proud of their determined spirit. It hadn't been easy for them; lack of money was always the mountain they had to climb, but her kids never let that stop them from dreaming. 

Kathleen headed upstairs to ready herself for her unexpected appointment and let the kids know she would be out for the afternoon. She didn't tell them about the strange call since she wasn't sure it was real.

Hugging both kids as they left for the day, Kathleen reminded them she wouldn't be working from home this afternoon, and not to worry, she had an errand to run. "Love you both," she shouted. "Love you back mom, bye, have a great day!"

The Law Office was grand. This company had been in business practically forever. As she walked into the ornate building, she wondered how on earth her father could afford this caliber of a lawyer. "Nah," she said to herself, "This has to be a mistake."

A lovely, tall, dark-haired lady led her into Mr. Brander's office.

Mr. Brander proceeded to introduce himself and encouraged her to take a seat. 

Kathleen exclaimed, "this is a mistake; you must have the wrong Kathleen Summers."

"I'll get right to it, Ms. Summers." He pulled out a large brown envelope. Inside the envelope were instructions given to the law firm.

Mr. Brander pulled out a photo and asked Kathleen, "Is this your father?"

Almost fainting, Kathleen nervously answered in question format, "Yes?"

"Ms. Summers, your father left you an inheritance, not to be opened until this day."

Mr. Brander proceeded, "In these instructions, we're asked to give you this black notebook along with this key."

Mr. Brander informed her that the key was to a safety deposit box at a bank not too far from here and that he would have to accompany her to access the box. However, she would have to read what was in the black notebook first, as those were her father's instructions. 

"It's private, only for you." Mr. Brander led her to a boardroom where she could quietly process the unexpected gift that was left to her thirty-seven years ago. 

Kathleen opened the cover.

"To my darling Kathleen and her children."

She gasped out loud, "how was that possible!"  She hadn't had children when her dad had died. 

She turned that first page and began to read.
__________

My Dearest Kathleen:

You have the same gift I do. From the moment you were born, I knew within you was the gift of knowing. You always seem to understand that in the end, everything would be ok. 

From as far back as I can remember, maybe back to when I was two or three, I could see significant events coming next. Everyone else calls it psychic; I call it life. I don't know why or how I have this gift, but it is a part of me. 

I'm writing this letter because, in less than a week, I'll be gone. I know I'm destined to die in my sleep. Rest assured, it will be from natural causes. You'll later find out I had a heart condition. I've seen several doctors about it, but all tests showed nothing substantial. However, I know I won't live. It's the same knowingness you carry about life.

You'll have two kids, and I know one of them will have a medical condition. I can't tell you any of this now, at eighteen. You wouldn't understand or believe me. But mostly, you don't need to know about this blessing and burden at such a young age. So I decided to handle things this way.

My grandchildren needed to be taken care of, so I started early in life making sure they would be alright. You'll eventually understand why this is so important and why I did things this way.

Go with the lawyer to open that safety deposit box. Please pass all it's contents along to your children. I promise you; it will eventually make sense.

Love you more than you could  know - until we meet again,

Dad
_________

Kathleen felt both grateful and fearful, but a part of her was angry. 

"Why would dad leave something for children I didn't have and never think to leave things to me?" She wasn't jealous about the gift for her kids; she was baffled. 

Mr. Brander opened the boardroom door and asked her if she was ready to go to the bank. On the drive there, Mr. Brander informed her that her father and his father had been good friends and that it was his father who initially worked on her dad's Will. "Before my dad died, he filled me on your dad's wishes and the Will our firm was holding for you," I promised him I would take care of it when the time came.

Inside the little room, and in her father's lawyer's presence, Kathleen opened the safety deposit box.

There were two large brown envelopes.

Printed on one envelope was "Open this one first," and on the other, "Open this one last."

Kathleen opened the first envelope to find another letter from her father.
_________

Dearest Kathleen; 

To help your children, my grandchildren achieve their purpose in life, I've taken steps to ensure they would have the resources they needed to achieve their goals and complete their contribution.

You'll find in the next envelope that I've invested $20,000 in a safe stock portfolio held by this bank. By the time you open this letter, it should be worth between 140,000 and 200,000 dollars. The bank can help you with those details.

Please ensure your children get all the documents and my letters.
__________

Kathleen felt more than loved. She began to get that cosmic sense she was accustomed to, that there's still more to this story. It both scared her and comforted her.

Mr. Brander handed her all the documents, including the little black notebook with her dad's initial letter, and they hugged and parted ways for the day. They planned to meet at the bank in the coming days to establish the value of the inheritance her father left to her children.

Kathleen arrived home at about 5:00 pm. Both Jeffrey and Holly were preparing dinner. "Hi, mom," they cheerfully blurted. "Where were you?"

"Well, you aren't going to believe my day; you both better sit down." Kathleen then proceeded to tell them the entire day's events.

The kids were beyond shocked. Like their mom, they were a bit confused about why their grandfather would wait all these years to give them this inheritance and why it would go to them. 

Later that night, as they were all preparing for bed, Kathleen hugged both of her kids, told them she loved them, and said, "Let's sleep on it tonight; maybe things would be clearer in the morning."

Kathleen died in her sleep that night.
__________

She understood the purpose of her father's Will now. As she stood at the bottom of that hill watching her kids at the top, she knew they were visiting her grave. She noticed something tucked under Jeffrey's arm; it was that little black notebook.

Suddenly Kathleen's tears stopped, and beside her stood both her father and her mother. Her first words were, "Mom, you knew all this time." "I did, dear, I always trusted your father's gift of knowing. We both planned this for you.

The three of them walked towards the children at the top of the hill. As they stood beside them, they heard Holly speaking. "Thank you, mom, for all you did for us. Grandpa's $20,000 investment is worth over $300,000 today. That's enough for Jeffrey and me to go to school. I'm going to be a Doctor, mom, and Jeffrey is going to be a Veterinarian. We promise to make you proud.

Kathleen, with joyful tears, had no doubt they would.

Kathleen's father let her in on the biggest secret of all. "Do you know why we did this?" Kathleen answered, "Yes, to help the kids achieve their dreams." 

Her dad said, "That was one reason, but not the main reason. Holly will be part of a global discovery on how to help those who suffer from auto-immune diseases. It will be the breakthrough of her time. She's going to help a lot of people. And Jeffrey won't just be Veterinarian; he's going to be a major contributor to one of the largest animal rescue facilities in the country."

"And you knew this when you were little, dad?" "Yes, I did," he replied.

"How?" she asked. "I don't know, we all have a gift; we just have to open our minds to see it and believe it.

As Jeffrey and Holly walked away, Kathleen asked her mother and father, "where are we going now?"

"Home Kathleen, we're going home."

__________

I had originally written this story to enter a contest but then decided against it. So there you have it, one more step outside of that familiar comfort zone.

Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone?





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Sunday, December 27, 2020

What is Faith? As Seen Through a Personal Life Journey

What is Faith? As Seen Through a Life Review

Challenges, endless challenges, or so it seems. Then without warning, there it is, light.

This article isn't meant to be preachy. My life is as imperfect as everyone else's. What's different now is the feeling that my soul is on track, on the right road to home. It doesn't mean life is always easy, although I'll take that if it happens, only that living in the light helps to make sense of it all. I actually wrote a video poem about that very thing; Living in Light.

My family's challenges and what I've had to witness as a mother, wife, daughter, and friend should have broken me. When I reflect back, I see clearly, that instead, it made me. 

Each of us has our own bridge to peace, to inner calm. What I've learned along the way is that faith means many things throughout life.

FAITH - The Long Road Home - What is Faith? 

  • Faith is the belief that, in the end, everything WILL be ok: I believe that to the core of my being, I know this to be the absolute truth as sure as I breathe.
  • Faith is losing it all and having to start over again, and you do.
  • Faith is holding on when your heart has been torn to shreds, and you realize, even with that terrible pain, you've kept the most sacred thing you have safe in your heart. Love. You still love, you still can love. That horrible pain didn't steal anything from you - you discovered it couldn't.
  • Faith is being able to let go and forgive when you've been betrayed and disrespected. You're still able to look beyond your own pain and assess the situation from the other person's perspective and flaws. You don't forgive for brownie-points; you do so because it's the only road to peace for all parties concerned. You hold on to the faith that the person who hurt you will grow, for their own betterment, not for yours. Whether they do or not, you love them anyway.
  • Faith is a thousand prayers you've repeated in your heart and mind for your children. You watch them grow, and your heart fills with incredible worry for them until faith steps in to remind you that 'in the end, everything WILL be ok.'
  • Faith is watching someone you love step back from the edge of addiction, and save themselves. The hardest thing in the world is bearing witness to something you have no control over. Along with a shoulder and helping hand, the only thing you ultimately can have is faith.
  • Faith is watching your child drive away into their future endeavors. Your heart goes with them, and faith keeps you strong.
  • Faith is working your way through a life long disease and still believing that 'everything will be ok.'
  • Faith is when your children, even as adults, deal with sickness, and you still find faith, even through helplessness and tears.
  • Faith is watching your friends battle cancer. Knowing you can't take away their pain, you pray, and you keep the faith for them.
  • Faith is creating something, never knowing if anything will come of it, but you do it anyway.
  • Faith is seeing your father's face in the casket and knowing, within the depths of your being, that he isn't in there. That his body was truly a temporary home. That he is standing beside you as you cry. That he hasn't left. Faith is the gift of total understanding that we live on. My father sealed that faith. I was raised with the belief in an afterlife and always had that belief. However, when I saw my dad's face in his casket, it was as though a bright light of knowledge filled my heart. I knew for certain that he was still here, that his body was just that, a body. His soul was still very much alive. I felt it. I still feel it.
  • Faith is holding on so tight to your mother as she ages and lives without your dad. Your heart belongs to her in a way that nobody can truly understand. It's personal between you and her, and you love her so much that the only thing that erases worry is prayer and faith. I wrote this for mom a long time ago, and it's still how I feel.
  • Faith is losing your parents' wedding rings that were gifted to you and praying so hard for their return: Then five months later, you're in your mother's room changing her bedsheets, asking that when you go back into your own room to "please let me find those rings." You know they can't possibly be there because you and your brother lifted that mattress right up and off the bed months ago, and nothing was there. Plus, you searched your room for months only to conclude that there is no way on God's green earth they can be there. However, because of faith, you prayed again the day you were changing those sheets. You didn't expect to find the rings, but you prayed anyway. When you got to your room, you peeked under one side of the bed's mattress, laughed to yourself, and nope, they weren't there. You were about to leave the room, and something compelled you to lift the mattress again on the other side of the bed. You were expecting nothing, but a miracle was delivered, and yes, both those rings were laying neatly just under the top mattress, one slightly overlapping the other!! You gasped! Almost fainted! You were gifted another powerful moment to keep in your heart for life. This is a moment in my life I'll never ever forget. I'm still shocked by it!
Every time I begin to lose faith, I remember my parent's rings miraculously showing up under my mattress. I didn't expect that prayer to be answered in such a magical way. What an amazing gift that was. Finding those rings is my 'Faith-Reminder.' Every single time I begin to stress or worry about something - my parent's rings appear to me. As the lyrics in the beautiful song below say, "you will find your way if you keep believing, I've seen miracles just happen, silent prayers get answered, broken hearts become brand new - that's what faith can do." If you're viewing via mobile, the video is here.


I've learned that faith is something that needs to be nurtured; to feed our soul, just as we feed our body. 

For 2021 I'm holding onto faith that humanity will find its way back into balance; body, mind, and spirit. If all of humanity is too big of a goal, I hope my friends and family can find or maintain that balance. 

"We Will Have Morning Smiles" - 50 Years of Poetry by Me - Available on Amazon.





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Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is such a beautiful day of the year regardless of the weather! For a brief moment in time, we cease normal daily activities and concentrate on love, family, and friends.  We focus on the meaning of Christmas.

Many of us are blessed to spend Christmas with the people we love the most.  When our loved ones can't be with us, we call them, Zoom or Skype with them so we can still share that day with them.  We stay connected with them while we open gifts, sing Christmas carols together, or even eat our separate meals together.  

We also reflect on memories of Christmas's past and the loved ones who are no longer with us.  The memory of them is a tremendous treasure even when our hearts are still breaking.  This reality, perhaps more than any other, prompts us to embrace the loved ones still here with us, hold on a little tighter, and remember to say "I love you!"  

Christmas is also a time for forgiveness and reconciliation.  After all, the real reason for Christmas is the celebration of the gift of redemption and salvation. 

"And the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of the great joy which shall be for all the people: for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'."  Luke 2:10-11  


On this Christmas day, may you and your family be blessed and your hearts touched by the Creator who loves you with a love that surpasses all understanding.

 

We Wish You All A 

Very Merry Christmas! 

 

 

 




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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Success After 60 - Is It Possible?

Success After 60? Yes, You Can Do It - Many Have

I'll start off apologizing in typical Canadian fashion because, yah, this review about age is a bit self-serving; I turned 60 this year - and - I'm just getting started. 

I personally live by that famous quote we've all heard: "It ain't over, 'til it's over." Actually, older-me believes it's never over; we keep growing and learning even after we transition, but that's for another day.

Are you familiar with some of the famous people who built their dreams after the age of 60? Here are just a few to inspire your aching bones.

Three Outstanding Souls Who Exemplify the Cliche "Age is Just a Number"

  • Grandma Moses: She was born Anna Mary Robertson on September 7, 1860. She began painting at the age of 78. She was known for her rural scenery paintings. In 2006 her painting, "Sugaring Off," sold for 1.6 million dollars. Yep, proof right there, "it ain't over even when it's over!" She also lived to see her paintings sell for substantial amounts for her time (the 1930s) before passing on.

  • Harry Bernstein: He enjoyed fame very late in life as a successful published author. On June 30th, 1910, he was born in Stockport, England, living 'til the ripe young age of 101 when he passed away in Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2011. Do you know when he wrote one of his first published successful books, The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers? The loneliness of losing his wife of sixty-seven years was the catalyst of this book. He started writing it at 93 years old! The book was published in his 96th year in 2007. He wrote and published The Dream in 2008, The Golden Willow in 2009, and What Happened to Rose was published posthumously in 2012

  • Fauja Singh: His absolute tenacity has garnered him the nickname the Sikh Superman. He's the oldest living Marathoner. He was born on April 1, 1911, in British India, and at the age of 109, continues to reside in the United Kingdom. The terrible personal family losses he suffered in the 1990s redirected him back to his first passion, running. In the over 90's bracket, at the age of 93, Singh completed a marathon in six hours and fifty-four minutes.
Hidden Dreams by Barbara Tremblay Cipak
In the Poetry Book - We Will Have Morning Smiles

What I've Personally Done For This Older Body, Mind, and Soul:

Last year, for whatever reason, at the age of 59, I felt "time." What I mean by that is I felt a powerful urge to do the things I've wanted to do in life but hadn't gotten off my butt to complete. So from last year, and now into 2020, I jumped in with both feet and committed to self:
  • I self-published a 50-year collection of a book of my personal poetry work.
  • I published a series of personally written riddle books and created the website StumpedRiddles.com. I'm currently writing book six in the series.
  • Keto saved my health. I lost over 60 pounds from 2019 to 2020. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 56 - and I was sick. Almost immobile. Today at 60, I feel ten years younger than I did at 56. Proper food and mild exercise are a part of my life every single day. It has taken a great deal of discipline, but feeling healthy is more important to me than eating the wrong foods and being sick.
  • I work very hard on body, mind, and spirit. Spirit (soul work) is just as important to my day as eating and exercise.
I'm not trying to be self-righteous - like I've had a perfect life or something. I haven't. Life has been filled with almost endless challenges. The difference for me at this age is accepting what has happened and moving forward. Always, always moving forward. After all, our time is limited.

The last page of my poetry book features a closing message to my kids. This message includes a quote that I feel perfectly describes life when times get difficult:
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete" by Buckminister Fuller (1895-1983) American Architect, Systems Theorist, Author, Designer, Inventor and Futurist

  



15 Personal Life Lessons I've Learned During These 60 Years of Living:

1. Don't give up.
2. When we're tired, rest. 
3. When we need support, seek it from the safe arms of friends and family. 
4. Love with all our hearts. Tell those who matter that we love them.
5. Find the good in others. 
6. Live a life of service to others, big or small, it doesn't matter. Even the smallest contributions to another can brighten a day - something as simple as a smile or a kind word. 
7. Guard our souls. There's a saying, "don't become that which you rail against." 
8. Watch our thoughts and choose our words wisely.
9. Forgive. Forget about grudges and vengeance; they're a complete waste of energy and ultimately damaging to our soul. Accept that people will make mistakes, just like we'll make mistakes.
10. Find a way to reach our kids. Stay connected. This can be the toughest task. Do it anyway.
11. Read and advance our learning. Never stop.
12. Tolerance, compassion, kindness, and empathy are essential to the human condition. Live by those principles most or all of the time.
13. Fight temptation. Fight it hard. Dark/negative energy (whatever you decide to call it) is hunting us down every second of every day. It doesn't let up. We mustn't let it have our thoughts or our actions. We need to train our minds daily to recognize when we're slipping and put ourselves back on track as quickly as possible. We need to be proactive and kick that useless darkness out of our life-field.
14. When we need to cry, cry. Get those issues out; put them on paper, talk to someone, music, lyrics, art - whatever helps us release the pain.
15. Accept responsibility for our lives and for where we are in our life. Be honest with ourselves.

I'm currently advancing my soul by reading the best selling book gifted to me by a friend, "Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One" by Raphaelle Giordano

I'll end this article with this moving song, inspired by the famous Paradoxical Commandments, "Anyway, by Martina McBride." If viewing this article via mobile, you can listen to the song on YouTube here.



"You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach, and you know it might not ever come your way, dream it anyway" - lyrics.

"This world's gone crazy, and it's hard to believe that tomorrow will be better than today, believe it anyway" - lyrics.

"You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in, that tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang, sing it anyway" - lyrics.

All the best to you, do it anyway.



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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Reviewing My Own Fear Factor

Admitting You Have Fear Is A Beginning

I've been struggling with some personal fear in the last several months. Maybe a review of my journey might help others begin to face their own fears. I know I'm not alone; most of us have fears that overtake us from time to time. With the recent events that have gripped the world, many have found new things to be afraid of. Fear is normal but sometimes we aren't ready to admit that we are afraid. I am a firm believer that admitting something is the first step in beginning to overcome and move forward.

fear factor
We all have fear, overcoming it is the trick
image courtesy of pixabay.com

What I have realized in the last few days is that I've been almost frozen with fears just below the surface of my consciousness. I haven't been walking around thinking about being afraid or thinking that I was scared but the emotion had been there for quite a while just waiting for me to do something. I've decided to start working on what I'm fearful of; kick those debilitating thoughts to the proverbial curb, so to speak.

There were hints that went unnoticed


As I have worked through some of my feelings in the last few days, I realized that there were some subtle little hints back in December. A tiny little flag was waving in the distance, I just didn't notice it for what it was trying to warn me about. I think it started when I had the idea for a new book that would be about a rabbit. More specifically, an Easter Bunny that did something bad. It was the rabbit that should have alerted me that fear was dwelling deep down in my psyche. 

Now, before you shake your head and think that I've gone off the deep end, let me explain. The message of the spirit animal rabbit is about fear. Real rabbits are fearful little creatures and often become frozen, unable to move, when their fears take hold of them. We humans can experience this phenomenon, too. I missed the significance of a rabbit being so active in my mind. 

About the same time that the idea for the book was consuming my thoughts, my Dad fell and broke his elbow pretty badly. Fear did swell up to the forefront of my thoughts for his well being. There were life threatening complications that obviously caused a great deal of stress and fear for him. Taking care of my Dad sort of pushed the writing completely off of the burner. 

As Dad began to slowly get better, we (the world) find out about the virus and learn words like social distancing and stay in place orders. I will admit the idea of Dad being exposed scared the daylight right out of me. I wasn't fearful for me but for him. Rabbits come into play again. I discovered the book Watership Down, it is all about rabbits. Another hint? I think it might have been. 

I'll fast forward a bit, an idea started niggling in my mind about a totally different story that felt like it needed to be written before I finished the other one. It is a young girl who is called to become the next healer in her village. She is faced with prejudices, an unwillingness to be a healer and some adventures along the way. It is customary in her world for a healer or shaman to be assigned a spirit animal. She doesn't get to choose, the gods decide what she will need. She is appalled when she meets the hare (big rabbit) that will travel with her in her journey of becoming what she was destined to be. Of all the creatures for the gods to give her they give her a rabbit. What the heck good is that going to be? She is supposed to gain wisdom from an animal that is afraid of it's own shadow? Hmmm!

There it is again, a rabbit consuming my mind! Finally the light bulb comes on in my addled brain. Rabbits in my thoughts, looking up rabbit behavior, real rabbits hopping around in my yard. I can't get away from the freaking rabbits! Fear is the message of the rabbit. Do I have some fears to overcome? Well, apparently, I do.

What are my fears?


Turns out, I have several that I have ignored for a while. I guess that is why the rabbit has come as a messenger. I can't move forward until I face some of them head-on and let them go. I won't go into what they are exactly, that is a little too personal. Suffice it to say, I have identified some big ones and have begun to work on hopping around them. As I work on my journey, I have found a new motto. It is summed up best on this coffee mug:



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Sunday, April 19, 2020

55 Different Ways You Can Show Someone You Love Them

55 Ways to Show Someone You Love Them
If anything 2020 has taught us, it's that life is precious. During these crazy pandemic-times, today's review features big and small ways we can show our love to each other.

In the end, it's only love that matters. Our family lost someone yesterday (not from the pandemic), and we've been reflecting and remembering that love is the most valuable asset we take with us.

Let's not wait until it's too late to show those we love how we feel; let's start today. Here's a quick list of ways we can demonstrate we care:
  1.  Call or video your I love you message and say it
  2.  Physically mail a letter or a card
  3.  Make them dinner and clean up the mess
  4.  Clean the house for them
  5.  Give them me-time; watch the kids
  6.  Bring them a coffee, or two
  7.  Play board games and laugh
  8.  Email articles and photos to let them know you're thinking of them
  9.  Write them a poem
  10.  Dedicate a song to them via the radio
  11.  Sing them a song; if you can't sing, even better!
  12.  Create a video that lists all the reasons you love them
  13.  Thank them for all they've done for you
  14.  Accept or give forgiveness
  15.  Say "I love you" as often as you can
  16.  Bring them breakfast in bed
  17.  Send flowers or a plant
  18.  Drop off treats, gifts, personal drawings or groceries when social distancing
  19.  Have cozy gifts delivered; throw blankets, pillows
  20.  Snail mail a card every day, with a beautiful quote, for a month or a year
  21.  Let them talk; be a listener
  22.  Don't offer your opinions, just be there
  23.  Don't try to solve unsolvable problems, just be there
  24.  Accept each other's differences and just love each other for who you are
  25.  Use please and thank you with your family members
  26.  Speak with a kind voice to your loved ones
  27.  Give sarcasm a break from time to time
  28.  Remember they were once a little child, see them that way
  29.  Keep dark thoughts at bay, and send people love and light often
  30.  Remember none of us are perfect
  31.  Go 24 hours judgment-free - judge nothing, forgive everything
  32.  Read together, sing together, dance together
  33.  Set a goal to laugh with them at least 20 times in one day
  34.  Live for the moment, the specific moment you're sharing
  35.  When possible, if possible, hug each other
  36.  Start a story by email where everyone adds their portion and emails it to the next person
  37.  Pray together in person or virtually
  38.  Use your thoughtful inside voice when you have to ask for something
  39.  Give them something personal that holds special meaning to you
  40.  Ask them their opinion, so they feel they matter
  41.  When they've made a mistake, remember your own mistakes before reacting
  42.  Be a safe place for someone to land
  43.  When they speak to you in confidence, keep it confident
  44.  Don't gossip about people you love to other people you love
  45.  Serve your community in some fashion; do it together
  46.  Give each other space
  47.  Be on their team in life
  48.  When discussing testy issues, do it with grace and respect
  49.  Smile at your loved ones - this one seems silly, but try it, you'll be surprised
  50.  Laugh at their jokes
  51.  It's ok to be happy; show joy in front of your friends and family
  52.  Don't be afraid to apologize if you've made a mistake
  53.  Forgive them if they can't apologize when they've made a mistake
  54.  Be the change you want to see in a relationship
  55.  When you need love, give love
When summed up, we should consider the lessons taught in the Paradoxical Commandments, also known as The Anyway Poem. Listen to the gorgeous song interpretation by Martina McBride here in her famous song, Anyway.

The above suggestions are fairly obvious to most of us; however, sometimes we forget it's how we make each other feel that's remembered. 

I'll end with a video poem I created a few months ago called Living in Light - Stay safe and blessings to you.






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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Reviewing The Love Of A Friend

Honoring Friendship

My review today won't be about a product but instead will be about the love of a friend, a long time friend who was given her wings this weekend. She will no longer be here physically to talk to but she will always be in my heart. How could she not be in my very soul? We were friends for 56 years! Almost 6 decades of wonderful memories. Times of laughter, times of sorrow, times of struggle, and times of triumph; we shared them all.

love of a freind
There is nothing like the love of a friend
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Our friendship had an odd beginning. It began the year we entered 7th grade. We both came from small towns in small school districts. Those two districts had consolidated bringing us together that first year of consolidation. We had a lot in common before we ever sought each other out. We were both the oldest child in our family and we were both being raised by a single Mom. In 1964 divorce wasn't at all common, not in our area anyway. Up until the day our two schools merged, both of us were the only family in our school whose parents had divorced. Neither of us had someone to talk to about how we felt; to understand what divorce does to the kids. We both felt a little lost.

Oddly, my Mom had a date with her Dad. As far as our parents are concerned, that part of the story fizzled out pretty quickly. What did come out of that random date was a friendship that bonded the two of us quickly. Suddenly there was someone who understood! There was someone who cried with you when you missed your Dad. A person who didn't say dumb stuff like, "I'm not allowed to hang out with you anymore because you don't have a Dad." We would laugh about that one, of course we both had fathers; they just didn't live with us anymore. Comments like that seem odd in today's society but back then we both heard it a lot.

Looking back, I think we were meant to be friends. The connection was instant and strong. It almost seemed like in the matter of 5 minutes we were soul sisters. We were pretty much inseparable from that first day. There wasn't much we didn't do together. Trust me we did a whole heck of a lot together! It is probably best if most of that behavior is not mentioned here. 

We planned our weddings together, we had children together and raised them at the same time. As time passed we lived away from each other and there might be spans of time that we didn't see or speak to each other for months. You must remember that back then we didn't have cell phones or computers to connect with. A phone call to your friend was long distance and cost money to make; money that was short in supply in our early married lives. My granddaughters don't even know what a long distance phone call is! Anyway, my point is that after months of not seeing or talking to each other we would begin like we had just seen the other the day before. 

friendship
Friends hold your hand through life
image courtesy of pixabay.com

It is pretty special to have a friend that loves you through it all. They know all your faults and love you anyway. Her friendship was special like that, it is something I have always treasured and been in awe of. I've had many friends throughout my life but none quite like her. She was special.

When her daughter called me last week, things went very quickly. I wasn't able to go hold her hand one last time. I didn't get to tell her how much she has always meant to me. At first that broke my heart but then I realized that she of all people knew. She knew I wouldn't be able to come because of the restrictions the world is going through and she also knew that I loved her. It was more important that she be able to spend those last few days with her children, her grandchildren and her family. I'm glad she got that time with them. 

As much as it hurts to lose her, I'm finding comfort in that she didn't have to suffer very long. She had a rare form of cancer that took her quickly. I'm glad she was spared months and possibly years of pain and those horrible treatments. God was going to take her anyway, I'm actually thankful He took her before she had to go through much of that. Those of us who love her have lost her physical being but her spirit lives on in all of us. We have our memories to cherish as we continue on without her. I don't doubt for a minute that our souls will reunite. She is waiting, she is getting things ready, she will be standing there with open arms when I meet her again. Her fight is over but her memory will live on through all who knew her. Rest in peace my sweet dear friend!

My final message in this post is to remind you of that special friend you have shared your life with. Reach out to her or him and let them know what they mean to you. I don't care if you just spoke yesterday, tell them again today. Tomorrow is not a guarantee for any of us, make sure that those you love know how you feel today.






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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Life's Changing Perspectives - A Twenty Year Review Through Poems


How have you changed in twenty years?

I've declared 2020 the year of Body, Mind, and Spirit, with the main focus being on feeding my spirit to bring all aspects of my life into balance.

Remember Who I Am - Life Reflections Then and Now

Nearly twenty years ago, I wrote a poem called, "Remember Who I Am." The poem isn't about begging to be remembered, but rather about acknowledging the mistakes I made in life, and how ultimately I learned from those mistakes.

Looking back twenty years ago, when the video poem featured below was written, I clearly see my personal growth since that point in time.

I'm a different person at 59 years old than I was in my 30s. I suspect that's quite normal. God willing, if I get to 80 years old, I imagine my outlook will further change.

The most significant change inside of me is a grander understanding of inner peace, and what inner peace truly is.

There's so much I want to type about inner peace right now, but honestly, I don't think I can explain it? Let me say it this way, with these powerful words:


 "In the end, everything WILL be O.K."  - I get this now.


We're still dealing with some of the same life struggles we faced when I was in my thirties. Even though those struggles are still quite significant, I now see how mundane they are, and rarely pray on those. In the grand scheme of life, they don't rate.

When I was in church last week, I started thinking about my prayers from those times, and how I've grown to understand that the secret to solutions is within us - and that prayers for souls, the human condition, our community, those we love, and visualizing the good, is where ultimate peace rests.

I feel I'm awake now. 

As though I've been handed a book with some of life's secrets in them. I'm looking forward to the next book in twenty more years if I'm so blessed.

I've mastered forgiveness.

Without giving away anything overtly personal, I can unequivocally state, I've got this one down. What I understand most about forgiveness is that it's not up to me to 'forgive' others. It's lessons learned, from all sides.

I approach the mistakes others make that hurt me, family, friends, or strangers, as people who are either lost, dark, or learning at their pace. Life is school, and some of us are in pre-school while others have PhDs. No judging. Letting go.

Also, I don't agree with the saying, "I forgive, but I'll never forget."  For me, if I have to hold any grudge, including 'never forgetting,' it's not forgiveness. You can read a bit more about this in an article I wrote, many years ago called, "The Secret to Life."

Despite life's changes over the past twenty years, the words to this poem I wrote so long ago, still stand.



Angels on Duty - Starting Our Day with a Helping Hand

Again, I wrote this one about twenty years ago. Of all the poems I've written over the past fifty years, this is one of my favorites.

The poem was written to create a visual of how Angels begin their daily work, helping us, as soon as we wake up.

It's about waking up in the morning, swinging your legs over the edge of the bed, bending over with your hands over your face, as you pause thinking about the challenges you face today, and wondering if you have the strength to do it. Without knowing, there's an Angel present, whispering affirmations, and confirmations that 'everything will be ok' and that you're not alone, and yes, you can do it.


Towards the end of last year, I achieved a bucket list item: I published a book featuring 50 years of my poems. Change, perspective, growth - it's all good. #bethechange #spreadthewordofgood





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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Review of Year End

One Year Ends Another Begins

As I write this we are celebrating the Year End of 2019 and welcoming in the new year and a new decade...2020. 

year end new begin
Wishing you all a Happy New Year
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Here is wishing you all the best in the coming year. I would like to leave you with this toast to end the year and begin our new one. It is a quote from Edith Pierce:

"We will open the book. It's pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and it's first chapter is New Year's Day."

As you fill the pages of your book of Opportunity, I hope you have few filled with sorrow and many filled with happiness. From myself and the other contributors of Review This, we wish you the best for this coming year and decade!




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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Gratitude

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  It is the day we give Thanks for all the blessings we have received. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving Day.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, it is a good time to look back over the past year and express our thanks for all of our blessings.  In this post I will be showing you through my photographs a few of the many blessings I have experienced during the past year.

God, Family and Church

Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church
God has blessed me with a wonderful husband, two great children and their spouses and four wonderful granddaughters.  For this I am grateful.

I also belong to a church family that has many wonderful supportive members.  They are true blessings.

Photography

I enjoy taking photographs and honing my photography skills.  I belong to a photography club that gives me opportunities to learn more about my hobby and also provides the opportunity for field trips around the area.

Fort Zumwalt Park
Civic Park

St. Louis Riverfront


Nature Photography

I enjoy taking photos of nature, but I am particularly grateful for all the opportunities to take nature photography in my own back yard.  Here are a few of my favorites from the past year.





Lighthouse Photography

Over the past 12 years since my retirement, I have enjoyed photographing lighthouses and have photographed over 150 in that time period.  This year I am thankful for the lighthouses I was able to photograph on the east coast.



Photography Near my Home

I live in the St. Louis metro area and have some wonderful opportunities for photography near my home.  Here are a few from the past year.
Art Hill



History Museum

St. Louis Wheel
Bandstand in Forest Park

Sunrise and Sunsets

I find the variety in sunrises and sunsets to be amazing.  I love photographing them at all different times and different weather conditions  The first photo here is a sunrise in Jupiter, Florida and the second is a sunset in Cape Cod Massachusetts.





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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre-Dame de Paris Reflections

Mourning The Loss Of History

notre-dame de paris
Notre-Dame de Paris image courtesy of pixabay.com
Today I will be reviewing some history of Notre-Dame de Paris with you. The world watched in horror and shock yesterday, 04/15/2019, as this beautiful historical landmark of Paris burned. Whether you are a member of the Catholic Church or not, the loss of this beautiful cathedral that had survived wars and rebellions for over 800 years was devastating to see. This icon of the city of Paris and the country of France will never be the same. 

Our Lady Of Paris, the English translation of Notre-Dame de Paris, was commissioned to be built in 1160 by Bishop Maurice de Sully. He would never see his dream fulfilled of the French Gothic structure because it took almost 200 years for the church to be completed. It does not appear that the Bishop randomly chose a site for the cathedral to be constructed. He must have felt that there was something sacred about the land, at least I feel that way. A religious structure of one kind or another had been on that piece of ground since the days of the Roman Empire. A Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter was the first known structure. Four churches would eventually replace the temple before Notre-Dame began to be built. A 4th Century basilica dedicated to Saint Stephen was the first. In the 7th Century the basilica was replaced with a cathedral for Childebert I who I happen to be a descendant of. Two renovations of the Romanesque style churches followed. The Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, opted to demolish the existing building but did recycle many of the materials for what would become the most popular tourist attraction of France and the city of Paris.

As I watched the soaring red flames lighting the sky of Paris yesterday, one of the factoids by a reporter caught my attention. Something like 52 acres of wood had been used to construct the portion of Notre Dame that burned. It was often referred to as The Forest. No wonder it seemed to be consumed by fire so quickly! The timber had been drying for over 800 years. 

You might have assumed as I had that this historical cathedral belongs to the Vatican and the Catholic Church. The statement of President Macron that Notre-Dame de Paris would be re-built baffled me at first. Why would he be so committed to re-building when the French Government feels so strongly about the separation of church and state? Wouldn't it be up to the Pope to decide on what to do? Well, a little searching on my part revealed the answer. A law in 1905 made the famous cathedral the property of the French state. The Catholic Church is the designated beneficiary with the exclusive right to use the building for religious purposes. The paying of employees, the maintenance of the building, the utilities, security and other expenses are the responsibility of the Archdiocese. The Catholic Church does not receive any subsidies from the French Government. I found that fascinating to say the least.

If you would like to find out more about the history and architecture of the cathedral, there is a wonderful book that you can purchase. 

 They may be able to build a new structure but it can never be what stood before. There are not artisans today like the ones who built the original. The amazing craftsmanship of the past would be very difficult to replicate. 



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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Life is Short, Make it Sweet

The Heart of Country Music - More Songs
With all that's going on in this world, it's important to focus on the simple things that make life beautiful.

As the song says, 'life is short, make it sweet'. The lyrics of this tune by Old Dominion remind us to spend time with those we love. Sunsets, fun and sharing time with each other, it doesn't get any simpler than that.

(Lyrics)
"I never gotta wonder where my honey be
I ain't savin' all my sugar for a Saturday Night
Seven days a week I got an appetite
The sunsets like a tangerine
Let's find a road we've never seen
Don't waste another mile or a minute not kissin' me
Life is short, make it sweet"

Make it Sweet is a Cheerful Song 

When you need a musical boost, blast this one on repeat. With life's twists and turns, it's not easy being 'seen'. Lolz. The good news is, when you take control of your thoughts and your environment, being seen is something you can control from within. I know, it all sounds cliché but I speak from experience and I've personally done the work.

For over four years now I've made a conscious effort and practiced that other old cliché, 'control your thoughts control your life'. Sure I'll slip up from time to time and unwittingly let someone rent space in my head, but not very often.

As soon as I feel my mental strength begin to diminish, I work to take back that control. It requires a conscious effort, until it becomes subconscious. The key is practice. It's no different than exercising the body: Takes time, takes repetition.

A quick tool I use to pull my mind away from unproductive tangents is word repetition.

Choose your word. Mine is 'Hope'. When the brain decides it wants to run my life, I take back my control by repeating my word over and over inside my head as many times as it takes until that noggin' of mine has forgotten the tangent it was on.

You'll slip up many times and in the middle of it forget you were using word repetition. No biggie. Just pull yourself back on track and start again. After years of doing this, bad thoughts and energy just begin to avoid you - they'll realize you're like Fort Knox, no getting in.



Music is One Road to Inner Peace

Make it Sweet by Old Dominion is the ideal, bring it back to the basics song. As soon as my husband and I heard it, we both smiled and agreed that the message was calming. The lightness of the tune helped to unweight the heaviness of the day.

Another Relaxation Option - The Zen Channel - Stingray Ambiance

If you have this channel, be sure to use it as a way to control the energy you allow in your home.

We mostly read our news now and our TV sets on the main level have Stingray Ambience on all day. They feature gorgeous scenes from all over the world with light music in the background. In fact we rarely watch regular TV now. We only tune into shows that interest us from time to time. We're not blocking out the world, we keep up-to-date online. We're just actively controlling our home's environment. It makes a big difference. It heals the soul.

Between aromatherapy, the Zen Channel and the song Make it Sweet, we're creating our own peace.

Here's to your happiness :)




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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Review of the Meaning Behind Different Colored Roses

The Meaning Behind Different Colored Roses
Did You Know that Each Rose Color Has a Unique Meaning?

With Valentine's Day around the corner, there's nothing carved in stone that says you have to give Red Roses.

If you want to send a different message, check out the meaning of each colored rose as described below. Once you determine what you really want to say, send a dozen roses of that color instead.

Red Roses

This one you know. It generally means "I love you". Sending red roses tells the person in no uncertain terms that you love them. It also speaks to beauty and lets the person know, that in your eyes, they're perfect just the way they are.

Yellow Roses

If you want to send someone a flower that expresses thanks for the friendship you share, yellow roses are a good choice. Yellow roses tell the person that they make you happy and you're thankful to have them in your life.

Lavender (Purple) Roses

If you've just met someone and you've got that love-at-first-sight thing going on between the two of you, then sending them purple roses says you're eager to continue and grow this unexpected relationship. Purple is also associated with Royalty, so if you happen to fall in love with a Prince or a Princess at first sight, send them purple roses.

White Roses

If you're looking to send flowers to someone you just met, white roses are the ideal choice. They're used in weddings to symbolize new beginnings but you don't have to be getting married to experience a new beginning. Don't hesitate to send them in the case of anything new; new job, new baby, new friendship, new love.

Pink Roses

Is there someone in your life that you admire? If so, send them pink roses. Perhaps it's a person who has accomplished a great deal, been an awesome friend or set an unparalleled example with their life. Sending your mother pink roses speaks to your admiration for her. Pink also represents gracefulness. For the person with high integrity and who behaves in a classy manner, pink is their flower.

Orange Roses

Orange roses speak to your excitement about being with a person. You're anxious to take on new adventures with them and your relationship is all about enthusiasm and, where applicable, desire. Give orange roses to the person you want to take on the world with. It doesn't have to be a love interest. In fact, if it's a good friend, give them a combination bouquet of yellow, orange and white roses.

Peach Roses

Do you want to send someone a 'Thank you'? If so, then peach roses deliver that message. If you're grateful for someone and what they've done for you, or for just being in your life, peach roses say it without words. When you want to show someone how much you appreciate them, add peach roses to your bouquet.

Now that you understand the general meaning of each rose, consider the message you want to convey and either mix and match them or give a dozen of one color.

If real flowers aren't doable, here's a collection of faux bouquets to send to that special someone:




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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

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